Maria Jane Fitzgerald

#57018, b. 1811

Individual's Timeline

Birth1811Maria Jane Fitzgerald
Marriagecirca 1830Maria Jane Fitzgerald1
Marriage1851Maria Jane Fitzgerald
Death29 June 1854Henry Callow
Marriage2 August 1855Maria Jane Fitzgerald1

Primary events

Secondary circumstances

  • Married Name: Her married name was Callow.
  • Married Name: Her married name was Summers.1
  • Journey: Maria Jane Fitzgerald traveled to in London, Greater London, England, arriving between 1850 and 1854.1
  • Residence: In 1857 Maria Jane lived in Melbourne, but not with William TILKE. as they were separated after 2 years of marriage.1
Some aspects of Maria Jane Fitzgerald's life. The newspaper story is too convoluted to make sense of. The names of people that appear in the paper who may have had conjugal relations with her or who may be children of hers are - Sumner a convict with whom she lived 7 years. He was transported from Tasmania for cattle stealing to ? AFTER 1837 - Dan REARDON who married a sister of Maria's named Catherine - John SUMNER (a son who was stolen by SUMNER) - Henry CALLOW (who was married to someone before he married Maria, who also may not have been dead at the time of this second marriage, who was thought to have 'gone away' with Henry's brother (making her hame and his CALLOW so everyone would have assumed they were man and wife, not in laws)) - 3 unnamed children went temporarily to the orphan asylum in tasmania, she claimed them back by saying she was their aunt - James BARTHOLOMEW, a barman at the Royal Mail and an executor of Henry CALLOW's Will. He was married to one or other of Maria's daughters He was later the publican of a hotel in Bacchus Marsh, and by the time of the court case Mrs BARTHOLOMEW (a daughter of Maria's) was running a licenced house in St Kilda.

What follows is the major portion of newsletter 2. I want to get this on the web so it is searchable from Google - in the hope someone is looking for one or mmore of the names.

Maria was born in Tasmania in 1811, I believe the daughter of Michael and Mary nee WOOD. Certainly at her trial in 1827, she was said to have been Tasmanian born, and this is the only Maria I can find in the Tasmanian records to fit. This makes her a very early Australian indeed.

The Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, dated Feb 1827, says that Maria was sentenced to 7 years transportation, by the Launceston Court. Now I know that convicts were transported TO Tasmania after being convicted in UK, and some were transported TO Tasmania after being convicted in Sydney, but where did they send those who were to be transported FROM Tasmania?

Whilst the English love irony, even they would not have devised a 2 way transportation system. A naughty deed in Tasmania would get you a free ticket to Sydney, and a naughty deed in Sydney would get you a free ticket to Hobart. Surely NOT. I believe there were periods when some very bad deeds got you a free ticket to Norfolk Island, but I doubt Maria went there.

Even if Maria had been sent off shore - Port Arthur, a likely place to send people convicted within Tasmania, was not yet built - she was back in Launceston by 10th June 1830 when she married John SUMNER.

A copy of the certificate can be viewed on the Family Search site image number 267 in . This is a THE BISHOPS COPY, so the 'signatures' on the doc are NOT the originals. It shows that Maria could write, but John could NOT. It also says the marriage was by the consent of the Government. Maria is a convict, John is NOT. They were married by W H BROWNE, senior chaplain in Launceston.

30 years later, long after John had buggered off to California, where he had supposedly been felled by a tree, Maria could not remember the year of this, her first, marriage. She could not remember the date of the birth of her first child either. She was also unsure if the name was spelled as SUMMERS or SUMNER. In the convict permissions to marry John has yet another name - SAUNDERS, and he is noted as free. This means he could have been a convict who had been pardoned, or who had served out his time, or arrived free to the Colonies.

There were at least 2 children of the marriage, possibly 3. One we are sure of the paternity of is a boy named John. I cannot find a Christening in the records, and birth notices placed in the papers were very uncommon amongst the convict classes. I say WE are sure of the paternity, but I really mean John Senior was sure he fathered the boy as he 'stole' him. Before he decamped to a logging camp in USA. Did little John go to California too? If he did, then John must have had another woman in tow. There is another story in this for sure, but not here, as this tale is about the mother NOT the father.

Maria does not show up in the Tasmanian newspapers, nor in the convict records, in the 1830s, but this could be down to poor OCR, and the fact she was most likely using someone else's name. There is no convict record, other than the permission to marry, in the name of FITZGERALD, SUMNER, SUMMERS nor SAUNDERS.

Lets assume for the moment she had her head down, bringing up 3 kids with no long term man around for a good portion of those 10 years.

In 1851, when 40 years old, Maria married Henry CALLOW in Melbourne. She was using the name of SUMMERS. Her later statements in Court say she had been living with Henry 7 years before she married him, so for the largest part of the 1840s she was the de-facto wife of Henry.

Henry was born about 1801. He married Ann WRIGHT in Launceston 5th Jan 1831. I think he may have been the Henry CALLOW who was transported to Tasmania on the Dromedery (ship of the sea, not ship of the desert) in 1820, and whose Certificate of Freedom was published in the Hobart Town Gazette in July 1826. His convict records and description are on line on the Tasmanian Archives site.

In the 30's and 40's Henry appears to have had pub licenses in northern Tasmania. A short time before he married Maria in 1851, he applied for a License to run the Royal Mail Hotel, which stood at the corner of Swanston and Bourke Streets Melbourne. There are 2 great photos at - you will need to scroll down. It is of course long gone. Crazy John sells phones to trendies on the ground floor now, between a 7/11 selling snacks to late night revelers and a tax free wholesaler selling opals to the Japanese. Unlike Henry who had yards of frontage on both Swanston and Bourke, selling booze, beds and most likely bouncing beauties to the successful diggers. 50 yards up the street and round the corner, in Little Bourke Street, you could get opium from the Orientals as well.

The reason he married his long time de facto Maria, was that he could not get a license for the hotel unless he was a married man. In May 1851 Henry, his new Mrs and 5 Misses CALLOW traveled to Launceston on the 139 ton steamer, City of Melbourne. She was a timber ship, and had only begun service on the Melbourne to Launceston route in 1851, so was brand new. She was built in Melbourne, by George Ward COLE. She was the first screw steamer to be built, and to ply, south of the equator. In 1852 she was being blown off course by a strong Westerly and was inadvertently heading to New Zealand. Her Captain deliberately ran her aground on King Island, not having enough coal, nor the inclination, to try to make The Land of the Long White Cloud

Lets leave the boat beached and return to the family – we know 5 unmarried or young females traveled with the couple, but some may have been Henry's with his first wife. A first wife, incidentally, who may not have been dead. At least in 1851 these 7 were together as a family, possibly often flitting between hotel businesses in Launceston and Melbourne. Certainly the Hotel Henry applied to run in Melbourne was a large establishment. Gold was found in Ballarat in 1851, Melbourne was on the verge of a big boom, and Henry and Maria wanted their share.

Later papers show that one of Henry's daughters married Edward JACKSON who was involved in bankruptcy proceedings in Melbourne in 1854. This was not his correct name - he was in fact Edward Jacobson PHILMORE. A story worth reading is in The Argus dated 27th September 1854, where we learn he was once a Clerk in the Admiralty in London, studied medicine at the Middlesex Hospital without getting a certificate, went to India to 'practice' Doctory and Dentistry, and eventually got a German diploma of Medicine. He admitted to skipping debts in India. He came to Melbourne for the Gold Rush, and was now being sued for Bankruptcy. And that's just in the first column.

Our Maria had a short, but I would bet eventful, life with Henry. He died within 3 years of their marriage, aged 53 - in their pub, the Royal Mail Hotel. The License for the hotel was renewed to Egerton I FILMORE in April 1857 - AND I just know that has to be Edward JACKSON cum Edward Jacobson PHILMORE going under yet another name. There is a note to say that the license would not be renewed again unless the premises were much improved. Clamorous public outcry can be seen in the papers regarding (at the very least) the leftovers from the butchering and cooking being 'dumped in the Bourke Street gutters'. Henry's death notice was put into the Tasmanian papers as 29th June 1854. I checked the full editions of the Melbourne Argus for 30th June and 1st July (some of which are totally unreadable) without finding any mention of Henry's death as a news item. It is unlikely to have been foul play, but surely worth having a look at the death certificate eventually.

Then it gets even more interesting for the widow Maria CALLOW. Henry's Will leaves Maria £5,000. A sum that was no doubt very attractive to Mr William TILKE, the proprietor of the City Coffee and Dining Rooms at 56 Bourke Street. William did not have far to walk to pay court to the wealthy widow. Or so he thought!!

The courtship worked, and he and Maria were married in 1855. William was often in the papers. Letters to the editor, charges relating to false cheques, write ups of lavish breakfasts given to visiting dignitaries, and the occasional mysterious illness/death after eating at his chopshop - Trove has it all. BUT no marriage notice appeared that I can find.

This, Maria's third marriage did not last long either. I think William thought he was getting a wealthy woman, who also knew something about running an eating establishment. She may have even known how to prevent the patrons from dying like flys, so to speak. Unfortunately for William, the £5,000 was never forthcoming. Maria and her family, under multifarious names, were often in the Bankruptcy Courts.

Melbourne would have been a volatile environment. In 1850 it was just a place. In 1851 gold was discovered some 50 miles away, and - off she went. We got gas in 1852, a University in 1853, a railway, the Melbourne Exhibition, a State Library, a telegraph service, and a Town Hall - a Really Big Town Hall at that - in 1854. By 1857 we had a Market (somewhat inappropriately built on top of the first cemetery), piped in water from a reservoir and a museum. In 1857 the big ticket item was - dear to the heart of all Aussies everywhere - the first game of Aussie Rules Footy.

William's camp and Maria's camp seem to have been operating in the business world at about the same level of nefariousness. Everyone wide awake to every opportunity, and not letting things like accumulating debts, the law, or factual names get in the way. William was even involved in either committing or covering up a case of Arsenic poisoning at his premises in 1856.

Maria, just after her third marriage, stumbled across her first husband. This must have been a bit of a surprise, as she thought he had died in California - or at least that was what she claimed. It seems that Henry CALLOW, needing to marry to get the License for the pub, read her a story from the paper telling of her first husband's death. Leaving her - somewhat luckily for the wife-needing Harry - free to marry again.

Claiming a death of a person who is not around is easy. It is MUCH harder to tell people he is dead if he is living in the same city as you. And visiting you at your hotel.

William got to know, and took the opportunity to get rid of the not so wealthy widow and her camp followers. He also took the opportunity to make her sign a paper acknowledging her bigamy, and giving up any right to maintenance from him. Lawyers were involved, but later court cases show they were, at best, not very good. I believe Maria was threatened by William with a charge of Bigamy if she did not sign.

She later reconsidered her position, as in 1860 Maria sued William for maintenance. He had graduated from running a restaurant to being the proprietor of Tilke's City Hotel, Bourke Street. The write-up of the court case is where I got my first sniff of the doings in Bourke Street. She won, to the tune of £1/-/- per week. Now this is NOT exact, but that is said to be about $80-$100 in purchasing power today.

Maria ALSO charged William with bigamy, as he married Sarah Elizabeth HALL, of South Yarra, in 1857. She claimed he was married to her at the time. Seems to me Maria bided her time, and struck once his guard was down. My impression of Maria is that, even though at first glance she seems to have been on the receiving end of a very shitty stick, I think she was selling her sob story to the Courts, and the papers, with panache.

I have yet to find Maria's death - who knows what name she died under. By 1860 she was not yet 50, so I may eventually uncover a forth marriage.

Locus Operandi

Research Notes

  • Research note 01: Possibly Maria FITZGERALD, as a woman of this name married John SUMNER in Launceston in 1830. This was confirmed by her statement during the court case. Her statement confirmed she was a convict when she married in Launceston.

Child of Maria Jane Fitzgerald and (?) Summers

  • daughter Summers b. 25 Sep 1829

Child of Maria Jane Fitzgerald and Henry Callow

  • Eliza Callow1 b. bt 1850 - 1854


  1. Trove Digitised Newspapers, The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 - 1880) Saturday 14 January 1860 page 3 - A trial for maintenance and bigamy.