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Mary Reibey - convict and businesswoman

Portrait of Mary Reibey

Mary Reibey is one of the more famous early convict women in the colony of New South Wales. A convicted horsethief, she went on to run an extensive importing and mercantile business. There are numerous references to her business dealings, liquor licences and land grants and purchases throughout the State archives. Although Mary was a very successful business woman she took time out for more philanthropic pursuits. For example, in 1825 she became one of the governors of the Free Grammar School.
What follows is a small selection of documents, chosen because they reflect some common themes in Mary's life. Included are some commonly found records such as probate and land grants, and also some more unusual records reflecting Mary's acute business acumen.


  • Convict musters
  • 1814 Muster
  • Colonial Secretary memorial, 1810
  • Application for land, 1829
  • Sketch of farm at Wilberforce
  • Burrien Farm on Shoalhaven River, 1839
  • Dispute over rental agreement, 1834
  • Court records - Case 138, 1812
  • Court records - Case 139, 1812
  • Mary's death, 1855
  • Mary's will

State archives consulted

Below is a list of records that have been consulted in the creation of this webpage. Copies of some of the records can be found in the images above but many of the references can be used for further research.

Series Item Page Reel Title Contents
RNICG 7/16034 Glass negative #16919 Not copied Government Printing Office Image of Mary Reibey
NRS 897 4/1896 26/4391 Not copied Col Sec, Main Series of letters received -
NRS 897 4/2323.1 36/4932 Reel 2205 Col Sec, Main Series of letters received -
NRS 897 4/2221.2 34/4682 Not copied Col Sec, Main Series of letters received Corporation dispute
NRS 897 4/2457.5 39/10032 Reel 2218 Col Sec, Main Series of letters received Assigned labour
NRS 1260 4/1225 p.240 COD 81 Muster 1814 Listed under Sydney free women, Mary Haydock
NRS 1155 2/8276 p.134 Reel 2427 Musters and Papers, re Royal Admiral Listed under Mary Haddock als James Burrows
NRS 907 2/7956 - Reel 1175 Col Sec re land See under Mary Reibey
NRS 907 2/7921 - Reel 1159 Col Sec re land Listed under W. McGrath
NRS 845 4/8459 Jan 1834, Sydney Not copied Quarter Sessions Appeal against previous conviction
NRS 3397 SZ775 12/7/1817 Reel 659, COD 231 Bench of magistrates Found guilty of retailing spirits without a licence
NRS 13660 14/3278 Series1/3279 Not copied Probate packets Mary Reibey died 1855
- 1855 Vol 1 p.1616 Not copied Government Gazette Notification of administration of will

There are numerous entries in the Colonial Secretary's Papers under Mary Reibey

There are numerous entries in the Civil Court of Jurisdiction under Mary Reibey

Further reading

For more details on Mary Reibey see:

Australian Dictionary of Biography - Online Edition
Reserve Bank Of Australia