Mary Anna Rose Smith, by Sheila Dawes [Mary’s granddaughter]

[click on images to enlarge]

Mary Anna Rose Smith was born in Mauritius at 7.15am on the morning of the 12th July 1874 in Labourdonnais Street, Port Louis.

William Thomas, her first husband, came from Newborough (Niwbwrch) in Anglesey.  His father was described as a farmer of 30 acres in the 1881 census, living at Cae Coch (Red Field) in his farmhouse.  William was born in 1867 and decided not to follow his father’s footsteps, instead deciding on a career at sea like many males in Anglesey.


‘Kate Thomas’ & crew. Captain William Thomas is in the centre of the top row.


Cae Coch Farm 2

Cae Coch Farm (Red Field).


 James Thomas son of William and Mary 002

James Thomas, the son of Mary and William Thomas.



William and Mary were married in Dundee on the 16th May 1896.  William is described as a Ship’s Master.  Their son, James Thomas, was born one year later in Perth Australia on the 6th August 1897.  His captaincy included the “Kate Thomas” and at the time of his death the “Marion Ballantyne”. The Welsh Mariner’s Index records William’s death.  “William Thomas, late of Caewch (sic), Newborough died April 2 1900 at Flores Island, Azores”.  Family tradition suggests that he died of a burst appendix on board ship.  He was consequently buried at sea.  Mary Thomas received his estate worth £709 on the 20th June 1900.  She decided to return to Mauritius.


Thomas wedding 2
The wedding of Mary Smith to George Richardson in Mauritius.
Jack Smith is lying down with the straw boater and James Smith is the man sitting behind him.
George Smith is to the left of the bride.


Photo of George Richardson taken in Alexandria, Egypt.
In Mauritius Mary met George Richardson.  Mary married him when they were both aged 30.  They were married at St. Andrew’s Church, Rosehill on the 12th October 1904.  George was employed by Eastern Telegraph, at that stage as a telegraphist.

George Richardson was born in Glasgow in 1874.  His father was a hay and grain merchant.  George was engaged as a Probationer in 1891 to the Easter Telegraph.  He was subsequently appointed to the Foreign Service staff in 1893 subsequently serving at Porthcurnow, Alexandria, Zanzibar, Seychelles, Durban, Mauritius, Malta, Mozambique, Swakopmund, Cape Town and Vigo.  In Vigo he held the position of Assistant Superintendent.  Mary accompanied her husband on many of his trips abroad as has been recorded in her Bible.  Mary and George went on to have five children.

After the death of her father James Smith, her mother Mary [née Black] accompanied the family on many of the trips and postings.


Travels of Mary Smith after her marriage to George Richardson as recorded in her Bible together with the births of their children

Left Mauritius for England on 29th April 1905
Gladys Margaret Mary born on the 24th June 1906 at 60, Polworth Gardens, Glasgow, Scotland.  (This was the home of her parents-in-law).

Left Glasgow for Malta on Sept16th 1906
Left Malta for Mauritius on the 19th May 1907
Ilene Isobel born on the 23rd Feb 1908 at Glen View, Phoenix, Mauritius

Left Mauritius to meet George at Durban, Natal on 2nd April 1909.
Grace Marjorie born on the 2nd Nov 1911 at Durban, Natal

Left Durban with 3 children for Mauritius on 19 Jan 1913
Gordon George Pender Richardson was born on 8th Aug 1913 at Glen View, Phoenix, Mauritius

Left Mauritius for Cape Town to meet George with 4 children on 16th Nov 1915
George Richardson born at Sea Point, Cape Town on the 17th July 1917

Left Cape Town with George and 5 children on the 27th Aug 1919 for England

Left for Vigo Spain on the 29th Jan 1920

Left Vigo on the 17th March 1923 for London

Left for Mauritius on the 24th Feb 1924

Left Mauritius for England 15th April 1927

Left for Vigo in Nov 1927 and left again for England in Sept 1928



George retired early in January 1929 through ill health and he lived at “Lochinvar”, Malpas Drive, Pinner, Middlesex.

When World War One commenced in 1914, George was in charge of the Eastern Telegraph Company’s Cable Station at Swakopmund in German South West Africa now Namibia.  He and other Eastern Telegraph staff were accused of communicating with the military at Capetown and were imprisoned in in Windhoek gaol for two months.  Later when nothing could be proved against them they were removed to an internment camp at Okanjande about 50 miles north of Windhoek and later made to trek on foot to Okaukeyo another 130 miles further north.  The Portuguese then drove the Germans back and another 120 mile trek south to Otjiwarongo began.  They were finally released by General Botha on July 1st 1915 after nearly eleven months as prisoners of the Germans.

George Richardson died on May 20th 1933 from pneumonia following surgery for throat cancer.

Mary faced over 30 years of widowhood but was supported by members of her family who lived near her.  She left Pinner and moved to a house next door to her eldest daughter Gladys, in Elmstead Avenue, Wembley.  Her oldest son, Gordon, lived with her until he married in 1940 but he moved only a few streets away.  When Mary could no longer live an independent life she moved in with Gordon and his wife Isobel and later also by her daughter Grace and husband Len.  She was a supportive grandmother and was visited regularly by her own children who had taken residence abroad.

Mary died aged 82 at Farnborough Hospital on May 31st 1957 and her ashes were placed in her husband’s grave in Pinner View cemetery in Pinner Road, Pinner.

Mary had a deep religious faith and supported the Christian Scientist movement.  Her Bible is heavily annotated with references such as “used to cure George’s ears”.  Gordon, her older son, wrote:  “She was a much respected old lady of tremendous courage, backed by a deep belief in God, a faith that never faltered.  She read her Bible daily”.

Her final message to her children reflected that faith.

“I request and urge my children to be charitable loving and truthful to follow God’s laws and commandments; to know that He is our life and the healer of deseases (sic) and sin.  To pray to Him daily to guard them from all evil.

I also urge upon all my children that they love each other as brothers and sisters ought to do and be pitiful and courteous the one to the other lending each other as occasion may require a helping hand along life’s road.  Mother ”

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