HMSS 0089 Margaret and Maurice Finnis Papers

ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collections

HMSS 0089 Margaret and Maurice Finnis Papers, 1968-1997

Scope and Content Notes 

Call NumberHMSS 0089
CollectionMargaret and Maurice Finnis Papers
Date Range1968-1997
Quantity0.81m (5 manuscript boxes)
Access Conditionsopen
Copying Conditionsorphan work
Related Collections

Margaret Elizabeth Finnis, nee Crawford, eldest daughter of Robert James Crawford and May Orchard Crawford of Brown Muir, Congewai. Probable date of birth 13/11/1923

There is evidence to suggest that Margaret was a graduate of the Armidale University College and may have been in Canberra as early as 1946.

Margaret graduated from Sydney University in 1944 with a BA majoring in Economics. By early 1948 she was working at the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, probably as a casual or temporary researcher. She was made permanent in July 1951, as an assistant research officer in the General and Statistics Section, Division of Agricultural Economics, Departmentof Primary Industry. In 1962 she was promoted from Research Officer Grade II in the Investment Branch of the Treasury to Senior Research Officer in the Wool Research Section of the Department of Primary Industry. From there she moved to Immigration, being promoted in July 1966 to Executive Officer in the Projects and Professional Migration Section.

By April 1948 Margaret was secretary to the Women Graduates’ Committee of the Professional Officers Association, becoming Convenor in August 1949. Her early interest in the position and working conditions of women in the Commonwealth Public Service led to her being on the Canberra Branch Equal Pay Sub-Committee of the Professional Officers’ Association, 1951-1964. Her papers on these matters are in the National Library  of Australia, MS 8201.

Margaret also represented the National Council for Women of Australia in the 1976 pre-Budget talks on funding aged care in the home.

Margaret Crawford, was one of the first residents of Lawley House when it openedin 1949 and was living there until at least 1955.  She is living at 56 Fergusson Crescent, Deakin according to the electoral roll of 1967 and may have moved there as early a 1963. 

Margaret, accompanied by her mother, May Orchard Crawford, travelled to England in 1968 where she worked as Australian Immigration Officer at Australia House in London.  She returned to Canberra in January 1971 and continued to work with the Australian Immigration Office. 

Margaret Crawford and Maurice Finnis announce their engagement in the Canberra Times 21/4/1976 and were married on 22 May of the same year at the Church of St John the Baptist in Reid.  They made their home at 56 Fergusson Crescent, Deakin. 

May Orchard Crawford, was lived with Margaret from at least 1967 until, perhaps the marriage of Margaret and Maurice in 1976.

Margaret died on 28 November 2005.

May Orchard Crawford nee Budge

May Orchard Budge, daughter of Edwin Dymond Budge and his wife Mary Agnes, married Robert James Crawford in 1913.

Robert James Crawford, son of Richard Petty Crawford (died December 1912) and Jane Nee Evans (died 04/10/1897) was born in 1875 on the family estate of Brown Muir at Congewai in the Hunter Valley region of New South.  He died suddenly on 28 July 1930.  The couple had five children at the time of his death: Lloyd, Richard, John Alwyn, Margaret (FINNIS) and June (LENNARD).

By 1967, May is living with Margaret in Deakin and remained with her until, perhaps, the marriage of Margaret and Maurice in 1976.

May had been a member of the Canberra Croquet Club and in 1981 Margaret presented the Crawford Trophy in her name.

May died on 21 December 1977 at Cessnock Hospital.

Maurice Meredith Stericker Finnis, born 6 August 1914 in Meredith, Victoria, only son of the Rev Horace Percy Finnis and Marion Dora nee Bow.

The family moved to Adelaide, South Australia from Victoria in about 1918 or 1919.

Maurice gained an MA in Philosophy from the University of Adelaide in 1937.

He married Margaret Mackellar Stewart, another University of Adelaide MA, on 11 August 1939 after which they travelled to England where they studied at Oxford; he Philosophy, she English Literature.

In 1935, Maurice along with Margaret Mackellar Stewart and Russel Ward were the foundation editors of the poetry journal “Phoenix”, the publication of which was suspended 1940-1945. During suspension the publication was continued in part by Angry Penguins, 1940-1941.  According to Austlit he had a minor association with the Angry Penguins poets.

By 1949 Maurice was senior lecturer in philosophy, and was still in this position in 1954. At some time in the 1960s he was appointed adviser on professions on the staff of the Chief Migration Officer at Australia House, London.  He returned to Adelaide University in early 1968.

The couple had four children, John, Jane, Catherine and Alexander (Nigel).  They divorced in 1976.

Maurice died in Canberra 13/10/1995


Box List

Box No.


DescriptionQuantityDate Range
1May Orchard Crawford


Short entries of daily events in annual appointment diaries 

8 volumes1968-1975

1Maurice Meredith Stericker Finnis


Pocket appointment diaries 

13 volumes




1Margaret Elizabeth Finnis 


Pocket appointment diaries 

18 volumes





2-4Margaret Elizabeth Finnis


Day to a page journals with giving her thoughts and  impressions as well as information about events and appointments

21 volumes1973-1993

Margaret Elizabeth Finnis Garden Diaries2 volumes1987-1988 

Margaret Elizabeth Finnis Address Book1 volume 

Margaret Elizabeth Finnis 


reading journal 

1 volume1976-1988 

5Margaret Elizabeth Finnis Notebook1 volumeca. 1969