Ann Chappelle was born on 21st November 1770 in Hull, the daughter of a captain in the Merchant Navy who had died early of illness at sea off Java. Her mother remarried to a Rev William Tyler and had another daughter, Isabella, with whom Ann lived and remained very close for the rest of her life.
Ann was described by eugenicist Sir Francis Galton as 'with above average mental powers, considered clever, with a sweet and perfect temper, beloved by all who knew her, witty, generous, nervous, with aptitude for poetry, literature, singing, verse, and painting flowers from nature'.
Ann and Matthew married on 17th April 1801 in Partney in Lincolnshire - and it was the intention for Ann to travel with him on his voyages - however that was vetoed by the Lords of the Admiralty. This is well documented in correspondence between Flinders and his chief benefactor, Sir Joseph Banks, in May 1801 I have but time to tell you that the news of your marriage, which was published in the Lincoln paper, has reached me. The Lords of the Admiralty have heard also that Mrs. Flinders is on board the Investigator, and that you have some thought of carrying her to sea with you. This I was very sorry to hear, and if that is the case I beg to give you my advice by no means to adventure to measures so contrary to the regulations and the discipline of the Navy; for I am convinced by language I have heard, that their Lordships will, if they hear of her being in New South Wales, immediately order you to be superseded, whatever may be the consequences, and in all likelihood order Mr. Grant to finish the survey. As a result, Ann was obliged to stay in England and after just 3 months of marriage would not see her husband for nine years.
Matthew named Mount Chappell/Chappelle in Bass Strait after Ann.
Ann and Matthew had one daughter - Anne, born in 1812 who later married William Petrie, a civil engineer. Their only child and son Sir William Flinders Petrie ( 1853 - 1942 ) went on to become a renowned Egyptologist who is buried in Jerusalem. There is also some irony that the archaeological skills used to find and identify his body will owe much to the methodology established by Flinders’ famous grandson, the archaeologist
It is believed that through illness Ann became blind in one eye, nevertheless she was a watercolourist with an aptitude for painting flowers - some of her work is in the Usher Gallery at Lincoln.
Ann outlived Matthew by almost forty years, living at various addresses in London with her half-sister Isabella. Her headstone can be seen in the Churchyard of St Thomas, Charlton, London. Inscription on the Headstone reads -
"Sacred to the memory of Ann, Widow of Capt. Matthew Flinders RN The Circumnavigator of Australia and Discoverer. She died 10 February 1852. Let me die the death of the righteous And let my last end be like hers. Also of Isabella Tyler Half Sister of the above and daughter of the late Revd Wm Tyler of Ashby Lincoln Who died on 18th December 1867"
Images are: - Of Matthew and Ann; and Daughter Anne in the Blue Dress - by kind permission of Lisette Flinders and the gravestone at Charlton