Margaret (Maggie) Larritt nee Ferguson was born 2nd March 1835 to Scottish parents in Ireland and baptised (25th October 1835) in the Presbyterian Church in Dublin.
I'm not sure when Maggie arrived in Australia and I wonder if she was brought out to Australia as a prospective bride for Richard (see notes below). Or was she a companion to her Aunt (also Margaret) who was wife to pastoralist Donald Campbell of Bullock Creek? Both Richard and Maggie had fathers who were Army Officers so perhaps there was a family connection? There is so much that is unknown. Maggie's Aunt Margaret had young children at the time of Maggie and Richard's wedding so perhaps Maggie was helping with the children?
She married Richard Larritt, Surveyor of Bendigo at her Aunt's and Uncle's (Donald and Margaret Campbell) home at Bullock Creek, listed as Marong in April 1858.
Dudley House was built in 1858-9 and known as the Surveyor's Office and residence. It is now known as Dudley House and is used as an exhibition and function space with upstairs offices for Bendigo Shire Council Arts workers.
Dudley House was an early marital home for Richard and Maggie, and I believe they may have stayed in nearby rental accommodation while the building was finished. Their first child (a daughter) was almost definitely born there (June 1859) with the birth notice (put in twice two weeks apart?) listing View St as the location.
Maggie and Richard kept a goat, bought sherry, ale and had staff. (From Richard's diary)
Richard rented and then bought a sewing machine after they went to Melbourne (late 1860) which suggests she didn't have one prior. (Also from Richard's diary)
For the upcoming exhibition 'Mrs Larritt in Upsidedown Country' I have focussed on the early married time of Maggie's life while they were living at Dudley House.
Richard Larritt died in January 1869 leaving Maggie with five children aged 13 months to 9 years and little or no income.
Maggie went on to become the Post Mistress at Footscray Post Office from 1875 - 91 and then at Oakleigh from 1891 to 1898.
Maggie and Richard's eldest daughter matriculated from Melbourne University around the same time as Maggie was working at Footscray. It is heartening to realise Maggie supported her daughter to be educated to that level in an era when less women studied to matriculation.
Maggie died in 1908 and is buried in the Unitarian section of Kew Cemetery, Melbourne and her descendants still live nearby.
Last week was Reconciliation Week and I was lucky enough to hear about a fabulous fund raising dinner hosted by Nalderun, a local Indigenous support services organisation. Nalderun is a Dja Dja Wurrung word meaning 'altogether'.
Along with about thirty others I ate some very special indigenous foods including some of the plants I have been drawing for 'Mrs Larritt in Upsidedown Country'. It was a truly special evening thanks to the efforts of many. We were also treated to an auction of fabulous work made by local indigenous artists.
To spend my day drawing a bunya nut casing, then to eat a soup with bunya nut (and macadamia and berlotti beans) was simply fabulous. Other special flavours included Kangaroo, Emu, Murnong, Vanilla lilly tubers, Bulbine lilly, Quandong, native tomato, native fruits and more.
We are so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about indigenous culture through food, and honour the sacred culture that has existed here on Dja Dja Wurrung Country for thousands of years.
Images, bunya nut reference and (below) detail of drawing with Ultra Marine Blue pencil and watercolour on Arches Satine.
Visual artist, drawing advocate, and mother of two red headed teenage boys.