Marianne Fisher

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About Marianne Fisher

Miss Marianne Fisher

A PIONEER OF 1836. Sole Survivor of the Buffalo.

Miss Marianne Fisher At Home.

A dignified gentlewoman, possessing a complexion that many girls might envy, and mentally as alert as ever. Such is Miss Marianne Fisher, who. in 1836, was carried ashore, as a child, from the Buffalo. The ship also brought lo South Australia her father, Sir James Hurtle Fisher, and Governor Hindmarsh. The former was the first Commissioner of South Australia; and, incidentally, first Mayor of the City of Adelaide. He was also first President of the Legislative Council, in 1857. Born on February 5, 1827, in England, Miss Fisher will he 97 next year. But no casual observer would credit her with such an abundance of years, for she, obviously, enjoys life, has a keen sense of humour, and is a brilliant and witty conversationalist. No longer able to get about actively, this splendid type of nonagenarian loves a motor ride, and she spent Christmas Day with Mrs. H. L. Ayers, at Dimara, East terrace. Tce, a representative of The Register, whom none Help

Miss Fisher courteously entertained yesterday at Glenelg, she confessed to having thoroughly appreciated the festivities at Dimora. She agreed, also, that upon return home to enjoy a sandwich and a glass of ale for supper, was, in itself, a certificate of good health.

A Unique Painting.

Miss Fisher, who, in many ways, reminded the interviewer of the late Miss C. H. Spence, chatted of old times and of the policy they always practised of making the best of everything. "When we arrived at Holdfast Bay," she remarked, "we went on shore daily, but we had to return to the boat each night, as there was no accommodation on land."Miss Fisher added that she remembered living for some years next to Mr. Morphett's corner block, on North terrace and Morphett street. She has, also, a faint recollection of the foundation ceremony of Trinity Church, at which her father was one of the participants. Over chatting of family life, Miss Fisher spoke of her sister, who married Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Morphett, in 1838, and of their moving to Cummins, which was built in 1810 to the plans of Mr. (later Sir) George S. Kingston. Speaking of old Portraits, Miss Fisher said there was a notable group painted in 1828 by the renowned artist Say, who also painted the portraits of Mrs. Gladstone and her sister. The Fisher group is still hanging in the historic old home at Cummins, and Marianne is the baby among the six children who individually represent: Elizabeth, born 1815 (Lady Morphett) James, 1816, the oldest Etonian when he died; C. B. Fisher, 1817, the well-known pastoralist and studmaster; Fanny, 1823, married Mr. J. V. James; and George, 1825, drowned in the wreck of the Admella. There were no letter duplicators or contrivances to speed correspondence when Government House was first set up, so Elizabeth (Lady Morphett) was amanuensis for Sir John Hindmarsh in the early days. She afterwards married John Morphett (who came out in the Cygnet with Sir George Kingston in 1838) on August 15, 1838. Another notable painting at Cummins is that of Mrs. Johnson— mother of Elizabeth Johnson, wife of Sir James Hurtle Fisher—who married Capt. Gardiner at Cummins. Mrs. Johnson was described as a beautiful and aristocratic woman, to whom the painter had done full justice. Mrs. H. L. Ayers, of Dimora, was the first child born at Cummins (Morphettville).

Lifting the Veil of the Past

The interviewer asked—"What are out standing memories in so long and active a life?"

"One hardly knows where to begin,"

replied the old lady. "My mind goes back to a happy girlhood, when we gave dances at Cummins, and people used to ride and drive for miles to attend them. The guests camped iit picnic fashion on sofas, and on the floor too. We enjoyed those evenings so much, I think, because, unlike so many young people of to-day, we were never satiated with pleasure. I remember,"' continued Miss Fisher, a gleam of amusement creeping into her bright eyes, "meeting Mr. George Hance when I was keeping house for father in North terrace, after mother's death. He was wearing a long-tailed coat. Father had one too—and they were the only ones in Adelaide, so, as a consequence, I used to associate those coats with the legal profession.

"Have you resided in Adelaide ever since your arrival?"

"Oh, no," came the quick response.

"Why, I made a voyage to England when I was 80, and, on the return trip, I went to reside with my sister. Mrs. Palmer, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Friends warned me about the roughness of the journey, but I enjoyed it. In 1918, on my sister's death, I returned to South Australia.

"Presumably you are a horse lover?"

"All our family love a good horse. I used to enjoy a race meeting as much as anything. That recalls a jolly incident. My brother, C. B. Fisher, rode Highflyer and won the Coppin Cup, after three three-mile heats, and we were greatly excited. But the great festival was that of the winning of the Melbourne Cup by Hurtle Fisher's Lantern. The crowd cheered, and, rushing up to him, seized him and carried him shoulder high. His tall hat was begged for souvenirs. Pieces were cut from it and distributed. One of the framed mementoes still adorns the S.A.J.C. rooms. Gordon, the poet, immortalized the race in verse. I was reading it the other day."

The Two First Horses.

The conversation drifted to many subjects, and mention was wade of W. Filgate, trainer for C. B. Fisher, whose horses were worked on the private track at Maribyrnong. Abe and S. Davies and J. Morrison were his principal jockeys.

In the early part of 1837 there were two horses in South Australia, the Fisher's Polly and the Stephens's Darling. Asked if the servant trouble was a difficulty at the beginning of the State, Miss Fisher replied in the negative. She reminded us that big families were reared in smaller houses than many of those of to-day, and so there was not so much work to be done. Reference was made to the twenty first anniversary of the colony, when Miss Fisher's father planted a tree, and a crowd attended from all parts to the festivities. "It rained cats aud dogs," cheerily observed "one of those present," "but that did not interfere with the banquet. On the fiftieth anniversary we had another great celebration." Speaking of the Cummins home, built in 1840, reference was made to the big Norfolk pine planted there in 1841. The wreck of the Admella on August 14, 1859, was sadly referred to.

"Times change, they must!" So said this brisk-minded old lady. "When C. B. Fisher was at Lockleys there were 1,300 acres intact then. A. H. Pegler was working there. The property was eventually sold to Mr. Scott.

A "Young" Old Age.

Another reminiscence hinged upon the engagement of Miss Fanny Fisher to Mr. Shipster, a widower, with one son. The arrangements were completed for the ceremony, but Shipster died the night before the wedding. The son, Harry, was thereupon reared by Sir James Hurtle Fisher, and sent to England to be educated. A son is settled in the McLaren Vale district. Speaking of old records, the Noariunga sheep show of 1841, she stated, brought first prize to Mr. John Morphelt from two best Saxon rams, bred in tbe colony.

"A memory I cannot boast of having," said Miss Fisher, "is that concerned with the finding of the River Torrens, for it was discovered on November 6, 1836, before we came out. But a relative, John Morphett, was one of the discoverers, in association with Lieut. Field, R.N., and C. S. Kingston." "When old George Coppin had the Theatre"' suggested a further topic, as did also "the first railway to Glenelg" and "when cattle were duffed in the Black Forest, a veritable wildnerness"—but we felt it was unfair to longer tax even so charming a conversationalist.

Asked if she would he attending to-day's Commemoration, Miss Fisher said she paid her last official visit in 1921 to sign the roll. Now the mountain came to "Mahomet," or rather the roll book was sent for her to attach the first signature, and she preferred to keep out of the crowds. A letter and parcel on the table were addressed in a clear, firm hand. Yet

it was the caligraphy of an old lady nearing the century.

As we bade farewell to that apparently unwearied hostess, we realized that she was a worthy representative of those splendid people who "builded better than they knew." No wonder that each year Miss Fisher is the centre of congratulations from those who delight to honour this gentlewoman pioneer.

A PIONEER OF 1836. (1924, January 5). Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), p. 47. Retrieved October 19, 2016

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Marianne Fisher's Timeline

London, UK
June 18, 1927
Age 100
Adelaide, SA, Australia