Ann Meredith was born at Punchbowl on 21 June 1811 to Frederick Meredith and Sarah Meredith (nee Mason), their fifth child, but first after marrying. In 1823, Ann left Sydney with her older sister Sophia and travelled to Hobart Town. Five years later, she married widower Robert McGuire on 22 December 1828 at St David’s Church, Hobart. Ann was 17 and Robert was 28. He was the licensee of the Coach and Horses Public House, with three children aged from 3 to 8. Ann had two children with Robert, Mary Ann in 1829 and Sarah Macquarie in 1830 (born four months after his death).
In January 1830, Ann was widowed. Pregnant, with a baby and three step-children to care for, as well as the Coach and Horses, her future was fortunately covered by the ‘Marriage Settlement’. In colonial times there were no provisions for widows. At marriage, the woman’s property became her husbands. If he died, she could not get control of that property back. So, widows and their children often became destitute.
Marriage settlements were not common at the time. However, they were for Sandy Bay farmer, Edward Fisher’s, daughters. Though unrelated and it is not known why, the Fishers treated Ann as if she was a daughter when they became trustees in her 1821 Marriage Settlement.
Robert McGuire ‘in a declining state of health … had left Hobart and gone downriver’, possibly to Fisher’s farm at Sandy Bay, about two weeks before he died. On his death, Thomas Fisher took on the main role as trustee. The Coach and Horses became his property in trust, from which to provide for Ann (for as long as she did not remarry) and the McGuire children. Thomas was also mainly responsible for the Letters of Administration that replaced Probate as Robert had left no will.
Ann’s life became further entwined with Thomas Fisher who became a ‘gentleman’ of Battery Point – as his partner. In 1832, Sarah Macquarie was baptised as a Fisher. Ann bore Thomas eleven children from 1833 to 1849. They married on 26 October 1848, in the Brisbane Street Independent Chapel, Hobart. Ann was 36 and Thomas 49. The had seven surviving children by then, while the McGuire stepchildren were all over 21 and married, and Robert McGuire’s parents were dead.
The Coach and Horses had been rented out, and developed into three smaller shops. In the 1850’s, Thomas gave the adult McGuire children equal shares of it. Mary Ann received hers last, on her marriage to Frederick Lipscombe, with a clause to keep it free from his control – but she soon gave it to him!
Ann and Thomas must have valued education. Like them, all their children learnt to write. A local school began at Sandy Bay in the 1820’s – Ann’s children, their Fisher cousins, and future Lipscombe relatives went there. Ann’s youngest children were sent to Hutchins, the Church of England private school, or the Congregationalist/ Presbyterian Town High School, after these Schools began in the 1850’s. Their youngest daughter Florence began school at nine while the youngest son John began school at 4, having had some previous instruction so that he could make letters, but not sign his name. Ann’s grandson, Thomas Meredith Lipscombe became the Schoolmaster at the Sandy Bay School in 1880.
There are no letters, photos, or documents that can tell us what kind of wife and mother Ann was, or what her life was like. Life was no doubt busy, based around births, baptisms, marriages, and the occasional death, and the activities of the farm, church and school for her children and step children and the extended families of her sister Sophia Logan and her McGuire and Fisher relations. Most of them lived close by in Sandy Bay – a progressive, go-ahead farming community, which valued education and religion – or in Hobart Town. Ann died on August 16, 1880, aged 69. Her gravestone inscription says and they went forth to meet the bridegroom. Her life as a mature woman would have been based firmly on the Bible’s teachings. Ann’s role as a mother and moulder of the next generation was influenced by the evangelical movement in Hobart from the 1830s, which put great value on literacy and moral living. Other family and friends were also part of those congregations.
Ann’s nine surviving children produced over twenty grandchildren, and over seventy great grandchildren who became valuable members of colonial communities, not just in Hobart and Tasmania, but further afield in New Zealand, Fiji and Sydney. From the 1850’s her Fisher children began leaving Hobart for other colonial towns. They went intro shipping, building and commerce in two gold rush towns. In the 1870’s, while two married daughters stayed in New Zealand, five sons settled in Fiji as plantation farmers. Ann’s McGuire daughter’s and five surviving children stayed around Hobart Town, as farmers, builders and in local government. The three McGuire stepchildren and their families also stayed in Tasmania, some continuing farming around Kingston.
Ann seems to have had on incredibly fortunate life. She survived child-bearing to became a great grandmother. She had the protection of a marriage settlement that provided well for her, her three McGuire stepchildren and her McGuire child after she was widowed. That marriage settlement brought her into a relationship with a loving Christian man, Thomas Fisher This took her from the town of Hobart to the pleasant farming district at Sandy Bay, with its own school and religious base, and later into a home above the wharves in Battery Point, nearer her sister Sophia’s home. Instead of poverty, it set her up for life with a wealthy partner, extended family, and made it possible for her descendants to contribute to the exciting developments of their times, locally and overseas.
Written by Jeanie Clark (a descendant of Ann Meredith)
Children of Ann Meredith and Robert McGuire
Catherine b. 1820 d. 1866
(Anne) Jane Eliza b. 1822
George b. 1825 d. 1899
Mary Anne b. 1829 d. 1913
Sarah b. 1830 d. 1835
Children of Ann and Thomas Fisher
Thomas Edward b. 1833 d. 1892
Frederick Gregory b. 1834 d. 1878
Anne Elizabeth b. 1836 d. 1882
Sophia b. 1838 d. 1838
William b. 1840 d. 1889
John b. 1842 d. 1848
Sophia Elizabeth b. 1844
Edward b. 1847
Florence Helen b. 1854 this is derived from M/C but School record is 1852
John b. 1849 d. 1875
Image: 1827 Panorama of Hobart by Augustus Earle. Mitchell Library Sydney.