Given names: 
Given address: 
Arch Hill
Sheet No: 381
Arch Hill

Biography contributed by Margaret Nash

Mary Keary was born in Ireland about 1841. She was the 3rd child and 2nd daughter of Robert Farrell and his wife Susan nee Kettle.

In October 1861, Isaac Keary was discharged from the Army after 20  years’ service  including seven years in the East Indies  He had served with The 27th Foot The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers so was eligible for a pension.

Mary, aged 22, married Isaac,  a 40 year old farmer on 16 March 1863. They were both residing at Lisnaskea in Fermanagh. The marriage took place in the Parish of Aghalurcher.

On 5 May 1863 Mary and Isaac left Gravesend on the Queen of Beauty bound for Auckland. Enroute they had an encounter with the  Alabama a Confederate ship. The second officer boarded the ship, checked their papers and after taking a glass of grog they were free to continue the voyage.

In December 1864, Isaac, called a letter carrier, purchased some land in Newton and the first four children were born in the city. In the early 1870s the family moved to Thames as the next five children were born in the booming gold rush town.

The eldest son Henry born in 1865, was the 2nd pupil to be enrolled at the newly established Thames High School in 1880. He was awarded a scholarship to help pay the fees. He later joined the Post and Telegraph as a cadet in Thames. He retired as Superintendent in Auckland in 1925 after 40 years’ service.

Isaac died in Thames Hospital in May 1881 so Mary was left a widow with her 7 children. She enrolled the 6 younger ones in Kaueranga Boys School and stated they were living in Baillie/Bayley Street. According to the Burgess roll of 1887 Mary was a grocer with property at 3 addresses. An allotment and house at Baillie Street, an allotment, house and shop at Rolleston Street and an allotment and 2 houses in Richmond Street.

Her daughter Elizabeth born 1866 became a pupil teacher in 1881 and after  qualifying as a teacher worked locally until she married, shifted to Taranaki and is buried in Greytown after her death in 1944.

The next girl Jane born in 1868 left school in 1881 to work as  shop assistant. After shifting to Auckland she worked as a “lady assistant” at the Auckland Art Gallery. She relocated to Melbourne and died there in 1949.

Adelaide was born in 1881 and has her own biography in the suffrage petition.

In 1886 Mary and the 4 younger children shifted to Auckland where they lived in Home Street, a property that Isaac bought in 1864 for £68.

Son George, born in 1874, became a cadet in Wellington with the Railway Department. He was stationed at Lower Hutt but ‘was going into Wellington daily to learn the Telegraph work’ (words from the stationmaster’s testimony as recorded in the coroner’s report Cor 91/4570). The verdict was death due to acute pneumonia. He was just 17 and the date was 17 July 1871.

The two youngest girls were Annie Harriet born in 1876 and Rachel born in 1878. Annie married and lived in Auckland until her death in 1909. Rachel passed her Trinity exams and worked as a music teacher. When she died in 1957 she left some money to her nephew Douglas – Annie’s son.

Mary continued to live in Auckland until her death in 1918. Her address was 100 Park Avenue and she died of cardiac failure. She had been in the colony for 53 years, had given birth to 9 children ( 2 girls died in infancy) and supported the other 7 to develop into a variety of careers. She is buried in an unmarked grave in Purewa with her daughters Adelaide and Rachel.

Sources: Archway NZ Archives, Family papers, The National Archives London, NZBDM, Papers Past NZ.

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

Community contributions

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Dennis Thompson - Grandson of Annie Elizabeth Farrell

Posted: 24 Aug 2019

Mary Keary was my 3rd great aunt. Her grandparents, Robert Farrell & Susan Kettyle were my 3x Great Grandparents.