Thomas Hapgood (Jnr) and a possible photo of his 1903 Salvation Army wedding to Mary Ann Pleffer

This blog is gradually working through the descendants of Thomas Hapgood b1817 and Hesther Hapgood (nee Hanney) b1818 who emigrated from Marksbury Somerset and came to Milton Ulladulla NSW in 1856 as assisted immigrants. They had 5 children:

There is very little known about Thomas Hapgood (Jnr). He was born in 1846 in Burnett, Somerset (close to Marksbury) and was baptised on 19 July 1944. He emigrated on the Lady Ann [1] when he was 8 years old, with his parents and siblings, plus his uncle George Hapgood and Aunt Hannah (nee Sims) to Sydney and grew up in Milton Ulladulla area as the family established themselves.

There appear to be no records or stories of Thomas Hapgood Jnr between arrival in Australia in 1856 aged 8, and his eventually marriage, late in life when he was 57 years old.

In 1903, in Bega New South Wales (which is still on the NSW coast, but south of Milton Ulladulla area), Thomas Hapgood Jnr married Mary Ann Sheppard PLEFFER b1853. There is a brief notice at the end of the “Here and There” column on the front page of the the Nowra Colonist 27 May 1903:

Nowra colonist. 27 Sep 1903 p1 [2]

There is a much larger description of the wedding in The Cobargo Chronicle on Fri 22 May 1903. The reporter may have been uncertain (and slightly incorrect) about the names of the happy couple, but their description of the wedding is quite intriguing, including a door charge!

Mary Ann Sheppard Pleffer was born in Bathurst NSW on 14 Dec 1853, and was 47 when she married Thomas at the School of the Arts in Bermagui. They were both members of the Salvation Army, which arrived in Bega/Bermagui area in 1890. I havent found a picture of the School of Arts in Bega so far, but there are pictures of the early leaders of the “Salvos” in Bega [3]. The bride was given away by Mark Jones (brother in law to Thomas and also a Salvation Army member). The maid of honour Dolly Jones and best man were also family connections, as they were the children of Mark Jones. The “Boothian Creed” refers to the names of the founders of the Salvation Army, William and Catherine Booth.

Can we confirm the identity of the bride and groom in this photo?

Thomas Hapgood and Mary Ann Pleffer were clearly committed “soldiers” of the Salvation Army, as were Sarah Elizabeth Hapgood (youngest Hapgood sister) and her husband Mark Jones. I will write about Sarah & Mark in a future post, but there is a link to this post. Descendants of Mark and Sarah Jones have a private Facebook group where they share photos and information. There is a photo in their family collection marked “Thomas Hapgood” shown below, which the group leader (F) asked me to share to see if anyone could positively identify it. The photo shows a Salvation Army Wedding, as they are wearing their Salvos uniform, including a bonnet, plus a distinctive white sash on the bride.

Do you recognise this couple? The photo was labelled “Thomas Hapgood” by descendants of Mark and Sarah Jones (nee Hapgood) in Bega/Bermagui. It seems probable that this is Thomas Hapgood and Mary Ann Sheppard Pleffer, at the Salvation Army wedding in July 1903. Does anyone have more information? Source: Mark and Sarah Jones descendants family collection. Shared with permission.

The descendants of Mark and Sarah Jones had assumed it was Thomas Hapgood (Snr) and his 2nd wife Mary Cashman. However, we discussed and decided that this couldnt be correct as their wedding was in 1868, which is well before the Salvation Army started in Australia in the 1880s [3]. So it seems more likely to be Thomas Hapgood Jnr and Mary Pleffer’s 1903 marriage? Circumstantial evidence to support this hypothesis include:

  • Mark and Sarah and their descendants all have a strong connection to Bega/Bermagui area, and so this photo is more likely to have been passed down via this section of the family.
  • The man in this photo looks cheerful and smiling, unlike the only known photo of Thomas Hapgood senior!
  • This mas also looks quite similar to William Hapgood – enough to be brothers.
  • The couple is older, around 40-50 or so which also fits with the ages of Thomas and Mary in 1903.
  • Photos were more common and less formal in 1903.

Its a good working hypothesis but not certain. The identities in this photo are not confirmed, so if anyone has seen this photo before, or has any other information, please get in touch to resolve this!

Thomas and Mary had no children. When he died aged 72 on 11 Sept 1918 his occupation was listed as “Gardener” and he was living in Harbour Road, Ulladulla. His headstone in the Mollymook cemetery [5] features really elegant script and the phrase “Safe in the arms of rest”, but sadly the opposite side of the headstone does not have matching engraving for his wife Mary Ann and is blank. She died in Burwood (a suburb of Sydney) in 1935 and presumably is buried up there.

Death Cert
Thomas Hapgood Headstone, Sandridge Mollymook Cemetery. Photo from Ancestry.

There were 2 notices in the paper to mark Thomas Hapgood death in 1918. The Nowra leader described him as a faithful member of the Salvation Army, and an “honorable and upright man” which is a kind legacy to leave behind.

There is also a small note of Mary Ann’s passing in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 Jul 1935 [6]:

Death notice in SMH 1935 for Mary Ann Hapgood nee Pleffer.

Do you have more tips or information about the photograph? Please either comment below or email me at karenhapgood [at} gmail . com

Sources:

[1] Hapgood family on the “Lady Ann” in 1865, from England to NSW Australia. NRS5316/4_4791/Lady Ann_29 Sep 1854/ http://indexes.records.nsw.gov.au/ebook/list.aspx?Page=NRS5316/4_4791/Lady Ann_29 Sep 1854/4_479100281.jpg&No=2

[2] HERE AND THERE. (1903, May 27). The Nowra Colonist (NSW : 1899 – 1904), p. 1. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article258166770

[3] ThrowbackThursday: Salvation Army celebrates 125 years in Bega, Bega District News, 13 Aug 2015. https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/3271014/throwbackthursday-salvation-army-celebrates-125-years-in-bega/#slide=0

[5] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/197904158/t-hapgood

[6] Family Notices (1935, July 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17193457

[7] Milton Items (1918, September 20). The Nowra Leader (NSW : 1909 – 1939), p. 2. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article213943768

[8] DISTRICT NOTES. (1918, September 18). The Shoalhaven Telegraph (NSW : 1881 – 1937), p. 4. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article127190508

2 comments

  1. Thank you so much for this Karen. I thought this wedding photo was a photo of Thomas Hapgood and Hester Hanney in their Salvation Army Uniforms.

    Like

  2. Thanks Karen,
    Didn’t realise the white sash was indicative of a wedding for Salvation Army people. The bonnet (quite trendy i its day) was part of the uniform of female Salvationists who were to cover their hair whilst i n church and in uniform.

    Like

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