The following article appeared in the Spectator and Methodist Chronicle on Wednesday 5 September 1917.

“A Methodist Nonagenarian

Mary-Ann WrightReaders of the “Spectator” will be interested in this photograph of a nonagenarian – a Methodist – Mrs Mary Ann Wright, who was born in the County of Essex, England, in the year 1826. … She was married at Chrishall in her native county to Mr Thomas Wright, and left for Australia, arriving in Melbourne in 1849. Her first colonial home was at Brunswick, which in those far away days was a little cluster of houses hardly called a village. Her parents were nominally Anglican but after her conversion in a great revival, she became a member of the Primitive Methodist Church, and for seventy-five years she has continued her membership with the Methodist Church.”

The article goes on to describe how she moved to Euroke and established a regular service at her home before later seeing a church constructed there. She then did the same on moving to Mickleham, holding services in her home and then seeing a church built. Finally she moved to Ballarat where she saw a third church raised. The family finally settled at Pine Lodge in the Shepparton district where her husband died at the age of 88. She had 11 children and 117 grand and great-grandchildren and by the time of the article had celebrated her 91st birthday.

If Mary Ann had been a Methodist for 75 years in 1917 then her conversion would have been around 1842, just before coming to Australia. And possibly the ‘great revival’ mentioned is part of the ‘Second Awakening‘? Anyway, whatever the history there, the fact is that we don’t have mention of Thomas Wright in the Chrishall Census returns. There are Wrights in the 1841 census but no-one called Thomas. However we do have their marriage record:

1846 Sept 8th Thomas Wright and Mary Ann Unwin. He was a widower aged 31 and she was single and aged 19. They both lived in Chrishall. Fathers were James Wright and Nathan Unwin and witnesses to the wedding were John Lawn and Jemima Unwin.

The Unwins don’t appear on the census returns at all so they must have been ‘passing through’ the village and only lived there for a short time. I think it quite likely that Thomas was related to the Wrights living in the village and shown on the census returns but I have not yet found the connection.

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