Mary Wilson

From Hotels of Ballarat
Mary Wilson
Born Mary Ledger
Occupation Publican
Years active 1859-1879
Known for Telegraph Hotel
Home town Ballarat
Spouse(s) John Wilson

Mary Wilson was a publican in Ballarat, <1875-<1879.

History[edit | edit source]

Mary Ledger married John Wilson in Victoria in 1866.[1]

Mary Wilson and her husband John held the license for the Telegraph Hotel on Plank Road.

In October 1874 John Wilson wrote to the Buninyongshire:

From John Wilson, asking for permission to cut a few of the trees growing near his property close to the Telegraph hotel, Buninyong road, so that he could get access to the land.—Complied with.[2]

In 1875 John Wilson wrote to the newspaper extolling both his wife's and his own virtues. In the article he says she had been at the hotel for 17 years (1859):

TWO STURDY COLONISTS. (FROM THE BALLARAT STAR, MAY 15, Mr Wilson, of the Telegraph Hotel, Buninyong road, favours us with the following biographical account of his wife and himself.

He says: - I will give the history of the two of us. Married nine years last Christmas Day. Three months after we shifted the Telegraph Hotel 50 yards at a cost of £130. Mrs Wilson then went into the bacon curing. As she could not get the butchers to please her in killing the pigs she took the knife herself. She kept a great quantity of pigs at one time for bacon. The most she ever killed in one day was 14 from 6 o'clock in the morning till 5 o'clock in the afternoon and in 14 days they were in Hamilton and Thompson's store, and she got a penny a pound more than the butchers. She has dropped the pig killing now. Twelve months back she shingled the house all over, shifted the stable, fowl house, and butchers shop at a cost of £28. Then she went to the garden and made it larger. She is spending her time now in laying out a flower garden and digging potatoes, sowing seeds and planting trees, shrubs and a little of everything There is about half an acre of it and she is laying it off in a workmanlike manner and complains often of being tired, but it is of no use saying anything to her; she will do it. She keeps no servant there is only the two of us, she makes all her own dresses, she knits the stockings, and makes my shirts. She is first class at cooking and household work of any description, washing and ironing too. She is 55 years of age and I think her equal is not in Victoria. When she goes to Ballarat there is not one of Ballarat to has a more respectable and ladylike appearance than she. She is well respected by merchants in Ballarat, and by every one that has ever had dealings with her. She has been 17 years in the Telegraph Hotel.

I was always stuck to the wheelwrighting. We never interfere with each others business but we always consult each other if anything is to be done. After three applications I got my allotment of land. I began work on it in the latter part of May, grubbed it; it was all roots together; it cost me £49 16s. to fence and sow 11 acres, without my own labour being reckoned. On 20th July I was in Lydiard street at 12 o'clock in the day, and I took it into my head that I would fence my land on the other side of the road. In I went to the Land office made arrangements, and there was one load of timber on ground the same afternoon, and tch...en on fencing the next morning. I put up 50 chains of paling fencing, grubbed and drained, and ploughed and sowed with peas in five weeks. I had to be at the wheelwrighting through the day, and at night by candle light I cut about 7000 palings point them. By moonlight I went and filled holes, and took out logs and roots. I was determined to keep the plough going. Mrs Wilson and I have had of work at one time four bullocks, and two horses, and eight men. In five weeks we had improvements done to the amount of £179 ; it has cost me a good deal since that, and the worst of it is I have a part of the timber to pay for yet, but perseverance will pull me through." By way of peroration the devoted husband of this notable views concludes :- "Mrs Wilson is one of the best cribbage players in or about Ballarat, milks her own cows, makes her own butter, bakes her own bread, feeds, kills, and pickles the pigs, if anything is ailing with her horses, cattle, dog, or self, she is her own doctor, and if any one in the district is sick she is often called on, and she goes willingly."

Really, we should say that so remarkable a body ought to be sent as a Victorian exhibit to the Centenary Exhibition in Philadelphia, only that if she were fully described in catalogue, some enterprising Yankee might "annex" her, and her lawful husband and devoted biographer be thus robbed of greatest earthly treasure.[3]

In April 1879 she was fined:

FORFEITURE— A quantity of liquor seized upon the premises of Mary Wilson, living in a house once known as the Telegraph hotel, on the Buninyong road, was forfeited by the bench with 20s costs. Mr Gaunt appeared for the defence.[4]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. John Wilson, Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950, Victoria, 1866, Ref. No.38837
  2. 1874 'BUNINYONGSHIRE COUNCIL.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 9 October, p. 4. , viewed 30 Jun 2023,
  3. 1875 'TWO STURDY COLONISTS.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 17 May, p. 6. , viewed 30 Jun 2023,
  4. 1879 'POLICE INTELLIGENCE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 25 April, p. 3. , viewed 30 Jun 2023,

External links[edit | edit source]