John & Ann
Mary  John  Annie  Moses  Isaac  Aaron  Margaret  Harriet  Matilda  Emma  Edwin  Charles  Henry

The Descendants of Mary Adsett

by Lionel N Rackley

Children Sex Age Born Birth Place Died Death/Burial Site
1William RackleyM8715 Oct 1850Upminster Essex12 May 1938Auburn NSW
2Edwin RackleyM721859 Streatham Surrey22 Apr 1931Brisbane

Mary Adsett was born in Surrey, England in 1821. With her husband William Rackley she sailed from London on 25 April 1878 on the Southesk, which arrived in Brisbane on 1 August 1878.1

The records show that prior to leaving England William and Mary had a family of four sons and two daughters. No mention is made in the shipping records of two of the four sons nor the two daughters. Later death certificates indicate that all four were deceased prior to William's and Mary's departure from England to Australia.

William Rackley was born at Pinner, Middlesex, England in 1818.

With William and Mary on the Southesk was Ann Adsett (nee Kitchenside) wife of John Adsett. For some reason not known Ann had not travelled with John and the children Matilda, Emma and Charles twenty three years earlier. In fact her arrival in Queensland was not until some nine years after John's death in 1869.

Before the departure of William and Mary (and Ann) from England, their sons William and Edwin left England to settle in Queensland. The shipping records show that Edwin, his brother William, William's wife Louisa Jane (nee Latter) and William's three children, Florence (born 1872), Frederick (born 1874) and George (born 1876 died 1942) sailed on the ship Woodlark from London on 6 October 1876 and arrived in Brisbane 25 January 1877.

Nothing further is known of William or Mary. William died on 9 July 1883 and his death certificate indicates that at that time he was a labourer at Goodna. Mary died on 31 March 1902 aged 80 years. The death certificate states that at that time she was residing at Fernberg Street, Milton, Brisbane.

The Toowong Cemetery records show that Mary, her husband William Rackley, her mother Ann Adsett (wife of John - nee Kitchenside) who died in June 1891, Mary's sister Matilda (who arrived in Australia in 1855 with her father John), who died 26 September 1916, aged 78 years, and Rupert Lionel, the first child of the second marriage of Edwin Rackley, are buried in the one grave at Toowong Cemetery. Rupert Lionel died in infancy, aged 3˝ months, in April 1902.

The only headstone on that grave is that which commemorates Matilda. It is in the name of Matilda Barlow. Matilda was twice married, firstly to a man named Kehl to whom she had a large family and then to a man named Barlow. No family resulted from the second marriage. top of page

William Rackley (son of William and Mary) was born on 15 October 1850 in Upminster, Essex County, England. At the age of 21 on 25 February 1872, he married sixteen year old Louisa Jane Latter who was expecting their first child. They had three children in the Greater London area before emigrating to Brisbane, arriving on the Woodlark on 25 January 1877. A fourth child, Alice Mary, was born during their two year stay in Brisbane. They moved to Sydney where Alice died in 1880 and two more children were born, Elsie May and William Ernest. They lived at 45 Gipps Street, Surry Hills, a short distance from Sydney Central Railway Station. William worked in Sydney first as a grocer, then a painter and decorator.

Following the birth of son William Ernest, William and Louisa separated but never divorced. William entered a de facto relationship from which a son Leonard was born in about 1909. William lived at 47A Becket Street, Granville. He slipped and fell breaking his thigh in an accident on Sydney Road, Granville on 20 April 1938 and died at St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn, NSW, on 12 May 1938, from pneumonia. He was buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood, NSW in a ceremony conducted by the Revd O G Dent.

Following separation from William, Louisa continued to live in Sydney, at various addresses, and supported herself by taking boarders. She died on 17 October 1943, aged 88 years, at which time she was residing at 22 Brighton Street, Petersham, Sydney. On the death certificate her father is given as James Latter, a plasterer, and her mother as Louisa (nee Brigden). She was born in Croydon, Surrey, England. She is buried at the Independent Cemetery, Rookwood, NSW. Officiating clergyman was Rev G. I. Montgomery of the Congregational Church. top of page

Edwin Rackley (son of William and Mary) was born at Streatham, Surrey, England in 1859. He married Mary Ann Parker at a ceremony in the Manse of the Presbyterian Church, Ann Street, Brisbane on 15 August 1883, when he was, according to the marriage certificate, 25 years of age and she 24 years of age. There is no clear account of events after his arrival in Queensland. The marriage certificate gives his occupation at that time as "butcher". He is known to have told some members of his second marriage family stories about droving cattle.

He spent a good deal of his life as a driver of stationary steam engines at sawmills and butter factories. it is believed that he held certificates for driving stationary steam engines and a certificate for refrigeration. Before and during his marriage to Mary Ann Parker he lived in and around the Ipswich and Goodna areas, so it is thought he may have qualified for his "steam" certificates at coal mines of those areas.

Mary Ann Parker was the daughter of John Parker, who followed the calling of coal-hewer in the coal mines of the Ipswich district. For a time the family lived at Goodna, where they had a small cotton farm which the family worked while John Parker worked at the mines. It is not known if Edwin and Mary Ann met whilst both were living in Goodna, or whether John Parker and Edwin were co-workers at the mines, or whether they met through a mutual interest in choirs. Edwin is said to have been a conductor of the Silkstone Choir. Mary Ann's sister Sarah Jane was a member of the Cambrian Choir, one of the Welsh choirs of the district, and it is almost certain that Mary Ann would have been similarly involved.

Mary Ann Parker was born in Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire, England. Her mother was Sarah Parker (nee Davies) who was born in Abergwili, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Mary Ann, her father, and her mother sailed from Plymouth, England on 5 December 1861 in the sailing vessel Clifton (Captain John D'Oley) which arrived in Moreton Bay on 8 April 1862.2

Mary Ann's father John Parker was born in Monmouthshire, England on 28 June 1833. In addition to English he spoke the Welsh language fluently and regarded himself as a Welshman. The County of Monmouthshire was contained within the ancient kingdom of Gwent but became part of England when the medieval Lordships of the Marshes were abolished during the 16th Century. Parts of Monmouthshire retain strong ties with Wales and a large number of place names in the county are of welsh origin. The coal mining valleys of south Wales penetrate into western Monmouthshire. In fact Ebbw Vale, where Mary Ann was born and where her father was a coal miner, is within 8 kilometres of the Monmouthshire county boundary with Glamorganshire and even closer to the Breconshire county boundary. Both Glamorganshire and Breconshire are Welsh counties.

In 1876 the Parker family took up land at Franklin Vale (about 11 kilometres south of Grandchester). The Register of Selectors and Lessees of Land shows three leases, each of 160 acres, were issued in 1876 to John Parker, Mary Ann Parker (spinster) and Sarah Jane Parker (spinster). The record shows each leasehold as purchased at a later time (no date given). The record further shows that Mary Ann Parker's lease was altered to be in the name of "Mary Ann Rackley, wife of Edwin Rackley". What eventually happened to the land in the name of Mary Ann is not known, but her father John Parker was still farming at Franklin Vale as late as 1914.

Mary Ann was the eldest of John Parker's family of six children of his first marriage, all of whom with the exception of Mary Ann were born in Queensland. No record of Mary Ann's vocation has been found but family members believe she was a school teacher. She died, aged 37 years, on 29 November 1896 following a short illness. She is buried at Ipswich General Cemetery (Wesleyan Section). The officiating clergyman was Rev Stokoe of the Primitive Methodist Church.

Edwin Rackley and Mary Ann Parker had a family of six children:
Ethel May (28 August 1884 - 1885)
Albert Herbert Edwin (8 May 1886 - 1952)
Ada (16 August 1888)
Percy (22 November 1890 - 15 March 1966)
Norman (27 December 1892 - 23 October 1977)
Edgar (22 March 1895 - 1895)

On 5 September 1900 Edwin Rackley's second marriage was solemnised at the Baptist Church, Vulture Street, South Brisbane. The marriage certificate gives his occupation at that time as "grocer", his age as 42 years, and his address as Wilson Street, Paddington, Brisbane. The bride was Mary Ann Williams, daughter of Thomas Williams, a miner. Her brother Thomas was later to become The Hon. Tom Williams, MLA, Minister for Education in the Queensland Government. Mary Ann Rackley (nee Williams) was born in Ipswich. At the time of her marriage to Edwin Rackley she was 22 years of age, residing at Wilson Drive, Teneriffe, Brisbane. In the marriage certificate her occupation is given as "lady's help". The marriage took place in the presence of Mr Ebenezer Adsett.

There were six children of the marriage of Edwin and Mary Ann Rackley (nee Williams):
Rupert Lionel - died in infancy (3½ months) April 1902
Hilda Gertrude - born 7 July 1904 at East Brisbane
Eric Leonard Roy - born 7 November 1906 at Booval
Florence Ivy Olive - born 27 February 1911 at Laidley died 17 June 1988
Horace Vincent Gordon - born 6 January 1914 at Dinmore
Reginald Mervyn - born 25 February 1917 at Gympie

Edwin Rackley continued to follow his calling as a driver of stationary steam engines at sawmills and butter factories at various places including Laidley, Cooroy, and Kin Kin. At Kin Kin he was involved in an accident that caused him serious injury to the extent that he was unable to continue with heavy work thereafter. He is believed to have had a number of light-duty employments and at one stage is said to have conducted a small shop on or near Bowen Bridge Road.

In the latter years of his life he lived in and around Wooloowin, and at the time of his death on 22 April 1931 he was at James Street, Wooloowin. He was, according to the death certificate, 72 years of age.

Recently a photocopy of a letter was received from descendants of Edwin's brother William. who hold the original of the letter. The letter is from William's and Edwin's mother Mary Rackley (nee Adsett) it is dated 7 December 1876, and written from the address 12 Deremy Road, Southend, Croydon, England. The letter includes family news and concern for the welfare of her family in far away Australia, and concludes with her hope that "Edwin will be a good boy". The letter is signed "Mother. M. Rackley".

Mary Ann Rackley (nee Williams) died in Brisbane in 1939, aged 60 years. She is buried with Edwin at Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane.

One of the sons of Edwin Rackley and Mary Ann Parker, Norman Rackley - a grandson of Mary Rackley (nee Adsett), and therefore a great grandson of John Adsett and Ann (nee Kitchenside) - married Annie Strutt.

Annie Strutt was a grand-daughter of Charles Adsett and therefore a great grand-daughter of John and Ann Adsett.

Thus the descendants of Norman Rackley and Annie (nee Strutt) in addition to a claim to Welsh origins through John and Sarah Parker, have the distinction of two lines of descent from John and Ann Adsett, through their daughter Mary and their son Charles.

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Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages Brisbane office, various birth death and marriage certificates.

State Library of Queensland, Archives Office, various Shipping Records.

Victorian Public records Office Melbourne, Inward (shipping) Passenger Lists.

New South Wales Government Records Office, various death certificates.

Family Historical Society (Brisbane), Cemetery Records.

Queensland Times newspaper, Ipswich (18 July 1914), interview with Mr John Parker.

Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages Brisbane Office, microfiche records.

Ipswich General Cemetery Records.

Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal, Vol XI, No 3, 1981/82.


1. This chapter is based on resources and information made available by Mavis E. Crawford, whose research has involved a great deal of time and care.

2. The sailing ship Clifton on which Mary Ann Rackley (nee Parker) and her parents travelled to Australia, rnade just the one trip to this country. Cargo on that voyage included the 12 "Clifton Guns". These were muzzle loading, 24 pounder artillery pieces which had been used in the Napoleonic Wars. They were Queensland's first artillery and were sent to Brisbane by the British Government in response to a request from the Queensland Governor (Sir George Bowen - the first Governor of Queensland) as a defence against possible French attack. There was a threat of war between England and France. The urgency was increased by presence of a potential French Naval base at Noumea, less than 1200 kilometres from Brisbane.