Marriage: Love and Law exhibition catalogue - Page 43

While Governor Darling had overseen a formal system of marriage portions
land grants from 1828 to 1831, the practice did occur earlier on a less
systematic basis. The story of Maria Lock is a case in point.
Maria ‘Cook’, daughter of Yarramundi, ‘Chief of the Richmond Tribes’, married
convict carpenter, Robert Lock, at St John’s, Parramatta, on 26 January 1824.
The marriage was the first officially sanctioned union between a convict and
an Aboriginal woman, and, unusually, Robert was assigned in service to his
wife. At the time of her marriage, Maria was promised a small grant of land,
and a cow as a marriage portion. Maria received the cow as promised,
but not the land.

32 Maria Lock
Petition to Governor
Darling, regarding her
marriage portion, Liverpool,
3 March 1831
NSW State Archives,
NRS 907 [2/7908] 31/1853
In March 1831—now living at Liverpool with her husband, two children and
seven cows—Maria petitioned Governor Darling that she be given the land
first promised to her in 1824 (32). She also sought the land granted
to her brother, Colebee, now deceased. Maria eventually received 40 acres
in ‘the County of Cumberland, Parish of Saint Luke … in pursuance of a promise
made to her by General Darling’ in 1833. In 1843, she was granted Colebee’s
12 hectares at ‘Black Town’.
Despite resistance by authorities to honour the promises made to her,
Maria eventually became the first Aboriginal woman granted land under
colonial rule.


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