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Mary McWilliam was born on the 10 April 1842 in England, a daughter of John and Rebecca McWilliam.  Her brother, two years younger, was born in Rosscommon, Ireland, then the family moved to Canada.  Later they moved to Christchurch, New Zealand.


Mary married Arthur Albert Fantham on the 24 May 1865 and they settled at Spreydon, a suburb of Christchurch, before moving to the Waikato.


In 1877 they farmed the property Gwynne Lands on the banks of the Waikato River near Cambridge, now the site of St Peter's School.


Arthur was quickly involved with the community, enjoying company and entertaining, and Mary became a busy hostess.  A race course was established on their property, near the homestead, and patrons would arrive by paddle steamer as well as by horse and gig.  The property was also used by the local hunt club, and on one occasion the Pakuranga Hunt Club from Auckland, visited for three days.  Mary would have been expected to entertain.  She was a fine looking woman, always well dressed.


In 1882, Arthur and Mary with family, moved to a 620 acre property, Egmont View near Hawera, the site of the race course.  Again Arthur became involved in the community, racing club, hunt club, agriculture and pastoral association etc.  Mary and her daughters exhibited successfully in the home industries section of the A and P shows.


Mary died on the 6 February 1919 and is buried in the Hawera cemetery.  A daughter was Fanny Bayly nee Fantham.



Arthur Fryer, Hawera