Women of Bankfoot House
Mary Fenwick met William Grigor during the voyage to Australia on the William Miles.
Mary was governess to the family of Captain John Wickham at Newstead House in Brisbane. She accompanied the Wickham family to England, on the Duncan Dunbar, and assisted with the birth of their second child during the sea voyage.
In 1861 Mary sailed alone from England to Melbourne on the ship Oithona. After travelling from Melbourne to Queensland, Mary took up a position as governess at Durundur Station near Woodford.
Mary and William Grigor became reacquainted, and married in 1863. The couple’s first home was north of the Mooloolah River, close to what is now Alexandra Headland. In 1868, Mary and William established Bankfoot House in the Glasshouse Mountains.
Mary first met William aboard the ship William Miles, which arrived in Australia in January 1855. After their marriage 1863, Mary had ten children, six of whom were born at Bankfoot House.
Mary Fenwick (right) and her sister Janet (left), taken c1859.
The Book of Common Prayer was printed at the University Press, Oxford, in 1861. This book was owned by Mary prior to returning to Australia, and bears an inscription: Mary Fenwick Southampton August 23 1861.
This letter is from Mary’s brother Andrew, letting her know how wonderful it was to hear that she had made it back to Australia safely. (Read the transcript below)
Mary Grigor’s wages from September 21 1885. Mary’s got paid £4 for her 10 weeks work, minus the purchase of a pair of boots.
“Mary Grigor, the keeper of an accommodation house at the Glass Mountains, on the Gympie-road, was charged by Edward Johnson, a revenue constable, with selling three glasses of gin to William Samwell, on the night of the 23rd June, she not having a publican license.” The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday, July 13 1870
Mary, standing second from the left, was renowned for her ability to preserve meat. “Under the careful management of Mrs Grigor, of the accommodation house at the Glass Mountains, we … had an opportunity of seeing the efficacy of the bi-sulphite of lime as a preservative of meat thoroughly tested.” The Brisbane Courier, Saturday 29 January 1870. Image courtesy Royal Historical Society of Queensland
This mourning brooch was worn by Mary Grigor, and contains a lock of hair from a departed loved one. This brooch was passed down through the generations, first to Clementina and then Mary Ferris.
During the Victorian era it was common for people to wear mourning jewellery to remember the passing of a loved one. Mary’s mourning brooch is visible in the picture on the left from c1895. When Mary passed away in 1900, William Grigor wore a black armband in remembrance. This arm band can be seen in the picture on the right from c1900.
Memorial cards in memory of Mary Grigor. Mary passed away on 12 June 1900 at the age of 65. Interestingly, the two cards have different dates for her passing.
Read the transcript of the letter[509KB] from Mary's brother Andrew.
Find out more about Bankfoot House.