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From Emerald and Toowoomba in Queensland, to Melbourne and Ballarat in Victoria, from Moruya and Kangaloon, Dubbo and Lismore.
Indeed, they came from everywhere! Over four hundred descendants of pioneer Mary Wade thronged into Campbelltown on Easter Saturday, 21st April.
It was in 1789 that ten-year old Mary Wade fell foul of the law and was sentenced at the Old Bailey to be hung.
Her crime? Stealing three items of clothing from another chil
As things turned out, Mary Wade was transported to the colony of New South Wales, living first on Norfolk Island, then old Sydney town, the Hawkesbury and the District of Airds.
It was fitting that the Muster of Mary's descendants should have taken place at St. Peter’s Parish Centre in Campbelltown, since Mary’s family was associated with that Church for over sixty years. Organisers Marj Morrow and Norma Campbell arranged extensive displays of old family photos and “family tree” charts. Miss Morrow addressed the assembled crowd about Mary Wade’s early years in the Colony, recalling the years of famine, and the heartbreaking floods which swept all before them when Mary and her family lived near the Hawkesbury.
Mary’s husband, Jonathan Brooker, took up a land grant in the District of Airds in 1809.
Their eldest daughter, Sarah, lived on an adjoining property (today known as “Holly Lea”). Sarah was the mother of thirteen children, including boy triplets. It was a measure of her mothering skills that Sarah’s triplets should have survived and reached adulthood, a rare achievement in those days.
Mary and Jonathan’s son, William Brooker, was a carpenter. Until recently, William was best known as having built Fred Fisher’s “Horse and Jockey” inn in Campbelltown. However, it has recently been discovered that William Brooker had a hand in building old St. John’s Catholic Church. Records are incomplete, but William was involved in the roofing and shingling of the Church.
Another of Mary Wade’s daughters married Harry Angel. Harry was a member of the famed Hume & Hovell expedition to Port Phillip in 1824. Harry took up land in the Murrumbidgee district, as did many other families from the Appin and Campbelltown areas. He also lived in the Illawarra. A street in Corrimal bears his name.
In 1823, a bushfire destroyed Jonathan Brooker’s wheat crop, house, and tools while he was living in the District of Airds. One can well imagine how distraught Mary Wade must have been, to see the family home burned to the ground. Not surprisingly, they moved from Airds to the Illawarra. Sons John and James Brooker likewise took up land in the Tarrawanna/Bellambi area.
A distinctive feature of the Illawarra range is known as Broker’s Nose named after this pioneering family. Edward Harrigan, Mary’s son by another marriage, also moved there.
Not far from Angel Street, you will find Brooker Street, Harrigan Street, and Harrigan Park, so the names of Mary’s children are well imprinted on the Illawarra map.
When Jonathan Brooker died in 1833, his body was returned to Campbelltown for burial. The carved headstone in St. Peter’s cemetery still stands today, a reminder of one of Campbelltown’s earliest pioneering families.
Mary Wade lived until 1859, when an obituary published in the “Illawarra Mercury” saluted her as mother of one of the “largest families in the world.” Today Mary’s descendants probably number tens of thousands.