Mary Dykes was an independent and strong-minded woman. Born around 1760, she was reputedly a staymaker by trade. As such her life had presumably been seriously affected by the Industrial Revolution. In 1786 she was found to have endeavoured to seduce a publican from Deptford with a view to robbing him. Found guilty at the Old Bailey on 26 April 1786, she was sentenced to seven years transportation. Dykes travelled to the Colony aboard Lady Penrhyn.


Some five years after arrival Dykes married on 12 April 1793 at St Phillip's, Sydney. Her husband was Humphrey Evans who had arrived on the First Fleet as a private marine. In 1792 Evans left the Marines and joined the NSW Corps. While his grant of land, at Lane Cove, was not forthcoming until December 1794 he and his wife may have lived there from the time of their marriage.


At some stage, presumably upon the expiration of his term with the Corps, Evans and his wife returned to England. They next appear in correspondence from John Hunter and John Easty in late 1801 supporting their wish to return to the Colony as settlers. The request was granted and they may have arrived back in the Colony aboard Rolla on 12 May 1803. Also aboard Rolla were a number of Irish rebels who had been involved in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 — including one Hugh Kelly.

On 6 July 1803 Evans received a grant of 135 acres at present day Baulkham Hills and he and his wife commenced living on the grant. Evans in these early years made a number of purchases of rum and brandy from Hassall's Parramatta Store and in January 1801 sold a gallon of rum to the Store.

Evans's grant was in an area known as Here and nowhere else. There is some suggestion that at this place there was an illicit hotel. While the references to this place clearly indicate that it comprised a number of farms, Evans's trading in liquor may lead to the suggestion that it was on his land.


On Thursday 1 March, 1804, Patrick Sloane, an overseer at the Castle Hill Government Farm, reported to Captain Edward Abbott (the commander of the NSW Corps in Parramatta) how convict Morgan Power had passed on to him information concerning a proposed convict uprising. The information was correct for on 4 April 1804 the Castle Hill Rebellion (or Battle of Vinegar Hill) started. Morgan Power had gained his information while thatching a hut at Here and nowhere else. After the rebellion Evans reported that some convicts had come to his house, demanding arms, threatening his life and forcing his ‘Government Man’ to join them. By the time of the 1806 Muster the assigned convict was the Irish rebel Hugh Kelly. If Kelly was Evans's ‘Government Man’ in 1804 one can only wonder at what the truth might have been.


On 1 August 1805, Dykes was surprised that her husband had not returned for his meal. She sent their assigned convict out to look for him and she went as well. It was Dykes who found Evans fatally pinioned under a tree which he had been felling to make palings for a pigsty. Evans's obituary described him as "universally respected throughout the neighbourhood." He was buried in St John's Cemetery, Parramatta, but no headstone is extant.

Evans and Dykes were said to have two children but their details are unknown.


When Evans died he left a debt to the Government Store of 28 pounds three shillings and ninepence.

Hugh Kelly was pardoned in April 1808. Dykes continued to farm the grant and in 1808 gave birth to a daughter Mary Ann. The father was Kelly. Dykes and Kelly were married at St John's, Parramatta, on 14 August 1808. Another daughter, Eliza was born in 1809.

By 1806 Dykes had had 25 acres of the grant cultivated and by 1815 Kelly was supplying meat to the Government.

In 1820 Kelly applied for, and received, an Inn Licence for his establishment called The Half Way House. He stated that it was in an area called Nowhere There and that he had managed it for many years. Could this have been the illicit hotel commenced by Humphrey Evans 17 years before?


Nothing more is known of Dykes until her death on 10 November 1820 aged 62 years. In the church register she was recorded as Mrs Margaret Kelly.

Kelly lived until 21 July 1835. By this time he had married a third time and by his will could leave 4,010 acres including 1,600 acres at present day Kellyville and over 2,200 acres on the Goulburn Plains. To his brother, Owen, he also gave 110 acres of his Vinegar Hill Farm. The Irish rebel, now a wealthy colonist, had still remembered.



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters