A Convict in the Family

We’ve made an interesting discovery. In the distant past, one of Jill’s family, her 7th generation ancestor (or thereabouts), was a convict.

While cleaning out our bookshelves this afternoon, we came across an old family bible. The earliest record was of a man named Henry Dawes (Jill’s great something grandfather) who was born at Penrith in 1836. A Google search quickly showed that he was the son of a William Dawes who was transported for seven years for stealing a silver spoon with a value of ten shillings (about $600 in today’s money).

William Dawes was convicted of burglary in Middlesex on 26 May 1819. He was transported, along with 368 other convicts, to Australia on HMSS Dromedary on 11 September 1819. The ship arrived in Van Diemens Land on 10 January 1820 after a non stop voyage. it is one of the few transportation ships for whom a relatively complete log exists. (See here.) It was on this vessel that Lachlan Macquarie and his family had previously arrived to replace William Bligh as governor of the colony of New South Wales. The history of the Dromedary can be found here.

Somehow, we assume after his sentence was completed, William Dawes appeared in NSW and was settled in an area known as Evan, which appears to be near what is now, Penrith. In the 1828 NSW census, he was recorded as being 30 years of age, free by servitude, a farmer at Evan with 30 acres of which all were cleared and cultivated and owning 2 horned cattle. He married Alice Randall and appears to have had nine children, one of which was Henry Dawes (the name in the bible). William Dawes died in 1859 at Glebe, NSW.

What seems astounding is that after only a few other quick Google searches, we were able to find the original record of his court case.

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2 comments

  1. Ian Anderson · ·

    Hi Bruce,

    What an interesting discovery about the Dromedary and its passengers having read the “Rufus Dawes” book after visiting Tasmania things certainly go around.

  2. Carole Yager · ·

    Hi Bruce, Your comments about Norfolk Island made me feel really sad. What did you do while on holiday ? Did you walk barefoot in the sand on the edge of Emily Bay and be pleasantly surprised at the water temperature. What about sitting on the cliff edge at Puppy’s Point with a glass of wine to watch the sunset ? a stroll through the National Park or explore the convict connection in the Kingston area and have a delicious lunch at the REO cafe. Snuggle up at night in bed with a good book ? You say Norfolk is still in the 1950’s. No way !
    In 1950 Norfolk had no sealed roads, no electricity and certainly very few shops and no restaurants. If you can’t enjoy Norfolk as it is today how would you have felt in the 1950’s ? Access was by cargo steamer about every six weeks or every second week by air in a DC3. I don’t suppose you’ll come back but if you ever did try and relax. Norfolk isn’t the Gold Coast, we don’t want it to be and that’s why we live here.