Mary Ann ROOME (1837 - 1904)

       Born: 22 Aug 1837 - London, England
       Died: 25 Sep 1904 - Oatlands, Tasmania, Australia

     Father: Edward ROOME
     Mother: Hannah

 1st Husband: James DAVIDSON (1820 - 1863) 
     Married: 25 Apr 1857 - Springhill, Tasmania, Australia

 2nd Husband: Charles FISHER (1817 - 1880)
    Married: 9 Feb 1865 - Ross, Tasmania, Australia
   Children: 7

ROOME, Mary Ann


Marian FISHER (nee: Mary Ann ROOME)


Mary Ann Roome was born on 22nd August 1837 in London the daughter of Edward Roome and Hannah nee Daniels. (1)

By June 1841 the Roome family were living in Mulberry Court, London. The household consisted of Edward aged 38, Hannah aged 34, and their two daughters Mary Ann aged 4 and Elizabeth aged 2 months. (2)
Mary Ann was baptised on 28th Nov 1847 at St Stephen’s Church in Coleman Street, London to Edward and Hannah Roome. Edward Roome was working as a copperplate printer and the family were residing at 1 Shepherd and Flock Court. (1)

In July 1846 Hannah had given birth to another daughter. The child was baptised Amelia Hannah along with her older sister Elizabeth Maria at the parish church on 11th February 1849. (3)
One or both of Mary Ann’s parents may have died by 1851 as I have been unable to locate them on the 1851 census.

The Census conducted in March 1851 records Mary Ann aged thirteen working as a domestic servant living at number 10 Leathersellers Buildings in the employ of Mr John Loose.  The household included John and his wife Sarah and three year old son William. (4)

The Loose family continued to live in the parish and on 8th April 1860 their son was baptised William John along with his younger sister Elizabeth Maria at the parish church in Coleman Street. (5)

If one or both of Mary Ann’s parents had died Mary Ann and her siblings were considered orphans and they would have been a burden on the parish. After the introduction of the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 parishes were grouped together to form a union and managed by a Board of Guardians. A workhouse was provided in each area and the able bodied people who were admitted were required to work for their food and lodgings. Women would take on domestic chores and could work in the laundry or kitchen carrying out cooking, washing, cleaning and sewing. Men would carry out manual labour. Children were also admitted to the workhouse and for several hours a day were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Some unions established industrial schools where girls were trained in domestic skills to assist them to find employment as a servant and boys were taught a trade like shoe making.
The parish guardians encouraged residents to take on a pauper’s child. Some unions would pay up to £10 to anyone willing to take on a child and train him in a trade for a set period of time usually seven years.
Young single women like Mary Ann were suitable candidates to help colonise the new colonies as single females with domestic skills were in short supply.

In January 1854 the Colonial Government issued new regulations to control immigration.
Those applying for a Bounty Ticket would pay £3 for a single adult and £5 per family. An agent would select suitable candidates and pay the required passage for the voyage. Assisted immigrants were required to remain in the colony or repay the cost of their fair. The discovery of gold on the mainland contributed to a shortage of skilled labourers and increased the demand for immigrants into Tasmania.

Mary Ann travelled to Tasmania as an assisted passenger on the Woodcote under the command of Jas. T S. Fleming, Wm. Henry Hemsley was appointed surgeon for the voyage.
The Woodcote departed London on 7 Oct 1856 and arrived in Hobart on the 29 Dec 1856 with 62 immigrants on-board.
The following details including a physical description were recorded for each immigrant.

  • Roome Mary Anne
  • Native place: London
  • Religion: C of E
  • Occupation: cook and servant
  • Could read and write
  • Name of person on whose application sent out: Samuel Cogden, Bounty £16
    Samuel Cogden was the Secretary of the Family Colonization Society.
  • Description; red hair and thick lips, with a full figure and of medium height (6)

Persons who wished to engage one of the female servants who had arrived on the Woodcote were required to make written application to the Immigration Agent stating the type of servant required. Thirty of the women were general servants, thirteen housemaids, six were cooks and one was a nurse and one was a laundress. Employers who didn’t collect their servants were required to provide safe passage to their destination. (7)

Concerns were expressed about the conditions and treatment of prospective immigrants in the newspaper. One reader stated;

“your Government will have to modify the Bounty ticket regulations considerably, or they will get very few people from England. There was great prejudice in the public mind here against Tasmania any other Australasian colony has a decided preference”
Knowing that a vast number of your readers feel very anxious regarding the treatment of their daughters and sisters may receive at the hands of the authorities in Tasmania, I have much pleasure enclosing an extract from a letter, dated December 30, 1856, received by the last mail from Jane Kelly, a passenger in the ship Woodcote, who emigrated with 50 other single women, under the auspices of the Family Colonization Loan Society in October last.
After a very quick voyage of 84 days they landed at Hobart Town on the 29th December. The writer had the misfortune on that day to fall down the companion ladder and fracture her leg. “She then says when I got to the depot the doctor was sent for, and I am still in bed, for I will have to keep in the one position for some time. It made me very dull; but I am treated very kindly by all in the place.
Anything I like to ask for the doctor allows me to have. My diet is three pints of milk and half-a-pound of sage, or else arrowroot a day. All the girls got places as soon as they came to the home (the depot) for the commissioner said they never had such a fine lot of girls out in this colony. We all looked well, and were dressed nicely to go on shore. There are only four left with me, and they will go in a day or two, when I shall be very dull. Hobart Town is a very beautiful place. In my next letter I will try to send you a view of it. As soon as I get better there is a place for me as housemaid, at £25 a-year; so dear sister, I shall be saving, and put my money in the bank.” I think, Sir that this extract will go far towards dissipating many very natural fears entertained by the relatives of our passengers on the Ambrosine and Oriental. (8)(9)(10)

Captain Fleming was charged on information given by the immigration agent JD Loch, with a Breach of the Passenger’s Act, in not providing adequate provisions for the immigrants. Immigrants were to receive 1½ pound of potted meat per week, but when the tins were opened they were found deficient in weight. Fleming pleaded guilty and was fined £20 including costs. (11)
Two days after arriving in Hobart Mary Ann was assigned to Alexander Goldie of Richmond as a cook for a period of 3 months, at a wage of £20 plus food rations. (12)

Less than a month after completing her service as a cook Mary Ann married James Davidson on 25th April 1857 at the London Inn at Spring Hill. (13) Isabella Hill and the local constable Charles Hodges witnessed the nuptials. James was 37 years old, single and employed as a groom. Mary Ann was a 20 year old servant. The Scottish clergyman Reverend Lauchlan Campbell conducted the ceremony.

James Davidson
The London Inn was built by John Vincent about 1830 to service the coaches on the main route between Bothwell and Oatlands. On Friday 1st December 1854 James Hill was granted a licence for the London Inn situated at the foot of Spring Hill near Oatlands.

1856: The inn was vulnerable to attacks from bushrangers (escaped convicts) and the following details were reported in the Hobarton Mercury.

Robbery Under Arms
A few days since three men under arms entered the kitchen adjoining the London Inn, Spring Hill, tied up the cook’s hands and feet, and helped themselves to mutton, beef and other provisions, they then untied the cook’s hands, leaving his feet fast. Two of the robbers then decamped with the plunder while the third, with a double barrelled gun stood sentry over him for an hour. Upon his leaving, the cook, whose name is Moore, gave the alarm to Mr Hill, who immediately dispatched him to the police station to give information of the outrage.

Hobarton Mercury, Fri 19 Sep 1856, p2 (14)

James may have applied for a position as a groom. Advertisements for skilled workers and domestic servants regularly appeared in the newspapers.

Stable Groom – Wanted a sober,
steady, active single man to look
after horses, clean carriages,
harness and saddler, etc....

Launceston Examiner, Thurs 27 Oct 1859, p3.

To be Let by Tender,
The above-named well known Inn, at the foot of Spring Hill, will be let by tender for a term of five or seven years.
A better opportunity could not offer for an industrious man of moderate capital to realise a fortune. The home is first rate the situation good, and the custom sure, the coaches always change horses at the house, and there is a farm of 300 acres attached of good agricultural and grazing land, which will be let with the Inn.
The house is well furnished and the furniture can be taken at a valuation, or it will be sold by auction. Tenders will be received by the under-signed until Monday 26th April. Security will be required for the rent.

GA Kemp, Green Ponds

The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Wed 21 Apr 1858, p.1 (15)

The constant threat of attack and the robbery may have influenced the licensee to give up the business.

Auction, Friday 7th May (1858) at the London Inn, Spring Hill, by Mr GA Kemp without any reserve in consequence of the proprietor having let the inn, after lunch the following cart horses and milch cows.

Lively, a superior grey cart MARE, 6 years old
Diamond, a superior grey cart MARE, 5 years old
Jeny, a bay cart mare, 8 years old
Flower, a roan-grey cart mare
Darling, bay cart mare
Blossum, bay cart mare
Lofty, a grey cart mare
Gipsy, a black cart mare
Farmer, a 2 year old cart colt
One yearling cart filly
Bloomer, a 2 yr old cart filly
Five cart foals, by Mr Kermode’s imported horse Black Champion
Two gig horses
Mettle, the well-known trotting mare
Cecilia, a capital lady’s mare
Kit, a capital lady’s mare
Atalanta, a good hackney
A thoroughbred filly, 18 months old
A do grey mare, 4 year old by Gohanna
Five milch cows
1 pure Devon bull,
4 working bullocks,
6 head tame young cattle,
2 horse carts, 1 bullock cart, a winnowing machine, blacksmiths tools, ploughs, harrows, chaff cutter, harness,
4 tons potatoes
2 sail cloths,
2 boilers, &c.

The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Wed 5 May 1858, p2 (18)

James Davidson’s duties as a groom at the London Inn revolved around the arrival of the coaches travelling between Hobart and Launceston. Once the coach arrived he would feed and water the horses, check the horses’ shoes and general appearance. A groom was expected to know how to care for horses and have some veterinary knowledge.  The night coach from Launceston required guests to stay overnight and in the morning fresh horses would be harnessed to continue the journey.

1858: Mary Ann gave birth to their first child, a son named James on the 24th January 1858. (16)
In May it was reported the business had been closed for several months, causing considerable inconvenience to the public. (31)
On Monday 3rd of May a meeting of the justices was held at Oatlands, for the purpose of hearing applications for new licenses and transfers of old ones. A new license was granted to John Billette [sic] of New Norfolk for the London Inn, Spring Hill. (17)(19)

On Monday night the 28th Feb (1859) James was waiting for the night coach from Launceston when he saw flames coming from the hay stacks. A strong breeze from the north-east fuelled the fire and all the feed was destroyed. A report of the devastating fire and an inquest was held to ascertain how the fire started. (20)

A jury was empanelled on Thursday last at the London Inn’, Spring Hill, before Thomas Mason Esq. Coroner, to investigate the circumstances respecting the late mysterious destruction of property by fire upon the premises of Mr John Bellette, of Spring Hill. The jurors sworn were- John Rowland Rae Esq. (Foreman), GW Lindley, Esq. Richard Harrison, Esq. James Cogle, Esq. And Mesrs. Pennycuick, Mannings (farmer) and Heard (fellmonger).

The Coroner and jury having viewed the locus quo, the inquest commenced.
The Coroner then briefly adverted to the disastrous event which had called them together, and observed that that was the first inquest which he had held under the recent Act of Parliament, which authorized inquiry to be made by Coroners into the cause and origin of fires.  When there were good grounds of suspicion that they were the wilful acts of incendiaries.
A ticket-of-leave man was in custody upon suspicion of having set fire to Mr Bellette’s stacks, and would be present during the inquiry.
Mr CDC Kidd was then directed by the Coroner to bring in Bartholomew McKeon, who was informed of the position in which he stood, and the nature of the inquiry going on.

Mr John Bellette was then called and examined, -
He stated that he kept the London Inn, Spring Hill, and on the 28th of February last had two stacks of hay standing near his house, worth altogether between 800 and £900. He had also a stack of oats which he considered worth £60, and about 30 bushels of Cape Barley, value £9 or £10, and a dray laden with oats in his barn. All the stacks were safe at 9 o’clock on the evening of the 28th of last month.
About half-past twelve o’clock at midnight witness was called up by the groom saying, ‘Master, get up, the stacks are on fire! On getting up and looking through the window, witness saw the whole of the stacks and the roof of the barn on fire at the end farthest from the dwelling. The flames were along the whole of the stacks from one end to the other, and were rising from the side of the stacks farthest from the house, and nearest to the barn. Witness hastened to the conflagration and found the groom liberated the cattle from the stock yard. On examining the back door of the barn witness found it in the same state in which he had placed it. There was a steady breeze from the NE and it was impossible to save anything. There were no buildings to wind-ward of the stacks. The men in the hut to leeward of the stacks were fast asleep. The moment witness saw the fire he was impressed with the suspicion that it had been caused by design., and he suspected a man who had about eight days ago been in his service named McKeon, and with whom witness had had isunderstandings.
The cause of the first was, a woman coming to witness’s house; McKeon asked him to let her stop there a few days, and that he (McKeon) would pay for her keep. Witness twice positively declined. McKeon asked the reason why?
witness replied, he did not keep a house of a certain description for his servants. McKeon there upon grew very wrathful, and said that unless the woman was allowed to stop he would not , and several times insisted upon witness’s settling up with him for some mowing. Witness refused to do so until McKeon had finished his contract. He was very abusive, and tried to prevent the other men from working.
Witness made up his (McKeon’s) account, but he objected to a charge for two scythes, declaring that he ought to have been charged for one only and said, I‘ll make it a dear thing to to you. It shall be nothing in your pocket. You have robbed me; I know as much as you do; I’ll keep my eye upon you.’ He left the service
witness next saw him on the Sunday, 27th of February, the night before the fire, got to the men’s hut and the stable door nearest the stack, and heard him say in reference to the stack. ‘You have very nigh got it all up.’ Witness saw McKeon again in the back yard, about 5 o’clock in the afternoon of the same day. He had no right to be on his (witness’s) premises. Witness did not believe the fire could
have originated accidentally, and he had not the least doubt that the stacks were set on fire purposely.
Witness had no reason for suspecting any other person but McKeon, as he (witness) had before been impressed with the fear that he would do him (witness)
some harm; in fact, he (McKeon) gave witness to understand as much.
By Mr Lindley- Did you ever mention to any one in the presence of the accused that the stacks were not insured?
Witness – I am not aware that I ever did mention it in his presence.
The accused declined to ask the witness any questions.

James Davidson, groom to Mr Billette, was next sworn. Witness, who lived with his family in a cottage farthest from the stacks on his master's premises, said he observed the fire about a quarter to 1 o'clock on the morning in question, as he was sitting up waiting for Mr Lord's night coach from Launceston to Hobart, when he gave the alarm of fire! Witness went to the scene and saw the flames rising from the windward side of the stacks and barn. This witness then gave evidence corroborative of the first witness's statement, and proceeded to state that he saw McKeon in the forenoon, and about half-past 8 o'clock at night, on Sunday the 27th ult., the night before the fire on Mr Bellette's premises. He McKeon, told witness he was going home as soon as he could, and that he was living at Mr Salmon's Hollow Tree Bottom. All that witness heard McKeon say respecting Mr Bellette was, that he had not made a fair settlement with him (McKeon).

Alfred Gurney, in the service of Mr Bellette, deposed that he slept in an unoccupied stable on his master's premises, nearest to the stack yard, on the night of the fire, because there was no room in the men's hut. On the night before, on going into that stable, about half past 9 o'clock, to go to bed, he saw McKeon sitting there with a drunken man. About half past 11 o'clock witness was awake and he heard and saw McKeon and the other man going out the stable together. Witness did not know the name of the other man. Witness then fell asleep and heard nothing more.

Constable Charles Hodges watch-house keeper at Spring Hill, was then sworn, and said he was sent for on the night of the fire, about half past 12 o'clock. Witness suspected that the stacks had been set fire to by McKeon. The reason for this suspicion was that, on the 18th ultimo, McKeon, after his discharge from the service of Mr Bellette, went to the watch-house to report his residence as a ticket-of-leave holder. He asked witness 'how much do you think I'm coming to me after all my labour? Witness replied perhaps about £3 or £4. McKeon said he had nothing coming to him but 2s. 1d., that Mr Bellette had robbed him. He further said "he'll be nothing the better of it in three months, and I shall be none the worse. I'll be one with him yet for it."

Mr Chief District Constable Kidd deposed to having proceeded to the farm of Mr Thomas Salmon, Hollow Tree Bottom, early on the 1st instant, and apprehended, in company of constables Hodges, Bartholomew McKeon where he slept the night before? He said, in the loft above the stable, and that his bed was still warm. Witness examined McKeon’s sleeping place, and found nothing more than a tarpauling, which was quite warm. In the course of the evidence it appeared that a match box was found upon McKeon, and one loose match in his pocket, and also a lady’s habit shirt, which McKeon adroitly managed to make away with.

The Coroner said that as a habit shirt had been lost by Mrs Bellette or her sister, it was probable that that found on McKeon was it. As, however, it was not produced and could not be identified, it could not form the subject of a larceny.
The Coroner now proceeded to sum up the evidence, and pointed out the prominent grounds of suspicion disclosed by the testimony adduced, Leaving it to the jury to say whether there was sufficient evidence before them to justify them in saying by their verdict that the stacks had been wilfully, maliciously, and feloniously set on fire by McKeon, or by some person or persons unknown. If not, whether they thought that the evidence showed such a strong ground of suspicion against McKeon as to warrant them in expressing their belief that the fire was wilfully caused by him.
The jury, after a short deliberation, returned the following verdict:- ‘That the fire was wilfully caused by some person or persons unknown, but they were of opinion that there was reason to suspect that the same was wilfully caused by Bartholomew McKeon, a prisoner of the Crown.

The Coroner said he would take care to report the verdict of the jury to the Government, with a recommendation that McKeon should be deprived of his ticket of leave and held in the service of the Crown at some penal station for such period as the Government should think fit.
Dr. Tench, JP and John Page, Esq., were present during the inquiry, which exacted much local interest, and occupied nearly four hours. A large amount of sympathy was expressed by all parties to Mr Bellette in consequence of the ruinous loss which himself and family have sustained by reason of the cruel and diabolical act of incendiarism which has so rightly been made a subject of investigation by a Cornoner’s jury.

The Courier, Tuesday 15 March 1859, p2

According to one report Mr Bellette’s losses were estimated between £800 and £900 and included 2 hay stacks, oats and 30 bushels of barley none of which were insured. (21)

On Monday 24th January 1859 at the Oatlands court house John Bellette appealed against the £50 license fee imposed by the licensing bench. His appeal was successful and the licensing magistrates reduced the annual fee. Shortly afterwards an article appeared in the Hobart newspaper stating the business was closed due to the neglect of the proprietor. In June John Bellette wrote to the editor of the Hobart Town Daily Mercury pleading his case and stated the Colonial Treasurer had neglected to issue a license for the London Inn due to the fact the magistrate had failed to give a detailed reason for the reduced license fee of £20. (34)
By April Billette’s financial situation became evident when Mr GA Kemp received instructions from HB Tonkin assignee to the insolvent estate to dispose of all the livestock, grain, farming equipment and furniture. (32)

The Davidson family continued to live in a cottage at Spring Hill and their second son Edward was born there on 1st December 1859. (22)  James Davidson struggled to make a living as a groom and times were made difficult with licensing disputes and insolvency among the innkeepers.
Mr Billette made some improvements to the property during his tenure and by 1860 the coaching inn had a new veranda and there were several out buildings along with a coach house and stables which accommodated the men’s sleeping quarters. Nearby a watch-house made of sandstone had been erected to replace an earlier timber structure. The building was used as a temporary gaol to hold felons until they could be removed to Hobart. (23)
By March 1860 Bellette had decided to quit the property and on Monday 19th March auctioned the entire contents of the farm. The farm stock comprised stacks of hay, barley, wheat, horses, cows, pigs and poultry together with the household furniture from the inn. The property including the country inn was advertised for tender by George Kemp. (24)

The coaching inn passed through several licensees hands before the end of the coaching era and later became home to the Bisdee family and was renamed Tedworth.
Licensees of the London Inn:

  • John Vincent 1834-6
  • Joseph Cahill 1838-1846 1847-1850
  • Joseph Speed 1851
  • Henry Rimmer 1853
  • James Hill 1853-7
  • Nicholas Augustus Woods 1858
  • John Bellette 1858-1860
  • Thomas Humphrey Savage 1860-1864 (25)(26)(27)

1862: The family moved north to live at Ross where their third son, Robert Gibson was born on 4th April 1862. Robert was baptised 5 weeks later on the 11th May at St John’s Church of England. (28)
The following year James Davidson died in the Hobart General Hospital on 16 June 1863 after contracting hepatitis. He is described as a 46 year old labourer born in England. At the time of their marriage (1857) James Davidson stated he was 37 years old.
Due to the lack of information known about James Davidson’s origins it is assumed this is his death. I hope more information may come to light in the future to support this theory.

1865: Charles Fisher a blacksmith of Ross married James Davidson’s widow at his home on 9th February 1865. Both parties signed the register and Mary Ann now Marian Davidson was described as a widow of full age. Charles and Caroline Quasthoff witnessed the ceremony. (29)
Charles’s first wife Emily Lock was the sister of Martha Locke (my 3x great grandmother).
Mary Ann became mother to Charles’s 6 surviving children and they went on to have a further seven children, four sons and three daughters. According to the family she was adored by her step-children.

Mary Ann died on 27th Sep 1904 at Oatlands, aged 67. The funeral service was held 2 days later and departed St John’s Church for the Ross cemetery at 3pm. (30)


Baptism, FamilySearch.org, St Stephen, Coleman St. London parish registers 1717-1875
Census 1841, City of London, Parish of St Stephen, Coleman St. London, HO 107/ 723/10
Baptism, St Stephen, Coleman St. London, p65
Census 1851, HO/107/1532
Baptism, Parish of St Stephen, Coleman St. London, Ancestry.com.au
TAHO, CB7/16 Register of the Hiring and Disposal of Immigrants p143-4
Colonial Times, Wed 31 Dec 1856, p3.
Cornwall Chronicle Wed 24 Jun 1857, p3, ‘Tasmanian Emigration’
The Hobart Town Courier, Wed 28 Mar 1855, p2, Immigration
Launceston Examiner, Thurs 3 Apr 1856, p7, Immigration
Hobarton Mercury Fri 16 Jan 1857, p3
TAHO, CB7/16 Register of the Hiring and Disposal of Immigrants p143-4
TAHO, Marriage, reg.no.797 RGD37
Hobarton Mercury, Fri 19 Sep 1856, p2, Robbery under arms
The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Wed 21 Apr 1858, p1
TAHO, Birth, Oatlands Dis. reg.no.1633 RGD 33
London inn licence, The Courier Wed 5 May 1858, p2
The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Wed 5 May 1858, p2
The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Thurs 6 May 1858, p3
The Courier, Tuesday, 15 March 1859, p2, The late fire at Spring Hill
The Courier, 2 Mar 1859, p3, “Calamitous fire at Springhill” Wed
TAHO, Birth, Oatlands Dis. reg.no.1633 RGD33
Australian Heritage Database
The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, 12 March 1860, p1 & 13 Apr 1860 p4
The Courier, Thurs 10 Nov 1853, p3, London Inn, Licence transfer
The Courier, Wed 6 Dec 1854, p3, London Inn licence
The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Sat 29 May 1858, p1 The London Inn, Spring Hill
Baptisms, St John's, Ross. no.324.
TAHO, Marriage register, St John’s, Ross,
Examiner 27 September 1904, p1 death & funeral notice
The Courier, Wed 5 May 1858, p2
The Courier Tues 19 Apr 1859, p3
Launceston Examiner, Sat 19 Nov 1853, p. London Inn Licence Henry RIMMER to James HILL
Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Monday 20 June 1859, p3


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