Mary Ann de Mestre née Black (1801-1861) was the wife of Prosper de Mestre (1789-1844) a prominent Sydney businessman in the early 1800s; and the mother of Etienne Livingstone de Mestre (1832-1916) the trainer of the racehorse Archer who won the first and second Melbourne Cups in 1861 and 1862, and the foremost Australian horse trainer of his era. It was on her 1300 acre property of "Terara" on the Shoalhaven River near Nowra on the South Coast of New South Wales that Etienne established a horse stud, stable and racecourse.

Mary Ann’s other descendants include: Sarah Melanie de Mestre (1877-1961) who distinguished herself as a nurse in France and Flanders in World War I, and whose decorations included the Royal Red Cross which was presented to her at Buckingham Palace by King George V on 3 June 1918 (the King's birthday)[1]; Roy de Maistre (1894-1968), a successful Australian artist; Guboo Ted Thomas[2] (1909-2002) a prominent Aboriginal leader, and the last initiated tribal elder on the South Coast of New South Wales; Margaret Augusta de Mestre (1915-1942), a nurse who was killed in action on a hospital ship on 26 February 1942 in the bombing of Darwin during World War II[3]; Neville de Mestre[4] (c.1938- ), an eminent Australian mathematician and author, Emeritus Professor of Maths at Bond University, and who has held the titles of World Iron Man champion in the 60-64 age group, and Australian and World Masters surfing champion in the over-65 group for body surfing[5][6]; and Lloyd Nolan Hornsby[7] (1947- ), a prominent Aboriginal artist.


Offspring of Jean Charles Prosper de Mestre and Mary Ann Black (1801-1861)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Prosper John de Mestre (1821-1863)
Andre Cottrell de Mestre (1823-1917)
Helen Mary de Mestre (1825-1907)
Sarah Louisa de Mestre (1827-1914)
Melanie Isabella de Mestre (1829-1925)
Etienne Livingstone de Mestre (1832-1916) 9 April 1832 George St, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 22 October 1916 "Garryowen", Moss Vale, New South Wales, Australia Sarah Lamb (?-?) Sarah Lamb (?-?) Clara Eliza Rowe (1852-1934)
Mary Ann de Mestre (1834-1925)
Kate Dorothy de Mestre (1836-1905) 2 December 1836 Liverpool St, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 21 July 1905 "Liryclea", Five Dock, New South Wales, Australia David Ramsay (1832-1901)
Louisa Jane de Mestre (1839-1909)
Annette Marland de Mestre (1841-1936)


Mary Ann was born in Sydney on 1 October 1801. Her mother was the former convict Mary Hyde (c1779-1864) who in 1855 took the Commissioners of City of Sydney to the House of Lords and won. Her father was John Black (1778-1802), a ship's officer and a privateer (state-sanctioned pirate). Mary Ann was their second child, and only daughter. Her father died in 1802 when his ship the Fly was lost at sea with all hands. After this Mary Ann's mother moved in with (and later married) a business associate of Mary Ann's late father Simeon Lord (1771-1840) a pioneer merchant and a magistrate in Australia, who became Mary Ann's stepfather.

Mary Ann received her education in England. In 1807 six year old Mary Ann was taken to England by Simeon Lord's adopted daughter Joanna and her husband Francis Williams, to be placed into the care of her grandfather Reverend John Black. She first left on board her stepfather's ship the Commerce in February 1807 as a 5 year old, but the ship returned to Sydney in April 1807 after picking up shipwrecked men, and sustaining damage in a storm. [8] In July 1807 Mary Ann was baptised at St Phillips Church in Sydney.[9] Then in November 1807 she again began the voyage for England aboard her stepfather's ship the Sydney Cove.[10] She was not returned to Australia until 1814 after her grandfather's death.[11]

Her stepfather Simeon Lord held land in trust for Mary Ann and her brother, land that backed onto the Tank Stream and had originally been leased by their late father Captain John Black, where Mary Ann and her brother had been born, and where her mother had been living prior to her relationship with Simeon Lord. On her marriage Mary Ann receiving her portion of the land in George St., Sydney[12] as a dower[13].

Mary Ann married at the age of 19 on 1 March 1821 at St Phillip's Church in Sydney to Prosper de Mestre who was 12 years her senior, and a business associate of her stepfather Simeon Lord. Prosper, a merchant like her stepfather, was a good catch, and the large family was well and luxuriously provided for, becoming an important part of the fabric of Sydney in the 1820s to the 1840s. Her husband eventually owned properties in Sydney, and elsewhere in New South Wales, including at Shoalhaven on the South Coast. Mary Ann was also a good catch for de Mestre, with her stepfather Simeon Lord's connections being invaluable to de Mestre's business dealings.

When her husband Prosper de Mestre became insolvent in 1844, and most of his land and property needed to be auctioned to pay his debts, Mary Ann moved to prevent the Shoalhaven properties being sold. As the George St. property had been her dower[13], she questioned whether it should be included in the sale. Her solution was that the more valuable George St. property could be included in the sale, if the Shoalhaven properties were not. In exchange she also asked for "the whole of the plate, horses etc., etc., on the establishment in Liverpool Street, the six cows, horse and cart at Helsarmel", and to be "permitted to occupy the thirty-two acres at Petersham until the house at Shoal Haven can be rendered fit for the residence of my family." The family house in Liverpool St, and its "elegant Household Furniture", was sold by auction on 16 May 1844, and the family was moved to briefly to Petersham and then onto Terara, which Mary Ann’s husband Prosper had initially developed as a hobby farm.

Over a period of twenty years Mary Ann gave birth to 10 children, in the day when home births were the norm. When her husband Prosper de Mestre died in 1844 she was left with a large family to raise that included adult children and teenagers, but also included young children, with four children under the age of 10, and her youngest child being was less than 3 years old.

To raise her family Mary Ann continued to work the Shoalhaven property of Terara with the aid of her three sons. Mary Ann, together with her three sons, Prosper John (1821-1863), Andre (1823-1917) and Etienne (1832-1916) de Mestre, was also instrumental in furthering the development of the village of Terara near her "Terara" property after her husband's death in 1844. They added three wharves in 1854, in 1856 a Church of England on land she donated and with capital she largely provided, and established a steam-driven flour mill in 1856. The steam flourmill was managed by the eldest son, Prosper John de Mestre who lived at Millbank. Andre and Etienne de Mestre lived at Terara House. By 1866 the village of Terara was a bigger and more important centre than Nowra. When the Shoalhaven River flooded in 1870 settlement began to shift from Terara to the Nowra site 3 km west.[14]

Mary Ann Black was a widow for 16 years before her death on 11 July 1861. She left a will that divided her property amongst her children. Millbank was left to Prosper John de Mestre, along with the steam mill and premises which he was occupying at the time. The Terara House and property was left to Andre and Etienne de Mestre, and the 7 girls each received a portion of land. Mary Ann was buried on the Terara property next to her husband Prosper de Mestre on land that she had donated to the church. Against her stated wishes, the land has been sold by the church, and the exact location of the graves is now lost.


  1. ^ War Records of Sarah Melanie de Mestre
  2. ^ Guboo, man with a dream
  3. ^ War Records of Margaret Augusta de Mestre
  4. ^ Neville de Mestre
  5. ^ Interview with Neville de Mestre
  6. ^ How to catch the tube
  7. ^ Yuinart: Web-page of Lloyd Nolan Hornsby
  8. ^ Taka by Peter Entwhistle, pgs 40-44
  9. ^ Parish records of St Phillips Church Sydney
  10. ^ Australian Dictionery of Biography
  11. ^ Shipping records for Sydney Cove
  12. ^ This property is today found near De Mestre Place in Sydney on the eastern side of George Street, between Hunter Street and Martin Place.
  13. ^ a b An inheritance from her father, ownership of which passed to her husband on her marriage. Property Rights of Women in Nineteenth-Century England (which also applied in the Colony of New South Wales)
  14. ^ Australian heritage – Nowra


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
  • AWT:db: elvaboyle, id: I8454 — no longer available
¶ Death
  • BDM Index ref for death: 653/1861
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