Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day and your Convict Ancestor

Happy Australia Day to all our readers.

This day gives us an opportunity to reflect on who we are as Australians. For many of us this will focus us on our ancestors who came to this land as convicts from England.

Our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd spoke fondly of his convict ancestor, one Thomas Rudd, at an Australia Day function at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Sunday.

History Services NSW Convict Database has the following information recorded for the said Thomas Rudd:

  • arrived at Port Jackson from Portsmouth on 28 June 1790 aboard the Neptune (Second Fleet). Sentenced at the Old Bailey on 23 May 1787 for a term of seven years;

  • arrived at Port Jackson for a second time from England on 12 June 1801 aboard the Earl Cornwallis. Sentenced at the London Gaol Delivery on 19 February 1800 for a term of seven years;

  • 1808 - sought assistance and was granted capital from John Blaxland for payment of wages;

  • 1813 - subscribed to a building fund for a court house at Sydney;

  • 1814 - recorded as a landholder at Liverpool;

  • 1816 - required to prove he was free or be returned to government service. Resided at Liverpool;

  • 1819 - assigned a convict servant, Edward McQuade (per theship Guildford which arrived at Port Jackson on 8 April 1816);

  • 1822 - recorded as a landholder of Liverpool (free by servitude);

  • 1824 - resident at Campbelltown - signed a letter to the Sydney Gazette asking for government investment in capital works at Campbelltown.
If you are researching a convict ancestor, and would like a ready summary of the information that is available, you should go to our website at:http://www.historyservices.com.au/convicts.htm

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A German Convict?

Yesterday, on a very hot Sydney day, I was interviewed by Dennis Gastmann for the German documentary series “With 80,000 Questions Around the World". In this show, the reporter travels to foreign countries to learn about their history, culture and tradition.

Dennis and his camera man, Thomas Hipp, are in Australia for one week and are scheduled to conduct four feature interviews for a program on Australia Day.

I was was questioned on issues such as:

  • Do Australians regard themselves as a Convict nation? This is apparently a common perception in Germany.

  • What is the significance of Australia Day, which many Aborigines refer to as Invasion Day.

  • My own convict ancestry and what it is like for an Australian to discover they have a convict ancestor.
The program will be aired on German Public Television on 1 March 2010.

A search of the History Services NSW Convict Database found that 21 convicts were native of Germany. An interesting German convict was George Bennet alias Isaac Davis, who arrived in Sydney on the convict ship Waterloo on 12 June 1837. George was aged 55 years when he arrived and was a native of Brenham, Germany. He had been previously transported to the Colony on the convict ship Guildford in 1824 and had escaped during June 1835. In 1844 he was before the Hyde Park Barracks Bench of Magistrates for making a false statement. At this time it was discovered that he had not received any additional punishment for previously absconding from the Colony. For punishment, the Bench of Magistrates recommended that he serve two years on Cockatoo Island as punishment. He eventually received his Ticket of Leave for the Parramatta district in November 1847, which was later altered to Sydney district, so long as he remained employed by Mr. Isaac Norris of Pitt Street.