St Marys & District Historical Society Inc - Quarterly Newsletter

PO Box 640, ST MARYS NSW 1790

Phone: 0450132181


Our members, family and friends participated in the street parade and held a stall in Queen Street at the 34th Annual Spring Festival. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and the crowds enjoyed the day’s activities. Thanks to all members who manned the stall and a BIG thanks to all those friends and family who took up the challenge to dress up and walk in the parade. Well done everyone.

Photos courtesy of member Robyn Gorman

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Ever wondered why “Ropes Creek” and “Ropes Crossing” were given that name”? Well, there once was a lad of 21 years of age by the name of Anthony Rope, who worked as a labourer around the town of Rochford in Essex England, and who lived in a dwelling house along with one Robert Bradley. One day in September 1784, Anthony decided to take advantage of the goods and chattels owned by Robert and helped himself to clothes and coinage to the value of 35 shillings. This petty thieving earned him a place on the prison hulks where he laboured alongside other convicts, shovelling and wheeling gravel from the Woolwich Shoals while waiting convict transportation to Australia for seven years. Apparently he wasn’t entirely happy with this arrangement as on two separate occasions, he was given 25 lashes of the “cat-o-nine-tails” for neglecting the work.

In 1787 three years after sentencing, Anthony found himself on the “Alexander”, a ship of the First Fleet travelling to Australia to carry out his sentence. Also on another ship named the “Friendship” was a 26 year old feisty female by the name of Elizabeth Pulley, given a reprieve of 7 years transportation. In December 1782, Elizabeth decided the widow Elizabeth Mimms who was living in the same dwelling house, had just the right ingredients she needed to make a nice Christmas Dinner. Because of that theft she was sentenced to be hanged in Norwich prison - this being her third conviction for stealing. Poor Elizabeth seemed to be a slow learner!!!

Mentioned in Doctor Ralph Clark's Diary on that voyage out, Elizabeth was one of the "Fighting Five". In his diary in June 1787, Dr Ralph writes that four of the women were released after he had put them in irons for ten days for fighting - Elizabeth Pulley being one of the four. In July he was again punishing Elizabeth and four others for getting into bed with seamen the night before - all four were in bed with the sailors at Portsmouth and Elizabeth had just come out of irons for fighting at Tenerife when they were ordered back into irons and the boatswain, steward and seamen involved were flogged, but the carpenter was pardoned. Twenty-one days later he again put Elizabeth, who up to then had been handcuffed to Elizabeth Thackery, back into leg irons. He took Elizabeth Pulley out of the irons two days later because the punishment made her very weak and sickly. Five days past and Elizabeth was again back in irons, this time together with Elizabeth Dudgeon for fighting. Captain Arthur Phillip finally released the "Fighting Five" from irons twelve days later, telling them if they made any more trouble they would be flogged the same as the men. On 3rd October, 1787, Elizabeth informed the Doctor that she was pregnant to a seamen. At the end of October she was transferred to the "Charlotte" to make way for the live stock bought at Cape Town.

Finally Anthony and Elizabeth arrived in Australia and obviously met, as they were married by the Reverend Richard Johnson in May 1788 at Sydney Cove. 1791 found Anthony classed as a bricklayer, but still in trouble with the law, when he bought a pair of stolen shoes and received another 25 lashes. In 1792, Anthony received a land grant at the end of his convict sentence, and by 1803 he held 30 acres. In 1806 he purchased 40 acres from Andrew Badgery and in 1807 Raymond Hassall paid Anthony and another man named Smith, fifteen pounds to build a house on Elizabeth Farm at St Marys. By 1828 Anthony & Elizabeth were on 11 acres with their son William who lived with Anthony and Elizabeth with his small children after the death of his wife. By 1843 the family had moved around the Windsor and Castlereagh district eventually buying land on William Faithfull's estate at South Creek (St Marys). This area was eventually named "Rope's Creek" and “Ropes Crossing” after the family. Their son William died at the age of 27 in 1833 and Anthony & Elizabeth brought up their grandchildren. Elizabeth died in 1837 at the age of 80 and Anthony in 1843 at the age of 89 years. Both are buried at the Castlereagh Church of Christ cemetery.

Article and photos by Lyn Forde

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Our guest speaker for August was Reverend David Clarke who is minister at the St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church at St Marys who gave an interesting and informative talk on his family holiday last year when his family visited with his parents, who, at that time, were missionaries in Kenya. Lots of wonderful photos taken by Reverend Clarke, including the one above were looked over by the members and all said it was a very informative talk.      (Photo of Rev. Clarke taken by Lyn Forde – Kenya photo courtesy of Rev. Clarke)

Early Life on South Creek by Norma Thorburn

It was wartime! All the young men of the family were away in the army. My grandparents, Walter and Lily Mallard, were living in a large house they were renting from Keith and Mary Hackett. It was situated on the Great Western Highway by South Creek. My aunts Jean and Joyce and my mother, Doris (Toddy) and my brother Ron and I were all staying with my grandparents until the men came home.

I particularly enjoyed Saturday afternoons, when I would go with my Pop along the Creek to set rabbit traps. I was about four years old at the time and saw this as an adventure. We set the traps on the way out and collected sticks for the fuel stove on the way back. Pop always carried a large bundle of sticks on his back and I had a small bundle tied with rope to carry home as well. We always gathered enough to last for the week.

On Sunday mornings Pop was up early to clear the traps and bring home his catch. With meat being rationed at the time, the rabbits supplemented our meat supply. Monday night’s dinner was always rabbit and my Nan knew a dozen different ways of cooking them.

Pop decided to catch some eels from the South Creek once, but they tasted awful and never became a regular part of our menu (Thank goodness). Many were the times when the creek was flooded and spoiled our adventures. It has been a long time since we saw a flood in St Marys and it’s hard to imagine it happening any time soon.


Our Society is currently in the process of searching for funding for the restoration of an original Boer War flag in our possession. This flag held pride of place inside the St Marys Mechanic’s Institute, along with a plaque to the memory of Trooper Ransley who was their Secretary. The building stood on the highway and was demolished in the 1970’s and the flag disappeared for many years, but was found again in a very poor state and given to our Society a few years ago. The flag was first raised over Bloemfontein in South Africa when the territory was first occupied by Lord Roberts and the British and Australian Troops. Trooper Ransley died in South Africa of enteric fever, but before dying he asked Sergeant H C Gates to return it to his home town of St Marys where it hung in the Mechanic’s Institute from 1901 until the 1970’s.

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The annual “Back to St Marys Reunion” was held at the Chambers on Sunday 13th September, with a Sausage Sizzle was manned by Vic Volkiene and member volunteers and family. The attendance was down this year, no doubt due to the work going on around the building and the lack of parking. Members in attendance on the day were Margaret Dwyer, Joan O’Brien, Tracy Watkins, Norma & Tom Thorburn, Caroline & Vic Volkiene and Lyn Forde. Paul Mills had his St Mary’s school photos and Phil Brunskill was selling his St Mary’s High school mugs. Hopefully next year’s reunion will be better attended.



The school is having its 150th Anniversary in 2011 and has launched the “Name Brick or Paver” for their Anniversary Wall. There are individual brick/pavers at $25 that gives you 34 spaces and the double paver for $60 that gives you 64 spaces, so, if you or any of your family went to St Marys Public School at Princess Mary Street, this is a unique opportunity to get your family name in the wall. Either contact the school or call in at our Chambers building or Jim Mills Menswear shop in Queen Street and pick up an application form. Offer ends on 28th February, 2011.


The St Marys & District Historical Society meets every 4th Saturday at 1.15 pm
at "The Chambers" (Old Council Chambers) 2 - 6 Mamre Road, ST MARYS. (entry from carpark side)

(No meetings in January or December)
Patron of our Society is Sister Mary Louise Petro


This Newsletter is a free publication. Articles in this Newsletter may be republished if permission is given by the Society.

Please contact us on 0450132181(voicemail) or email:

(While care is taken to ensure that all articles are accurate, the opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the Society)
Any comments on this Newsletter are encouraged


Editor & Publisher: Lyn Forde

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