MARGARET MACQUARIE (NEE GOODWIN)
Recently I posted the story of Hector Macquarie, and his marriage to the unfortunate Margaret Simson. Hector was the dissolute nephew of Governor Lachlan Macquarie. You can read the first part HERE. And now the story continues……
It had always been assumed that Hector died a widower, but my research revealed that he remarried. His second wife was also called Margaret, and she was a relative by marriage. The story has its beginnings in New South Wales.
On December 31 1838, the barque Sovereign arrived in Sydney from the Scottish port of Greenock.
She was carrying general merchandise and a small number of paying passengers. Among those on board were Hector’s half brother Charles Macquarie Jnr., Charles’ new bride Margaret, and his sister Marianne. Following the death of his father, who died leaving debt burdened Scottish estates, Charles was hoping to carve out a new life in New South Wales.
Nineteen year old Marianne had decided to throw in her lot with her brother. A yearning for love and security may explain why, just one month after arriving in Sydney, she wed John Goodwin, a twenty year old wine merchant from Ashbourne (Derbyshire). Goodwin was the son of a highly respected surgeon. He had been in the colony less than a year himself, but had already established a business in lower George Street.
The couple were married in Sydney’s Philip Street Church on January 31, 1839. Charles Macquarie acted as one of the witnesses before he and his wife headed ‘up country’ to begin farming. It was a difficult time on the land due to severe drought. Their story can be read by clicking here; The Hungry Forties.
The Goodwins set up home in fashionable Newtown. By the middle of 1841, John’s wine business had failed spectacularly. The Sydney Gazette reported on his insolvency and were scathing about the young man. He had amassed debts of an incredible twenty five thousand pounds, a consequence of wildly speculative deals. He was later referred to in the Gazette as ‘an upstart kite flyer’. Goodwin displayed no remorse whatsoever. During insolvency proceedings he commented that his creditors had treated him so badly that, as the newspaper reported; ‘He cannot think of affording them any assistance or information in respect of his affairs…‘ It was feared he would abscond, and (like his brother-in- law Hector back in England) ) he was arrested. He and Marianne left Sydney in disgrace the following year. They returned to John’s hometown of Ashbourne with their infant daughter.
As fate would have it, Ashbourne was conveniently close to Coventry, where the widowed Hector Macquarie (now nearly fifty) was residing. While visiting his half-sister Marianne, the aging roué met and courted Goodwin’s sister Margaret. At thirty two, Margaret may have viewed him as providing a belated deliverance from spinsterhood. One wonders how much John Goodwin had heard of Hector’s unsavoury past in Sydney? We might remember that he had got into all sorts of trouble, including being accused of rape. However much Goodwin knew, it is unlikely he cared. It conjures the unpleasant spectre of the pair sharing tales of shady dealings and debt evasion.
Hector and Margaret were married at St Oswald’s church Ashbourne (pictured below) on March 28 1843.
Their union was childless and short-lived. Hector died in Coventry on January 8 1845 from consumption. It appears he had separated from Margaret. The informant was listed as Maria Milbourne, a young woman who was present at his death and residing at the same address. This may explain why Hector’s age was recorded as forty seven when he was actually fifty one.
AN UNPLEASANT DISCOVERY
Less than two months after her husband’s death, Margaret found a copy of her predecessor’s will among his effects. It had been written on December 30 1834, while Hector and the first Margaret were lying low at Tilbury Fort before their ship sailed to India. The will reaffirmed the provisions Margaret Simson had made in her marriage settlement regarding any children the couple may have. As there had been no living child, Hector Macquarie was the principal beneficiary. He was also sole executor The will detailed small legacies to the dead woman’s relatives, including a special sum for her sister to purchase a mourning ring. It is a measure of Hector’s character that he disregarded these legacies. As the law allowed, he simply claimed the entire estate as Margaret’s spouse, without producing the will.
Hector’s widow made the admirable decision to submit the first Margaret’s will for probate. Early the following year, she was given permission to administer the estate. It is doubtful whether any funds remained, but it would be lovely to think she honoured the legacies, albeit nearly ten years late. In 1851 Margaret remarried. The groom was Irish born solicitor Anthony Martin. Oddly enough the Martins emigrated to Australia. No doubt Margaret had heard a lot about the country from both Hector and her brother John Goodwin. It was a childless but happy union. Margaret died in the Victorian town of Chiltern in 1889.
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