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Monday's Mystery: The fate of Marie Rose Donnelly nee Thomson

My son Matthew has recently come over to the dark side and is currently studying for his Diploma of Family History, which of course has made me very happy! While researching for a recent assignment he uncovered new information on my Grandfathers first wife Marie Rose Thomson who was known as Rose or Rosie to her loved ones. I have previously posted mentioning her hereherehere and here.

Matt wanted to find out what happened to Rose after her marriage to his Great Grandfather Mervyn James Donnelly and he has allowed me to share some of his findings.  He found that the information that I had been given on Rose's fate by her extended family members some years ago was incorrect.  I had been told she died in the 1940's, but her parents death certificates and Family Notices in the newspapers do not reflect this as being fact.  In fact she is not listed on either parents death certificate as being deceased prior to their deaths and they died in the late 1950's and early 1960's!  

 Marie Rose Thomson

Marie Rose Thomson was born on the 29th June 1906 in Sydney, the daughter of Thomas Thomson and his wife Ethel Mary nee Smith. They had married on the 26th February 1905 in Bega, New South Wales. In 1922 she was designated an uncontrollable child and was court ordered to be admitted to the Parramatta Training school with the file stating her parents were of good character and her home was good. She stayed at the Parramatta Training School from the 15th of June 1922 until 5 February 1924, when she was released to her mother at Surry Hills.  Later reports however claimed that she was not living a 'decent life'. 

NSW BDM Birth Index 


Source: NSW BDM Birth Indexes.  Retrieved from

NSW BDM Marriage Index





Source: NSW BDM Birth Indexes.  Retrieved from

New South Wales, Australia, Industrial School Registers, 1867-1925

Name: Marie Rose Thomson


Birth Date: 29 Jun 1906

Father: Thomas Thomson

Mother: Mary Thomson

Admission or Discharge Date:15 Jun 1922

Location: Parramatta

School: Biloela or Parramatta Training School

Record Type: Court Ordered Admissions, 1867-1923

Source: Ancestry. Record for Marie Rose Thomson. New South Wales, Australia, Industrial School Registers, 1867-1925.  Retrieved from

New South Wales, Australia, Industrial School Registers, 1867-1925

Name: Marie Rose Thomson

Age: 16

Birth Date: 1906

Admission or Discharge Date:15 Jun 1922

Residence Date: 1922

Location: Parramatta

School: Parramatta Training School

Record Type: Admissions and Discharges, 1887-1925

Source: Ancestry. Record for Marie Rose Thomson. New South Wales, Australia, Industrial School Registers, 1867-1925.  Retrieved from

On the 12th of November 1926 Rose married my grandfather Mervyn Donnelly at St. Peters' Roman Catholic Church in Sydney, with the consent of her father.  The marriage fell apart fairly quickly and Rose left Mervyn within months.  Unable to find her, he somehow ended up living in Newcastle and on the 24th of November 1928 he bigamously married my grandmother Cluna Irene O'Connor at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Newcastle.  In 1932 with my grandmother still none the wiser, Marie Rose had a maintenance order served on Mervyn and he began to secretly support her again.  This continued until 1937 when Mervyn got sick and could no longer support Rose and his family with Cluna.  

His bigamous actions finally became public in 1938 when my very shocked grandmother received a surprise knock at the door with a maintenance payment demand.  Devastated she made Mervyn turn himself in to the police and a very public trial ensued.  Mervyn pleaded guilty and was ordered by the Judge into a twenty pound recognisance to be of good behaviour for a period of two years, with no sentence to be passed if he entered into said recognisance. After this as far as we know Marie Rose disappeared from my grandparents lives.  Family rumours are that there ultimately was an annulment rather than a divorce but we do not have verified records of either happening. Our knowledge of Rose after this point has been very limited. As I said I was told by some of her extended family members that she became ill and was hospitalised before dying in the mid to late 1940's, although no death certificate has been located for her.  

Source: Marriage certificate for Mervyn Donnelly and Marie Thomson.  NSW BDM Marriage Index No. 1926/014469

When Matt was researching his assignment he decided to see if the second marriage that some online family trees connected to Rose was in fact correct.  Ultimately the marriage registration transcription for it proved that it was not Marie Rose at all and so this is yet another remarriage that we can rule out for her.  Which is good because it would of meant she was involved in a bigamous marriage while married to Mervyn as well!

NSW BDM Marriage Index 



Source: NSW BDM Marriage Indexes.  Retrieved from

Source: Marriage registration transcription for Arthur Eddy, known also as Lacey and Rose Donnelly NSW BDM Marriage Index No. 1937/16877/  Retrieved from

NSW BDM Birth Index 



Source: NSW BDM Birth Indexes.  Retrieved from

Rose's father Thomas Thomson died on the 13 July 1957 at the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord in Sydney and was buried at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery.  Matt was surprised when he received the Death Registration transcription for Thomas Thomson as it states that he had no deceased children and that his daughter Rosemary was 51 years old.  Meaning Rose or Rosemary was alive at the time of his death in 1957.  

Source: Death registration transcription for Thomas Thomson, NSW BDM Death Index No. 1957/16350.  Retrieved from

When Matt checked the death and funeral notices for Thomas Thomson in the Sydney Morning Herald Archives he found the following:

Death Notice

THOMSON, Thomas .- July 13, 1957, at Concord Repatriation Hospital, beloved husband of Mary Thomson, loved father of Rose, Frances, James, Veronica, Jean and John, aged 81 years. R.I.P. For Funeral notice see Tuesday's 'Herald'

Source: Death Notice for Thomas Thomson. Sydney Morning Herald Archives, Monday, July 15, 1957. Retrieved from State Library of NSW

Funeral Notice

THOMSON.- Requiem mass for the repose of the soul of the late THOMAS THOMSON will be celebrated at St. Vincent's Church, Redfern Street, Redfern, This Day at 7 a.m. The Funeral will leave the church after prayers commencing at 9 a.m. for the Rookwood Cemetery.  WALTER CARTER ?, Waverley.

THOMSON.- Members of the T.P.I. Association are invited to attend the Funeral of THOMAS THOMSON.  See above notice. F. SHARPE ?

Source: Funeral Notice for Thomas Thomson.  Sydney Morning Herald Archive, Tuesday, July 16, 1957.  Retrieved from State Library of NSW

The reference to the T.P.I. Association interested me as my husband is a military veteran in receipt of a T.P.I. pension and has been for many years now,  More information on Thomas Thomson and his military service during World War One for Australia can be found here.

NSW BDM Death Index



Source: NSW BDM Death Indexes Retrieved from

Rose's mother Mary Ethel Thomson, sometimes referred to as Ethel Mary died on the 26th of June 1962 at the Repatriation General Hospital Concord in Sydney.  Matt found out that Rose is not listed as being deceased on her Death Registration transcription either.  Which means that she was still alive in 1962, which is long after the 1940s death timeframe I had previously been told.

Source: Death registration transcription for Mary Ethel Thomson, NSW BDM Death Index No. 1962/24623.  Retrieved from

The Sydney Morning Herald Archives provided Matt with the following information on Mary Ethel Thomson's Death and Funeral notices:

Death Notice

THOMSON, Mary Ethel.- June 26, 1962, of 6 Durham Street, Dulwich  Hill, dearly loved wife of the late Thomas Thomson loved mother of Rose, Frances, James, Veronica, Jean and John, aged 81 years. Requiescat in pace. For Funeral Notice see Thursday's 'Herald'. 

Source: Death Notice for Mary Ethel Thomson.  Sydney Morning Herald Archives, Wednesday, June 27, 1962. Retrieved from State Library of NSW

Funeral Notice

THOMSON.- The Relatives and Friends of the late MRS MARY ETHEL THOMSON, of Dulwich Hill, are kindly invited to attend her funeral: to leave St. Brigid's Church, Marrickville, This Afternoon, after prayers commencing at 1.15 o'clock, for the Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood. Requiem mass will be celebrated at 9 o'clock.  


24 Enmore Street, Newtown

Phone LA2777 (4 LINES)

Source: Funeral Notice for Mary Ethel Thomson. Sydney Morning Herald Archives, Thursday, June 28, 1962. Retrieved from State Library of NSW

I am very proud of Matthew's efforts to find out the fate of Marie Rose and while we still have not found out what happened to her, we are certainly closer to that outcome than we were before!


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