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Authors: Rosamond Siemon

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For Mary, those troubled August days were rapidly overtaken by a different despair. She was faced with bequests totalling £400 for Patrick's brother and three sisters, wages
to be paid to thirteen men, two girls and the nurse; burned and damaged buildings still needing costly repairs so they could again earn rent, and a mountain of debts and some dishonoured cheques which confirmed the grim prospect of bankruptcy. There was £700.12.6d. in the bank and £20,258.5.11d. owing to other people. The largest debt was to the Bank of New South Wales. It had been negotiated by Patrick in 1860 at the high interest rate of 13 per cent and was secured by the bank holding the title deeds of several choice pieces of his real estate. McLean and Best were owed £2,000 for cattle, and £1,500 was still unpaid on Moggill farm. The interest payments alone were crippling.

Mary had kept things going through the last months of her husband's illness, but what lay ahead was another matter. Neither she nor Patrick had ever been the type to remain unnoticed. Like him, she was quite capable of sending gossips packing with a flea in their ear. Now her situation was different. She was very much in the public eye, an object of more serious public speculation. It would have been easy for an uneducated woman in mid-life with all her domestic responsibilities to sell sufficient property to pay the debts and find a nice little house in the suburbs. She stood to inherit £300 a year; all the rest was for the children. If the end result of selling meant that her money was reduced, she would not have been wealthy but she would have been very comfortably off, with sufficient money to educate her five children and a fair inheritance preserved for their adult years.

The alternative was years of hard work, both mental and physical, to keep things going on a more businesslike and long-term basis. She was untrained and would need to learn rapidly how to cope with accounts and workmen, tenants of farms and buildings, contractors and bankers—people who had contempt for women such as she. The tiger in Mary had no intention of failing her cubs. Life with Patrick had accustomed her to living with a high degree of uncertainty; she had learned to tolerate the unfamiliar. She rearranged her life and, with valuable advice from the experienced Raff and Darragh, began what turned out to be a bigger struggle than any of them could have anticipated.

It was not just a matter of learning how Patrick had done things. In 1866, the year following his death, business confidence gave way to alarm about the future. When some of the London banks collapsed, the waves of failure swept across Australia. The Bank of Queensland closed in July 1866. This was followed by the failure of the Queensland Steam Navigation Company in which Patrick had invested heavily. His own financial collapse had been a forerunner to several high-flyers' insolvencies. Even Bishop Quinn struggled under a debt of some £10,000, also borrowed at a high rate, much of it to purchase the mansion ‘‘Adderton'' for a convent.

Among the middle-class investors and businessmen claimed by insolvency were five aldermen. Unpaid in their civic role, they had to resign their seats to salvage what was left in the worsening economic climate. Gold fever had
beguiled many men into believing that a bonanza would vindicate their property gamble. Instead, as unemployment grew, land values dropped. At a time when new bright gas lights were being installed in Brisbane town, business was becoming dimmed everywhere. All traders found their takings severely reduced.

It was expected that Mary would sell enough of their real estate to meet the debt. Had she done so in those depression years, sales at bargain prices would have materially diminished the interests of the inheritors, her children. Reluctantly she faced the fact that Rosevale Station, at least two days' ride distant, three days with a dray, was too far away for her to supervise. It had to be let go early and cheaply. She sold it to Morts for £2,321.14.9d. and the stock for another £1,500, and reduced the debt to the bank. In 1868, when the troubled bank decided to foreclose, Mary and her co-trustees applied to the Supreme Court to see if she had the power under Patrick's will to raise a mortgage on enough of the properties to discharge all of his debt. Interest rates had dropped to considerably less than the 13 per cent they were paying to the bank; a new mortgage seemed a reasonable financial solution to satisfy all parties. The Chief Justice, His Honour Mr James Cockle, consented to their request, and the Anglican Bishop of Brisbane, E.W. Tufnell, came to her aid, lending her £4,000 at an interest of 3 3/4 per cent. Five months later, on 26 April 1869, Mary's letter to the Court reads:

As executrix, I have taken the entire management of the administration of the said estate and I did, out of my own funds and other moneys which I have borrowed from time to time, pay off and discharge the debts due, and that the balance of accounts is now due to me by the estate of the said Patrick Mayne for and on account of moneys paid by me to the creditors.

Those five months had seen a new legal setback. George Raff was having troubles. He worked some sixty to a hundred Melanesians on his plantation ‘‘Morayfield'' at Caboolture, and was an active defender of the Kanaka labour system, against the growing moral concern of what some, especially the clergy, called slave labour. Although a number of Raff's Kanakas absconded and he took sixteen of them to court, he was investigated, cleared, and declared a good employer. He was influential but unpopular. The failure of the Q.S.N. Company was time-consuming and the prolonged political controversy over the Kanakas was damaging to his political career. When Mary was given permission to mortgage more property to try to trade the estate out of debt, Raff decided to withdraw as an executor and trustee for the Mayne children. He needed time and energy to shore up his finances, popularity, and political chances.

The Maynes had never been socially accepted. The murky stories about Patrick were always high on the gossip list, and finding a reputable replacement who would shoulder considerable responsibility was difficult. In February 1869 the surprise acceptance was that of John Petrie,
civic-minded, but no friend of the Maynes. It is tempting to think that his acceptance was a tribute to Mary's ability to cope; but more likely the initiator was the new mortgagee, Bishop Tufnell who, with his own building plans for the future, would gain some leverage with John Petrie and his contracting firm.

For a short period Mary thought she could now live as a private person away from the stress and shame. She left her employees to continue the smooth running of the shop and took the children to live at Sandgate, by now a fashionable holiday area for moneyed people. James' joyous memories of running barefoot in the sand and of it being ‘‘the happiest time of his life'' are all that is known of that time. No doubt for the seven-year-old boy and his nine-year-old sister, the warmth of their mother's care and attention and the freedom of a bigger playground than dung-strewn, dusty Queen Street made that time more precious. But Mary found that making frequent long carriage rides from Sandgate to attend to business in town was impractical and they returned to Queen Street.

By 1874 prices were on the rise again. After seven years of being a butcher, Mary had sold the business in 1872. Now was a good time to think about shedding a little more property in order to make a large dint in the remaining debt. With no more need for cattleyards and shepherds at the Mayne estate, she sold part of that land, an allotment in Leichhardt Street and another in William Street for £4,446.6.0. The rest of the estate was intact. The family could afford to relax a little. Rosanna, now
twenty-five and about to enter a convent, was able to draw £500 as an advance from her share of the estate.

Apart from the neatly compiled statements rendered to the Court, there is nothing else to tell us of the tremendous effort made by the former servant girl to save the fortune which ultimately paid for both the St Lucia site and the Moggill Farm of the University of Queensland, and which still provides continuous funds for its Faculty of Medicine. In December 1879, fourteen years after Patrick died, the last account was fully paid and the estate cleared. There is nothing to tell us if Mary attacked her formidable task with the same belligerence that saw her tie up her neighbour's chickens and defend her action with a fence post—or whether, fifteen years after that imbroglio, she had become a mature negotiator. To keep going for fourteen vigilant years after Patrick's death to trade away the debt would have demanded all her determination and zealous enthusiasm. It may be that long experience of coping with Patrick's exaggerated mood changes had taught her strategies for success. Of her personal life in that time, there are only two clues: repairs to a house at Sandgate in which we know she holidayed with the children for a short time, and a bill for £15 for sherry. Both are from 1866; both probably eased the stress so that she could carry on.


Out of the Ashes

It is fair to say that Patrick's widow, Mary McIntosh Mayne, was the unsung hero of the family, the woman whose efforts the ultimate beneficiary, the University of Queensland, might recognise. She inherited no property; the only tangible remnant of her life is a neat, regular signature on her will and on the accounts rendered to the Court at the end of her long labour to save the estate. Not even a photograph of her exists. If James and Mary were any indication, her children were relatively handsome, but whether she is reflected in their strong faces and wide-set eyes, we cannot know.

Buoyed up with news of Patrick's success in Australia, his sister Rosa, to whom he had left £100, decided to try her luck in Brisbane. In the early 1840s she had left
County Tyrone for New York, married Joseph Mooney and borne several children. The family's arrival in 1866 was probably at Mary's suggestion; soon the Mooneys became licensees paying rent to the Mayne estate for the Royal Exchange Hotel at the corner of Albert and Elizabeth Streets. It is doubtful whether the two families could have maintained more than a kin relationship, for when Joseph died in 1871, Rosa continued to rent and run the hotel while raising their seven children. She would have had as little time for social life as the fully occupied Mary. What Rosa did display was the same strength and drive as that of her brother, Patrick. Both Patrick's sisters, Ann and Rosa, were close enough to Mary to witness her signature on her will, but the young Mooneys' lives took different paths from that of their wealthy and well-educated cousins. Aunt Ann Mayne, for whom Mary, and then her children, always assumed a responsibility, probably maintained the family contact. For forty-three years she lived as a helpful and welcome member in the Mayne household, but after her death the Mooneys do not appear to have been among the visitors to ‘‘Moorlands''.

Four of Mary's children, like their parents, were achievers. Rosanna at All Hallows' was doing very well, particularly in music and French. In 1866 the only further education available for teenage boys came from one of about two dozen townsfolk with varying standards of education who advertised classes in their homes for a shilling a week. The Reverend B.G. Shaw's Collegiate School, conducted in his home ‘‘Alexandra'' on Wickham Terrace,
was selected for Isaac; here he eventually passed an examination which led to employment as a clerk with Queen Street solicitor Thomas Bunton. Fr Dunne's protective eye was never far away from the Mayne children, and his night school for boys no doubt also contributed to Isaac's further education so that he was able to be articled to Bunton in 1871. The bright but younger William and James were yet to prove themselves.

A factor in the shaping of Rosanna's life was the extension of the work of the Sisters of Mercy to the Darling Downs. The 1860s depression years had seen migrants and labourers moving west in search of a better life on the fertile western plains, their move made easier by the opening of the Ipswich to Toowoomba railway line in 1867. Among them were a large number of Bishop Quinn's migrants whom he sponsored under his Queensland Immigration Society. They began filling the open spaces in the Toowoomba district. It was the largest settled area west of the ranges and its 3,000 settlers were in need of a permanent service for their religious life, and education for their children.

Fr Dunne, who had frequent differences with his authoritarian bishop, James Quinn, was despatched west to succour and guide Toowoomba's largely Irish and German Catholic population. His going was a loss to Mary Mayne; while she struggled to run the butchery and worried about the large debt, he had kept an eye on Rosanna, who was boarding at All Hallows' convent. The girl was high-spirited, with rapid changes of mood; with other
promising senior students she was training as a pupil-teacher, but both Dunne and Mary knew she had ideas of becoming a nun. Dunne was also aware of the strains caused by the hard life, long hours and poor food, which were the lot of the pioneering Sisters of Mercy. They accepted their life but too much was expected of them; already the ranks of the younger nuns were being depleted by a high death rate from tuberculosis and exhaustion. Dunne's own sister in Ireland had succumbed to what we would now see as overwork and neglect by her superiors. He was also acutely aware that in the cloistered life of Brisbane, as in any community of strong-minded people, there were clashes of personalities which could be unsettling to the most vulnerable in the community. A current problem was a difference of view between the Bishop and some of the Sisters of Mercy. There were, in fact, pro- and anti-Quinn factions; in 1868, this had resulted in a rebellion by two sisters who had walked out and boarded a ship for Sydney.

In an effort to make Rosanna aware of the reality of religious life, the demands that would be put on her and the responsibility of the vows she would take, Dunne wrote to her from Toowoomba giving the example of what had happened to the two rebel sisters. He told her that to avoid a scandal he had been sent to the ship to make the rebels' trip look like Bishop's business. He was instructed to point out to them the illegality of their leaving, and to bring them back. Although the two women had the sympathy of several members of the Australian Catholic
Church hierarchy, their fate on returning to Brisbane was more than admonishment. Mother McDermott was stripped of her authority and her companion rebel, Sister Cecelia McAuliffe, who was not strong enough to stand the stress, died within six months.

Whether or not Rosanna gave any further thought to the serious matter of taking vows, the subject was dropped for some time.

Mary's attention had to centre more positively on the future of her sons. The replacement executor and trustee, John Petrie, was enrolling his son at the new Brisbane Grammar School at Roma Street. So was George Raff, the former executor. Apart from Petrie's role as executor and guardian of the Mayne children, Mary had also employed his company to rebuild fire-damaged buildings. No doubt, with sons of similar age, they found time to discuss their lads' futures. Along with the Petrie and Raff boys, William Mayne was among the first pupils enrolled at the Brisbane Grammar School in 1869.

Schooldays at Grammar opened a window on a different world. William began mixing with the sons of privileged and socially accepted families, something new to the Maynes, who were not socially accepted. He discovered acceptance in the world of sport with its nineteenth-century public school gentleman's code; without neglecting his studies he quickly shone at cricket and football. He played in the school teams for both sports, and in 1875 captained the cricket team. At Grammar, William began to shed some of the rough edges that had pervaded family
life under Patrick's rule. Accustomed to money, he had no real difficulty in fitting into a new life and absorbing what was then seen as the ideal of a public school boy. In a short time he was on the way to becoming the cultivated gentleman that was the man.

By 1871, with Isaac articled to the solicitor Thomas Bunton for a fee of £105 a year, Rosanna a pupil-teacher (one of the few positions open to a colonial gentlewoman), and William being educated alongside the sons of the colony's best families, Mary had cause to feel some satisfaction with her dual role as mother and businesswoman. Such satisfaction would have been a little dimmed by the end of the year, however. Thirteen-year-old Mary Emelia, who displayed neither drive nor ambition, was removed from All Hallows'. It was recommended that as she had no taste whatever for study, she should follow domestic pursuits. With no need to work and too much time on her hands, the attractive, non-studious teenager was regarded as ‘‘flighty''. It was a time when her mother was fully involved in trying to save the children's inheritance; even had there been time to devote to her daughter, the society for which they were financially eligible remained uninterested in opening its ranks to the Maynes. The environment of dusty, still down-at-heel Queen Street was no place for such a vulnerable young girl. At the end of a wasted year it seems her mother must have forgotten bluster and mustered considerable tact, for both her daughter and the redoubtable Mother Bridget Conlan were persuaded to try again. At
the beginning of 1873, young Mary Emelia was packed back to All Hallows', this time as a boarder, and remained there until she was nineteen. Her rebellious nature was not fully subdued but she was destined to spend the rest of her life doing as she was told.

Unfortunately for her mother's peace of mind, almost immediately the high-strung Rosanna's sense of vocation surfaced again. On 4 March 1873, Fr Dunne once more wrote from Toowoomba, saying that he believed that ‘‘a lay woman could answer the call of holiness through teaching, daily prayer, spiritual reading and works of charity, without having to take religious vows''. His doubts were well-founded. On one occasion, as a pupil-teacher at All Hallows', Rosanna failed to take a class and gave no reason for her absence. When it was discovered that she had gone to the races at Ipswich, Mother Bridget's reprimand was sharp and to the point. She warned Rosanna ‘‘that she was drifting rapidly, and explained to what''. For the culprit it was probably an echo of those wild impulses that drove her father to some of his actions. It was a portent of what was to come, and Robert Dunne sensed this. His cautionary letter to Rosanna had little effect. She became a novice at All Hallows' Convent, and within three months was a pawn in a new clash between Father Dunne and Bishop Quinn. The Bishop was backed by his protégé, Mother Bridget Conlan, who had earlier replaced the rebel Mother McDermott as Reverend Mother.

The clash in 1873 was over a little group of sisters who were to be sent to Toowoomba to set up a new centre.
They were to live at St Saviour's, a rented house in James Street, and they were expected to earn money both by teaching at the new St Patrick's School and taking in students as boarders. They were also to open an orphanage, an asylum for needy women, and to act as hospital and gaol visitors. Dunne had very definite ideas about education. He believed that the ideal Catholic school was one in which a nun's religious vocation and her role as a Catholic educator were clearly differentiated. This he perceived to be a great flaw in the convent system. When he learned of the proposed transfer of nuns, he stood his own ground as much as he could and claimed the right to regulate and direct the work of the sisters according to his judgment. Only then would he accept a situation for which he had not asked and which was thrust on him by Bishop Quinn. The nuns at All Hallows' Convent were aware of Dunne's attitudes. No sisters volunteered to go to Toowoomba and those nominated begged not to be sent.

In July, Mother Rose Flanagan, Sister Evangelist Kearney, and the postulant, Rosanna Mayne, arrived in Toowoomba. The surprise inclusion was Rosanna. It was most unusual in those times for a postulant to be sent to the founding of a new centre, and most unwise to send a girl with her unpredictable temperament. Dunne made it known that they would be permitted to teach on a trial basis only. They would work under the direction of the lay head teacher, Kate Reordan, and there would be no review of the situation until the sisters had demonstrated their ability to cope with the schoolwork. Apart from Dunne's
concern for the mental health of twenty-three year old Rosanna, he knew that the load which all the Toowoomba sisters were trying to carry was far too heavy. Rosanna was still training as a pupil-teacher, and among her extra duties she was required to give music lessons. It left her too little time to study for the Board of General Education Examinations. She was not coping very well and Dunne, knowing her family history, worried about possible consequences of nervous strain which might result from overwork. Much more was expected of the sisters than of the rural priests, and within a few months the health of Mother Rose, the Superior at Toowoomba, was also causing concern. Dunne believed that in this situation, not enough attention could be given to Rosanna's needs. His concern was such that after watching her for fifteen months, he wrote to her mother advising her to get a court order, if necessary, to remove Rosanna from the convent in Toowoomba.

During nine years of problems and decision-making, Mary had learned to exercise control over her affairs. It had fortified her to handle emergencies and deal with people in authority in a very able manner. She was well able to speak for herself. This crisis was far more serious than getting Mary Emelia re-enrolled at school. Rosanna was the responsibility of the Sisters of Mercy. Mary's determination, set against the heavy-handed Bishop Quinn and the austere Mother Bridget Conlan, is indicated by the fact that Rosanna was quickly returned to All Hallows' in Brisbane, where she was given a lighter load, teaching
music and general subjects to the sisters. Dunne's belief that the novice needed a quieter environment was proved correct. For some years her strong religious conviction and her calm life within the religious order in Brisbane held her darker forces at bay.

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