Mary Duncan Turnbull and George Phillips

Our Great Great Grandparents

Mary was born on October 22, 1838 at Parramatta NSW. She was the first member of the family born in Australia. Mary moved with her parents to the Bombala district in the early 1840s.

Our family has long believed that Mary was an acquaintance of Kate Kelly, a sister of the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly. According to "A Collateral of Blantyre - A History of the Turnbull Family" by Samuel J Turnbull, one of George and Mary's daughters was the originator of a story that one of her younger brothers had been delivered at birth by Kate Kelly. The youngest sons, William and Watkin, were born in Bombala in 1878 and 1880. Kate Kelly would have been about 16 then, and her uncle John Laurence Quinn was living in the Bombala district at the time, so it is possible that there is some substance to the story.


Mary Duncan Turnbull and Mary Goodings
Mary, probably around 1860, with Mary Kerrison (nee Goodings).
See Mary Kerrison's page for an explanation.

Mary Duncan Turnbull

Mary on the verandah of her house

Mary on the verandah of the house in Bombala, before it was demolished for the railway.
The railway opened in 1921.


She married George Phillips at Grenfell NSW (near Cowra) on July 24, 1869. Many of their children had already been born by the time they were married - George c.1858, James 1861, Charles 1863, Samuel 1866, Joel c.1868.

George predeceased Mary, on January 8, 1891, also at Bombala, and is buried with two of his sons in the Presbyterian section of the Bombala Cemetery next to the Turnbull family plot (see photo of the grave stone). Mary and George had 10 children.

Joan Dwyer (nee Rogers) remembers her Auntie Bern (Bernice Phillips) telling her that Mary was a shepherdess, who taught herself to crochet using sticks while watching the flock. Her masterpiece was a huge crochet blanket shown below, which was exhibited in a shopfront window at Anthony Hordern and sons, a big department store in Sydney. Bern always said that Mary started crocheting this at the bottom, doing the whole thing backwards. Bern spent many years trying to track it down, as it disappeared after Mary died. Joan believes it was shown in the big store in George Street, which opened in 1905.

Mary Phillips nee Turnbull with crochet Lord's Prayer
Mary is shown above with her crochet of The Lord's Prayer.
Probably after 1905 (when the big new Anthony Hordern store
opened in George Street Sydney).

Mary died at Bombala on February 4, 1916 and is buried in grave 443, the Church of England section of the Bombala cemetery. Her obituary from the Bombala Times, 4 February 1916:


After a long and painful illness, Mrs. G. Phillips, senior, died this morning at her residence, Maharatta Street, Bombala. The trouble was an internal growth, and until this illness, Mrs. Phillips had been a remarkably healthy and vigorous woman. She was known far and wide for her kindness and good nature, and her help in times of sickness was frequently sought and readily given. “Granny” will be missed and regretted by many in this town and district. She was a rough-diamond of the old school with a generous nature that led her always to the front when a kindly womanly hand was needed. Born at Parramatta, she was 78 years of age at death. She came to Bukalong as a girl with her parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. S. Turnbull. After her marriage with Mr. George Phillips she spent some years with her husband on various gold-fields, including Kiandra. In 1874 she returned to Bombala and settled here for the remainder of her days. The family consists of three daughters – Mrs. W. Beileiter, Mrs. H. Littleproud and Mrs. Rochester; and three sons – Messrs. George, Charles, and William. The funeral will take place to-morrow afternoon.

Mary Duncan Turnbull

Mary. Source: Monaro Pioneers web site

Children of Mary and George

From here on the links go to the Phillips section of the web site.

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