Dame Mary Cook

Dame Mary Cook DBE (née Turner; c. 1863 – 24 September 1950) was the wife of Australian Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Cook.[1]

Mary Cook

Dame Mary Cook 01
Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia
In office
24 June 1913 – 17 September 1914
Preceded byMargaret Fisher
Succeeded byMargaret Fisher
Personal details
Died24 September 1950 (aged 86–87)
Bellevue Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Resting placeNorthern Suburbs Memorial Gardens
Sir Joseph Cook
(m. 1885; died 1947)
Children8, Richard
RelativesPeter Cook (grandson)
OccupationSchoolteacher, humanitarian


Early years

Mary Turner was 22 years old and had been a schoolteacher for eight years when she married Joseph Cook in 1885. Beginning as a pupil teacher at Chesterton Girls' School, by 1885 she was an assistant mistress. Like Cook, she came from a Staffordshire mining family. She appears to have had a role in helping both her brothers and her husband to overcome their lack of education. At their Lithgow home, Cook studied in the evenings, moving from writing and grammar to typing and shorthand, and then to book-keeping. He began studying to become a Methodist minister.


By 1891, six years after their marriage and emigration to Australia, the couple had three small sons, and Joseph Cook had a seat in the New South Wales parliament. By 1901 they had six children, and he had won the Parramatta seat in federal parliament. For the 20 years he sat in the federal parliament, Joseph Cook spent much of his time in Melbourne, where parliament sat. Mary Cook managed their large household in Sydney, with eight children born between 1886 and 1906. Cook became Navy Minister in Billy Hughes' government in 1917. Mary Cook was by then very active in the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Red Cross Society, and in Cook's electorate of Parramatta. From the time of her hushband's knighthood in 1918[2] she became Lady Cook and was styled in that way until seven years later when she was honoured in her own right as a Dame.

She spoke at meetings there in the 1919 election campaign, and also deputised at ministerial events, such as the unveiling of an Honour Roll dedicated to the 1914–18 servicemen and women in General Granville Ryrie's Manly electorate.


Joseph and Mary Cook 1
Cook and her husband some time in the 1920s

During her husband's term as High Commissioner, Mary Cook played a key role for the Australian Red Cross Society, including representing the Society at a meeting of the International Red Cross Board of Governors in Paris in 1923.


Mary Cook's services to Australia were acknowledged when she was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1925.


The Cooks returned to Australia in 1927, enjoying an active retirement. In 1928, on the foundation of the Newington College Parents' and Friends' Association, Dame Mary was elected president. In the first year of the association £300 was raised for equipment and improvements to the school's hospital. Four generations of the Cook family, including her son, Richard Cecil Cook, and grandson, Peter Cook, attended Newington.[3]


Sir Joseph Cook died in 1947, and Dame Mary Cook died on 24 September 1950, aged 87, at her Bellevue Hill, New South Wales. She was interred beside her husband at Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens, North Ryde, New South Wales.


  1. ^ National Archives. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  2. ^ "No. 30831". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 August 1918. p. 9264.
  3. ^ Newington Across the Years, A History of Newington College, 1863–1998 (Sydney, 1999), pg. 79
Bettina Gorton

Bettina Edith Gorton (née Brown; 23 June 1915 – 2 October 1983) was an American-born academic who was best known as the first wife of John Gorton, the 19th Prime Minister of Australia. She was born in Portland, Maine, met her husband while studying in France, and married in 1935. She developed an interest in South-East Asian culture relatively late in life, learning to speak Malay and Javanese and completing her first university degree at the age of 50. She was involved with a long-running Australian National University project to compile a Malay–English dictionary, although she curtailed her involvement during her husband's prime ministership (1968–1971).

HMAS Australia (D84)

HMAS Australia (I84/D84/C01) was a County-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). One of two Kent-subclass ships ordered for the RAN in 1924, Australia was laid down in Scotland in 1925, and entered service in 1928. Apart from an exchange deployment to the Mediterranean from 1934 to 1936, during which she became involved in the planned British response to the Abyssinia Crisis, Australia operated in local and South-West Pacific waters until World War II began.

The cruiser remained near Australia until mid-1940, when she was deployed for duties in the eastern Atlantic, including hunts for German ships and participation in Operation Menace. During 1941, Australia operated in home and Indian Ocean waters, but was reassigned as flagship of the ANZAC Squadron in early 1942. As part of this force (which was later redesignated Task Force 44, then Task Force 74), Australia operated in support of United States naval and amphibious operations throughout South-East Asia until the start of 1945, including involvement in the battles at the Coral Sea and Savo Island, the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal and Leyte Gulf, and numerous actions during the New Guinea campaign. She was forced to withdraw following a series of kamikaze attacks during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. The prioritisation of shipyard work in Australia for British Pacific Fleet vessels saw the Australian cruiser sail to England for repairs, where she was at the end of the war.

During the late 1940s, Australia served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, and participated in several port visits to other nations, before being retasked as a training ship in 1950. The cruiser was decommissioned in 1954, and sold for scrapping in 1955.

Margaret Fisher

Margaret Fisher (née Irvine; born c. 1874 – 15 June 1958) was married to Andrew Fisher on 31 December 1901. They lived in Gympie, Queensland in her husband's electorate of Wide Bay. However, when her husband was elected Leader of the Australian Labor Party in 1907 they were moved to Melbourne, at that time serving as the temporary seat of government of Australia. They bought Oakleigh Hall at Hughenden Road, [East St Kilda]. The house was a constant source of financial worry to Andrew Fisher. Unlike her predecessors as wife of the Prime Minister of Australia, she took part in political demonstrations. When she and her husband travelled to London for the coronation of George V she joined a large procession marking the progress of a bill intended to give British women the right to vote. At the Imperial Conference, also taking place at the same time as the coronation, Andrew Fisher was the sole Prime Minister from a labour party, making the Fishers somewhat of a celebrity with

British Labour Party members of parliament led by Andrew Fisher's friend Keir Hardie. This also caused some embarrassment for Margaret. She attended a Labour Party dinner on the same night she and Rosina Batchelor were intended to be presented at court. Because of an error the two ladies were not told to leave the dinner in time to change into their court dresses and drive to Buckingham Palace. She was later dubbed by reporters the 'Yes, No Lady' after she failed to explain why she was presented some weeks later at Holyrood House.She had six children by her husband:

Robert Fisher (1902)

Margaret Fisher (1904)

Henry (1906)

Andrew (1908)

John (1910)

James (1912)Margaret Fisher died on 15 June 1958.

Mary Hughes

Dame Mary Ethel Hughes GBE (née Campbell; 6 June 1874 – 2 April 1958) was the second wife of Billy Hughes, Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923. She was the daughter of a well-to-do grazier, and grew up in country New South Wales. She married Hughes in 1911, when she was 37 and he was 48; their only daughter was born in 1915.

Northern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney

The Northern Suburbs Crematorium, officially Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, is a crematorium affiliated with Protestantism located in North Ryde, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. It was officially opened on 28 October 1933, and the first cremation took place on 30 October.Northern Suburbs Crematorium was the second crematorium in New South Wales. It was designed by Frank I'Anson Bloomfield (1879-1949), who was cremated there, and also designed NSW's and Sydney's first crematorium at Rookwood Cemetery. Bloomfield designed both places with a view to an authentic "florentine" feel. The grounds feature Art Deco statues, Royal Doulton tiles, classic iron work and other period features. The Memorial Gardens is a heritage listed site and often features in historical tours of Sydney and the North Shore.The most notable interments include two Prime Ministers of Australia, Chris Watson and Joseph Cook, one Premier of New South Wales and later Governor-General of Australia, Sir William McKell, and the poet and author of Waltzing Matilda, Banjo Paterson.

In 2012 a new Function Centre was opened by the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir.

Peter Cook (antiques)

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Joseph Cook (21 July 1924 – 22 December 2003) was an Australian Army officer, antique dealer and writer, and ABC Television panelist on For Love or Money.

Richard Cecil Cook

Richard Cecil Cook (2 March 1902 – 29 July 1977), known as Cecil Cook was an Australian judge and a member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales.

Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia

The Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia is generally a high-profile individual, and assists the prime minister with his or her ceremonial duties as well as performing various other functions. The wife of the current prime minister is Jenny Morrison.

With a few exceptions, the prime minister's spouse has been a public figure and the subject of media interest. Most have used the position to promote charitable causes. By convention, the spouse of the prime minister serves as the host or hostess of The Lodge and Kirribilli House, the official residences of the prime minister. He or she also assists the prime minister in welcoming foreign dignitaries to Parliament House and various other locations during ceremonial events. However, the position is unpaid and there are no official responsibilities.

The prime minister is often assisted by his or her spouse when campaigning at elections. However, only two prime minister's spouses have held public office in their own right – Enid Lyons became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives several years after her husband's death in office, while Lucy Turnbull served as Lord Mayor of Sydney over a decade before her husband became prime minister. Ethel Page held senior offices in the organisational wing of the Country Party.

All prime ministers except John McEwen and Julia Gillard were married for the duration of their term in office. McEwen was a widower during his short term, while Gillard had a domestic partner, Tim Mathieson. Until relatively recently it was uncommon for the spouse of a prime minister to have their own career. Zara Holt, a fashion designer, was the first to continue her career during her husband's term in office, and reputedly earned more money than him. Other businesswomen to hold the position have included Thérèse Rein, who ran an employment services company, and Margie Abbott, who ran a childcare centre. Bettina Gorton was an academic who lectured part-time at the Australian National University.


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