Society Wedding for Bligh's daughter

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Excitement was high in the colony with the news that young widow Mary Putland, daughter of William Bligh, would marry Lieutenant-Governor Maurice O'Connell in May. Mary had returned to Sydney from Hobart with her father in January. Bligh had sailed to Hobart following his removal from office of Governor of the colony of New South Wales by Major George Johnston in January 26, 1808.

Elizabeth Macquarie helped Mary Putland in planning her wedding since they were both living in Government House.

The wedding was held on May 8, 1810 at Government House with Lachlan Macquarie giving 2500 acres to the couple as a wedding present. Maurice O'Connell named this property Riverston after his birthplace in County Kerry, Ireland. In 1864 the railway line linking Parramatta to Richmond and crossing the original grant opened with the station named Riverstone.

The O'Connells moved to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1814 with the 73rd Regiment, living there until 1821. Regimental duty continued in England and Ireland for the next 9 years where Maurice was promoted to major-general and made Lieutenant-Governor of Malta. He was knighted in 1835 and served as military attaché to court of King of the Belgians before returning to Sydney in 1838. Sir Maurice O'Connell was placed in command of all military forces in Australia and ex-officio senior member of Executive Council of NSW. In 1846 he became acting Governor between the terms of office of Gipps and FitzRoy. He died at Potts Point in 1848, survived by his wife Lady Mary, four sons and one daughter.

Trevor Patrick is a local historian of the north-west of Sydney, Australia. His latest book, In Search of the Pennant Hills, recounts some of these stories (and others) in more detail.