Elizabeth Eccles: The Dairy Maid

By Michaela Ann Cameron


Dairy Cottage, Parramatta 1844
The Dairy Cottage, Parramatta as Betty would have known it. Unknown artist, “Government Domain, Parramatta, August 23, 1844” in Views of Parramatta, 1844. Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Countless times the dairy maid’s ‘footsteps shuffled on the stair’ leading down into the sunken milk room of the Governor’s Dairy.[1] Anyone who casually observed her churning butter and making buttermilk and cheese destined for the Governor’s table and the nearby Government institutions over the years might have assumed she was one of the ‘ordinary people’ that the historical record would not even try to remember let alone soon forget. In truth, the widow Betty Eccles was something of a marvel.[2]

Dairy Cottage 1830s kitchen fireplace
Fireplace used for warmth and comfort, 1830s oven, Dairy Cottage, Parramatta. Photo: Michaela Ann Cameron

For one thing, Betty’s days had been ‘prolonged far beyond the usual period allotted to man.’[3] Reputedly born to John and Elizabeth Bird on 18 September 1730 at Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England and baptised ‘Elizabeth Bird’ at Alcester, Warwickshire on 25 September 1730, ‘Betty’ was seemingly a centenarian who was a few months shy of her 105th birthday  — an exceptional feat to this day but even more so at a time when multitudes did not survive infancy, others failed to reach maturity, only the lucky few lived long enough to have children of their own and too many died in the attempt, while others still survived all this only to be beaten by the harsh economic realities of life in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.[4] Against overwhelming odds, Betty had not only endured some of the worst of these trials, she had also won the esteem of ‘numerous acquaintances,’ the patronage of multiple New South Wales Governors and their stately wives and even, purportedly, the support of a future king along the way.[5]

Warming her tired, aching bones by the Dairy cottage fireplace in the winter of 1835, Betty—still in full possession of her mental faculties though suffering from a malady—could not have failed to reflect on all that had happened in her long life with a sense of wonder.[6] Notwithstanding her apparent brush with royalty, though, it was Betty’s acquaintance with a particular great ‘Lady’ and the less-than-dignified events which had led to their meeting that likely loomed largest in her mind. For it was their encounter which rendered all Betty had subsequently experienced even more remarkable.

Love-Bird

It had been a crisp autumnal Saturday in Gillingham in the county of Kent—16 October 1784 to be precise—when the lamb that would drastically change the course of Betty’s life was stolen from the grounds of yeoman Thomas French. Sheep stealing was a common practice among those the gentler folk of the county deemed ‘divers[e] idle and disorderly Persons,’ mainly because sheep and other small farm animals such as poultry were easy pickings.[7] Even in broad daylight two or three individuals could band together and successfully carry off a single sheep. It was easier still if the thieves were discerning and chose a castrated male sheep known as a ‘wether lamb,’ because wether lambs were less aggressive than rams and, thus, more manageable, enabling the thieves to make a speedy getaway.[8]

Sheep stealing was also, however, a property crime that since 1741 had been subject to the ‘Bloody Code,’ meaning it was a capital offence — punishable by death.[9] And, while sheep-stealers were known to band together, sheep-owners in parishes all over the county were known to join forces, too; pooling funds via subscriptions to provide handsome monetary rewards for informers ‘against any Person or Persons who…be guilty of [the] Offence…’ in a desperate bid to ‘protect the Property of Subscribers.’[10] Individuals regularly advertised rewards for information as well, hoping it would lead to a ‘discovery’ and a conviction. Edward Toker of Stuppington near Canterbury, for example, offered 10 guineas following the theft and slaughter of a sheep ‘in the Fold of a Turnep Field [sic]’ in 1789 while five men collectively posted a reward of 20 pounds in The Kentish Gazette for the theft of ‘several sheep…Stolen out of the Folds near Dover’ in 1783.[11]

Yet, even with the threat of the death penalty and the increased likelihood of discovery and capture thanks to the financial incentives supplied by land owners and occupiers weary of losing their valuable property, many were prepared to risk it all for the sake of a sheep. There was, after all, much that could be done with one; the thieves could feast upon the meat themselves, of course, but the ‘tallow, fat and skin’ also had multiple uses and, thus, could be sold at a good price.[12]

Besides, as the sheep-stealers no doubt reminded themselves to calm any nervous twinges, hardly anyone ever actually went to the gallows for sheep stealing in Britain these days, much to the chagrin of one judge who was disgusted by the ‘dangerous lenity’ and noted that ‘no capital punishment had been inflicted’ on the Brecon Circuit for sheep stealing ‘these twenty or thirty years.’[13] Those caught, tried and convicted of sheep stealing were given the death penalty, to be sure, but they were just as frequently given a reprieve and their sentence was commuted to imprisonment or transportation ‘beyond the seas.’ It was for this very reason land owners had been forced to band together to protect their property in the first place: the threat of the death penalty with no follow-through in practice was not an effective deterrent for a crime for which there was always such ample opportunity in rural areas.[14] All the same, a mere three days after the theft of the wether lamb, Betty, a lad of around sixteen named John Love and his mother Mary Love no doubt had to work very hard to convince themselves of the certainty of a lenient sentence for sheep stealing as a wagon transported them to a parish in ‘the suburbs of the city of Canterbury’ named St. Dunstan’s — so called after the devil-smiting saint who, ‘as the story goes, / Once pull’d the devil by the nose / With red-hot tongs, which made him roar/ That he was heard three miles or more.’[15] Their destination stood on the north side of an ‘unpaved, but very broad and sightly’ street built on each side of the high road leading through St. Dunstan’s to Whitstable and London: the ‘common Gaol and Bridewell’ for the eastern division of the county of Kent reserved ‘for felons, and prisoners under the jurisdiction of the justices.’[16]

On Tuesday, 19 October 1784, the threesome were committed to St. Dunstan’s Gaol by John Cocking Cole, Esq: ‘Elizabeth, otherwise [known as] Winifred Bird,’ then a 54-year-old spinster and servant, ‘and John Love, of Rainham,’ a labourer, were ‘charged on the oath of Thomas French, of Gillingham, yeoman, with’ teaming up, as was the common practice, to ‘steal and tak[e] away from the grounds of the said Thomas French, one lamb, the property of Thomas Smith, of Frinsbury, yeoman,’ while Mary Love, also a servant, was charged by the same Thomas French ‘with receiving the…lamb.’[17]

At the Lent Assizes at Maidstone, Kent on Monday, 14 March 1785, Team Love-Bird were tried. Betty and John, it was persuasively argued, had indeed chosen the compliant wether lamb and returned with it to their parish of Rainham, Kent, an hour’s walk away, where Mary had willingly received their prized booty knowing full well that it was stolen.[18] Perhaps there was also some mention in the proceedings of Mary having been recently widowed — her husband William had passed away and been buried at St. Margaret of Antioch, Rainham on 31 December 1783, less than a year before the crime.[19] William’s death would have undoubtedly caused financial hardship, the burden of which Mary’s youngest surviving child, John, perhaps sought to ease for his ageing mother via theft. Whatever the reasons behind the events that led to the theft of the wether lamb and whatever the truth regarding each of the accused one’s involvement in the crime, for Betty and John, the verdict was ‘cul ca nul’ [culpabilis catalla nulla: guilty, no chattels] and they were given their sentence: DEATH. Mary was also found guilty of being a receiver of stolen lamb but given the lighter sentence of fourteen years transportation.

By the time the Gaol Calendar of offences and verdicts was published in The Kentish Gazette a little over a week later on 23 March 1785, Betty and John’s death sentences were, as hoped, accompanied by the word ‘Reprieved.’ Ultimately, John received a sentence of two years hard labour on the hulks and Betty a sentence of seven years transportation — even lighter sentences for thieving the lamb than Mary had been dealt for ‘receiving’ it.[20] If this caused any ill-feeling between the three at all, it was too bad: for, though John’s sentence saw him take a different path thenceforth, Team Love-Bird continued as an inseparable couple for a good while longer whether they liked it or not.[21] Mary Love and Elizabeth Bird, who had been incarcerated in St. Dunstan’s Gaol since their arrest two years earlier in late October 1784, were transferred together to the old Tudor-era Southwark Gaol, also known as ‘the Borough Gaol,’ in Surrey in late November 1786. And just a couple of months later, Love and Bird were again caged up together whilst being transferred by wagon from Southwark county gaol to Gravesend, Kent in readiness for their meeting with the ‘Lady.’

Lady Penrhyn

The ‘Lady’ was, of course, no lady at all but a 333-ton convict ship that would in a matter of months set sail with the rest of the First Fleet. When Betty and Mary went aboard Lady Penrhyn on 31 January 1787 they found her brimming with around 100 other females under sentence of transportation to what would soon become the colony of New South Wales.

A cursory glance told Betty that, unlike her then 56-year-old self and Mary Love beside her whose recorded age was 60, the women on board were overwhelmingly of childbearing age, in their late teens to mid-thirties — indeed, a couple were already with child. There were a few of the middling age. Only two others were of notably ‘riper years’ having ‘got [far] beyond their grand climateric’; a purloiner of Gloucester cheese in her seventies by the name of Elizabeth Beckford and, the ripest of them all, a reported octogenarian convicted of perjury: ‘Mother Grey’ (Dorothy Handlyn).[22]

Mother Grey
Mother Grey,” extract from Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, National Library of Australia

The long sea voyage would undoubtedly prove to be a particularly great trial for the more elderly convicts. Before the fleet even set sail, ‘frequent sudden squalls of Wind’ caused all the convict women to be ‘very sick [with] the motion of the Ship.’[23] Once out on the open sea, Elizabeth Beckford perished less than two months into the voyage, passing away ‘abt. 9 in the Even.g’ on 11 July 1787 from ‘a Dropsy [with which] She had been long afflicted.’[24] As Beckford’s ‘corpse was committed to the deep with the usual form’ at about 10pm following 3d Mate Mr Ball’s reading of the Burial Service,’ Betty no doubt considered the high likelihood that she and the other elderly convict women might soon join Beckford in a watery grave on such a long and perilous journey.[25] Only a week and a half earlier, for instance, Mary Love had already had a close call, having ‘f[allen] down the Steerage & broke[n] two of her ribs & otherwise much bruis’d herself.’[26] The Surgeon ‘Cup’d [Mary] & administer’d the usual Medicines in such Cases &,’ he noted, ‘She perfectly recover’d.’[27] Notwithstanding the surgeon’s perkiness about Mary’s recovery, the fact remained: as a 60-year-old woman physical injuries were slower to heal.[28] Yet avoiding injury was clearly difficult, regardless of age. The same day as Love’s mishap, William Henderson, a sailor, had received ‘a bad wound on the head from the fall of a Block,’ while in mid-December a spritely 25-year-old convict named Mary Davis ‘fell down the fore Hatchway & pitched her head.’ Luckily for Davis, far from being a fashion victim her devotion to the fashions of the day was her saving grace; her head was so ‘well defended by false hair rolls…[s]he sustain’d no matereal [sic] injury.’[29] Aside from the hard knocks, slips and falls, there were the more direct and frequent assaults of the sea itself. More than seven months into the voyage, for example, Betty and the other ‘Women were wash’d out of their Births by the Seas’ and had to be ‘brot. Out from between Decks with Buckets,’ only to find that by nightfall ‘the Sea was so very outrageous…[it] was mountains high’ and ‘sometimes it seem’d as if the Ship was going over’ while the ‘fore top sail was…split from top to bottom’ and still it rained and ‘at one time some Hail fell.’[30]

Somehow, Betty, Mary Love, and even ‘Mother Grey’ survived the seasickness, the injuries, the perpetually wet bedding, and the regular soakings to which the outraged sea had subjected them.[31] They arrived at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788 after eight months at sea and by 6 February 1788—a year and 6 days since Betty and Mary had boarded the Lady Penrhyn—they and the other convict women on board had all set foot on dry land.[32]

Bird Finds Love

Despite Elizabeth ‘Winifred’ Bird’s association with the Love family, love itself had seemingly eluded her in England. In the new colony, however, the now 58-year-old spinster found love in the form of convicted bread and bacon thief Thomas Eccles who had been transported per Scarborough (1788). Thomas was sent to the Norfolk Island settlement on 17 February 1789, so any romance that may have already been budding was put on hold until Betty also set sail for Norfolk Island. She did so over a year later on 5 March 1790, along with 67 other female convicts, 116 male convicts and 27 children per HMS Sirius. The voyage would separate her from Mary Love forever.[33]

It was likely Betty’s diligence in nurturing and maintaining her hut and garden at Port Jackson that led to her being selected to go to Norfolk Island. As Lieutenant David Collins noted upon inspecting the huts and gardens newly vacated by those bound for Norfolk Island and distributing them ‘to such convicts as were either in miserable hovels, or without any shelter at all’ at Port Jackson: ‘It was true,…by this arrangement the idle found themselves provided for by the labour of many who had been industrious; but they were at the same time assured,’ stressed Collins, ‘that unless they kept in good cultivation the gardens which they were allowed to possess, they would be turned out from the comforts of a good hut, to live under a rock or a tree.’[34]

As Betty and the others boarded Sirius at Sydney Cove on the 4th of March they had no inkling that Thomas Eccles and others already on Norfolk Island were experiencing ‘very hot and sultry’ conditions.[35] It was the build up to ‘incessant…[v]ery heavy Rain’ followed by ‘[s]trong…fresh Gales & dark Cloudy’ weather and ‘a very heavy surf’ that would batter the island from the 5th to the 24th of the month.[36] A ‘great part of the Luggage, [t]he Detach[ment] of Marines & most part of the Convicts’ on board Sirius, including Betty, had managed to land at Cascade Bay beneath ominous cloudy skies and strong gales on Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th of March.[37] But on the 19th, ironically on a ‘remarkably fine’ day and at a moment with ‘very little wind’ following and preceding days of ‘Strong Gales of Wind with Exceding [sic] heavy Rain,’ Sirius ‘struck with violence on the reef [at Norfolk Island], very soon bulged, and was irrecoverably lost. Her officers and people [still on board] were all saved, having been dragged on shore, through the surf, on a grating.’[38] When the news reached the settlement at Port Jackson in April, Lieutenant David Collins had recorded the bad tidings were ‘almost sufficient to have deranged the strongest intellect among us. A load of accumulated evils seemed bursting upon our heads. The ships that were expected with supplies were still to be anxiously looked for; and the Sirius,’ the First Fleet’s indispensable flagship, ‘which was to have gone in quest of relief to our distresses, was lost.’[39]

Philip Gidley King
Governor Philip Gidley King [oil portrait by unknown artist]. Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.
Yet the calamitous end of the Sirius and the distress of the colony at large contrasted sharply with Betty’s personal life. Within a few months of Betty’s eventful arrival on Norfolk Island Thomas Eccles was recorded as maintaining two persons on a one-acre Sydney Town lot. To save Betty and Thomas and 100 other similarly debauched couples from the supposed depravity of such illegitimate cohabitation, Reverend Johnson made a whirlwind visit to Norfolk Island in November 1791 and married Betty and Thomas and the rest. At 61 years of age, Betty was officially no longer a spinster and, in a few months, would shed her convict status, too: her seven year sentence being due to expire in March 1792.

The newlyweds were well matched. Like Betty, Thomas was noteworthy for his industriousness and ‘good conduct.’[40] Indeed, his work ethic and farming skills attracted the attention of the Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island, Philip Gidley King, who recommended that Thomas, a ‘lifer,’ should receive an absolute pardon in 1794. In a glowing report of Thomas, King noted he ‘has been of the utmost service to himself and the publick [sic] as a gardener and has behaved well.’[41] Betty and Thomas subsequently became pig farmers on 10 acres Thomas leased near the intersection of present-day Country Road and Taylor Road, Norfolk Island, where they enjoyed the fruits of their own, emphatically free, labour and regularly supplied the government with pork throughout 1796. In fact, during King’s time as Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island, grain and swine production increased to such a degree that the surplus was able to be sent to support those based at Port Jackson. The Eccles undoubtedly had a major hand in this success, which King apparently duly credited.

At 66 years of age apiece and clearly doing very well, the Eccles could have no doubt continued thus for the rest of their days. Yet on 14 March 1801, they braved the seas again and sailed for Port Jackson per HMS Porpoise, arriving at their destination on the 25th of the same month.[42]

King and His Queen

The Eccles’ departure from Norfolk Island and arrival in Parramatta came just a few months after their former Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island had been made Governor of New South Wales on 28 September 1800. It seems likely that the newly-appointed Governor King, finding himself in need of servants at Government House, Parramatta, had soon thought of the ‘honest and upright,’ hard-working Thomas and Betty Eccles whom he greatly esteemed.[43] Perhaps the Eccles had even served the King family previously on Norfolk Island in a similar capacity.

At any rate, as one commentator would later report, ‘[F]or many years,’ Betty served ‘the family of Governor King, from whose lady,’ nicknamed ‘Queen Josepha,’ ‘she experienced much kindness and attention.’[44] This kindly treatment of Betty, an ex-convict, was entirely characteristic of ‘Queen Josepha.’ In her journal, for example, Anna Josepha King demonstrated concern for the welfare of the convict women transported per Speedy, the ship upon which she travelled to the colony as a free passenger, and in her role as Governor’s wife she addressed what was plainly a vicious cycle of degradation in the colony by establishing an orphanage wherein the neglected children of Sydney could be shielded from immorality and trained for respectable employment.[45]

Anna Josepha King, ca. 1830's
“Queen Josepha.” Miniature of Anna Josepha King, ca. 1830s. Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Governor King clearly shared a similar outlook. His earlier glowing report of Thomas Eccles’s achievements and conduct and the opportunities he provided to Thomas and Betty were evidence of his general commitment to giving hardworking, well-behaved convicts a decent chance of becoming responsible, respectable free people with much to contribute to the colony; an attitude that culminated in his foundation of the ticket of leave system in 1801.[46] It was no doubt King’s desire to reward the Eccles’ diligence that also led him—seven months before his governorship ended—to secure Thomas a one-acre lot on the north side of the Parramatta River in January 1806. The lease was ‘for 14 years or so long as [Thomas] may live when the said Land is to revert to the Crown after the said term shall expire or on his demise.’[47] It seems clear all concerned believed Thomas’s demise would occur well before the expiration date on the lease and that, therefore, his and Betty’s future wellbeing was assured. Thomas and Betty evidently showed their gratitude with a continued dedication to their work that was both noted and valued highly, for even when King’s governorship came to a close the couple were ‘successively patronised by the different Governors.’[48]

A year after Philip Gidley King passed away, aged 50, in England in 1808, 79-year-old Thomas Eccles was still highly productive in Parramatta and locally advertising the sale of his ‘choice lemon trees.’[49] The seemingly boundless energy of Thomas, however, was not everlasting. On Friday 1 April 1814, 83-year-old Betty who had spent the greater part of her life in spinsterdom was a widow and, more to the point, alone again. But even as the various Governors came and went and Betty endured, so did their patronage, which was just as well because, as the lease on the Eccles’ one-acre lot noted, that land had reverted to the Crown upon Thomas’s demise — not Betty’s. This situation, dire as it may seem when only the barest facts are presented, most certainly led to a new phase in the fondly regarded Betty’s life and maybe even inspired another grand adventure.

The Prince-Regent and the Dairy Maid

In October 1813, Governor Lachlan Macquarie had purchased ex-convict George Salter’s circa-1798 cottage and farm on the western side of Parramatta River.[50] Salter’s farm was the first of many lots in the vicinity of Government House that Macquarie was acquiring at the time in his efforts to claim and clearly demarcate a grand English-style estate, which he called the Governor’s Domain.[51] As early as 1815, Macquarie had made some headway in repurposing Salter’s old farmhouse as the Governor’s Dairy and, by around 1823, when Governor Thomas Brisbane was in office, the original cottage had received some new windows, doors, brick flooring, the verandah had been repaired and two wings had been added on either side including the kitchen in the southern wing complete with a double brick chimney and hearthstone, as well as two outer pavilions on the cottage’s northern and southern sides, the latter of which included a sunken milk room.[52] Betty continued her long service to the Governors of New South Wales by commencing her role as dairy maid around the time of these architectural additions at the not-so-maidenly age of 93.

Between her husband’s demise in 1814 and her employment as dairy maid around 1823, Betty had been employed as a housekeeper — presumably at Government House, Parramatta.[53] But apparently housekeeping was not all Betty accomplished in the interim. Astounding as it may seem, an 1830s Parramattan who could report a very precise birthdate and birthplace for Betty also stated that she had tackled the outrageous seas and made the lengthy return voyage to her native England.[54] Even more surprising than her willingly undertaking such an arduous journey was the person the former convict had expressly gone there to see: His Royal Highness The Prince Regent.[55]

King George IV by Johann Paul Georg Fischer
The Prince Regent. King George IV, by Johann Paul Georg Fischer, after Sir Thomas Lawrence watercolour and bodycolour on ivory, before 1875, based on a work of 1815. NPG 6295. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

The Prince of Wales had been made Prince Regent in 1811 when his father King George III, plagued by mental illness, was finally deemed unfit to rule. The regency gave the Prince the right to exercise powers on behalf of the incapacitated Sovereign, including the conferral of pensions, places for life, and peerages. Even before officially being made Regent, however, as the Prince of Wales he had awarded a pension of half a guinea a week out of his own pocket to Phoebe Hessel (1713-1821); a woman who according to legend had, for the love of a soldier, cross-dressed her way into the British army in which she served for 17 years before revealing her true gender. Hessel later married a Brighton fisherman by whom she bore nine children, assisted in the conviction of some robbers who were subsequently executed, and following the death of her husband maintained her independence by purchasing a donkey, which enabled her to sell fish, fruit, vegetables and gingerbread to Brighton locals until failing sight briefly drove her to the workhouse in 1807. Rather than see such an industrious, treasured character resorting to the lowly workhouse again, the Prince granted her the pension in 1808 hardly believing, no doubt, that the woman already in her mid-90s would live another 13 years — long enough to be invited to his coronation in 1821 when she was 108. In the Georgian era generally, other folk who had likewise lived long enough to claim they had witnessed noteworthy parts of English history and to claim debility caused by hard work and sheer longevity were also awarded pensions. Far from her birthplace, though, who could draw the Prince Regent’s attention to or, indeed, verify the already advanced age and exceptional life of Parramatta’s own hard-working local character Betty Eccles, née Elizabeth Bird, who had contributed so much to the fledgling colony? It is more than likely Betty herself was not even sure of the particulars of her birth after such a long disconnection from her natal parish. As a First Fleet convict she had arrived without so much as documentary evidence of her criminal sentence; those documents had only arrived with the Third Fleet in July 1791. Thus, if the newspapers can be believed, in the wake of losing the support of her dearly-departed husband, it seems she risked the journey, obtained the information of her birth and baptism from the parish records at Alcester and, having done so, was duly awarded ‘a small pension for life’ by the Prince Regent.[56]

Betty evidently returned to Parramatta and took up her position as the Governor’s dairy maid, while on 29 January 1820, following the death of the long-suffering King George III, the Prince Regent took up his position as none other than King George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover.

The Dairy, July 1835

The Loves, the Ladies of Penrhyn, the Governors and their ladies—especially Governor King and the dear ‘Queen Josepha’—and the present Governor Bourke who frequently visited Betty and ‘suppl[ied] her with provisions from his own table,’ His Majesty King George IV, Betty’s ‘numerous acquaintances’ in Parramatta, and, of course, Thomas. Each one was remembered by the aged dairy maid with gratitude as the fire crackled away in the Dairy Cottage, for they and others from an even more remote time had all been part of Betty’s life; a long life she now felt drawing to its inevitable ‘dissolution.’[57] Betty was ‘not suffer[ing] any considerable pain…and was perfectly sensible’; nevertheless, she knew this winter and her present illness were to be her last.[58] When the time came, therefore, to those who so carefully attended her she uttered what were to be her final words: ‘I am going.’[59] And, on Saturday morning the 26th of July 1835, after a short period of unconsciousness, a heart that had been beating ceaselessly for almost 105 years fell silent.

♦           ♦           ♦

‘[B]y order of His Excellency the Governor [Bourke],’ the mortal remains of Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Eccles ‘were decently interred in the Churchyard,’ (St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta), on Monday 28 July 1835 in the presence of ‘His Excellency’s servants and many of the old inhabitants of Parramatta’ who respected her highly.[60] Though the burial was performed ‘at the expense of Governor Bourke’ and was reportedly, by the standards of the day, a ‘decent’ interment, no great headstone celebrating Betty’s exceptional life marks her grave today, so the exact location of her grave within the cemetery is unknown.[61] Perhaps there had been a headstone at some stage but it simply failed the test of time that Betty herself had weathered so exceptionally. Alternatively, the description of her burial as a ‘decent’ interment may have been a polite admission by the author of her obituary that Governor Bourke’s order and the expenses allotted to her burial did not extend to a permanent memorial of stone for his ‘honest and upright’ dairy maid.[62] In the absence of certainty, we can only hope that, at the very least, Betty’s decent interment saw the reformed First Fleet convict and centenarian laid to rest in the marked grave of her former First Fleet convict husband with whom she had so much in common and with whom she had shared so much of her life.

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Michaela Ann Cameron, “Elizabeth Eccles: The Dairy Maid,” The St. John’s Cemetery Project, (2018), https://stjohnscemeteryproject.org/bio/elizabeth-eccles-the-dairy-maid/, accessed [insert current date]


References

British Newspaper Archive (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/)

John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts, (North Ryde, N.S.W.: Halstead Press, 1970)

FreeREG (https://www.freereg.org.uk/)

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

Rainham, St. Margaret of Antioch Parish Records (1517-1987), Reference: P296 via Medway Archives Centre (https://www.medway.gov.uk/)

Trove (https://trove.nla.gov.au/)


NOTES

Special thanks to David Auger, the online parish clerk for Rainham on Kent Online Parish Clerk (http://www.kent-opc.org/), for his assistance in tracking down the parish registers online while I was researching the Love family. 

[1] T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland,” in M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt (eds.), The Norton Anthology of English Literature, seventh edition, Volume 2, (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000), p.2373.

[2] Also recorded as “Betty Hackells.” The H-insertion or H-adding reflects the real-world pronunciation of her surname with the aspirated ‘H’ at the beginning; a case of “hypercorrection” of the opposite phenomenon of H-Loss / H-dropping (the omission of the voiceless glottal fricative or ‘H sound’) prevalent in many English dialects, such as Cockney. The standard spelling of Betty’s surname was, in fact, Eccles; an English and Scottish habitational name ultimately derived from the Welsh eglwys meaning ‘church’ from the Latin ecclesia and Greek ekklesia meaning ‘gathering,’ ‘assembly.’ See “Eccles,” Name Origin Research, Surname DB: The Internet Surname Database (2017), http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Eccles, accessed 27 February 2018. On-H-loss and H-insertion in the London context, see Brian Mott, “Traditional Cockney and Popular London Speech,” Dialectologia, No. 9 (2012): 69-94, accessed online http://www.publicacions.ub.edu/revistes/dialectologia9/ 28 March 2018.

[3]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[4] The exact transcription of the Alcester, Warwickshire baptism record is: “Elizabeth, Daught.[er] of John & Elizabeth Bird, September 25 1730.” See Warwickshire Anglican Registers, Roll: Engl/2/1207, Document Reference: DR 360 (Warwickshire County Record Office, Warwick, England). On 6 August 1835, just after Betty’s death, a Parramatta correspondent was able to precisely report that Betty’s birthdate was 18 September 1730, one week before the recorded baptism date, and her birthplace was Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, which is not far from Alcester. See “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6. Nevertheless, researchers including Mollie Gillen, John McClymont, Michelle Goodman and Emma Stockburn have understandably been hesitant to accept Betty’s advanced age as fact. There are a number of things fuelling their skepticism and, indeed, my own: the sheer fact we are dealing with a period in which a person’s age was not an exact science because it was not so religiously observed with a yearly birthday celebration and birthday card; the fact that the only place of residence for which we have any direct evidence of Elizabeth Bird the First Fleeter was Rainham, Kent rather than her supposedly native Warwickshire, so Betty may well have been from Rainham, Kent all along and never had any association with Alcester Warwickshire at all. This latter possibility is strengthened by research I have undertaken which has revealed that the surname “Bird” is rather common in the Rainham, Kent parish registers and those of surrounding areas, so the baptism record from Alcester later claimed to be Betty’s could just as easily have belonged to another person named “Elizabeth Bird.” Additionally, there is the fact that the short newspaper piece announcing Betty’s death and recalling her interesting life, including her birthday and birthplace as 18 September 1730, Stratford-on-Avon Warwickshire, was followed a fortnight later by a slightly longer piece on Betty’s life and death in the same newspaper that seemingly retracted the earlier claim: “her age cannot be correctly ascertained, but it is conjectured she was in her 105th year.” See “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5. Doubts, then, had apparently already surfaced as early as 20 August 1835. The consensus among Gillen, McClymont, Goodman and Stockburn is that the more modest ages recorded in Betty’s convict records are probably closer to the truth. On the other hand, while it is better to err on the side of caution as these earlier researchers have, there is a compelling case to be made in favour of Betty Eccles “the centenarian.” The less advanced and thus more feasible ages recorded in convict records are far from reliable, least of all surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth, the surgeon of the Lady Penrhyn, who recorded Betty’s age as 45 when she may have been 56. As we saw in Michaela Ann Cameron, “Frances Hannah Clements: The Convict’s Child,” St. John’s Cemetery Project (2016) Smyth was notorious for getting major details wrong; for example, the names and even the gender of babies on board were often flatly incorrect or muddled and the ages he recorded for convicts also varied within a single document (Elizabeth Beckford, for example, was recorded by Smyth as 70 and a couple of months later as 82). The fact Betty was in Rainham, Kent in the 1780s does not in itself mean Alcester, Warwickshire was not her natal parish. Rainham is about two days’ walk from Alcester. As a servant, Betty could have travelled such a distance for the purposes of securing employment. We must also consider that it is no small thing that a Parramattan in 1835 could provide an exact birthdate and birthplace for an “Elizabeth Bird” that aligns so well with original baptism records of the parish in Alcester. Today I can very easily log on to a genealogy website to search for and access that specific parish record to verify the details, but of course a person in the far-flung colony of New South Wales in 1835 could not access that information so readily! How did anyone in Parramatta come to have those details at all? The most likely answer is that the information came from Betty herself. The question then becomes whether or not Betty was a reliable source. If she was not the same Elizabeth Bird baptised at Alcester in 1730, how could she have known there was an Elizabeth Bird in the parish registers at Alcester, Warwickshire? Did she have a relative with the same name whom she knew was born there at the time? Or had she come by these very precise details of an Elizabeth Bird of Alcester during her reported (but not yet confirmed) return trip to England? Is it just, then, pure luck (or a case of her convict cunning) that on the same trip those details subsequently confirmed her advanced age and eligibility for “a small pension for life?” The possibilities are endless and ultimately none can be confirmed. In sum, the Parramattan’s knowledge of such precise factual details about the contents of the 1730 Alcester parish records in 1835 could mean Betty really was a centenarian born in Warwickshire after all, or, if not, truly believed herself to be, or even knowingly misled the Prince Regent and her fellow nineteenth-century Parramattans into thinking that she was by professing these details to be true. At any rate, at the time of publication of this biographical essay, to my knowledge the scholars who have previously questioned the veracity of Betty’s recorded age of 105 have never mentioned that there is a parish baptism record in Alcester, Warwickshire that aligns exactly with the birthdate and birthplace for a female named “Elizabeth Bird.” Perhaps that piece of information would have decreased or even entirely eliminated their skepticism or merely raised more questions and possibilities for them, as it has for me. For the published works which have called Betty’s age into question see Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.35; John McClymont, “The Governor’s Domain,” in Terry Kass, Carol Liston, John McClymont, Parramatta: A Past Revealed, (Parramatta: Parramatta City Council, 1996), p.55; Michelle Goodman and Emma Stockburn, “The Dairy Cottage, Parramatta,” Parramatta Heritage Centre, (Parramatta: City of Parramatta Council, 2016), http://arc.parracity.nsw.gov.au/blog/2016/11/24/the-dairy-cottage-parramatta/, accessed 30 March 2018.

[5]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6; “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[6]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6

[7] “Bridge-hill House, Tuesday 19th Dec. 1786,” The Kentish Gazette, Friday 22 December 1786, p.1 accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018. It was so common, in fact, that we even find the same crime, theft of a wether sheep, recorded as the transportable offence of a number of other First Fleet convicts.

[8] Small farm animals were obviously regularly stolen in the daytime, since there was a specific reward of “2 guineas” itemised for those who informed against people who stole poultry “In the Day” in “Bridge-hill House, Tuesday 19th Dec. 1786,” The Kentish Gazette, Friday 22 December 1786, p.1 accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018.

[9] Simon Devereaux, “The Promulgation of the Statutes in Late Hanoverian Britain,” in David Lemmings (ed.), The British and their Laws in the Eighteenth Century, (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2005), p.86; Simon Devereaux, “England’s ‘Bloody Code’ in Crisis and Transition: Executions at the Old Bailey, 1760–1837,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, Vol. 24, No.2, (2013): 71–113.

[10] “Bridge-hill House, Tuesday 19th Dec. 1786,” The Kentish Gazette, Friday 22 December 1786, p.1 accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018.

[11] “NOTICE. SHEEP-STEALING,” The Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 28 April 1789, p.1; “SHEEP STEALING,” The Kentish Gazette, Wednesday 15 January 1783, p.1. See also “SHEEP STEALING,” Reading Mercury, Monday 22 January 1787, p.1 for an example of a gentleman named Walter James Esq., offering a reward of 10 guineas for information regarding the theft and slaughter of “A FAT WEATHER SHEEP,” and “a FAT EWE SHEEP” from Langley Park, near East Ilsley, in the county of Berks[hire].” All newspaper articles accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018.

[12] Naomi Clifford, “Ann Baker, hanged for stealing sheep (1801),” Naomi Clifford, (2016) (http://www.naomiclifford.com/ann-baker/) accessed 6 March 2018.

[13] See Peter King and Richard Ward, “Rethinking the Bloody Code in Eighteenth-Century Britain: Capital Punishment at the Centre and on the Periphery,” Past & Present, Vol. 228, Issue 1, (August, 2015): 174, footnote 43, which states: “The National Archives, London, HO 47/8/15. Hardinge was correct: Report on the Criminal Laws, 254–57, indicates that none of the twenty sheep-stealers sentenced to hang on the Brecon Circuit in the years 1753–88 were executed. In England in the years 1740–80 fewer than 10 per cent were executed (Peter King, Crime, Justice and Discretion in England, 1740-1820 (Oxford, 2000): 274).” In the mid-1780s, though, when Bird and the Loves were tried for the crime, hangings for sheep stealing in England overall were on the rise. As King and Ward go on to state, “in the mid 1780s [the percentage of hangings for sheep stealing] rose to 20 per cent and continued at this level into the 1790s.” Douglas Hay, “Hanging and the English Judges: The Judicial Politics of Retention and Abolition,” in David Garland, Randall McGowen and Michael Meranze (ed.), America’s Death Penalty: Between Past and Present, (New York: New York University Press, 2011), p.135.

[14] “OXFORD, March 6,” Oxford Journal, Saturday 06 March 1784, p.3 accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018.

[15] Mary Love appears to have been the Mary Curtis who married William Love at St. Margaret of Antioch, Rainham, Kent on 30 June 1755. Mary was somewhat literate as she had signed her name on the banns, as did her relative, John Curtis, who witnessed the marriage, whereas William Love had signed his name with an X. See St. Margaret of Antioch, Rainham, Register of marriages and banns, 1754-1812, Reference: P296/1/9 (P296-01-09.pdf, p.4) accessed online via Medway Archives Centre, 29 March 2018, transcript also available via FreeReg, accessed online 29 March 2018.. As noted by Alan Atkinson, The Europeans in Australia: Volume One – The Beginning, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp.123-24, Mary also signed her name as a witness to marriages in the colony of New South Wales and this level of literacy would have allowed her to “claim a little respectability….The ability to write was unusual in a woman. Between one-quarter and one-third of the women who came as convicts by the First Fleet seem to have had enough schooling to allow them to write their own names. The figure for men was a little more than half. Once or twice in their lives such individuals were able to demonstrate this minimal skill, in most cases when they got married but…settlement in New South Wales might give them other occasions as well….The proportion on the First Fleet who could sign was roughly typical of labouring people in England. However, both in England and in New South Wales there were many who could read, however haltingly, without being able to write. Reading was more often useful, and more easily practised. Writing, on the other hand, was a skill not much needed by the poor, especially women. They rarely had command of paper, pen or ink, or time to learn.” John Love was the second last of six children born to William and Mary Love (two daughters, Catharine and Ann, passed away within months of each other in 1774). John Love was baptised at St. Margaret’s of Antioch, Rainham, Kent on 28 August 1768. See St. Margaret of Antioch, Rainham, Composite register: baptisms and burials, 1682-1812; marriages, 1682-1753, Reference: P296/1/2, P296-01-02(2).pdf, p.35, accessed online via Medway Archives Centre, 29 March 2018, transcript also available via FreeReg, accessed online 29 March 2018. As a mother of six, Mary proved inclined to take on a protective motherly role in the colony, too. Alan Atkinson, for example, notes that when an ex-seaman convict named John Russell attempted to persuade Mary to divulge the whereabouts of another female convict named Jane Creek, whom he claimed was “his property,” Mary argued with him. And when Russell found Creek and dragged her to the ground by her hair, Mary Love intervened and suffered a badly bruised leg as a result. Regarding Saint Dunstan, see William Robinson, The Life of Saint Dunstan, (Tottenham: G. Coventry, 1844), p.24, Google Books, accessed 26 February 2017.

[16] Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Volume 9, (Canterbury, W. Bristow, 1800), p.33, Google Books, accessed 26 February 2018; Henry Ward, The Canterbury Guide, (Canterbury; Henry Ward, 1833), p.27, Google Books, accessed 26 February 2018. Debtors were not incarcerated at St. Dunstan’s Gaol.

[17] The Kentish Gazette, Saturday 23 October 1784, p.4 accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018. Note: an alternate spelling for Frinsbury is Frindsbury, Kent, England.

[18] The Kentish Gazette, Saturday 23 October 1784, p.4 accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018.

[19] St. Margaret of Antioch, Rainham, Composite register: baptisms and burials, 1682-1812; marriages, 1682-1753, Reference: P296/1/2, accessed online P296-01-02(1).pdf, p.39, via Medway Archives Centre, 29 March 2018, transcript also available via FreeReg, accessed online 29 March 2018.

[20] “Gaol Calendar, Lent Assizes, at Maidstone, Monday, the 14th of March, 1785,” The Kentish Gazette, Wednesday 23 March 1785, p.2 accessed online The British Newspaper Archive, 5 March 2018 New South Wales Government, Indents First Fleet, Second Fleet and Ships, NRS 1150, microfiche 620–624, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); New South Wales Government, Bound manuscript indents, 1788–1842, NRS 12188, microfiche 614–619, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), pp.35, 224; John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts, (North Ryde, N.S.W.: Halstead Press, 1970), pp.24-25.

[21] John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts, (North Ryde, N.S.W.: Halstead Press, 1970), pp.24-25 notes that John Love’s sentence had also been commuted to seven years transportation, but Gillen’s brief entry on Mary Love notes that John Love instead served two years hard labour on the hulks. Whether it is true that his death sentence was originally commuted to seven years transportation is unclear but, if so, his sentence was altered twice because, as Gillen notes, he did end up on the hulks and was not transported in the eighteenth century. It was common for those sentenced to transportation to spend the entirety of their sentence in prisons or on hulks rather than actually being transported. It is possible, however, that he was the same John Love who was found guilty of “burglariously entering the dwelling house of Thomas Christian, at Ulcomb, and stealing therein a sack, marked “T. Christian,” and a quantity of flour, his property, and a cloth, the property of Lucy Claggett” and sentenced to seven years transportation at Maidstone, Kent in 1814. If so, he was sent to the Retribution hulk at Sheerness before being transported per Atlas III (1816) and spent the rest of his days in Liverpool, New South Wales after all. Further research would need to be done to confirm the theory, though, as Love was a common surname in Kent, and “John” even more so. Mary’s son, John, would have been around 45 at the time of the second crime in 1814, but the recorded age of the John Love who stole from T. Christian was 38. While not exact, it was roughly in the right age range and, given this was an era when ages were often not recorded precisely, least of all those of convicts, the discrepancy alone cannot discount that it was indeed the same John Love. The John Love transported per Atlas III (1816) was recorded as having been a “soldier” in England and a labourer by occupation in the colony. For primary sources regarding the John Love transported in 1816, see The Kentish Gazette, Friday 6 May 1814, p.4; The Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 9 August 1814, p.4; The Kentish Gazette, Friday 9 September 1814, p.4; Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales, Series HO 27, Piece 10, p.127, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England); State Archives New South Wales, Population musters, Dependent settlements: Liverpool Population Book, 1822, Series: NRS 1264, Reel: 1253, (State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); Bound manuscript indents, 1788–1842, Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4005]; Microfiche: 636 (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[22]No title,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW: 1824 – 1848), Friday 25 January 1828, p.3; for the “Mother Grey” nickname see Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], National Library of Australia, MS 4568, accessed 28 February 2018. Mother Grey (Dorothy Handlyn) may well have been the oldest convict of the First Fleet, although, as Bowes Smyth’s incorrect recordings of names for children on board, such as Frances Hannah Clements, and inconsistent recordings of ages for Elizabeth Bird and Elizabeth Beckford alone indicate, he was not a reliable source for factual details. Though he stated Handlyn’s age as 82, other researchers have suggested she was in her 60s. For more on Dorothy Handlyn, a.k.a. Dorothy Handland, see The Digital Panopticon, Dorothy Handland Life Archive, (ID: obpt17860222-131-defend1283), accessed 11 March 2018. For more on Elizabeth Beckford see The Digital Panopticon, Elizabeth Beckford Life Archive, ID: obpt17870110-67-defend653), accessed 11 March 2018; Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 22 February 1786, trial of DOROTHY HANDLAND (t17860222-131), accessed 11 March 2018; Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 10 January 1787, trial of ELIZABETH BECKFORD, (t17870110-67), accessed 11 March 2018.

[23] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[24] ‘Dropsy’ is an archaic term for ‘oedema’; the swelling of soft tissues caused by excess fluid. It is not a very informative diagnosis as it notes a symptom (the swelling) without indicating its root cause, which could have been something like congestive heart failure. Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[25] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[26] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[27] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[28] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[29] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[30] Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[31] Though Anna Josepha King’s journal was not a journal of the First Fleet voyage, her description of the constant soakings the convict women transported on the Speedy, the ship on which she arrived as a free passenger gives insight into life on board the ships bound for Australia in this era. “Thursday 27th [February, 1800] The weather much more moderate the sea going greatly down – I pity they poor women for when we have this weather the are all obliged to keep down in their births – and the battins are fastened down to prevent the water from going down – for all this precaution they are all as wet as drowned rats…” Anna Josepha King, Journal of a Voyage from England to Australia in the Ship ‘Speedy,’ 19 November 1799 – 15 April 1800, [manuscript] State Library of New South Wales, File Number: FL3427570, transcript accessed 12 March 2018.

[32] Bowes Smyth notes that a couple of the more well behaved convict women of the Lady Penrhyn had disembarked on 5 February 1788, a day before the others. Betty was later known for her excellent conduct and her more mature age might have meant she was privileged in this way above others, but without any record of specific names, this is mere conjecture. The relevant passage in Bowes Smyth’s journal records: “[Feby…5th]…5 of the women, who supported the best Characters on board were this day landed on the Governor’s side of the Encampment, & had Tents pitch’d for them not far from the Governor’s house — (He brot. out a Canvass House wt. him from England, wh. was erected in a few days) – [February] 6th. At 5 o’Clock this morng. all things were got in order for landing the whole of the women & 3 of the Ships Long Boats came alongside us to receive them: previous to their quitting the Ship a strict search was made to try if any of the many things wh. they had stolen on board cd. be found, but their Artifice eluded the most strict search & abt. 6 O’Clock p.m. we had the long wish’d for pleasure of seeing the last of them leave the Ship — They were dress’d in general very clean & some few amongst them might be sd. to be well dress’d. The Men Convicts got to them very soon after they landed, & it is beyond my abilities to give a just discription of the Scene of Debauchery & Riot that ensued during the night –They had not been landed more than an hour before they had all got their Tents pitched or anything in order to receive them, but there came on the most violent storm of thunder, lighteng. & rain I ever saw.” Arthur Bowes Smyth, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, [manuscript], State Library of New South Wales, transcript and c.1790 copy accessed 28 February 2018.

[33] Mary Love was among “a number of distressed invalids” whom Governor John Hunter engaged Captain William Raven to take back to England on board Raven’s ship Britannia in September 1796. See Vivienne Parsons, “Raven, William (1756–1814),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/raven-william-2574/text3521, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 29 March 2018; Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.224. Mary arrived in London, England per Britannia mid-1797, as she was among those on board victualled by the government. Mary had, as it turns out, made the long journey home to die. Mary Love’s burial was recorded in her old parish of St. Margaret of Antioch, Rainham, Kent a few months later on 17 December 1797 where her husband William and two of her six children, Catharine and Ann, were also buried. See St. Margaret of Antioch, Rainham, Composite register: baptisms and burials, 1682-1812; marriages, 1682-1753, Reference: P296/1/2 P296-01-02(1).pdf, p.44, accessed online via Medway Archives Centre, 29 March 2018 and burial transcript via FreeReg, accessed online 29 March 2018. 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 via Internet Archive, accessed 20 January 2017.

[34] 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 via Internet Archive, accessed 20 January 2017.

[35] Philip Gidley King, The Journal of Philip Gidley King, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), pp.196-200, accessed 11 March 2018.

[36] Philip Gidley King, The Journal of Philip Gidley King, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), pp.196-200, accessed 11 March 2018.

[37] Philip Gidley King, The Journal of Philip Gidley King, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), pp.196-200, accessed 11 March 2018.

[38] Philip Gidley King, The Journal of Philip Gidley King, (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2003), pp.196-200, accessed 11 March 2018; 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.103-04 via Internet Archive, accessed 20 January 2017.

[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), p.103 via Internet Archive, accessed 20 January 2017.

[40] For primary evidence referring to Betty’s ‘good conduct’ see “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[41] Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.115.

[42] Shipping Muster HMS Porpoise March 1801, Tracey Evans (tr.), in Cathy Dunn, “HMS Porpoise to and from Norfolk Island March 1801′, Australian History Researchhttp://www.australianhistoryresearch.info/hms-porpoise-to-and-from-norfolk-island-march-1801/, accessed 11 March 2018.

[43]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6; John McClymont, “The Governor’s Domain,” in Terry Kass, Carol Liston, John McClymont, Parramatta: A Past Revealed, (Parramatta: Parramatta City Council, 1996), p.55.

[44]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5. Anna Josepha King was apparently nicknamed “Queen Josepha” because of the influence she had over her husband. See A. G. L. Shaw, “King, Philip Gidley (1758–1808),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/king-philip-gidley-2309/text2991, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 12 March 2018.

[45] See Anna Josepha King, Journal of a Voyage from England to Australia in the Ship ‘Speedy,’ 19 November 1799 – 15 April 1800, [manuscript] State Library of New South Wales and transcript accessed 12 March 2018. Regarding “Mrs King’s Orphanage,” see Marnie Bassett, “King, Anna Josepha (1765–1844),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/king-anna-josepha-2306/text2985, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 12 March 2018.

[46] A. G. L. Shaw, “King, Philip Gidley (1758–1808),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/king-philip-gidley-2309/text2991, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 12 March 2018.

[47] Registers of Land Grants and Leases, Series: NRS 13836; Item: 7/445; Reel: 2560, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia).

[48]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[49]Classified Advertising,” Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 – 1842), Sunday 26 March 1809. p.2.

[50] George Salter was originally sentenced to death but his sentence was commuted and he was transported per Neptune (1790) with the Second Fleet.

[51] The Governor’s Domain later became a public park, namely the present-day World Heritage Listed convict site Parramatta Park. Verena Mauldon, Shaping the Domain: The Macquarie Legacy at Parramatta Park: The Government Domain, Parramatta, 1810-1821, (Parramatta: Parramatta Park Trust, 2010, r.p. 2012), p.4, accessed 13 March 2018.

[52] “The building over the sunken dairy,” writes Wendy Thorp, “is claimed to have been removed from the site by c.1858.” The archaeological remains of the c.1823 sunken milk room, however, were preserved under the floorboards of the northern room of the later Ranger’s Cottage (1875). In c.1823, writes Thorp, the sunken dairy was described ‘as 19’ x 14/, sunk to a depth of five feet with fixtures and steps, a circular sewer and cesspool. There was also a ‘garden house’ repaired with new fittings and other changes. This same report mentions several out-buildings including a privy and fowl-house.” See Wendy Thorp, “Archaeological Report Governor’s Dairy Precinct, Parramatta Park,” (Parramatta: Parramatta City Council, June 1994), pp.2, 10, via NSW Archaeology Online: Grey Literature Archive (Sydney: University of Sydney, 2015), accessed 13 March 2018. During recent restoration work, the floorboards were removed revealing the sunken milk room which now includes an interpretive virtual display of dairy maids at work by award-winning designer Gregory Anderson of Trigger Design (http://triggerdesign.com.au/).

‘[53] Mollie Gillen states that in 1821, prior to the completion of the dairy’s c.1823 renovations, Betty was recorded as working as a housekeeper. Others have also stated that Betty was sometimes a housekeeper for Governor King and Governor Bourke, presumably at Government House (aka Old Government House, Parramatta) given her long association with the various Governors. I have not personally viewed the primary evidence that informed these statements of her employment as a housekeeper, (the Parramatta population musters I have viewed do not disclose her occupation), but as Arthur Bowes Smyth noted in 1787, Betty was indeed a servant by occupation in her pre-convict life so it would have been natural for her to revert to her original calling. Betty is strangely absent from the 1828 New South Wales Census. See Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.35; John McClymont, “The Governor’s Domain,” in Terry Kass, Carol Liston, John McClymont, Parramatta: A Past Revealed, (Parramatta: Parramatta City Council, 1996), p.55.

[54] On the other hand, the same correspondent incorrectly stated that Betty had “arrived in the first fleet…and…resided ever since in Parramatta.” Betty, of course, had not resided in Parramatta the entire time as she and Thomas had lived on Norfolk Island for over a decade. “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6.

[55] The reference to the Prince Regent places Betty’s reported homeward voyage sometime within the formal Regency era (5 February 1811 to 29 January 1820). Though the Prince Regent gained “full prerogative powers of the crown including the right to award pensions and places for life and to grant peerages” only after King George III’s doctors pronounced him insane and informed the council on 4 February 1812, it seems, perhaps, small pensions had been something he had the power to award even before he became regent; for example, the case of Phoebe Hessel. In any case, we may tentatively narrow down the potential timeframe of Betty’s journey even further to between April 1814 and 29 January 1820, as it is doubtful Betty would have taken the journey during her husband’s final years and even more feasible that his death actually prompted her to make the voyage since the implied motivation for the journey was to gain financial support from the Prince Regent in the form of a pension for the remainder of her life. Regarding the limitations on the Prince Regent’s powers in his first year as regent see Jeremy Black, George III: America’s Last King, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), p.408. In the absence of a piece of a passenger or victualling list from a ship confirming that Betty was ever on board a ship bound for England, it is tempting to be skeptical that Betty made the trip at all. On the other hand, the regency era was within the living memory of the Parramatta correspondent who reported it as a fact in August 1835, so unless the reporter was given to flights of fancy, then we must tentatively accept that the voyage and her meeting with the Prince Regent was potentially a part of her life story.

[56] For primary evidence stating the Prince Regent provided Betty with a small pension for life, see “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6. For a less-than-credible example of a person of a very advanced age reported in the newspapers of the day see “a man living in Somerset-house” who, according to The Kentish Gazette in 1772, was “upwards of 140 years of age. He was a stable-boy in Somerset yard in the time of Charles I. was for several years coachman to Charles II. preserved his domestic connections with all the succeeding families on the Throne, and has now a pension, which he is still able to enjoy with all the alacrity of a man of fourscore.” The Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 16 June 1772, p.3 via The British Newspaper Archive, accessed online 5 March 2018. For a general discussion of old-age pensions in this era, see Samantha Williams, “Support for the Elderly During the “Crisis of the Old Poor Law,” c.1790-1834,” a conference paper for Population, Economy and Welfare, c.1200-2000: a conference in honour of Richard M. Smith, a conference held at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, 16-18 September 2011, accessed 14 March 2018.

[57]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[58] “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[59]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[60]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6; “LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[61]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 20 August 1835, p.5.

[62]LONGEVITY,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW: 1835 – 1840), Thursday 6 August 1835, p.6.

© Copyright 2018 Michaela Ann Cameron