Verrier is an old family name which has been passed down the generations on Howard Anderson’s (founder of Anderson Winery) mother’s side of the family.
The story starts in France before the 1789 revolution. Dr Verrier and his wife were well-off, and anticipating trouble ahead, they fled to Dover, England. This meant abandoning their son’s education, and due to their reduced finances in England, instead of becoming a doctor like his father, he ended up working as a hospital attendant.
Over the years the family regained wealth, and by the time Mary Ann Verrier was born in 1855, she and her older sister Fanny were raised in comfort and style. When Mary Ann was 16, her widowed father re-married. His new wife also had two daughters, and after being Daddy’s girls for so long, seeing him seemingly transfer his affections from them to his new wife and step-daughters was too much for Mary Ann & Fanny to endure. Subsequently they “ran away” to live with their cousins in their Mayfair apartment. Soon they each found occupations – Mary Ann as a Parlour maid at the Dorchester hotel.
At 17 she married the owner of the hotel. She was a widow at 19, with a 12 month old daughter. Life was miserable for her for some time after her husband died – he had 2 daughters who had manipulated his will after he died, exchanging his Last Will and Testament which was in favour of Mary Ann, for an older version which favoured his daughters.
Meanwhile Fanny had married a well bred country boy, and after a few years they introduced Mary Ann to a friend of theirs – William Newman, a carpenter. As a group, Fanny, her husband, William & 2 other friends were thinking of emigrating to Australia. Mary Ann was also excited about the idea of travel, and was heartily fed up with working at the hotel. So when William proposed to her, Mary Ann thought that by marrying him it might make a wonderful new life for her daughter, Lizzie, now 9. She was fond of him, and Lizzie adored him, but Mary Ann was reluctant to marry a carpenter. She had wanted to be swept off her feet by a tall, slim, handsome, educated man with a charming voice. William didn’t fit this dream – he was an earthy, hearty man, but kind.
She wanted to make sure that her sister and friends were serious about going to Australia. She gave William her answer “Yes, but not until the day we leave”.
William and Mary Ann were married in Norwood, England, and the 7 of them set sail for Australia that same day. They were on the SS Illawarra and set foot in Australia as free settlers on the 1st of August 1883.
Fast forward to 1925 – Lizzie has grown up, gotten married and had 5 children. Her eldest son Alfred has just had a daughter, and keeping his mother’s maiden name alive, has named her Betty Verrier Johnson.
In 1993, Betty’s son (Lizzie’s great grand-son) Howard Anderson founded Anderson winery in Rutherglen.
Reference: “The Romance of History” by Lilian Vera Chettle-Goddard (Lizzie’s daughter)