Agnes Wright was Mayoress in 1859.

Early Life

Agnes Wright came to South Australia with her first husband, Henry Stuckey, in 1848. The couple rented a house at 26 Palmer Place, North Adelaide. In the same year, Agnes gave birth to her first child, a daughter, whom she also named Agnes. Sadly, baby Agnes died at the age of five months. The following September Agnes again gave birth, this time to a son, William, but the baby lived only six weeks. In February 1851 another daughter was born, Agnes Madeline. Although this child survived, tragedy again struck Agnes when husband Henry died four months later.

Henry had been an architect of some regard. One month after his death, architect Edmund William Wright announced he would be taking over Stuckey’s unfinished work ‘for the benefit of his widow and child’. On 23 October 1852 Agnes and Edmund were married at Christ Church, North Adelaide – the church had been designed by Henry Stuckey, and built in 1849.

Public Life

In 1857 Edmund was elected to the City Council. He became Mayor of Adelaide in 1859 but resigned after ten months – for which he was fined £10. In the previous year Edmund had won a competition to design a new town hall, but that building did not go ahead due to lack of funds. However, in 1863, Edmund won a new competition – together with London architect Edward John Woods – for a more modest town hall. Opened in 1866, the Adelaide Town Hall has served this city ever since. Agnes’s contributions were on a more personal level. During her marriage to Edmund, she gave birth to four more children, including one during Edmund’s term of office: Alfred Edmund, born in 1854; Florence Helen Louisa in 1856; Ethel Frances in1859; and Reginald William in 1863.

Edmund died in 1888. Agnes outlived her husband by 14 years. She died in 1902, aged 73, and is buried with Edmund in North Road Cemetery at Nailsworth.

By Cheryl Williss, HerStory Project

The HerStory project came about to recognise and celebrate the lives and the achievements of Women’s work in South Australia and was initiated in 2015 on the 175th anniversary of the City of Adelaide, by Genevieve Theseira-Haese, Lady Mayoress of Adelaide. The stories collected offer a unique perspective of Adelaide and South Australia that form a different history to what is often heard. This community built initiative is supported by the City of Adelaide and the History Trust of South Australia.

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