Thursday, 2 March 2017

Women in business

In her book, Minding her own business, Catherine Bishop writes about women who ran their own businesses in Colonial Sydney. I wrote a brief review of this book in my Reading and other pursuits blog. So far in my family history research I have found a number of determined women in the family who certainly did more than just look after the home.
Mary Hyde (1779-1864)
Mary Hyde (1779-1864) managed her husband's many business concerns after his death. Mary arrived  in Sydney Cove as a convict in July 1798 and in 1814 married former convict Simeon Lord (1771-1840). When Simeon died in 1840 he left a number of successful businesses enterprises including a woollen mill at Botany and a number of properties.

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has a small collection of artefacts known as the 'Simeon Lord and Mary Hyde collection'. An article about Simeon and Mary can be found on the Powerhouse Museum website. Part of the article states:
Under the terms of the will Mary was made executor of the estate making her one of the wealthiest women in the colony. She continued to manage Lord's affairs after his death and employed many people in the Botany factory before it was closed by the flooding of her land as a part of the Sydney Water Board's development of the area. Mary took them to court to get compensation and four years later won the case and was eventually awarded over £15,000, a sum measured in the millions by today's standards.
Trove contains a number of articles describing Mary's attempts to ensure that she and her family received the maximum amount for the annexation of the land and water rights. According to articles in Trove, between 1855-1859 Mary Lord pursued the matter in the courts until successful.
Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser 7 May 1859

Catherine Ellen Mant (1827-1903)
Catherine Ellen Mant (1827-1903) arrived in South Australia with her husband, John William Hillcoat (1828-1907) in 1852. John had experimented with a number of projects but was unsuccessful. The family returned to England and then travelled to New South Wales in 1859. Until the family was financially sound again Catherine assisted the family finances by setting up a school for young ladies in Maitland. There are a number of advertisements in the Maitland newspapers about the school. While running the school, Catherine gave birth to three more children. In 1868 the family moved to the goldfields of Queensland and the school in Maitland closed.


Annie Wilson Hardwick Weston (1864-1924) was another determined woman. Annie married George Hutton (1850-1936) in 1889. They lived on a property near Parkes but when drought forced the family off the land Annie decided to take her two daughters to Sydney where she ran a boarding house for many years. George stayed in the Parkes area and worked as a rabbit inspector.

Annie ran the boarding house until 1916 when the house was sold to a neighbouring school. She then left for England with her eldest daughter to assist the 'home country' with the war effort. They returned to Australia in 1919.

These examples are only three of the many women in the nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia who were finding ways to support their families.

Mary Hyde was my great (x3) grandmother
Catherine Ellen Mant was my great (x2) grandmother
Annie Hardwick Weston was my great grandmother

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