144 Jersey Rd, Woollahra/Paddington (centre frame with red door), Ellen and Thomas' home in 1903.

Mary 'Ellen' Hyde (1856-1942)

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Joan Gaffey

Mary Ellen Hyde

Stella Williams

Joan Gaffey

John HYDE (b 1821, Bisley, Gloucestershire)

Ellen QUIN (b 1825, Charleville, County Cork) Birth 1856 in Melbourne[1]

1856 in Melbourne[1]
Occupation: "Gentlewoman" (1880)
Lived at:
Hobart, Tasmania (1859)
Surry Hills, Sydney (1864 -1880)[2]
41 Green's Road, Paddington (1889)[3]
1 Stewart Street, Paddington (1910-17)[4]
79 Stewart Street, Paddington
108 Carrington Road, Randwick
55 Darley Road, Randwick

Oct 31 1942 in 55 Darley Road, Randwick of:
(a) Arterio-sclerosis;
(b) Senile Myocardia degeneration and
(c) Senility 

Nov 2 1942 in Waverley Cemetery (Roman Catholic)[5]

Thomas Herbert WILLIAMS (Jan 31 1880 in Woollahra Sydney)[6]

Mary L WILLIAMS (1880-1943)
Herbert J A WILLIAMS (1882-1884)
Gertrude WILLIAMS (1885-1942)
Arthur WILLIAMS (1887-1968)
Stella Eveline WILLIAMS (1889-1927), married 1921 Thomas Gaffey, Sydney
Nellie WILLIAMS (1891-1979)

Sarah WILLIAMS (1893-1893)
Frederick WILLIAMS (1894-1969)
Florence WILLIAMS (1896-1959)
Clyde WILLIAMS (1899-1963)

Mary Ellen's death certificate gives her birth place as Hobart - however, she was actually born in Melbourne, where her father, a soldier, was stationed. Ellen, as she was known, then spent most of her early years in Hobart, as the family returned there when she was only two years old. Her sister, (Sarah) Margaret, was also born in Victoria.

Ellen’s family had settled in Sydney by 1864, where her father John, since retired from the Army, had become a warder at Darlinghurst Gaol. She may have been embarrassed by this occupation, for on her marriage certificate, her father is simply described as a “Government official”. On the same document,[7] the 24-year-old Mary Ellen gave her own occupation as "Gentlewoman"; presumably, she did not work outside her parents’ home.

(above): Housing typical of Surry Hills in the 1870s –1880s.

At the time of her marriage, Mary Ellen was living at her parents’ Surry Hills home. Social historians have described the Surry Hills of that period as a time when the gentry had moved out, and the middle classes, the mechanics, skilled artisans and shopkeepers, had moved in. At the same time, the district still retained much of its village atmosphere, but health problems associated with ineffectual (or non-existent) drainage and sewerage, overcrowding and the growth of factories were beginning to rise.[8]

Thomas and Mary Ellen then moved to 43 Green's Road, Paddington, where they were living at the time of their daughter Stella's birth in 1889. Green's Road runs alongside the side boundary of Victoria Barracks, from Oxford Street to Moore Park, and is now part of a "historic precinct". A period north of the harbour followed - they were living at St Leonards when their daughter Sarah was born in early 1893.  Sarah had only a short life -   she died in December that same year.  Thomas and Mary Ellen later moved briefly to the western suburb of Guildford, before returning to the familiar territory of Paddington in 1908 with a larger home at 1 Stewart Street on the corner of Oatley road, on the other side of the Barracks.

Ellen and Thomas went on to have a family of six daughters and four sons, the youngest, Clyde, being born with Down's Syndrome, when Ellen was 45 years old.

An artist’s impression of Sydney c1880s, when Ellen and Thomas were starting out on their married life.
(from Shirley Fitzgerald, Sydney 1842-1992, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney 1992)

A gathering of the Williams clan at the family home in 108 Carrington Road, Randwick, c1938, with Mary Ellen (centre) surrounded by her family including some of her children and grandchildren

(from left): Beryl McInerney, Clyde Williams (seated); Patricia McInerney, Gertrude Williams, Patrick and Nellie McInerney [née Williams] (standing)

centre (from left) Florence Williams, Mary Ellen Willliams (née Hyde) and Margaret Hyde

(in front); Joan Gaffey and Kevin McInerney.

Photo: courtesy Kevin McInerney

In 1918, Ellen’s husband Tom died suddenly of diphtheria but she herself lived on for another 25 years. In her old age, Ellen lived on through the Great Depression, and the start of World War II, being cared for by her dressmaker daughter Gertrude in Carrington Road, Randwick. In the late 1930s, Gertrude also took in her niece, Joan Gaffey, the daughter of her sister Stella who had died 10 years earlier. Completing the household were Ellen’s unmarried sister Margaret, Ellen’s sons Clyde and Frederick and daughter Florence. At one stage, it was also home to the family of another daughter, Nellie and her husband, Patrick McInerney, who took over caring for Ellen after Gertrude’s premature death.

In her later years at least, Ellen developed a liking for "having a bet on the horses".... one of her granddaughters said that was one of the things she remembered about her grandmother - and that Ellen always wore long dresses.  Another, younger, granddaughter Joan Gaffey remembered her only as a very quiet old lady, virtually bedridden.

During the World War 2, her eldest son Arthur, (who was a Labor Member of State Parliament), became concerned for his mother’s welfare in Sydney and bought a house for her to live in at Leura, in the safety of the Blue Mountains.  However, after the worst of the threat was deemed to have passed, Mary Ellen and family returned to Sydney in the care of Nellie and Patrick and their family at 55 Darley Road, Randwick, where she died in 1942.

[1] May Ellen’s Victorian birth certificate

[2] NSW Marriage Certificate. Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages. Mary Ellen's marriage certificate

[3] Daughter Stella’s birth certificate

[4] Husband Thomas’; death certificate

[5] NSW Death Certificate. Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Ellen's death certificate, no. 29595

[6] Mary Ellen’s marriage certificate

[7] One puzzling note about the marriage - although Ellen and Thomas Williams were married in the Catholic Church at Woollahra, the ceremony was conducted “according to the rites of the Church of England” (although this may be a transcription error at the New South Wales Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages, as it’s hard to conceive of a such a ceremony being allowed in the Catholic Church at the time).

[8] Christopher Keating, Surry Hills: The City’s backyard, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney 1991. Pp 31-54