Mary Hayes or Hays was born circa 1836 in County Cork, Republic of Ireland to Bartholomew Hayes (c1803-c1847) and Ellen Brown (c1803-1847) and died 12 July 1912 in Kensington, Victoria, Australia of unspecified causes. She married Henry Pollard (1830-1860) 18 January 1855 in Kapunda, South Australia, Australia. She married John Wright (c1839-) 26 November 1861 in Kapunda, South Australia, Australia. Ancestors are from the Republic of Ireland.

Mary Ann Hayes was born in or before 1836 in Cork, Ireland. Her father was employed as a cooper (barrel maker). She had a brother Daniel, who was 10 years older than her. Other siblings had not been located when this article was started.

Mary was christened on the 26th March 1836 at the Roman Catholic Church at Goleen in West Schull, County Cork. She was christened under the last name of 'Hays' rather than the 'Hayes' spelling that was used later in her life. It should also be noted that her father's surname is occasionally recorded as 'Heas' on parish records.

The sponsors at her baptism were 'Jer' Donovan (possibly meaning Jerome) and a Joan Donovan.


Offspring of Bartholomew (or Batt) Hayes or Heas and Ellen Brown (c1803-1847)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Daniel Heas (c1825-)
Mary Hea (c1829-)
Mick Hea (c1832-)
Mary Ann Hayes (1836-1912) 1836 County Cork, Republic of Ireland 12 July 1912 Kensington, Victoria, Australia Henry Pollard (1830-1860)
John Wright (c1839-)
Mary hayes baptism

Mary's baptism record

Potato famine

It appears Mary was raised in the Schull area of Cork. When Mary was still young, the Potato Famine gripped the region. Letters written by a Rev. F. F. Trench in March of 1847, describe what the situation was like in Schull:-

'In travelling through the parishes of East and West Schull, containing the villages of Ballydehob and Schull, and a population of about 16,000 still living, I did not see a child playing in the streets or on the roads; no children are to be seen outside the doors but a few sick and dying children. I made this same remark in Bantry, and along the road for twenty miles leading to it. I did not see a child in the streets, and this I remarked to several persons, clergy and magistrates, whose experience was the same as my own.

'In the districts which are now being depopulated by starvation, coffins are only used for the more wealthy. In every village the manufacture was remarkable at the doors of the carpenters' houses, and in the country parts I often met coffins carried on the backs of women, and boards for making coffins. At Glengariff, strange to say, the Roman Catholic Chapel is turned into a place for making coffins. Seeing two men at work there, I went in, in company with Rev. Mr. Morgan, the curate of the parish. I said to one of the carpenters, "What are you making, boys?" "Coffins and wheelbarrows, Sir;" and I saw the planks marked out for the sawyer to the length of coffins. At Bantry, I saw lying at the corner of one of the streets, two coffins for the use of the poor; they call them "trap coffins;" the bottom is supported by hinges at one side, and a hook and eye at the other. In these coffins the poor are carried to the grave, or rather to a large pit, which I saw at a little distance from the road, and the bodies are dropped into it. On my return to the spot where I first saw these two coffins, I found them occupied with corpses, and placed on a car about to be drawn by a horse to the grave. Another coffin of the same kind had been sent in another direction for another body; but I was told in this district the majority were taken to the grave without any coffin, and buried in their rags: in some instances even the rags are taken from the corpse to cover some still living body; but in the neighbourhood and parish of Schull, coffins are not thought of by the very poor, and funerals are unknown amongst them. At Ballydehob, Mr. and Miss Noble both informed me that on the morning of the day I arrived, they had seen five dead bodies carried through the village in a cart with a little straw under and over them.

'That bodies are left in the fields for weeks unburied is a matter perfectly certain, and also that they have been left unburied in houses so long that they have been eaten by rats, and indeed so long that they could not be buried, and it became necessary to burn the houses over the bodies.


Mary Ann was orphaned as a result of the Irish Potato Famine. The exact fate of her parents and brother Daniel is not known at this stage, but it is assumed that they had died as a result of the famine prior to or early in the year of 1847. It is possible, but not proven at this stage, that Mary was placed in the Skibbereen workhouse as a result of being orphaned. The Fermoy workhouse should also be considered, but it is a further distance from Schull than Skibbereen.

The Elgin

Mary was selected from the inmates of the Irish workhouses to be transported to the new British Colony of South Australia, which was just under 10 years old at the time. The ‘ELGIN’ was an orphan transport ship, and other orphans listed in the manifest with the last name ‘Hayes’ were an Eliza Hayes (aged 18) and a Johanna Hayes (aged 15). It is possible that they are relatives of Mary Ann, who was 14 at the time of her arrival in SA. All the orphans had come from the poor houses of Ireland.

The Elgin was a three-masted barque built of wood with a displacement of 548 tuns under the new measurement (Old measurement of ships based on the number of tuns or winecasks it can carry). It was built in 1847 in Maitland, Nova Scotia (Canada) and was 124 feet by 27.1 feet by 20.7 feet. At the time it made the voyage to Australia it was owned by C Walton and registered to the Port of London.

The ELGIN departed from Liverpool on May 17 1849 with Captain John Mann , to make its way around the coast to Portsmouth from which it finally departed on May 31 1849 and arrived at the McLaren Wharf, at Port Adelaide on September 10th, 1849.

The McLaren Wharf had only been completed a few weeks before their arrival but port conditions were still very basic. Many ships still anchored in the Port River and transferred their passengers and cargo in rowboats.

The road to Adelaide was worse than a track and it often took families 12 hours to travel the few miles into the city. A spring cart would make the journey for 20 shillings a head, a bullock dray was an alternative at 5 shillings a head but the dray was only marginally better than walking.

The Elgin also carried 195 Female orphans from the poor-houses of Ireland. On this trip almost half of them had their period for the first time. 85 came from Skibbereen, 35 from Killarney, 30 from Fermoy, 25 from Lismore, 15 from Clonmel, Total 190 (H.L.,1849,1083). As Mary Ann was from Southern Cork, it is likely that she was in the Skibbereen workhouse.

The SOUTH AUSTRALIAN REGISTER reports: September 12,1849 "The female orphans on board the ELGIN expressed themselves highly satisfied with their treatment, and the Captain says he has not a fault to find with the young women."

September 15th Saturday: the Office of the Children Apprenticeship Board advertised that "The Elgin, with female orphans, arrived. Applicant desirous of availing themselves of their Services, are requested to attend, in person or by proxy, at the Office of the Secretary, Native School, on and after Friday next, the 14th instant. It is recommended that the orphans be removed immediately after the arrangements have been made. Signed M. MOORHOUSE, Secretary to the Board.

October 13th,1849: the Shipping Intelligence column of the REGISTER reported that the Elgin was "lying in the stream".

The October 13th Report of the Board mentioned that "... The orphans per the Elgin arrived on the 10th September last, but are meeting with situations at a slow rate. The vessel has been nearly one month in Port, and there are at this date, 109 unhired. ..."

November 14th, 1849: the ELGIN was "loading for London".

December 29th, 1849: the ELGIN was still in Port Adelaide awaiting loading. Most of this delay was attributable to the delay in finding places for the orphans.

First marriage

Where Mary was originally placed on her arrival in South Australia is unknown. It is likely that she worked in service for a number of years as a domestic.

Mary married Henry Pollard in the town of Kapunda on the 18th January 1855. Henry was the son of Christopher and Mary Pollard (nee Floyd), who were living in the Ballarat/Bendigo as a result of the gold rush. Henry was a miner by profession and could not write. He had decided to try copper mining in Kapunda, along with his brother Christopher, who was living with his wife Caroline in the town.

A witness to the wedding was "William Floyd" (possibly related to Mary Pollard, nee Floyd). The marriage was conducted by Rev. William Oldham, Mine Manger and Congregational Minister, at his residence.

Mary hayes destitute app

Article about Mary's application to the Destitute Board, one week after her husband's death.


Offspring of Mary Hayes or Hays and Henry Pollard (1830-1860)
Name Birth Death Joined with
James Pollard (1855-)
Elizabeth Jane Pollard (1857-1931)
Henry Joseph Pollard (1860-1936)

Original child table

Name Birth Death
Children of Henry & Mary Pollard

James 18/12/1855
Kapunda, South Australia
alive in 1912

Elizabeth Jane 8/1/1857
Kapunda, South Australia
Werribee, Victoria

Henry Joseph 25/12/1860
Kapunda, South Australia
Largs Bay, South Australia

Death of husband

Mary and Henry would have three children together, but he did not live to see his last child, Henry Joseph, born. Henry died in July 1860 when Mary was 4 months pregnant. His cause of death was peritonitis.

When Henry died, Mary became reliant on relief from the Destitute Board, as here sister-in-law Caroline was (Caroline's husband Christopher had died in May 1860, only two months before Henry's death). She first applied for assistance Thursday July 26th 1860, only one week after Henry’s death. The South Australian Advertiser reports that “The Board thought some further particulars as to the circumstances of her husband at the period of the decease necessary before the application should be entertained.” She must have been granted them soon after, as on November 15th, she is granted renewal of rations for three weeks along with Caroline. Her rations were renewed again for 1 month on February 7th 1861, three months on June 27th, and the same again on October 3rd. By 26th November, she was remarried and the relief stopped.

Second marriage

Mary hayes destitute 2

Further application to the Destitute Board, this one also listing her sister-in-law Caroline.

Mary married for a second time to John Wright, on 26th November 1861 at Kapunda. John Wright’s father was a William Wright. He and Mary married at St John’s Church near Kapunda. He was 22 (status not given) and she was recorded as a 24 year old widow.


Offspring of Mary Hayes or Hays and John Wright (c1839-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
William Wright (1862-)
Ellen Wright (1865-)

Mary had two more children with her new husband - William Wright, born on 14.9.1862 and Ellen Wright, born on 22.5.1865. Both children were born at Kapunda. William married Adelaide Grebert at St Rose Church, Kapunda on 19.4.1884 and had 4 children – Arnold (1892), Harry (1864), Stella (1900) and Allan Alfred (1902). The Biographical Index of South Australians lists Ellen as marrying someone by the last name of Faye, but I have not found a record of this in South Australia or Victoria.

Original child table

Name Birth Death
Children of John & Mary Wright

William 14/9/1862
Kapunda, South Australia
alive in 1912

Ellen 22/5/1865
Kapunda, South Australia
alive in 1912


Mary departed South Australia with her family for Victoria after the year 1886. They appeared to have settled in the Kensington/Williamstown area, where some of her children would eventually marry.


Mary wright death

Mary's death certificate

Mary died on 12th July 1912 at 8 Derby Street, Kensington, Victoria. Her cause of death was carcinoma of the liver and endrocarditis for an indefinite period, and heart failure for 7 days. The informant at her death was her son-in-law Patick Fay of 8 Derby Street, Kensington.

Her death certificate stated that she had been in the state of South Australia for 40 years, 24 years in the state of Victoria and all her children were alive at the time of her death. Her parents names were recorded on her death certificate.

She was buried on the 15th July 1912 at Melbourne General Cemetery. Some descendents have placed a plaque on the grave location since her death.

Mary hayes plaque

Plaque added to Mary's gravesite by later generations. Photo courtesy John Oliver.

Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
  • Her father was "Batt Heas" on marriage register.
Ω Birth
  • Assumed the same year and county as her baptism.


  Eramophla, Robin Patterson


  • `Realities of Irish Life' (1868) by W. Steuart Trench
  • Irish Baptism and Marriage records
  • Bound for South Australia, Passenger Lists 1836-1851
  • South Australian BDM
  • Victorian BDM
  • The Advertiser newspaper, 26/7/1860, 15/11/1860, 07/02/1861, 27/06/1861, 03/10/1861