WILLIAM AMBROSE HARVEY (1825 - 1896) &
MARIA HARVEY nee WISEMAN (1826 - 1904)
William Ambrose Harvey was born at King's Lynn in Norfolk England on 2nd April 1825. Maria Wiseman was born in the same English village the following year, possibly on 1st August 1826. The county of Norfolk is best known for its "Broads" and "Fens" (reedy waterways and marshy land) but King's Lynn was and still is a large important sea-port.
William and Maria married in 1845 at Snetterton, also in Norfolk and nine years later emigrated to Australia. When they sailed from South Hampton on February 5th 1854 on the "America", William then 29 and Maria 28 were accompanied by their two small daughters, Sarah 7 and Emma aged 5 and a baby son named Jacob. The "America" (a ship of the Black Ball line) belonged to James Baines & Co. and this was her maiden voyage to Port Phillip. From the ship's records we learn the voyage from Southampton took "27 days to the line, rounded the cape April 5th. entered Port Phillip heads without a pilot none being available. Took a pilot for Geelong & he got her aground." The date of arrival was May 3rd 1854; the voyage having taken ninety days. The records also state that "281 good immigrants all in good health" disembarked at Geelong. We also know that Maria and William could read and write; that William was a bricklayer and the family was Wesleyan. From the same source we know he had an assisted passage with employment awaiting him. He had been engaged by Thomas Sidders of Waurn Ponds, near Geelong, to work for "a term of twelve months for the sum of 104 pounds with rations". Hence this was where the family settled immediately after disembarking at Geelong in May 1854. Sad to relate the baby Jacob (the third of their children so named) died on the voyage on 26 April 1854. Maria and William had previously lost two sons, both being named Jacob. The first was born on 16 March 1850, the second on 11 June 1851, but both survived very briefly.
We do not know exactly how long they remained at Waurn Ponds but records show they were living in Teasdale in 1857, had moved to Inverleigh by 1863, then to Scarsdale by 1869 and thence to Ballarat where in 1876 William purchased 9 George Street East Ballarat. Their final move was in 1884 to a house on the corner of Steinfield and Anderson streets, also in Ballarat.
Not only did they change their place of residence but with these moves William frequently changed his occupation. In Waurn Ponds we presume he was employed as a bricklayer, but in Teasdale in 1861 he was listed as a shoemaker. At Inverleigh he was the first schoolmaster in that town's original primary school, but by 1866 had reverted to the trade of shoemaker.
Maria must surely have found the many changes of residency somewhat difficult for during the first twenty-six years of marriage she gave birth to thirteen children. (Reference has already been made to the five born in England.) After their arrival in Australia they had eight more children all born in Victoria. Firstly Susannah was born on 11 March 1855, then at Teasdale; Alice - 11 February 1857, Maria - 22 February 1859 and William Samuel on 19 June 1861. At Inverleigh Albert Edward (25 April 1863) and then Lorenzo Ambrose (20 September 1866) were born and finally at Scarsdale near Ballarat Lily Rosa (15 November 1869) and Edith Mary (9 November 1872). Of the thirteen children only seven survived beyond infancy. Those who did not included the three Jacobs, Lorenzo and Lily who lived for almost a year and Edith who survived for only two.
However it appears a large family did not prevent either William or Maria being very actively involved in the Methodist Church. Reference has been found that William was listed as "Authorised to Collect" from the congregation of that church at Inverleigh. He is also listed as a "Founding Trustee" from the original committee meeting on February 11 1862 re building the Methodist Chapel at Inverleigh. (This chapel was sold in 1977 to the Shire of Bannockburn by the Uniting Church.) Both William and Maria were lay preachers. While at Scarsdale they were members of the Smythesdale Mission and both preached once or twice a month in that area, but at times Maria would preach as frequently as once a week. This continued at Ballarat.
In the Volume IV of "The Methodist History of Victoria and Tasmania" we find a quote concerning the Ballarat Primitive Methodists stating that Maria and William were "for many years successful evangelists". We also find William listed as the principal delegate from the Ballarat area to the Melbourne District meeting which was held in Geelong.
1861 - 1871 BOOM IN PRIMITIVE METHODISM IN VICTORIA
Quoting from the census of 1861 and that of 1871, whilst the population of Victoria grew from 540,322 to 731,528, the Primitive Methodist Church during those years more than doubled its membership, growing from 3,775 to 7,898.
From the 1880's Maria worked with the Ballarat Mission of the Church where she doubtless came in contact with many poor, rough and ignorant people presumably many being miners. She walked long distances visiting, evanglising and practising faith healing in which she was a firm believer. It is said that the hall where she conducted her faith mission was lined with crutches which she and their users believed were rendered obsolete through her evangelism of faith healing.
A remaining mystery is the photographs still held by their descendants which show both Maria and William wearing Salvation Army uniforms. It is obvious that they were involved with the "Army" in their latter years but when and where? It is also rumoured that the Hall lined with crutches was called Bethesda - a name often used by the Salvation Army.
William died while still domiciled at Steinfield St. Ballarat on the 17 December 1896, aged 71. His unmarked grave is in the Ballarat New Cemetery.
After William's death Maria went to live with her daughter Alice whose home was in Barkley Street, East Ballarat. In the last year of her life she became deranged and was twice admitted to the Ararat Asylum suffering from "senile melancholia in the delusions of religion". Her granddaughter, Lillie Harvey, told that during this time she used most profane language, having obviously acquired an incredible vocabulary of expletives during her years of dedication to those who "lived in the slums". She died in the Asylum on 13 January 1904. The inquest papers include a request by the family that no post-mortem be held - it would seem that this was due to their religious convictions. Maria was buried in the Ballarat West Cemetery.
References & Sources:
Jacob Harvey's christening record sighted in attic of Wesleyan manse, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, U.K. (Ron Court: 1987)
Emigrant Ship - America; Melbourne Argus 10 May 1854
also Biddle Index 1854 Book 1 Folio 8 - Latrobe Library Melbourne
Ballarat Rate Records 1880 - 1889, Ballarat Library
Ballarat Directories 1888,9,1894, Ballarat Library
Uniting Church Archives, 130 Lt. Collins St. Melbourne
Last will & Testament of Maria Harvey 1899
'Public Records Office, Melbourne
Magisterial Inquiry into the death of Maria Harvey 14 Jan. 1904
Public Records Office, Melbourne
Gold Reef and Silver Tussock (A History of the Shire of Leigh)
'Seaton/Shire of Leigh, pub.1988
Methodist History of Victoria & Tasmania Vol. IV
Ararat Asylum, 2
Ballarat, 1, 2
East, 1, 2
Geelong, 1, 2
HARVEY, Albert, 1
HARVEY, Alice, 1
HARVEY, AMBROSE, 1
HARVEY, Edith, 1
HARVEY, Edward, 1
HARVEY, Emma, 1
HARVEY, George, 1
HARVEY, Jacob, 1
HARVEY, Lillie, 2
HARVEY, Lily, 1
HARVEY, Lorenzo, 1
HARVEY, Mary, 1
HARVEY, Rosa, 1
HARVEY, Samuel, 1
HARVEY, Sarah, 1
HARVEY, Susannah, 1
HARVEY, William, 1, 2
King's Lynn, 1
Primitive Methodist Church, 2
Scarsdale, 1, 2
Waurn Ponds, 1
WISEMAN, Maria, 1, 2