Ann Smith: A Plunderer in the War Against Want

By Ben Vine

Supported by a Create NSW Arts and Cultural Grant – Old Parramattans & St. John’s First Fleeters


Convict woman, First Fleet, Thomas Gosse, The Founding of the Settlement at Port-Jackson at Botany Bay in New South Wales (1799), St. John's Cemetery Project, St. John's First Fleeters, Old Parramattans
Convict woman detail of Thomas Gosse, The Founding of the Settlement at Port-Jackson at Botany Bay in New South Wales, an idealised painting of the foundation of Sydney, (1799). © National Maritime Museum Collections, Greenwich, London.

The fragmentary records of Ann Smith’s life ably demonstrate how much we cannot know about the lives of the convicts of colonial Australia and ordinary people in the eighteenth century more generally, especially women. Yet in Ann Smith’s case, two phrases in her obituary illuminate much about her life and suggest she was not content with being remembered as ‘ordinary.’ The obituary allows us to speculate on her place in the Parramatta community — but also raises numerous questions.

We have no definitive knowledge of Ann Smith’s life before her arrest and conviction in 1785, which led to her transportation to New South Wales.[1] Her obituary in the Sydney Monitor for 4 October 1837 indicates she was born around 1749, and we know from her trial record she married a man named John Smith at some point before 1785. But Ann’s obituary yields another very interesting piece of information, too: ‘she accompanied her former husband 3 years during the American War.’[2]

Lasting from 1775 to 1783, the American Revolutionary War gave birth to the United States of America as it exists today. Its catalyst was a series of efforts by the British Empire to lay taxes on its American colonies in order to pay off the substantial national debt the British government accrued fighting the French in both Europe and North America during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763). Colonial Americans believed the British Parliament did not have the right to lay taxes on them because the thirteen American colonies did not have representatives in Parliament, leading to the cry ‘no taxation without representation.’ Additionally, Britain was maintaining a standing army on the frontier of the American colonies to prevent conflict between colonists and Britain’s Native American allies. Together, the taxes and the army convinced the American colonists that Britain intended to threaten their rights and their livelihoods.[3] Over the course of the decade after the Seven Years’ War, a mass movement grew in America to defy British ‘tyranny’ by any means necessary. This climaxed with the Boston Tea Party, when rebelling Bostonians threw tea belonging to the government-supported British East India Company into Boston Harbour. The punitive measures Britain inflicted on Boston to suppress its resistance movement set the stage for war; the spark was lit on 17 April 1775. America declared its independence on 4 July 1776, but it would take eight draining years of war to defeat the British.[4]

From the information in Ann’s obituary, then, we can reasonably assume her husband, John Smith, was a soldier in the British Army who fought in this ‘American War,’ and Ann, like thousands of other women of whom we know so little, travelled alongside him.[5]

The Lives of Camp Followers

A largely unrecognised feature of eighteenth-century warfare is the near-constant presence in army camps of large numbers of women, like Ann Smith, who travelled with the camps and played key roles in their functioning. This was true of the British Army despite officers generally preferring to recruit single men and discouraging their soldiers from marrying. In the American Revolutionary War, it was common for one-eighth to one-quarter of all people in a British regiment to be women and children. In spite of their significant numbers very little is known of these women, as no official count or list of their names was ever kept.[6]

We have some sense of the roles Ann may have played in the British Army in the American Revolutionary War. British officers believed women had to ‘earn their bread’ in order to travel with the army; thus they were put to work in various roles. The roles available included nurse, laundress, or a merchant selling goods to the soldiers, most especially alcohol.[7]

Heinrich Joseph Schutz, Thomas Rowlandson, Soldiers Recreating, British Army, Military Wives, Women, Recreation, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, St. John's First Fleeters, First Fleet, Ann Smith
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Heinrich Joseph Schutz after Thomas Rowlandson, Soldiers Recreating, (London: Ackermann’s Gallery No. 101 Strand, 1 April 1798). Though the image was created years after the American Revolutionary War, it provides a glimpse into the lives of British soldiers and their wives during leisure time when they were encamped in America. OA Public Domain. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

In spite of their value for the regiment, army families generally found life particularly difficult.[8] Soldiers were not given extra wages to support their wives and children, and wives were only given half rations.[9] While we do not know what Ann and John’s experiences were specifically, a description of a captured British army in Boston in 1777 gives us some sense of the difficulties they could have faced as the war dragged on and gradually turned against the British:

I never had the least Idea that the Creation produced such a sordid set of creatures in human Figure—poor, dirty, emaciated men, great numbers of women, who seemed to be the beasts of burden, having a bushel basket on their back, by which they were bent double, the contents deemed to be Pots and Kettles, various sorts of Furniture, children peeping thro’ gridirons and other utensils, some very young infants who were born on the road, the women bare feet, cloathed in dirty rags, such effluvia filld the air while they were passing, had they not been smoaking all the time, I should have been apprehensive of being contaminated by them [sic].[10]

Clearly, in addition to the war against the rebelling colonies, families of the British Army fought a war against want.

Women of the regiments were, consequently, known for helping the soldiers plunder towns they visited. One observer noted, ‘there is nothing so common as to see the soldiers wives, and other women, who follow the army, carrying each three or four silk gowns, fine linen, &c. &c. which have been stolen by the soldiers from different houses in their march…’[11] However common plundering may have been, it was not accepted by the British Army authorities. Indeed, the only British military wives we have specific knowledge of are those who were court-martialled for various crimes, and what they reveal is that theft of civilian goods was a typical accusation. One case in particular provides insight into the consequences plunderers could face if convicted. During the British occupation of Boston in 1775, Isabella McMahan, wife of soldier Thomas McMahan was convicted alongside her husband for stealing goods from the home of a Bostonian who had left the town for the West Indies. Her husband received a punishment of a thousand lashings in front of his fellow soldiers; Isabella received a mere one hundred lashings, but had the further humiliation of her lashings being given while she was pushed around in a cart in front of the townspeople. It sent a clear message: crimes against the civilian population would not be tolerated by the army authorities.[12] These records do not suggest all military wives were calculating criminals; in fact, of five cases uncovered by historian Donald N. Hagist, only two resulted in conviction.[13] Yet they indicate Ann’s travels with the British Army would have placed her in an environment where robbery was commonplace and advantageous to hold off destitution. Perhaps this explains the course her life took when she and John returned to England, and their war against want continued.

A Brief Trip Home

From 1785, we have a much clearer sense of the course of Ann Smith’s life. The following decade would see her face significant hardship and transience, but also see her adapt to difficult circumstances. On 1 March 1785, Ann was tried at Winchester Castle and convicted of housebreaking and the theft of a £10 bank note, a silver watch, and other goods belonging to a man named Joseph Child along with two companions, neither of whom were her husband.[14] All three were convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation for the crime. Ann was also found not guilty of another two charges of burglary.[15]

In December the same year, while still in Winchester Gaol in Hampshire, she gave birth to her daughter, also called Ann.[16] It is possible the father was John, even though the child was probably conceived after Ann was incarcerated, as Ann was listed as ‘the wife of John Smith’ in her trial record and it was easy to visit prisoners in English gaols in this period.[17] Nevertheless, her marriage with John was soon over in all but name.

On 8 December 1786, Ann and her daughter were moved to the prison hulk Dunkirk, which was moored in the English port city of Plymouth.[18] Many other convicts who would also go on to sail with the First Fleet were held on the same hulk. On 11 March 1787, Ann and her daughter embarked on the Charlotte, and two months later the ship sailed for New South Wales as part of the First Fleet.[19] As far as we know, Ann never saw John again.

Arriving in New South Wales

Ann’s arrival at Sydney Cove was, according to her obituary, particularly notable. The Sydney Monitor claimed she was ‘the first English female who landed here’ — not merely the first female convict, but the first English female of any sort to set foot in New South Wales.[20] To assess such a claim, we have to turn to the few journals and accounts written by First Fleeters.

The HMS Supply, which was by then carrying Captain Arthur Phillip, was the first to arrive at Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, with the remaining ships arriving over the following two days.[21] We know convicts from the ships Alexander and Scarborough were sent ashore on 20 January to attempt to set up camp. However, both of those ships contained only male convicts. There is no indication any women were landed because Governor Phillip ‘had not seen any spot [at Botany Bay] to which some strong objection did not apply.’[22] Phillip decided to set off from the Bay, on board the Supply, to find a more suitable spot to establish a colony of around 1000 people. Although he instructed Lieutenant Governor Major Robert Ross to have the male convicts already on shore clear land at Port Sutherland in case Phillip did not find a more satisfactory place for the new settlement, the other ships of the fleet were not disembarked at this time.[23] Phillip and his party sailed on 21 January, and on the 23rd Phillip determined he had found a cove at Port Jackson which could serve as an ideal situation. He and his party returned to Botany Bay the same day to alert the rest of the Fleet.[24] After a day’s delay caused by the sighting of two French ships, ‘The governor, with a party of marines, and some artificers selected from among the seaman of the Sirius and the convicts, arrived in Port Jackson, and anchored off the mouth of the cove intended for the settlement on the evening of the 25th.’[25] The following morning this group landed; it is reasonable to assume the governor selected male convicts exclusively for the intense physical labour of clearing ground for the settlement.

First Fleet, Thomas Gosse, The Founding of the Settlement at Port-Jackson at Botany Bay in New South Wales (1799), St. John's Cemetery Project, St. John's First Fleeters, Old Parramattans
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Thomas Gosse, The Founding of the Settlement at Port-Jackson at Botany Bay in New South Wales, an idealised painting of the foundation of Sydney, (1799). © National Maritime Museum Collections, Greenwich, London.

It is at this point the accounts become significantly more muddled. No journal clearly outlines the order in which the remaining ships landed, let alone the order in which individuals came on shore. Nonetheless, Ann Smith was very well placed to potentially have been the first English female to land at Sydney Cove. On 29 January, John White, surgeon of Ann Smith’s transport ship the Charlotte, wrote: ‘In the course of the last week, all the marines, their wives, together with all the convicts, male and female were landed.’[26] This seems to indicate female convicts from on board Charlotte landed on shore over the course of the previous few days. It is thus plausible Ann landed before any other English female on the fleet, especially since no female convicts landed from the all-female convict transport Lady Penrhyn until the 5th and 6th of February.[27] However, a somewhat different account comes from Philip Gidley King, second lieutenant of the Sirius and later the third Governor of New South Wales. King indicates on the 27th: ‘A great part of the Troops & Convicts were landed, & the latter was immediately sett [sic] to work clearing away the ground, ready for [the] encampment.’[28] He did not indicate the gender of these convicts at the time, but on the 28th he clarified they were exclusively male by stating, ‘All [the] Marines & Male convicts were disembarked from [the] different Ships & encamped, the Females were kept onboard till the ground was further cleared.’[29] This suggests no female convicts went on shore until 28 January. We know from James Scott, the Sergeant of the Marines on the Prince of Wales, ‘the Whole Detachment of Marines Wives & Children Disembarked [from the Prince of Wales] & Encamped immediately’ on the 28th, but did those free females and, indeed, the unmentioned female convicts aboard the Prince have the honour of disembarking before Ann Smith and her fellow female convicts of the Charlotte that day?[30] On this, the records are silent. It is not surprising, given the general chaos of the landing, as described by David Collins, the first lieutenant-governor of New South Wales:

The confusion that ensued will not be wondered at, when it is considered that every man stepped from the boat literally into a wood. Parties of people were every where heard and seen variously employed–; some in clearing ground for the different encampments; others in pitching tents, or bringing up such stores as were more immediately wanted; and the spot which had so lately been the abode of silence and tranquility was now changed to that of noise, clamour, and confusion…[31]

Overall then, the available accounts are muddled and potentially contradictory. Even so, though the claim published by the Sydney Monitor in 1837 is unverifiable, none of the contemporary eyewitness accounts disprove Ann Smith was the first English female to land in New South Wales either, thus it remains within the realm of the possible.

Yet further questions remain: did Ann make this claim herself? Or did the newspaper, knowing Ann was one of the last remaining First Fleeters, decide to spice up its obituary with a major claim few had the knowledge to question? Whether the original source was Ann or the newspaper, the claimant evidently sought to raise Ann up to the same level as another famed local, as they silently referenced ex-convict and farmer James Ruse’s earlier published claim to be the first English man to have set foot in New South Wales when he carried Colonel George Johnston ashore on his back.[32] Ruse was, like Ann, a former prisoner on the Dunkirk hulk and a local of the Parramatta area, but he also had the honour of being the first convict to receive a land grant at what is now ‘Experiment Farm’ in Harris Park. We cannot know if Ann genuinely believed the claim that she was in at least some respects the female equivalent of Ruse, or was telling tall tales for the amusement of the community in her twilight years. But it is just as probable the Sydney Monitor was only too happy to play on growing nostalgia for the First Fleeters as they passed away, and the founding of New South Wales disappeared from living memory.

Revolutionary Connections

Though Ann was now in far off New South Wales, the American Revolutionary War and its consequences continued to shape her life through her association with fellow First Fleet convict Patrick Burn who had arrived per Friendship. In 1789, one year after arriving at Sydney Cove, Ann gave birth to a son by Burn named Thomas Burn Smith.[33]

America Triumphant and Britannia in Distress, American Revolutionary War, 1782, Boston, American War of Independence, American War
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. America Triumphant and Britannia in Distress, (Boston : s.n., 1782). Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.

Burn had been convicted of highway robbery in 1783 and sentenced to death, but this was commuted to transportation to America.[34] Even as the Americans were adamant the importation of British convicts would end with the establishment of American Independence at the end of the war, the British still retained hope they could send their convicts there. Consequently, Patrick Burn found himself on board the Mercury in March 1784, its destination an American port of some sort — no one was quite sure which. The lack of clarity about the destination worried the convicts on board; some heard they were instead headed for Africa, considered to be a fate little better than death. Whether due to this fear, or simply a desire for freedom, on 8 April the convicts rebelled, took control of the ship, and sailed back toward England while engaging in six days of drunken revelry. Arriving at Torbay on England’s south coast on 13 April, the convicts scattered. Patrick Burn tasted freedom for three days before being arrested, taken to Exeter gaol, and finally transferred to the Dunkirk.[35]  He and Ann may have initially met there, on board the Dunkirk hulk, before being sent to different transport ships for the voyage to New South Wales.[36]

Associating with Burn also brought Ann into regular contact with John Randall, an African-American ‘Loyalist’ (and possibly an ex-slave) from the American state of Connecticut who escaped to British army lines during the Revolutionary War and served in the British Army as a drummer.[37] Randall ended up a convict on the First Fleet when he was convicted of theft in London after the war. Randall and Burn came to know each other when they were both chosen to serve as marksmen hunting kangaroo to provide the starving colonists with much-needed protein, so Ann, too, would have known Randall well. Ann’s new life in New South Wales thus had unexpected connections with her past.[38]

Nevertheless, Ann’s relationship with Patrick Burn came to an abrupt end. On 4 March 1790, Ann and her two children boarded the HMS Sirius bound for Norfolk Island.[39] As with her husband John, Ann would never see Patrick again; he died in Sydney on 13 July 1791.[40]

Norfolk Island Bound

New Zealand and Norfolk Island Flax Plant (Phormium Tenax)
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. “New Zealand and Norfolk Island Flax-Plant (Phormium Tenax),” in Alexander Britton (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. I, Part 2: PHILLIP, 1783–1792, (Sydney: Charles Potter Government Printer, 1892). Courtesy of University of Toronto.

The settlement at Norfolk Island was a bleak and isolated one. The island, which is separated from Sydney by a distance of more than 1600 kilometres, had formerly been occupied by Polynesian peoples, but they had abandoned it long before the British arrived.[41] It became a penal colony in March 1788 after the arrival of the First Fleet in New South Wales. On the strength of Captain James Cook’s assertion that the island was a ‘Paradise,’ the fleet’s authorities believed a settlement on the island could supply New South Wales with flax for sails, timber for ship masts, and even crops.[42] However, it proved to be a harsh, unforgiving, and isolated place.

Ann was one of 68 female convicts on a two-ship voyage, which also included 116 male convicts, 27 children, and a number of Marines.[43] Once again, she was not the only individual to have experienced the Revolutionary War. Also on board was Caesar; an ex-slave who had left America during the Revolutionary War and would later become Australia’s first bushranger.[44] All on board thought they were going to a place with abundant food, as Governor Arthur Phillip had received an upbeat report on the settlement’s progress from Philip Gidley King, the Commandant of Norfolk Island. When the Sirius and Supply arrived in March 1790, though, drought, plagues of grubs, and harsh winds had destroyed the settlement’s crops and those in charge instituted strict rationing and whippings for defiance. To make matters worse, the winds caused the Sirius to collide with a coral reef in the waters around the island, damaging the ship beyond repair. With the Supply soon leaving to report back to the mainland, there was no escape for Ann and the other convicts. While the situation did eventually improve, the Norfolk Island penal colony was always known for its brutal discipline.[45]

William Bradley, Sydney Bay, Norfolk Island, First Fleet, Sirius wreck, 1790, St. John's Cemetery Project, St. John's First Fleeters, Old Parramattans, Ann Smith
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. William Bradley, “Part of the Reef in Sydney Bay, Norfolk Island, on which the Sirius was wreck’d. 19 March 1790,” in William Bradley, William Bradley drawings from his journal “A Voyage to New South Wales,” (c. 1802), Safe 1 / 14 / FL1113940. Courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Ann lived on Norfolk Island for three years, and this period would have a considerable impact on the course of her life. Norfolk Island was where she began living with William Smith. A fellow convict, William had been on board both the Dunkirk hulk and the Charlotte with Ann in 1786.[46] Ann and William were among the many couples married by Reverend Richard Johnson during his brisk visit to Norfolk Island in November 1791 and they lived together until William’s death in 1830.[47] However, while her time on Norfolk Island did bring this lasting connection, it would seem Ann’s daughter of the same name tragically did not survive the stay at Norfolk Island, as there is no record of her after 1790.[48]

Life with William

Ann left Norfolk Island per Kitty in 1793 with her young son Thomas. Her husband, William Smith, followed just one year later per Francis. At this point, Ann’s life seemingly became much more stable. She next appears in the historical record in the 1806 muster, at which time she was living in Parramatta with William and Thomas, whom William adopted as his own son.[49]

Ann Smith, First Fleet convict, first English female to land in New South Wales, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, St. John's First Fleeters, Parramatta, American Revolutionary War
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. First Fleet convict Ann Smith’s death notice. “Family Notices: Deaths,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW: 1828 – 1838), Wednesday, 4 October 1837, p. 3. Courtesy of National Library of Australia.

Ann and William’s marriage was apparently a happy one. As well as naming his farm ‘Ann’s Place,’ in his will dated 29 January 1820 William left his farm at Seven Hills, along with six cows named ‘Maggot,’ ‘Colley,’ ‘Primrose,’ ‘Beauty,’ ‘Fairmaid’ and ‘Mouse,’ to his ‘loving wife’ with the intention it would then pass to his stepson Thomas. This was to encourage Thomas to marry and live on the farm with the ageing First Fleeters.[50] The inducement worked. Thomas married at St. John’s Church, Parramatta in June the same year and, according to the census held in November 1828, lived at ‘Ann’s Place’ with his wife Laetitia recorded as ‘Lydia,’ their two children five-year-old William and eighteenth-month-old Ann, his stepfather William and mother Ann, as well as a convict labourer with a newly acquired Ticket of Leave named Isaac Prince per Recovery (1819), and two more recent arrivals, William Roffey per England (1826) and William Firth per Marquis of Hastings (2) (1827) as convict servants.[51]

William passed away at the farm on 11 January 1830.[52] Ann lived for another seven years, but in the last decade of her life her health worsened. She went blind around 1826 and, approximately two years later, she became bedridden; she remained so for the rest of her life.[53] Ann died on 26 September 1837, aged 88, and was buried in the Parramatta Burial Ground (St. John’s Cemetery) the following day in what is now—and perhaps always was—an unmarked grave.[54] Ann’s obituary in the Sydney Monitor makes clear she was well-known and well-liked in her community; the newspaper stated, ‘her remains were followed to the grave by a numerous circle of relatives and friends, especially all old hands who knew her.’[55] Perhaps Ann had entertained these people with stories of how she battled poverty in ‘the American war’ as well as in her native land and by proudly declaring she was the first English female to set foot in New South Wales.


CITE THIS

Ben Vine, “Ann Smith: A Plunderer in the War Against Want,” St. John’s Cemetery Project, (2019), https://stjohnscemeteryproject.org/bio/ann-smith, accessed [insert current date]


References

Primary Sources

David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798).

John Howard, The State of the Prisons in England and Wales: with preliminary observations, and an account of some foreign prisons(Warrington: William Eyres, 1777).

Philip Gidley King, The Journal of Philip Gidley King, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), p. 30, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003).

James Scott, Remarks on a Passage Botnay [i.e. Botany] Bay 1787, 13 May 1787–20 May 1792, SAFE / DLMSQ 43, State Library of New South Wales.

Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, Merchantman William Cropton Sever, Commander by Arthur Bowes-Smyth, Surgeon – 1787–1788–1789; being a fair copy compiled ca. 1790, (1790), Safe 1 / 15, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Hannah Winthrop, “Letter from Hannah Winthrop to Mercy Otis Warren, 11 November 1777,” MHS Collections Online, (2019).

John Almon and Thomas Pownall (eds.), The Remembrancer or Impartial Repository of Public Events For the Year 1777, (London: Printed for J. Almon, 1778).

John White, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales : with sixty-five plates of nondescript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions(London: Printed for J. Debrett, 1790).

Secondary Sources

Atholl Anderson and Peter White, “Prehistoric Settlement on Norfolk Island and its Oceanic Context,” Records of the Australian Museum, (Supplement 27): 135–141.

Emma Christopher, A Merciless Place: The Fate of Britain’s Convicts After the American Revolution, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

B. H. Fletcher, “Ruse, James (1759–1837),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ruse-james-2616/text3609, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 June 2019.

Sylvia R. Frey, The British Soldier in America: A Social History of Military Life in the Revolutionary Period, (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1981).

Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989).

Linda Grant de Pauw, Battle Cries and Lullabies: Women in War from Prehistory to the Present, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014).

Donald N. Hagist, “The Women of the British Army in America,” The Brigade Dispatch, Volume XXIV, No. 3 (Summer, 1994): 2–10; Volume XXIV, No. 4 (Autumn, 1994): 9–17; Volume XXV, No. 1 (Winter, 1995): 11–16; Volume XXV, No. 2 (Spring, 1995): 8–14, http://revwar75.com/library/hagist/britwomen.htm, accessed 8 April 2019.

Donald N. Hagist, “Three Brave British Army Wives,” Journal of the American Revolution (28 October 2014), https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/10/three-brave-british-army-wives/, accessed 8 April 2019.

Donald N Hagist, “Women on Trial: British Soldiers’ Wives Tried by Court Martial,” Journal of the American Revolution (1 March 2018), https://allthingsliberty.com/2018/03/women-trial-british-soldiers-wives-tried-court-martial/, accessed 8 April 2019.

Margaret Hazzard, Punishment Short of Death: A History of the Penal Settlement at Norfolk Island, (Melbourne: Hyland House, 1984).

Holly Ann Mayer, Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community During the American Revolution, (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1999).

Cassandra Pybus, Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia’s First Black Settlers (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2006).

N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy, (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1986).

Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1800, (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016).


NOTES

Special thanks to Donald N. Hagist for his research assistance in the attempt to understand Ann Smith’s experience in the Revolutionary War. Links to Hagist’s articles on British Army wives can be found in the References list. Hagist is the managing editor of the Journal of the American Revolution (https://allthingsliberty.com/).

[1] Mollie Gillen claimed Ann Smith was Ann Overy born around the same time as Ann Smith on 20 March 1750, who, in 1783, also married a man named John Smith in a town near where our Ann Smith was convicted ­– Portsea. See “SMITH, Ann (c1750–1837),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 332. However, Ann Smith née Overy was the daughter of a wealthy man, Charles Overy, who included Ann and John in his will in 1807, twenty years after our Ann Smith had embarked to New South Wales, never to return and mentioned that Ann and John Smith were then living nearby at Portsea. The tumultuous biography of our Ann, therefore, does not seem to align with the Ann of the Overy family. See The National Archives, “CHARLES OVERY, Last Will and Testament, 3 March 1808, Portsea, Southampton, England,” in Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers, Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series: PROB 11; Piece 1476; Numbers: 228–29 (The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England).

[2]Family Notices: Deaths,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW: 1828 – 1838), Wednesday, 4 October 1837, p. 3.

[3] Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1800 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016).

[4] Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1800 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016).

[5] It was extremely uncommon for wives to join their husbands on naval vessels. See N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1986), pp. 76–9.

[6] Donald N. Hagist, “The Women of the British Army in America,” The Brigade Dispatch, Volume XXIV, No. 3 (Summer, 1994): 2–10; Volume XXIV, No. 4 (Autumn, 1994): 9–17; Volume XXV, No. 1 (Winter, 1995): 11–16; Volume XXV, No. 2 (Spring, 1995): 8–14, http://revwar75.com/library/hagist/britwomen.htm, accessed 8 April 2019; Donald N. Hagist, “Three Brave British Army Wives,” Journal of the American Revolution, (28 October 2014), https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/10/three-brave-british-army-wives/, accessed 8 April 2019; Donald N. Hagist, “Women on Trial: British Soldiers’ Wives Tried by Court Martial,” Journal of the American Revolution, (1 March 2018), https://allthingsliberty.com/2018/03/women-trial-british-soldiers-wives-tried-court-martial/, accessed 8 April 2019.

[7] Donald N. Hagist, “The Women of the British Army in America,” The Brigade Dispatch, Volume XXIV, No. 3 (Summer, 1994): 2–10; Volume XXIV, No. 4 (Autumn, 1994): 9–17; Volume XXV, No. 1 (Winter, 1995): 11–16; Volume XXV, No. 2 (Spring, 1995): 8–14, http://revwar75.com/library/hagist/britwomen.htm, accessed 8 April 2019; Holly Ann Mayer, Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community During the American Revolution, (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1999), pp. 7–8.

[8] Sylvia R. Frey, The British Soldier in America: A Social History of Military Life in the Revolutionary Period (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1981), pp. 59–60.

[9] Donald N. Hagist, “The Women of the British Army in America,” The Brigade Dispatch, Volume XXIV, No. 3 (Summer, 1994): 2–10; Volume XXIV, No. 4 (Autumn, 1994): 9–17; Volume XXV, No. 1 (Winter, 1995): 11–16; Volume XXV, No. 2 (Spring, 1995): 8–14, http://revwar75.com/library/hagist/britwomen.htm, accessed 8 April 2019.

[10] Hannah Winthrop, “Letter from Hannah Winthrop to Mercy Otis Warren, 11 November 1777,” MHS Collections Online, http://www.masshist.org/database/viewer.php?item_id=3349&mode=dual&img_step=1&noalt=1&br=1, accessed 24 June 2019. The army referred to here was the 6,200 British troops, led by General John Burgoyne, which were captured by American forces after their victory in the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. See Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1800, (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016), pp. 177–81.

[11] John Almon and Thomas Pownall (eds.), The Remembrancer or Impartial Repository of Public Events For the Year 1777, (London: Printed for J. Almon, 1778), p. 154, Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/remembrancerorim00john/page/n5, accessed 24 June 2019.

[12] Donald N. Hagist, “Women on Trial: British Soldiers’ Wives Tried by Court Martial,” Journal of the American Revolution, (1 March 2018), https://allthingsliberty.com/2018/03/women-trial-british-soldiers-wives-tried-court-martial/, accessed 8 April 2019.

[13] Donald N. Hagist, “Women on Trial: British Soldiers’ Wives Tried by Court Martial,” Journal of the American Revolution, (1 March 2018), https://allthingsliberty.com/2018/03/women-trial-british-soldiers-wives-tried-court-martial/, accessed 8 April 2019.

[14] Ann’s accomplices were Robert Perry and Mary White. “Country News,” Sussex Advertiser, Monday 14 March 1785, p. 1; John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1970), p. 251.

[15] John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1970), p. 251.

[16] “SMITH, Ann (c1750–1837),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), pp. 332–33.

[17] John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1970), p. 251. Regarding visitors in British prisons in this period, see John Howard, The State of the Prisons in England and Wales: with preliminary observations, and an account of some foreign prisons(Warrington: William Eyres, 1777), p. 446, Internet Archive, accessed online 25 June 2019.

[18] “SMITH, Ann (c1750–1837),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 332.

[19] John White, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales : with sixty-five plates of nondescript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions(London: Printed for J. Debrett, 1790), pp. 2, 10–11.

[20]Family Notices: Deaths,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW: 1828 – 1838), Wednesday, 4 October 1837, p. 3.

[21] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), pp. 1–2.

[22] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), p. 2.

[23] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), p. 3.

[24] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), pp. 3–4.

[25] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), p. 4. On the French ships, see Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, Merchantman William Cropton Sever, Commander by Arthur Bowes-Smyth, Surgeon – 1787–1788–1789; being a fair copy compiled ca. 1790, (1790), Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Safe 1 / 15 / FL1612820, https://digital.sl.nsw.gov.au/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?embedded=true&toolbar=false&dps_pid=FL1612820, accessed 24 June 2019.

[26] John White, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales : with sixty-five plates of nondescript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions(London: Printed for J. Debrett, 1790), p. 122.

[27] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, Merchantman William Cropton Sever, Commander by Arthur Bowes-Smyth, Surgeon – 1787–1788–1789; being a fair copy compiled ca. 1790, (1790), Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Safe 1 / 15 / FL1612827, http://digital.sl.nsw.gov.au/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=FL1612827&embedded=true&toolbar=false, accessed 24 June 2019.

[28] Philip Gidley King, The Journal of Philip Gidley King, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), p. 30, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), p. 30, http://adc.library.usyd.edu.au/data-2/kinjour.pdf, accessed 28 June 2019.

[29] Philip Gidley King, The Journal of Philip Gidley King, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), p. 30, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), p. 30, http://adc.library.usyd.edu.au/data-2/kinjour.pdf, accessed 28 June 2019.

[30] James Scott, Journal entry dated 28 January 1788 in James Scott, Remarks on a Passage Botnay [i.e. Botany] Bay 1787, 13 May 1787–20 May 1792, SAFE / DLMSQ 43 / FL1608304, State Library of New South Wales, https://digital.sl.nsw.gov.au/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?embedded=true&toolbar=false&dps_pid=FL1608304, accessed 24 June 2019. Transcript also available online: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/_transcript/2014/D00007/a1142.html, accessed 24 June 2019.

[31] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), p. 6.

[32] B. H. Fletcher, “Ruse, James (1759–1837),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ruse-james-2616/text3609, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 June 2019; “SUPREME COURT.—(Yesterday.) Bushel v. Rose,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Friday 15 June 1827, p. 3; “No title,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 20 June 1827, p. 2. Note the earlier article in The Australian stated it was Governor Hunter who was carried to shore on Ruse’s back, whereas The Sydney Gazette, published five days later, reported in a notably more detailed account of Ruse’s statements that it was “Colonel Johnson [sic].” See also A. T. Yarwood, “Johnston, George (1764–1823),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/johnston-george-2277/text2925, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 3 July 2019.

[33] New South Wales Government, Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages (https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/), Baptism of THOMAS BURN, Sydney, New South Wales, 1789, Registration Number: 77/1789 V178977 1A, (Chippendale NSW: NSW BDM, 2019), https://familyhistory.bdm.nsw.gov.au/lifelink/familyhistory/search?2, accessed 3 July 2019.

[34] “BURN, Patrick (c1760–1791),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 59.

[35] Emma Christopher, A Merciless Place: The Fate of Britain’s Convicts After the American Revolution, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 258–62.

[36] “BURN, Patrick (c1760–1791),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 59.

[37] Historian Cassandra Pybus notes “It is possible [John Randall] was from the enslaved workforce of a prominent Patriot, Captain John Randall, of Stonington, near New London, and one of several enslaved people from Stonington who fled to the British.” Upon enlisting in the New South Wales Corp later in life, it was noted Randall “played on the flute and tambour.” Randall, writes Pybus, was probably “one of the many black youths recruited as drummers into British regiments at the time of the American Revolution.” Cassandra Pybus, Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia’s First Black Settlers, (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2006), pp. 4–5, 23–24.

[38] Cassandra Pybus, Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia’s First Black Settlers, (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2006), pp. 4–5, 63, 94–5.

[39] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), pp. 99–100; “SMITH, Ann (c1750–1837),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 332.

[40] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), p. 171.

[41] Atholl Anderson and Peter White, “Prehistoric Settlement on Norfolk Island and its Oceanic Context,” Records of the Australian Museum, (Supplement 27): 135–141.

[42] Margaret Hazzard, Punishment Short of Death: A History of the Penal Settlement at Norfolk Island (Melbourne: Hyland House, 1984), pp. 1–2, 8, 11–12.

[43] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. I, (London: printed for T. Cadell Jun., and W. Davies in the Strand, 1798), p. 98.

[44] For more on “Black Caesar,” see Cassandra Pybus, Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia’s First Black Settlers, (Sydney, NSW: University of New South Wales Press, 2006), pp. 2–3, 38, 46–47, 71, 74, 77, 79, 87–89, 93–94, 102, 104–105, 116, 119, 127, 131, 134–35, 181, 183–84.

[45] Margaret Hazzard, Punishment Short of Death: A History of the Penal Settlement at Norfolk Island (Melbourne: Hyland House, 1984), pp. 16, 24–34.

[46] New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273; Reels: 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[47] “SMITH, Ann (c1750–1837),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 332.

[48] “SMITH, Ann (c1785–c1791?),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 333.

[49] Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), pp. 332, 337.

[50] “SMITH, William (c1755–1830),” Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 337.

[51] “Marriage of THOMAS BURN SMITH and LATITIA ALLCOCK BUCKHAM, 14 June 1820,” Parish Marriage Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. Laetitia, recorded in the 1828 census as ‘Lydia,’ was the daughter of convicts Robert Alcock per Pitt (1792) and Sarah Beecham / Bucham / Buckham per Indispensable (1796); New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273; Reels: 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[52]Family Notices,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW: 1828 – 1838), Wednesday 20 January 1830, p. 3; “Burial of WILLIAM SMITH, 13 January 1830,” Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[53]Family Notices: Deaths,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW: 1828 – 1838), Wednesday, 4 October 1837, p. 3.

[54]Family Notices: Deaths,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW: 1828 – 1838), Wednesday, 4 October 1837, p. 3; “Burial of ANN SMITH, 27 September 1837,” Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[55]Family Notices: Deaths,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW: 1828 – 1838), Wednesday, 4 October 1837, p. 3.