Analysing sources

Student activities

Task no. 1

Analysing sources

Carefully read Mary Reibey's letter (source 1) and journal (source 4). (See transripts of these sources below.)

How old was Mary when she wrote Source 1?

How old was Mary when she wrote Source 4?

From your knowledge of the events in Mary's life, describe the changes that had taken place from the time she wrote Source 1 to the time she wrote Source 4.

Source 1: Letter written by 15 year old Mary Haydock (Mary Reibey) to her aunt Penelope Hope, Sydney, 8 October 1792

Transcript of Mary Haydock's letter to her aunt:

To Mrs Hope

Church street blackburn


Octb 8th 1792 bottany bay

My Dear aunt

We arrived here on the 7th and I hope it will answer better than we expected for I write this on Board of ship but it looks a pleasant place - Enough we shall but have 4 pair of trowser [trousers] to make [last?] a week and we shall have one pound of rice a week and 4 pound of pork besides Greens and other Vegetaibles the [they] tell me I am for life[1] wich [which] The Governor teld [told] me I was but for 7 years[2] wich Grives [grieves[3]] me very much to think of it but I will watch every oppertunity to get away in too or 3 years But I will make my self as happy as I Can In my Pressent and unhappy situation I will Give you - Further satisfaction when I Get there and is settld I am well and hearty as ever I was in my life I - Desire you will answer me by some ship that is - Coming and lett me know how the Children is and all inquireing friends so I must Conclude because we are in a hurry to go a shore remember - My Love to my sister and aunt wamsley and My Cousens so no more at pressent from your undutifull neice Mary Haydock Mr Scot Took 2 Ginnues [guineas[4]] of [off] me and said he would get me My Libberty with my sister has been very ungrat [?]To me so I must never see you again

*Note: Mary’s spelling and grammatical errors have not been corrected.

[1] Sentenced to transportation for life

[2] ‘The Governor told me I was transported for 7 years’.

[3] ‘Saddens me.’

[4] A guinea in British money was worth £1.05 - one pound and one shilling. At this time one guinea was the weekly wage of a journeyman tradesman.


Source 4: Mary Reibey's journal, 1820-1821

In this journal written in 1820, Mary Reibey documents her visit to England with her daughters Celia (Source 2) and Elizabeth. They visited many relatives in Lancashire, had their portraits painted in Glasgow and went to the theatre in London.

In April 1821 Mary Reibey made arrangements to return to Sydney. During the long wait for the ship to leave she bought goods for herself and her shop in Sydney. The ship finally left England in July 1821.

Entries from Mary Reibey's journal, 1820-1821

20 June 1820

'It is impossible to describe the sensation I felt when coming to the top of Dorwen Street my native home and amongst my Relatives and on entering my once Grandmothers House where I had been brought up, and to find it nearly the same as when I left nearly 29 years ago all the same furniture most of them standing in the same place as when I left but not one person I knew of knew me, but was fully requited by my Cousin Miss Alice Hope who was in expectation of our coming, her and Miss Ward (an old acquaintance of all the family) met us at the Door with all the affection and love of a sister.'

22 December 1820

'Set out for Bury Mr Hargreaves taking me in his gig [a small carriage] to a place called Openshowfold where I found my old nurse and her husband who was both so gratified they hardly knew how to contain themselves with joy. The old Lady said she was sure she could not have rested in her grave had she not have seen me they said they was both in their eighty first year of their age and both looked as if they would live 20 years longer - we went on to Bury about a mile further where we put up at the Grey Mare an Inn about 20 yards from where my mother lived in the wild but all those Houses had been pulled down to make improvements to the Church. ... Mrs Hargreaves and I went to the old Church at Bury to procure the Certificate of my age the Clerk and I looked through the Register Book of parchment and I decisioned at first I was Born in the year of our Lord 1777, May 12th and christened 29th.'

*Note: Mary's spelling and grammatical errors have not been corrected.

 In July 1790, at the age of 13, Mary was sentenced to be transported to Australia for taking a ‘joyride’ on a neighbour’s pony. Soon after arriving in Sydney two years later, Mary wrote this letter to her aunt in England.
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Mrs Celia Wills daughter of Mary Reibey, ca. 1820
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Mrs Jane Penelope Atkinson daughter of Mrs Mary Reibey, ca. 1828
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Mary Reibey journal, 1820-1821 - Title page, 1820-1821
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Mary Reibey journal, 1820-1821 - page, 1820-1821
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Mary Reibey, baptised Molly Haydock, was born in Bury, Lancashire, England. Convicted of horse-stealing at the age of 13, Mary was sentenced to 7 years transportation to the Colony of New South Wales.
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