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I Am What You Say I Am

Mary Ann Wagstaff (1848–1906)

The first-born daughter of John Wagstaff and Bess (nee Ward), Mary Ann was raised on the goldfields. Prior to marrying, Mary Ann lived and worked at Smythesdale, at Mary Ah Lock’s ‘establishment’ in China Town. It’s believed that she worked as a prostitute. During this time she gave birth to three children, all registered as carrying the surname Wagstaff, and all listed as ‘illegitimate’. None survived.
Letitia b.1867 died five days old, Alfred Ernest b.1868 died two-and-a-half years old, Victoria Adelaide Edith b.1871 died two weeks old.
In 1872 Mary Ann’s fortunes changed. She married the very dapper Cantonese-born ‘miner and hotel keeper’ Ah Tan, and together they raised a family of five.

In 1866 The Argus reported that Mary Ann’s sister Jane Wagstaff, witness to a possible murder, was ‘a servant to Mrs Ching Ching’.  It’s believed that she was helping to run an opium den.  At this time opium was legal, and opium smoking clubs rather fashionable.
In 1866 The Argus reported that Mary Ann’s sister Jane Wagstaff, witness to a possible murder, was ‘a servant to Mrs Ching Ching’. It’s believed that she was helping to run an opium den. At this time opium was legal, and opium smoking clubs rather fashionable.

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