Thursday, 28 February 2019

Some of the earliest burials in Sydney

The City of Sydney Archives has a spreadsheet listing the known burials at the Old Sydney Burial Ground, where Sydney Town Hall now stands. It was in use from 1790s until around 1820. At the time the burial ground was on the outskirts of Sydney's settlement, but now that settlement has far outgrown the 1.6 kms that the Town Hall is from Sydney Cove. A few of my ancestors are buried there, and people are invited to add some detail about their relatives, for the benefit of other researchers.

My relatives were Joseph STUBBS, Sophia STUBBS, Geoffrey STUBBS and their father Thomas STUBBS. Thomas was the actual father to Sophia and Geoffrey, and stepfather to Joseph. Sadly, these children were all infants when they died.

From the spreadsheet:


Joseph Stubbs was born on 29 December 1799 to John Fitz and convict Esther Spencer, and baptised as Joseph Clark Fitz on 2 February 1800 in Sydney (NSW BDM V1799855 1A). He died age nine months as Joseph Stubbs (NSW BDM V18001008 4 and V18001515 2A). No records can be found regarding John Fitz after the baptism of Joseph, so presumably Esther had begun a relationship with Thomas Stubbs before October 1800.

#2115 Sophia Stubbs was born to Thomas Stubbs and Ester Spencer on 18 June 1803 and baptised on 03 July 1803 in Sydney (NSW BDM V18031168 IA). Her father was Thomas Stubbs and her mother was convict, Esther Spencer. Sophia died at age three months and was buried on 27 September 1803 (NSW BDM V18031825 2A).

#2116 Godfrey Stubbs was born on 09 October 1814 and baptised at St Philip’s Church of England, Sydney, on 23 October 1814 (NSW BDM V18143435 IA). He was baptised as the son of Thomas and Esther Stubbs. He died on 02 November 1814 in Sydney, and was buried four days later (NSW BDM V18143284 2A), age 24 days. I can find no record of his name ever being Geoffrey. Possibly this is a transcription error. According to this table his age at burial was two years three months, but according to NSW BDM records there were no children of that name (or similar) being born in 1812, or dying in 1814. The only Stubbs death in 1814 was a Godfrey, NSW BDM 304/1814 V1814304 7 and 3284/1814 V18143284 2A.

#2117: Thomas was the father of Sophia and Geoffrey. He was a convict and builder/bricklayer. Born in 1774 in London, he was convicted at the Justice Hall, Old Bailey on 26 May 1790 to seven years was “indicted for stealing, on the 8th of March, a cloth coat, value 42 s. a pair of velvet breeches, value 16 s. two shirts, value 6 s. a pair of silver knee-buckles, value 3 s. the property of William Cook; two coats, value 4 l. a waistcoat, value 10 s. a pair of breeches, value 10 s. the property of John Weyman, in the dwelling house of the said John Weyman”.

Thomas sailed on the Third Fleet’s Albemarle, which departed Portsmouth on 27 March 1791. The Albemarle sailed via Madeira, the Cape of Good Hope, arriving at Port Jackson on 13 October 1791, after 200 days at sea. 

In the 1801 Muster he is listed as living in Sydney, expired (presumably meaning his sentence), with Jewish convict Esther Spencer (who arrived on the Indispensable in 1796).
In the 1806 Muster he is classified as being Free By Servitude, a bricklayer, with Esther Spencer (who is also listed as FBS although this is incorrect. She had a life sentence & there is no record of a pardon).
In the 1811 Muster he is shown as living in NSW, Convicted May 1790 at the Old Bailey for seven years, with Esther Spencer of the Indispensable 1, who has 7 children (with Thomas – she had two or possibly three children to previous partners), and that Esther was the wife of John Cant who arrived as a convict on the ship General Hewitt (I dispute this interpretation of a Colonial Secretary's letter from Cant. I believe that he was a lodger at Esther's boarding house in Phillip Street, Sydney, and Cant’s weekly payments to her were rent. Source: Third Fleet Transport: Albemarle – an alphabetical listing of convicts, masters, crew, naval & military complied by Merrilyn Minter).

On 6 February 1813 Thomas and Esther were tried at the Sydney Bench of Magistrates for violently assaulting Thomas & Catherine Clarkson, whose property in Hunter Street, Sydney adjoined Thomas and Esther’s house. The result was: “The court, on consideration, adjudge that Thomas Stubbs shall stand committed until he enter into a recognizance to keep the peace towards Thomas Clarkson and his wife for the space of Six Months himself in the sum of £20 - and two sureties in the sum of £10 - each.” (Source: ).

His son, auctioneer Thomas Stubbs, died in 1878 and on his death certificate it states that his father was in the Royal Navy. This was either the family “story” to hide his convict past, or maybe even a family joke.

Thomas and Esther had nine children together: my ancestor Mary Ann born 1801, Thomas born 1802, Sophia born 1803, Cecilia born 1805, Elizabeth born 1807, Annie Esther born 1809, George born 1811, John Emery born 1812, Godfrey born 1814.
Thomas died on 11 January 1815 in Kent St, Sydney (NSW BDM V18153327 2B). 

During excavation work to build Sydney Town Hall remains of some of these pre-1800 burials have been found. These remains have been moved to Rookwood Cemetery, and a monument erected in the memory of these people. Maybe Thomas and his children are together at Rookwood, or possibly still buried under or around the Town Hall.

The memorial to the remains of people removed from the Old Sydney Burial Ground,
now reinterred at Rookwood Cemetery

Plaque on the Rookwood memorial

Sydney Town Hall
Postcard courtesy of Flickr

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sarah Morris - from mother to convict to publican

Sarah Morris, was born Sarah Smith, possibly in London. At age 25 she married John William Morris at Christ Church Spitalfields on 3rd May 18251 and the following year their daughter, Jane, was born on 17th Jan 1826. Jane was baptised at age 3 at the Anglican Church of St John at Parramatta on 1st Feb 18292.

St John’s Church, Parramatta. Image courtesy of the State Library of NSW. # SV1B/Parr/2.

Less than two years after their marriage Sarah was convicted on 26th Oct 1826 for “Theft from a specified place”3.

The Old Bailey October session records the event: Sarah Morris was indicted for stealing, on the 14th of July, 25 yards of linen cloth, value 2l. 10s., the goods of John Marter, in his dwelling-house. 

John Marter responded: I am a linen-draper, and live on Holborn-hill. On the 14th of July, about a quarter to nine o'clock in the evening, the prisoner came to the shop to purchase a small quantity of muslin; I showed her several pieces; she bought a quarter of a yard, which came to 3d. - I saw her stoop down, which made me suspect her; I accused her of taking something off the counter; she said she had; she went to the further end of the shop, and produced this piece of linen cloth from under her gown; it measures 25 yards, and cost me 50s.; I have not measured it; she had not asked for anything but muslin. She was ill last Session, and not able to be tried. 

The police constable’s testimony: I am a constable. I took the prisoner into custody; she seemed much overcome, and implored forgiveness - she had 9d. in her pocket. I do not think she had any companions about.

The verdict was GUILTY, age 27. Of stealing to the value of 39s only. Transported for Seven Years. This was after Sarah had already spent three months awaiting trial in Newgate Prison4. 

Several more months in prison followed, then the “Free Settler or Felon?” website quotes: The prisoners began to come on board the Princess Charlotte on 5th March 1827. On that day 40 women and four children were embarked from Newgate [Prison]. The four women who brought children with them on the voyage were Violet Lawson, Sarah Morris, Ellen Walks and Sophia Zealey5.

Sarah and Jane are listed on the Convict Indent. Sarah is recorded as being a Ribbon Weaver and Needlewoman, native place being Holland6. Unless she meant Holland Park in west London this would indicate that she came to London between 1799 and 1825.

With 91 women and children on board the Princess Charlotte departed from Woolwich on 31st Mar 1827, and took just over four months to arrive in Sydney Cove on 22nd Oct 1827. From here she and Jane were sent to the 1st Class section of the Parramatta Female Factory7. Within six months she was before the Court of General Sessions in Sydney due to being “absent from her service” and as punishment was sent to the 3rd Class section of the Factory for one month from 5th May 1828.

The 1828 Australian Census (Australian copy) shows Sarah as being aged 29 years, still living at the Parramatta Female Factory8, and the UK National Archives (TNA) copy9 of Nov 1828 shows Sarah as working for a baker in King St, Sydney. Jane is listed as living at the Factory (Parramatta).

While still living at the Factory, two years later Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Mary Anne (my great-great-great-great grandmother). At Mary Anne’s baptism on 3rd Apr 1831 Sarah was listed as a single woman at the Factory10. Mary Anne’s father could have been former convict, Irishman John Usher, who arrived on the Medina in 1823. John and Sarah had applied to marry on 13th Aug 1831 but their application was refused by the Reverend Samuel Marsden as Sarah was known to be already married11. This refusal when Mary Ann was 18 months of age. 

One month after Mary Anne’s baptism at Parramatta, in May 1831 Sarah arrived at Newcastle Gaol as “Monitress to the refractory women”12. From there she was admitted to Sydney Gaol in Oct 1831, and then back to Newcastle Gaol a month later in Nov 183113

Two years later Sarah was granted her Certificate of Freedom14
It gives Sarah’s details as following:

28th October 1833
Prisoner’s No.
Sarah the Wife of Willm Morris
Pss Charlotte [Princess Charlotte]
Native Place,
Trade or Calling,
Ribbon Weaver
St of Linen [Stealing of Linen]
Place of Trial,
London G.D. [London Gaol Delivery]
Date of Trial,
26th October 1826
7 Years
Year of Birth,
5 feet 2 inches
Fair freckled
Dark Brown
General Remarks,
A small scar on the fore & middle fingers of the left hand

A month later Sarah had applied to marry former convict, Samuel Bailey. He had arrived on the Lord Eldon in 181715. He had arrived in Newcastle in 1820, for committing another crime once in the Colony. From there he was sent to Norfolk Island as a convict overseer. He had been in Parramatta or Sydney in Nov 1829, so he may have met Sarah then. He had a relationship with Ann Garraway, also of the Factory, producing a son, Samuel Bayly, who was born six months after Mary Anne. 

Samuel’s Ticket of Leave was then changed to from Parramatta to Maitland. By Dec 1833 he was living in Maitland, and he and Sarah applied to marry a few times before they were ultimately successful16

In all of Sarah’s previous applications to marry (both to John Usher and Samuel Bailey), she declared which ship she had arrived on. In the final application both Sarah and Samuel did not state which ships they came on, so the clerk could not use this information to cross-reference with their convict indents and realise that Sarah was already married to William Morris. Once this approval came through they were married at St Peters Anglican Church, East Maitland on 26 Dec 183617. Mary Anne later married Charles John Brackenreg, and Jane married Robert Lorne Pattison17.

By the time Sarah and Samuel married they had a child, Elizabeth C Bailey18 (1835 – 1914). Elizabeth married George Robert Brackenreg, a brother to Mary Anne’s husband.

More children followed:
Samuel Joseph Bailey 1837 – 1838 – died as an infant, buried at Glebe Cemetery
Henry Bailey 1839 – 1895 – married Esther Mary Hogan 
Caroline Grace Bailey 1841 – 1913 – married Charles Langford
Emily Phoebe Bailey 1844 – 1922 – married Thomas Gibson
Louisa Pattison Bailey 1849 – 19 – married William Henry Atkinson

From 1840 - 1854 Samuel was the Licensee of the Cottage of Content Hotel in Banks St, East Maitland19. As well as caring for their large family Sarah would have been of immense help to Samuel in the operation of this business.

Bailey’s “Cottage of Content” Hotel, cnr Banks St & Lawes St, East Maitland

Sarah died on 13th June 186018 at the Hotel, age 60. She was buried two days later at the Glebe Cemetery near St Peters Anglican Church, East Maitland. Sadly, no headstone marks the site of her grave. 

[1] Pallot's Marriage Index for England: 1780 – 1837,
[2] Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981,
[4] England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892,
[6] State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4012]; Microfiche: 665
[7] New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930,
[8] 1828 New South Wales, Australia Census (Australian Copy),
[9] 1828 New South Wales, Australia Census (TNA Copy),
[10] New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Baptisms, 1790-1916,
[11] New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851,
[12] Archive Office of NSW, Reel 2722 1836- 1838. Newcastle Gaol Entrance Books
[13] New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930,
[14] New South Wales Government. Butts of Certificates of Freedom. NRS 1165, 1166, 1167, 12208, 12210, reels 601, 602, 604, 982-1027. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales. 
[15] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842,
[16] New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851,
[17] Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950,
[18] New South Wales Births Deaths Marriages

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

World War I soldier, William James Barrett

This is my final essay for the Diploma in Family History, through the University of Tasmania.
After three years of readings, quizzes, research and assessments it is a bit of a relief to have finished.
I'm looking forward to UTAS coming up with an Advanced Diploma, and a bit of a break before it starts is very welcome.

This essay is a biography of a First World War soldier, sailor, or nurse. We were to write about their experience in the war and contextualise it within the broader history of the war. I've left off the Bibliography. Now to wait for the marks to be released..........

William James Barrett was my great-grandfather’s half-brother. Born in Sydney in September 1883, at only nine months of age he was severely assaulted by his father, and at age two he was admitted into New South Wales’ rudimentary foster care system, living with nine different families by the time he was returned to the care of his mother at age 16. This harsh early life may have prepared William for the stresses of serving in World War I.

Despite the 1917 voluntary enlistment rates falling well below the expected rate[1] William Barrett enlisted on 13 March 1917[2]. The heavy losses suffered by the AIF in a war that had been raging for almost 1,000 days meant that many more men were needed to bolster the numbers, and provide more manpower on all fronts. At the time, voluntary enlistment rather than conscription was the method used to recruit men to serve in World War I, particularly after a negative result towards conscription in the referendum held by Australian Prime Minister, Billy Hughes. The referendum did not specifically ask for an agreement towards conscription, rather seeking public approval to send men overseas to fight[3].

On the home front, William would have been subject to pressure to enlist from his fiancĂ©e, Emma Hill, whose own father, Richard, was away fighting with the 25th Battalion. In June 1915, at age 44½ Hill had enlisted in Brisbane into the Battalion’s 3rd Reinforcements, having previously served with the NSW Bushmen in the Boer War[4]. While Emma’s brothers, David, Robert, and Jack were too young to enlist, their enthusiasm and desire for the perceived adventure that war could provide could have been factors that swayed William towards enlisting, bolstering his image in the eyes of his future brothers-in-law.

HMAT A20 Hororata
Leaving Sydney on the HMAT A20 Hororata on 14th June 1917, the 9th Battalion 25th Reinforcements were a group of 152 men, consisting of 11 New South Welshmen and 141 Queenslanders[5].

On enlistment 33-year-old William was soon to be married to Emma, mother of his son, 9-month-old Frederick. Both of his parents had died in his birthplace of Sydney four years prior, and he noted his 13-year-old sister, Rita Lillian Barrett, as his next of kin. These next of kin details were amended shortly after William’s marriage to Emma, one month after enlistment. His War Service Record lists his age at enlistment as 37 years 5 months, four years older than was true[6]. The average age for men enlisting was 26 in 1916, falling to 24 by 1918[7], making William one of the war’s older recruits.

Janelle Collins, William James, Frederick, and Emma Barrett, 1917, digital image, personal collection.

During the first year of the war a third [of men trying to enlist] were rejected due to ill health or poor physical condition[8]. At only 5’4” and weighing 126 lbs William was recorded as having scars on both shins, a scar from a hernia operation, and scars on his chest and right arm. Complications from this hernia operation necessitated his early discharge from the Battalion after only four months of active service These debilitating and embarrassing symptoms afflicted him for the rest of his life. Fearing rejection from the Army, he may not have mentioned these symptoms to the Examining Medical Officer, or the stress of service and the conditions in Belgium may have exacerbated them.

After three months of infantry training at Durrington in England, William’s 25th Battalion was joined to the 3rd Infantry Battalion at Lark Hill, Salisbury, England, where they were sent straight to Chateau Segard near Ypres in Belgium. From here they were marched to Anzac Ridge, a distance of almost 20 kilometres.

While no personal letters from William to his family survive, Lieutenant Colonel Moore, Commander of the 3rd Infantry Battalion AIF kept detailed diaries of the events and action that took place during William’s service with the Battalion[9].
During the four brutal months that William was serving with the 3rd Infantry Battalion (October 1917 to January 1918) the men spent a month at Broodseinde Ridge and Passchendale, followed by two months over winter in nearby Messines. Most days were bitterly cold and wet, with much mud and snow, particularly on Christmas Eve.  Battalion order No.45 for 16th December 1917 had the men woken by reveille at 0230, with breakfast at 0300. Their training syllabus stated that “All officers are to bear in mind that the guiding principle is to train and harden the unfit”[10].
These diaries show troop movements, battles and the number of casualties. Only officers are mentioned by name. When the Company Commanders reported by wire that their men were all in position Lieutenant and Adjutant, Cecil J Clifton, would announce these words: “Rum has been issued”[11]. I’m sure that in the circumstances, many or even all the men at all levels of command were wishing that these words were a reality and not just code.

On the home front women, including Emma, were expected to keep the country going and were encouraged to support the war effort by joining voluntary organisations to raise money for the war. In addition to this they were often involved with organisations such as the Australian Red Cross and the Cheer-up Society[12]. While working to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads women were also expected to write letters to their own soldier and others, and knit socks and balaclavas, all which would have been of great comfort to the men.

William’s unit, the 3rd Division, was under the ultimate command of Major General John Monash, and was assigned to the II ANZAC Corps. At the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge on 4th October 1917, the 3rd Division advanced 1,800 metres, but suffered a toll of 1,800 killed or wounded. After holding the line for three days they withdrew for rest and reorganisation. Three days later they advanced over 2,700 metres but lost almost 3,200 men. They were eventually removed from the front line on 22 October as the Canadians took over from them. The fighting around Passchendaele proved to be the division's last offensive actions for 1917 and they spent the winter months in the rear training, or undertaking defensive duties in reasonably quiet sectors of the line as they were reformed and brought back up to strength[13]. The impact of all the devastation and destruction witnessed by William and the remainder of the 3rd Division is unimaginable.

William returned to Australia on the RMS Osterley in April 1918. Being discharged at Brisbane due to debility could have caused William mixed emotions. He may have been relieved to be home from war, but also missing the men of his Division who would have become like brothers after facing such harrowing conditions.  The division was out of the line when news of the Armistice came on 11 November 1918. Following the end of hostilities, the demobilisation process began and as men were repatriated back to Australia, the division was eventually disbanded on 28 May 1919[14].

Once at home in Brisbane William’s service was discharged on 17th May 1918. Prior to his war service William was recorded as being previously employed as a farmer, carter, coal miner, and labourer. His Repatriation Record[15] shows his desire to find employment as a Railway Servant, an occupation he held until his death in 1938, taking him from Roma to Murgon. William’s medical conditions were apparent prior to enlistment, as noted on his War Service Record[16], although his symptoms were recorded as originated “since enlistment”[17].


William’s death in December 1938[18] was caused by cerebral thrombosis and arteriosclerosis, being age and lifestyle-related in nature rather than being caused by his war service. He is buried in an unmarked grave at Wondai Cemetery in south-east Queensland.

[1] Petrow, Stefan, HAA107 Families at War – Module 2 Chapter 2: Fighting for Australia? Volunteers vs   Conscripts, Accessed 10 May 2017.
[2] Service Record of William James Barrett, B2455, National Archives of Australia
[3] Petrow, Stefan, Fighting for Australia? Volunteers vs Conscripts
[4] Service Record of Richard Hill, B2455, National Archives of Australia
[5] UNSW Australia, ‘The AIF Project’, , Accessed 10 May 2017.
[6]  Service Record of William James Barrett, B2455, National Archives of Australia
[8] Tyquin, Michael, ‘Unjustly accused? Medical authorities and army recruitment in Australia 1914 – 1918’, Journal of Military and Veteran’s Health, Vol. 22, No. 2 (2014), . Accessed 15 May 2017.

[9] Australian War Memorial AWM4 Subclass 23/3 – 3rd Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War, October 1917, November 1917, December 1917, January 1918. Accessed 10 May 2017.
[10] Australian War Memorial AWM4 Subclass 23/3 – 3rd Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War, December 1917. Accessed 10 May 2017.
[11] Australian War Memorial AWM4 Subclass 23/3 – 3rd Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War, October 1917. Accessed 10 May 2017.
[12] State Library of New South Wales, ‘World War I and Australia: Homefront’,

[13] Palazzo, Albert, Defenders of Australia: The 3rd Australian Division 1916–1991. Loftus, Australian Military Historical Publications, 2002, pages 37-40.
[14] Palazzo, Albert, Defenders of Australia: The 3rd Australian Division 1916–1991, page 54.
[15] Repatriation Record of William James Barrett, BP709/1, National Archives of Australia.
[16]  Service Record of William James Barrett, B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[17]  Repatriation Record of William James Barrett, BP709/1, National Archives of Australia.
[18] Death Certificate of William James Barrett, died 06 December 1938, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Queensland, 4818/1938.