• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: PR00229

Griffith, Mary Harriett (1849 -1930)

  • Occupation Community worker, Temperance advocate, Welfare worker


Mary was known for her selfless work in the Brisbane community. She was a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and became founding secretary of the Brisbane Benevolent Society, which helped people in distress following the disastrous floods in south-east Queensland in 1893. She was honorary secretary (vice-president 1912-28) of the committee of Lady Musgrave Lodge, a home for nurses and single female immigrants. As Queensland representative for the Travellers’ Aid Society, she maintained contact with the British Women’s Emigration League. She served on the ladies’ management committee of the Hospital for Sick Children in 1894 – 1924.

Mary was president of the Young Women’s Christian Association of Brisbane (1902-12), honorary president to 1921, then honorary life president. She was vice-president of the Queensland division of the British (Australian) Red Cross Society during World War I and in 1921 patroness of St David’s Welsh Society of Queensland—Sir Samuel had been founding patron in 1918. Other organizations to which she contributed her intelligence and energy were the National Council of Women, the Brisbane City Mission, the Queensland auxiliary of the London Missionary Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Queensland Women’s Electoral League, the Protestant Federation, the United Sudan Mission and the Charity Organisation Society. In 1911 she was appointed a lady of grace of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem and was invested at Government House, Brisbane.


Mary was the third of five children of Rev. Edward Griffith (Congregational minister) and his wife Mary, nee Walker. She was also the older sister of (Sir) Samuel Griffith, premier of Queensland and first Chief Justice of Australia between the years 1845 – 1920. When Edward (Mary’s father) accepted a call from the Colonial Missionary Society to found a Congregational Church at Ipswich, he and his family moved to Australia, New South Wales (Queensland). Mary was a gifted writer who contributed articles to church magazines, often anonymously, and compiled a tribute to her father, Memorials of the Rev Edward Griffith (Brisbane, 1892).


Published resources

  • Newspaper Article
    • Brisbane Courier, 10 July 1925, p. 17, 1925
    • Brisbane Courier, 13 December 1911, p. 11, 1911
    • Brisbane Courier, 2 May 1927, p. 14, 1927
    • Brisbane Courier, 29 July 1930, p. 18, 1930
  • Book
    • Samuel Walker Griffith, Joyce, R. B., 1984
    • Widening horizons: the YWCA in Queensland 1888-1988, Gillespie, Aline, 1995
  • Resource
  • Site Exhibition

Archival resources

  • John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection
    • OM90-37 Griffith Family Papers 1811-1932
  • ANU University Archives
    • Miss Mary Griffith
    • The Other Griffith - Mary Harriett

Related entries

  • member
    • Queensland Women's Electoral League (1903 - )
    • The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Queensland (1885 - )
  • related
    • Women's Migration and Overseas Appointment Society (1862 - )
  • Member
    • The Lady Musgrave Lodge Committee (1885 - )
    • YWCA of Australia