Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie of Thirroul 1839-1930

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).


Mary Ann Hicks and daughter Edith Florence Joy – 1920’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 ?


Mary Ann Hicks aged 75 years in 1915 Thirroul –  Everest with daughter Edith, grandson Kenneth Joy and unknown children


Children of Mary Ann Hicks 

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.

Mary Ann Hicks died at her home, “Everest”, in  Seaview Terrace Thirroul on February 23 1930 – see death notice Sydney Morning Herald February 24 1930 – see also February 26 1930.

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.


Grave of Mary Ann Hicks ( nee McKenzie) and Henry Thomas Hicks – St Augustines Bulli


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)

Mary Ann Hicks’s Book – The Lord is My Shepherd – Inscribed in 1922

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One Response to Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie of Thirroul 1839-1930

  1. Pingback: Henry Thomas Hicks and Mary Ann Hicks | The Hicks Family

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