Mary Watson's Bible

Production date
Circa 1875
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Object detail

Leather bound bible with decorative brass clasp and coloured/painted plate on the cover, featuring a floral arrangment ( Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis) and a single white lily). The cover and spine are damaged and torn. This diary was owned by Mary Watson, and includes a written message to Mary on the front page.
CH classification BOOKS Religious bible
Production date
Circa 1875
Production place
L145 x W110 x H42 mm
Media/Materials description
Brass, paper, string, leather
History and use
This bible belonged to Mrs Mary Watson and was taken with her in her escape from Lizard Island in 1881 following conflict with local Aboriginal people.

Mary Beatrice Watson was born at Newlyn, Cornwall, England and arrived in Maryborough, Queensland in 1877. She later became governess to the Bouel children in Cooktown, and here she married Captain R. F. Watson, a beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) fisherman. Together they settled on Lizard Island, 35km off the coast of far north Queensland. In late September 1881, Watson’s husband was away on a fishing trip and she was left on Lizard Island with her infant son, Thomas Ferrier, and two Chinese servants, Ah Leong and Ah Sam. One of the servants was speared by Aboriginal men, and the other wounded. After firing at the attackers with a rifle, they were forced to leave the island. On 3 October, with no boat, the three survivors rowed away from the island in a cut-down iron ship’s tank used for boiling beche-de-mer. They made landfall on one island after another, but failed to find any water. All three died of thirst between 11 and 12 October on Howick No 5. The island was later renamed Watson Island in her memory. Mrs Watson left her diary in her hut but maintained a makeshift diary up to the day of her death. It and this bible was discovered with her body. Both diaries are now held in the John Oxley Library.

Uploaded to the Web 27 May 2011.
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