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Jane Steel Walker nee Hart (1832-1870) wife of businessman and philanthropist Thomas Walker of Yaralla

There is little accurate information available on Jane Steel Walker nee Hart, the wife of businessman and philanthropist Thomas Walker of Yaralla.[1] Our understanding of who Jane was is hampered by a lack of primary documentary evidence and by statements in secondary sources that are made about Jane, but which do not appear to be grounded in any primary source. Various writers have continued to uncritically quote these secondary sources which has compounded the confusion. The purpose of this short paper is to clarify what is actually known about Jane and her life.

Jane Hart’s birth

Jane Steel Walker nee Hart

Jane Steel Walker nee Hart

Lack of a birth certificate has led to speculation by researchers as to the age and identity of Jane.[2] According to her gravestone, Jane Steel Hart was born in St Andrews, Scotland, on 2 July 1832.[3] Her marriage certificate records that Jane Hart married Thomas Walker on 25 July 1860 at the Holy Trinity Church, Sydney. We are informed she was a spinster, that she was born in St Andrews, Scotland and that her usual place of residence was Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

On 18 September 1861, Jane gave birth to Eadith and her age was given as 30[4] and on her death certificate of 26 December 1870, her age was stated as 40 years. Her age at the time of marriage, which is information she most likely would have supplied, unlike the information from other documents, Jane is recorded as being 28 years of age; these age variations give approximately the same date and therefore are not significant. On this evidence her birthdate is in 1832, as stated on her gravestone.

In Summary:  Jane Hart was born on 2 July 1832 at St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

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