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The Story of James Dawson

James Dawson, my great great great grandfather, was born in London in 1813. On the 31st January 1829 he was charged with feloniously stealing a bag containing twelve pence in monies, the property of Henry Fulford. In the process book which gives details of progress of trials and sentences passed, he is described as a labourer and was sentenced for larceny.

On the shipping convict indent of the “Norfolk” (see image above), James is shown as a native of London and an errand boy aged 16 years. At his trial he was sentenced to seven years in the penal colony of NSW. He was able to read and his religion was Catholic. He was described in the “Norfolk” as being single, height of 4 feet 11 inched with a ruddy complexion. The colour of his hair was noted as brown and his eyes dark grey, on his right arm was an anchor tattoo and he had a scar over his right eye. James had no former convictions.

During the voyage to NSW, James Dawson was on the list of sick convicts. The surgeon superintendant James Dickson recorded in his journal that “none died on the voyage”. Two hundred male prisoners embarked on the “Norfolk” and all landed in Sydney. The voyage took 97 days. The ship arrived in NSW on 27 August 1829.

James was sent to Captain Samuel Wright on the Hunter River. In 1834 he was granted his ticket of leave and in 1836 he received his Certificate of Freedom (shown below).

In 1839, James Dawson and Alice Bremer applied for permission to marry from the Principal Superintendant of Convicts (shown in the image below). James was noted as being 26 years, having arrived on the “Norfolk” and being free. Alice Bremer was 19 years and also free. Permission was granted but you will notice it says consent of Alice’s parents had to be obtained.

The marriage took place on 8th May 1839 and they went on to have 6 children – 2 boys and 4 girls. Alice died in August 1851 and James Dawson remarried Mary Ann Dunstan in 1852. From this second marriage, James had another son who was later adopted.

James Dawson was admitted to Liverpool Asylum in February 1875. He died in June 1876 of Phthasis which I believe is Tuberculosis. He is recorded in the Burial Register of St. Luke’s Church of England, Liverpool and buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

Kim Crowe, NSW

The Parker Family Convicts

On 7th January 1835 John Parker Senior, Ambrose Parker, John Parker Junior and John Broxup were before the Lancaster Quarter Session for breaking into a warehouse stealing eight pieces of cotton. All four were sentenced to transportation. John Snr. received 7 years and Ambrose & John Jnr., 14 years. They were living at Burnley and employed in the cotton industry as weavers and cotton carder.

On 31 January 1835 John and his two sons were received at the Hulk “Fortitude” which was moored at Chatham, England. On 13 July 1835 John Snr., sailed for New South Wales on board ‘Mary Ann’.

Siblings Ambrose & John left their homeland on board ‘John Barry’ in September 1835 also bound for New South Wales.


Ambrose, convict No: 36-135 was born about 1812. According to his convict indent records (shown above) he was 5 feet 5 inches tall with dark ruddy complexion, light brown hair and grey eyes. He had a scar on his right upper lip and 7 dots on the back of left hand (probably an indication that he was one of seven males). His occupation was a weaver.

On his arrival he was assigned to Francis Forbes Esq, Merton. Ambrose received his Ticket of Leave in 1843 - No: 43/1918. He died on 2nd February 1891 at Cowra Hospital. He was a shepherd and probably in the employ at ‘Jerula’ property where he was buried.


John Jnr., convict No: 36-134 was born about 1815. He was a weaver, 5 feet 3 1/2 inches tall, sallow complexion with light brown hair and hazel eyes his nose was large and thick. His markings were: woman, J.P. mermaid, 1815, John Parker inside lower right arm, woman, sun, W.P. horse, inside lower left arm, lost nail on fourth finger on left hand (you can see these in the record below along with a description of Ambrose who appeared next to John in the indent).

On his arrival to New South Wales he was assigned to J. Wood, Lowther Park. According to the New South Wales Government Gazette he absconded on 25 November 1836 and was apprehended sometime in March 1837 at Penrith.

John received his Ticket of Leave on 3 January 1843 at Carcoar (see image below)

In January 1850 John married Ann Smith at Carcoar. They had 5 children (who were named after his parents, John and Jane and his siblings) John b: 1850, Jane b: 1854, Maria b: 1855, Thomas b: 1856 and William b: 1858. John died on 17 April, 1859 at Molonglo Creek, Cowra.


Two other siblings of Ambrose and John were transported to Van Diemen’s Land: - William was transported in 1835 aged about 15 years on board ‘Aurora’ and Thomas also about 15 years old arrived onboard ‘Egyptian’ in 1839. Thomas made his way to New South Wales and met up with his brother Ambrose. He died at “Jerula” Cowra and was also buried there in 1886.

Left behind in their homeland were siblings, Nelson b: 1805, Maria b: 1814, James b: 1818, Smith b: 1822 and Ann, their mother died 1826 in Lancashire, England.

Marg Hope, NSW

Mathew Dalton - The Sugar Thief

I grew up in Sydney and vividly recall the celebration for the bi-centenary of the discovery of Sydney (Botany Bay) by Captain Cook and at that time I recall asking my grandparents if they thought we may have convict ancestors. The answer was “Absolutely not”.

But when I started researching my family history, I found out that we did indeed have convicts in the family. My paternal gr gr gr grandparents were both convicts. Mathew Dalton was convicted in Dublin, Ireland on 5 Oct 1827 of stealing some sugar. You can see his Convict Indent below.

He was transported on the vessel Mangles which arrived at Port Jackson on 2 June 1828. He was assigned to John Blaxland of Newington and then went to Blaxland’s property Luddenham. 

He married convict woman Jane Greer in 1840 at St Thomas Church at Mulgoa. You can see their Application to Marry below. Jane Greer was convicted in Armagh, Ireland on 24 June 1837 for stealing a sheet. She, like Mathew, was sentenced to transportation for 7 years.

I have just about traced their whole life in Australia and am researching the lives of the children of Jane and Mathew for a book I intend to write - they were the first Australian born generation of my Dalton family.  

In my research I came across an interesting story about another convict woman, Mary Connor - well that was the name she used when she was arrested and tired for larceny.  Mary was one of the Irish women convicts who were transported on board the convict ship Elizabeth 1828. The women who were on the Elizabeth rioted in the gaol in Cork and all in all it makes very interesting reading. 

Mary Connor married the convict George Gray. One of their daughters, Mary Gray, married John Dalton, one of the sons of my convicts Mathew and Jane! So here we have son of convict marrying daughter of convict. 

My greatest desire and wish in life is to find the details of the parents of Mathew Dalton and Jane Greer…….I will keep searching!

Gerry Dalton, NSW

Thomas Reeves (1820 – 1899)

Thomas Reeves was born on 29 Feb 1820 in Calne, Wiltshire, England. 

On 11 Aug 1838, aged 18, Thomas was convicted for stealing sheep and sentenced to 10 years transportation. After a year on the Hulk “Leviathan”, Thomas left Plymouth on the vessel “Mangles” on 27 Nov 1839, arriving in New South Wales on the 27 Apr 1840. You can see a copy of Thomas’ Convict Indent below. 

On 18 May 1840, Thomas arrived at Norfolk Island, a cruel penal settlement, where he remained for almost 4 years. Thomas arrived in Hobart on 11 Mar 1844 on the vessel “Duke of Richmond”. Despite repeated charges of being drunk and disorderly during 1844 and 1845, he earned his Ticket of Leave on 4 Sep 1846, and his Certificate of Freedom in Aug 1848. 

In 1852, aged 32, Thomas headed to the goldfields in Bendigo . There he met Ann Stevenson, a 22-year-old Scottish immigrant from the Orkney Isles. It is possible that Ann’s first child, Elizabeth, born in 1852 on the goldfields, was not Thomas’ daughter. Regardless, Thomas and Ann were married on the 18 Nov 1852 in St. Peter’s Church, Melbourne, Victoria .

Thomas’ signature is included on the 1853 Bendigo Goldfields Petition, which was signed by over 5000 diggers to protest against mining licence fees. Most of the demands were rejected which led to the Eureka uprising at Ballarat in 1854.

On 18 Jul 1856, Thomas purchased land in Tarraville, establishing a farm and a family home called “Green Hills” (Ref 6), where Thomas and Ann had 9 more children.

  • Mary Ann                                          (abt 1856 – after 1922)
  •  Alice Olivia                                       (1857 – 1896)
  •  Thomas                                             (1858 – 1936)
  •  James Eldridge                                  (1860 - )
  •  Georgina                                           (1862 – 1935)
  •  Charlotte Agnes                                (1865 – 1952)
  •  William Edward                                (1866 – 1934)
  •  Edwin                                                (1868 – 1931)
  •  Lavinia Isabella                                 (1870 – 1960)

In 1872, Thomas spent 4 years at the Stockyard Creek diggings.  In 1875, Thomas selected land 6 miles from Bairnsdale, where their last child, Frances Margaret, was born in 1877.  Thomas’ brother James, also an ex-convict, lived with Thomas and Ann during his final days.

Thomas died on 6 Oct 1899, a few months shy of 80 years old. Thomas left land to the value of £300 to his wife Ann.

Thomas and James are buried in the same plot in the Bairnsdale Cemetery.  Their headstone (shown in the photo above) reads, “Sacred to the memory of James Reeves, Died 2nd Nov 1890, aged 80 years.  Also Thomas, Brother of above, Died 2nd Oct 1899, aged 78 years.  “At Rest.”

Jacinta Crealy, VIC