Maria Steele

Ancestor’s last name

Steele

Given Name:

Maria

Middle Name:

Sarah

Alternative Name:

Maria Slater, Maria Aldridge

Arrival in Queensland

1849

Date of Birth

28 December 1817

Place of Birth

Birmingham, England

Date of Death

17 March 1886

Burial

Plot E 242 Maryborough Cemetery

Place of residence in Queensland

Wide Bay Village, Baddow, Maryborough

Spouse

John Slater

Date of Marriage

6 July 1841

Place Married

Sydney NSW

Children

Frederick Slater (b. 11 May 1842 d. 1876)

Spouse

Edgar Aldridge

Date of Marriage

29 June 1849

Place Married

Residence, Clarence St Sydney NSW

Children

Maria Rachael (1846-1915, Harry Edgar (1848-1910), Joey Edgar Aldridge (b. 1850 d. 9.1.1851)

Spouse

Occupation
Housekeeper
Servant
Convict

Maria Steele, convict, servant and housekeeper, was born in Birmingham, England around 1820. In 1838 she was convicted of stealing and transported to Van Dieman’s Land. She arrived on the Majestic in 1839. On obtaining her ticket of leave in 1845 Maria left her husband, John Slater, taking her three year old son Frederick with her. Maria went to Kempsey and worked for Edgar Thomas Aldridge. The pair lived as a couple and had two children before marrying in Sydney in 1849. The family moved to Wide Bay Village later that year. Maria died at her son Harry’s Booral home in 1888. Maria is buried in the Aldridge family vault in the Maryborough Cemetery.

Maria was born to a teenage mother in New Street, Birmingham in 1820. She was placed in a church owned home for abandoned children until the age of twelve, when she was required to leave the home because she had reached working age.

Maria was taken in and cared for by an old man who made his living selling buttons on the street. Their home was a shed on the derelict wharves. Maria adopted the man’s surname and became known as Maria Sarah Steele. At 17 she was charged and found guilty of stealing two bags of coal and sentenced to seven years transportation to Van Diemen’s Land.

On leaving her husband John Slater in 1845, Maria moved to Kempsey where she was employed as a housekeeper by Edgar Aldridge. Maria and Edgar lived as a couple and had two children, Maria Rachel and Harry Edgar. The family had moved to Sydney but Maria returned to Kempsey to stay with the family of Enoch Rudder junior when Aldridge and Rudder left to explore the northern territory, following a path blazed by the Archer brothers. The party eventually arrived at the Wide Bay River (later Mary River) in 1848 where George Furber had built a wharf on the south bank.

In 1849 Maria and Edgar were married at their residence in Sydney and later that year the family moved to Wide Bay Village. They lived in the Bush Inn, a single storey hotel constructed by Aldridge. Another son, Joey Edgar, was born in 1850 but died in January 1851. The family moved into a house at Baddow where they began to cultivate exotic crops and plants.

Experiencing declining health, Maria passed away at her son Harry’s residence at Booral on 17 March 1886, aged 65 years. To honour her memory Aldridge built St Thomas Church in 1887 and in 1888 installed nine bells, crafted in England, in the bell tower of St Paul’s Church. The bells rang out each year on the anniversary of Maria’s death. An inscription on the bell tower read:

‘She was one of the earliest wives and mothers resident in this town. A conscientious Christian woman who through life was a peacemaker, ever forgiving, doing good, and helping all who were in trouble, distress, or affliction’.

Maria is buried in the family vault in Maryborough along with Edgar and her children.

If you can provide further information on the life of this person please contact the Harry Gentle Resource Centre ([email protected]).

Prepared by Lee Butterworth

Archival Resources

Photographs of Edgar Thomas Aldridge House, Baddow area, Maryborough, ca. 1870s-1880s

Five small black and white photographs of views of the home, buildings and gardens owned by Edgar Thomas Aldridge in Maryborough.

Convicts – Maria Steel [sic] per Majestic (1839)

Tasmanian Names Index, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES: 1437238

1839 Conduct Record (CON40-1-10P28) - Maria Steel [sic] per Majestic (1839)

Tasmanian Names Index

1839 Description List (CON19-1-14P29) - Maria Steel [sic], age 21, b. Birmingham

Tasmanian Names Index

NSWSA, 1839 Convict Assignment

(NSW archival document) - Majestic to VDL, Gilmore to NSW, assigned to Mr A Bent, 23 Feb 1839. (No permalink; only available via NSWSA or an Ancestry subscription)

NSWSA, Tickets of Leave, NRS 12202, Item 4/4176, Reel 948, Maria Steel [sic]

NSWSA, Registers of Certificates of Freedom, NRS 12210, Item 4/4399, Reel 1020, Maria

NSWSA, Registers of Convicts Applications to Marry, 1826-1851, NRS 12212, Item 4/4513, p. 233, Reel 715, Fiche 795-799, SLATER, John STEELE, Maria, 7 June 1841

NSW BDM, marriage registration number: 155/1841 V184155 44B

Qld BDM, death registration number: 1886/C/4541, Maria Aldridge, 17/03/1886

QSA Item ID ITM101517, List of land sold – colony of Queensland, 1842-1859 (physical file)

QSA Item ID PR3555862, List of land sold – colony of Queensland, 1842-1859 (microfilm, previously Z318)

QSA Item ID DR51698, List of land sold – colony of Queensland, 1842-1859 (digital file, PDF)

QSA, Item ID ITM77090, Land purchase: Aldridge, Maria, 2/11/1877-25/01/1878

QSA, Item ID ITM77091, Land purchase: Aldridge, Maria, 2/11/1877-25/01/1878

QSA, Item ID ITM77092, Land purchase: Aldridge, Maria, 2/11/1877-25/01/1878

QSA, Item ID ITM77093, Land purchase: Aldridge, Maria, 2/11/1877-25/01/1878

QSA, Item ID ITM77094, Land purchase: Aldridge, Maria, 2/11/1877-25/01/1878

QSA, Item ID ITM77095, Land purchase: Aldridge, Maria, 2/11/1877-25/01/1878

QSA, Item ID ITM2805679, Ecclesiastical (will) file, Aldridge Maria (physical file)

QSA, Item ID PR3740208, Ecclesiastical (will) file, Aldridge Maria, (microfilm, previously Z134)

Books

River of Dreams: A History of Maryborough and District

Tony Matthews, 1995, p. 43.

The Village People: Wide Bay Village, Maryborough 1848 - 1856

Janice Downman and Kay F Gassman, 1998.

Newspapers

In Memory

Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser
18 March 1930 p. 4

Family Notices

Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser
18 March 1886 p. 2

Visit of the Bishop of Brisbane

Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser
10 October 1887 p. 3

Church of England

Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser
15 April 1887 p. 2

Online Resources

Bells off to the old dart
Baddow House
Baddow House
The Aldridge Family - what is the true story?
Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum - Aldridge Collection
Find a Grave