Mary Fanny Greey was born on 8 February 1842 at 55 Great Prescott Street, Whitechapel, Middlesex, where her father, James Greey, was a bank clerk. Her mother, Mary, nee Walker died in 1847, the same year as their daughter Ellen, born in 1846. When the Census of 30 March 1851 was taken, Mary Fanny Greey, age nine, was living with her maternal uncle with his family on a 200 acre farm at Scooks, Ospringe, Kent.
Ten years later, on the 1861 census, Mary age 19, was listed at residential language school in Wycombe Street, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. (perhaps training to be a teacher?)
On 16 March 1869, Mary married George Beech in Branston, Lincolnshire. He was the son of John and Eliza Beech and was born in Middle Rasen 1843 and baptized on 16 July 1843, at All Saints, Branston, Lincolnshire. In 1851, at eight years old, George was living with his maternal grandparents, Jonathon and Eliza Sharp.
When he was 18, George was listed on the 1861 census as living at Prospect House Blyborough, where he was working as a Groom. When George married Mary Fanny, also at All Saints, Branston, one of the witnesses was a Susannah Bilton who was to become the sister in law of George, as she would marry his brother Thomas the following December in the same church.
Susannah is dressed in 'widows weeds' as her husband Thomas, George's brother, had been killed in an accident in 1869, leaving Susannah with seven children.
On 5 December 1869, Mary and George’s daughter, Laura Mary Eliza, was born at Wispington Horncastle, Lincolnshire, where George was working as a Groom. During 1871 Mary and George, and their young daughter Laura, were living at Ings Lane Hibaldstow, where George was now employed as a Coachman/Groom.
They eventually decided to migrate to South Australia and on 11 October 1877, boarded ship at Plymouth, with their daughter Laura and George’s sister, Frances Alberta Beech, born in 1860 and now a domestic servant. They all arrived at Port Adelaide on 1 January 1878. Their ship, the brand-new, three-masted barque Scottish Lassie, completed in July 1877, carried more than 200 migrants, including 37 agricultural workers.
Scottish Lassie 1877.
According to the Advertiser of 2 January 1878, the Scottish Lassie was ‘a model vessel for the transport of emigrants, and it would be extremely difficult to find a fault with her save the bunks in the single men's compartment. There is a good height between decks, and being of iron, with cemented causeways, there are no corners hidden.
Dr. Diver, the Surgeon-Superintendent, is one of the physicians of the Infirmary for Consumption in London, but being recommended to take a sea voyage obtained the appointment to the Scottish Lassie, and the condition of the people is a sufficient guarantee of his capabilities. During the passage there has been no outbreak of any kind of disorder, and but one death occurred, that of a little girl named Emily Sparrow, who fell a victim to diarrhea.
Three births, however, increased the number on board. The after end of the ship is devoted to single females, of whom there are 80, under the care of Mrs. Deere, who has had previous experience, having been matron before in vessels to Canada and Brisbane. She speaks most favourably of the conduct of the girls, and her favourable opinion of them is endorsed by the doctor and master.
The married people's division is fitted with Robinson's patent enclosed berths, and a large space amidships is thus available for ventilation and recreation. The single men appear to be a fine healthy lot of fellows, and the doctor speaks highly of their ready obedience to orders. The utmost good feeling appears to have characterized the whole of the voyage.
Christmas was made very merry by the liberality of the master and doctor, who by their gifts of rations, wine, and tobacco, made everyone happy. The examination of the scholars was observed in due form, and those most apt were presented with prizes by the master's wife’.
The Scottish Lassie was to be towed into the harbour on Wednesday morning, but no tug being available she had to remain outside until Thursday morning. Among the 200 immigrants, who were to make South Australia their new home were George Beech, agricultural labourer, his wife Mary Fanny, their daughter Laura and George’s sister Frances Alberta, who would marry in 1880.
Frances Alberta married John Alfred Theodore Thompson in 1880. They were to have three children John Alfred Theodore jnr, George Edgar Arthur and Daisy Madeline. George Edgar Arthur and Daisy Madeline died in infancy. After their death, both Frances and George and their son John Alfred Theodore seem to disappear from the records.
Little is known about what the new arrivals did or where they lived, but in 1884 George Beech became the Postmaster at Hornsdale. What is known is that a G. Beech made a train trip to Melbourne on 20 April 1888 and another one, as a first class passenger on 14 October 1889. On 8 November, George was appointed Ranger at nearby Caltowie. He stayed at Hornsdale until 1895.
During these years, George supplemented his income by working as a Farmer, Ranger and Registrar of dogs. His wife Mary Fanny gained the appointment of Head Teacher at the local school. She remained until October 1893 when she was appointed to the Wistow school, being paid a salary of £100 a year.
Mary seemed to have been a dedicated teacher and was much involved with the local community, wherever she was appointed. ‘A concert was given by the children attending the Wistow Public school. There was a good gathering, over which Mr. Champion presided. The children acquitted themselves admirably, and great credit is due to Mrs. Beech, their teacher, for the manner in which they rendered their pieces’.
At the same time though, school inspectors did not always rate her performance highly. A possible reason for this could have been the fact that she was a married woman. Normally women had to resign when they married.
In January 1896 Mary was appointed to the Tantanoola school where she taught until April 1905. By then she was paid £124 a year.
A year later the Border Watch of 3 March 1897, reported that a concert was given in the Public Hall last Friday evening by the children attending our public school assisted by friends. The hall was crowded. The program submitted once again included contributions by Mary and her students.
Votes of thanks to Mrs. Gust, Mrs. Beech and her daughter Laurafor their trouble in training the children, and to the Chairman for presiding were passed, and the singing of the National Anthem terminated a very successful concert.
At the end of that year, on 29 December 1897, Laura Mary Eliza married Ernest August Gust, born 26 May 1873 at her parents’ house in Tantanoola. Ernest August parents were Christian Gust, born 1841 and Emma Wyatt.