Frances 'Fanny' Finch was a woman ahead of her time.
The London-born business owner of African heritage - who was also a single mother of four children - was one of the first women to cast a vote in an Australian election.
It was January, 1856 when Mrs Finch and another woman walked into the Hall of Castlemaine to cast their votes.
While Victorian women over the age of 21 would not receive full unconditional suffrage until 1908, Mrs Finch was able to exploit a loophole in the law because she was a business owner who paid rates.
The Municipal Institutions Act of 1854 granted suffrage to rate paying "persons", rather than "men".
While Mrs Finch and the other woman were able to cast their votes freely, their ballots were later disallowed on the grounds "they had no right to vote".
"Was her vote disallowed because of the colour of her skin? Or was it class or gender or a combination?" La Trobe University historian and PhD candidate Kacey Sinclair said.
"She was also involved in sex work, which is really important to note.
"She was a sex worker for a good reason - she was a single mother of four and there was no other way to send her kids to school, feed them, and keep a roof over their heads.
"We can't ignore that if we want to understand her experience and her story."
Ms Sinclair has researched and written extensively about the life of Fanny Finch, and said she was a woman of great character and integrity.
"She was a real fighter and full of courage," Ms Sinclair said. "She was always met with resistance but she persevered.
"I think that is something that women - particularly the women of Castlemaine - can relate to. Fanny represents the first fighter and that's why people have gravitated towards her."
Ms Sinclair said Mrs Finch's story should be celebrated, rather than forgotten.
"Her story that she was a woman of colour and a sex worker is incredibly powerful," Ms Sinclair said.
"She's really exposing fractures in the way we talk about history. A lot of people who are stuck in the old way of thinking of Australian history say there is no place for her.
"But I think that's what's really powerful about her - she's pushing the boundaries on the way we understand our national identity."
Castlemaine Cemetery Trust member Debra Tranter became aware of Fanny Finch through Ms Sinclair's work. She took it upon herself to find Mrs Finch's final resting place.
"We're very fortunate at the cemetery to have all of the original burial registers," Ms Tranter said. "With the help of those archives, I was able to find the exact location where she was buried.
"I half expected to find a headstone but I was really disappointed to find that she was lying in an unmarked grave.
"It was really sad because she was such a significant woman in the political landscape. I thought this incredible woman deserves to be recognised."
Thanks to a $4000 grant from the state government, a headstone will be placed on Mrs Finch's grave.
"This tribute will honour Frances Finch, who recognised her rights and claimed them 50 years before women were given the vote," Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said.
"It's a wonderful story of a woman who set her own path and refused to accept society's limits.
"We know too many stories of exceptional Victorian women have been lost and we're happy this memorial will celebrate Frances' life."
"We're proud that this woman who claimed a milestone in the history of Australian suffrage did so in Castlemaine - her story of courage and defiance is one we will honour with this memorial."
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