Mary Wade to Us : A Family History 1778-1986


Mary Wade to Us : A Family History 1778-1986



In 1789, ten year old Mary Wade was found guilty of theft and sentenced to death by hanging. This was subsequently commuted to transportation to the colony of Botany, where she arrived the following year. This book presents details of her life and descendents.

The Mary Wade Prize, School of History, University of Wollongong

Mary Wade was transported to New South Wales at the age of 11 in 1789. She had been found guilty of highway robbery and sentenced to death by hanging at her trial. However, as was often the case in such trials, her death sentence was commuted to transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales for life. As far as the records show, she was the youngest female to be transported to the Antipodes. She sailed with the Second Fleet, on the Lady Juliana, a ship comprised entirely of women convicts. It had been noted by the authorities that the colony was in ‘great need of women. She arrived in Sydney Cove in June 1790 and was then sent to Norfolk Island. Mary established a relationship with a fellow convict, Teague (Edward) Harrigan. They returned to Sydney in 1803. Teague disappeared on a whaling expedition in 1806. Mary then established a relationship with Jonathon Brooker and married him in 1817. By then she had gained her Certificate of Freedom (1812). The family, like many of the ex-convict families in colonial New South Wales, struggled to make a living, but make a living they did. By 1828, they had settled in the Illawarra. Brooker died in 1833, and Mary remained in the Illawarra for the rest of her life. She died in 1859, aged 82. According to the family history, Mary had 21 children and their descendants number in the thousands. They include Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia.

To acknowledge this formidable woman a number of descendants of Mary Wade came together in the 1980's to produce a family history in the form of this book. The profit from sales of this book were offered to the University of Wollongong in 1987 to be used as a prize for the most meritorious candidate undertaking an honours thesis in Australian History. The members of the School of History at the University have always regarded the prize as an important one: it recognises the achievements of the early convicts in helping build Australia and it encourages research into the history of the country to which Mary was banished. Previous recipients have gone on to postgraduate work and then careers in academia and the public service.

Associate Professor John McQuilton, University of Wollongong, 2014



Publication Date



The Mary Wade Family Association, Sydney, 245p


This book is now available from The Mary Wade Family Association:

Mary Wade to Us : A Family History 1778-1986