“Applicant states that John Duggan, a blacksmith, Portland is the father of expected child. Whereabouts unknown. When seduced, the girl was at service at Mrs Wade’s private boarding house, Portland.”
On 5 August, Mary’s daughter was born alongside the poor, the destitute, the sick and the abandoned.
Her name was Violet May.
The admissions register at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. 1898.
Two weeks later, the mother and child were discharged from hospital. Little Violet was then placed into care while her mother attempted to claw her way back to a respectable life as a governess or servant.
Mr and Mrs Charles Carver, new parents from Neutral Bay, threw the 18-year-old a lifeline and Mary became a wet nurse hired to breastfeed their baby.
By all accounts, they cared deeply for the young mother, but as their child grew, Mary was no longer required, and by mid-1900, it was time to move on.
The Benevolent Asylum, George St, Sydney. Image: SLNSW.
On 12 March 1901, a troubled Mary turned up – unannounced – on the Carver’s doorstep and begged them to let her stay.
“She had nowhere else to go and was hysterical and very much troubled,” Mr Carver would tell the Evening News just a few days later, “she complained of being persecuted and having no chance.”
Neutral Bay in the early 1900s.
Accused of stealing from her new employer, Mary had been abandoned once again.
Mr and Mrs Carver took her in.
“She cried and sobbed half the night she spent with us,” Mrs Carver said, “she was in great trouble and said she had been unjustly treated.”
Charles Dando Carver. The Neutral Bay man and his wife employed Mary as a wet nurse. Image: NSW State Archives.
On Wednesday, 13 March, Mary left the Merlin St home to visit her daughter, now living with the Curtin family on Military Rd in Mosman.
At 6:30 pm, Mary knocked on the door and asked for her child, saying, “where is the baby? I want to take her to the doctor.”
But there were other things on her mind.