Jacob Whitfield’s crime occurred in 1820, for which eventually he was transported for life to NSW, leaving on the Isabella 1 from Cork two hundred years ago and arriving in Sydney on 10 March 1822. Looking closely again at information I have already posted about the Isabella I see I could have “celebrated” a family bicentenary last week!
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.
This is where Jacob was first housed in Sydney. It is the Convict Barracks, and is still there. I have visited and tried the hammocks…
Jacob was later given permission to bring his family out from Ireland. They came on a ship called the Thames, sailing via Cape Horn, reaching Sydney on 11 April 1826. Sadly, Jacob’s wife died. Four of their children did survive the voyage, one of whom was my direct ancestor William Whitfield, born 16 March 1812 , Parish of Drumgoon, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland.
The population (non-Aboriginal, and rounded figures) of Australia was: c. 1815 – 25,000; c. 1825 – 35,000; c.1835 – 128,000. The present population of Wollongong is c. 282,000.
This was an interesting decade for my Whitfield ancestors. The convict Jacob got his Ticket of Leave in March 1834.
Then, as I have noted before:
[Jacob] witnessed the wedding on 20 June 1836 at St Andrews Presbyterian Church of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West, along with the other witnesses Maria Burgess and William Burgess. On 18 September 1836 (yes, I can count!) the baptism is recorded at St James Church, King Street, of William Joseph John Whitfield, son of William and Caroline. William gave his profession as carpenter, and his address as Elizabeth Street. The child had been born on August 14. (By the way, it snowed in Sydney on June 28 1836.)
From William a clan does indeed seem to have sprung — large families, lots of survivors. William in the 1840s settled in Picton, and there are still plenty of descendants in that area, though my immediate family, springing from William Joseph John’s son Thomas, settled in Shellharbour, where my father was born in 1911.
I have long been aware of the existence of the Braidwood branch of the Whitfield clan but I don’t recall meeting any of them, nor have I travelled to Braidwood. But it is a good story, how they got there. So this is about two of my father’s great-uncles, Jacob 2 and Richard Whitfield.
The information in Jacob 2’s entry is more evocative: “Jacob was farming in the Picton district of NSW until 1875 when with his wife, Eliza and five children, his brother Richard, his wife, and other family members, he left Picton to walk to Araluen NSW to the gold fields. They took with them a cow and horse and cart with their belongings. After three years in Araluen they went to Braidwood NSW where they set up their first blacksmith shop in 1879. Jacob died six years later on 22 Oct 1885…” His wife became a midwife in the district.
By the way my great-grandfather William Joseph John Whitfield, who stayed in the Picton district, and his brothers Jacob and Richard all married sisters from the Ratcliffe (Radcliffe) family, respectively Elizabeth, Eliza, and Mary Ann.
Note in the extract from 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 above the story about the blacksmith shop in Braidwood, particularly the story from the Sun-Herald.
You see the point this is leading to is that I have recently added a friend to my Facebook list, a request from someone I had never heard of, one Merrick Bailey. Looking at his face and what I could see of him I accepted, and then came the explanation.
Hi Neil, My name is Merrick Bailey, Grandson of Richard John Whitfield, who with his brother Bill had the blacksmith Shop on the corner as you left Braidwood. I was looking at some family history stuff and came across you in a blog post. I grew up between Braidwood with my grandparents and parents in Baulkham Hills during the war. So I have a few memories of the Blacksmith Shop as a small child, and living at Fairview with them. Good to make contact. I now live in Moruya on the South Coast.
Turns out he is an absolutely brilliant photographer. Look at his site!
And there is a side-note here too, Looking at his branch of the family tree, compiled some years ago now by Bob Starling, I see a grandson of William (“Bill”) the Braidwood blacksmith — a Robert Whitfield. Is that another mystery solved? But the birthdate was not available.
I am, I think, indirectly acquainted with the Robert Whitfield who gives his details in the comment below. Thanks again, Robert. And for the email as well.
Bob Starling’s very thorough family tree is enormous. The Robert Whitfield I found fits into descendants of the Braidwood branch thus. Keep in mind that the Richard John Whitfield (1840-1929) — who is the link to him — is my great-grandfather’s brother, in other words my Dad’s great-uncle.
Family history can be such fun!