The many aliases of Jane Morris/Wilson/Wearing Hapgood and her mum Mary Ann Middlewick/Morris/Clarke?/Wearing

My 2nd great grandmother, Jane married Richard Hapgood b1844 in Ulladulla in 1865, and had 4 children. We have two great photos of Jane, pictured with Richard, and once she was married to Richard, she seems to have led a quiet and settled life as the respectable wife of a local dairy farmer. However, Jane Hapgood’s past before meeting Richard is a bit of a complex tale and still a bit of a mystery involving multiple aliases for Jane and her mother. Its a long story….

The first clue to the complexity of Jane’s earlier life comes from the inconsistencies in the official marriage and death certificates of her life (shown below in a gallery)

When she married Richard Hapgood in 1865, the official details are that she was the daughter of Peter Wearing, a Carpenter and Mary Anne Middlewick, and born in NSW Australia. She makes a mark on the page, so presumably could not write but must have given her own family details to the registrar. According to the marriage certificate, her maiden name is WEARING.

However, on her death certificate in 1924 she is listed as the daughter of Robert WILSON, a farmer, and Jane (maiden name not given) and born in Dapto New South Wales (near Woollongong). This suggests a maiden name of WILSON, which is also given on her husband Richard’s death certificate in 1917 (when Jane would have still been alive). Wilson is also listed on her eldest sons death certificate.

From these records, we can infer that Jane was born around 1842-1844, because she was apparently 21 years old when she married in 1865, and 82 years old when she died in 1924. However, so far, there are absolutely no birth records for a Jane Wearing from NSW, or a Jane Wilson from Dapto NSW, during these years (or even close). So, who was she? The daughter of Peter Wearing and Mary Ann Middlewick? Or the daughter of Robert and Jane Wilson? Spoiler alert – its much more complex than either of these options!

Who was Janes mother, Mary Ann Middlewick?

Janes marriage certificate says her parents are Peter Wearing and Mary Anne Middlewick. Middlewick is a relatively distinctive name, and there is a death certificate for Mary Ann Wearing, nee Middlewick, in NSW in 1871. Mary Ann Middlewick was apparently born in England, died aged about 45 years old, and was supposedly married to Peter Wearing in Bathurst at age 17 (about 1843). However, there is no record of any marriage of a Peter Wearing to a Mary Ann Middlewick via any spelling variation in NSW, not even looking beyond Bathurst or a broader year range.

There is also some confusion about the number of children Mary Ann Wearing nee Middlewick had at the time she died in 1871. The informant was her husband Peter Wearing, and the entry is corrected to 6 males, 2 females, and 2 deceased males (10 kids in total). Unfortunately, no names are given. It seems unusual for a father to be so confused about how many children he had. On Peters death certificate in 1911, there are 6 kids: 4 males, 1 female and 1 deceased male. So this implies Mary Ann had at least 1 daughter and at least 1 son (and possibly more) that were not Peter Wearing’s children, although her husband does not seem very sure when filling out her death certificate!

Mary Ann “Marianne” Middlewick was a 20 year old kitchen maid from Dartmouth, Devonshire, who arrived in New South Wales on the “Pearl” as an unmaried female immigrant after the death of her mother Maryanne Taylor. She arrived in NSW on 17 August 1841. Her father was Robert Middlewick, listed as a a labourer on her emigration papers. Robert apparently remained in Devonshire, working as an agricultural labourer before dying in Saint Savours, Dartmouth, in 1858 according to his death certificate. She would have been encouraged to find herself a new husband relatively quickly after arrival in the “colony” and she appears to have been successful.

Searching the Ancestry records shows that Mary Ann Middlewick married John Morris on 27 June 1842 in Sydney, about a year after she arrived in Australia, at Christ Church St Lawrence, in the parish of Cumberland (ie the Rocks area of Sydney ) A map of the St Phillip Parish from the NSW State Library shows that it is in the heart of the Rocks area in Sydney. She would have been 22 years of age when she walked down the aisle.

John and Mary Ann Morris had a daughter Jane MORRIS / MORRICE (my 2nd great grandmother) a year later on 12 June 1843. John Morris is listed as a seaman on Janes birth certificate, and their address as “Princes Street”. The exact address of the church where their daughter was baptised is not clear from the certificate but presumably was “St Phillips” Church of England. There is a painting of the church c1840 in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, which is shown below. In 1855 a new gothic cathedral was built on the site .

A birth and baptism record also pops up for a Mary Ann Morris b1848, born to John Morris and Mary Anne “Clarke” in 1848, in the same parish of St Phillips, County of Cumberland (The Rocks, Sydney), about 5 years later. Her baptism certificate also lists her parents address as “Princes Street”, which is consistent in both Jane and Mary Ann’s baptism certificates, although this time its at St James Church, Sydney, which is still in the same local area of Sydney but it is a Roman Catholic church. Mary Ann Clarke could be an alias for Mary Ann Middlewick, or perhaps a totally different Mary Ann? (There is also a birth record for Elizabeth Morris, b 1845, but I am waiting on the full baptism certificate to arrive to see if the other details match. )

When Jane was born, the family was living at “Princes Street”. Princes Street no longer exists but was in the heart of “The Rocks” area of Sydney in the 1840s. Princes is now a major freeway route, connected to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it was a very important Sydney street in the 1840s. These pictures of “lost” princess street are worth a look as are the NSW State Archives collection of typical houses (photos taken in 1901) on Princes street.

Princes St Sydney (Rocks area) showing older wooden worker cottages. Mary Ann Middlewick and John Morris gave this street as their address at the time of their daughter Janes birth in 1843. Photo from NSW State Archives, taken in 1901. Out of copyright.

The complication is that Mary Ann Middlewick claimed on her husband Peter Wearings death certificate that they were married in Bathurst in 1843. The same claim was made on her youngest sons birth certificate, when he was born in 1868 in Ulladulla (See below). At this stage, her 1st child Jane (by John Morris) had literally just been born in Sydney, and possibly a second child Mary Ann Morris arrived 5 years later (if Mary Ann Middlewick is the same person as Mary Ann Clarke). So it appears that Mary Ann Middlewick was still married to John Morris the seaman, but ended up in a defacto relationship with Peter Wearing – and they pretended they married in Bathurst. Peter and Mary Ann Wearing went on to have several children, the 1st being Sarah Wearing who was born in 1852. Jane and her possible younger sister Mary may have been raised as a part of her step-father Peter Wearing’s family, although there would have been a big age gap – Jane would have been 10 years older that the oldest Wearing child Sarah. But perhaps this is why she gave her step-fathers name of Wearing as her maiden name when she married Richard Hapgood in 1865.

Birth Certificate for Sydney Wearing, born 24 Feb 1868, in Boat Harbour Ulladullla to Peter Wearing, a 41year old labourer from England, and Mary Ann Middlewick, aged 40 years old and originally from England. It also claims that they were married in Bathurst in 1842 (this does not appear to be true?), and that there are 4 boys, 2 girls and 2 boys deceased in the family. There is no mention of any of Mary Ann’s previous children with John Morris.

For a long time I was very unsure about all of these theories, particularly Mary Ann Middlewick marring John Morris and having a child (or two) before entering a defacto relationship with Peter Wearing. There are lots of different family trees on Ancestry, some of which mix up Peter Wearing’s two wives (Mary Ann Middlewick followed by Mary Ann Gilbert). Some list Jane’s maiden name as Morris but I hadnt found any strong supporting evidence until I ordered the certificates myself. So I was pleased to recently see a short excerpt from a few pages of “Our Jacksons: descendants of Sarah (nee Horne) and Nelson Savage Jackson” by Barry Cannon which agrees with the idea that John Morris/Morrice was Janes father.

Jane Morrice was also known as Jane Morris or Jane Wilson or Jane Wearing. Jane’s parents were John Morrice or Morris and Mary-Ann Middlewick. They were married around 1842.

Mary Ann Middlewick was born around 1828 in Devon and was the daughter of Robert Middlewick and Mary Ann Taylor. Mary Ann died in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia on 2 July 1871

“Our Jacksons: descendants of Sarah (nee Horne) and Nelson Savage Jackson” by Barry Cannon

So at least one other person came to the same conclusion that Jane’s birth name was Morris, and that Mary Ann Middlewick was married to John Morris before she met Peter Wearing.

What does DNA tell us about Jane and her parents?

I did an Ancestry DNA test when I was getting started in family history, and it is quite useful. Ancestry DNA “ThruLines” feature shows that I have 9 DNA matches for Mary Ann Middlewick. Eight of these matches are via descendants of Jane Morris/Wearing/Hapgood and the 9th match is a descendant of one of her younger sons Albert Wearing b1861. Specifically, I have < 1% shared DNA, 20 cM across 1 segments; unweighted shared DNA 20 cM; and longest segment 20 cM which fits with a 3rd (half) cousin once removed. Ancestry shows this below (the name of the distant cousin has been removed as they are living).

DNA Thrulines in Ancestry works out the most likely link between DNA matches by combining many family trees to estimate the relationship. This shows that I have 8 DNA Matches for Jane Wearing, and one match (name removed as its a living person) for Jane’s half brother Albert Wearing. The grey boxes with 3 and a down arrow indicates there are 3 generations between myself and Jane Wearing (not shown as includes living people). There are 2 generations between my DNA match and my 2nd great half uncle Albert Wearing.

So the DNA proves that Jane’s mother Mary Ann Middlewick is definitely the same woman who had children with Peter Wearing. She had 7 children with Peter Wearing – 2 girls and 5 boys. The eldest 4 were born in Sydney, the next one in Bega, and the last two boys were born in Milton/Ulladulla area in 1864 and 1868. So Mary Ann Wearing (nee Middlewick) was living relatively close to Jane Morris/Wilson/Wearing in Milton/Ulladulla around the time Jane married Richard Hapgood in 1865.

I dont have any matches for John Morris, or for Janes possible sister Mary Ann Morris so far, although I am still learning how to use more sophisticated tools like GEDMatch and DNA painter. Who knows what DNA might reveal?

My theory is that Jane came to Milton Ulladulla to visit or live with her Mum, Mary Ann Middlewick, and her defacto husband Peter Wearing, and this led her to meet her future husband, Richard Hapgood.

Jane and Richard had 7 children, starting in wtih Richard in 1865 and ending with Alexander in 1883, all in Ulladulla. Mary Ann Middlewick started her family with Peter Wearing in 1852, but the last 2 boys were born in Ulladulla in 1864 and 1868. This means that Jane’s new half brothers were being born at the same time as her eldest children – and her eldest son had a half uncle who was a year younger than him. These more complicated family structures were common in this era, because women had to be married to survive, and there was no birth control. It is complex to look at with modern eyes, but would have been unremarkable at the time.

Mary Ann Middlewick died on 4 July 1871 at Woods Lane, off Crown St, in Woolloomooloo, (Sydney), and Peter Wearing went on to marry Mary Ann Gilbert, and died in 1911. There is photo of Woods lane from 1947 shows a lot of worker cottages, many of which are still there today. She is buried in a non-descript grave in Rookwood cemetery.

Woods Lane, Woolomooloo, where Mary Ann Wearing nee Middlewick died in 1871. Photo taken in 1947 when it was a street notorious for prostitution and crime. The same buildings are still visible today although greatly gentrified.

Why is “Jane Wilson” sometimes used?

So, why is Jane’s maiden name listed as WILSON on the death certificates of her husband and eldest son?

Option 1: Its possible that its just an alias, or a mistake by her husband on recalling her maiden name, knowing it was not Wearing but being unable to think of what it really was. Mistakes on death certificates are quite common, and her mothers name was definitely Mary Ann, not Jane, so it might just be a simple error. I haven’t found a “Robert Wilson” who was listed as her father on her death certificate – and no birth records for Jane with a father of Robert Wilson have turned up so far.

Option 2: It could be that Jane’s real father was a convict, or an ex-convict, or son of convict, and given the social stigma of the time she hid this connection for most of her life and used a fake name “Robert Wilson”. Given that her Mum and stepfather Peter Wearing ended up in Ulladulla, which was a small town, it seems significant that Wearing was not the name provided – it would seem there is some sort of real connection to the Wilson surname.

Option 3: Perhaps Jane was married twice and her 1st husbands surname was Wilson? There is a marriage certificate for a Jane Morris to a James Wilson, in Newcastle, on 5th May 1856. This would make Jane very young to be married – only 13 (if she was born in 1843). If this is Jane, the marriage certificate is in a Roman Catholic church (rather than Church of England) and the details provided are very brief – no note if she is of age to be married, where she was born, parents name etc. It does say that they both live at Newcastle. Even the age column is blank. This seems unusually poor record keeping! Or else there was something about this marriage that warranted discretion, perhaps something like a very young 13 year old bride?

So, what happened to Jane Morris and James Wilson? There does not seem to be any children from the marriage and no divorce papers, and James Wilson is a fairly common name which makes it difficult to be sure. There is a death certificate for a James Wilson, a 36 year old seaman who drowned in the Hunter River in Newcastle on 28 Dec 1859. Is this the right James Wilson? Its the only death with the right name in Newcastle, but there are several other James Wilsons in NSW who died within in Dec 1859 or a few years later. Similarly, Jane Morris is also a fairly common name. Its a working theory…

Option 4: Jane Morris had two stepfathers – Peter Wilson and then Peter Wearing.

Barry Cannon’s book also provides an alternate theory for the Wilson surname – that Jane had a stepfather Wilson, and a half brother Alexander Wilson, before her mother met her other stepfather.

Mary-Ann lived in the Lithgow area and had another child to a man whose surname was Wilson. The second child was named Alexander. Mary Ann headed to the Bathurst area with Jane and Alexander and had more children with Peter Wearing. She lived in Lithgow, Bathurst, Sydney and Ulladulla.

“Our Jacksons: descendants of Sarah (nee Horne) and Nelson Savage Jackson” by Barry Cannon

So far I havent found any NSW birth records for Alexander Wilson, born in NSW from 1840-1870, but will look and try to see what else turns up! Maybe Peter Wearing used an alias of Robert Wilson?

Whatever the real story is behind the lives for Jane Morris? Wilson? Wearing Hapgood and her mum Mary Ann Middlewick Morris? Clarke? Wearing and her partners, they certainly had a complex family web which is a bit of a challenge to work out over 150 years later! However, the 2 photos we have of Jane show her as looking like a happy and kindly lady, and I hope this accurately reflects her life.

I will update this post if more information comes to light. If you have more information, comment below or email me at karenhapgood [at} gmail [dot) com


  1. Fabulous read Karen. Amazing research & detective work. I will send this to mum. I think she will be quite interested in what you have uncovered.CheersSueSent from my Galaxy


    • Glad you enjoyed it Sue. Lots of certificates required to make progress. It’s been cathartic to finally write it all out and make sure it makes sense. I am really keen to go visit The Rocks in Sydney now!!


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