Maria Moss is my third great grandmother on my father’s side and was the first of her line to emigrate to Australia. Turns out, she is a rather interesting woman in more ways than one.
Maria was born in September 1822 (according to her baptism record of 1852) to George Moss, a hawker, and Rachael, nee Davis. George and Rachel appear to be Ashkenazi Jews who worshipped in the Great Synagogue in London. At the very least, records show that they were married there on 5 Sep 1821. George was the son of Joseph Moss and Rachael the daughter of Moche Davis.
On 16 Nov 1840, Maria married Thomas Lane, the son of George and Sarah Lane (both deceased). They were married at St Dunstan’s Church in Stepney. Maria was 17 and Thomas 22. In 1841, the census states that they were living in Princes Square, Stepney with Maria’s parents.
The first record I have of Thomas and Maria having a child is the birth of Selina Maria in 1843. Selina is recorded as being born in Whitechapel. Selina was followed by George in 1844 and Rebecca in 1846.
In 1848, the Lane family left London for New York. They arrived 7 Nov 1848 aboard the Devonshire. It is possible that the journey took them less than 30 days. Imagine – a five year old, a four year old and a two year old on a boat for 30 days. It sounds like your worst nightmare. Two days after they arrived, Selena’s death is recorded.
It is assumed that Thomas was headed for California and the allure of gold. It is doubtful whether the family made it there. In 1849, another daughter, Adelaide, was added to the brood. She was born in New York. In early 1850, George has died at the age of 6. By Jul 1850, the family are back home in London for the baptism of Rebecca and Adelaide. The dreams of a new life had not panned out.
Rebecca and Adelaide were christened at Christ Church in Watney St, Tower Hamlets. The family are living at 11 York St (with another Lane family – William, Thomas’s brother, and wife, Mary) and Thomas is listed as a Wheelwright.
Thomas, my 2nd great grandfather, was born in September 1850. He was baptised at 3 months old. The family were living at Commercial Rd. A year later, both Thomas and Maria were baptised at St Philip’s Church, Stepney. Maria’s is listed as an adult baptism while I can’t make out the wording beside Thomas’s. I am assuming the purpose of the baptism was so that they could emigrate to NSW.
The family left London for NSW aboard the Meteor. The Meteor left Southhampton on March 17 and arrived in Sydney on 6 Jul 1853. A report in the South Australian Register on 25 July 1853 states that “she has on board 106 unmarried females, 89 married couples and 40 children.” Three of these children (aged 7, 6 and 3) were Lanes. The article continues stating, “She has been very fortunate with respect to health among the immigrants, having lost only two children.” We can imagine that the death of two children would have bought additional anxiety to a family who had lost two already in similar circumstances.
Maria’s sixth child, Maria Rachel, was born in Sept 1853 in Glebe, NSW. I have moved several times in my adult life and many times with children. All my moves have been undertaken in ease with movers and plane travel. When we moved to the USA, I was four months pregnant with my son. It wasn’t horrible but don’t think I would have relished a four month journey by sea with three other children.
The family were still living in Glebe in 1855 when James Henry was added to the brood. He died in 1856. Alfred William was born in Nov 1856 while the family were still living in Glebe.
By 1859, the family had moved to Armidale and were situated at Saumarez. In 1861, Annie Isabella was born. The family settled into the community at Saumarez Ponds and Maria saw the marriage of her children with local families.
Maria died in 1906 at 73 St Johns Rd, Glebe. She outlived her husband, Thomas, by 9 years. It is to be assumed she was staying with her daughter Adelaide Thorpe who reported her death.
So many histories are written about the man as, traditionally, they have been the main income earners and, as such, determined the course a family travelled. It is impossible to determine what influence Maria had on the decisions the family made. However, we can see that she was a strong woman who supported and was actively involved in, what we assume, were the dreams of her husband. She was a pioneer who overcame adversity and lived to the ripe old age of 83.