During my family research project a number of convict ancestors were discovered. Five were discovered in all; four of which belong to this (my maternal grandmothers) line of my family ancestry. Four belong to the Whittington side and one to the Noakes side. The other convict belongs to the Alchin side (my maternal grandfathers), but they will be dealt with in a later post. Below is a quick snapshot of the four convicts that belong to the Whittington/Noakes family line. I have provided only scant detail but much more in available in the public records. While many family historians obsess over convict past, I think that, while significant, convict heritage needs not be treated with any more enthusiasm than any other member or story of my family past.
Joseph Parker Morley (1770-1838)
Joseph is aged about 17 when sentenced to 7 years transportation at the Middlesex Old Bailey session in December 1787. He is convicted for the theft of a crepe gown, a cotton gown and six shirts. He was sent to Newgate prison until April 1788 when he was transferred to the Thames hulk Stanislaus until he was to depart for Australia. He left England, as part of the Second Fleet, on the Surprise transport ship in November 1789. After arriving with the Second Fleet in Port Jackson, Sydney on 26 June 1790, it is likely that Joseph Morley spent his first days being cared for in a makeshift hospital. Many of the Second Fleet convicts needed urgent attention due to the terrible condition on board the ships. One third of those who were transported in the Second Fleet lost their lives while at sea and hundreds more died upon landing in Sydney. Joseph was lucky to have survived the journey and to have lived so long afterwards. After serving his sentence in Sydney, Joseph married Ann Yates (see below) and had at least four children (possibly five) one of whom is Eleanor Morley, born c1804. The marriage broke down and Joseph later married Hannah Railton who appears to have been a regular companion. Joseph earned a living from land granted to him and also inherited from a relative of the same name in Prospect. In total he had 150 acres in his name. There also exist several records of correspondence from Joseph Morley requesting liquor licences. On some reports his occupation is listed as ‘Publican’. In one such document he names his establishment as the ‘Cornwallis Frigate’ in Glouster Street. At the time, he resided in George Street, Sydney. In 1822 Joseph’s daughter Eleanor Morley marries Robert Pettit (see below) in Liverpool. Joseph Morley died on the 17 May 1838. Both Joseph and his second wife, Hannah were interred at the Elizabeth Street Burial Ground. This cemetery is now the site of Central Station. Their headstones were later transferred to the Woronora Cemetery in Sutherland, Sydney.
Ann Yates (c.1763-1810)
Ann Yates was convicted at the ‘Old Bailey’ in 1795 for stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation. She was transported on the Britannia and arrived in Sydney in 1796. As there was no government accommodation for female prisoners at that time, the women of the Britannia were likely distributed amongst the free population as servants. The Female Factory at Parramatta had yet to be established. Within two months of arriving she was married to Joseph Morley (above) at St. Phillip’s, Sydney. The convict pair had at least four children (possibly five) one of whom is Eleanor Morley, born c1804. The marriage between Ann and Joseph broke down after the birth or their last daughter, also named Ann Morley. Mother Ann and her newborn somehow secured passage on a ship bound for England. She bordered the ship, called the Boyde, with her baby and they sailed in 1808. The ship first went to New Zealand where Ann was caught up in a famous incident known as the ‘Boyd Massacre’. The five survivors of the massacre, Ann, her baby and three other people were forced to stay with the Maoris in New Zealand until help arrived with the ship, City of Edinburgh. Ann would die soon after in Lima, Peru when the ship she was rescued on was forced to stop for repairs. The Boyde Massacre is an interesting story worthy of further investigation. A quick internet search will get good results, also the book by Ian Macdonald called ‘The Boyd Massacre’.
Note: There exists some confusion over which Ann Yates and which Joseph Morley actually marred in Sydney and contribute to their successive family lines. This is understandable as there was a Joseph Morley who arrived as a convict on the First Fleet (on board the Friendship) and another who arrived with the second. Also a Nancy Ann Yates arrived with the First Fleet and a Ann ‘Nancy’ Yates in 1796. It seems that the two Joseph Morleys are related, either cousins or brothers while the two Yate ladies are not. The Whittington family history book, ‘From Mists to Sunshine’ by D.Layden, makes a claim that the Ann Yates that is part of the Whittington family line is the one who arrived in the First Fleet. I believe this to be incorrect. The Ann who arrives with the first fleet is actually spelt, in most occurrences, as Yeats, not Yates, and that Ann is well recorded as having children, yes with a Joseph Morley, but also with many significant other men in the colony of New South Wales. There is no definitive record that suggest it is this Ann that leaves New South Wales via the Boyd, nor is there any indication that it is this Ann that dies in Lima, Peru. The children of this first Ann also do not match that of the second fleets Joseph Morley.
Robert Stanton Pettit (1786-1869)
Robert (or Stanton Pettit as he was known at the time of sentencing) was convicted at the Kent Assizes for the term of life on 13 March 1815. He was convicted of stealing sheep, among other things. He is transported to New South Wales where he arrives on board the Fanny on 18 Jan 1816. After arriving Robert marries Eleanor Morley in Liverpool in 1822. In is yet unclear what Robert did or who he was assigned to between these dates.
After marriage, the couple lived at various places including Prospect, at Eleanor’s father (Joseph Morley’s) property. In 1828 Robert was assigned as an overseer to James Chisholm and later he was assigned to his wife Eleanor who was born in Australia to the two convict parents detailed above. Eleanor and Robert had several children including Mary Ann Pettit (born in Prospect), who would later marry Charles Whittington in Goulburn in 1859 after the death of her first husband (George Chilten). Both Robert and Eleanor are buried in the St. Thomas Anglican Cemetery in Enfield. Eleanor is apparently buried alongside Robert’s bother (William) and not her late husband.
James Holgate (1807-1886)
James Holgate is transported, with his brother John, on the England II and arrives in Sydney in 1835. He and his brother were convicted of breaking and entering and stealing spirits, including brandy. James left behind a wife and two children in England. His wife, Maria Holgate (nee Foster) would follow James to New South Wales a few years later, around 1840. It is not yet known on which ship she immigrated. She brings with her their children; one son dies on the voyage. James Holgate was granted a ticket of leave in 1843 at Penrith then, in 1848, received a conditional pardon; the condition being that he was never to return to England. Around 1850 the reunited family move to the Dalton district. At auction they buy 30 acres and 2 roods of land known as ‘Rockstone Vale’ on the Jerrawa Creek (see Holgate story here). At around the same time of this move James’ daughter, Eliza Holgate, who was brought to Australia by her mother, marries James Wheatley in Gunning.
*Header image is of the old house at Sunrise View, lived in by the descendants of the Holgate family.
Links, sources and further reading:
N.S.W State Archives and Records (convict indexes)
The Holgate Family History and Genealogy by Daphne Holgate
‘From Mists to Sunshine’; A Whittington decedent publication by Dianne Layden