Maria 'Liney', nee Boothby was from Adelaide and married A. W. Howitt in 1864. Whilst Howitt is acknowledged for his anthropological, expeditionary and geological work, on top of his work as a public servant, Liney was responsible for the running of the household and farm, especially the hops production. In these roles she hired and met Aboriginal and Chinese men and women, engaging with them closely and on occasion having a number stay at the farm. Liney also helped Howitt with his anthropological work, his 'craze' as Liney called it. In a letter to his sister, Anna, Howitt noted that 'Liney tells me that my paper is very interesting and she says you will be most interested.' Liney listened, read and discussed Howitt and Fison's work with her husband- she typed many of his notes and Liney got her brothers in Adelaide to recruit correspondents for Howitt and Fison. She was important to their work and in an 1874 letter to Anna, Howitt stated that 'I mean to try and make Liney the Ethnological partner in the concern because she really has a true feminine talent in seeing how the relationships hang together.' In letters to Fison Howitt identified their partnership as a trio - Liney being the essential third member.
Liney died in 1903, before she could see the publication of Howitt's 1904 book, The Native Tribes of South East Australia. He dedicated the book to her, noting her 'unfailing sympathy' being the driving force behind the book's completion.
For Letters written by Liney Howitt describing her life in Omeo and Gippsland, see the State Library of Victoria's Howitt collection.