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Lady Mary Ann Jennings (1847–1889)

from Freeman's Journal

It is no mere figure of speech to say that the public heart was deeply and tenderly touched by the melancholy announcement of the death of Lady Jennings, which so unexpectedly made its appearance in the obituary columns of the morning papers on Saturday last. For many years Sir Patrick Jennings and his good-hearted and gentle mannered wife have been held in high regard, as much for their many endearing personal qualities as for their innumerable acts of public-spirited generosity, and their constant and widely-diffused charity and benevolence, and nothing could possibly have demonstrated more strikingly the affectionate admiration entertained towards the meek and gracious lady herself, and the depth and sincerity of the sympathy felt for Sir Patrick in his affliction, than the general expression of sorrow with which the sad news was received among all classes of the community. It is in her private capacity as the kind hostess of the hospitable mansion at Double Bay and as the cordial and humble helper in the hundred and one charitable and philanthropic undertakings with which she was connected that Lady Jennings' loss will be most felt. It was never her wish or her aim to shine in society — her instincts were too motherly and domestic, and her disposition too modest and retiring to make the splendours of the reception-hall or the glitter of the ball-room, the chief attractions of life. True it is that the good lady now at rest for ever was associated with her husband in many memorable and brilliant scenes, but we venture to think we are justly estimating her character when we say that her happiest hours were those spent, not in the excitements of public pleasure, but in the calm contentment of the performance of good works of mercy and of charity. Lady Jennings was an earnest worker in almost every Catholic ladies' committee in the metropolis during the last fifteen years or more. All the Sisterhoods found in her a good friend, and especially the poor Sisters of St. Joseph, the Poor Clares, and the Sisters of Charity. Up to the time of her death she remained one of the treasurers of the Catholic Ladies' Association of Charity, established by the Cardinal-Archbishop at St. Mary's. On many occasions Lady Jennings furnished and conducted stalls at bazaars in aid of the charities connected with the city and suburban convents. The poor have lost a true friend in Lady Jennings, who, indeed, ever had—

'A tear for pity and a hand open is the day for melting charity.'

To speak of the lamented lady as a Catholic is to speak of one who was 'faithful in all things,' of one the chief grace of whose blameless and beautiful life was her Catholicity in thought, word, and deed. Her ladyship was the eldest daughter of the late Mr. Shanahan, of Narnoon, in Victoria, one of the pioneer squatters of the Wimmera district, where he took up a station property at the time of the opening up of that part of the country to pastoral enterprise. Lady Jennings was born at Geelong in 1847, and she would next month have completed her 42nd year. A sister of Lady Jennings, who, it will be remembered, was married in Sydney to Mr. Reginald Vaughan, brother of the late Archbishop Vaughan, now resides in England. Lady Jennings paid several visits to Europe with her husband. On the occasion of their visit to Dublin in 1876, the family were visited by the late Cardinal Cullen, and received from him much kindness and attention. He presented Lady Jennings at that time with a beautiful silver medal which was struck by the late Pope Pius IX at the time that he decreed that the Universal Church all over the world should be placed specially under the patronage of St. Joseph. This medal was specially cherished by the deceased lady.

Some little time after Lady Jennings' return from her recent visit to the old country she showed symptoms of failing health. On the recommendation of her medical adviser she went to Westbrook, on the Darling Downs, in April last, on a visit to her sister, Mrs. Davidson, accompanied by some members of her family, and remained in Queensland until the end of November. The cool and bracing air of the Darling Downs seemed to have restored her health almost completely, and undoubtedly had a most beneficial effect, and on her return to Sydney her family and friends were rejoiced to see her so much improved. During the month of February of this year symptoms of failing strength again presented themselves, but on the 9th of that month, when the family celebrated the 25th anniversary of her wedding day, it was remarked that she appeared thoroughly rejuvenated. It was then proposed that she should take a change of air to escape the trying heat of the city. Although the symptoms of weakness were renewed there was no alarm and no fear entertained until a day or two before her death. On the morning of the 1st of March the symptoms became alarming, and one of the good Franciscan Fathers of St. Joseph's, Woollahra (Father Mullan), was summoned to attend her. Lady Jennings after making a devout confession received the Viaticum with great devotion, and afterwards the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. In the meantime her dear and beloved friends, Mother Mary de Sales and Sister Mary Clare of St. Vincent's, who were unwearying in their devotion to the good and charitable lady, came hastily to pray by her bedside with the members of her family. Father Birch, of the Franciscan Order, was in attendance to recite the solemn prayers for the dying, and while these prayers were being offered up the soul of Lady Jennings passed away peacefully, the last breath, being drawn almost unobserved by those who were praying by her bedside. Lady Jennings had a great devotion to St. Joseph, which was abundantly testified to by her constant munificence to the shrine of that saint at Woollahra. The beautiful stained-glass window in that church which bears the record of her gift, and the elegant statues presented to that church will always associate her name with devotion to St. Joseph. It was the prayer of some holy souls who knew and loved her well that she might not pass away before St. Joseph's month should come, and early in the morning of the first day of March, the month dedicated to this great patron saint of the Church, the patron of a happy death, she delivered up her soul to God.

On the mornings of Saturday and Sunday, 2nd and 3rd instant, Masses were offered at 'Colebrook' by the Franciscan Fathers for the repose of the deceased, also at the Cathedral and the city and suburban churches.

The Sydney Liedertafel, of which Sir Patrick has been president from its commencement, passed a vote of sympathy and condolence with the family, which was transmitted by Mr. A. E. Harper, hon. Secretary. Mr. J. A. Delany, the conductor of the Liedertafel, who is also conductor of the Cathedral choir of St. Mary's, was present at the obsequies in St. Mary's Cathedral.

On Sunday afternoon his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop, accompanied by the Very Rev. Dr. O'Haran, paid a visit of condolence to the bereaved family, and recited the Litany for the Dead over the remains of Lady Jennings. In the evening the remains were brought from Double Bay to St. Mary's Cathedral, the solemn escort consisting of Sir Patrick Jennings, the Rev. Father Mullan, O.S.F., and the Very Rev. Father Slattery, of St. Joseph's, Woollahra, Mr. John Jennings, Mr. H. Kelly (brother-in-law to Sir Patrick), Mr. E. G. Ellis, Mr. T. Butler, and Mr. R. Scarlett. The remains were received by the cathedral clergy in the presence of a large congregation and placed on a bier in the extreme northern part of the cathedral near the sanctuary. The oak coffin was decorated with many beautiful wreaths. As arranged, the funeral service was held in the Cathedral on Monday morning, and although there was a complete absence of display in any shape or form, the ceremonies incidental to the Dirge and Requiem were marked by the most touching solemnity. Beyond the black draperies of the High Altar there were no 'trappings of woe' visible in the Cathedral, but the crowded building and the fifty priests chanting the 'requiem aeternam' on the sanctuary, testified more than all emblems and tokens to the sentiments of reverence and sorrow by which all present were inspired. Mr. J. A. Delany, the conductor of the choir, and the Cathedral authorities had gracefully offered to arrange a musical service somewhat similar to that given on the occasion of the death of the Right Hon. W. B. Dalley, the fact of Sir Patrick Jennings being a most liberal patron of the choir being a special reason why this mark of respect should be paid. Sir Patrick Jennings, however, expressed a wish that the obsequies should be characterized as far as was possible by simplicity; and in deference to his personal desire only the plain Gregorian chant was sung, and that by the ecclesiastical choir. One of the Franciscan Fathers of St. Joseph's, Woollahra (Father Mullan), having attended Lady Jennings in her last moments, and St. Joseph's being the church which the lamented lady was in the habit of attending, the privilege of celebrating the Requiem High Mass in the Cathedral was gracefully accorded the Fathers. The Rev. P. Slattery, O.S.F., was the celebrant; Father P. B. Kennedy, O.S.F., the deacon; and Father Birch, O.S.F., the sub-deacon. The Very Rev. Dr. O'Haran directed the ceremonies.

The assemblage of ecclesiastics on the sanctuary included his Eminence Cardinal Moran, his Lordship the Right Rev. Dr. Lanigan, Bishop of Goulburn, the Venerable Archpriest Sheehy, the Very Rev. Dr. Carroll, V.G., the Very Rev. Monsignor Verdon, President of St. Patrick's College, Manly; Very Rev. Dr. O'Brien, Rector of St. John's University College; Very Rev. J. Dalton, S.J., Rector of St. Ignatius' College, Riverview; Very Rev. D. Clancy, S.J., Rector of St. Alloysius' College, Sydney; Very Rev. Dean McCarthy, Very Rev. Dean O'Brien, Very Rev. Dean Hanly, Very Rev. Father Merg, M.S.H.; Very Rev. P. Le Rennetel, S.M.; Very Rev. Pere Joly, S.M.; Very Rev. P. Slattery, O.S.F.; Very Rev. Dr. O'Haran, Very Rev. Dr. Murphy, Very Rev. Dean Mahony, Father Butler (of Cootamundra), Father Kennedy, O.S.F.; Father Joyce, O.S.F., Father Gaynor, O.S.F; Father Fitzgerald, O.S F.; Father Birch, O.S.F.; Father Michael Kelly, S.J.; Father T. Gartlan, S.J.; Father Morrogh, S.J.; Father McEnroe, S.J.; Father Boyle (Vincentian), Father J. Byrne (Administrator of St. Mary's Cathedral), Father J. P. Fitzpatrick, Father P. L. Coonan, Father H. B. Callachor, Father Conway, Father T. O'Reilly, Father J. O'Reilly, Father Maccambridge, Father Colman (Passionist), Father McDermott, Father Tuckwell, Father Furlong, Father J. Collins, Father B. McDonnell, Father M. Glasheen, Father E. F. O'Connor, Father D. McCarthy, Father Prendergast, Father T. Keating, Father A. Ambrosoli, Father D. Barry, Father Crowe, Father Ambrose (Passionist).

Sir Patrick Jennings, his two sons, John and Alfred Jennings, and his daughter, Miss Jennings, occupied the first bench, and immediately behind them were Mr. H. Kelly, Mr. Davidson (relatives), and the intimate personal friends of the family, including several ladies. Among the congregation of mourners were the Hon. G. R. Dibbs, Premier and Colonial Secretary; Sir John Robertson, K.C.M.G.; the Hon. James Fletcher, Minister for Works; the Hon. J. P. Garvan, Colonial Treasurer; the Hon. T. M. Slattery, Minister for Justice; the Hon. Sir John Hay, President of the Legislative Council; Sir Edward Strickland, K.C.B.; the Hon. W. Halliday, M.L.C.; the Hon. George Day, M.L.C.; Mr. D. O'Connor, M.P.; Mr. Sydney Burdekin, M.P.; Mr. R. B. Wilkinson, M.P.; Mr. E: G. Ellis, Mr. A. Tobin, Mr. P. Tobin, Mr. George Loughman, Mr. Thomas Butler, Mr. R. Scarlett, Mr. E. C. Cracknell (Superintendent of Telegraphs), Mr. G. Ward, Registrar-General; Mr. Crichett Walker, Principal Under-Secretary; Mr. L. Harnett, Sergeant-at-Arms, Legislative Assembly; Mr. C. Cowper, Sheriff; John T. Toohey, K.C.S.G.; John Hughes, K.S.G.; Messrs. W. F. McDermott, J. L. Watkins, William Neill (City Bank), C. E. Jeannerett, W. Hughes, Alderman P. McMahon, E. F. Flanagan, J. J. Spruson, P. R. Larkin, W. McDonald, W. E. Plunkett, F. B. Freehill, W. E. Plunkett, T. Hughes, W. C. Browne, Thomas Browne, Carl Fisher, John Hourigan.

Among the ladies with Miss Jennings in the cathedral were Mrs. J. Hubert Plunkett, Miss Duncan, Miss D'Arcy, the Misses Butler, and Mrs. W. F. McDermott. Representatives of various religious orders were present, and amongst them were the Sisters of Charity, of St. Clare, of the Good Samaritan, and of St. Joseph's Providence. The wreaths and crosses on the coffin were the tributes of (among others) Mrs T. Dalton, Mrs. E. Wrench, Mrs. Terry, Mrs. Bouverie, Mrs. A. Tobin (Melbourne), Mrs. J. Clark, Mrs. Sydney Burdekin, Mrs. John and the Misses Martin, the Misses Butler, and the Rev. Mother Mary of the Sisters of St. Joseph. A noticeable feature of the floral decorations were a magnificent cross by the children of the deceased, and a large and beautiful wreath forwarded by Mr. Ferguson, of Double Bay.

At the termination of the Mass his Eminence in black cope and white mitre proceeded to the rear of the High Altar, where the coffin rested, and there pronounced the Absolution to the strains of Handel's Dead March — the only music heard during the service (Mr. Delany playing the organ), the remains were carried through the Cathedral part of the choir and out through the College-street door, the assembled crowd raising their hats and bending their heads as the coffin was placed in the hearse. The procession was an exceedingly long one, and included 36 private carriages. During the afternoon expressions of condolence were received by the bereaved family from his Excellency the Governor, Lord Carrington, and Lady Carrington, Sir William Manning (Chancellor of the University), and Lady Manning, Mr. Justice and Mrs. Windeyer, Mr. Justice and Mrs. Stephen, Mr. Edmond Fosbery (Inspector-General of Police), Mr. G. A. Lloyd, M.L.C, Mons. André Conil, Dr. and Mrs. Collins, Dr. and Mrs. Power, Mr. and Miss Wardell, Dr. Marano (Italian Consul), Dr. and Madame Laure, Mr. A. J. Riley, Mr. and Mrs. F. Fitzpatrick, Mr. and Miss Trebeck, Mr. W. J. Lyne (Minister for Lands), Mr. and Mrs. P. J. Hourigan, Mr. F. J. McCarthy, Mr. Henry Austin, and many other persons not only in New South Wales but in the adjoining colonies.

The remains were interred in the Waverley cemetery, almost all the friends who had attended the service in the cathedral being present to assist at the last rites.

Requiescat in pace.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Lady Mary Ann Jennings

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Jennings, Lady Mary Ann (1847–1889)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Shanahan, Mary Ann

Geelong, Victoria, Australia


1 March, 1889 (aged ~ 42)
Double Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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