Hugh Hughes: The Wheelwright Made Right

By Danielle Thyer

SUPPORTED BY A PARRAMATTA CITY COUNCIL COMMUNITY GRANT – ST. JOHN’S FIRST FLEETERS

London: 1781 Crime and Conviction

rag-fair-extract-1

Detail from Thomas Rowlandson, “Ragfair, Rosemary Lane,” n.d., late eighteenth century. British Museum, Binyon 44, Crace XX.188. © Trustees of the British Museum.

It is possible that Hugh Hughes is the same individual who was charged with breaking into the cellar of sugar refiner, Frederick William Sporman, and stealing two wooden casks containing brandy and bitters on the evening of 3 January 1781.[1] According to the accused’s deposition, having spent seven hours drinking at the Kettle Drum, a public house on the Ratcliffe Highway (later St. George Street), a presumably intoxicated Hughes attempted to return to his lodgings in Sporman’s ‘dwelling-house’ on the same stretch of road.[2] Yet on arriving at the residence, he found the door locked. ‘[Wanting] some house to drink in,’ Hughes walked the streets looking for an open establishment, going westwards towards the Tower of London near Rosemary Lane.

Rosemary Lane and the district surrounding Whitechapel in East London, where Hughes may have grown up, ‘possessed venerable reputations as centres of prostitution and criminality.’[3] Indeed, according to Janice Turner writing on Rag Fair,

‘the neighbourhood teamed with a disorderly population, engaged in an almost inherently disorderly trade that both attracted the attention of the authorities and seemed to frustrate their will in the same moment.’[4]

rag-fair-extact-03

Detail from Thomas Rowlandson, “Ragfair, Rosemary Lane,” n.d., late eighteenth century. British Museum, Binyon 44, Crace XX.188. © Trustees of the British Museum.

It was amidst this visible milieu of poverty, criminality, and disease—unfortunate consequences of technological progress and industrialisation—that Hughes allegedly encountered a man in possession of the two casks of liquor he was later accused of feloniously stealing. The unnamed individual offered Hughes one shilling if he would carry the items to the Strand, which he obliged. On conveying the 23-shillings’ worth of alcohol along Cable Street Hughes was observed by resident watchman, Samuel Rutlage, who inquired whether he had a permit to carry such items. In response, the accused met Rutlage with a volley of ‘ill language.’[5] The watchman rang his wooden rattle to alert fellow watchman, Thomas Norman, and the two men proceeded to take Hughes to the ‘cage’ at Clerkenwell Bridewell, northwest of Whitechapel; a prison that predominantly housed vagrants and prostitutes.

Hughes remained overnight at the prison and the following day he was brought to his landlord’s home, along with the reportedly stolen items. Frederick Sporman confirmed the casks were his missing property and Hughes was charged with burglary. That same day, John Sherwood Esq. committed Hughes to Clerkenwell Bridewell, pending his trial.[6] The accused appeared at the Middlesex Sessions House on 10 January 1781 before Justice John Heath under the Second Middlesex Jury, where he was found not guilty of ‘burglariously breaking the dwelling-house of Frederick William Sporman,’ but was found guilty, however, of stealing the goods.[7] He was sentenced to two years navigation.[8]

Due to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which prevented the transportation of convicted felons to the American colonies, British Parliament passed a measure in 1776 whereby prisoners awaiting trial or sentenced to transportation were posted to decommissioned warships in the Thames at Woolwich. This ostensibly temporary measure, enacted in an attempt to relieve the burden of overcrowded prisons, lasted for 82 years until revoked due, in part, to the successful agitation by a transnational movement of anti-transportation activists.[9] The Act stated that:

where any male person…be lawfully convicted of grand or petit larceny, or any other crime for which he shall be liable by law to a sentence of transportation to any of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America…shall be punished by being kept to hard labour in the raising sand, soil, and gravel from, and cleaning the river Thames, or any other service for the benefit of the navigation of the said river…for the same term of years as the transportation for the said offenses might by law have been adjudged, or for such shorter term as such court shall think fit and order to adjudge[.][10]

As with Hugh Hughes’s subsequent sentence, which would see him transported to New South Wales as a convict, it seems likely that in being sentenced to two years ‘navigation’ he would have worked on one of the prison hulks, shovelling sand and gravel from the Thames to aid navigation through that stretch of water. Whether Hughes served out the full duration of his sentence is unknown.

London: 1785 Crime and Conviction

Akin to other convicts who came to the colony of New South Wales on the First Fleet, Hugh Hughes weaves in and out of the historical narrative, only coming into focus at points of social transgression, thus leaving large swathes of his life absent to the scrutiny of historians. In 1785, several years after his earlier pilfering, however, Hughes reappears accused of stealing 90 pounds of metal worth 10 shillings from the home of Ann Blake, a widow. Hughes was convicted in the county of Surrey across the Thames and sentenced on 16 February 1785 at the Southwark Quarter Sessions to seven years transportation.[11]

For the theft of goods half the value of his earlier crime, Hughes received a much harsher sentence; over three times the duration. The apparent increase in severity of criminal sentencing reflects a period of ‘chaos’ in the legislative and judicial system of Britain. This was in part a consequence of the American Revolution. The outbreak of war closed a significant avenue for removing from England any individual who transgressed legal and social boundaries to the distant shores of the American colonies, which thus led to the increased visibility of criminals both in prisons and on the streets. According to Tim Hitchcock, it was also the Gordon Riots of 1780, which led to the death of 285 people and exacerbated the already fraught relations between Protestant and Irish Catholic agitators, that prompted judicial authorities to clamp down on any perceived threat to civil order, the greatest of which was criminality.[12]

While, legally, the agitators of the Gordon Riots were arrested and hanged, thus fulfilling the dictates of the judicial process, the unforeseen consequence of this was the widening class chasm that dominated British society, notwithstanding religious tensions. Within this bifurcated system, the upper-class increasingly saw the working-class—those who lived in the streets of Whitechapel, Rosemary Lane, and other impoverished districts familiar to Hughes—as instigators of such episodes of violent social upheaval. The wealthier elite became ‘distrustful of their social inferiors,’ which was met with a paralleled resistance by the working classes to those in positions of authority.[13] This pervading class tension was met with an increase in the number of individuals charged with criminal offenses in London.

863259001

The Clerkenwell Bridewell Prison in which Hugh Hughes was incarcerated operated between c.1694 and 1794. This image by “Anonymous” was created c.1720-1750. © Trustees of the British Museum.

Between 1780 and 1782, the same period in which Hughes may have executed his first offense, the number of commitments at Clerkenwell Bridewell increased by over 43 percent. This number increased by over 380 percent between 1782 and 1784, when 2,956 individuals were committed. While this number is staggering, it is difficult to gauge whether criminal activity increased in line with declining social conditions in the city or whether the (upper-class) public’s tolerance for criminality waned, thus precipitating a greater push for reform through incarceration to avoid a repeat of the Gordon Riots. In any case, Hughes’s arrest and conviction for his part in the theft of goods from Ann Blake went alongside increases in both the numbers of individuals convicted in London as well as the severity in sentences handed down to guilty parties. Indeed, as Hitchcock argues, it may not have been that criminal acts were fewer or did not occur previously, but that the process of addressing such social transgressions moved from ‘traditional informal procedures’ to the more stringent regulations of a more visible formal judicial process.[14]

Hughes held on the hulk, Censor

On 24 October 1785, eight months after being sentenced to seven years transportation, Hugh Hughes was transferred from the newly erected gaol at Borough in Southwark to the prison hulk, Censor, where he worked to clear the Thames, as laid out by the 1776 Criminal Law Act.[15] While the presence of these prisoner hulks aimed to ease the pressure on already overcrowded gaols across the city, the number of prisoners convicted ensured that hulks such as the Censor were not viable solutions and merely perpetuated the overcrowding and disease they were intended to mitigate.

This sentiment was echoed by Lord Sydney Thomas Townshend ten months after Hughes arrived on the Censor. In his capacity as Secretary of State, Lord Sydney wrote a letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury in August 1786 stressing the necessity of finding alternatives to confining prisoners on board these hulks. He argued that the ‘crowded state’ of ‘several gaols and places for the confinement of felons in this kingdom,’[16] including prisoner hulks, posed a grave danger to society. Not only was there the ever-present threat of prisoners escaping from these sites, but a concern with ‘infectious distempers, which may hourly be expected to break out amongst them.’[17] Lord Sydney, acting on behalf of King George III, who was ‘desirous of preventing by every possible means the ill consequences which might happen from either of these’ scenarios, advised ‘that measures should immediately be pursued for sending out of this kingdom such of the convicts as are under sentence or order of transportation.’[18] The result of this initial suggestion was the First Fleet and the establishment of the New South Wales colony.

Transportation on the Alexander

‘[T]o make room for the people now in Newgate [Prison],’ wrote Under Secretary Evan Nepean in a letter to Thomas Shelton, the Clerk of Arraigns at the Old Bailey in London, on 1 January 1787, convicts currently held on the Thames prisoner hulks, including the Censor where Hughes was housed, were to be transferred to the three-masted barque Alexander: a First Fleet prison ship.[19] To Shelton, Nepean pleaded: ‘I will beg of you to get the bonds and contracts (if necessary) executed with as little delay as may be.’[20] While Nepean stressed the urgency of this measure, First Lieutenant William Bradley, who was on board the HMS Sirius, another First Fleet ship, noted in his journal several days later that none of the prisoners could be moved from the hulks due to poor health and sickness on board.[21] These issues do not appear to have been redressed, for merely two days later and almost fifteen months after arriving on the Censor Hughes was transferred from the hulk in the Thames to the Alexander, along with 211 male convicts from various hulks including fellow St John’s Cemetery First Fleeter, John Martin.[22]

In a private letter to Under Secretary Nepean, Arthur Phillip claimed that the complaints concerning conditions aboard the Alexander, which had by this point sailed to Portsmouth, were not ‘unexpected, nor were they unavoidable.’[23] Indeed, Phillip reiterated that he ‘foresaw them from the beginning.’[24] The vessel was grossly inadequate for transporting the number of prisoners it was carrying, but it was not only the conditions of the convicts on board the overcrowded barque that posed a problem: the conditions put the lives of the crew in jeopardy, too.[25] Phillip strenuously reiterated the necessity of clearing the ship and requested lighters from Portsmouth and an additional holding ship, the Essex hulk, to house the prisoners while this took place.[26]

On 13 April Major Ross sent a letter from Portsmouth to Secretary Stephens, again emphasising the previous claims that there were gross issues concerning illness on board Alexander, particularly in relation to the marines. Due to the number of convicts on the ship, there was insufficient space for the marines who were, subsequently, to be berthed in a part of the ship ‘excluded from all air’ except that which came through a small hatchway from another berth, leaving the area ‘putrid.’ In an age when the miasmic view of disease still reigned, the lack of airflow coupled with overcrowding was a recipe for disaster.[27]

If the troubles concerning overcrowding and the potential outbreak of disease on board were not enough, two days before the barque set sail seamen on board the Alexander protested their non-payment of wages.[28] In spite of these setbacks, Alexander, the largest ship that made up the First Fleet convoy, sailed from Portsmouth on 13 May 1787. The Alexander landed in Botany Bay on 19 January 1788, where the convicts disembarked and collected grass for the livestock on board. They were ordered to sail from there to Sydney Cove, where they joined the remaining vessels a week later on 26 January.

New South Wales: 1789 Convicted again

the-wheelwright

“The Wheelwright,” (London: Tabart & Co., 1804) in Richard Phillips, The Book of English Trades, and Library of the Useful Arts, (London: The Juvenile Library, 1818)

On 4 November 1789, almost two years after arriving in New South Wales, Hugh Hughes came before the court accused of stealing the frame of a wheelbarrow. He was found guilty by Judge Advocate David Collins and sentenced to 50 lashes. Yet it is possible that Hughes pilfered this item in the course of his work as a rare and highly skilled craftsman in the colony.[29]

On the original convict records, Hughes’s occupation was listed as ‘wheelwright,’ the only individual on the First Fleet identified as having such an occupation.[30] The role of the wheelwright was indispensable to the penal colony, particularly as it was vital for the transportation of goods throughout the burgeoning colony. According to one contemporary observer, the ‘business’ was also ‘a very laborious one, and requires that no lad should be brought up to it who does not possess a strong constitution.’[31]

Sometime between his conviction for theft in late 1789 and 1791, Hughes moved to the town of Parramatta, some 23 kilometres west of Port Botany and Sydney. Few details exist about Hughes’s life in this district, but at some point he purchased an allotment of land on ‘the northwest corner of the intersection of Church and Argyle Streets’ in Parramatta where he built a house and workshop from which he worked as a wheelwright.[32]

In the same period, a devotional space was established at Parramatta. According to Reverend Richard Johnson’s letter to Governor Phillip, dated 23 March 1792, ‘Last spring there was the foundation of a church laid at Parramatta.’ Yet before it was completed, ‘it was converted into a gaol or lock up house, and now it is converted into a granary,’[33] revealing how sites within the district tended to shift to accommodate the fluid needs of the growing township. By September 1798, however, the residents were offered a ‘decent [place] of worship’ when the Reverend Samuel Marsden opened ‘A temporary church, formed out of the materials of two old huts,’[34] on the south-east corner of George and Marsden Streets, the location of today’s Woolpack Hotel. By Easter Sunday 1803, the first church to be made from the more permanent materials of brick and stone was operational, if not completed, at the current site of St. John’s Church in Centenary Square — close to Hughes‘s allotment. St. John’s twin towers were added to this early incarnation of the church during Macquarie’s governorship and, therefore, would have been a familiar sight to Hughes.[35]

Mary I

On 16 January 1791 Hugh Hughes married fellow convict, Mary Stewart, in the parish of St. John’s, Parramatta, where the ceremony was officiated by chaplain Richard Johnson.[36] Mary was convicted in Middlesex on 23 May 1789 for ‘feloniously stealing’ two sheets, two pillow-cases, two blankets, two flat irons, and one cotton counterpane from the lodgings of her landlord, John Davis, in Bloomsbury, London.[37] According to Davis’s wife, Martha, who testified at Stewart’s trial, the pilfered items were ‘part of the furniture so let’ to the defendant. Davis claimed she saw Stewart ‘with a bag in her hand,’ which contained part of the missing items worth over 14 shillings. The rest of the items had made their way to John Tyler’s West Street pawnbrokers, Seven Dials.[38]

Stewart was sentenced to seven years transportation and arrived in Sydney aboard the Lady Juliana, part of the Second Fleet. The ship departed 7 June 1789 and arrived at Botany Bay on 3 June 1790. Mary died on 24 January 1800 at the age of 38 and was buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Parramatta.[39] The couple did not have any children.

Mary II

Following his wife’s death, Hugh Hughes had a long-term relationship with another convict, Mary Underhill, who appears to have been employed as his servant.[40] She gave birth to Hughes’s only child, Hugh James Hughes, in 1803.

As with Hugh Hughes and Mary Stewart, Mary Underhill arrived in the colony following her conviction for theft. Underhill and her accomplice, Daniel Fear, allegedly ‘feloniously [stole]’ a feather bed, sheets, blanket, fire-irons, a copper tea-kettle, an iron saucepan, and a pair of bellows, all of which belonged to a man named Richard Angel. While Fear was found ‘not guilty’ for his part in the crime, Underhill was convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation to the colony of New South Wales.[41] She arrived in Sydney on 15 April 1800 aboard the Speedy, along with 53 other convicts.

According to the Census for 1828, Hugh Hughes lived with his ‘wife,’ Mary, his son, Hugh Hughes, Jr., his son’s wife, Elizabeth Hughes, née Ashby, and their 20-month old daughter, Mary Ann. Mary A. Ashby, aged 11, also lived with them.[42] There is no evidence, however, that Hughes and Underhill ever formally married.[43]

Death

hugh-hughes-headstone

Hugh Hughes’s headstone at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, Section 2, Row J, No. 6. Photo: Michaela Ann Cameron (2016)

Hugh Hughes died on 3 January 1830 at the given age of 66. He was buried in St. John’s Cemetery alongside his first wife, Mary. The burial rites were conducted by Anglican clergyman, Thomas Hassall, the former curate and son-in-law of Reverend Samuel Marsden.[44]

Like the countless other individuals convicted of crimes and sentenced to transportation to the colonies, Hughes did not choose to leave his home in London and sail to what appeared to be an unknown world. Although there is still much that remains unknown about Hughes, examining only the skerricks of information that remain about this London wheelwright—his conviction, occupation, and his family—suggests that even those transported to the penal colony were not beyond redemption. Hughes’s life demonstrates that even within an ostensibly harsh colonial system, individuals were able to foster kinships and partake in meaningful occupations that often belied their previous lives, which had marked them as criminals and vagabonds.[45]

hugh-hughes-footstone

Hugh Hughes’s footstone at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, Section 2, Row J, No. 6. Photo: Michaela Ann Cameron (2015)

CITE THIS

Danielle Thyer, “Hugh Hughes: The Wheelwright Made Right,” St. John’s Cemetery Project, (2017), https://stjohnscemeteryparramatta.org/bio/hugh-hughes/, accessed [insert current date]

Further Reading

Documents relating to Hugh Hughes’s first crime:

London Lives (www.londonlives.org, version 1.1., April 2012), City of London Sessions: Sessions Papers – Justices’ Working Documents, 26 June 1780 – 8 December 1781, accessed 31 October 2016.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 10 January 1781, trial of HUGH HUGHES (t17810110-20), accessed 31 October 2016.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), punishment summary of HUGH HUGHES, 10 January 1781 (s17810110-1), accessed 31 October 2016.

Documents relating to Mary Stewart’s transportable crime:

Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 23 May 1787, trial of MARY STEWART, (t17870523-22), accessed 31 October 2016.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), punishment summary of MARY STEWART, 23 May 1787 (s17870523-1), accessed 31 October 2016.

Documents relating to Mary Underhill’s transportable crime:

Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 3 April 1799, trial of MARY UNDERHILL and DANIEL FEAR, (t17990403-36), accessed 31 October 2016.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), punishment summary of MARY UNDERHILL, 3 April 1799 (s17990403-1), accessed 31 October 2016.

References

James Bonwick, First Twenty Years of Australia: A History Founded on Official Documents, (Melbourne and Sydney: George Robertson, 1882)

William Bradley, A Voyage to New South Wales: December 1786 – May 1792, 4 January 1787, State Library of New South Wales, accessed 7 November 2016

British Museum (www.britishmuseum.org)

Alexander Britton (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales: Vol. I, Part 2: Phillip, 1783-1792, (Sydney: Charles Potter Government Printer, 1892)

David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (London: T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davis, 1798)

Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991)

Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989)

Niel Gunson, “Hassall, Thomas (1794-1868),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 2 December 2016

Tony Henderson, Disorderly Women in Eighteenth Century London: Prostitution and Control in the Metropolis (London: Routledge, 2014)

Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker, London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

London Lives 1690 to 1800: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis, (www.londonlives.org, version 1.1., April 2012)

Rob Mundle, The First Fleet (Sydney: Harper Collins, 2014)

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2)

Richard Phillips, The Book of English Trades, and Library of the Useful Arts, (London: The Juvenile Library, 1818)

Parish Records, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia

Lucy Turnbull, “The End of Transportation,” The Dictionary of Sydney, accessed 8 November 2016

Janice Turner, “‘Ill-Favoured Sluts’? The Disorderly Women of Rosemary Lane and Rag Fair,” The London Journal, Vol. 38, No. 2 (July 2013): 95–109

John Wright, The American Negotiator: Or, The Various Currencies of the British Colonies in America (London: J. Smith, 1765).

“Well Regulated Police,” The Champion and Weekly Herald, Vol. 1, No. 51 (30 April 1838), 1614.

Notes

[1] Frederick William Sporman is listed as a London sugar refiner in the subscription list of The American Negotiator in 1793. For further details, see John Wright, The American Negotiator: Or, The Various Currencies of the British Colonies in America (London: J. Smith, 1765), p.39.

[2] “Well Regulated Police,” The Champion and Weekly Herald, Vol. 1, No. 51 (30 April 1838), p.1614.

[3] Tony Henderson, Disorderly Women in Eighteenth Century London: Prostitution and Control in the Metropolis (London: Routledge, 2014), 57-58. It is possible that Hughes is the same Hugh Hughes of Wentworth Street, who was baptised on 29 January 1764 at the church of St. Mary in Whitechapel. See: London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Mary, Whitechapel, Register of Baptisms, Feb 1758-Oct 1774, P93/MRY1, Item 010.

[4] Janice Turner, “‘Ill-Favoured Sluts’? The Disorderly Women of Rosemary Lane and Rag Fair,” The London Journal, Vol. 38, No. 2 (July 2013): 98.

[5] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 10 January 1781, trial of HUGH HUGHES (t17810110-20), accessed 31 October 2016.

[6] London Lives, (www.londonlives.org, version 1.1., April 2012), City of London Sessions: Sessions Papers – Justices’ Working Documents, 26 June 1780 – 8 December 1781, accessed 31 October 2016.

[7] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 10 January 1781, trial of HUGH HUGHES (t17810110-20), accessed 31 October 2016.

[8] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), punishment summary of HUGH HUGHES, 10 January 1781 (s17810110-1), accessed 31 October 2016.

[9] For further details about the movement in Sydney, see: Lucy Turnbull, “The End of Transportation,” The Dictionary of Sydney, accessed 8 November 2016.

[10] Criminal Law Act 1776 (16 Geo. III, c.43).

[11] According to the NSW Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834, Hughes arrived in January 1788. See: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 1-4, 6-18, 28-30); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England. Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.182.

[12] Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker, London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p.343.

[13] Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker, London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p.353; Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.182.

[14] Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker, London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015) p.353.

[15] Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.182. Criminal Law Act 1776 (16 Geo. III, c.43).

[16] Letter from Lord Sydney to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, 18 August 1786 in Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. I, Part 2 – Phillip (1783-1792) (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1892), p.14.

[17] Letter from Lord Sydney to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, 18 August 1786 in Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. I, Part 2 – Phillip (1783-1792) (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1892), p.14.

[18] Letter from Lord Sydney to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, 18 August 1786 in Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. I, Part 2 – Phillip (1783-1792) (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1892), p.14.

[19] Letter from Under Secretary Nepean to Mr. Shelton, 1 January 1787 in Historical Records of New South Wales, 42-43. For further details about the Alexander see: Nicole Cama, “Alexander,” (2015), Dictionary of Sydney, accessed 8 November 2016.

[20] Letter from Under Secretary Nepean to Mr. Shelton, 1 January 1787 in Historical Records of New South Wales, pp.42-43.

[21] According to Bradley, “Orders were received at Woolwich for the Convicts to be embarked on board the Alexander but some of them being in a deplorable situation from disease could not be received.” For further details, see: William Bradley, A Voyage to New South Wales: December 1786 – May 1792, 4 January 1787, State Library of New South Wales, accessed 7 November 2016.

[22] For further details see Michaela Ann Cameron, “John Martin: The Self-Freed Slave,” The St. John’s Cemetery Project, (2016), accessed 22 October 2016.

[23] Letter from Governor Phillip to Under Secretary Nepean, 18 March 1787 in Historical Records of New South Wales, pp.58–59.

[24] Letter from Governor Phillip to Under Secretary Nepean, 18 March 1787 in Historical Records of New South Wales, pp.58–59.

[25] Letter from Governor Phillip to Under Secretary Nepean, 18 March 1787 in Historical Records of New South Wales, pp.58–59.

[26] On writing about the deplorable conditions aboard Alexander, William Bradley noted that: “The greater part of the Convicts on board the Alexander having been embarked near 8 months & being rather sickly it was judged necessary that she should be smoked & whitewash’d; for this purpose two deck’d Lighters were furnish’d from the Dock Yard to receive such of the Convicts as it was necessary to remove while it was doing. The 23rd the Essex Hulk was order’d to be fitted to receive those Convicts, but the Alexander being well clean’d, whitewash’d, smoked & spunged with Oil of Tar & the sick recovering fast it was not judged necessary to use a Hulk or even to keep both Lighters, one of which was returned & the other kept for the their being whitewash’d, which number was so trifling that this Lighter was also returned as soon as most of the Alexander‘s sick had recover’d.” Bradley, A Voyage to New South Wales: December 1786 – May 1792, March – April, 1787, State Library of New South Wales, accessed 7 November 2016.

[27] Letter from Major Ross to Secretary Stephens, 13 April 1787 in Historical Records of New South Wales, p.78.

[28] Letter from Governor Phillip to Secretary Stephens, 12 May 1787 in Historical Records of New South Wales, pp.103-104.

[29] Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.182.

[30] For further details on the occupations convicts were engaged in prior to arriving in New South Wales, see: Trades and Occupations of the Convicts (pre 1788) in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.446. In his work The First Fleet, Rob Mundle has also included a table of all of the first fleet convicts, alongside their crime, sentence, and occupation, among others. See: Rob Mundle, The First Fleet (Sydney: Harper Collins, 2014), pp.343–382.

[31] Richard Phillips, The Book of English Trades, and Library of the Useful Arts (London: Sir Richard Phillips, 1818), p.433.

[32] Registers of Memorials for Land, 17 November 1831, State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, NSW, Australia; Archive Reel: 1576; Series: 12992. “Hugh Hughes,” Fellowship of First Fleeters, accessed 31 October 2016.

[33] James Bonwick, First Twenty Years of Australia: A History Founded on Official Documents, (Melbourne and Sydney: George Robertson, 1882), p.223 accessed online at Internet Archive, 15 February 2017

[34] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (London: T. Cadell and W. Davis, 1798), pp.493-494.

[35] The main part of the original church structure, however, was rebuilt after Hughes’s lifetime so, aside from the twin towers, the present-day St. John’s Church is not the one Hughes knew. Mark Pearce, “Parramatta’s First Church,” (2016)

[36] Hugh Hughes is listed and signed his name as ‘Robert Hugh Hughes.’ See Parish Marriage Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[37] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 23 May 1787, trial of MARY STEWART, (t17870523-22), accessed 31 October 2016.

[38] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 23 May 1787, trial of MARY STEWART, (t17870523-22), accessed 31 October 2016.

[39] Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.182.

[40] Convict muster records from 1806 claim that a Mary Undrel [sic] was employed by Hugh Hughes as a servant. Gillen, The Founders of Australia, p.182.

[41] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 3 April 1799, trial of MARY UNDERHILL and DANIEL FEAR, (t17990403-36), accessed 31 October 2016.

[42] New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series 1273, Reels 2551-2552, 2506-2507, (Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia: State Records Authority of New South Wales). No. 97 for the district of Parramatta for the residence of Hugh Hughes.

[43] Denis Pember, a family history researcher, has raised the possibility that Hughes may have had a brief relationship with another of his servants, Jane Walker. During her employ, Walker appears to have given birth to two children. At the time of publication, the author has not located evidence to verify that Hughes was the father of these offspring. See “Hugh Hughes,” Convict Records, accessed 31 October 2016.

[44] Niel Gunson, “Hassall, Thomas (1794-1868),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 2 December 2016; Judith Dunn, Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s (Parramatta: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p.118.

[45] In 1983 the Fellowship of First Fleeters dedicated a plaque to Hughes alongside his headstone to commemorate his arrival on the First Fleet.

© Copyright 2017 Danielle Thyer