Richard Fitzgerald’s Bathurst Convict Establishment in 1828 (Part 2)


In my previous post I described Richard Fitzgerald’s property acquisitions in the Bathurst, Dabee and Coolah districts. I also provided a few details on his workforce, as revealed by the 1828 census.

The census return provided a detailed “snapshot” of his workers, which provides an opportunity to recover a few fragments of their personal stories.

All told, there were 31 people listed in the return, all except 3 being convicts or ex-convicts. The exceptions were boys who were born in the colony, John Taylor (age 11 years), John Hockey (age 13 years) and John Marr (age 14 years). All were working as shepherds at Dabey, and no doubt receiving a fine education in convict ways.

The census return is mostly accurate as far as I can tell, and there were only three sentence-expired convicts (free by servitude), John Green, Mickel Dawes and Mikel Tigh that I couldn’t tie to their convict ship and year of arrival.

Of the 28 convicts, 13 were still serving their sentence (i.e assigned servants), 12 were free by servitude, 2 had a conditional pardon and 1 had a ticket of leave.

About 2/3 were of the Protestant religion, the remainder being Catholic. All sentenced in Ireland were Catholic.

Ages ranged from 11 to 74, and all were male, as to be expected at that time and place.

Their original occupations, i.e. before conviction, included labourers, a wine cooper, a shoemaker, a ploughman, a soldier, a cotton weaver, a boatman, a weaver, a seaman & labourer, a cotton spinner, a servant & barber, a shepherd’s boy, a cloth presser, a butcher, a workman and a waterman.

Only one was still working at his original occupation. This was Irishman John Hughes, a shoemaker. He wasn’t there under compulsion as his sentence had expired in 1821. John Barker, a butcher before conviction, was Fitzgerald’s overseer but probably also kept his hand in at butchering once in a while. John Tighe was working as a blacksmith so it’s likely this was his original occupation, of which I found no record.

14 people were employed as shepherds, and 6 as hut keepers, these normally working in teams of 2 or 3 shepherds and one hut keeper. Information about the conditions of sheep farming at this time can be found in an earlier post “Deridgeree Station – the Early Years“. There were also 3 herdsmen, 3 bullock drivers, 2 labourers, 1 blacksmith, 1 shoemaker and the overseer.

Most were employed at Dabee, which was clearly the headquarters. At Wollar there was a shepherd, a herdsman and a hut keeper. At Combemelong there were 2 shepherds, at Nandowrey a herdsman and a hut keeper and at Carwell a shepherd and a hut keeper.

The earliest year of arrival was 1800, and only one ship and voyage provided more than one convict. This was the Recovery, 1823, which accounted for 3 assigned servants.

More convicts were first assigned to Windsor (10) than elsewhere. Two from the Grenada, 1819, were assigned to Emu Plains when Fitzgerald was still in charge of the Government Farm there. Parramatta, Camden and Prospect each recorded a single assignment. Masters mentioned in assignment records included Fitzgerald (Windsor), Cox (Windsor), Bowman (Windsor), William Lawson (Prospect), Macarthur (Camden) , George Thomas Palmer (Parramatta) and John Palmer.

Here are a few anecdotes from the lives of these people.

William Spower (Norfolk, 1825)

William Spower, a wine cooper, was convicted in London in 1824 for embezzlement. Of the 31 convicts, he is the only one for which I found a trial transcript. Spower’s offence was a little different to the usual story of the convict transported for 7 years for stealing a handkerchief. Here is the beginning of the transcript:

333. WILLIAM SPOWER was indicted for a fraud.

RICHARD HENRY GRAY . I am a wine-merchant , and live in Basing-lane. I know Mr. Mollard, of Greenwich.

On the 10th or 11th of December the prisoner came to me and said, “Mr. Mollard wants twelve dozen of old crusted port, have you any?” I said not, he represented himself as Mollard’s confidential servant, and said he was going to Wilson and Cutler’s, Mincing-lane; to buy two dozen of claret. …”

Like to read the full transcript?

William received his certificate of freedom in 1831.

John Tighe (Anne 1, 1801)

According to the census return, John Tighe arrived from Ireland in 1801 on “Ann 1st” with a life sentence. He was classified in 1828 as having a conditional pardon. These details identify him as John Tighe, a convict who accompanied surveyor George Evans on the second crossing of the Blue Mountains in November 1813.

Evan’s party comprised 2 free men (free by servitude), James Byrne/Burn and Richard Lewis. The convicts were John Tighe/Tye (a convict shipmate of Byrne), John Grover and John Cogan/Coogan.

Byrne and Lewis were rewarded with 100 acre land grants plus a money payment whilst the 3 convicts received 50 acre land grants, a conditional pardon and a small cash payment. Thereafter, in normal discourse, Tighe could call himself a free man, the only restriction on him being that he could not return to Great Britain, as his transportation was for life. His land grant was at Windsor.

Tighe subsequently formed part of William Cox’s road building party that constructed the road across the mountains in 1814/15, although not initially. Richard Lewis took the role of Cox’s superintendent, whilst James Byrne acted as guide.

On 1 August 1814 Cox and Byrne had a falling out, and Cox discharged him. On 4 August, Cox’s journal records “Wrote for John Tye to come and join us as a Superintendent in lieu of Burn discharged.” [1] Thereafter Tighe acted as guide in marking out the line of road, no doubt due to his experience with Evans. There are numerous mentions of “John Tye” in the journal.

1815 was a big year for Tighe. He married and as reward for his work with Cox received from the government two further payments from the Police Fund, a grant of land at Richmond and a small number of horned cattle from the Government herd.  In regard to the latter:

“WHEREAS His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR in CHIEF has been pleased to grant to the several Persons undernamed a Proportion of Horned Cattle as a Donation for their Services in constructing a Road across the Blue Mountains to the new-discovered Country. This is to give Notice, that on Wednesday the 5th July next, at Ten o’ clock in the Morning, Attendance will be given at the Eastern Creek Stock-yard, where the following Persons are requested to attend in Person, or send written Orders, upon which the Cattle will be delivered without Delay ; viz.

Mr. Thomas Hobby … | Samuel Eyres

Mr. Richard Lewis … | James Kelly

John Tye ……………… | William Martin

Thomas Gorman …… | Matthew Mucklow, and

William Dye ………… | Mrs. Green, widow of

Samuel Freeman …… | the late Thos Green

It will be needful for each Person to bring his own branding iron, as no Cattle can be delivered from the Governments Herds without branding.” [2]

Why did Tighe chose employment with Fitzgerald at the age of 64? Fitzgerald would have known Tighe as both were long established residents of Windsor. A blacksmith was an indispensable part of a pastoral establishment, not just for shoeing horses but for manufacturing, repairing and sharpening a wide variety of tools and equipment. Fitzgerald probably valued his experience and expertise and paid him well.

Like to read more about the Evans and Cox expeditions? Try this link.

John Hughes (Three Bees, 1814)

The shoemaker John Hughes (Three Bees, 1814), a native of Dublin, was tried there in 1812 and sentenced to transportation for 7 years. He may not have had an easy time of it.

Although I don’t know the details of his offending in the colony, he was sent to the Newcastle penal settlement on the “Estramina” in June 1815 and again in September 1817on the “Mary”. He was still there in August 1819 when his name appeared on a list of prisoners claiming expiration of sentence. John should have received this in 1819.

On 7 August 1824 he submitted an affidavit to the Colonial Secretary re loss of his certificate of freedom from his lodgings in Sydney. The affidavit appears to have been made at the courthouse in Windsor, which would be consistent with his taking up employment with Richard Fitzgerald.

A new certificate was issued on 26 August 1824, the register noting that it was in lieu of an earlier certificate.

Daniel Noonan (Lonach, 1825)

One of the older of Fitzgerald’s people, having been born about 1772, Daniel was working in 1828 as a hut keeper at Wollar. He had been convicted in Tralee, County Kerry in Ireland for cow stealing in March 1824. He was initially assigned to the Camden district, master Macarthur, at Cawdor.

The 1828 census gives his sentence as transportation for 7 years, however other records say it was for life.  He was to die on 25 February 1835 at the place where many old convicts spent their last days, the Liverpool Hospital. His burial record in the Sydney Anglican parish register says that he was a prisoner of the Crown which suggests a sentence longer than 7 years.

John Snow (Hindostan, 1821)

John Snow is the subject of a separate post “A Colonial Rarity – John Snow”.

John Barker (Larkins, 1817)

John Barker is discussed in a separate post “Deridgeree Station – the Early Years”.

William King (Porpoise, 1800)

Apart from being the oldest man amongst Fitzgerald’s people (age 74 in 1828) he had served the longest sentence and was the only one who did not arrive on a convict transport ship.

King arrived in Sydney on 9 November 1800 on HMS Porpoise, a supply ship which carried amongst other cargo a selection of useful European plants, arranged by Sir Joseph Banks, to replace those lost in HMS Guardian. En route the ship stopped at Cape Town where 9 prisoners, all ex-soldiers were embarked. King was described as a notorious thief. Follow this link to read more about HMS Porpoise.

[1] This part of the journal is excised from the version published in William Cox’s Memoirs. It can be found in the online version at the National Library of Australia – – viewed 28 January 2022

[2] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 1 Jul 1815, Page 1

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