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Mary Dempsey (?–1922)

One by one the lives that link the alleged civilisation of to-day with the early history of this Sunny State are passing to that bourne whence no traveller returns— the tired old body to the dust whence it sprung, and the well-tried spirit to God Who gave it. All are long past Life's allotted span, and far too soon Father Time will close the earthly chapter and ring down the curtain on the braye old band of pioneers who saw things and did things back, as Henry Lawson says, "In the days when the world was wide."

The latest to undertake that inescapable journey was Mrs. E. Dempsey, helpmeet (and a staunch one at that) of Mr. E. Dempsey, known to the Mountains and respected by all as 'old Ted,' Katoomban cab proprietor.

About three years ago, Mrs. Dempsey suffered a stroke, but she rallied, and whilst not quite regaining her former vitality, was in fair health for her 80 Winters. On Monday at sunset her husband greeted her on home-coming, exchanging a cheery few words. Shortly after whilst apparently enjoying a peaceful supper, she collapsed. Dr. Allan was hastily summoned, but within, an hour the dissolution came, the soul flitting to the Great Beyond, the end being most peaceful.

The body was taken to the city, and interred in the Roman Catholic portion of Rookwood cemetery.

The late Mrs. Dempsey was the mother of nine children, three boys and six girls, four of whom pre-deceased her. Of the daughters who remain are Mrs, Joe Seery, wife of the Governor of Bathurst Gaol (the lady who contested the Robertson seat at the last Federal election); Mrs. Jack Seery, wife of one of the principals at tho Emu Plains Penal Farms; Mrs. J. Steward, of the city; and Miss Molly Dempsey, in charge of the local branch of the Stale Trawling Industry. Mr. George Dempsey, the surviving son, is assisting his father in Katoomba.

The deceased lady was born at Yass in the early forties, and was married there in '70, "Ted" being then a crack horseman and successful jockey, connected with the Chisholms, of Grogan Station. As Mary Kelly, Mrs. Dempsey was known, far and wide, as an equestrienne, being as much at home on an outlaw or hurdler as her husband. Together they opened the Tangmangaroo hotel, midway between Yass and Burrowa; later they were butchering at Wagga, Temora and Wyalong, and then followed the mining holds, being with the party who discovered Lambing Flat (Young) and in business there when the sensational riot occurred. Mrs. Dempsey's mother and step-father (Mick Sheedy) kept the hotel at Back Creek, the scene of many a bushranging escapade, in the days when Ben Hall, Gilbert, Dunn and F. Gardiner were knights of the road.

From the cradle, both Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey loved the horses, and in the early sixties owned and raced their own horses in Sydney and Melbourne, The old couple run back an Austral lineage to the first white man born in Australia, George Rope, born in tho Soldiers' barracks, in 1788, so they may fairly claim to be links of the past.

And now the separation! The sympathy of the district is extended to "Old Tom" in his lone twilight days. Luckily he is built of the right material to stand the severance.

Original Publication

Citation details

'Dempsey, Mary (?–1922)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Kelly, Mary

May, 1922
Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia

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