May Spencer's 1887 Diary

In 1887 Mary Emily May Spencer, eldest daughter of Thomas Jnr and Rebecca Hooper decided to write a diary. May was 15 when she started the diary and kept up her writing throughout the year.

Recently Maureen Seve obtained the original from a relative and it has been photographed. Fortunately May's writing is relatively easy to read (especially when compared to her mother whose handwriting requires a cryptanlists skill to decipher!).

May talks about many things through the year, school, friends, family, (especially the step mother she obviously does not get on with) and repeatedly about not doing enough music practice. All in all it is surprisingly modern in the issues, even if the language lets you know its late 19th century.

The entry for 5th November with the reference to Mary and Absalom's 40th birthday.

There is a surprising amount of interesting family history in the pages too. 

  • Thomas and family leave Rouchel Vale for good on 22nd June 1887 and move into Muswellbrook.
  • William leaves Rouchel for good in November 1887.
  • After they move into the house in Muswellbrook, May describes here grandparents house as up the hill. (Maybe the spencer house in Hill Street.)
  • Grace McGregor and William Spencer are an item 3 years before they marry.
  • Rebecca Hayne (nee Spencer - Aunt Beckie) has a daughter in 1887 we did not know about.
  • Mary and Absalom's birthday is 5th November.
  • William Spencer and George Hayne share a birthday on 8th November.
  • There is a reference to Grandpa Thomas' poor state of health.
  • Thomas Jnr. travels to Sydney in late November to try to sort some important business issue out. May descibes it as their last chance. She also adds that if the problem is not resolved "Perhaps it will teach them a lesson." 

Hopefully there is more information like Grandma or Grandpas birthday.

What I am hoping is that family members will take a month and transcribe it into a word document. So far Maureen Seve has taken May, Sandy Gibbney has taken June and I have taken January. If you want to transcribe a month the files are available in a Dropbox Folder so they can be easily downloaded. They are too big to put all the images on the website.

If you are happy to take on a month please send a message via the contact page.