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Monday, February 27, 2012


One of the plays the man who appears to have been George Mawbey acted in was Black Ey'd Susan or All in the Downs.
This was a nautical melodrama in three acts that had been a huge success in London when it had made its debut there in 1829.
Written by Douglas Jerrold, a former sailor and writer for the satirical magazine, Punch, it was about the wife of a sailor who falls on hard times while her husband is away at sea.
Her landlord and the sailor's amorous drunken captain both try to take advantage of her, but her husband who returns a nautical hero eventually saves her.
The play was set at the end of the Napoleonic wars and would have resonnated with many seamen and their wives at that time.
It ran at the Surrey Theatre in Blackfriars Street, London in the Borough of Lambeth for 300 nights.
Black-Ey'd Susan was performed as the opening production at the restored Theatre Royal at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England from 11-22 Septempber 2008 after having been unseen for 100 years.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


The first public record in the colony of New South Wales of a man who appears to be my great great grandfather, George Mawbey, is mentioned in a newspaper advertisement in April 1833 for a performance at the Theatre Royal in Sydney.
The Theatre Royal in George Street was the first non-amateur, professional theatre in Australia.
It was founded by Mr Barnett Levey, brother of a convict, who started an amateur theatre in his pub, The Royal Hotel in Pitt Street, before building his own theatre behind it in George Street.
He had to overcome religious objections to the establishment of a professional theatre by residents of the colony who thought it would not be morally good for its mainly convict residents.
Governor Darling refused to give him a licence, but his successor, Governor Bourke, did.
The first performance at the Theatre Royal, the theatre's opening night, occurred on 26 December 1832.
[Source: HAT - History of Australian Theatre website]
It appears that my great great grandfather, George Mawbey, joined 'the company' of the Theatre Royal's actors four months later in April 1833.
The actors were paid a basic wage, with the principals allowed to stage 'benefits' to bring in more money for themselves.
Australia's first playwright, Charles Harpur, was one of the earliest actors at the Theatre Royal, but appears to have been a better writer than performer.
There are several newspaper advertisements in 1833 for Theatre Royal productions in which George Mawbey performed.
They contain four spelling variants of the name 'Mawbey' - Mawby, Maybey, Maybry and Mawbey.
On Saturday 27 April 1833, a 'Mr Mawbey' appeared in a new performance called 'Honest Thieves', playing the part of Mr Story [elsewhere 'Colonel Storey'].
The Sydney Monitor, Wednesday 24 April 1833
On Saturday 27 April ... HONEST THIEVES ... Mr Story - Mr Mawbey
On Wednesdays 12 and 19 June 1833, a Mr 'Mawby' sang The Canadian Boat Song, a Scottish lament about Highlanders forced to immigrate to Canada.
He did so accompanied by the acting company's leading actor, Mr Dyball, and another male actor, Mr Cooper, a business partner of Barnett Levy.
Mr Mawby had top billing:
The Australian, Sydney, Friday 24 May 1833
          The Canadian Boat Song
          By Messrs Mawby, Dyball & Cooper.

The finale, a nautical melodrama called Black Ey'd Susan or All in the Downs, had, according to the same advertisement in The Australian of 24 May 1833, a Mr 'Maybry' playing the part of 'Yarn'.
According to an advertisement in The Australian on Friday 21 June 1833, Mr Maybey played the part of 4th Mulateer in 'The Mountaineers' at The Theatre Royal on Saturday 22 June 1833.
Preliminary internet research has revealed that the two plays and song he performed were 'big deals'.
And that Sydney audiences were being treated to some of the best theatrical material available in England at that time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


When George Mawbey's first two children were born in 1842 and 1843, he was working as a clerk for a bookseller and stationer in Pitt Street, Sydney.
His employer appears to have been William Moffitt, owner of The Old Australian Stationery Warehouse.
A search of NLA digitalised newspapers published in those years revealed that Moffitt was the only stationer and bookseller in Pitt Street.
An advertisement for Arden's Sydney Magazine of Wednesday 20 September 1843 indicated that most of the others were in George Street.
Moffitt claimed in an advertisement he placed in The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday 11 July 1843,that  his warehouse, at No. 23 Pitt Street, was the oldest and cheapest stationery establishment in New South Wales.
The colony had been in existence for 55 years.
Books he stocked included Goldsmith's History of England, and novels by Trollope who some 30 years later was to visit the colony twice.
According to the advertisement, Moffitt also had a book and stationery shop in London, either concurrently or previously.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I want to recommend this site which is trying to connect early Australian families.
My ancestor, George Mawbey, is mentioned as a witness to another wedding at St Jude's Church of England, Dural.
I already knew about him playing an official role at the Mary Williams and Henry George Hunt one, but not about that of James Newman and Elizabeth Hodges.
Their two other witnesses at their marriage on 19 April 1853 were Simon and Rosetta Moulds (nee James), early settlers of Dural.

Monday, February 13, 2012


According to the baptismal records of St James Church of England, Sydney, David Henry Mawbey was born on 12 June 1842 and baptised on 10 July 1842.
He was born at Darlinghurst and his father was a clerk for a person or business, the name being hard to decipher.
The minister who baptised him was Robert Allwood.
Update 17-2-12
The word I could not decipher was 'booksellers'.


The baptisimal record of David Henry Mawbey, the first child of George and Ann Mawbey, reveals that in July 1842 his father was working as a clerk.
George Mawbey had previously worked in this capacity for an ironmonger and emancipated convict, Samuel Onions, in Sydney in1837.
After leaving Onions' employ, he then appears to have started his own business as a 'tinman', and then acquired a publican's licence.
He was the publican of the Hope & Anchor hotel on the corner of King and Pitt Streets, Sydney for two years before heading to Adelaide to start his own refreshment rooms business there.
On his return to Sydney he appears to have worked as a clerk for eight years before taking his family to Dural, near Parramatta.
According to the old church BDM records his occupations and abodes were:
1842       Clerk at booksellers          Darlinghurst
1843       Stationer                           Pitt Street
1845       Clerk                                Camperdown
1847       Office clerk                      Redfern
When he was at Dural, he was the schoolmaster at the Church of England diocesan school.