The following is from the memoirs of Constable Brennan later Senior Superintendent Brennan. In this extract his recalls Broulee in the 1860’s.
'The only occupants of the township in the sixties were a white woman named Molly Marshall, or Broulee Molly, two half-caste women and a male aboriginal, all of whom resided in a large weatherboard cottage. Molly reared fowls, owned a few cows, running on Captain Waldron’s swamp close by, and made butter, which was considered of excellent quality. She was an old woman who suffered much in the early days, was sent out for a trifling offence, and treated badly while serving her time. "I obtained" she said "my liberty at Newcastle, went direct to Port Stephens, and joined a tribe of blacks. I have been over 20 years with those good people, travelled with them many miles on the North and South Coast, and I could not leave them, as they were better to me than the white people. They looked after me when sick, and called me mother. I have reared those that I’ve with me, and look upon them as my children, and they are good children to me."'
Broulee Molly was Mary Ann Hurst. At age 19 Molly had been sentenced to seven years, and arrived on the “Diana” 1833, and married Robert Marshall in 1836 in Maitland at age 22. Robert signed his name, but Molly made 'her mark'. By the 2nd May 1837 she is reported as absconding. She was apprehended and returned to her husband in July. However February 22nd 1838 she was off again, then again in September 1839. Her description was published in the Government Gazette. We learn she was a dairymaid who did all work, was 5’6”, fair ruddy freckled, sandy hair, grey eyes, stout made with hands very large.
In 1840 her husband placed the following advertisement in the Sydney Gazette of the 12th May.
'The public are hereby cautioned against giving trust or credit to my wife Mary Anne Marshall (formerly Mary Ann Hurst) per ship “Diana” sentenced 7 years, she having left her home without any just cause or provocation. Any person found harbouring the said Mary Anne Marshall after this notice will be prosecuted to the utmost rigour of the Law. Robert Marshall Sydney 11 May 1840.'
Molly finally obtained her Certificate of Freedom in 1841 and presumably left her husband then to join the aboriginal community.
Molly forgot to mention to Constable Brennan that she was sentenced to 3 months' hard labour for keeping a disorderly house. After her release she disappears from the record books, but thanks to Constable Brennan we do know that she came to Broulee to become 'Broulee Molly'.
Our thanks go to Wendy Simes of the Moruya and District Historical Society for this story.