Martha Hayes (1789–1871)
‘The prettiest violet that I saw growing in the Derwent.’
Martha Hayes travelled to New South Wales with her convicted mother Mary. On board she met Lieutenant John Bowen. In Sydney the young lovers lived together, and she sailed with Bowen to Van Diemen’s Land. She was perhaps fourteen years old, and pregnant. Her first child to Bowen, daughter Henrietta, was born March 1804. Henrietta was the first European born in Van Diemen’s Land.
Six months later Martha was pregnant again. Recalled to England, Bowen turned his back on family obligations, leaving pregnant Martha with a land grant and timber hut. Next door lived the convict Andrew Whitehead. In 1811 Martha and Andrew married, and went on to have two children. After Andrew’s death Martha married one Bernard Williamson, a police clerk, who was almost twenty years her junior.