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Thomas Roberts (1805-1871) Missionary and Artist and Mary Roberts (1808-1890) Matron, Sydney Female Refuge


On November 10, 1852, Thomas Roberts, a portrait painter,[1] and his wife Mary (nee Griffiths) arrived in Melbourne with seven of their children on the Hope to begin a new life in Port Phillip.[2] The children were Samuel (20), Ellen (18), Sarah (16), Hartley (14), Elizabeth (5), Emma (4) and Walter (1).[3]  Thomas was born in Denbighshire, Wales, and had spent a number of years in Manchester at least from the time of his marriage in 1830 until sometime before January 1846 when he and the family moved to London.[4] In Manchester, the family had been involved with the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church Chapel in Cooper Street.[5]

Thomas not only worked as a portrait painter, but he also served for several years as a London City Missionary[6] and, according to Thomas’ grandson, he received a ‘lay reader’s commission from the Bishop of London to act as a chaplain on board the ship’[7] on their trip to Australia. Thomas and also his two daughters, Ellen and Sarah, came to the colony under the auspices of the Colonial Church and School Society (CCSS)[8] whose purpose was sending out clergymen, catechists and school teachers (both male and female) to the Colonies of Great Britain and to British residents in other parts of the world.[9] Ellen, was appointed in charge of the St Mark’s Girl’s school Collingwood, and Sarah also worked for several years as a school mistresses in Melbourne.[10] The CCSS was formed from pre-existing Anglican Evangelical Societies (Newfoundland School Society and the Colonial Church Society) on January 1, 1851, and the Rev Mesac Thomas (afterwards first Bishop of Goulburn in New South Wales in 1863)[11] was appointed its Secretary.


Bishop Mesac Thomas

Bishop Perry State Library of Victoria

Bishop Perry State Library of Victoria

Thomas from the time of his arrival was licensed by the Bishop Perry of Melbourne to work as a lay missionary and he worked with the Rev James A Clowes at Collingwood. He was described by Clowes as ‘truly a man of Christian simplicity and godly sincerity. His mature experience in the work of an evangelist renders him a valuable acquisition.’[12]  Thomas’ work involved visiting, tract distribution, addressing Sunday-school, holding children’s services, giving lessons in the day schools and holding cottage lectures and open-air meetings.

From 1854 to early 1856[13] he served on behalf of the Church of England, at the Melbourne Hospital, the Benevolent Asylum and the Immigrants home[14] where he visited inmates and conducted weekly worship services. He kept a journal which recorded two or three of the most important cases from the 30 to 50 visits he would make in a day. In this work he exhibited ‘earnest and preserving endeavours to [spread] a knowledge of the great truths of Christianity among the inmates’[15] and it was noted by his supervisor, the Rev John Barlow, that he exhibited ‘much zeal and earnestness’.[16] Thomas in his spare time was even trying to translate portions of the scriptures into the local aboriginal language. He spoke to Aboriginals he found sitting in Collins Street seeking to elicit vocabulary for various objects and actions. He said he preferred using the Pestalozzian system which he found was admirably suited to teaching the heathen. The teacher, he said, is taught at the same time. [17]

Thomas did not have a happy experience in Melbourne under the Bishop.[18] He worked for him for four years[19] and yet clearly felt insecure in his relationship to the Bishop. In October 1856, he petitioned the Victorian Church of England Assembly claiming that he was in imminent danger of being dismissed by the Bishop. His petition was rejected with Thomas T A’Beckett, the Secretary of the Church of England Assembly, saying that ‘there was not the slightest ground for the allegation’.[20]

Earlier in 1856, he published his book in Melbourne, The heavenly vision, or, Jacob’s dream: as representing the providence of God, the mediation of Christ, and the ministry of angels.[21] In this work Thomas wanted his readers to learn two things: firstly, that this earth, though cursed through sin, is now consecrated through the mediation of Christ and secondly, to know the path that leads to God and that ‘eternal life, to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ and that ‘those who know the way, and walk therein, will reach to heaven at last’.[22]

That the book contained the commendations of H B Macartney, Church of England Dean of Melbourne,[23] Adam Cairns, a leading Presbyterian Minister,[24] Alexander Morison, a leading Congregational minister,[25] D J Draper, a leading Wesleyan minister,[26] Charles Thomas Perks Church of England Minister St Stephens, Richmond[27] and W N Guinness Church of England Minister Christ Church, South Yarra,[28] is significant. It shows that in less than four years Thomas was sufficiently well known to gain such endorsements, and also that he realised that the ecumenical nature of the endorsements gave him the best chance of having the volume widely read.

While there may have been nothing in his fear of dismissal by Bishop Perry, by 1858 Thomas was advertising his services as a portrait painter in Ballarat. His advertisement gave the prices for various sized portraits which ranged from £6 6 shillings for a 24 inch X 20 inch work to £200 for an 8 feet x 5 feet work.[29] He remained only a short time in Ballarat, the wealth of the mining centre possibly not providing him with sufficient commissions, and soon moved to Geelong where he gained employment as a drawing master at Geelong National Grammar School, teaching from 1858 until 1860.[30]  During his time in Geelong, Roberts joined the Free Church of England saying that he had experienced from the bishop ‘several instances of unkindness and unfair dealing’. He said that ‘having felt the sting and tyranny of prelacy in Melbourne, he was glad to have his lot cast as a refugee member’ of the Free Church.[31]

After he left the Grammar School, Thomas worked as a portrait painter and photographer at 16 Ryrie Street Geelong from 1861-1862 [32] and during this period became the secretary of the Geelong Total Abstinence Society (1860-62).[33] In October 1862, he was advertising Portraits at Half-price and his stock for sale as he was leaving the colony and he was also selling some of his equipment seeking to dispose of ‘3 Voightlander Lenses. Large View Lens, half-plate do [lens]. Brass Camera. two Wooden do [Cameras), &c, &c’. [34]

By 1863, Thomas had moved to Sydney where he remained until his death in 1871. On arriving in Sydney, he continued his work as both a missionary and an artist. He advertised himself as ‘Professor T Roberts’, (lately National Drawing Master, Grammar Schools, Victoria) Academy of Art, 400 George Street where ‘Drawing [was] taught, in pencil, crayons, and water colours; together with oil painting in its various branches.’[35] In this same year he was commissioned to paint a picture of the Rev Thomas Smith of St Barnabas Church, Glebe, a work which was completed in October of that year.[36] In April 1864 he, along with other Welsh expatriates, welcomed Bishop Mesac Thomas to at Thomas’ Sydney studio with an artistic address on parchment suitably inscribed in Welsh by Thomas.[37] In 1866, he delivered an address at a St David’s Day celebration, with what degree of seriousness is uncertain, in which he sought to show that Welsh was the language spoken by Adam and Eve.[38] In 1868, he was involved in forming, as acting manager, the short-lived Welsh Society which was called ‘Prince Alfred’s Cambrian Institution’ and which was established to promote ‘useful knowledge in religion, literature, art and science’. [39] Probably as part of that role, he was Secretary of the St David’s Day Concert in March 1868[40] and he was also preaching in Welsh for those who attended the Welsh Church.[41]


Clink on link below for a listing of the known art work done by Thomas


In the account written about Thomas’ son,  John Hartley Roberts, it is said that Thomas ‘went to Samoa as a Congregational missionary, under the London Mission Society (LMS), and afterwards settled in Sydney, as one of the first chaplains in charge of the Sydney City Mission’.[42] As has been noted, Thomas was in Sydney from early 1863 and as the Sydney City Mission (SCM) had been formed in July of 1862 Thomas could not have been one of the original agents. The SCM decided to appoint four agents, two women and two men,[43] who commenced work on October 1, 1862.[44] Thomas was still in Geelong in October of that year, although he was soon to leave.[45] This statement, that he was one of the first chaplains, is probably a confusion with his role as a missionary under the ministry of Thomas Smith of Glebe which would have been of a similar character to that of a SCM missionary. Smith was a former Colonial Church and School Society Missionary,[46] as was Thomas, which would have made his appointment to work under Smith very understandable.[47]

The statement about his service under the LMS could be correct, but the time frame mentioned cannot be correct. Thomas was very busy in the years following his arrival and his whereabouts can be tracked in the newspapers of the time. It was not until after the marriage of his daughter Emma in July 1868, and before his commencing the Academy of High Art in June 1870,[48] that he had a sufficient period of time to go to Samoa as a missionary. His Last Will and Testament makes reference to a debt owed to him, a

sum of upwards of two hundred and fifty dollars [AU$ 6,500 present value] stolen by Natives during the War in Samoa two chiefs and Pule Pule the King having signed an agreement to the British Consul (Mr J C Williams son of the late massacred John Williams Missionary) to refund the same in full with the usual fine and forfeit the Samoan laws make as restitution for stolen property.[49]

Williams was British Consul in Samoa from 1858-1873[50] and there was significant civil unrest, particularly in 1869,[51] and on October 18, 1869, the Scotsman docked in Sydney having come from the Navigator Islands (Samoa) and a Mr T Roberts was a passenger on board.[52] It would seem that Roberts did spend some time in Samoa, but not more than a year at most and in what capacity he was there, or whether it was with the LMS,[53] is uncertain.

One week before Thomas died he signed his Will. It was an unusual Will for it was mostly a statement of his faith rather than a distribution of his meagre assets of ‘furniture, books, pictures and money’. The Will shows that he had not deserted the Welsh Calvinism of his younger days, nor had he changed his view from his 1856 publication as to the nature of eternal life. The Will read, in part:

In the Sacred name of the most High and Holy God reconciled to me in Christ Jesus by his holy Spirit I Thomas Roberts an unworthy servant of my great Redeemer being mindful of my own frailty and mortality and drawing nigh towards the end of this transitory life having through God’s rich mercy and great love been kept and protected to a good old age saved from many dangers and perils on the sea and on the land and being now in my 65th year in full possession of my understanding and memory I thereby and herewith make and ordain this my last Will and testament for the peaceful and amicable distribution of the property entrusted to me by my Lord and Master First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for the rich provision of the everlasting Gospel freely given in the devine [sic] promises of inspiration to all believers and to their children and grandchildren I commend my soul to him who said “I give unto them eternal life and this life eternal to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” I rejoice in believing that the eternal counsels of God shall stand and that he will perform all his pleasure I am glad that salvation is of free grace and that the will of God does not depend on the will of man I believe in the doctrines of utter depravity of man through the fall The necessity of Regeneration as the work of the holy Spirit The doctrine of final perseverance in grace and final deliverance of the children of God from the corruption of the grave I also believe in the glorious doctrine of the Trinity in Unity revealed fully at the baptism of Christ to John the Baptist – and taught at every Baptism both of infants and adults when properly administered according to the command of Christ Also the incarnation of deity in the second person of the glorious trinity and the great atonement made so that God in Christ reconcileth the world to himself through him Hereby and herewith I bequeath and grant to my dear wife Mary Roberts all my property …[54]

Avertisement for Welsh Church Services  SMH March 21, 1868, 1.

Advertisement for Welsh Church Services SMH March 21, 1868, 1.

Mary Roberts nee Griffiths was born in Manchester in 1808 to Richard and Ellen Griffiths. She married Thomas in Manchester in 1830 and here bore five children between 1831 and 1838, followed by a further three children born in West Ham Essex from 1846 until 1851. When Mary arrived in Melbourne with Thomas she had three children under the age of six to care for, and this included an infant. Clearly, for the period from her marriage until she arrived in Victoria and for some time after, she was largely concerned with her role as a mother. In 1854 Ellen, her daughter established, with the probable assistance of mother,[55]  a boarding school for Young Ladies in Homerton House, South Yarra. This venture was short-lived as Ellen married in 1857[56] and the school business was put up for sale in April 1858,[57] prior to the Roberts’ move to Geelong.  Nothing further is known of Mary until September 1864 when she was appointed Matron[58] of the Sydney Female Refuge (SFR) in Pitt Street, Sydney, and the position provided accommodation for Mary, Thomas and their daughter Emma.[59]  The task of Matron was varied and required Mary to oversee the housekeeping of the Refuge and the residents, carry out the instructions of the oversight committees, collect outstanding payments for laundry work and manage staff.

Mary appears to have been well regarded in this role by both the governance committee[60] and the women of the refuge. Not all residents of the SFR were happy with their stay as many absconded, but many were happy and expressed their gratitude and regard for Mrs Roberts.  “Oh! Mrs Roberts, I can never forget your goodness to me; but for you I do not know what would have become of me.”[61] In January 1868, the first advertisement of Borwick’s Baking Powder appeared with the endorsement of ‘M. Roberts Matron to the Sydney Female Refuge’. Mary said she had used the powder for the last 12 years and that she considered it an ‘invaluable help to thrifty housewives who delight in making [a] home happy, as they can thereby make cakes and puddings for their families at a much less cost than with eggs.’ No doubt the company thought the endorsement worthwhile as the public would understand that a Matron of a Female Refuge would know all the best ways to save money. The endorsement was considered so worthwhile the advertisements continued until December 1869, long after Mary had left the Refuge.[62]

Rev Thomas Smith

Rev Thomas Smith

Thomas, though not employed by the Refuge, conducted daily (sometime twice daily) services at the Refuge consisting of a ‘Scripture reading, a short exhortation, singing, and prayer’.[63]  He was also, from at least 1865,[64] a missionary under the pastorate of the Rev Mr Thomas Smith of St Barnabas’ who ordinarily laboured at Glebe.[65] There was clearly a strong connection with the Roberts family and Smith, beginning with Thomas painting Smith’s portrait, and Smith was secretary of the SFR when Mary was appointed. He was also prominent in the formation and support of the Protestant Servants Training-School (PSTS) to which Mary was also appointed.[66]

By October 1868, Mary had left the SFR because she considered her salary too small[67] and in 1870-1 she became the Matron of the PSTS, the position providing accommodation for both Thomas and herself. The institution was ‘for the benefit of girls, from the age of ten years and upwards, whose parents and guardians wish them to be instructed as domestic servants, where they may be maintained, preserved from danger, educated, and trained to become good and useful servants, and instructed in the fundamental truths of God’s Word’.[68] Mary’s job was to train the girls in the skills of washing, ironing, mangling and needlework as well as other useful skills.[69]

Final Days


Thomas Robert’s grave at Rookwood, Sydney, NSW.

Thomas died at his residence in the PSTS, Upper Dowling Street Darlinghurst, on 17 August, 1871. He was referred to as Thomas Roberts, Esq, Missionary[70] and at this time there was no mention of his ability as a painter. A monumental headstone for Thomas was erected at the Haslam Creek Cemetery (Rookwood) by a few friends in recognition of his ‘earnest labours.’[71] The inscription on the monument read “Sacred to the memory of Thomas Roberts Missionary who fell asleep in Jesus 17 August 1871 Aged 66 Years Erected by a few friends in memory of a faithful servant of Christ”.[72] Mary did not remain at the PSTS, but in 1872 left to join her daughter Mary Ellen (now Mrs Charles Croaker) who resided in Melbourne with husband and family.[73] She died at her daughter’s home in Toorak on 22 November, 1890.[74]

In her lifetime, Mary Roberts was a faithful and supportive wife and mother as well as exercising a ministry as an efficient Matron of the Sydney Female Refuge (1864-1869). Her husband, Thomas Roberts, was a portrait painter and artist but seems to have given little time to this profession, preferring to involve himself in various forms of Christian ministry. A comment made in connection with a work shown at his last known exhibition seems to capture the essence of the man. The work was titled ‘Christ in the Temple’ and it was said to have been ‘cleverly painted in oils, by Mr T Roberts, the well-known city missionary, as an occasional relaxation from his arduous duties.’[75]

Dr Paul F Cooper Research Fellow, Christ College, Sydney

The appropriate way to cite this article is as follows:

Paul F Cooper. Thomas Roberts (1805-1871), Missionary and Artist and Mary Roberts (1808-1890), Matron, Sydney Female Refuge  Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, January 16, 2017. Available at

[1] 1851 England Census.

[2] Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871, Public Record Office, Victoria. The Hope left Liverpool on August 9, 1852. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), November 11, 1852, 2.

[3] Death Certificate, Mary Roberts, 1890, Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages. Mary had given birth to eleven children in all.

[4] He moved from 31 Byrom Street, Manchester and to Ham Lane, West Ham. As indicated on birth/baptism records of the children.

[5] Four of their children were baptised there.

[6] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), April 13, 1859, 2.

[7] S. C. Roberts, Tamai, the life story of John Hartley Roberts of Tonga (Sydney: Methodist Book Depot, 1924), 4.

[8] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), April 13, 1859, 2.

[9]// [accessed 21/12/2016]

[10] Annual Report of the Colonial Church and School Society for 1853-1854, 100.

[11] Barbara Thorn, ‘Thomas, Mesac (1816–1892)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 21 December 2016.

Photo:  [accessed 25/12/2016]

[12] Annual Report of the Colonial Church and School Society for 1853-1854, 100.

[13] He was paid above £100. 1856 Victorian Electoral Roll.

[14] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), March 20, 1856, 6. This letter to the editor is signed T. R. and is most probably written by Thomas himself.

[15] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), May 22, 1856, 5.

[16] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), March 20, 1856, 6.

[17] Annual Report of the Colonial Church and School Society for 1854-1855, 107-8. See also

[18] A. De Q. Robin, ‘Perry, Charles (1807–1891)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 21 December 2016.

[19] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), April 13, 1859, 2. This was probably from 1852 on his arrival until 1856/7.

[20] The Age (Melbourne, Vic.), October 30, 1856, 6. In 1855-56, H B Macartney, the Dean,  administered the diocese whilst Perry was in England and the Bishop returned to Victoria on April 18, 1856. Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Portland, Vic.), April 28, 1856, 3.

[21] T. Roberts, Missionary Melbourne, Agent of the Colonial Church and School Society, The heavenly vision, or, Jacob’s dream: as representing the providence of God, the mediation of Christ, and the ministry of angels. Melbourne: Wilson, Mackinnon & Fairfax, Printers, 1856.

[22] T. Roberts, The heavenly vision, 13.

[23] A. De Q. Robin, ‘Macartney, Hussey Burgh (1799–1894)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 7 January 2017.

[24] Don Chambers, ‘Cairns, Adam (1802–1881)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 7 January 2017.

[25] Niel Gunson, ‘Morison, Alexander (1813–1887)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 7 January 2017.

[26] F. Hambly, ‘Draper, Daniel James (1810–1866)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 7 January 2017.

[27] The book incorrectly uses the surname Peeks [sic]. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic), July 21, 1892, 6.

[28] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic), December 5, 1880, 6.

[29] The Star (Ballarat, Vic), March 12, 1858, 3.

[30] The Star (Ballarat, Vic), July 12, 1858, 4; Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic), April 13, 1859, 2; January 10, 1860, 4; The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), December 31, 1860, 7. The position was first advertised in April 1858. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), April 6, 1858, 1. In January 1861 the school was advertising for a ‘gentleman to teach drawing’. Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic), January 30, 1861, 1.

[31] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), April 13, 1859, 2.

[32] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), May 7, 1861, 1.

[33] He had been elected at least in 1860. Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), January 11, 1861, 3; March 15,  1861, 4;  January 10, 1862, 3; October 21, 1862, 4.

[34] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), October 25, 1862, 1.

[35] SMH, October 3, 1863, 4. This unusual designation as having lately been “National Drawing Master, Grammar Schools, Victoria” may be, like the designation “Prof T Roberts” a bit of inflation of his CV or it could possibly refer to his use of the method of teaching introduced by WA Nicholls in 1855 in his book The National Drawing Master, on a New Principle, greatly Facilitating Self-instruction in Landscape and Figure Drawing (London: Ackermann and Co, Reeves and Sons, 1855). Inflation of the CV is perhaps the most likely explanation.

[36] “The Reverend Thomas Smith—There is now on view at the studio of Mr Thomas Roberts, the artist, in George Street, between the Post-office and King street, a very excellent likeness in oil painting, seven feet by six feet, of the respected incumbent of St. Barnabas’ church, Parramatta-street. In the picture Mr Roberts delineates his subject with admirable felicity, and has chosen to portray the reverend gentleman in his sacerdotal robes. The figure in the painting is represented apparently in a listening attitude, the left hand grasping the sacred volume. The attentive interest so apparent in the placid and benign features, is artistically depicted, and the figure and countenance of Mr Smith, shows that the artist has studied the natural expression of human emotions, and the art of transferring them to canvas with great attention and considerable success. The still life-like scene, so becoming in all things pertaining to the sanctuary, is presented in vivid colours in the painting. The costume and folds in the gown evidence the impress of great care and a minuteness of detail, which speak well for the patient exactness of the artist. Considerable numbers have already inspected this work of art, and have expressed themselves highly delighted with so graphic a portrait of the Spurgeon of Australia. No doubt the beauties and other perfections of the painting will very materially add to the merits of the artist’s fame.” Empire (Sydney, NSW), December 17, 1863, 4.

[37] Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), April 9, 1864, 3.

[38] Empire (Sydney, NSW), March 2, 1866, 5.

[39] Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), March 21, 1868, 3. His son-in-law James Morey was Secretary of the Society.

[40] SMH, February 28, 1868, 8. Significantly his address given in this advertisement (568 Pitt-street) was the approximate location of the Sydney Female Refuge which was opposite side of the road and near to Christ Church St Laurence.

[41] SMH, March 21, 1868, 1.

[42] Tamai, 5.

[43] Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), June 17, 1865, 5. The missionaries were John Robens,  B.W. Simpson, Mrs Sarah Aspinall and Mr Louisa Thompson.  SMH, March 3, 1863, 5. June Owen, The Heart of the City – the first 125 years of  The Sydney City Mission, (Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press, 1987), 21.

[44]  SMH, June 2, 1863, 5.

[45] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), October 25, 1862, 1.

[46] He was a missioner of the Colonial and Continental Church Society. Ruth Teale, ‘Smith, Thomas (1829–1882)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 8 January 2017. In Smith and Roberts time the organisation was actually called the Colonial Church and School Society and did not change its name to the Colonial and Continental Church Society until 1861.

[47] Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Vic.), April 13, 1859, 2; Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), July 21, 1866, 7.

[48] SMH, June 25, 1870, 1.

[49] Last Will and Testament Thomas Roberts, Missionary, 9404, Archives NSW.

[50] Pambu, Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, 6, January 1969, 1.

[51] Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), June 25, 1869, 2.

[52] Empire (Sydney, NSW), October 19, 1869, 2. It is not certain that this is the ‘T Roberts’ of this article but the time frame fits well with it being so.

[53] What makes the LMS connection problematic is that there no report in the NSW Auxiliary of the LMS meetings for the 1868-70 period mentioning Roberts as a new LMS missionary to Samoa though in that time period a number of other new missionaries are mentioned.

[54] Last Will and Testament, Thomas Roberts, Missionary, 9404, Archives NSW.

[55] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), January 1855, 6. This start date for 1855 seems to indicate the School began prior to 1855. The school starts as ‘Miss Roberts’s School’ and by 1857 it is ‘Mrs Roberts’ School’. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), December 14, 1857, 6; September 15, 1857, 1.

[56] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), March 28, 1857, 4. Mary Ellen Croaker nee Roberts in 1883, after the death of her husband, began to run a school in Toorak. Mary joined her after the death of Thomas and she died at her daughter’s residence in 1890. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), January, 11, 1882, 8.

[57] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), April 6, 1858, 8.

[58] Sydney Female Refuge Society Minutes of Ladies Committee 30/9/1864.

[59] SMH, February 10, 1865, 1; July 2, 1867, 2; Sands Directory 1867, 120. Emma was the only unmarried daughter in 1865.

[60]  ‘for a long period she filled with efficiency the position of Matron.’ Empire (Sydney, NSW), July 22, 1869, 3.

[61] SMH, July 2, 1867, 2.

[62] The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA), January 3, 1868, 4; Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), July 11, 1873, 3. Whether Mary was paid or the SFR was paid is unknown.

[63] Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), May 19, 1866, 3; Empire (Sydney, NSW), July 2, 1867, 5.

[64] Empire (Sydney, NSW), November 2, 1865, 5. Smith and Roberts are mentioned in an inquest into the death of a Glebe resident which indicates a working relationship existed. This is explicitly stated in the Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), May 19, 1866, 3.

[65] Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), May 19, 1866, 3.

[66] SMH, July 2, 1867, 2; December 5, 1871, 5. Smith was secretary 1864-1869.  SMH, March 8, 1864, 5; Sydney Mail (Sydney, NSW), July 24, 1869, 2.

[67] Sydney Female Refuge Society Minutes of Ladies Committee 2/10/1868.

[68] SMH, March 9, 1871, 5.

[69] SMH, March 9, 1871, 5.

[70] Evening News (Sydney, NSW), August 19, 1871, 2; SMH, February 10, 1865, 1.

[71] The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), July 6, 1872, 9.

[72] The inscription on the grave stone at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney is difficult to read due to weathering.

[73] In January 1874 she and her daughter’s family left Melbourne to travel on the Great Queensland to London. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), January 9, 1874, 4.

[74] The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), November 25, 1890, 1.

[75] SMH, July 14, 1871, 4.

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