Mary Grunsell was born in 1836 and baptised on 4 September in Overton, Hampshire.  She was the youngest child of John Grunsell and Sarah Exel.  The couple’s eldest child, Elizabeth, died the same year Mary was born.  The other three, that I know of, were boys (five children seems a small family for the many my ancestors had).

In 1841 the family (except the eldest) were living in Southington.  Mary’s father was a journeyman tailor.  Southington was a tything of Overton.

In 1851 Mary, at age 16, was working as a house servant for the Chamberlain family in Basingstoke.  Charles Chamberlain was a 39-year-old plumber from Surrey, and lived in Cliddesden Road with his wife and four children.  Mary’s mother lived next door to Charles Kercher in Overton.

The heavily pregnant Mary married Charles Kercher, a labourer, on 5 June 1852 at St Mary’s church, Overton.  On 14 July her first child, Elizabeth, was born.  The following year Mary’s brother, Thomas, emigrated to Australia with his wife.  Mary’s first son, Charles, was born in 1854.  George was next, born between July and September in 1856, but he died sometime between October and December.  Two years later, in 1858, Mary gave birth to William.

By this time Thomas Grunsell and his wife had three children (and his wife pregnant with another) and must have offered to sponsor his sister to join them in New South Wales.

As stated in the last post, Mary and Charles and their three children sailed for Australia aboard the “Queen of England” in March 1859, arriving in Sydney on 8 July.  Their young son, William, had died on the voyage.

Mary’s next son, Arthur, was born on 25 February 1860 in Goulburn (Australia’s first inland town, established about the 1830s), so Mary must have got pregnant towards the end of the voyage.  They must have moved to Tirannaville shortly after that, as Mary’s daughter, Alice, was born there on 27 August 1861.  Perhaps by then Charles had found the job as gardener to Mrs Gibson at Tiranna House.

Two years later, Walter Henry was born on 31 July 1863.  Another son, Alfred Henry, was born on 19 July 1865.  Edward James was born on 8 December 1867 and the final child, Edwin George, was born on 28 March 1870.  Mary had given birth to ten children, eight of them surviving.  She was just 34.

Tragically, Charles died of strychnine poisoning just one year later.  Mary’s two eldest were teenagers (17 and 19) but she still had six children to take care of, the youngest only a year old.  I have no idea what she did to survive.

Mary’s eldest, Elizabeth, married George Snow in 1875 in Tirannaville.  The next eldest, Charles, married in Goulburn in 1876.  Arthur married in 1884 in Goulburn and Alice married Philip Thomas in Sydney in 1885.  Walter never married and appeared to live with his mother in George Street, Goulburn.  I imagine that Mary moved to Goulburn sometime after 1875.

In 1895 the second youngest, Edward, married in January to Lavinia Stevens.  Four months later, his younger brother, Edwin, married.  The last of the sons married in 1897 (Alfred to Emily Hall).  Just one year later, Walter died of consumption.


Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 8 November 1898

Two years later Mary herself died, on 16 May 1900, age 64.


Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 17 May 1900


Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 17 May 1900

In her will, Mary left a total of £1,157, quite a substantial sum, so she did alright.  She left a larger chunk (£236) to her eldest son, Charles, who must have provided for her.  To her other sons she left equal amounts of £136.  To her grandchildren she left £10 each and to her daughters-in-law £20 each.  It appears that Mary had properties in George Street and Ruby Street (houses built by her sons) which she had rented out.  She left a houselot of furniture (for two bedrooms, parlour, dining, and kitchen) and such things as pictures, ornaments and sewing machine.

She was buried alongside Charles in Tirannaville cemetery.



Sources: wikipedia; family archives; Trove