Jessie Mary Sorell was born at Deloraine on 21 Apr 1872, the seventh of 11 children of Hugh Percy Sorell (1831-1909), district surveyor, and his wife Dora Forbes Coverdale (1839-1932).
According to the will of her uncle by marriage, James Wilkinson Whyte, the Recorder of Titles in Hobart, Jessie was adopted by him in about 1885. He died in 1923 and mentions her in his will: 'My adopted daughter Jessie Mary Sorell who has been looked upon by my family in that light since she was 13 years of age and has never spared herself in sickness or in health in ministering in my family especially during the childhood of my ... three sons.' J W Whyte married two of Jessie's mother's sisters. The first was Julia Helen Coverdale in 1876. She did not have any children and died on 11 Feb 1885. JW Whyte then married Annie Coverdale on 20 Mar 1886. They had three sons: Julian, born in 1887; Allan, 1888; and James, 1890.
However, in Aug 1889 Jessie was appointed as a paid monitor at a state school in Deloraine. Jessie was quite a character, was good at languages, and travelled to Europe on a working holiday. She was a housekeeper for JW Whyte after the death of his second wife in Dec 1909 and remained with him until his death in 1923. She did not marry, and died aged 86 on 21 Apr 1958 at her residence, 6 Nelson Road, Sandy Bay. She was cremated at Cornelian Bay.