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Fanny Jane Marlay
, c.1841

by an unknown artist

watercolour on ivory (frame: 7.5 cm x 6.3 cm, sight: 4.6 cm x 3.5 cm)

Fanny Jane Marlay (1819–1848) came to Sydney with her free-settler family around 1825. In 1838, she met John Lort Stokes (1812–1885), an explorer, naval officer and surveyor appointed to HMS Beagle, which was then engaged in a surveying voyage of the Australian coast. In the course of it, Stokes charted much of what is now the coast of the Northern Territory; gave Darwin its name (after his former shipmate, Charles Darwin); and surveyed the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Arafura Sea, the Torres Strait, the Western Australian coast, and Bass Strait. He and Fanny married in Sydney in January 1841. Later the same year, Stoke succeeded to the command of the Beagle. Their daughter was born in 1842. Fanny returned with Stokes to England in 1843 and died while en route to Sydney again in 1848. Back in England from 1851, Stokes was eventually promoted to admiral. He died at his home, Scotchwell, in Pembrokeshire, in June 1885, survived by his second wife, Louisa, whom he’d married in 1856, and by his daughter from his marriage to Fanny.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2013
Accession number: 2013.24.2