Wednesday

Molly Morgan - Founder of Maitland, NSW, Australia

My newest song is about Molly Morgan.  Listen to it or download it as a free mp3 at http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11110972

Molly Morgan is the founder of Maitland, NSW, Australia. When you first come to Maitland you are instantly told about the boxer Les Darcy and the Maitland flood of 1955. Molly Morgan is completely ignored. As far as I can tell this is the first song in the world about Molly Morgan. There is also a scarcity of information about her on the net. The three sites I have found are:
http://www.mollymorgan.com/index.php?page=mollymorgan
http://www.mollymorganmi.com.au/Legend-Molly-Morgan.htm
http://www.convictcreations.com/history/mollymorgan.htm

I wrote this song after reading an article in the Maitland Mercury about Les Darcy. I also asked the Editor of the Maitland Mercury what she thought the essential aspect of Maitland was after she commented at Morpeth Men's Shed that the newspaper should reflect the community. All we ever hear about is Les Darcy and the 1955 flood. Molly Morgan is much more interesting.

She was born Mary, the daughter of a ratcatcher and labourer in the village of Diddlesbury, Shropshire , England. At 16 she was sent to work as a nursemaid for a local farmer, and some time later bore a child out of wedlock, rumoured to be his. The girl was named Mary, like her mother.

William Morgan, an apprentice wheelwright met Molly Jones and they married on June 25th, 1785, with Molly bringing her daughter Mary to live with them. A son, James, was born in the next year.

In 1790 she was caught stealing hemp from a linen factory. Both Molly and William were arrested. William escaped, leaving his wife to bear the brunt of the charge and Molly was found guilty and sentenced to death. She lobbied for transportation, and was granted a term of 14 years in one of the British colonies. Molly was boarded onto the 'Neptune', part of the notorious Second Fleet, departing England in January 1790.

Only five years into her sentence, she became friends with a Captain Locke from the ship Resolution and managed to get a free passage back to England . So well did she endear herself to the captain, he supplemented a luxurious return journey with a wedding proposal.

She arrived back in London safely, collected her children and eventually entered into marriage with Thomas Mare, a wealthy brassfounder from Plymouth. (as William Morgan had finally been caught and transported to Australia himself). However Mare later accused Molly of burning down their house after a domestic squabble where Molly said that he was disrespectful, then she was accused again of stealing in 1803 and sentenced to 7 years transportation.

Molly became friendly with an army captain who acquired for her some land and a few head of cattle. Molly proved herself to be a more than capable farmer as her herd multiplied in size at rate never seen before. It was then discovered that Molly's ingenious farming practice was to brand Government cattle as her own.

This time Molly's charms were of no use and she was sent to sent to the Newcastle Penal Colony, a place reserved for the most wicked of Convicts.

The Convict labourers assigned to her proved themselves to be particularly productive workers. It seems Molly's management technique was to supply them with liquor as a bonus for hard work.

Molly set up residence with an Officer of the Settlement she and negotiated her ticket of leave (parole); was part of a select group settled at Wallis' Plains; was promised a grant of 159 acres by Governor Macquarie; and later had this honoured in 1825. Today this land forms most of Maitland's CBD - the region's largest city.

At age 61, she married for the third time to Joseph Hunt - aged 31.

She also received what is believed to be the first liquor licence in NSW, which she and Joe opened up their famed watering hole, Maitland’s 'Angel Inn' near the site of modern Maitland's New Vine church, High Street. She rapidly evolved the asset into chain of taverns along the river ports and bullock tracks of the Hunter Valley .

In 1827 'The Australian' published a letter praising Molly Hunt (formerly Molly Morgan) for her drive and donations towards the building of the school and church, visiting the sick, running her own home-made hospital, aiding settlers upon their arrival, helping in times of flood and taking a special interest in the welfare of convicts.

She died aged 73 in 1835 and is often referred to as "Queen of the Hunter Valley".

*[Compiled from various sources named above]