Sunday, June 24, 2012

John and Catherine Mason - pioneers

John and Catherine Mason left Sydney on the brig Dorset, a few days before Christmas 1844. 

Shipping news from the Australian, Dec 23 1844
With them were their two young daughters, Mary Ann and Catherine. Christmas must have been spent on board the ship, which carried 23 adults and 7 children, along with supplies, newspapers and letters for the little colony in Adelaide. They arrived at Port Adelaide on January 7, 1845.

What did they see and feel as they stepped off the ship? No doubt the weather was hot and dry at that time of the year, and the landscape pretty barren. This image of Port Adelaide by painter George French Angus and this sketch of the York Hotel in 1850 give some idea of how it must have looked.

Adelaide had been established as a colony in 1836, and in 1845 the population was still less than 22,000, so it was a small town compared to bustling Sydney. However, it was becoming increasingly prosperous. Copper had been discovered in Burra, South Australia in 1842 and the colony was exporting increasing amounts of wool and wheat. It was also a place of social and political experimentation, free of the stigma of being a penal colony. John and Catherine were among 2,336 people who chose to settle in South Australia that year. 

I haven't been able to find any record of John's occupation in Adelaide, nor where they lived. He and Catherine went on to have 6 more daughters between 1845 and 1852 (Margaret, Rose, Eliza, Susan, Jane and Bridget). None of the births were officially registered, nor did they appear in the 'Family Notices' columns of the local papers, suggesting that they were probably of fairly humble social status. 

Nevertheless, they meet the Pioneers Association of South Australia definition of pioneers - those who arrived in the colony before the end of 1845. Although two of their daughters, Susan and Eliza, left the province, several of the other daughters went on to marry and have children in South Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment