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Friday, January 29, 2010


Sarah Ann Maria Clark(e)
Sarah Ann Maria CLARK(E) was born in 1856 in the rich farming land district of CASTLEREAGH on the Hawkesbury/Nepean River system at the base of the Blue Mountains.
It is still a beautiful part of the world today.
I know because I once lived in the Hawkesbury district and used to love driving along the picturesque Castlereagh Road between the townships of Richmond and Penrith, passing through the tiny township of Castlereagh on the way.
To the west are the foothills of the Blue Mountains and at their base, the Nepean River.
The small township of Castlereagh along with Richmond,Windsor, Wilberforce and Pitt Town are known collectively as 'the Macquarie towns' because they were planned by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in the early 1800s.
All were prone to flooding, resulting in loss of life, and the governor wanted to ameliorate this.
The floods also dumped rich alluvial soil making the area a very suitable for farming.
It became the food bowl for Old Sydney Town after farming there and at Parramatta was not very productive because of poor soils.

Sarah's parents were ROBERT CLARK(E) and ELIZABETH SMITH.
They arrived in the colony of New South Wales from Norfolk on a ship called the Asiatic on 23 May 1855, travelling with their three daughters and son James.


I do not have any information about the origins of Sarah's father at this stage.
However I do know that his death was by drowning in a creek on the property called Breelong (near Gilgandra, NSW) where Sarah lived with her husband and family.
I gleaned this snippet of information from a newspaper story written at the time Sarah and three of her children were brutally murdered by two Aboriginal men in July 1900.
Her mother's father, Arthur Samuel SMITH, died at Castlereagh.

Sarah's mother, Elizabeth SMITH, was born at Wickhampton, Norfolk in 1837 and died in 1882 at Mudgee.
Sarah and her husband John MAWBEY moved to Breelong the following year.
Perhaps her widowed father was living with her when he died.

Thanks to a distant relative, Gordon, who lives in Rosebud, Victoria and who contacted me last year when he was doing his own family history, I do have information about Sarah's mother's parents.
They were Arthur Samuel SMITH and Charlotte NEWSON.
Arthur was born 1807 at Cantly, Norfolk, England, married Charlotte in 1834 at Wickhampton, Norfolk, and died at Castlereagh on 28 January 1891.

Charlotte was born in 1814 at Wickhampton to James and Elizabeth NEWSON.
She was 20 when she married Arthur who was 27.
On Sarah's birth certificate, her family name is spelt without the 'e', but it is spelt with it on her marriage certificate.
Some of Sarah's younger family members lived with her at Breelong after their mother died.
One of them, Elsie Clark, whom Sarah had adopted, was there when the brutal murders took place.
She was bashed on the head with a tomahawk and survived, but was deaf for the rest of her life as a result.
Sarah was attacked on Friday night and managed, despite horrific injuries, to survive until the following Wednesday night when she finally succumbed.

The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 23 July 1900
Death of another victim.
Grace Mawbey has just died. Dr Tressider, health officer, from Dubbo, has just arrived and is now busy sewing up the wounds of Mrs Mawbey and Miss Elsie Clark, who is about 15 years of age. His opinion is that Mrs Mawbey and Miss Clark will recover. Miss Clark has not yet regained consciousness, but is continually moaning and calling out "Mamma", the name she always called Mrs Mawbey, because she had adopted her.
The Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 26 July 1900
Murders by Blacks. The Gilgandra Tragedy. Death of Mrs Mawbey.
Mrs Mawbey, one of the victims of the Gilgandra tragedy died last night.