Celebrations in 2013 of Norfolk Islanders to VDL 1813

A Gathering on the Norfolk Plains 2013

Tasmanian's Norfolk Plains were named to acknowledge

the Norfolk Islanders expelled from the island in 1813

and resettled in this part of Tasmania (the area

comprising the towns and rural properties around

Longford, Cressy, Bishopsbourne, Illawarra and Perth).

A full programme of events is planned over the weekend of 1-3 March 2013.

'A Gathering of the Norfolk Plains' will be held to commemorate
200 years since the Norfolk Islanders settled the plains.

Descendant's Day will be held on Saturday 2 March
(venue to be announced shortly).

(download PDF)

To register your interest in participating in Descendant's Day,
please contact the Northern Midlands Council's Tourist Officer,
Fiona Dewar, on email: fiona.dewar@nmc.tas.gov.au
or phone 03 6397 7321.


A Commemorative Medallion can be purchased for the event.
Click below to download the pdf order form
Medallion Order Form

I will be having a stall and would like to meet as many

Norfolk Islanders both from the 1807-8 and the

1813 descendants as I can.

I am sure many descendants in the south of the island

will also have contacts with the northern ones.   



             Lady Nelson  River Thames 1800.        

The last two ships to bring those who remained on Norfolk Island after the

first wave of over 500 passengers departed for Van Diemen's Land between

1807-1813, was the Lady Nelson and the Minstrel.



Norfolk Islanders

Who Sailed from Norfolk Island to Port Dalrymple

On the Lady Nelson and the Minstrel in 1813.


I will be using this space to add anything about the settlers who

came from Norfolk Island to Port Dalrymple in 1813 on the Lady

Nelson and the Minstrel.

If anyone would like to contribute

in anyway please send me what you have on Word and I will

contact you before displaying it.


Longford Tasmania: Voices From the Graves.

This delightful package contains a self-guided walk brochure

Voices from the Graves - Christ Church Longford and its

companion book, In Heven as it is on Earth.


Voices From the Graves

Mary Ann Wise 1825-1827


Zimram Youram 1763-1848

Windmill Hill

Available from Heritage Highway:

website: www.heritagehighway.com.au


Books that have been written about Port Dalrymple anf Norfolk

Plains (Longford) over the years.

Norfolk Island Embarkations to VDL 1807-1813.

The Story of Port Dalrymple by L.S. Bethell. Published (no date)

Old Longford by G.W. Hudson. 1976.

Exiled Three Times Over by Irene Schaffer & Thelma McKay. 1991.

Land Musters and Stock Lists 1803-1822 by I Schaffer 1991.

Norfolk Island Embarkations 1807-1813 by Irene Schaffer 1986

First Fleet Burials Christ Church Longford by I Schaffer 1988

A Short Story of the Lady Nelson by Irene Schaffer 1996 

Van Diemen's Land The First Ten Years by Irene Schaffer 1987

Free Women of Norfolk Plains by Irene Schaffer 1991 

James Jordan Last Journey by Irene Schaffer 1991

James Jordan's Trial Dublin 1789 by Irene Schaffer 2009

Mistress of Pleasant Banks. by Irene Schaffer 1993 

Longford - Evandale Excursion by Irene Schaffer 1992

Cart Licences 1823-1831 Northern Tasmania by I Schaffer 1992

A Most Remarkable Woman Mary Bowater by I Schaffer 2005

Norfolk Islanders sailed to VDL 1807-1813 by I Schaffer 2007

Lady Nelson H.M.Armed Tender1798-1825 by I Schaffer 2007

The End of a Long Journey
by Irene Schaffer 2007

Captains and Crew on the Original Lady Nelson by I Schaffer


Lt. James Grant R.N. & Colonial Brig Lady Nelson by I Schaffer



Norfolk Islanders

Who Sailed from Norfolk Island to Port Dalrymple

On the Lady Nelson and the Minstrel in 1813.


Twenty men, seven women and sixteen children sailed on the Lady Nelson when it left . Norfolk Island, arriving on the 1 March 1813 at the Tamar River on the northern part of Van Diemen’s Land.

James Davie (Davey) was the only man classed as being free, having gained his freedom after he arrived with Lt. Col. David Collins in 1804 to the River Derwent, before proceeding to Norfolk Island. All the other men had arrived on Norfolk Island as prisoners and were classed on the passenger list according to their class 1,2, 3.  There was one male prisoner, John Eady.


List of passengers on the Lady Nelson. [1]

1/         William Fisher and wife Mary Randle - Class 1

2/         William Blackhall and wife Ann Yeoman – Class 1

3/         John Cox wife Ann Brooks and 7 children – Class 1

4/         Richard Sydes wife Ann White and 5 children – Class 1

5/         Thomas Sparks – Class1

6/         Joseph Trindy (Snr) – Class 1

7/         Joseph Lowe wife Elizabeth Hayward and 2 children –  Class 2

8/         Samuel Day wife Mary Bolton 2 children – Class 2

9/         George Eggleston – Class 2

10/       Thomas Lock – Class 2

11/       John Moore – Class 2

12/       John Taylor – Class 2

13/       James Trinby – Class 3

14/       William Clayton – Class 3

15/       John Hassan – Class 3

16/       Joseph Trinby – Class 3

17/       Zimram Wriam – Class 3

18/       John Walsh – Class 3

19/       Anne Poare – Class 3

20/       James Davie Free

21/       John Eady – Prisoner

Six of the men had arrived on the First Fleet – William Blackhall, Samuel Day, George Eggleston, William Fisher, Thomas Sparks and Joseph Trinby.

Three women were also First Fleeters – Mary Bolton, Mary Randall and Elizabeth Hayward. The  other two were off the Second Fleet – Ann Yeoman and Ann White. [2]


The Minstrel sailed from Norfolk Island arriving in the Tamar River on 4 March 1813 (3 days after the Lady Nelson)

There were fourteen men and two women who had gained their freedom while on Norfolk Island.  Nine men and three women came free, and fourteen male prisoners, and two extras.


List of passengers on the Minstrel.

1/         John Herbart and 2 children – Class 1

2/         John Stevens wife Mary Phillips and 3 children – Class 1

3/         James Jorden and 4 children – Class 1

4/         James Blow – Class 1

5/         John Davies – Class 1

6/         William Roache – Class 2

7/         Samuel Carter – Class 2

8/         Joseph Harrison – Class 2

9/         John Smith – Class 2

10/       Neal Harrigan – Class 2

11/       Thomas Sheatch – Class 2

12/       William Saltmarsh – Class 2

13/       Richard Jorden – Class 2

14/       William Windsor – Class 2

15/       Sarah Clayton – Free

16/       Sarah Clayton – Free

17/       Patrick McDonough – Free

18/       John Townsand – Free

19/       William Knight – Free

20/       Fane Edge – Free

21/       James Edwards - Free

22/       Patrick Mahon – Free

23/       Hannah Mathews – Free

24/       John Tyre – Free

25/       John Knowland – Free

26/       Thomas Sellick – Free

27/       Mosquetto (Port Jackson Native) – Prisoner

28/       John Smith – Prisoner

29/       Patrick Skeene – Prisoner

30/       James Dawson – Prisoner

31/       John Delany – Prisoner

32/       Samuel Baker – Prisoner

33/       Thomas Brenam – Prisoner

34/       Samuel Baby – Prisoner

35/       Richard Higgins – Prisoner

36/       William Jones – Prisoner

37/       Henry Mullins – Prisoner

38/       Thomas Mason – Prisoner

39/       George Mackey – Prisoner

40/       Thomas Hinton – Prisoner

41/       Henry Clayton - extra

42/       John White – extra

Three of the male passengers arrived on the First Fleet - Joseph Harrison, John Knowland and Thomas Sheatch. Mary Phillips was the only women on the Minstrel who had arrived on the First Fleet.



 John Alexander Herbert

Rocky Hill Norfolk Plains built by John Herbert.
                                                               Painting by Rosemary Mastnak

                                                                             (c) Ivan Badcock
Minstrel 1813

Early Years

Information on John’s early years is currently limited. He was born in a house at Long Lane, District of Smithfield, Town of Holborn,County of London early in 1767. Long Lane is near Central London, nearby being the Smithfield Markets, the Old Bailey Courts, St. Andrew’s Church of England and the River Thames.

John was baptised at the St. Andrew’s Church of England, Holborn on 26 April 1767, with his parents being recorded as James and Elizabeth Herbert.

Social Conditions, England – 1760s - 1780s  

At the turn of the 18th. Century, London, England was both a bustling metropolis and a dark and desperate place. With a population of over 800,000 people, London was the largest city in Europe and the home of the wealthiest subjects of the British Empire, but also contained a large population of poor and indigent citizens who sought to eke out a living on the city’s mean streets.

There was little work available and the population was exploding.

The American War of Independence which had raged from 1775 until 1783 had been lost, and by the declaration of peace in 1783 the British government had permanently lost its considerable colonial tax revenues and was struggling with a large National Debt.

Massive cutbacks were made to the army and navy which resulted in thousands of soldiers and sailors being thrown into an already depressed job market.

The 1780s was a time of recession and many stole to survive. To deter the growing influx of crime, the Georgian era Parliament brought into being stiff laws, known as the “Bloody Code”, which created some 250 capital statutes that were punishable by death or “transportation to lands beyond the seas.”

Soon the gaols were filled to overflowing. Many of the convictions were for crimes of necessity, being the theft of food, clothes, money or other items that could be readily converted into cash, to enable the purchase of the necessities of life.

Arrest and Trial

On5 April 1784, John was taken into custody on the charge of pick pocketing, stealing a silk handkerchief from John Thompson, value one shilling.

Sixteen days later or on Wednesday, 21 April, he appeared at the Old Bailey court, Justice Hall, London, with the trial being conducted before a jury and a presiding judge, Mr. Barron Eyre.

John was found guilty and sentenced to be transported for seven years.

Evidence given at the trial-

John Thompson Sworn – “About 12 o’clockon the 5th. April I lost my handkerchief, I was walking along Smithfield, and a gentleman called to me and said I had lost my handkerchief, I turned around and the gentleman had the boy and my handkerchief.”

Alexander, Sworn – “Between 10 and 11 o’clock, I observed the prisoner and some others attempting to pick gentlemen’s pockets; at last I observed the prosecutor come along, and the prisoner followed him; and when he came to the corner of Long Lane, he picked his pocket; I followed him, I clapped my hands around the prisoner, and he dropped the handkerchief from under his coat; that was about eight or ten yards from where he took it.”

Prison Hulks – “Censor”

After sentencing John soon found himself aboard the prison hulk Censor, one of the two hulks where prisoners sentenced to transportation were held. Initially the Censor was scheduled to hold up to 183 prisoners, while the second hulk, Justitia, 125. However with increasing prison numbers and a hold on prisoners being transported, over crowding soon occurred. By 30 November 1784 the Overseer of Convicts, Duncan Campbell, is writing to the Treasury Department proposing that the Censor inmates be increased to 240 convicts and upwards.

Hulk Conditions

Conditions aboard the hulks were appalling resulting in mortality rates of around 30% being quite common. Between 1776 and 1795 nearly 2,000 out of almost 6,000 convicts serving their sentence on board the hulks, died.

The standard of hygiene was so poor that disease spread quickly. The sick were given little medical attention and were not separated from the healthy. The living quarters were very bad. Sleeping, whether sick or healthy, was undertaken on the bare boards of the floor and with shackles attached, often both around the waist and ankles. There was barely enough room for a man to stand up straight. The stench emanating from the hulks reached from bank to bank across theThames. The men were frequently flogged with a cat o’nine tails.

Food on the Hulks

The authorities were always keen to keep down the cost of the prisons. They wanted to avoid giving the prisoners a better life than the poor outside the hulks. The quality of the prisoners’ food was therefore kept as low as possible. The monotonous daily meals consisted chiefly of: -  ox-cheek, either boiled or made into soup. pease, bread or biscuit.

The biscuits were often mouldy and green on both sides! On two days a week the meat was replaced by oatmeal and cheese. Each prisoner had two pints of beer four days a week, and badly filtered water, drawn from the river, on the others.

Sometimes the Captain of the hulk would allow the convicts to plant vegetables in plots near the Arsenal. This attempt to add something extra to the poor diet of the prisoners depended on the good will, or otherwise, of the individual in charge.

Convict Dress

As well as being unhealthy the convicts were mostly poorly dressed. They were supposed to have: -  linen shirt, a brown jacket, a pair of breeches.

But the men who controlled the ships often pocketed the money the Government had given for the clothes.

A prison reformer of the time, John Howard, periodically visited the hulks and found “many had no shirts, some no waistcoats, some no stockings and some no shoes.”

Many convicts were forced to rely on their friends and relatives for clothing.

Employment of the Hulk Convicts

The convicts imprisoned aboard the hulks were taken ashore in work parties when “health and weather” permitted.

In a Report of Convicts ordered to Hard Labour on board the Hulks from 11 July to October 1785, (John Herbert was aboard the Censor at this time) contained the names of 278 convicts. Their supervisor, Duncan Campbell, wrote as follows- “The convicts named in the above return have since last report been employed, when health and weather permitted, in raising gravel from Barking or Woolwich Shoals, in wheeling the same for the purpose of filling up a large moat making considerably higher the ground contiguous to the Proof and Practice Butts which they have erected; in sawing of timber for the Laboratory, and in other occasional work in the Warren of Woolwich under the direction of the officers of the Board of Ordnance.”

Transportation of Convicts to New Holand.

After the loss of the American Colonies the British Government began to look at other suitable places where prisoners could be sent and the glowing reports given by Captain Cook and Joseph Banks about New Holland and Norfolk Island soon attracted the attention of the authorities. On 6 December 1786, an order-in-council was issued designating “the Eastern Coast of New South Wales, or some one or other of the Islands adjacent” as the destination for transported convicts, as required by the Transportation Act of 1784 (24 Geo 111, c56) that authorised the sending convicted felons to any place appointed by the King in Council.

An article in “The Universal Daily Register” (the forerunner of “The Times”) of23 December 1786revealed the plan for a dual colonization of Botany Bay and Norfolk Island. “The ships for Botany Ba yare not to leave all the convicts there: some of them to be taken to Norfolk Island, which is about 800 miles east of Botany Bay, and about 400 miles short ofNew Zealand.”

Captain Arthur Phillip’s instructions given to him in April 1787, only weeks before sailing for New Holland, included an injunction to send a party to secure Norfolk Island “as soon as circumstances may admit it ……… to prevent it being occupied by the Subjects of any other European Power.”

The urgency to settle Norfolk Island was to secure a source of hemp which was vital in the production of rope and sails necessary for both military and commercial vessels, following a threat to cut off their existing supplies from Russia.

Embarkation for Botany Bay.

Once the decision was made to establish a settlement in New Holland, planning commenced and ships were secured and prepared for the journey including the building of prison quarters on the convict transports, crews obtained and supplies assembled. A list of convicts to be transported was also drawn up, 759 names in total, made up of 568 males and 191 females. John Herbert was included at number five on this list. The Fleet which is now known as The First Fleet consisted of 11 ships and near 1,500 persons, including sailors, marines, officials, wives and children.

John Herbert commenced his journey to the Colony, leaving the Hulk Censor on 24 February 1787 to travel to Portsmouth for embarkation. This move was by waggon and under light horse guard.

An account for costs in relation to the transportation of convicts from Woolwich toPlymouthprovides a glimpse of this part of his journey. Contractors undertaking the transfer were Townshend and Thomas Sing and their account for costs is as follows- Bread, cheese and beer and other articles for 20 convicts on the road
  Expenses attending and guarding said convicts from Woolwich to Cumberland Fort £8-0-0, Horse hire for Sing and Townshend in so doing, 6 days
Waggons £13-3-3.

John Herbert was allocated to the transport Scarborough, however due to bad weather on arrival at Portsmouth embarkation was delayed for five days. The next nine weeks or until 13 May was spent in port aboard the Scarborough awaiting the Fleet to get underway. A witness of that time, Lieutenant King, noted “they were confined to their cells below deck, handcuffed together, from the time of their embarkation”.

The Scarborough was a relatively new ship of 418 tons that had been built in 1782 at the Port of Scarborough, England. It measured 111 feet 6 inches in length, at its widest 30 feet 2 inches, had two decks and had been rigged as a barque. It was to sail with 208 convicts, all male.

The Voyage to New Holland.

After several delays the Fleet at last weighed anchor at 3.00am on Sunday, 13 May 1787 with the destination being Botany Bay, some 13,000 miles away.

The journey was not without its difficulties, and for those travelling aboard the Scarborough, a number of events have been recorded.

There was trouble with the prisoners from the outset. Many were in indifferent health when they embarked and their confinement in the prisons below deck had led to the outbreak of illness, despite the fact that they were receiving fresh provisions.

Further trouble occurred a week after setting sail, or on 20 May, when the Fleet was 200 miles west of the Scilly Islands, with the serious report being received by the Scarborough’s captain that a plot had been formed among the convicts to seize the ship. The Fleet was brought to a stop and hove to while the problem was dealt with. The supposed ring leaders were identified – Phillip Farrell and Thomas Griffiths – who were then transferred to HMS Sirius, where they were each given 24 lashes, heavily ironed, and then sent on to the Prince of Wales. The ships again hoisted their sails heading for Teneriffe in the Canary Islands where they dropped anchor on 3 June.

The Fleet then headed for South America reaching Rio de Janeiro on 6 August where they stayed for a month recuperating, sailing from there on 5 September. After leaving Rio there was trouble with the marines aboard the Scarborough, with some of these marines receiving 50 to 150 lashes for different offences.

On 13 October the Fleet reached the Cape of Good Hopedropping anchor in Table Bay. There they stayed a month recuperating and taking on fresh supplies.

On 12 November the Fleet sets sail with destination being Botany Bay. It was an uncomfortable passage with the ships being buffeted by rough seas. During several of these storms the Scarborough shipped a considerable amount of water, which left the prisoners soaked and their cells awash. How miserable this must have been for those imprisoned below!

On 6 December storms gave way to thick fog, with three of the ships, Friendship, Alexander and Scarborough, finding themselves in close proximity to each other but not visible to one another. It must have been an eerie experience for the sodden convicts, as huddled below in the damp and foul prisons, they listened apprehensively to the booming of the ship’s guns and the ringing of their bells as the crews sought to avoid collision.

Their first sight of New Holland occurred on5 January, 1788 when the coast o fVan Diemen’s Landwas sighted and by 18 January, the Supply, the fastest ship of the Fleet, had reached Botany Bay, dropping anchor at 2.15 in the afternoon. The three transport ships, Scarborough, Friendship and Alexander reached port at 8.00 amnext day with the remainder of the Fleet coming to anchor at 9.00ama further day later.

On arrival a party of 20 convicts from the Scarborough were put ashore with their instructions being to start clearing land in preparation to establish a settlement. One wonders if John Herbert, our forebear, may have been amongst the first of those arriving to set foot on Australian soil, but if not, soon did so at Port Jackson.

Sydney Cove,  Port Jackson

The arrival of the Fleet at Sydney Cove on the late afternoon of 26 January 1788 for John Herbert meant the end of one segment of his life and the beginning of another. Life in the future would be on land and not aboard ship as his last four years had been. Social conditions and the environment would be very different. Instead of life in the midst of a city ,London, he was now in the midst of virgin bush with the challenge being to survive and to come to terms with a very different climate, isolation, and a new mind set relating to settlement and nation building.

The first unexpected surprise had just happened: two days earlier, or on 24 January, the members of the Fleet were greatly astonished by the appearance of two ships with French colours. However by adverse weather they were driven out to sea and out of sight. There was much conjecture and some suspicion in some quarters. Two days later they again appeared and on this occasion entered Botany Bay. They were soon identified as the research vessels, the Bousole and the Astrolabe under the command of La Perouse. It was a great relief to discover that their intentions were peaceful and activity was being directed to research and discovery. The two vessels it was learned had sailed from Franceon 1 August 1785.They were to remain at Botany Bay for six weeks, sailing from there on the 10th. March.

Possibly another surprise for John was the discovery that there was a second John Herbert at the settlement, also a convict. He had been tried at Exeteron14 March 1785 for highway robbery at Plymouth, sentenced to death, with the sentence commuted to 7 years transportation. He arrived with the First Fleet aboard the Charlotte and in the same year married Deborah Ellam. By 1806 records note they had a family of 7 children and living at Prospect Hill west of Parramatta.

The presence of two by the name of John Herbert at Sydney Cove may have been the cause of some confusion and this may be the reason why our John Herbert, on at least one occasion, was recorded as Thomas Herbert. But why use the name Thomas? Could this hark back to the Biblical disciple who was identified as “Thomas the twin” or was it just a mistake in recording his identity?

Around 6.00pm on 26 January 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip and other senior members of the expedition came together on shore, the colours raised and New   South Wales declared a possession of the British Crown. They also drank the King’s health and success to the settlement.

A major event occurred 12 days later, 7 February, when all the people of those arriving, the officials, marines, convicts, wives and children were brought together as on group for the first time. On one side of Governor Phillip were the officers and marines and on his other side stood the convicts.

He reminded the convicts they were still in a state of custody and had their remaining sentence to serve out. If they were subservient and obeyed directions, they could expect to be treated well and receive rewards, but if they broke the rules and behaved badly, the full force of the law would fall upon them.

In this speech Governor Phillip spoke of the importance of marriage in society and strongly recommended that couples enter into marriage, and promised every kind of countenance and assistance to those who entered this state.

The speech appears to have had some effect as in the course of the ensuing week fourteen marriages took place among the convicts.

The first week after arrival at Sydney Cove, located where the Opera House now stands, “all was hurry and exertion”. The plan of the encampment was quickly formed, and places were marked out for every different purpose, so as to introduce, as much as possible, strict order and regularity.

A picture of the activity and development at Sydney Cove in the two years from founding in 1788 to April 1790, is revealed in the journal of Captain Hunter who during this time had been residing onNorfolk Island. He says “When I left Port Jackson in February, 1788, the ground around Sydney Cove was covered with a thick forest, but on my return at this time, I found it cleared to a considerable distance, and some good buildings were erected.


James Jordan 

                                                                            (c)Irene Schaffer 

Minstrel 1813



 ALSO KNOWN AS                          Jordan, Gordan, Sheridan


BORN                                                            c1756 Ireland


TRIED                                               Dublin March 1789   7 years


TRANSPORTED                             Queen, 1791  (3rd Fleet)


TO NORFOLK ISLAND                Atlantic, 1792


TRADE                                             Pilot, Coxswain, farmer


MARRIED/WITH                            Mary Butler 1794 (no record found)


DIED                                                  6 February 1840


PLACE                                              Talisker White Hills Tasmania


BURIED                                            Christ Church Norfolk Plains


LAND                                                            90 acres Norfolk Plains Tasmania






WIFE                                                 Mary Butler


BORN                                                            c1772 England


TRIED                                               Middlesex 12 December 1787     7 years


TRANSPORTED                             Lady Juliana, 1790  (2nd Fleet)


TO NORFOLK ISLAND                Surprise, 1st August 1790


DIED                                                  c1813 Norfolk Island






1.  RICHARD                       Born               23 December 1794 NI

    (BUTLER)                        With                Sarah Wright 1816

                                               Married          Sarah Field 22 Jan. 1838

                                               Married          Mary Lockett 31 October 1843

                                               Died                Sarah Wright ………..

                                               Died                Sarah 4 April 1840

                                               Died                Richard 10 May 1854


2.  CATHERINE                    Born               c 1801 Norfolk Island

     (BUTLER)                         Married          James Davey 18 January 1819

                                                Died                Catherine 15 Dec. 1839

                                                Buried             Christ Church Norfolk Plains

                                                Died                James 1865

                                                Buried            Christ Church 1 Jul 1865


3.   JAMES                            Born               19 November 1802 NI

      (BUTLER)                       Married          Ann Eagan     4 Feb 1822

                                               Died                Ann 22 July 1857

                                               Buried              Longford Cemetery

                                               Died                James 10 August 1888

                                               Buried              Longford Cemetery


4.    THOMAS                        Born               c1807 Norfolk Island

       (BUTLER)                       Married          Abigail Hanlon 8 October 1839

                                                Died                Abigail 16 Dec 1866 Vic

                                                Buried              St Kilda Vic

                                                Died                Thomas 4 September 1888

                                                Buried              Beechworth  Vic


5.    JOHN                              Born               c1809  Norfolk Island

      (BUTLER)                        Married          Frances Quinn 24 March 1834

                                                Died                Frances 1 October 1897 Laun.

                                           Died                John 28 August 1879 Westmorland

                                                Burid               St. Marks Deloraine


Mary Butler’s son William (Saltmarsh)


1.   WILLIAM                       Born               13 August 1792 NI

      (BUTLER)                       Mother           Mary Butler

                                                Father             William Saltmarsh  (1st Fleet)

SALTMARSH                      Married          Elizabeth Stevens 18 Jan 1819

                                                Place               St. Johns Church Launceston

                                                Died                21 November 1863 Norfolk Plains

                                                Buried             Christ Church Longford     


See - James Jordan Last Journey  for full story.




Minstrel 1813 

ALSO KNOWN AS                          BUTLER

BORN                        13 AUG 1792 NORFOLK ISLAND


MARRIED:               Elizabeth STEVENS 18 JAN 1819

                                    St Johns Church Launceston TAS


DIED;                         21 NOV 1863 at Norfolk Plains East VDL


BURIED:                   23 NOV 1863 Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS.


TRADE:                    Farmer, district constable   






WIFE:                             Elizabeth STEVENS

BORN:                           c1796 Norfolk Island

DIED:                             Sep 1840 Norfolk Plains

BURIED:                        Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS





1.   JAMES JOHN           Born:          20 APR 1816 in Norfolk Plains VDL,

      (SALTMARSH)         Baptized:   29 AUG 1836 in St Johns Church
                                                              LAUNCESTON TAS

                                           Married:    (1) 20 APR 1843 AliciROBINSON/BURNETT

                                                               (2) 08 NOV 1854 Anne HILLIER

                                                               (3) 13 APR 1858 Mary MORLEY

                                          Died:            5 JUL 1888 in Longford TAS

                                         Buried:         7 JUL 1888 in Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS.         


2. MARY                         Born:         18 MAR 1818  Norfolk Plains VDL

   (SALTMARSH)          Married:    10 SEP 1839  Richard WISE

                                         Died:          24 APR 1874 in Longford TAS

                                         Buried:      26 APR 1874 in Christ Church Cemeter
                                                    Longford TAS.



3. WILLIAM EDWARD Born:       03 OCT 1819  Norfolk Plains East TAS

     (SALTMARSH)         Baptized :12 JAN 1820 in St Johns Church LAUNCESTON

                                          Married:  (1) 02 MAR 1841 Maria WEBB      

                                                           (2) 09 APR 1859 Elizabeth BUNTON

                                          Died:       19 MAR 1872 in Longford TAS.     


4.    JOHN                        Born:        21 AUG 1821 Norfolk Plains VDL

      (SALTMARSH)        Baptized:  17 SEP 1821 in St Johns Church LAUNCESTON

                                          Married:   14 MAY 1844  Elizabeth Letitia HODGETTS

                                          Died:         06 MAY 1891 Longford TAS

                                          Buried:      08 MAY 1891 Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS


5.   ELIZABETH             Born:       19 JUN 1823 Norfolk Plains VDL

      (SALTMARSH)        Baptized: 23 OCT 1823 Christ Church LONGFORD TAS

                                          Married:  23 JAN 1845 Samuel HARDMAN

                                          Died:       16 JAN 1897 Launceston TAS

                                          Buried:    18 JAN 1897 Cypress St Cemetery
                                                     LAUNCESTON TAS


6.  THOMAS                   Born:      10 DEC 1824  Norfolk Plains VDL

     (SALTMARSH)         Baptized: 04 APR 1825 Christ Church LONGFORD TAS

                                          Married:  21 SEP 1847 Sarah HODGETTS

                                          Died:       13 DEC 1871  Longford TAS

                                          Buried:    Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS.  


7.  RICHARD                  Born:       09 OCT 1828  Norfolk Plains VDL

     (SALTMARSH)         Baptized: 25 JAN 1829 St Johns Church LAUNCESTON TAS,

                                          Married:  08 MAY 1855 Elizabeth DYER

                                          Died:       25 JUN 1906 Cressy TAS

                                          Buried:    Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS.  


8.  SARAH                      Born:       17 OCT 1830 Norfolk Plains VDL

      (SALTMARSH)       Baptized: 25 DEC 1830 Christ Church LONGFORD TAS

                                         Married:  28 NOV 1850 John HYRONS

                                         Buried:    14 AUG 1870 Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS. 


9. JOSEPH                      Born:      3 OCT 1832 Norfolk Plains VDL

    (SALTMARSH)         Baptized: 09 DEC 1833 Christ Church LONGFORD TAS

                                         Died:       06 MAR 1861 Longford TAS

                                         Buried:    Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS. 

                                  (Cohabited with Elizabeth BAYLIS  She is buried at
                            Christ   Church Longford,

                                   inscription reads 'Elizabeth m Saltmarsh, age 74, wife
                            of Joseph
died 20 COT 1957".)


10. ANNIE                     Born:         20 JUN 1835 Norfolk Plains VDL

       (SALTMARSH)      Baptized:  04 OCT 1835 Christ Church LONGFORD TAS

                                        Married:   05 AUG 1856 Douglas McDOWALL

                                        Died:         09 MAR 1866 Circular Head TAS

                                        Buried:      11 MAR 1866  Launceston TAS.     



11.  ELIZA                     Born:        21 DEC 1837 Norfolk Plains VDL

                                        Baptized:   21 JAN 1838 in Christ Church LONGFORD

                                        (Eloped with a married man Robert Chandler in 1858/59 &
                                  she was disinherited

                                        by her father and there is no further known record of her.)






 William Saltmarsh was born at Norfolk Island to William Saltmarsh & Mary Butler (qv)  (1st and 2nd FLEETERS)


  His father was sent back to England via Bengal INDIA per "PITT' on 7 MAY 1792 as Lt. Gov. King described him as "just another scoundrel".


His mother Mary Butler co-habited with James Jordan on Norfolk Island & she had another 5 children.  She died on Norfolk Island before the family moved on to Norfolk Plains VDL in 1813.


William was always listed as William BUTLER in Norfolk's records until 7 DEC 1810 when he is then listed as William SALTMARSH, "labourer, free man, not victualled" & William Butler is now not mentioned.


When the settlement of Norfolk Island was broken up William was one of the settlers who boarded the "Minstrel" on 18 FEB 1813 to sail to PORT DALRYMPLE arriving on 4 MAR 1813.


William received a certificate for stock, wheat & maize, furniture & equipment turned over to the Government when he left Norfolk Island.


He married Elizabeth Stevens, daughter of a FIRST FLEETER,  Mary Phillips & 3rd FLEETER  convict, Thomas STEVENS.  They lived at NORFOLK PLAINS (later renamed LONGFORD) & had a family of 11 children.  He built a commodious 2 storey brick house & substantial outbuildings on his block on the South Esk River.


An accident was reported in the Hobart Town Gazette on 30 NOV 1816 "Lately: at Norfolk Plains, Port Dalrymple, MR WILLIAM SALTMASH met with the following serious accident: -- Being in a wheat-stack, his foot slipped, and he fell on a pitchfork; the prongs of which entered his groin, and wounded him severly; but by the humane attention of JACOB MOUNTGARRETT, esq.' Surgeon of that settlement, he is now in a fair way of recovery."


In the muster of 11-15 OCT 1819 William, his wife Elizabeth & three children, James 3, Mary 2 & William 1, were all living in Port Dalrymple area & off stores.  He was on a grant given by Governor Macquarie of 60 acres, of which 33 were in wheat & 27 in pasture.  He had 36 cattle, 90 sheep, 3 swine & 300 bushels of grain in hand.


In a memorial dated MAR 1828 to the Governor requesting an additional grant of land, he stated that he was a native of Norfolk Island & had resided in V.D.L. for fifteen years.  he owned 110 acres land, 60 was under cultivation & had 200 head of cattle, 500 sheep 75 horses.  His application was successful & he received another 500 acres.


In 1828 he was appointed Division Constable & pound keeper for the South Esk district. (TAO CSO 1/315/7539)


In 1829 he assisted in the capture of 7 bushrangers, and he received a grant of an additional 500 acres land at Western Rivulet on 20 JUL 1829 at 2d. per acre. (TAO G.O. 33/18).


In 1834 he applied to the Governor to have convicts assigned to him to help in the building of his house.  This was to be a large house built of brick.


Supreme court of Tas praised Mr. W. Saltmarsh & others of Police Force for bringing this murder to light of late Mrs. Howells.  Davidson, Hurlock & Street were charged with this.  (Ref. Supreme Court of VDL dated 19/6/1834.  Hobart Town Courier 20/6/1834.)


The Governor decided, in May 1834, that his services as a district constable were no longer required & were discontinued in July 1834. .  (Ref. TAO CSO 22/73/602).


In 1837 it was noted in the press that he had assisted in the capture of McKay, a murderer, at Norfolk Plains.  In a book by Alan Dyer it is quoted "William rose to fame in 1837 by shooting the dangerous bushranger McKay through the window of the "Leather Bottle Inn" at Perth, as the wanted murderer stood drinking at the bar.  Blood splattered the floor where he fell, and in spite of all attempts to remove it, the stain remained for many years."  He received a further 250 acres as his reward.


In Supreme Court of VDL on 7 OCT 1837 James McBean was charged with stealing on the 17 JUN 1836 a box containing money & other articles to the vaule of £5 & a second charge of stealing articles in the dwelling house of William Field.  William Saltmarsh gave evidence saying "I apprehended prisoner about 9 o'clock on Sunday, the 18th JUN; afterwards was this box at Wm. Field's;  I found the articles that I produced in the box;  Charles Wise pointed out a place in a brush-fence where I observed footmarks; on Monday morning, constable Gilmore brought some shoes to me which corresponded exactly;  I traced those marks about 40 yards in the direction of Perth;   I apprehended prisoner in Field's house."   McBean was found guilty of stealing & sentenced to 7 years transportation.  (Ref: www.law.mq.edu.au/sctas/html/1837cases"; L'ton Advertiser 12 OCT 1837; True Colonist 13 OCT 1837; HT Courier (Supplement) 20 OCT 1837)


In 1842 census seventeen people inhabited the Saltmarsh Farm & he employed 10 men on his property.


Between 1844-46 William was licensee of the Longford Hotel & later of the Berriedale Hotel, from which he ran a coach service known as the Royal Mail between Launceston & Longford. (Launceston Examiner 2/9/1856).


In Launceston Examiner on 29 NOV 1845 he is mentioned in Quarter Sessions (to be checked) Also on 10 JUL 1847 Supreme Court on 8 JUL for stealing on 23rd instant a cheque for £6-6-6 & 3 £ notes the property of James Fagin -not guilty. (also to be checked).


He gave a site for a church at Norfolk Plains.  Engaged a tutor for his children and offered a cottage on his property for a school. (Tasmanian Church Chronicle dated 3/1/1852).


In 1850's, as part of his Chief Constable's duties, he ordered one of the three constables John MacNamara, who had been living in the Police Barracks in Scone Street to go & live at the "Leather Bottell" as he had been too quarrelsome.  However, one night the other two constables, ex convicts, visited Macnamara & shot him head.  The body was found by Saltmarsh lying in a doorway between two roons--- the murderers, Mullay & Shaw were executed.  (Ref: Story of Leather Bottell Inn).


He later built the Rob Roy Hotel which served both as a school & post office.  These were run by his son James.


In the great floods of 1852 William, who lived in a big brick house on the old road, was rescued from a top window of his house in a boat.


On 7 OCT 1852 was granted a license for Berriedale Hotel at Longford (HTG)


In 1860-61 was on electoral roll at North esk being a Freeholder at Norfolk Plains East.


In 1863 was proprietor of Licensed House, has 300 acres, net annual value £225.  (HTG 13 NOV 1863).


William died in 1863, aged 71 years, & cause of death was given as old age.  His wife Elizabeth had died earlier in 1840.  Both are buried at Christ Church Cemetery, Longford.


Launceston Examiner of 26 NOV 1863 reads 'Longford News: On Saturday last Mr. Saltmarsh expired, after a very protracted illness.  Deceased was one of the oldest inhabitants, and on Monday, the body  was followed to the grave by nearly a hundred & fifty respectable people.  Mr. Benjamin Jun. came from Perth (to attend the ceremony) and put his horse at the stables of Mr. John Saltmarsh.  The horse had not been there more than a few minutes before it suddenly dropped down dead.  On opening the body of the horse, it was found that the animal had ruptured one of the larger vessels of the heart."


Death notice in Mercury 22 DEC 1863 reads 'SALTMARSH On 21st November, 1863 at his residence Norfolk Plains East Mr. William Saltmarsh aged 74 years."


When he died William left numerous farms & acreage to his sons & daughters as well as personal estate in regards to money to his grandsons and an old servant.  He also left 6 bullock & dray, furniture, live stock & proceeds of the crops to various members of his family.  He left nothing to his daughter Eliza, as her conduct was immoral.  (She eloped with a married man).



A large tombstone at Christ Church Cemetery in Longford reads:


                                                                                           S A C R E D

                                                                               TO THE MEMORY OF

                                                                  E L I Z A B E T H     S A L T  M A R S H

                                                                                 DIED  3 SEPT 1840

                                                                                  AGED 45 YEARS

                                                                                            A L S O

                                                                      W  I L L I A M     S  A L T M A R S  H

                                                                             HUSBAND OF THE ABOVE

                                                                              DIED NOVEMBER 21, 1863

                                                                                         aged 74 years.


                                                                                                                                                   © Barbara TORLEY 2006




Minstrel 1813


TRIED:                                    Bedford, 11 March 1789, hanging, commuted to life

TRANSPORTED:                    Matilda (3rd Fleet)

TO NORFOLK ISLAND:       Mary Ann, 8 August 1791

TRADE:                                   Chimney sweep, chair-bottom maker, carpenter

DIED:                                      7 April 1841, Launceston, age 77

BURIED:                                 Launceston

LAND:                                     15 acres Norfolk Island (AONSW 4/6977A, reel
                                                  6020),  50

  acres (in practice 30) Blackstone Heights, South Esk;  ocatee two blocks Brisbane Street, Launceston.




PARTNER:                              ELIZABETH LEWIS

TRANSPORTED:                    Britannia, 1798, 7 yrs


PARTNER:                              MARY (ANN) BRENNAN

BORN:                                    Ireland

TRANSPORTED:                    Catherine

DIED:                                      27 August 1826

BURIED:                                 St John's, Launceston




1.      William Baker (mother Elizabeth Lewis) born 1801 Norfolk Island, died within 3 months


2.      Mary Brennan Baker (mother Mary Ann Brennan), born 10 September 1816, Launceston, baptized 22 August 1825, Launceston, married 6 July 1841 James East, Launceston, died 26 April 1884, Launceston.


3.   Elizabeth Brennan Baker (mother Mary Ann Brennan), born 10 August 1818, Launceston, baptized 22 August 1825, Launceston, married 18 July 1831, John Brown, Launceston, died 27 September 1854.


4    Sarah Ann Brennan Baker (mother Mary Ann Brennan), born 3
            November  1820,

      baptised 22 August 1825, Launceston, married 1 June 1840, John Bassett,

Launceston, married 2 November 1854, William Cole, York Street Chapel,   Launceston, died 27 July 1899 Wynyard, buried 29 July Wynyard.




Samuel Baker, as he came to be known, is thought to have come from Chalgrave, Bedfordshire, England. During the night of 7 August 1788 Odkenbaker, with an accomplice George Davis, broke into the Hockcliffe, Bedfordshire, shop of draper Francis Millard. They stole stockings and handkerchiefs to the value of £6 15s, and perhaps also £3 13s 6d cash. Within two days, they were arrested at Harpenden, Hertfordshire on 'very strong suspicion.' Odkenbaker claimed that he had been sold the goods and was on legitimate business.


He was sentenced to hang. This was commuted to life and transportation on 27 April 1789. Odkenbaker was sent first to Portsmouth gaol then on the 23 December 1789 to the hulk 'Ceres' at Langstone Harbour, his base while working at Fort Cumberland on Eastney Common. This was one of the line of defensive structures against the possibility of a French invasion by sea.


On 3 March 1791, Odkenbaker was moved on, ready to embark in the Third Fleet on the Matilda. On 8 August 1791, a week after arrival in Australia, he was embarked on the Mary Ann for Norfolk Island as a convict sawyer.


He was from then on referred to by the surname 'Baker'. In 1801, convict Elizabeth Lewis, transported on the Britannia in 1798 for seven years for theft, gave birth to Baker's short-lived son, William. Lewis returned to Port Jackson in 1809.


By then Samuel an unmarried '3rd class settler', holding 15 acres of land (only 7 farmed), with 14 pigs. He later built a 'small dwelling house'. He was also on record as gardener to the Governor at Queensborough. He was pardoned in January 1813, so entered Van Diemen's Land as a free and pardoned man (Fiche 3292; 4/6974.1 p.79) so was not a convict founder of Tasmania.


He was joined in Port Dalrymple by Mary Brennan in 1814. He was allocated '30' acres at Blackstone Heights, overlooking the South Esk. The land marked out, though, was in fact 50 acres, situated around where Baker's Court now stands. In 1918, he was appointed 'constable' and perhaps also agent to the Hobart Town Gazette for the collection of payments. By then Mary Brennan had given birth to Mary, while Elizabeth was on the way. In 1820 she gave birth to Sarah.


Baker was not long out of trouble. A year after baptizing his three daughters at St John's, he was charged on 15 August 1826 with possessing a stolen blanket. The charge was dismissed. On 19 August he was charged with 'illegally retailing spirituous liquors' and fined £25. Just over a week later, Mary Brennan died of alcohol poisoning. In November 1826, Baker was again fined £25 for retailing illegal grog. Three months later, one of the Brisbane Street blocks was sold for £35. But Baker could not keep out of trouble - over the years he was charged six times with drunkenness, being fined 5s 0d each time.

In July 1831, the two elder daughters married within twelve days of each other: Mary was 14 and Elizabeth ('Betsy') 12. Sarah waited until she was 19.


It is not known whether Baker ever farmed his acreage at Blackstone Heights - there is no record of a dwelling of any kind. It seems unlikely, as there are repeated references to his presence in Port Dalrymple, later Launceston.


                                                                                            © Dr Gwyneth Daniel (2006)

[1] ASSI/94/1317








 Minstrel 1813

                     BORN:                               C 1763 in Derbyshire ENG

                    TRIED:                               Old Bailey, London, 21 FEB 1789

                    TRANSPORTED:              Salamander (3rd Fleet)

                    TO NORFOLK ISLAND:  Pitt, 23 APR 1792

                    DIED:                                 18 AUG 1831 Longford TAS

                    BURIED:                            Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS.







                    WIFE:                                  Mary PHILLIPS (no record of marriage has
                                                                  been found)

                     TRIED:                               Somerset, 20 March 1786          

                     TRANSPORTED:              Charlotte (1st Fleet)

                     TO NORFOLK ISLAND:  Sirius 13 March 1790   

                     DIED:                                 22 JAN 1850 Longford TAS

                     BURIED:                           Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS.









1.    JOHN                          Born                   19 DEC 1793 NORFOLK ISLAND

        (STEVENS)                Married               4 APR 1825 Mary C. TRIMBY

                                             Died                    20 MAR 1883 Longford TAS

                                             Buried                 23 MAR 1883 Christ Church Cemetery Longford


2.  ELIZABETH                 Born                      c1796  NORFOLK ISLAND

      (STEVENS)                  Married                18 JAN 1819 William SALTMARSH

                                             Died                       3 SEP 1840 Norfolk Plains VDL

                                             Buried                   Christ Church Cemetery Longford TAS.


3.  MARY                           Born                       C 1809  NORFOLK ISLAND

     (STEVENS)                   Married                  13 NOV 1826 Richard RUFFIN

                                            Died                        SEP 1850 Geelong VIC

                                            Buried                    26 SEP 1850 Eastern Cemetery
                                                                    Geelong VIC






Thomas STEVENS was tried at Old Bailey on 21 FEB 1789 for stealing 90 pounds weight of copper on the 23rd Mar 1788 and was found guilty.  He received seven years transportation.


 He sailed from PLYMOUTH on SALAMANDER on the 27 MAR 1791 arriving at PORT JACKSON on  21  AUG 1791  thus  becoming a THIRD FLEETER.


 On 23 APR 1792 he is a stowaway aboard the "PITT" for NORFOLK ISLAND and soon after this he was living with Mary PHILLIPS, and their first child, John, was born in DEC 1793.


  He is listed over the next few years at NORFOLK ISLAND as a labourer and then as boats crew & his sentence had expired.


 On 12 DEC 1806 he makes his mark (signature) to a memorial addressed to Captain Piper, Commandant of Norfolk Island.


On 2 AUG 1807, he is listed as boats crew, on stores, wife & 3 children off stores and he employed 1 free man; he had  60 acres,11 in maize, 49 pasture: had 65 hogs and 150 bushels of maize in hand.


On 30 AUG 1811 he was admitted to hospital suffering from worms, he was discharged on 10 SEP 1811.  Later in JUN 1812 he was again visiting the doctor with a sprain that lasted for a week.


He is listed in a muster at Norfolk Island in AUG 1812 as leasing 60 acres: 4 1/2 in wheat,1 fallow,47 1/2 pasture; sheep 18, swine 20 , goats 19, wheat 13 bushels, maize 16 bushels.


When being transferred to PORT DALRYMPLE on 13 FEB 1813 he received a certificate of compensation for the possessions left behind and destroyed.  He received £25 (the highest valuation) for his thatched & log dwelling (22ft x 13ft ) & 2 thatched & logged outhouses. He received 3 pounds 14 shillings for 6 stools,3 tables,4 chairs, 1 tray & 1 jar.  His stock was slaughtered & taken into stores, comprising of 15 wethers,14 ewes full grown,5 male 5 female full grown, 2 male,5 female half grown: 1 female kid, 3 pigs weighing 771 lbs, plus  2 acres of wheat, 40 bushels, 3 acres maize 60 bushels. (AONSW 4.6977A)


The family settled at NORFOLK PLAINS and in 1815, he signed a petition for establishment of a Criminal Court at HOBART TOWN.  Also ,along with his son John Stevens, he is listed on Stock returns of Port Dalrymple of 11 - 15 OCT as having a Land Grant,16 acres in wheat: 64 pasture; 80 acres in all; 25 cattle; 110 sheep. Thomas, his wife & 2 children are on victuals & one person is off victuals.


He was appointed District Constable of Norfolk Plains on 30 MAY 1818 (Hobart Town Gazette).


He was on a list of 19 FEB 1820 to be assigned a Government Servant.


In 11 - 15 OCT 1822 muster of PORT DALRYMPLE he is on a Grant given by Gov. Macquarie.  He had 80 acres, 16 in wheat 64 in pasture; had 25 cattle,110 sheep.  He, his wife and 2 children, were on victuals and he had a government servant not victualled.


He died on 18 AUG 1831 and is buried at Christ Church Cemetery, LONGFORD.  His gravestone reads



                                                                   TO THE MEMORY OF

                                                                    THOMAS  STEVENS

                                                                       DIED AUG 18,1831


                                                                     MARY STEVENS

                                              DIED JAN 22 1850

                                                                                     AGED 84 YEARS


(c)  Barbara Torley


Elizabeth Fitzgerald


Researched by Thelma McKay in 1992/93, updated in May 2012.


 This is an updated version of an article, previously published in Tasmanian Ancestry, the journal of the Genealogical Society of Tasmania Vol.14, No.2, Sep. 1993, (now the Tasmanian Family History Society Inc.)

 A dedication service was held on the 7th March 1993 at the grave of First Fleet convict, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, at Christ Church, Longford. This is the eleventh memorial plaque to be placed on a headstone in Tasmania by the Fellowship of the First Fleeters from NSW. The rector of Christ Church, the Reverend Kelvin Viney, gave permission for the plaque to be placed on the headstone which was originally to be relocated from where I had found it, being used as a stepping stone into the Memorial Wall, but this was decided against and a small fence is to be placed around it instead.

Several GST members travelled from Hobart for the occasion. Roy Peck, the convener for the Fellowship in Tasmania and many others gathered around as Pat Harris, President of the Launceston Branch, unveiled the plaque. Pat mentioned that this cemetery had been the first to be transcribed by the Launceston Branch many years ago. Rev.Viney said a prayer of dedication and I spoke of Elizabeth Wilkinson, nee Fitzgerald’s life.


Elizabeth Fitzgerald has been one of those mysterious people to research. Using different surnames, she appeared in the records at Norfolk Island, NSW and finally VDL. It was only when I found records of one of her twin daughters, Susannah Mitchell, having her children baptized at St John’s Church in Launceston and using the name Mitchell formerly Fitzgerald that I was sure that I had the right person.

I had first noticed the grave of Elizabeth Wilkinson while on an excursion to Longford with the Norfolk Island-Van Diemen’s Land Interest Group in 1992.  After visiting Christ Church, we went into the cemetery and as we were about to enter the area where the older headstones have been re-erected, I noticed that the step was in fact a headstone and the name Elizabeth Wilkinson was just readable. It was then that I realised it could be the headstone of a First Fleet convict by the name Elizabeth Fitzgerald whose name I had come across recently while checking early muster records.

     Thelma McKay and Roy Peck 1993                 Early Longford Church


Elizabeth Fitzgerald, who was born in 1760, was recorded as a 26 year old widow when tried in December 1786 for stealing a cotton gown from a London shop. She was sentenced to seven years transportation to New South Wales.

Arriving at Port Jackson with the First Fleet on the Lady Penrhyn, Elizabeth remained in NSW for two years before being then sent to Norfolk Island in March 1790 on board the Sirius. Twin girls were born on the Island in 1790 to Elizabeth Fitzgerald and a First Fleet Marine by the name of William Mitchell. They returned to Port Jackson with their daughters, Mary and Susannah, in 1793.

The NSW muster for 1806 records Elizabeth Fitzgerald living with a Thomas Wright (William Mitchell having returned to England) and she had three illegitimate daughters. These girls were the twins and Sarah Jane Wright who had been born in 1798, the father being Thomas Wright.

The next mention of Elizabeth, who by now was using the name Mitchell, was her marriage at Launceston in 1814 to Henry Wilkinson. Henry had been tried at York in 1803 and received a fourteen year sentence. He arrived in Sydney on the Fortune in 1806 and later that year he was sent on the Sophia to VDL.

A very informative list, found at the Archives Office of Tasmania, of women living at Norfolk Plains in 1823, records Elizabeth Fitzgerald arriving in VDL on the Porpoise in 1809 and her youngest daughter, Sarah Wright as, being born in Sydney and arriving here on the Brothers in 1816.

Of Elizabeth’s life here in Tasmania we know only that she would have lived with her husband, Henry, on his fifty acre farm at Norfolk Plains where she died on the 20th August 1832, aged seventy two years.

She was buried in a large tomb and it is interesting to see that in 1883, fifty years later, a reporter for The Mercury noted that “the tomb of Elizabeth Wilkinson in Christ Church, Longford, who died in 1832, was a plain four square brick tomb with a large heavy stone slab and it looked at least 150 years old and was falling over even then”.

I do not know when, or even where, Elizabeth’s husband, Henry Wilkinson died but of her three daughters:

Susannah Mitchell married John McAllister in 1814. They had three children, Sarah, William and Margaret, between 1811 and 1815 but after this no further record of their whereabouts has been found.

Mary Mitchell I have no record of.

Sarah Wright, who came to join her mother in VDL in 1816, had a daughter Susannah (presumably named after her elder sister) in 1817 to Richard Jordan. Richard was born on Norfolk Island in 1794 and arrived in VDL with his father James Jordan in 1813 on the Minstrel. It is not known what happened to Sarah Wright after she was recorded as being at Norfolk Plains in 1823 but her daughter Susannah Jordan remained there with her father and later married William Howard. Their daughter, Charlotte in turn married James Wheeler.

While doing this research I have come across other researchers who have come to the same conclusions on this family as I have and I am sure that somewhere there are descendants of this First Fleeter Elizabeth Fitzgerald/Wilkinson who 160 years after her death we are acknowledging by placing this plaque on her headstone today.


‘Founders of Australia’ by Mollie Gillen, pp127-128

‘Van Diemen’s Land Early Marriages 1803-1830’ Vol.1 compiled by Thelma McKay. St John’s Church Port Dalrymple

 19 March 1814, No.162.

‘List of Free Women Residing in the District of Norfolk Plains 1823’ Archives Office of Tasmania, Longford File, original in the Mitchell Library NSW Ref. MLDOC.620

‘Index to Early Land Grants VDL 1804-1823’ edited by Thelma McKay, Henry Wilkinson 50acres, Norfolk Plains; LSD354/3 p29

Burials in the Parish of Longford NS970/1, No.31

The Mercury 20 Oct 1883 p3, ‘Through Tasmania No.10, Longford and Suburbs’ by our Special Correspondent,


I was contacted later by a descendant of Elizabeth’s daughter, Mary Mitchell. He claimed Mary married Thomas Holgate, also known as Algate, a convict who arrived in NSW on the Canada in December 1801. They had four children born in NSW, before departing Sydney on the Glory in October 1819 for Port Dalrymple to join others members of Mary’s family. Five more children were born to this couple at Norfolk Plains.