There is a possibility that the man buried as “Richard Timbrell” at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta on 14 November 1790 was a First Fleeter named Robert Timbrell, though other First Fleet researchers, including Mollie Gillen, have never apparently included him in their work to date. The burial was the sixth burial recorded at the cemetery overall and the man’s status was recorded as “convict.” However, the burial was dated five months after the arrival of the Second Fleet, which makes it difficult to confirm his identity.
A “Robert Timbrell” is recorded on this list of First Fleeters, which states that the man in question was tried at Warminster, Wiltshire in July 1786 and sentenced to seven years transportation per Scarborough (1788). Manually flicking back to the first page of that source confirmed that this was a list of First Fleeters as it states that pp.1-40 “cover all First Fleet transports” which includes the page containing Robert Timbrell’s name (page 7). Researching many of the other names immediately surrounding Robert Timbrell’s reinforces the individuals were all First Fleeters. His trial details are confirmed in a newspaper article dated Thursday 20 July 1786 in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette that incorrectly records his name as “John Timbrell”:
COUNTRY NEWS…At the General Quarter-Sessions of the Peace for this county, held at Warminster, John Timbrell, for breaking into the dwelling-house of Samuel Andrews, of Charlton, and stealing half a flitch of bacon, and several other things, was sentenced to be transported for seven years.
This evidence certainly proves his trial was early enough for him to have been included on the First Fleet, but is not in and of itself proof that he definitely was, since convicts often waited a long time in prisons and hulks before being transported while others were picked for a particular ship sooner rather than later. However, it does confirm that this Timbrell sentenced to transportation for seven years for this crime did end up being transported to New South Wales at some point.
Another thing we must take into account is that the ship Scarborough sailed in both the First and Second Fleets, which raises the possibility that a Second Fleet Scarborough convict may have gotten mixed in with the First Fleet Scarborough convicts as a result of human error during the compilation of the list. There is, at it turns out, a “George Timbrell” who was convicted at Gloucester and transported with the Second Fleet per Scarborough. However that convict had completely different trial details (28 March 1787 at Gloucester). Warminster, Wiltshire, where Robert (or John) Timbrell was convicted, is a considerable distance from Gloucester. Furthermore, “George Timbrell” per Scarborough (1790) convicted at Gloucester 28 March 1787 and transported for fourteen years appears in the same lot of Convict Indents as Robert Timbrell but clearly under the Second Fleet, proving at least that there were two individuals named Timbrell in the colony’s earliest years and leaving no cause to believe that it may have been the same person using an alias.
- Alternate: Robert Timbrell (c.f. Convict Indents)
- Alternate: John Timbrell (c.f. Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)
- Alternate: Richard Timbrell (c.f. St. John’s parish burial record)
- “John Timbrell” in “Country News,” Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 20 July 1786, p. 2, The British Newspaper Archive, https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/, accessed 2 March 2018.
- “Robert Timbrell,” 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).
- “George Timbrell,” 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).
- Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
- “Robert Timbrell,” in J. Reakes, Australia, Convict Index, 1788–1868 [database on-line], (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001).
# Grave: unmarked