Born at Fairy Meadow, in 1839, Mary Ann McKenzie was the first Illawarra-born child of Alexander McKenzie and wife Ann. She married Henry Thomas Hicks on November 5 1861, and so would be described on her death as one of the grand old pioneers of the district.
On marrying Henry Thomas Hicks she became a member of the pioneering Hicks family of the northern Illawarra. The family lived in various locations : Russell Vale (from 1842), Austinmer – North Bulli (from 1843), Wollongong, Towradgi and Thirroul – Robbinsville (circa 1880’s).
Parents Alexander McKenzie and Anne McLean
Alexander McKenzie, father of Mary Ann McKenzie, was born on the Isle of Skye in 1803, and had married Ann McLean in 1829 at Armadale, on the Isle of Skye in the Parish of Sleat. They travelled to Australia, on a bounty ship in 1837 (the William Nicol), with their elder 4 children:
- Daniel b 1831 Armadale, Isle of Skye
- Donald b 1832 Armadale, Isle of Skye
- Alexander b 1834 Armadale, Isle of Skye
- John b 1835 Armadale, Isle of Skye
Three more children were born in the Illawarra :
- Mary Ann b 1839 Fairy Meadow, NSW
- Catherine b 1842 Berkley, NSW
- Agnes b 1843 Springhill, NSW d 1844
It was also believed by some that another child, Anne, died in 1846 at Berkeley, and that the death certificate had been hard to locate. However it is possible that this refers to Ann McKenzie nee McLean, herself.
Settling in Ellengowan
In Australia, Mary Ann’s father, Alexander McKenzie of Ellengowan became active in the Illawarra Agricultural and Horticultural Society for much of the 1850-60’s. Ellengowan was in the Fairy Meadow – Parameadows area – which was the site of a battle between the Bong Bong Indigenous tribe and a Wollongong Indigenous tribe 4/3/1827 – known as the Battle of Parameadows.
Following first wife Ann’s death, Alexander had remarried in 1849 at Parramatta to Elizabeth Hanks, they had eight children :
- Elizabeth b 1850 Balgownie, NSW
- Robert b 1851 Balgownie, NSW
- Hugh b 1853 Balgownie, NSW
- Thomas b 1854 Bulli, NSW
- Anne b 1858 Bulli, NSW
- Flora b 1860 Bulli, NSW
- Charles b 1861 Bulli, NSW
- Christina b 1863 Taralga, Goulburn
Marriage of Mary Ann McKenzie to Henry Thomas Hicks
On 5.11.1861, Mary Ann McKenzie married Henry Thomas Hicks, the eldest son of James and Margaret Hicks of Austinmer, then known as North Bulli.
Mary Ann and Henry Thomas Hicks moved around from Austinmer (North Bulli) to Wollongong to Towradgi to “Mt Gilead” in Thirroul to “Mt Hope” in Thirroul and back to “Mt Gilead”. After Henry’s death, Mary Ann moved to “Everest” in Seaview Terrace Thirroul, where she remained for the rest of her life. Mary Ann and Henry had lived with their ten surviving children, four did not survive – 14 children in total! One wonders how much time Mary Ann had for herself in bearing 14 children over the twenty five years of 1862-1887 ?
Children of Mary Ann Hicks
- Ann Hicks (1862-1862)
- Catherine Hicks (1862-1862)
- James Alexander Hicks (1863 – 1939) married 1890 Edith Jones (?- 1896)
- Margaret Minnie Hicks (1865 – 1952 ) married 1899 Alfred Cook (?- 1930) nb Alfred was brother of Alexander Cook
- Alexander Henry Hicks (1866-1957) married 1884 Esther Mary Armstrong (1864-1918) – see North Illawarra local government nomination 1898 – elected mayor 1905 – a former mayor of North Illawarra Council
- Henry William Hicks (1868-1973)
- Unknown Male Hicks (1869-1869)
- Mary Alice Hicks (9.1.1871-5.9.1945) married 1929 Alexander Cook (nb his second marriage) – Alexander was also brother of Alfred Cook
- George Hicks (19.1.1873- 1956) married Lucy (Lou) Ann Keene – Australian Light Horse military history – Boer Wars, WWI
- Christina Ann Hicks (4.2.1875 – 1951) married 26.1.1903 Edward Woolley (1870-1935) – Woolley family history
- Henry Thomas Hicks (28.4.1877 -1944 or 1946) married 1898 Eva Kate Bottomly
- Edith Florence Hicks (25.3.1880 – 9.4.1958) married (11.9.1901) John Charles Joy (26.12.1873 – 24.2.1910)
- Ida McKenzie Hicks (10.9.1883?- 1967) married 1912 Arthur Frederick Webb
- Richard Ernest Hicks (4.9.1887 ?- 1953) married 1913 Teresa Catherine Creevey (1885-1963)
As kids we heard that Mary Ann and Henry Thomas Hicks had the orchards, also known as Hicks Farm. There were also stories of Mary Ann Hicks living at “Mount Hope” near the Thirroul Railway Station – Mary Ann’s Bible shows her address as “Mount Hope”.
Many of the children of Mary Ann and Henry Thomas Hicks had left Thirroul over the years, moving to Sydney and further north. Daughter Mary Alice “Biddy” Hicks remained at home, caring for Mary Ann for many years at Thirroul, before finally marrying widower Alfred Cook in 1929 when she was in her late 50’s. Alfred was also the brother of Alexander Cook, husband of Mary Alice’s oldest sister, Margaret Minnie. Another daughter, the widow Edith Florence Joy, grandmother of Ian, Joan, Enid, Joe & Joy Callcott, and of Margaret, Kenneth & Kathleen Joy, appears to have returned to care for her mother, Mary Ann Hicks, in her last years.
Death of Mary Ann Hicks
Memories from Kerrie Anne Christian. Years ago, I recall seeing some beautiful tributes to Mary Ann, including one written in an old Church Parish newsletter (St David’s Thirroul). Mary Ann had lived past 90 years of age, until her death in 1930. And the March 1930 Church Parish newsletter had later been safely stored away by her great granddaughter, Joan Adams (nee Callcott – who was also my mother). In working through my late mother’s papers and books, I took some time to find the obituaries. Predictably among the last items to surface, at the bottom of large chest of drawers, finally enabling a window into some of Mary Ann’s personal life. Re-reading them maybe 2 or 3 decades since I last saw them, these tributes now have even more meaning for me. Click to read tributes to Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie.
HICKS -February 23, 1930, at her residence, “Everest”, Seaview Terrace, Thirroul, Mary Ann, relict of the late H. T. Hicks, in her 90th year.
Also funeral notice – Sydney Morning Herald February 24 1930.
HICKS- The Relatives and Friends of the FAMILY of the late MARY ANN HICKS are kindly invited to attend the Funeral of their late beloved MOTHER; to leave her late residence,Everest, Seaview-Terrace, Thirroul, on TUESDAY AFTERNOON at 3 o’clock for St Augustine’s Church of England Cemetery, Bulli. W J WILLIAMS, Undertaker. (includes corrections)