Born in Fowey into a fishing family called Broad, Mary left home to seek work in Plymouth and became involved with petty thievery. Charged with highway robbery of a silk bonnet, jewellery and a few coins, she was sentenced in 1787 to be sent as a prisoner with the First Fleet to Australia. With her husband, children and seven others she became one of the first successful escapees from the fledgling Australian penal colony. They made an epic voyage of 3254 miles (5237 km) in 69 days across the Great Barrier Reef to Timor. Here they were recaptured and during the return voyage to England her husband and two children died. Once in England her case attracted wide attention and James Boswell was instrumental in obtaining a pardon for her. She is believed to have returned to Fowey but nothing further is known of her after 1794.
Research Helen Luther
Sources: Judith Cook, To Brave Every Danger, (Macmillan, 1993); C. H. Currey ‘Bryant, Mary (1765–1794)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP, 1966)