Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Surnames/tags: australia first_fleet marriages
First Christian Weddings in Australia
The first Christian weddings in Australia were conducted by Reverend Richard Johnson, military chaplain to the Colony of New South Wales, on Sunday 10th February 1788, just fifteen days after the arrival of the First Fleet. As there were yet no completed buildings, let alone a building consecrated as a church, and no large tents, the weddings were solemnised under a tree beside Sydney Cove (today's Circular Quay). Five couples were married in that first ceremony. The marriage register records the weddings as having been conducted in the parish of St Phillip's Church of England (Anglican Church), Sydney; church code CA. As they appear in the register consecutively numbered and not arranged alphabetically or in any pre-determined order, we can assume that the marriage order was (my apologies for listing the husband first, habit):
Parr – MacCormack
William Parr (c1763-) and Mary MacCormack (c1763-)
William was a noted swindler who was convicted at Liverpool, Lancashire on 27th January 1785 of 'cheating a shopkeeper of a sum of money'. He was sentenced to be transported for seven years and arrived in New South Wales aboard Alexander. Mary was also convicted at Liverpool, five months earlier on 12th August 1784, of 'divers felonies, and receiving and buying stolen goods, knowing the same to be stolen'. She was sentenced to be transported for seven years and arrived in New South Wales aboard Friendship. Having been held together at Liverpool for more than two years, one assumes they waited for one another to land to 'tie the knot'.
After William became free by servitude they were granted 50 acres of land (the standard allocation for a couple without children) at the Northern Boundary Farms (today's North Rocks-North Parramatta region) on 22nd February 1792.
Burn – Anderson
Simon Burn (c1755-94) and Frances "Fanny" Anderson (c1757-)
Simon was a stocking weaver found guilty in Devon on 11th August 1783 of highway robbery and sentenced to be hanged; commuted to transportation for seven years. He was transported aboard Friendship. Fanny was convicted in Hampshire on 7th March 1786 of stealing and sentenced to be transported for a period of seven years. She arrived in New South Wales aboard Charlotte. Their's appears to have been a very hasty 'courtship'.
Simon became free by servitude on 11th August 1790 and received a 50-acre land grant in February 1792 at the Northern Boundary Farms (today's North Rocks-North Parramatta region). He passed away just two years later. Fanny married again in 1795 at Parramatta, to John Hambleton.
Kable – Holmes
Henry Kable or Cable (1763-1846) and Susannah Holmes (c1763-1825)
Henry was a businessman, convicted of burglary at Thetford, Norfolk on 1st February 1783 and sentenced to death; subsequently commuted to transportation for fourteen years. He arrived in New South Wales aboard Friendship. Susannah was also tried at Thetford, on 19th March 1784. Convicted of burglary, she was sentenced to be 'hanged by the neck until she is dead'; commuted to transportation for fourteen years. She arrived in her new 'home' aboard Charlotte. Their first child, son Henry was born in Norwich Castle Gaol in 1786 and accompanied Susannah on the voyage.
Henry and Susannah became free by servitude in February 1797 and March 1798 respectively. They had a further ten children in the colony: Diana Teale, Enoch, James, Susannah Mileham, George Esto, Eunice Crisby, William Nathaniel, John, Charles Dickenson and Edgar James.
Henry was appointed an overseer and within three years a constable and nightwatchman. By 1800, he had amassed sufficient capital as a merchant to finance sealing operations in partnership with fellow emancipist, boatbuilder James Underwood. He also built up an impressive portfolio of land at Petersham, the Hawkesbury and the Cowpastures. In 1811 he settled the family at Pitt Town, and operated a store and brewery at nearby Windsor.
Susannah and Henry are buried together in the St Matthew's churchyard, Windsor, New South Wales.
Haynes – Green
William Haynes (c1755-1801) and Hannah Green (c1756-)
William, a cabinet maker, was convicted at the Old Bailey on 10th December 1783 of highway robbery and sentenced to be hanged; commuted to transportation for seven years. Hannah was also convicted at the Old Bailey on 10th September 1783, of stealing; shoplifting as we would call it today. She was sentenced to transportation for seven years. Both had been held at the Old Bailey and made the voyage to New South Wales together aboard Friendship. They had already completed more than four years of their sentences by the time they made Sydney Cove.
Bryant – Broad
William Bryant (1757-91) and Mary Broad aka Brand (1765-94)
William was convicted in March 1784 at Launceston, of smuggling and of impersonating 'two Royal Navy sailors so as to obtain their wages' and was sentenced to death; commuted to transportation for seven years. Mary was convicted of highway robbery on 20th May 1786 at Plymouth and sentenced to death; commuted to transportation for seven years. Both Mary and William had been held on the hulk, 'Dunkirk', at Plymouth, awaiting their transportation. They arrived in New South Wales together aboard Charlotte. A daughter, who they named Charlotte, was born onboard (there is some possibility that William was not the father due to the prison security).
After the wedding, William's expertise as a fisherman was put to use and they were allowed to build a hut by Farm Cove. In 1789 he was was caught holding back some of his catch for his own use and to swap for vegetables and was given 100 lashes and lost his privileges. They had a son, Emanuel, in 1790. About that time, the Second Fleet arrived, with an additional 1,000 mouths to feed but with minimal rations.
With their two children and seven other convicts, William and Mary made a bold and well-planned escape from the colony in March 1791, stealing the governor's cutter with new sails and oars when there was not a single ship in port to give chase. William had already procured a quadrant, compass, maps, two muskets and ammunition. They reached the East Indies, where they were arrested as escaped convicts, however William and one of their children died there. Mary's other child died before reaching England. Held in Newgate Prison, London, Mary was granted a free pardon by the King in May 1793 and, it is thought, died the following year back home at Cornwall.
- Cobley, John. The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 2nd ed 1982.
- Cobley, John. Sydney Cove 1788, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 2nd ed 1962.