Mary Ann Flindell (1837-1895)

Mary Ann was born in Birmingham August 12th 1839.  She was the fourth child of Francis Bassett Shenstone (FBS) and Joanna Elizabeth Flindell.  Mary was baptised at St Martin’s Anglican Church, Birmingham on May 10th 1842 with her sisters Louisa and Joanna.  She was probably named after her paternal grandmother Mary Flindell (nee Brunton).  Mary died in Fremantle 1895[1] and was most likely buried at Skinner Street Cemetery.  She married George Thompson at Fremantle October 5th 1864[2].  They had five children:

  • John George born 1865 in Fremantle[3]. He married Minnie Clara Lubon in 1894. John died at Fremantle April 20th 1935 and was buried in the Anglican section of Fremantle Cemetery.
  • Emma Isabella born 1867 in Fremantle[4]. She died at Cottesloe on March 31st 1905 and was buried in the Anglican section of Fremantle Cemetery.
  • Mary Frederika born 1871 in Fremantle[5]. She married Thomas Traine on April 3rd 1895. They had six children. Mary died at Carlisle, Western Australia on August 25th 1942, and is buried in the Anglican section of Karrakatta Cemetery, Western Australia with her husband.
  • Frank died February 16th 1873 aged three weeks[6]. He was buried in Skinner Street Cemetery, Fremantle. His tombstone was relocated Fremantle Cemetery Heritage Trail.
  • Frederick William John born 1876 in Fremantle[7]. He married Mary Dillon in 1898. Frederick died April 12th 1901 and was buried in the Anglican section of Fremantle Cemetery.

Mary’s sister Louisa married James Watson in 1860.  They had two children, Joanna Francis born November 2nd 1861 and Ellen Louisa born November 15th 1866.  James died shortly after the birth of their youngest child, and Louisa is said to have died of a heart attack on September 11th 1873, brought on by the loss of her husband. 

 Family lore had it that twelve-year-old Joanna was taken in by her widowed grandfather Francis Bassett Shenstone and six-year-old Ellen by Mary and George.  About this time FBS moved to Guildford and was deeply involved in local politics, the formation of a central show society and promoting the building of the railway from Fremantle to Guildford and the Eastern Districts.   Certainly with the death of both parents, Joanna and Ellen needed the security of being together, so it seems more likely that this was an interim solution and subsequently both girls were then taken in and reared by Mary and George Thompson.  George was the Clerk of Works (later Town Clerk) for Fremantle which provided a measure of stability for the children.  The girls would also have provided a diversion for Mary’s maternal needs, having lost her three week old baby Frank on February 16th 1873.


George Thompson

George was a convict who arrived in the Swan River Colony aboard the “Clyde” on September 25th 1863.  His convict records states he was 5 foot 9 inches (175 cm) brown hair, light blue eyes, long face, dark complexion, middling stout, with an anchor tattoo on his left arm.  At the time of his offence at Durham in 1861 he was a 25 year old solicitor’s clerk.  He was convicted for embezzlement and sentenced to 7 years.  On April 24th 1864, eight months after his arrival, he was granted Ticket of Leave.  This was followed with a Conditional Pardon on October 26th 1866. 

Clerk of Works, Fremantle

George is known to have worked for himself in Fremantle as a clerk, probably from the grant of his ticket of leave.  On March 10th 1871 George was appointed the first Clerk of Works (Town Clerk) Fremantle, a position he held until 1874.  In an early book on the history of Fremantle, Major Humble claimed this honour; however attendance cards for the period held by the Fremantle Library clearly show George held this honour and Humble succeeded him.

Private Enterprise

The Pier Hotel in Cliff Street, Fremantle was built about 1855.  This hotel featured prominently in the lives of the early Flindell family.  George Thompson bought the hotel in 1876 and sold it to his brother-in-law of James six years later.  He also founded Thompson, Sendy & Co, Merchants and Importers.  Although it was possible this was after selling the Pier Hotel it is equally possible he ran both.  This has some credence as on March 12th 1875, prior to buying the Pier Hotel and before the birth of Frederick William John, George sailed for Singapore.  One can only speculate, but perhaps this was to established contacts and agents for Thompson & Sendy.

 George visited London on January 24th 1882.  Under the terms of sentencing at that time this was only permitted if the sentence had expired.  Again one can only speculate as to his motives for the journey.  George was due money from the sale of the Pier Hotel.  He was 46 and his parents would have been at least in their late sixties, so perhaps this trip was because of the poor health or passing of a parent.  Perhaps it was melancholy, but he was leaving his wife Mary to care for their children aged 6 to 17 years and her niece Ellen age 16.  Their other niece Joanna was to marry on May 19th 1883.

 George was also an auctioneer and Customs Commission Agent, based in Essex Street Fremantle, which continued until at least 1896[8].   

Social Conscience

The excesses of the English class system of that time were brought to the Colony.  Settlers of middle class background no doubt elevated themselves to gain status in the Colony.  Mary’s father was all too aware of the proclivity for rank to be exercised without merit.  George, like many who had served out their sentences, felt the pain of discrimination and in 1877 he joined others in signing a petition regarding discrimination against expirees.  One can imagine this served to increase discrimination for a period to show the “upstarts” their place.

 One might add that George put his money where his mouth was.  In 1869 he employed three ticket of leave men, in 1872 a machinist and in 1874 a clerk.  A more pragmatic view is that labour was short and convict labour was cheap.

His Death

The death of George was recorded as 1903 in Port Hedland[9].  This has not been validated despite the efforts of the Research Staff for the shire.




[1] Justice Department Records – Death Certificate 325 of 1895.  Her place of birth and parents were unknown, but her age at death was 55 which correlates.

[2] Justice Department Marriage Certificate 2186 of 1864

[3] Justice Department Records –  Birth Certificate 8931 of 1865

[4] Justice Department Records – Birth Certificate 10657 of 1867.

[5] Justice Department Birth Certificate 12902 of 1871

[6] Justice Department Records – Birth Certificate 14505 of 1873.  Justice Department Records – Death Certificate 6485 of 1873.

[7] Justice Department Records – Birth Certificate 17328 of 1876

[8] Post Office Directories 1893-96

[9] The Australian Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians pre-1829 – 1888 page 3047