Mary Whiteman’s Fatherless Children – Part 4

After all the hardship and stress of the previous months Mary’s world was turned upside down yet again, when in early March of 1863 Edward’s wife  Matilda had another baby, a daughter named Elizabeth Ann. Matilda died just a few days later leaving Edward with three young children to look after.

Mary fully expected that Edward would marry her now, no matter what his parents said. She would be a good mother to all of Edward’s six children, knowing within her heart that she could easily love and care for his children by Matilda. Once again though the couple were not to marry, as Edward was far more interested in his social standing in the community and being cut off from his father’s fortune.

It seems that Mary and Edward were apart for some time as Mary’s next child, Caroline Ada Whiteman wasn’t born until the 5th February, 1866. Even though Mary named her daughter Caroline she felt the name didn’t fit well with the babe, and forever after called her little girl Ada. Ada was soon followed by the last of Mary and Edwards children – John Vinal Whiteman, who was born on the 12th August, 1868.

Mary with daughter Caroline Ada
Mary with daughter Caroline Ada

The hardships that Mary had to faced in the previous years had been very difficult and on the whole she had had to face those times alone. Mary had no illusions about her future with Edward, he was a womaniser and she had continued to allow him to use her. It was about this time that Mary started to “fall out of love” with Edward and really see him for what he was.

Edward married Mary Sophia Fitzgerald in 1869  and in 1870 they had their first child together, a boy named William Cullen Browne.  Edward ceased paying any child support to Mary making it very difficult for her to support her family. Mary Whiteman saw red.  This was the last straw and she would not put up with Edward’s heartless ways a moment longer. She took him to court for child desertion and the following article appeared in The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser on Tuesday 31st January, 1871.

Child Desertion.-Edward Browne was summoned by Mary Whiteman for neglecting to support his illegitimate child. Mr. Waring for the complainant, and Mr. Gould for the defendant. Mary Whiteman deposed: I am a single woman, and have never been married ; the child was born on the 12th August, 1868; it is a male child; Edward Browne, the defend- ant, is the father of that child; I took proceedings against him when the child was 12 months old; it was settled out of court; through receiving money on behalf of the child I did not take further proceedings; defendant maintained the child up to the 14th July, 1869 ; I received the money from his own hands up to that time; defendant is well able to support the child ; wit- ness gave evidence as to the paternity of the child, and also stated that she had several other children by the same defendant. By Mr. Gould: I am a single woman; defendant paid me the money for the support of that child, and not for any other purpose; I have a son fifteen years old belonging to the defendant. (The witness was cross-examined at some length in reference to alleged intercourse with other men ) I have not stated that any other person was the father of this child; I never wrote to Mr. Richard Browne about this or any other child; I never alleged that the child belonged to Mr. Richard Browne. By the Bench: I received £13 in all for the twelve months, after I summonsed the defendant, being at the rate of 5s. Per week; previous to this, just after the birth of the child, I received various sums at the rate of about 7s. per week.-Dorothea Elbe gave evidence to the effect that she had seen the defendant in Mary Whiteman’s bedroom, three years ago, last November.-The complainant’s case having closed, Mr. Gould submitted that the case must be dismissed, as no evidence had been adduced that the child was living at the time the information was laid. The bench took the same view, and dismissed the case, and ordered complainant to pay £1 1s. Professional costs.

But Mary had the bit between her teeth, and she wasn’t giving up and the following article appeared in the same newspaper a week later on February, 1871:

CHILD DESERTION. — Edward Browne was summoned by Mary Whiteman, for neglecting to support his illegitimate child, two and a half years old. Mr. Waring appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Gould for the defendant. The case had been heard on the previous Tuesday, when it was dismissed, owing to a want of proof that the child was still alive. Fresh proceedings were then taken, and the evidence adduced was similar to that given on the former occasion, with the addition that since then an offer had been made to the complainant to accept £2 in payment for eight weeks’ support. Nothing was mentioned when the offer was made as to which child it referred to. This offer was refused by the complainant. The bench made an order for defendant to pay 6s. per week for twelve months, to be paid monthly, and ordered him to enter into two sureties.     The bench also ordered £1 1s. professional costs to be paid, and 5s. for two witnesses.

Mary did find happiness amongst all this turmoil.  She married Daniel Blunden in 1871 in Patricks Plain.  Mary, Daniel and Mary’s children moved to Tamworth at some point between their marriage in 1871 and the birth of their daughter Emily Jane in 1872.  Emily was to be the last of Mary’s children and the only one to have a documented father. Mary Whiteman Blunden lost her husband Daniel James Blunden in 1899 but lived a further 25 years.  She finally passed away at the age of 90 years (although her son maintained her age was around 95 years) on 26 May 1924.

Mary with Daughters Mary-Anne (L) and Harriet (R)
Mary with Daughters Mary-Anne (L) and Harriet (R)
Mary-Anne Smith, Mary Blunden, Harriette Thevenet (seated) & Caroline Ada Leggo
Mary-Anne Smith, Mary Blunden, Harriette Thevenet (seated) & Caroline Ada Leggo

Edward and Mary Sophia had two more children – Lilia b. 1872 and Mary Elizabeth b. 1875.  Edward Browne died on 4 Nov 1876, aged just 44 years.


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