LINKS TO NEWS STORIES (with opening paragraphs):
It is the lunch hour. In Macquarie Place, office workers who spend their working hours in the tall buildings round about, have come out to sit on the park seats or the green grass. There, as they enjoy the warm spring sunshine, they eat their sandwiches and read or discuss the affairs of the universe. Around their feet the pigeons strut and pick up fallen crumbs. From this tiny park, set like an oasis amongst the bricks and mortar of the lower part of the city, a narrow and somewhat shabby street leads through to Pitt Street. Its name, Reiby Place, recalls for us the life and work of her who has been described as Sydney’s first woman merchant.
The Land, 18 September 1953
The convict girl who rode into our history.
In 1790 a high-spirited English girl leaped light-heartedly onto someone else’s horse and galloped off for what turned out to be a rather long ride. It took her first to a felon’s jail, then to the honor of helping to found a nation and finally to a place in history where people say her humble cottage should be preserved. Not enough people, however, to make sure that it will be. For the trouble with Mary Reibey, nee Haydock, is that, whatever she lay have done,- she was such a humble person.
Tribune, 22 December 1959
View of George St from the Wharf, Sydney, 1829, showing town houses of prosperous merchants Isaac Nichols, Mary Reibey and Sarah Wills. (Wikipedia Commons)
Mrs. Mary Reibey at Reibey Cottage
Romance and Reality—Mr M. J. Conlon’s Reminiscences— The Cattle Markets and the Pound— An Early Map.
In George-sleet, opposite Barrack-lane, was a building known as “Reibey Cottage,” owned and inhabited by a more or less historical personage, Mrs. Mary Reibey. The cottage was, I have been informed, built on the bank of the Tank Stream, John Sand’s back store being the exact site. Mrs. Reibey owned some houses in front and I believe a couple of them still stand. There are some few remaining bits of old Sydney there, at any rate, Mrs. Reibey was a very old colonist, she having arrived in the first decade on our history in the ship Royal Admiral. She was not than married, but Mr. Reibey, an officer of the ship, took a fancy to the young girl, and wedded her, the ceremony, we are told, being performed by Parson Johnson. Mr Reibey retired from the sea, and established himself as a merchant in Macquarie-place, though it was not then so named, and prospered, the young wife proving herself a thoroughly capable woman of business.
Truth (Perth), 11 December 1909
Mary Reibey : Australia’s First Business Woman
A REMARKABLE characteristic of Thomas Reibey (don’t worry, Mary is coming soon) is the uncertainty that haunts him. We do not know for a certainty how he spelt his name; until recently there was a doubt as to his wife’s name; the date of his death differs in three authoritative statements. Perhaps the most irrefragable thing about him is that his biography in Burke’s “Colonial Gentry” is a tissue of misinformation. Introduced in this fashion, he may interest you, as his wife assuredly will.
Thomas Reibey, or Raby (or Rabey, on his wedding certificate), or Reiby in all early official documents, was an officer of the East India Company’s trading ship, Royal Admiral, which, in 1792, brought a consignment of convicts to Port Jackson, proceeding thence to Calcutta to pick up cargo. The company’s officers were allowed to do a little trading on their own, and Thomas had with him a parcel 0f goods which he hoped to sell profit-ably in Calcutta. But among the women prisoners in the Royal Admiral was a girl of 15, Mary Haydock, of Bury, in Lancashire, who, by some astounding miscarriage of justice, had been sentenced to seven years’ transportation for taking a “joyride” on a neighbour’s pony. (One would like to know a great deal more about the magistrates who were responsible for that sentence on a girl of 15 for so trivial an offence.) Thomas and Mary fell so thoroughly in love that the young officer left the ship at Sydney, started a small business with his goods, looked after Mary’s welfare until she was of an age to marry, and married her on September 1, 1794.
Brisbane Courier, 26 August 1933
The Name of Mary Reibey
Spending what is to me one of the greatest joys in life i.e. an hour or two’s study of the early history of N.S.W. and its pioneers, especially that of the South Coast and Tablelands–I had occasion to look up the “Book of Shoalhaven,” and here I came across the photo of Mrs. Marv Reibey (generally written Reiby). Being a student of banking and finance, the name at once called to mind the opening of the first “Australian” bank–the Bank of N.S.W.–which was opened in the residence of Mary Reiby, Macquarie-street, Sydney, on the 8th April, 1817, with a capital of £12,600.
It is a long stretch from April, 1817, to June, 1933yet the name of “Reiby” is being perpetuated at Burrier House, and looks like being, handed down for many generations to come. A century or more has passed since Mary Reiby rode on horse-back from Bong Bong (Bowral) to Burrier, following, down the mountain spurs which would make many of our present-day women riders quake with fear even under existing conditions.
And what of the bank that opened under such humble circumstances in the home of Mary Reiby? Can the average person form any conception of the part the Bank of N.S.W. has played during the past three years in maintaining that; confidence which is so essential to trade and commerce and to the mental and moral wellbeing of the people of N.S.W.? The name of Mary Reiby and the name of a great banking institution will certainly be recorded in the annals of Australian history.
Shoalhaven Telegraph, 21 June 1933
The Convict Girl Who Became A Lady
Any film company considering the the colourful, barbaric early days of Sydney Cove as the basis of a story would find a wealth of material in the life story of Mary Haydock, better known as Mary Reibey, the 13-year-old Lancashire lass, who in 1792 was sentenced to transportation to Sydney for seven years. For a popular theme of rags to riches, with a fair slice of fame thrown in, the Reibey story is hard to beat .
Her name is a household word in Australian public libraries, cropping up frequently in early records and dominating chapters in books covering the lives of our famous women. History records her crime as that of riding the squire’s pony dressed as a boy, and when caught giving the false name of James Burgess. It was under that name that she was tried. Religious differences were dividing her Catholic – Quaker – Protestant family, and little effort was made to prevent her deportation or find out how she fared in the new colony.
Brisbane Telegraph, 20 November 1954
From convict to real estate magnate: how Mary Reibey became a respected businesswoman in colonial Sydney
AT a time when it was still a relative rarity for women to be involved in business, Mary Reibey was one of Australia’s most prominent businesspeople. She arrived in the colony a convict but married a former naval officer Thomas Reibey who became a wealthy trader. Mary took over his businesses when he died. Rather than merely coping with the loss of her husband and having to run his many interests, she prospered and expanded the enterprises. She was a visionary who never let the gender stereotypes of the era hold her back from becoming a success in a man’s world.
Reibey’s name was this year added to the Bradfield Partnership Sydney Honour Roll, which commemorates some of Sydney’s visionaries, and yesterday some of her descendants gathered at Sydney University to see her name inscribed on the roll in the Quadrangle, paying homage to their illustrious ancestor.
Daily Telegraph, 29 November 2016
LINKS TO OTHER PLACES:
hhe Woman On The Aussie $20 Note Was A Cross-Dressing, Horse-Stealing Violent Convict
You’ve probably held her picture in your wallet without knowing anything about the serious-looking elderly woman on the Australian $20 bill. Born in 1777 in Lancashire, England, Mary Reibey (nee Haydock) lost her parents just two years later and was raised by her grandmother. At the age of 13, she was convicted of stealing a neighbour’s horse. When she was arrested, Mary was dressed as a boy and went by the name James Burrow. In later years, Mary told her husband she only took the horse because she was bored and found embroidery intolerable.
Mary Reibey journal, 1820-1821
NSW State Archives & Records (highlighting documents in their collection)
“Mary Reibey and Margaret Catchpole: a note” by H. Wright Royal Australian Historical Society, 1929
Plaque, “Mary Reibey”, The Rocks, Sydney
Australian Women’s Register
Australian Dictionary of Biography
Conivct Records (Mary Haydock)
“From Convict to Successful Businesswoman – the story of Mary Reibey” Overnights (ABC radio)
Reibey Institute (Womens Leadership Research Institute)
Reserve Bank of Australia: Mary Reibey (1777-1855) (timeline)
Image at top: Mary Reibey, watercolour on ivory miniature, ca. 1835, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales