Mary Ann Harrison

Mary Ann Harrison, moved to Launceston to work as a domestic servant. On 31 March 1885 she married Nathaniel (Samuel) Munnings at the home of Mr Johnston. This location may have been made necessary by the fact that she was three months pregnant. The ceremony was conducted by a Rev. D.W. Hiddlestone in accordance with the rites of Christian Mission Church. She was then eighteen and he was a twenty year old labourer. Perhaps Mary was a servant in the house of Mrs Ida R Johnston for she witnessed the marriage together with a Thomas Sutherland. (When Mr Hiddlestone filled in the certificate he erroneously recorded the groom as Nathaniel Mungo and this is the entry in the BDM register).)

Nathaniel was the son of James Munnings of Jericho (1844 –1888) and Rebecca Glover, nee Fordham, (1831- 1904) James was the second son of Nathaniel and Sarah Munnings; they died in 1869 and 1881 respectively and are buried in St James Churchyard Jericho.

Mary’s first child Nathaniel Samuel James was born in Launceston on 16 August 1885. Mary registered the birth and the address was given as Launceston. A second son William Joshua was born on 11 September 1887 and a daughter, Catherine Rebecca (Kitty), was born on 19 December 1889. (William died aged 11 on 19 July 1898.) It seems likely that their two sons were named after their father’s brothers and Catherine after her grandmothers. William’s birth was registered by his aunt Elizabeth Whitford (nee Harrison). When Mary registered her daughter’s birth she signed with an ‘x’ indicating that she was unable to write. The Post Office Directory indicates that the family lived Elizabeth St in 1890-1 and in Earl St in 1892-3. It is probable that they lived with James and Rebecca Munnings for James died there of typhoid fever in 1888). They then settled at 152 George St. - Barbara Valentine research recounts this period.

Lying-in Hospitals of Nurse Mary Ann Munnings

152 George Street, Launceston

Nathaniel and Mary Ann Munnings lived here from about 1893-94. There were several births registered at this address each year on the Tasmanian Federation Index from 1900 to 1911. Most were to women who did not state the father’s name.

One interesting birth was Merle Pretoria Dunn, born on 1 July 1900 to James Dunn and Mary Dunn, nee Souther. It appears that this baby was “adopted” by the Munnings.

‘Albion House’, 155 George Street, Launceston.

The Tasmanian Federation Index lists the following number of births at 155 George Street: 1911 = 10;
1912 = 17; 1913 = 38; 1914 = 54; 1915 = 50; 1916 = 51; To 11 June 1917 = 28.

In June 1917 Nurse Munnings moved to ‘Wangee’ at 163 George Street: from 19 June 1917 = 36;
1918 = 52; 1919 = 61.

By 1921 her hospital was at ‘Montrose’ 13 Canning Street. She remained there until her death on 30 March 1934.

Nurse Munnings’ daughter Merle Pretoria (later Mrs John Brooke) assisted her mother in later years. Merle had trained as a midwife at the Queen Victoria Hospital. ‘Montrose’ continued as a maternity hospital for several years after Nurse Munnings died.

Barbara Valentine, ‘Some private hospitals in Launceston’, in Effecting a cure, edited by Paul Richards, p. 474.
‘The key to “Albion House”’, The Express, 11 July 1959, p. 5.
‘The buildings Launceston should preserve’, in The Examiner, 24 July 1964.
‘Rebirth of a period gem’. The Examiner, 9 August 1972, p. 29.
Hawley Stancombe & Eric Ratcliff, ‘Albion House’, unpublished article from LSC files.
Tasmanian Pioneer Index and Tasmanian Federation Index.
Post Office Directories.
Electoral Roll, 1903.

Nathaniel was a member of the Salvation Army and was a colour sergeant at the time of his death, aged forty nine, on 24 October 1913. The funeral occurred the next day and included a procession accompanied by the Salvation Army Band. Nathaniel was buried at the General Cemetery in Charles St. Launceston.

Kitty continued to live with her mother until 1921 even after she married an engine fitter, George Arthur Kern (1889 – 1938). George was born in Launceston on 13 July 1889, the son of George and Annie (nee Crosby). (He had a sister, Lillian May.). Kitty and George then lived at 216 Charles St. and she died there in August 1920 when just 30 years old

George Kern and Kitty

When Kitty left Mary Ann apparently still had the company of two other girls but their relation to her is unclear. Merle Pretoria Munnings was born on 1 July 1900 in Mary Ann’s house at 152 George St to James and Mary Dunn. James died the next year and Mary in 1913 leaving Merle a teenage orphan. Merle first appears on the electoral roll in 1922 when her address was the Queen Victoria Hospital. She was also a nurse and was probably finishing her training in that year. On subsequent rolls she is recorded as a nurse at 13 Canning St. She continued to live there when she married a textile worker, John Brooke between 1931 and 1934.The second girl, Lorna, was born 21 November 1907 at 38 Elizabeth St Launceston and her mother was Margaret Maud Tilley. Lorna first appears on the roll in 1931 and is recorded as occupied in ‘home duties’. When Mary Ann died in March 1934 Merle and Mary’s accountant and friend Stanley Victor Tilley were appointed executors of her estate valued at £1320. Merle inherited Mary Ann’s motor car and the rest of her estate was equally shared between her and Lorna, and Mary’s son Nathaniel and grand daughter Gwen Kern (Kitty’s daughter). (Stan and Margaret Maud Tilley were distantly related.)

I do not know Merle and Lorna formally adopted by Mary Ann.

George Kern died in November 1938 and Gwen married Brian Leonard Molloy about 1940. Mary was buried at Car-Villa cemetery in a grave that she later shared with Gwen’s husband despite the fact that he was a Roman Catholic who died in Hobart thirty years later on 22 May 1964. Mary Ann’s religion was recorded as ‘Salvation Army’ at the time of her death. Although her last will is was signed on 8 Feb 1934 with an ‘x’ the will notes that this was because she ‘was incapable through physical weakness’ of signing before her solicitor David Coker and his clerk George Kenyon.