Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Dear G.G.G.G.Grandma Lydia by Glynis Wheeler

"Dear G.G.G.G.Grandma Lydia,"

I have recently returned from visiting the beautiful parish church in Madron, Cornwall, England where you were christened in September, 1811. My husband & I walked around the grounds of this church where you and your big brothers - William, b.1807 and Charles, b.1807 played.

Charles was named after your dear father, Charles, who was married to Margery - your loving mum. During our stay in Cornwall we travelled across to the west coast of Cornwall to a tiny village called Zennor where you once was employed during 1827. While travelling through those wind blown, desolate country side I
thought I could see you trekking across the ridges with your small bundle of person effects, bent against the rain, cold and bitting wind. It was in Zennor that you worked for William DUNKIN. You took a great liking to a shift that belonged to him and found yourself before "The Beak" for the first time -  you were found to be guiltily of this small crime and had a two week holiday at Launceston Goal in land from Zennor. You made your way across Cornwall to Devon where your light fingered activities got you into trouble again. This time it was a shirt worth three shillings - the property of one Mr John TEMPLEMAN - my, how you must have loved men's clothing! This time "The Beak" was much harder on you - this fetish for the male garments gained you a sentence of seven years transportation to the distant Colony of New South Wales on board the good ship "Sovereign" on her second such trip to the Colony. You sailed out of Downs in 1829 in the company of 118 other ladies who had gain their passage to the New Land as well.

"After your disembarkment at Port Jackson you were taken on a long journey to Bathurst along the Great Western Highway - a road which I frequently travel myself - though to get to Bathurst from my home near Penrith it now only takes me about two hours to get there. Once in Bathurst you found yourself in the care of Mr William LEE where you quickly learnt about the care of cattle and the dairy. 1832 saw you as the sweetheart of an ex-convict Jimmy SHERRARD (-arrived in 181 on the "Morley"). Permission to marry was gained from the Governor. What ever happened that you two never tied the "knot"? - I see that he married Mary SAUNDERS at Abercrombie in 1837 - not long after her arrival in the Colony.

"You must have been good with the cattle, because in 1832 you would assigned to Maitland area where you met and married John SHAW - a former convict who had arrived in the Colony in 1816 on the "Elizabeth 2". On the 24 February 1833 your first beautiful daughter, Mary Ann Rachel (my G.G.G.Grandmother) was born. Within thirteen months Lydia was born on 8th April, 1833. You and John named her after you. Your third daughter, little Ann made her appearance on the 3rd September, 1837. Finally on the 31st May 1839 you & John had a son - John, jnr. Do you know that was my baby sister, Lee, was born on his birthday. By this time your John's health was failing and his inability to work in his trade as a sawyer, was really putting a lot of pressure upon your marriage. He worked at what ever he could when he could to earn money to cloth, feed & house you and the family. Was it this pressure that caused you to loose it and seriously assault John, putting him into Newcastle Hospital? Sadly, John was never to leave hospital and died there on the 22nd September, 1841. You were at that time in custody,
awaiting trial for this assault, at the time of John's death. Did you know he was buried in the Parish of Christ Church, Newcastle by Rev. C Plydell N Wilson who had married you both and christened all the children? John was buried as a "free pauper". It was John's dying wish that the children be educated in his Roman Catholic Church.

"As you were unable to care for the children they were placed in care. Your Ann was sent to St Mary's in Sydney on the 21st October , 1842 and this is the last I have ever heard of her since she was admitted to the Institute for Roman Catholic Destitute Children. Do you  know what happened to young
Lydia and John - I think Lydia would have been old enough to have gone into service but I have not been able to find them. Has anyone ever told where Mary Ann Rachel went to between her father's death and when she married a former convict, Isaac LANCASTER - (Baring 2 - 1815) - in 1848. She was a tender age of fifteen years and he was fifty-nine years old. They live at Monkey Place in Fordwick, Broke and he was working for the Blaxland family. Together they had a large family of twelve children - four girls and eight boys.

"G.G.G.G.Grandma Lydia - I know you would have needed the company of someone to look after you and am please you found Robert WEBB -(Adrian - 1830). He was a "lifer" on a Ticket of Leave when you two married in 1844. Did you ever have any more children? I never have been able to find any to you two. Mr W R Hall, a grazier of Gundebri Station via Merriwa stated at the time of Robert's death you were know as Edith Harriett SHAW, a widow. Did you change your name to get away from your sad, hard life? Robert is buried at Bell Hollow on Gundebri Station in the Upper Hunter Valley.

"Where did you go after Robert's death? I would dearly love to find more about you and where you are now.

"Your loving G.G.G.G.Granddaughter,
"Glynis Wheeler."

Originally posted to AUS-PT-JACKSON-CONVICTS-@ by Glynis Wheeler and kindly re-printed here with her permission

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