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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Mary Windeyer on the verandah at Tomago, NSW, c. 1880s

an unknown artist

glass plate negative (support: 10.7 cm x 8.2 cm)

Mary Windeyer (née Bolton, 1837-1912), women's rights campaigner, was one of the nine children of Robert Thorley Bolton, a clergyman who emigrated to New South Wales in 1839. Bolton was the Anglican minister in the Hunter Valley village of Hexham, less than ten kilometres from the Windeyer family estate of Tomago. In December 1857, Mary married William Charles Windeyer. The couple had nine children, one of whom died in infancy. A devout woman, Mary was encouraged in her various charitable works by her husband and influenced by his views. Her energies initially were directed to causes relating to orphans and infant health. In 1874, she supported the establishment of a foundling hospital (later the Ashfield Infants' Home) which the following year became a home for destitute, unmarried mothers and their babies. Windeyer's friendship with Sir Henry Parkes facilitated, in 1881, the passage of the State Children's Relief Act and the establishment of a board (on which Mary served) to oversee the fostering of children from orphanages. Mary was also a pioneer of the women's rights movement in Australia, supporting Windeyer's reform of divorce laws and campaigning for increased employment opportunities for women, sponsoring (among other projects) a shorthand writers and typists' society and hospital training for nurses. She was the inaugural president of the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales (1891); a founder of the Women's Hospital, Darlinghurst (1896); and prominent in the Women's Christian Temperance Union of New South Wales. Her fifth daughter, Margaret, followed Mary into women's rights campaigns and, along with her mother, helped found the Women's College at Sydney University.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Windeyer family 2012

Accession number: 2012.154

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Mary Windeyer (age 43 in 1880)

Subject professions

Activism

Donated by

Jim Windeyer (16 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Sir William Charles Windeyer, 1892 Tom Roberts
Sir William Charles Windeyer, 1892 Tom Roberts
Sir William Charles Windeyer, 1892 Tom Roberts
Sir William Charles Windeyer, 1892 Tom Roberts

Private virtues public lives

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2010

Family affections are preserved in a fine selection of intimate portraits.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.