Mary Dykes was an independent and strong-minded woman.
Born around 1760, she was reputedly a
by trade. As such her life had presumably been seriously
affected by the Industrial Revolution. In 1786 she was
found to have endeavoured to seduce a publican from
with a view to robbing him. Found guilty at the Old
Bailey on 26 April 1786, she was sentenced to seven
years transportation. Dykes travelled to the Colony
Some five years after arrival Dykes married on 12 April
1793 at St
Sydney. Her husband was Humphrey
who had arrived on the First Fleet as a private marine.
In 1792 Evans left the Marines and joined the NSW Corps.
While his grant of land, at Lane Cove, was not
forthcoming until December 1794 he and his wife may have
lived there from the time of their marriage.
At some stage, presumably upon the expiration of
term with the Corps, Evans and his wife returned to
England. They next appear in correspondence from John
Hunter and John
in late 1801 supporting their wish to return to the
Colony as settlers. The request was granted and they may
have arrived back in the Colony aboard
on 12 May 1803. Also aboard Rolla were a number
of Irish rebels who had been involved in the Irish
Rebellion of 1798 — including one Hugh
On 6 July 1803 Evans received a grant of 135 acres at
Hills and he and his wife commenced living on the grant.
Evans in these early years made a number of purchases of
rum and brandy from
Store and in January 1801 sold a gallon of rum to the
Evans's grant was in an area known as Here and
nowhere else. There is some suggestion that at this
place there was an illicit hotel. While the
references to this place clearly indicate that it
comprised a number of farms, Evans's trading in liquor
may lead to the suggestion that it was on his land.
On Thursday 1 March, 1804, Patrick
an overseer at the Castle Hill Government Farm, reported
to Captain Edward
(the commander of the NSW Corps in Parramatta) how
convict Morgan Power had passed on to him information
concerning a proposed convict uprising. The information
was correct for on 4 April 1804 the Castle Hill
Rebellion (or Battle of Vinegar Hill) started. Morgan
Power had gained his information while thatching a hut
at Here and nowhere else. After the rebellion
Evans reported that some convicts had come to his house,
demanding arms, threatening his life and forcing his
‘Government Man’ to join them. By the time of the 1806
Muster the assigned convict was the Irish rebel Hugh
Kelly. If Kelly was Evans's ‘Government Man’ in 1804 one
can only wonder at what the truth might have been.
On 1 August 1805, Dykes was surprised that her husband
had not returned for his meal. She sent their assigned
convict out to look for him and she went as well. It was
Dykes who found Evans fatally pinioned under a tree
which he had been felling to make palings for a pigsty.
Evans's obituary described him as "universally respected
throughout the neighbourhood." He was buried in St
John's Cemetery, Parramatta, but no headstone is extant.
Evans and Dykes were said to have two children but their
When Evans died he left a debt to the Government Store
of 28 pounds three shillings and ninepence.
Hugh Kelly was pardoned in April 1808. Dykes continued
to farm the grant and in 1808 gave birth to a daughter
Mary Ann. The father was
Dykes and Kelly were married at St John's,
on 14 August 1808. Another daughter, Eliza was born in
By 1806 Dykes had had 25 acres of the grant cultivated
and by 1815 Kelly was supplying meat to the Government.
In 1820 Kelly applied for, and received, an Inn Licence
for his establishment called The Half Way House.
He stated that it was in an area called Nowhere There
and that he had managed it for many years. Could
this have been the illicit hotel commenced by Humphrey
Evans 17 years before?
Nothing more is known of Dykes until her death on 10
November 1820 aged 62 years. In the church register she
was recorded as Mrs Margaret Kelly.
Kelly lived until 21 July 1835. By this time he had
married a third time and by his will could leave 4,010
acres including 1,600 acres at present day
and over 2,200 acres on the
Plains. To his brother, Owen, he also gave 110 acres of
his Vinegar Hill Farm. The Irish rebel, now a
wealthy colonist, had still remembered.