That convict Jacob again

Third post in a row! But I begin with a correction concerning what regiment had soldiers on the convict transport Isabella. One document I quoted said:

The vessel was moored at Cowes on Thursday 2nd August 1821 when the detachment of the 24th regiment under orders of Lieut. Harvey from Albury Barracks embarked. There were 28 Privates and Corporals and three women. The following day at noon they weighed anchor and passed through the Needles under light and variable winds. On the next Friday (10th) they arrived at the Cove of Cork after a rough passage when the Guard and women suffered very much from sea sickness. They remained at the Cove of Cork for some time during which time several of the guard became unruly and rebellious. A court-martial took place on board and six soldiers were sent back to shore.

But then in my same post I gave you this:

24th or 94th? Both agree about Lieutenant Harvey. Has to be 94th, as that news clipping is from 1822, whereas the other citation is a 20th/21st century web page! No contest. So I became curious about the 94th, and of course Wikipedia knows everything!

(c) National Army Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The regiment was raised, from officers who had previously served in the Scots Brigade, by General Francis Dundas as the Scotch Brigade on 9 October 1794. The regiment embarked for Gibraltar in November 1795 and then moved on to South Africa in 1796 before transferring to India in late 1798. The regiment landed at Madras in January 1799 and saw action at the Battle of Mallavelly in March 1799 and the Siege of Seringapatam in April 1799 during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. It was renumbered as the 94th Regiment of Foot in December 1802. It also took part in the Battle of Argaon in November 1803 and the Capture of Gawilghur in December 1803 during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. At Gawilghur, Captain Campbell led the light company of the regiment up the assault ladders and over the walls of the fort, which had previously been considered impregnable, and then let the rest of the British force in through the main gate. The regiment embarked for home in October 1807.

Napoleonic Wars

The regiment sailed for Jersey in April 1809 and was then embarked for Portugal in August 1809 for service in the Peninsular War. It landed in Lisbon in February 1810 and arrived to take part in the defence of Fort Matagorda a few days later. It then saw action at the Battle of Sabugal in April 1811, the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro in May 1811 and the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812. After that it fought at the Siege of Badajoz in March 1812, the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812 and the Siege of Burgos in September 1812 as well as the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813. It then pursued the French Army into France and fought at the Battle of Nivelle in November 1813, the Battle of the Nive in December 1813 and the Battle of Orthez in February 1814 as well as the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814. It embarked for Cork in May 1814 and was disbanded in Dublin in December 1818.

Guarding my great-great-great-grandfather and the ancestor of actor Geoffrey Rush was perhaps something of an anticlimax? Maybe that’s why in Cork Harbour “several of the guard became unruly and rebellious. A court-martial took place on board and six soldiers were sent back to shore.”

Now I recycle two fascinating documents concerning Jacob Whitfield of the Isabella — remarkable documents from Wiki Tree:

New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 for Jacob Whitfield


The person to whom Jacob is assigned, Henry Kable, a convict himself. is very well known in our early colonial history.

Jacob’s ticket-of-leave: so my “bicentennial” was July, not August!


More convict stories

There was a bit of a clue to our background in my grandfather’s name: Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield. He tended to suppress the highly Irish “Sweeney” bit. So who was Daniel Sweeney?

Well the truth is he was another convict, having arrived before my ancestor Jacob.

Alias: Sweeny     Religion:  Age on arrival: 20
Marital status:
Calling/trade: Labourer
Born: 1799        Native place: Bandon Cork Co
Tried: 1818      Cork Co          Sentence: 7     Former convictions:
Ship: Daphne (1819)

That is from Peter Mayberry’s Irish Convicts to New South Wales 1788-1849. Our leading family historian, Bob Starling, put an enquiry online a while ago:

I am looking to locate relatives of Daniel Sweeney, convict transported on “Daphne” to Sydney in 1819. Daniel married Mary Whitfield, born 4/1808 died 13/4/1872, daughter of Jacob Whitfield transported on Isabella I in 1822. Daniel and Mary had three children: 1. Daniel born 1828 married Catherine Ryan 1845 (unconfirmed) 2. John born 1830 married Ann Monague 1866 (unconfirmed) 3. William born 1832 married 1851 Mary Callaghan (unconfirmed)

For some time I mixed up this Daniel Sweeney with another, who arrived on a rather famous convict transport, the Three Bees in 1814. I subsequently adjusted the story thus:

The following is a good story, but appears to be wrong. I leave it though as the “Three Bees” story is worth it! It appears I had the wrong Daniel Sweeney herethe one in question arrived on the Daphne in 1819.

Did you note my grandfather’s name? On May 6 1814 the ship Three Bees, a transport of 494 tons, arrived from Cork. One of the convicts on board was a Daniel Sweeney, sentenced to seven years. It was something of a hell ship, and within a week of arrival it blew up, bits of it landing in King Street.

By 1822, Daniel Sweeney seems to have prospered.

2014 addendum: I note that in 1825 he is listed as employed by Dr James Bowman, a pioneer in the Hunter region. His status is Free by Servitude. “When convicts had served the period of their sentence and therefore became free they  were recorded as being ‘free by servitude’.  Men and women sentenced to life could never be freed by servitude in time they would be granted a pardon.” Daniel Sweeney was back in Sydney by the 1828 census.

Four years after Jacob arrived on the Isabella, the Thames arrived (11 April 1826) with 37 free women and 107 children, one of whom was a ten-year-old (sic), but it appears he was really 13 or 14, named William Whitfield. Also on the ship was his older sister, Mary, who subsequently married Daniel Sweeney at St Matthew’s Church at Windsor in 1827. Here is a complete passenger list for the Thames.) In the 1828 census, William Whitfield is recorded as residing with Daniel Sweeney in Kent Street Sydney, and in 1833, Jacob Whitfield is recorded as assigned to Daniel Sweeney.

If you want more on the Three Bees story, check this out. It is quite a story. “The Three Bees was one of three “fever ships” to arrive that year.  Aboard four of the ships to arrive in 1814 the mortality rate was one death to every 89.5 prisoners embarked, but in the General Hewart, the Three Bees and the Surrey the rate was one death to every 9.1 convicts embarked .   After the excellent health record or the transports in the immediate preceding years, this high mortality surprised and shocked both official and public opinion, and led to the decision to appoint a surgeon-superintendent in charge of each convict ship .”

Coincidentally, the Captain of the Three Bees was John Wallis, who was also the Captain of Isabella on which Jacob Whitfield arrived, as recounted in yesterday’s post. And speaking of Jacob, there is a great reference work available: Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant. They are in Wollongong Library. Here is their account of Jacob Whitfield.

Folklorist Warren Fahey explains the history of Australian convict transportation ballads and sings Moreton Bay.

And a nice coincidence. I worked 1990-early 1991 at Wessex College of English, which happened to be situated almost on the spot where Jacob Whitfield was growing his strawberries!

Wessex College was in this building on Wentworth Avenue

Bound for Botany Bay — 200 years on

Missed it! The bicentennial of my ancestor Jacob Whitfield’s trial that is — not at the Old Bailey, but in County Tyrone, Ireland, in June 1820. CORRECTION: As you will see further into this post. Jacob’s trial, according to a contemporary news report, was in August 1820! So it IS the bicentennial after all, and I haven’t missed it. The June date concerns the co-accused Thomas Fisher of Lear in County Cavan.

Here is a key part where my ancestor is mentioned:

Jacob Whit  trial1

The document goes on to argue that Fisher (the petitioner) is not getting a fair trial in County Tyrone because a number of witnesses for the defence are in County Cavan.

Jacob Whit  trial2

I am not sure what light this casts on my ancestor Jacob Whitfield, who was convicted in relation to this matter and sentenced to life in New South Wales. I am inclined to read it as suggesting that Jacob Whitfield framed the petitioner. Stuart Daniels reads it differently:

Also I have been reading the trial of Jacob Whitfield in Cavan Ireland , and I don’t think he got a fair trial. One of his witnesses could not travel to the court room that was 40 miles away. The trial was held in Tyrone and the witnesses lived in Cavan. Both men protested about the restriction of their witnesses. Makes you wonder was it a kangaroo court, or the Irish equivalent. Was he innocent? We will never know. Our ancestor might not have been such a bad person. The writing is very hard to decipher.

…the original copy of the trial is VERY hard to read as it is in a yellow and faded copy, but Bob [Starling] did a good job of getting a readable copy.

Whatever the truth of that,  Jacob found himself in August 1821 embarked on the convict transport Isabella  bound for Sydney Cove from Cork. The link there tells you precisely who else was on board.

The Convict Ship', c1820

The Convict Ship’, c1820. Transportation of convicts from Britain to Australia, parts of which were used as a penal colony. Friends and relations having said farewell, probably for ever, wave from the shore. Artist: Henry Adlard.

Quite a lot is known about that voyage of the Isabella.

See especially my post Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” and Search Results for:Jacob Whitfield.

There are lots of details about the “Isabella” here.

The vessel was moored at Cowes on Thursday 2nd August 1821 when the detachment of the 24th regiment under orders of Lieut. Harvey from Albury Barracks embarked. There were 28 Privates and Corporals and three women. The following day at noon they weighed anchor and passed through the Needles under light and variable winds. On the next Friday (10th) they arrived at the Cove of Cork after a rough passage when the Guard and women suffered very much from sea sickness. They remained at the Cove of Cork for some time during which time several of the guard became unruly and rebellious. A court-martial took place on board and six soldiers were sent back to shore.

On October 14th forty-seven convicts were received onto the vessel making the total to 200 men. They were divided into messes and sent on deck during each day in two divisions. This routine continued until nearly the end of October when rain set in and the men were kept below. The surgeon reported that the prisoners were orderly and well behaved. The bad weather continued and the men were allowed on deck intermittently. By November they had set sail and most of the convicts, guard and women were all experiencing sea sickness in the boisterous weather.

Over the next four months Surgeon Price kept a daily record of the position of the vessel and weather experienced as well as the various illness of the convicts.

There were light winds on the 10th March when they came to anchor in Sydney Cove. The convicts were mustered on deck and divine service performed. The following day the Colonial Secretary came on board to muster the men.

On the 14th March at daylight the guard and the convicts were all disembarked and at 11am Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane inspected the prisoners in the gaol yard.

Major-General Sir Thomas Brisbane (c1825-26)

Sir Thomas Brisbane

Jacob spent some time in the Hyde Park Convict Barracks – which are still there today as a tourist attraction.


As you have read above, it is likely Jacob’s crime was horse stealing. He did get a life sentence. In 2015 I posted:

He had a life sentence; until recently we didn’t know what crime he committed, his record being one of those lost by fire in Ireland much later on. However, a few years ago came this information:

Jacob was convicted of horse stealing 1820 and there is a report in The Belfast News Letter of Friday the 4th Aug 1820, no. 8084; page 4, column 3. He was found guilty and was sentenced to hang but was sent to Australia…

For much more on the voyage of “Isabella” see Fascinated still by (family) history and here.

Now we approach 1825 when a most significant event in the history of my family occurred: the arrival of the immigrant ship “Thames”, departed Cork on 14 November 1825 reaching Sydney via Cape Horn on 11 April 1826. There was loss of life during that voyage, including members of the Whitfield family, not least, it seems, Mary (Gowrie), Jacob’s wife. In November 1823 Jacob had petitioned Governor Brisbane to have his wife and six children join him in the colony. For detail see my posts Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” (2014), Stray stories of family and Australiana — 2 (2014), William and his tribe… (2014).

Finally, a post on this blog in November 2019.

I have noted before that my grandnephew David Parkes and his sister Lauren have been on an amazing and very extensive trip through Europe. Lauren’s latest posts on Facebook are from Ireland. This is just one photo:


So more descendants of Jacob Whitfield are revisiting the scene of the crime, so to speak. I have been wondering how close they have been to where his son William Whitfield was born 16 Mar 1812 , Parish of Drumgoon, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland.

Years ago, without even realising the family connection, David and Lauren’s older brother Nathan was in the Emerald Isle too, but only briefly.

That’s my grandnephew Nathan in Ireland in 2011.

Yesterday was Nathan’s 31st (!) birthday. That makes me the Ancient of Days indeed!

My own private Idaho — sorry, VJ Day 1945

Loved that movie, based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV.

But I meant to tell you about VJ Day in 1945 — and yes, I was alive then. And saw something very like this.

I told my blog readers about it first around 20 years ago.

On my old Diary-X blog I had a series that pleased some readers (one very much). For each place the idea was to recall a few stories, or to try to capture that time and place. I guess it is the sort of thing a poor old sod does in his dotage! Fortunately, some of the earliest ones survived the great Diary-X crash.

Auburn Street 1943-1952


Auburn Street: the front yard in the 1940s: my brother Ian, sister Jeanette and I

The house is still there….

At the bottom of the backyard was a line of gum trees, a paling fence with allegedly poisonous gourds growing on it, and in front of that the chook yard. The story goes, as I can’t remember this, that my grandmother (whose nerves were not good as she had two sons and one son-in-law away in the War) was coming back one day from feeding the chooks when an American in a Kittyhawk or a Mustang appeared at treetop level and chased her up the yard. Convinced it was a Zero and she was about to die, my grandmother dropped everything, screamed, and ran for the house.


I do remember sitting on my dinkie on the gravel drive, near the Dorothy Perkins climbing rose which I called Mrs Perkins and confused with the lady next door who I thought was also Mrs Perkins. A yellow biplane flew over very low and the pilot leaned out and waved to me. My mother later told me that must have been the end of World War II….

Poor Grandma Ada! Imagine this chasing you up the backyard.

And as I posted on Facebook yesterday:

Conscious of my Dad and Uncle being RAAF, I was passionate about planes as a young kid. How could I not be? Dad’s RAAF greatcoat was still in the wardrobe. I saw the medals frequently. I attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service in Sutherland at least once with my Dad and went to the “breakfast” after and heard the talk and felt really proud of my Dad. At my Uncle Neil’s place in Kirrawee there were wartime plane identification pics under all the Women’s Weeklies in the hall cupboard. And These Eagles, which I read avidly. Again as I acted as DJ and played the old songs I heard the talk. It was truly part of me. Mind you neither of them were great RSL types in those days, though I think Uncle Neil was a member of the Air Force Association.

I am a war baby.

Don’t you forget it. I don’t.

Finally, a bit of blog stat news.  Already we have passed the total views of all of 2019!  Thanks, people.

Screenshot (346)

It’s VJ/VP Day today

And last night on Facebook I promised this post would knock your socks off. Well, not so much this post as this video. Take time to watch it and be horrified by the facts therein, some of which were new to me despite my having been a History teacher (as well as English/ESL.)

Now some contemporary footage.  The first is colour but silent footage of Newcastle, NSW.