Mary and Bill Williams

In December 1924 Mary Jane Harrison (nee O’Neill) married Lyndurst Mervyn (Bill) Williams at Wesley Church Melville St. Hobart. The boys were now 14, 12 and 9 years old under under the terms of Percy’s will their guardian became the trustees – Charles Butler and Aleaxander McGregor, until they became 21. It is not clear whether this had any impact on the relationship between the boys and their stepfather..

Bill was born 28. April 1897 the youngest of thirteen children of James Merrick Williams (b. Hobart 8 Apr. 1855) and Caroline Louise (nee Hepburn). His father was chief engineer at the large Wilcox Mofflin tannery in Glenorchy. The family home was a
Barossa Farm on the foothills above Glenorchy. When his mother died in 1901 he went to live with relatives in New South Wales near Coolamon where he worked on the land. In August 1917 he enlisted in the 12th Squadron of the Australian Light Horse but was discharged four months later for medical reasons. He moved back to Tasmania and at the time of his marriage he worked with his brother as blacksmith in Main Rd Glenorchy.

Bill and May were almost certainly unaware that their families were linked. May’s brother-in-law Harold (Joe) Harrison had married Helen Rennie in 1921. Helen’s, mother Harriett Alicia Davis, was a relative of Bill: her great grandmother Jane, was a sister of Bill’s great grandfather James. Born on Norfolk Island to a First Fleet convict Frances Williams they had come to Hobart when the Norfolk Island settlement was closed by Governor Bligh in 1808. In a further link Bill’s sister Hilda married Leslie Rennie in 1912. He was a cousin of Helen Rennie, her father Arthur Tasman and Leslie’s William, were brothers.

At the time of their marriage, with the aid of War Service Homes Commission, they bought a house at 13 Baker St. New Town. Will took up work at the EZ Company and rode his bicycle to work every day for the next twenty-five years. Around 1935 they moved to nearby 64 Montagu St. that was on the corner of what is now Valentine St., and Maria died there. In 1939 Will and Mary moved to 4 Haig St. Lutana. Around 1945 they settled in to a rambling house at the river of Anfield St. Glenorchy. After a few years there they bought a house at the other end of the street (No.3). Will took great pride in cutting his own firewood from the bush and hunting both rabbits and kangaroo. He kept ferrets and hens and was a great vegetable grower. Will died of emphysema in 1971 but May continued to live a vigorous and independent life until her death in 1984. She cooked over a wood fired stove and washed in a wood fired ‘cooper’ until the 1960s. A very smart dresser and keen shopper she indulged her grandson with trips to the city and all the local regattas. She maintained a close relationship with her sister in law Pearl Haas and a small number of other relatives but was content to be alone. She spent the last thirteen years of her life stubbornly caring for herself despite failing eyesight. She lived to be 97 years old.