William Powell jnr and Mary Ann Browne

William jnr, reportedly aged 25 (actually aged 28) married Mary Ann Brown, reportedly aged 20, at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Hobart on 7 September 1853. The witnesses were John and Ellen Degan. 1

The origins of Mary Ann Brown(e) have not been positively confirmed, although family lore is that she was an Irish famine orphan and refugee who arrived in VDL circa 1851 at the speculated age of 17, from Limerick in Ireland. The search continues ...

Did a relative of William jnr place the following notice, which appeared approx 103 times in the local Tasmanian Colonial Times, Hobart from 26th March 1856 to 8th October 1856 ?. Who is the "M.P." person in Wellington, NZ. ?.

NOTICE. -- In the year 1838, a lad was apprenticed - by the name POWELL - to Mr. Duncan, tailor by trade of Oatlands, son of William Powell, who was in the employ of Mr. McRae, of the Eastern Marshes. If the lad Powell will communicate by letter to M P., at the INDEPENDENT Office, Wellington, New Zealand, he may hear of something to his advantage, and will much oblige the advertiser. 2

By 1858, William had a house and land on 4 & 1/2 acres in Oliver Street, Swanston, in the Spring Bay Municipality, with a value of ₤5. 3

Was this "something to his advantage" a financial "windfall" ?, that allowed William jnr and his mother to establish "Powell's Hotel" (later to be known as the "Travellers Rest Hotel") at Swanston in the first instance ?

Swanston had one establishment in common with other settlements in the early days ‑ an hotel. Powell's Hotel, erected and licensed about 1850, was conducted by the pioneer immigrants from Ireland, William Powell, and his wife Mary Ann. Mrs. Powell later proved to be one of the outstanding pioneer women in the district. The Powell's were ably assisted in their service to the public by two of their elderly relatives, who became known to all visitors as Granny Brown and Granny Wright. Beer was served at the cost of one penny a pint‑size glass and rum cost slightly more ‑ three pence a large noggin. A new two‑storied hotel, built of stone, was opened by George Hawley, to offer competition to the Powell's. This was doomed to failure as he was refused a licence owing to the close proximity of another hotel conducted by an efficient licensee. Powell's Hotel closed in 1885 when William Powell and his family purchased a property at Whitefoord and later opened a general store. 4

It is logical that "Granny Wright" is William jnr's mother Eliza, but who is "Granny Brown" ? There is a Johanna Brown(e), a widow, who dies at Swanston in 1880 at the reported age of 82 years. 5 Could this be Mary Ann's mother ? (who is yet to be positively identified)

John S. Weeding incorrectly attributes William jnr as being a "pioneer immigrant from Ireland" although his wife, Mary Ann Browne did originate from Limerick. (either the Irish county or township of the same name)

William had an accident and sustained serious injuries on his way home one day -

A man named William Powell, aged 53, was taken to the hospital yesterday morning with a severe compound fracture of his left leg. He stated that at 3 p m. on Sunday he was going home to Swanston, Spring Bay, with a pair of horses, when one of them, a young horse, bolted. The cart capsized, and the wheel went over both his legs. He remains in the hospital. 6

The Powell family of Whitefoord had a long and distinguished association with the Post Office -

The closure of the Whitefoord Post Office in 1970 ended almost a century of service to the community by the families of Thomas Palmer and William Powell. The first Post Office was established in 1885 at the residence of Thomas Palmer and his wife appoint­ed as the first Postmistress. This was later transferred to the residence of William Powell who, after having conducted a hotel at Swanston, established a home at the junction of the Woodsdale­-Stonehenge Roads. His son James enlarged the house by adding a large shop, to give Whitefoord its first general store. James Powell married Jane Palmer and thus two pioneering families merged. When Mrs. William Powell retired as Postmistress her daughter‑in‑law succeeded her and held the position for the following half-century. For the final 23 years until its closure, the Whitefoord Post Office was ably conducted by Mrs. Jane Powell's daughter, Mrs. J. Young. 7

William jnr and Mary Ann would go on to successfully have a large family of nine children -

  1. Sarah Ann (Tilly) POWELL (1855-1952) married William SAWFORD snr (1847-1914) in 1873
  2. Eliza Mary POWELL (1857-1942) married John SAWFORD jnr (c.1839-1903) in 1874
  3. William Ambrose POWELL (1859-1937) married Mary Ellen SMITH (1869-1922) in 1888
  4. Leslie Michael POWELL (1861-?)
  5. James POWELL (1862-1937) married Jane PALMER (1875-1970) in 1895
  6. Ellen (Nellie) POWELL (1866-1903) married John Richardson SAWFORD (1859-1915) in 1884
  7. SAWFORD—POWELL.—On September 23, 1884, by licence, at St. Paul's Church, Oatlands, by the Rev. Father Feehan, John Richardson, the only surviving son of George Sawford, of Inglewood, to Helen, third daughter of the late William Powell, of Swanston. Both of Swanston. 8

  8. Elizabeth Jane POWELL (1868-1942) George Alfred KINGSTON (1869-1943) in 1897
  9. Matilda Magdaline POWELL (1870-1961) married William Montrose JOHNSON (1872-1943) in 1895
  10. John Nicholas POWELL (1871-1946) married Florence Mary Ethel WILLIAMS (1876-1951) in 1899
  11. POWELL-WILLIAMS. - On September 13, 1899, at St. Bridget's Church, Tunnack, by the late Very Rev. Father Feehan, John, the youngest son of the late William and Mary Ann Powell, of Whitefoord, to Florence, eldest daughter it the late Arthur and Elizabeth Williams, of Garden Marsh, Woodsdale. Present address: Roseville, Main road, Glenorchy. 9

William jnr passed away on 5 March 1880 at the relatively young age of almost 56 years. 10 11

Mary Ann Powell outlived her husband by a further 53 years, finally passing to eternal rest on 29 December 1923 at the very respectable age of 89 years.. 12

POWELL. - On December 29, 1923, at her son's residence, Whitefoord, Mary Ann, relict of the late Wm. Powell. of Swanston, aged 88 years. Funeral will leave Whitefoord at 11 a.m. Today for St. Paul's, Cemetery, Oatlands. R.I.P. (Melbourne papers please copy.) 13

The famlly of the late Mrs. Mary Ann Powell, of Whitefoord, desire to tender their sincere and heartfelt thanks to Nurse Palmer, Miss Maria Palmer, and Mr. Albert Palmer, and to all kind relatives and friends for practical help and letters and cards of sympathy and floral tributes in connection with their recent sad bereavement. 14

Our travelling correspondent writes -
By the death of Mrs Mary Ann Powell at the age of 90 which occurred recently at Whitefoord, the Oatlands Municipality has lost one of its oldest and most highly respected residents. Born near Limerick, in County Clare Ireland, in 1834, the deceased emigrated to Tasmania at the age of 17 in 1851, at the time of the potato famine in Ireland. She was married on September 7, 1853, to the late Mr William Powell of Swanston who died on March 5, 1880, at the age of 54. The late Mrs Powell removed to Woodsdale in 1889, 14 years after it was first settled. Two years later she went to reside at Whitefoord where she, in conjunction with her son James, carried on business as general storekeeper for many years. Of her family of nine children one (Nellie) predeceased her, the surviving eight being William (Derwent Park), James (Whitefoord), Michael and John (Glenorchy), Sarah (Mrs W Sawford, Swanton), Eliza (Mrs J Sawford, Baden), Matilda (Mrs W Johnson, Levendale), and Elizabeth (Mrs G Kingston, Levendale). Her many descendants include 45 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. 15