Elizabeth Eccles (1730–1835)

ELIZABETH “BETTY” ECCLES was a convict transported per Lady Penrhyn (1788) and is one of St. John’s First Fleeters. She worked as the dairy maid at the Government Dairy in what is now the World Heritage Listed Australian Convict site, Parramatta Park. Her grave is unmarked and therefore its location is unknown, but it is likely she is buried in the same grave as her husband, First Fleeter THOMAS ECCLES who predeceased her. She died on 26 July 1838 at Parramatta and was buried the following day.


  • Maiden Name: ELIZABETH BIRD
  • Alternate: ELIZABETH BIRDS
  • Alternate: ELIZA BIRD
  • Alternate: WHINEFERD BIRDS
  • Married Name: ELIZABETH ECCLES
  • Colloquial: BETTY HACKELLS
  • Colloquial: BETTY ECCLES


  • Born: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, 18 September 1730
  • Baptised: Alcester Warwickshire, England, 25 September 1730
  • Residence: the parish of Rainham, county of Kent, England, October 1784
  • Occupation: servant, 1784
  • Marital status: spinster, 1784
  • Committed crime: accused of stealing a wether lamb with JOHN LOVE, while fellow First Fleeter MARY LOVE was accused of receiving the stolen lamb.
  • Committed to St. Dunstan’s Gaol, Kent with accomplices JOHN LOVE and MARY LOVE: Tuesday, 19 October 1784
  • Tried and convicted of theft: Maidstone, Kent, 14 March 1785
  • Sentenced to death, given a reprieve: Maidstone, Kent, 14 March 1785
  • Death sentence commuted to seven years transportation: May 1785 (At the Lent Assizes on 13 March 1786 it was noted that ELIZABETH BIRD and MARY LOVE, among other prisoners, “Remain according to their former Order.” There was no mention of JOHN LOVE, even though he, too, had been given a reprieve. Perhaps he had died in the gaol in the meantime.
  • Sent to Southwark Gaol with MARY LOVE: Southwark Gaol, Southwark, Surrey, England, November 1786
  • Sent to Gravesend, Kent, England by wagon for embarkation on Lady Penrhyn: 31 January 1787
  • Sailed with First Fleet per Lady Penrhyn13 May 1787
  • Arrived in Botany Bay per Lady Penrhyn: 20 January 1788
  • Arrived at Port Jackson per Lady Penrhyn: 26 January 1788
  • Sent to Norfolk Island per HMS Sirius, also on board was ANN SMITH (I) and her two children: 4 March 1790
  • Married THOMAS ECCLES: Norfolk Island, November 1791
  • Off government stores: Norfolk Island, 16 June 1794
  • Returned to Port Jackson with THOMAS ECCLES per HMS Porpoise: 14 March 1801
  • Husband THOMAS ECCLES died: 1 April 1814
  • Purportedly sailed to England and received a small pension for life from HRH Prince Regent: sometimes between 5 February 1811 and 29 January 1820 (the formal Regency period). Voyage unconfirmed.
  • Began working as dairy maid at Governor’s Dairy: Governor’s Domain (Parramatta Park), circa 1823 or earlier.
  • Died: Governor’s Dairy in the Governor’s Domain (Dairy Cottage, Parramatta Park), 26 July 1835
  • Buried: St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, 27 July 1835

Burial Location

  • Unmarked grave, exact location unknown, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. She may be buried with her husband, THOMAS ECCLES who has a marked grave in Section 2, Row P, No. 8.


  • Daughter of JOHN BIRD
  • Daughter of ELIZABETH BIRD
  • Partner in crime: JOHN LOVE
  • Partner in crime: MARY LOVE (First Fleeter per Lady Penrhyn)
  • Spouse of THOMAS ECCLES


  • Servant
  • Dairy Maid


  • Convict, Lady Penrhyn (1788)
  • Housekeeper, Government House, Parramatta Park, c.September 1800–c. September 1823
  • Dairy Maid, The Government Dairy, Parramatta Park, c.1823–1835

Related Content

Elizabeth Eccles: The Dairy Maid (2018)

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Abstract: Countless times the dairy maid’s ‘footsteps shuffled on the stair’ leading down into the sunken milk room of the Governor’s Dairy. 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. more>>

Thomas Eccles: The Swine Connoisseur (2016)

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Abstract: Thomas Eccles was a man who loved his bacon; so much so, he was willing to risk his life to steal some. Initially given the death sentence for his crime, Eccles was spared and given a sentence of transportation for life instead; a decision which led to him sailing with the First Fleet on board the convict ship Scarborough. Through his skill and industry Eccles soon distinguished himself as a gardener on Norfolk Island and earnt himself an absolute pardon. Though already in his sixties by then, Thomas, the reformed bacon thief subsequently became a successful pig farmer. He and his wife spent their remaining years in Parramatta, where they grew ‘choice lemon trees,’ vegetables, and (of course) kept two hogs. Thomas Eccles is one of seventeen First Fleeters with memorials buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. more>>



Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

  • John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts, (North Ryde, N.S.W.: Halstead Press, 1970), pp. 24–25.
  • “BIRD, Elizabeth/Winifred (c1742–1838),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), pp. 34–35.
  • “ECCLES, Thomas (c1730–1814),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), pp. 115–16.
  • Terry Kass, Carol Liston, John McClymont, Parramatta: A Past Revealed, (Parramatta: Parramatta City Council, 1996), p. 55.
  • Charles White, Convict Life in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, Parts I and II: The Story of the Ten Governors and the Story of the Convicts, (Bathurst: C. and G. S. White “Free Press” Office, George St, 1889), p. 48 via Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/convictlifeinnew00whitrich accessed 7 March 2018.
  • Ron Withington, Dispatched Downunder: Tracing the Resting Places of the First Fleeters, (Woolloomooloo, The Fellowship of First Fleeters, 2013), p. 440.


# First Fleet

# Convict

# Ship: Lady Penrhyn (1788)

# Burial year: 1835

# Grave: unmarked