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Convicts - referred to by some as Australian Royalty - are an important part of Australian family history.

I have decided to create a page devoted to my convict ancestors and their stories as provided below.

I feel very fortunate to have a few convict ancestors.  

There may be more but so far, to the best of my knowledge, they are on my mother's side of the family and are as follows:

Samuel Taylor (whose grave is pictured above)

Margaret Taylor (nee Jones)

Robert Hobbs

Bridget Hobbs (nee Eslin) 

John Parkes

Margaret Parkes (nee Southern)

John Gost

Ellen Gost (nee Stores)

Here are some stories I have written about my convict ancestors...

A Settler's Home, New South Wales, ca. 1841 / watercolour by Frederick Garling.  The image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW.

According to Nick Vine Hall's Tracing Your Family History in Australia: a Guide to Sources

"The first full census of new South Wales was not made until 1828. Subsequent censuses were taken sporadically in the various colonies until 3 April 1881, when a census was taken for the first time on the same date throughout Australia."

I decided to look at the 1841 Census for my 3 x great-grandfather, Samuel Taylor.  

The 1841 Census was taken on 2 March and is indexed and held on microfilm by the State Records of NSW (referred to as AONSW in Vine Hall's book) and the National Library of Australia (NLA).  You can search the index on State Records site here or you can look at the digitized version on Ancestry.  

I am lucky that Samuel lived on the Murrumbidgee as not all places have names of individuals listed e.g. Lachlan and Liverpool districts.

I can view an entry on an index to Abstracts: Berrima to Sydney here which gives the following information:

TAYLOR, Samuel

Return No. 46
Residence: Tharmus, District Murrumbidgee
No. of persons: 6 
No of free persons: 6
Location: X947, p. 89

Another Index entry here shows slightly different information.

TAYLOR, Samuel

Return No. 22
Residence: Murrumbidgee
No. of persons: 7
Location: X951, p. 131
Reel 2223

The conflicting index information really makes me want to look at the microfilms at the Records Office of NSW!

I can view Form C or the Abstract of Samuel Taylor's record here.  It is on Page 5 of the Murrumbidgee Abstract - entry number 45.  

The name of the establishment (as per the column header) is shown as Tharmus.  I believe this is an interpretation of the name of the property called Taemas.  Samuel must have had a thick Kentish accent!

At the time there were two males living there aged between 21 and 45 and four females (one aged between 2 and 7, one aged between 7 and 14, one aged between 14 and 21 and one aged between 21 and 45 years of age).

One male and three of the females were born in the colony. One of the males was described as a stockman and one female as a domestic servant.  I am going to estimate that the makeup of the household was as follows:

Samuel Taylor would have been aged about 44.

Samuel's son, Samuel, was born in 1833 so would have been aged about 8 so I think the other male was a stockman.

Margaret Taylor (nee Jones) - Samuel's wife would have been aged about 32.

Margaret their daughter who was born in 1837, would have been about 4 years old. 

I am guessing that the other two females were a domestic servant and perhaps another child of Margaret's that I didn't know ....or a child of the domestic servant. 

Their religion was Church of England.

The house was made of wood, finished and inhabited.  

Whilst the picture at the beginning of this post is charming, I suspect my ancestor's home may have looked more like this.

Sketches in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Norfolk Island, ca. 1841-1847] / by John Skinner Prout
Out of copyright - Creator died before 1955 Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

There would have been no sewerage or running water in the home.  Water would have been carried in to the house in buckets I imagine.  There would have been no electricity.  Winter would have been "bitter cold" as my grandmother used to say.  And central heating could not have been imagined. I can understand why Samuel would have taken a wee dram to keep himself warm.

Page 8 of the Abstract gives the totals for the area called the Murrumbidgee.  They are as follows:

Males - 1258 (782 free and 476 bond) 
Females - 281 (272 free and 9 bond )

Hmmm....there's something to think about there for a start.

Of the 167 dwellings, all were wood and only 7 were unfinished.

The majority of people were employed looking after sheep or in agriculture. The next highest occupational group was domestic servants.

867 people identified as Church of England and 482 as Roman Catholic. The next highest group was Church of Scotland.  Three people were identified as Mahomedans or Pagan and 4 as Jews.

At the bottom of the abstract is a signature  which I read as Henry Bingham.  He would have checked the returns and sent the abstract to the Colonial Secretary. For a more detailed description of how the census was enacted and collected read here.
Commissioner Henry Bingham [with white horse, 1840s] / [oil painting attributed to Thomas Balcombe] [Unframed]Out of copyright - Artist died before 1955 - Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

There are some fascinating articles to be found on Trove about Henry Bingham.  I attach some here which will give you an idea of what it was like working as the Commissioner in the area at the time.

1840 'MURRUMBIDGEE.', The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), 28 November, p. 2. , viewed 07 Aug 2016,


1844 'ABORIGINES.', The Colonial Observer (Sydney, NSW : 1841 -1844), 28 November, p. 6. , viewed 07 Aug 2016,

The Dairymaid's Occupation
Print made by John Faber, 1695–1756, Netherlandish, active in Britain after Philippe Mercier, 1689 or 1691–1760, Franco-German, active in Britain (from 1716)
This work of art is believed to be in the public domain or has no known copyright restrictions.
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund

This blog post is a combination of research conducted as part of a course undertaken earlier this year with the University of Tasmania into my convict ancestry and a bit of musing on my part since then. Margaret Taylor (nee Jones) was my 3x great-grandmother on my maternal side of the family. 
An article in The Liverpool Mercury dated 24 October 1828 [1] reported that Margaret Jones, Ann Tierney and William Wakefield were sentenced to be transported for seven years for an extensive robbery of the property of Christopher Buckle at the Quarter Sessions on Monday.  
Margaret and her associate Ann aka Mary Ann Tierney were both sentenced to seven years transportation for larceny. [2] William Wakefield was also sentenced to seven years transportation but no record can be found of him on convict indents or similar sources.
Margaret Taylor (née Jones) c1808-1875 originally hailed from Wales. The convict indent from The Sovereign shows her origin as Caernarvonshire. [3] However, recent research in the area where Margaret and her husband Samuel lived near Lake George New South Wales has produced possible links to another Jones family who were from Carmarthenshire. [4]  Is it possible that the indent recorder misheard Carmarthenshire and recorded Caernarvonshire by accident?  
This is a transcription of the information recorded on the Indent:
Name: Jones, Margaret 
Age: 20 
Education: rw 
Religion: Protestant
Single or Married: Single
Family: Nil
Native Place: Carnarvonshire 
Trade or Calling: Dairy & Housemaid 
Offense: Pick Pocket 
Where Tried: Liverpool 20 October 1828 
Sentence: 7 years 
Former Conviction: none
Height:5 feet 2 1/2 inches
Complexion: ruddy
Hair Colour: brown
Eye Colour: Hazel
Other distinguishing features: horizontal scar over left eye. MJ (the J is written back to front by the recorder) on upper part of R arm. Ring mark on right middle fingers.
How disposed of and remarks: Mrs Cox of Richmond.

Margaret and Ann had to wait six months before The Sovereign left the Downs on 23 April 1829.  There were 119 convict women on board as well as 22 children.  Most of the passengers arrived safely in Sydney on 3rd August 1829 - a journey of 102 days.  It was captained by William McKellar and the surgeon was Dr George Fairfowl.  The Sovereign was built at Hull in 1814 and weighed 398 tons. [5]
The journey from Liverpool to the convict ship at The Downs was not without drama as outlined by Dr Fairfowl in his medical journal. [6] Mary Williams aged 33 was brought on board with a gash in her leg and the incident which led to the injury was described as follows:
It appears that she and seven others were brought up from Liverpool chained together on the top of a stagecoach which was overturned in the night and the whole precipitated into the road.  
Margaret's skills as a Dairymaid would have been highly valued in the new colony.  
As Mary Casey observes:
"Dairying was essential for the food requirements of the colony, for the production of milk, cream, butter and cheese."  
Casey also notes that "a surplus... provided a source of income through its sale or barter". [7]
As a domestic servant/dairymaid, Margaret's hours would have been long and the work hard.  
The Reports of Special Assistant Poor Law Commissioners on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture published in 1843 (which you can read/download here on Google) records on Page 125 a memorandum from a farmer in Worcestershire who says:
"From April to November there is most to do in a dairy-farm; May and June the busiest time. As far as the woman superintending the diary is concerned, the first thing done in the morning is to skim the milk, empty the skimmed milk into the cheese-tub, and prepare the milk vessels for the new milk, which is brought into the dairy by five or six o'clock; after which, with the assistance of her servant, she prepares a portion of the skimmed milk for the calves, and makes the remainder into cheese.  Two days a-week she has butter to make, two days she goes to market, and the other two she is occupied in the cheese-room.  These different matters occupy the middle of the day.  In the evening the milk is to be skimmed, and the new milk put into its proper vessels, and the calves to be again attended to.....The dairy-maid's age is from 20 to 30.  She is employed from 12 to 14 hours a-day; her work is even more laborious than the superintendent's, but without any bad effect on the health.  The wages of the dairy-maid is from 8l. to 10l. a year, with board and maintenance. " 
Anee Cobbett's The English Housekeeper: Or, Manual of Domestic Management published in 1851 allocates an entire chapter to The Dairy and the work of the Dairymaid.  Here is an extract:
"Those persons who have excelled in dairy work, have generally learnt their business when quite young, as a knowledge of it is not to be hastily acquired. Good dairy maids are always fond of their occupation, for it is not, except in large dairies, a very laborious one, and is not attended with the disagreeables and the vexations which so frequently occur in the occupation of a cook maid.  The great art of butter and cheese making, consists in extreme care and scrupulous cleanliness...."
There would have been little opportunity for relief from supervision working in the private sector. It is imagined that the Mrs Cox of Richmond was in fact the wife of William Cox, the famous explorer and grazier.  Cox's biography states that:
His large estate at Clarendon near Windsor had all the appearance of a self-contained village. Over fifty convict servants acted as smiths, tanners, harness makers, wool sorters, weavers, butchers, tailors and herdsmen. [8]
Margaret would have witnessed the flooding of the Hawkesbury in April 1830.  It swept away "families, dwellings, everything in its course...." [9] including bridges, further increasing Margaret's isolation in a strange new country.
The next occasion on which Margaret is found in official records is when she is sentenced to the 3rd class factory for one month due to drunkenness on 27th August 1831. [10]  
It is imagined from accounts outlined in J.C. Byrne's Twelve Years' Wanderings in the British Colonies, from 1835 to 1847 or James Mudie's The Felonry of New South Wales that Samuel Taylor, recently freed from servitude, [11] made his way to the Female Factory looking for a wife. [12] [13] Margaret must have thought it a good match for the two applied to be married. [14] The application was swiftly approved and they were married on 3rd April 1832 at the Heber Chapel, Cobbity near Narellan. [15]

Over the next 18 years Margaret gave birth to eight children that we know of.  [16] 
Samuel is described variously as a stockman and then a grazier on the children's birth certificates.  [17] [18]
Articles in the local paper occasionally draw attention to the size or quality of their livestock or produce on their farm.  [19] [20]
It is difficult to know whether Margaret was able to continue her occupation as a dairymaid with such a large family.  The country in which she and Samuel were living near Yass was more sheep country than dairy country.  Newspaper articles supplied to me recently from the Yass HIstorical Society indicate that Samuel also seems to have had a fondness for mustering and trading in horses.  I also can't imagine how Margaret would have been able to maintain the hygenic conditions required for dairying when they lived in presumably quite primitive conditions.  
Sally McMurry's article Women's Work in Agriculture: Divergent Trends in England and America, 1800 to 1930in Comparative Studies in Society and History / Volume 34 / Issue 02 / April 1992, pp 248-270 gives the following insight:
"For many dairywomen, cheesemaking frequently imposed conflict with family obligations.  This is reflected in the recollections of someone who grew up in a Somerset cheesemaking household: When we were all young, Mother couldn' leave the cheese tubs tuh see us.  When the cheese were fast she had tuh be there...We used tuh go in an' say, "Mam, We'm hungry. We Wan' summit tuh eat." An' if the curd was forward enough she'd hit a piece off an' say, "ere, push this in thee mouth and geedon out.  I ab'n got time to play withee now." (quoted in Chris Howell, Memories of Cheddar (Chilcompton, Chris Howell, 1984). 89.

In a newspaper article from 1858, Margaret is censured for falling of her horse in a state of intoxication, despite her advanced years.  She broke three ribs and dislocated her shoulder which would have made life rather difficult without the comforts of today's automated household appliances and probably at least four children still at home. [21]
Margaret and Samuel were not alone in their vice.  Errol Lea-Scarlett's account of the district is as follows:
The Queanbeyan court, at all events, abated one widespread social evil at Gundaroo, and that was drunkenness, a fault created largely by the isolation and loneliness of convicts assigned to remote properties, coupled with the total absence of social contacts for the poorer classes. [22]
Both Margaret and her companion Ann Tierney were marginalised by society as women of the lowest class, tarred with the stain of their convict heritage and above all isolated through lack of social connections or hope of a better future.  Laudanum or alcohol gave them temporary or permanent release from their grim circumstances. 
[1] Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Friday, October 24, 1828; Issue 909. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900.
[2] England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Projectcontributors. Original Data:Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales; Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, Series HO 26 and HO 27; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.Class: HO 27; Piece: 35; Page: 430
[3] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Projectcontributors. Original data:New South Wales Government. Bound manuscript indents, 1788–1842. NRS 12188, microfiche 614–619,626–657, 660–695. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.
[4] Trove. "Family Notices" The Sydney Morning Herald, December 7, 1903, p.6 accessed June 14, 2016, - Death of Ann JONES relict of the late Rees Jones in her 94th year at Taemas, Yass.  [Note from author: Taemas was the property that Samuel Taylor claimed in 1838.  Rees Jonesm, auctioneer and former Mayor of Yass in 1875, was brother to David Jones of David Jones Pty Ltd fame.  David was, according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, one of nine children and came from Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire in Wales and the son of Thomas and Nancy Jones.  Baptismal records for children called Rees and Margaret of Thomas and Nancy Jones in Llandeilo have been located through Find My Past.  Margaret of Thomas and Nancy Jones was born in 1806.  Margaret Taylor (nee Jones) was born c. 1808.]
[5] Bateson, Charles, The Convict Ships 1787-1868, NSW: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1974, pp.348-349
[6] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals; Reference Number: ADM 101/69/1
[7] Casey, Mary 'Local Pottery and Dairying at the DMR Site, Brickfields, Sydney, New South Wales',Australasian Historical Archaeology, 17 (1999), pp. 3-26
[8] Hickson, Edna, 'William Cox', The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 1 (MUP), 1966
[9] Trove. "Floods" The Australian, April 16, 1830, p. 3, accessed June 14, 2016,
[10] New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 , Provo, UT, USA Operations Inc. 2012 . Original Data: State Archives NSW; Roll: 851
[11] "Convicts & Characters Of The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct". 2016. Parragirls.Org.Au. Extract from Twelve Years' Wanderings in the British Colonies, from 1835-1847, J.C. Byrne accessed June 14, 2016
[12] Conner, James, The Life of Samuel Taylor and Margaret Jones, Unpublished document, March 1991 - Ticket of Leave made available at NSW Archives -  Prisoner Number 109-5497 dated 27 July 1826 
[13] Mudie, James, The Felonry of New South Wales: Being a Faithful Picture of the Real Romance, London, 1837, p.205 accessed June 14, 2016.
[14] New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.Original data: Registers of convicts' applications to marry. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia: State Records Authority of New South Wales. Series 12212 State Archives NSW; Series: 12212; Item: 4/4512; Page: 43
[15] NSW Marriage certificate Parish of Narellan 1832/No. 1110 Vol 16 Samuel Taylor and Margaret Jones 
[16] Births in NSW BDM index 
2052/1849 V18492052 155 Rowland
2051/1845 V18452051 155 John T, 
2084/1844 V18442084 28 Susannah
1392/1843 V18431392 27A William, 
64/1837 V183764 22 Margaret
2053/1851 V18512053 155 George R 
Australia Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981," database, FamilySearch( : 11 December 2014), Henry Taylor, 21 Apr 1843; citing ; FHL microfilm 993,954.Australia Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981," database, 
FamilySearch( : 11 December 2014), Samuel Taylor, 08 Nov 1833; citing ; FHL microfilm 993,951
[17] NSW Baptism certificate Parish of Goulburn No. 779/Vol. 17 1833 Samuel Taylor.  Father shown as Stockman of Yass Plains.
[18] NSW Baptism certificate Parish of Yass No. 2051/Vol. 155 1845 John Thomas Taylor. Father shown as Grazier
[19] Trove. "Prolific Yield of Maize" The Argus, June 2, 1868, p. 6 accessed June 14, 2016
[20] Trove. "Monster Pig" Goulburn Herald, July 1, 1863, p. 2 accessed June 14, 2016
[21] Trove. "Dangerous Accident" Empire, March 23, 1858, p. 3 accessed June 14, 2016
[22] Lea-Scarlett, Errol, Gundaroo, Roebuck, Canberra (ACT), 1972, p. 15


Annotated map of Taemas

This blog post will be a bit waffly because I am fast running out of time to think clearly and make sensible well considered posts.  Please forgive me.  

Recently, for another University of Tasmania course called Place, Image, Object we had to make an annotated map of a place that was significant to us or our family history, bringing together subjective and objective elements. What an agonizing but fruitful exercise it was.  I chose to do a map showing some of my ancestor's land near Yass and Canberra where I grew up.  My ancestor was Samuel Taylor.

Here is my reflection on the task.

I created several annotated maps in the process of creating the final annotated map for my ancestor, Samuel Taylor.  At first I wanted to show how place names can be duplicated in different areas.  For example.  George Willmore originally called Arana Hills, the suburb where I work in Queensland, after Camden Park – a place familiar to him from New South Wales.  I work in Cobbity Crescent, off Narellan Street in Arana Hills Queensland.   Samuel Taylor was married at Cobbitty near Narellan in NSW. I felt like my ancestor was calling to me, wanting me to tell his story.  I decided to forget about where I was and focus instead on where he was at the time.

I had recently received a map from the Yass Historical Society showing Sam Taylor’s run.  I traced over it several times all the while I developed great respect for map-makers with legible writing and a steady hand. My faltering efforts led me to create a digital map instead. I exchanged one set of problems for another – how best to label in Google Maps?  What sequence for annotations?  I chose Alphabetical and put the events in chronological order.  As I re-traced the map several times, I saw more landmarks that connected with the newspaper stories I had collected over the years.  The digital result still didn’t feel right.  So I decided to play with collage because I am a patch worker and a hoarder at heart.  It seemed right in the end.  I know I will never be able to tell the whole story – just scraps.

You can check out my digital annotated map here.

And because I said this would be a meandering post, here is a picture of my daughter and me with my first completed patchwork/quilting project. See all the mess behind us?  That's what happens when you do family have been warned!

PS If you can get hold of the Patchwork Prisoners: the Rajah Quilt and the women who made it by Trudy Cowley and Dianne Snowden published in 2013, it is a fascinating read about 180 convict women transported to Tasmania in 1841.


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