The Halls

This section is a work in progress...
Ben Hall was born in May 1837 in Maitland, New South Wales. Ben was the fourth child of Benjamin Hall and the fifth child of Eliza Hall nee Somers. The family story begins with the transportation of his father, Benjamin Hall and his mother Eliza Somers during the foundation period of the new colony of New South Wales, both parents were sentenced as convicts to seven years penal servitude for stealing goods exceeding the value of one shilling. Benjamin Hall Sr. was born on 26th May 1805 in Bedminster, Bristol, England. The city is situated on the south-west coast of England and straddles the river Avon with direct access to the Severn estuary and Bristol Channel before joining the North Atlantic Ocean. However, by the 1820's Bristol rapidly growing city had a population nearing 20,000 inhabitants and was recorded as the third largest city in England behind London and Norwich. Bristol had strong commerce and trade, which saw her merchants profit largely from slavery, sugar and the tobacco industries. Furthermore, Bristol was also a viable exporter of goods to the colonies, including copper, glassware and brass ware and was noted for ship building.

Furthermore, in the midst of this vibrant trade, Bristol’s crime rate had become a virtual thorn in its side, including the surrounding communities who conjointly were not immune from this scourge. Employment for the majority of people, including Benjamin Hall, was in service to the wealthy aristocracy, merchants and outlying landholders.

Benjamin first came to notice for criminal activities in 1824, where records of criminal proceedings show that Benjamin Hall had a number of brushes with the law the first of which Benjamin was acquitted of the crime of robbery in March 1824, whereby a notice of 'No Bill' was registered, this meant that the criminal charges alleged therein against a suspect have not been sufficiently supported by the evidence presented before court to warrant his or her criminal prosecution, however, in July 1824, Benjamin Hall was charged and sentenced to five months imprisonment for larceny. It was stated according to associated criminal records, that Benjamin Hall was documented as holding a position of Groom, although for whom he was employed with is unknown, it should also be noted that Benjamin had received some formal education and was able to read and write well.

However, within 12 months of his release, he was in trouble with the law again for larceny in April 1825, fortunately for Hall, he was acquitted. Nevertheless, inside two months of the last acquittal, Benjamin Hall was once-more arrested and placed before the court, again for larceny, however, this time with far more serious consequences.
For Benjamin Hall his latest and last escapade in England was published in the 'Bristol Mercury and Universal Advertiser', page 3, dated July 14th, 1825; "...Benjamin Hall aged 20 years was a member of a gang of 4 thieves who were all charged with stealing 2 cotton gowns, 3 cotton frocks and a pair of stockings. The other 3 members where Sarah Jones aged 18, Samuel Frappell 17 and Ellen Weyland 16." All were tried together on July 11th, 1825. 
Benjamin Hall and Samuel Frappell were both found guilty of larceny whereas the two girls Sarah Jones and Ellen Weyland were acquitted. Benjamin Hall was described as:- Height 5ft 6in, sallow complexion, brown hair, grey eyes; distinguishing features; tattoo SJ on right arm and large scar on back of left hand and two cuts on head over left ear. (Benjamin's tattoo of SJ is most likely Sarah Jones, his then girlfriend.)

Authors Note: Samuel Frappell had been previously arrested in January 1825, for larceny and was given a two week prison sentence and whipped.
Hulk 'Ganymede', 1825.
As a consequence of the crime of larceny, Benjamin Hall was sentenced to seven years transportation to New South Wales. He was removed from the dock, then transported and was received on to the prison hulk 'Ganymede' moored at Woolwich in mid July 1825. It would appear from the record of 'UK Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books 1802-1849' that Benjamin Hall, due to 'Bad Conduct' was transferred on the 9th September 1825, to the Hulk 'Justita', where Hall was then marked for transportation to Bermuda on 9th November 1825, prior to his eventual transportation to NSW, no doubt as part of the convict labour force to help strengthen England’s strategic possession of the tropical island of Bermuda, working on the naval fortifications and the dry-dock then under construction.
Prison Hulk Justita 9th Sept 1825
Benjamin Hall departed the 'Justita' arriving on the supply ship 'Dromedary' on the 12th December 1825, and set sail for Bermuda on 28th December 1825, with 100 fellow convicts on board. Upon arrival in Bermuda, the 'Dromedary' was then used as a prison hulk. This hypothesis is based on the records of the hulk 'Justita' and Benjamin's presence on the 'Dromedary'.

Benjamin Hall, Dromedary 12th December 1825
Authors Note: Dromedary was an East Indiaman that the Navy purchased in 1805. First named Howe, and then renamed Dromedary in 1808. She was converted to a convict ship in 1819, then became a prison hulk in Bermuda in 1825, and was finally broken up there in August 1864.

However, it would appear that following a short period of incarceration in Bermuda including the completion of the dry-dock, Hall was returned to England along with a small contingent of convicts. Hall appears to have then been placed on the hulk, 'York', at Gosport, Portsmouth where Hall's conduct continued to be assessed as 'bad'. He was then relocated to the convict ship 'Midas' moored at Portsmouth prior to embarkation for the voyage to NSW. Furthermore, Samuel Frappell, who was also sentenced to seven years transportation would avoid Bermuda and would be imprisoned on the hulk Discovery (the very same ship Captain Cook sailed on his second voyage to the South Seas and was the support vessel on the Third Voyage. The smallest of Cook's Pacific ships) at Deptford. Records show Frappell was alive in 1827, and then faded from history. (See Justita ledger above center.) 


UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books
 for Hulk 'York' 1826
The Hulks,
Painting by Wayne Hagg. ©
Benjamin Hall's time on the prison hulks would have been one of the most harrowing experiences for any man or woman, enduring abysmal conditions. Those conditions were so horrendous, they are described as follows: "...prisoners arrived at the convict facility with their 'caption papers' (Which stated the offense, the date of conviction and length of sentence). The standards of hygiene were so poor that outbreaks of disease spread quickly. Typhoid and cholera were common and there was a high death rate amongst the prisoners. The authorities were always keen to keep down the cost of the prisons. They wished to avoid giving prisoners a better life than the poor had outside of the hulks. The quality of the prisoners' food was therefore kept as low as possible. The monotonous daily meals consisted chiefly of; ox-cheek, either boiled or made into soup, pease pudding (a dish of split peas boiled with onion and carrot and mashed to a pulp) bread or biscuit. The biscuits were often moldy and green on both sides. On two days a week the meat was replaced by oatmeal and cheese. Each prisoner had two pints of beer four days a week, and badly filtered water, drawn from the river."
These floating prisons were rated to hold as many as 600 men. The division of these men and woman were arranged with 124 disposed on the top deck; 192 on the middle deck; 284 on the lower deck; and this is effected without crowding. Beneath the lower deck is the hold, a large, and almost unoccupied space, divided into store-rooms, divided by a passage.

The link below gives a description of the Prison Hulks on the Thames, although it is set in 1862, the narrative would still relate to life on-board and Ben Hall's father's pre-transportation in 1826.

The discipline and employment of the convicts are briefly detailed; On board each hulk, a book is kept by the Overseer, in which are entered the names of all convicts; and, on the first Sunday of every quarter, they are mustered, and the character of each convict, for the previous three months, is marked against his name, as follows: v.g. very good; g. good; in. indifferent; b. bad; v.b. very bad. The convicts, after they are classed, are kept in separate compartments on board the ship, and are not allowed to mix with any other class than that to which they belong after the hours of daily labour. Note: It would appear that Benjamin Hall's conduct was continually assessed as v. b. - very bad.

One of the prisoners to be embarked on the convict transport ship 'Midas' along with Benjamin Hall was James Tucker alias Rosenberg who had been tried at Chelmsford on 6th March 1826, and sentenced to transportation for life for sending a threatening letter. He was admitted to the 'Leviathan' hulk on 6th May 1826. The novel, 'Adventures of Ralph Rashleigh, A Penal Exile in Australia' has been attributed to James Tucker. The following excerpts are from the 1929 re-printed version in which Tucker describes life on the hulks.(See Links page for full text) 
'Convicts on their way
to Botany Bay'
.

(litho) by Richard Caton
Woodville.
"..this vessel was an ancient '74 (1774) which, after a gallant career in carrying the flag of England over the wide oceans of the navigable world, had come at last to be used for the humiliating service of housing convicts awaiting transportation over those seas. She was stripped and denuded of all that makes for a ship's vanity. Two masts remained to serve as clothes props, and on her deck stood a landward conceived shed which seemed to deride the shreds of dignity which even a hulk retains. The criminals were marched aboard, and paraded on the quarter-deck of the desecrated old hooker, mustered and received by the captain. Their prison irons were then removed and handed over to the jail authorities, who departed as the convicts were taken to the forecastle. There every man was forced to strip and take a thorough bath, after which each was handed out an outfit consisting of coarse grey jacket, waistcoat and trousers, a round-crowned, broad-brimmed felt hat, and a pair of heavily nailed shoes. The hulk's barber then got to work shaving and cropping the polls of every mother's son.
A guard marched the laden and fettered prisoners below decks, where they were greeted with roars of ironic welcome from the convicts already incarcerated there. The lower deck was divided up into divisions by means of iron palisading, with lamps hanging at regular intervals, and these divisions were subdivided by wooden partitions into a score or so of apartments, each of which housed from fifteen to twenty convicts."
However, in cases of convict’s misbehavior on-board, mild and persuasive means of correction were at first tried. If they failed, the punishments were then as follows, reduction of their provisions allowance, confinement in a dark cell with no other food than bread and water for not more than seven days; or moderate whipping, which was not allowed to exceed twenty four lashes.
Furthermore, it was reported in the 'London Morning Post' on 20th September 1826 that the Guard for the 'Midas' would be a detachment of the 39th regiment who were ordered to embark at Portsmouth. The Guard comprised 30 rank and file of the 39th regiment of foot under orders of Lieutenant George Meares Bowen.
Having survived his first 15 months of incarceration and arduous labour, Benjamin Hall embarked on the convict ship 'Midas', 430 tons under the command of Captain James Baigrie with Surgeon Superintendent James Morice as naval medical officer at Portsmouth on 2nd October, 1826. Following her loading of convict cargo of 148 prisoners, including James Tucker, a ship-board regime was established, and two weeks later the 'Midas' set sail from Portsmouth for New South Wales, departing on 16th October 1826.
Conditions for Benjamin Hall improved slightly as James Tucker again described life on board the 'Midas' as she sailed out into the Atlantic Ocean, as recounted in 'Adventures of Ralph Rashleigh, A Penal Exile in Australia'; "The routine of the ship was arranged so that, during the voyage, the convicts were allowed the liberty of the deck from sunrise until sunset, under an armed guard of three soldiers posted at points of vantage which gave them full surveillance of the tough bunch of derelicts in their charge. A boatswain and six mates were selected by the surgeon-superintendent from among the convicts, and they were made responsible for the cleanliness and orderliness of their fellows. The convicts' food-ration was what was known in the transport service as 'Six upon Four,' six convicts sharing between them the rations normally allowed for four Royal Navy sailors. The food was mainly salt tack, and on alternate days a small portion of wine or lime-juice was issued. Water was the only item of diet which had to be carefully apportioned: the food, such as it was, was plentiful. In addition to the surgeon's sanitary party selected from the prisoners, there were also chosen another boatswain, two cooks, and other servants, who formed monitors or leaders of the squads of eight into which for purposes of food supplies the convicts were divided.
As night fell on the English Channel, the convicts were ordered below to the sleeping-berths, between decks. These were framed of deal boards, supported by stanchions and quartering’s, and subdivided in compartments, each sleeping six men in very close proximity. These sleeping-berths were framed in rows along each side of the ship, with a double row between them separated by narrow passages, for many of those who were unused to the motion of the ship, as many of them had never been to sea, the vertiginous motion of the vessel caused by the broken sea of the Channel, filled them not only with nausea but with terror. Soon after being shut below, the sea freshened, and at first there was much confusion among the closely-packed prisoners. Those who were not too terrified to do other than lie in the immobility of fear, filled the night with a contrasting chorus of oaths and prayers. Gradually, however, a semblance of quietude came."

Nevertheless, after the loss of three lives and 122 days straight at sea the 'Midas' made a somewhat dramatic arrival on the evening of the 14th February 1827, where at the entrance to Port Jackson she nearly collided with the pilot boat. Safely in harbour, the 'Midas'' arrival was reported in the 'The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser', 14th February, 1827; "...the same evening, the ship Midas, Captain Baigrie, arrived from Portsmouth, whence she sailed the l6th of October, bringing 145 male prisoners, and lost 3 on the passage. Surgeon Superintendent, Dr. James Morice, R. N. The guard consists of Lieutenant Bowen, and a detachment of the 39th. Passengers, Reverend J. Norman, Mrs. Norman, and 3 children; Mr. Lisk, Mr. James McArthur, Mr. Charles McArthur, and Ensigns Bulkeley and Lewis, 40th Regt." A few days after anchoring in the harbour a convict muster was held on board by the Colonial Secretary on the 19th February, 1827. Information regarding the newly arrived convicts was contained in the 'Muster of the Indents' this included name, age, education, religion, family, marital status, native place, occupation, offense, date and place of trial, sentence, previous convictions physical description and where and to whom convicts were to be assigned on landing. Benjamin Hall was landed at Sydney Cove on Thursday morning 1st March 1827, and marched to Hyde park Barracks.
Benjamin Hall Indent
Once more James Tucker recounts the 'Midas' prisoners’ arrival at Sydney Cove; "...arrival the prisoners on board were again mustered preparatory to their going ashore and received each a new suit of clothing, after which they were placed in boats, by divisions, and rowed to a spot of land near Fort Macquarie, where, being landed, they waited until all had arrived and then proceeded through a part of the public promenade known as the Domain, up to the Prisoner's Barracks (Hyde Park), where they were placed in a back yard by themselves, and shortly afterwards again paraded. On their dismissal a host of the older prisoners insinuated themselves among them for the purpose of bargaining for clothes, trinkets or other property, and many a poor new chum - the distinctive name bestowed upon them by the old hands - was deprived of all his little stock of comforts by the artifices of the others, who appeared to pique themselves in no small degree upon their dexterity with which they could thus pick up (rob) the unwary newcomers."(For the march to Hyde Park barracks and arrival, play link below)

Hyde Park Barracks painting by artist Wayne Hagg ©
James Tucker
Authors Note: James Tucker born on 8 August 1803. The first indisputable reference to James Tucker is in 1826, when at 18 he was charged with sending a threatening letter to a cousin, James Stanyford Tucker, of Leytonstone, Essex. Under the name James Rosenberg Tucker, a clerk, was tried at the Essex Assizes on 3 March 1826, found guilty, and sentenced to transportation for life. He arrived at Sydney on the Midas in conjunction with Benjamin Hall, February 1827, and was assigned the next month to the Emu Plains Agricultural Establishment. By 1831, Tucker was one of the prisoners attached to the Department of Public Works and in 1832-39 was employed in the Colonial Architect's Office. His ticket-of-leave, recommended by the Sydney bench of magistrates in 1833 and issued on 27 June 1835, was suspended in 1839 after he was convicted of drunkenness. However, in recognition of his efforts during a fire at the Royal Hotel in March 1840, he was again recommended for a ticket-of-leave, which was effected on 1st September 1840 for the district of Maitland. He lost it in 1844 when he was convicted of forgery. Sentenced to work in irons for a year, he was transferred to the penal settlement of Port Macquarie, where by September 1846 he was employed as a store-keeper to the superintendent. (Ref; Peter Scott, Australian Dictionary of Biography)

A.B. Spark property holding's at Maitland
on Hunter River, 
coloured green. c 1833.
A.B. Spark's lower
George Street, No.11 premises

which were attached to
the Sydney Arms Hotel.
c. 1828.
Benjamin Hall was fortunate enough to spend only a few days at Hyde Park barracks where his stated occupation of Groom was much sought after by the colonial pastoralists. As a result, Benjamin Hall was assigned to the employ of Mr Alexander Brodie Spark (or Sparke). Spark owned property at Patrick Plains, Hunter Valley, named Radfordslea. As well as Radfordslea, Spark owned additional land covering more than six thousand acres on the Hunter River including a nine-acre grant at Woolloomooloo. Evidence shows that Benjamin Hall remained in Sydney working at Spark's George Street, Sydney premises and possibly at one of Spark's other properties situated on the Cooks River, until arrangements could be made for his transport to the Hunter Region, expedited by travelling on one of Mr Spark's many coastal traders. However, on the 16th August 1827, whilst still in Sydney Benjamin was charged with 'Privately Stealing', and after nine days incarceration, was however, acquitted shortly after, however, whether or not Benjamin was seen as troublesome as had been depicted on Benjamin's earlier prison hulk records, which indicated that his conduct was often 'Very Bad', Benjamin was quickly dispatched to the Hunter Region. (see image below.)


Benjamin Hall Charged with Stealing 1827, Acquitted. Note; George Handcock was hanged in December 1827, for the theft of 40s.
Authors Note:Alexander Brodie Spark was born on 9th August 1792 in Elgin, Scotland. He arrived in Sydney on board the 'Princess Charlotte' in April 1823. He brought with him letters of recommendation and was granted 2000 acres of land. Six convicts were assigned to him as well as an allotment of land in Newcastle. Later he was to increase his holdings in the Hunter region to over 6,000 acres. He also owned a farm at Cooks River.  A store in George Street, Sydney was taken over by Spark and by 1825 he was chartering ships for the coastal trade. He was also an agent for country settlers and later became the Managing Director of the Bank of Australia. By the 1840's A.B. Spark was in financial difficulties and was declared insolvent in 1844. He died at Tempe on 21 October 1856.
Packet Ship on
Hunter River c. 1827.
An extract from 'Benjamin Hall and Family', by A. A. McLellan, encompassing Hall’s initial journey first to Maitland then Sparks' property Radfordslea: "...then, there being no road between Sydney and the Hunter Valley, the normal mode of travel was by sailing packets to Newcastle and Green Hills (now Morpeth). These packets were cutters or small schooners.  If wind was favorable they could reach Green Hills in two days from Sydney but if adverse the time was much greater.  Being small, if winds were adverse for the trip up the Hunter River to Green Hills, they could be rowed using sweeps. Benjamin and other convicts travelled to Green Hills in one of these packets probably escorted by a soldier. They would have travelled on deck or in the hold and if it were necessary to row they would have been required to assist.”
A.B. Spark c. 1830.
Courtesy NLA
On arrival at Green Hills the convicts including Benjamin Hall would have marched a little over an hour to the barracks at Maitland. From here Benjamin Hall would have been provided with directions and rations to cover his next leg of his journey to Mr. Spark's property 'Radfordslea', a distance from Maitland covering some eighteen miles.

Radfordslea was a 2000 acre undeveloped property managed by an overseer, situated near, Black Creek, near the confluence of the River Hunter, and was bounded by that river on the North; on the East there was an extensive Church Reserve. It is noted that the postal address of Radfordslea, was Castle Forbes the property of the notorious James Mudie, a one time junior officer in the Marines and a former bankrupt regarding a shady scheme to sell medallions of Napoleonic hero's, which earned him the nickname 'the Major', prior to landing in NSW in 1822. This was stated of Mudie's favored punishments; "The lash was Mudie's God, and he worshiped it as a savage only can worship a thing of evil."  Mudie's peculiarities would see him struck out as a Commissioner of the Peace by Governor Burke in 1831, after five convicts were summarily hanged for murdering his overseer son-in-law John Larnach and one dispatched to Norfolk Island.

Authors Note: Castle Forbes was owned in partnership by James Mudie and his son-in-law John Larnach, it had become renown as a place of horror for the convicts and where the two men had under their control as many as 130. Floggings had become an almost daily occurrence under both Mudie's and John Larnach's supervision, rations were poor and conditions unbearable.  (See Links page)
Census 1828
Furthermore, a census recorded in 1828, lists Benjamin Hall as employed by Mr. Spark, Castle Forbes. However, it appears tat A.B. Spark was a close friend of Mudie's and was known to loan convicts to the notorious Major's property. Nevertheless, Benjamin Hall settled into the work of the assigned servant. In an extract from 'Benjamin Hall and Family' by A. A. McLellan, describes the life for Benjamin Hall at Radfordslea: “...there were thirteen other assigned servants who under the overseer performed all work necessary for the operation of the property.  All were accommodated in rough huts and provided with food and clothing according to a government ration and supply scale.  Each was responsible for preparing his own rations which while adequate were often of poor quality.  Each was required to work from daylight to dark except on Sundays which was a rest day though if the overseer thought it necessary each could be required to work on that day also.  No payment was made for the work except for work on Sunday which if voluntary was ordinarily paid for by the master. Occasionally also convicts were paid for work done outside their normal duties.” After five years of Benjamin's seven year sentence Hall would have become eligible for a 'Ticket of Leave', unfortunately there is no evidence that Benjamin was granted early release from his master Mr. Spark, as there may have been disciplinary issues that contributed to Benjamin's inability of acquiring his 'Ticket of Leave' early. A situation that must have been a disappointment for within weeks of his actual sentence being completed, Benjamin Hall absconded from his master's service in company with three other convicts, and was reported to the authorities, Benjamin Hall's name appeared in the 'Sydney Herald' dated 25th June, 1832; THE undermentioned Prisoners having absconded from the Individuals and Employments set against their Names respectively, and some of them being at large with stolen Certificates and Tickets of Leave, all Constables and others are hereby required and commanded to use their utmost exertions in apprehending and lodging them in safe custody. Any person harbouring or employing any of the said Absentees, will be prosecuted as the Law directs: Hall Benjamin, Midas. 27, groom, Bristol, 5 feet 6 1/2inches, grey eyes, dark brown hair, sallow complexion, S J on right arm, large scar across back of left hand  and two cuts on head over left ear, from Mr. A. B. Spark's estate, Hunter's River.


NSW Government Gazette
30th June, 1832.
Benjamin Hall's absconding was not a long one and Benjamin was soon retaken and returned to Mr. Spark's service. However, following the short period of freedom Hall enjoyed it would appear that as no punishment for this misdemeanor was forthcoming in his re-capture, the episode appeared to have had little effect on Benjamin finally being granted a 'Ticket of Leave' dated the 25th July, 1832. However, whether or not Hall had been of the belief that his sentence was completed and therefore left without the proper certificates in place seems to indicate that it was just premature of Benjamin to finally enjoy his hard earned freedom, or, it may have been that Benjamin who had been in Spark's service for over four years may have been re-assigned or loaned to the brutal James Mudie's, Castle Forbes, or at least worked there and possibly ran foul of the severe discipline imposed there and took flight.

The 'Ticket of Freedom', was the most prized possession in an ex-convicts swag, a converted pass to travel and to finally obtain paid employment, as history demonstrates many enterprising ex-convicts in the same position as Benjamin Hall went on to became part of the new Australian aristocracy, however, for Benjamin Hall his ticket was a pass to Sydney, and the idea for many such as Hall to obtain a wife at the Female Factory at Parramatta. Therefore by the end of August 1832, and travelling via the old Bulga trail (Putty Road between Singleton and Windsor) Benjamin Hall arrived in the Parramatta District and soon after became employed at Stonequarry, Picton, and established a relationship with a young Irish woman still bonded to the Crown.

Eliza Somers, the future wife of Benjamin Hall, was born illegitimate in the city of Dublin, Ireland in the year 1807, her parents where Timothy Kelly and Elizabeth Somers. There is no record of marriage for Eliza's parents nor a Birth Certificate, furthermore, there is little recorded of her early life until Eliza comes to the notice of the 'The Four Courts', Dublin City, charged with larceny at the age of 20. Prior to this charge Eliza was possibly very lucky to have escaped the notice of the law as Eliza would have been purloining goods whilst living with her sister, Catherine Delany, a widow with one child to make ends meet. Furthermore, in due course Catherine would be arrested as well for shoplifting and be subject to transportion to NSW, on-board the 'Forth II', in company with 120 female convicts arriving in October 1830. During Eliza's criminal activity around Dublin, she was known to use either the surname of Kelly or Somers depending upon the circumstances involving the constabulary.( It should also be noted that in Australia, Eliza would be recorded as Eliza Somers, Eliza Summers, Elizabeth Somers and Elizabeth Sommers.)

The Tenements
Eliza Somers was raised in the tenements of the poorest districts of Dublin, where the children were poorly clothed and feed and schooling was rare, therefore, Eliza was illiterate. The children of the slums were often the peddlers of crime as part of the first gangs of the modern world, not unlike Charles Dickens' portrayal of children in 'Oliver Twist', proficient in the art of pick-pocketing, petty thief and shoplifting. In 1798 a census was conducted of Dublin and of the tenements that Eliza was born into by the Reverend William Whitelaw and his assistants during the searing summer of that year to assess the true population of Dublin, every room of these miserable tenements from cellar to the loft was visited to record the number of inhabitants in these deplorable overcrowded buildings. The tenements were filled with a degree of filth and putridness beyond belief. Reverend Whitelaw recounted his first impression of those who lived and suffered in an environment of human hopelessness; "Into the backyard of each house, frequently not ten feet deep, is flung, from the windows of each apartment, the ordure and other filth of its numerous inhabitants; from whence it is so seldom removed, that I have seen it nearly on a level with the windows of the first floor; and the moisture that, after heavy rains, oozes from this heap, having frequently no sewer to carry it off, runs into the street, by the entry leading to the staircase. When I attempted to take the population of a ruinous house in Josephs Lane, near Castlemarket, I was interrupted in my progress, by an inundation of putrid blood, alive with maggots, which had, from an adjacent slaughter-house, burst the back-door, and filled the hall to the depth of several inches. By the help of a plank, and some stepping stones, which I procured to the purpose (for the inhabitants, without any concern, waded through it), I reached the staircase. It had rained violently, and, from the shattered state of the roof, a torrent of water made its way through every floor, from the garret to the ground. The shallow looks, and filth of the wretches, who crowded round me, indicated their situation, though they seemed insensible to the stench, which I could scarce sustain for a few minutes."

Raised into these surroundings Eliza faced starvation and disease and at a young age contracted smallpox. Smallpox was believed to have killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans annually during the closing years of the 18th century, of all those infected, 20-60% - and over 80% of infected children, died from the disease. Eliza was fortunate and survived the hideous ailment, but the illness would leave her face pockmarked (a common result of smallpox due to it's blistering of the skin leaving scar's on the face), Eliza was illiterate and as such had no formal trade and it is unknown if Eliza was ever employed in Dublin.


Eliza Somers was arrested in 1827 for a second offense, again for stealing and was subsequently sentenced to 12 months gaol, at Newgate Prison, Dublin. The conditions were widely reported to be terrible, with overcrowding and sewage problems plaguing the prison. Nevertheless, upon Eliza's release she was soon nabbed stealing once more and was apprehended in 1829 this time for stealing a Handkerchief and Gloves, as with her future husband Benjamin Hall, Eliza's consequences would now be far more serious, and those were being sentenced to transportation for seven years to NSW. Accordingly, shortly after her conviction Eliza was removed from Dublin to the port city of Cork 160 miles south. Whilst awaiting transportation Eliza was interned at Cork City Prison. 


Warrants of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for Eliza Somers 1829
(This link is of Cork City Prison where Eliza was incarcerated prior to embarkation for NSW)http://www.storywise.ie/Cork_City_Gaol/Cork_City_Gaol_Virtual_Tour.html

Cork Women's
Prison
Eliza Somer's incarceration at Cork City Prison, although only held here for a short period prior to embarkation would be considered a palace after her previous sentence at Newgate. The standard and quality of life for women at Cork City Prison is described from the Inspector General of Prisons report in 1826:--

"This New Gaol is at length fully occupied, and I had great satisfaction in seeing the regularity with which all the details had been arranged; the best classification I had met with in any Gaol is established. The prisoners were almost all clothed, and from their demeanour and cleanliness, evinced the care of the Board of Superintendence, the Gaol is erected on a good plan, though not the most modern; providing 110 cells and 13 classes, completely separated, and as soon as employment shall be provided for all those not sentenced to the Tread-mill and schooling more extensively applied to all prisoners. The female department will require much attention as the Matron does not possess all the high qualifications of this important office; however she is anxious to do her duty, and the classes were clean orderly and at work. She should visit the County Gaol and get instruction from the Matron there, who is qualified in every particular. Machinery for pounding Hemp or other useful labour, should be applied to the Tread-mill. The Governor's house, and some of the walls are very wet from a defect in the roof and should be attended to, and a pavement channel should be made to convey the running water from the hill. The accommodation this Gaol affords consists of 14 Yards, 18 Day Rooms, 110 Cells, an Infirmary, Chapel and Marshalsea...".
Eliza Somers suppy of clothing for the voyage, dismal.
Note, Mary Henry who died during the voyage.
Cork Harbour, Eliza's last
look at Ireland.
Prior to sailing, embarkation for the long voyage to New South Wales was effected, and Eliza, along with 200 other women from various parts of Ireland spent a few days becoming accustomed to the ships routine of their new home the 'Asia 1' (5), their quarters for the next four months. The 'Asia 1 (5)' was a former British ship of the line, a 3 masted Barquentine, launched in 1819 of 536 tons, Thomas Stead in command, she set sail from Cork Harbour on the 10th September 1829 for Port Jackson. As the 'Asia 1' (5) sailed through the heads of Cork harbour, Mr. Alexander Nisbett, Naval Surgeon for the 'Asia 1' (5), maintained a medical journal and records regarding the ordeal faced by the female convicts as they commenced the arduous voyage to Port Jackson; "On leaving Cork for NSW we encountered a good deal of wet blowing weather, which produced most intense and distressing sea sickness and kept the decks for several days that may be much better imagined than described and it was nothing but the utmost determination that we kept them cleaned. However they all got over it easily and remained exceedingly healthy until our long detention between the bouts of the trade winds when a few slight cases of fever occurred.

The diseases which prevailed to any extent will be seen on reference to have been fever and dysentery,  few cases of other diseases occurring except what may be expected in such a society. Dysentery was the disease which proved the most severe and which two cases proceeded to a fatal conclusion. The fever proved much more manageable and in general yielded readily to the means employed. This difference may be attributed partly to the period of the voyage in which the diseases manifested. The earlier and middle part being that in which the fever occurred and when we arrived in the colder southern latitudes the dysentery commenced its ravages. Their clothing never very good, had become old and thin, requiring considerable ingenuity to keep the woollen jackets together, with a most miserable deficiency of shoes which have been supplied of a very inferior quality.

This state of things continued into our leaving the southern tropic where instead of the fine weather mostly found in those latitudes we had gales of wind with rainy weather which confined all the convicts below for a week at one time. Those women who were compelled to be on deck such as cooks and monitors to take their provisions etc below, had to be supplied with blankets jackets and petticoats.


For the sake of cleanliness and ventilation the convicts were never allowed to be below during the day except when the weather was unfavourable. The prison doors were always opened in the morning and the upper deck was washed and dried and every person allowed free access until after breakfast when they were all sent on deck where they remained until dinner. After dinner they again came on deck and remained until being mustered down below for the night usually half an hour before sunset. Windsails were kept constantly in use down each hatchway. Within the tropics the women were almost constantly on deck, awnings being spread. By means of the work put on board by the recommendation of the ladies committee the minds of the convicts were kept pretty well employed and towards the close of the voyage when this source was expended, the ship was very well found in jute the converting of which into oakum was found to be an excellent employment."


To the Irish convicts the prospect of transportation in some cases was viewed as a far better course of life regardless of the hardship to be endured, as opposed to the hardship and hopelessness faced in the slums of Dublin, as observed by a free settler to a new colony, now finding it's feet; "...the Irish Convicts are more happy and contented with their situation on board ship than the English, although more loth to leave their country even improved as the situation of the great body of them is by thus being removed, numbers telling me that they had never been half so well off in their lives before. They laid particular importance to the fact of having a blanket and bed 'to my own self entirely', which seemed a novelty to them."
Convict ship arriving off the coast of Port Jackson.
By marine artist Frank Allen. ©
The 'Asia 1' (5) sailed through Port Jackson Heads on the morning of the 13th January 1830, after 125 days at sea during the voyage there was only the loss of two lives, Rose Maguire from Dysentery and Mary Henry from Erysipelas. The 'Asia 1' (5) dropped anchor at Port Jackson where another convict died, Mary Burn. As with all arrivals to the penal colony, Eliza was subject to a medical examination, followed by a muster held on board by the Colonial Secretary from which the information of the 'Muster of the Indents' was checked, Eliza was described as 5 ft 3 in tall, pockmarked of ruddy complexion and freckled, hazel eyes with dark brown hair, her employment description was 'All Work'. following their landing, the 197 women, who's arrival brought a large contingent of men to the Cove for a glimpse of this precious commodity in a town where men dominated women by eight to one. Therefore, the prospect of marriage for the vast male population had improved minuscule in the new colony. (The Convict Ships with a number on the end represented number of voyages transporting convicts for that ship, ie; Eliza II (4), four trips)


Eliza Somers indent 1830.
Eliza Somers was conveyed to Hyde Park Barracks, from where after 13 days adjusting to her new world, Eliza was assigned as a domestic servant, commencing on the 26th January 1830, to Mr. Reuben Chapman, an Ironmonger with premises in lower Pitt St, Sydney. Eliza began employment at the Chapman residence in Harrington St, Sydney. (today's Circular Quay.)

Following Eliza's first week in the new frontier, it was noted in the 'The Sydney Monitor', Wednesday 3rd February, 1830, of the condition in which Eliza had arrived, remembering Eliza's only item of clothing was one gown, it is also slightly contradictory of the ship's surgeon's assessment; "...on Tuesday week one hundred and ninety nine women were landed at the Dock Yard from the 'Asia'. Out of this number, eighty were assigned, although the whole had been applied for; so desolate a set of women never landed from any ship. Some of them were even without shoes; how is this? It is at all events a strange contrast to cargoes of this sort: disembarked into the Colony for the last eighteen years, to our, knowledge. Who is to be accountable for rags and shoe-less feet, the Captain, the Doctor, or the Home Government? Male Convicts without exceptions, are landed in the clothing which is provided for them by the Crown; on the other hand, females, while their slops are given to them with due honesty, have been allowed to land in the best clothes they may happen to bring with them: Our attentive authorities will doubtless look into these things, if the churn, and the cheese press are not too much in exercise to prevent them." This was also reported in the 'The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser', Saturday 30th January, 1830, on the quality of the Irish women who had arrived on-board the 'Asia' and the preference of the new aristocracy in the choice of house servants; "... of the female prisoners per the Asia, who were landed on Tuesday last, eighty-one were sent off to the Factory; the rest were assigned. It is somewhat strange that, as we are told, had this been an English, and not an Irish ship, the number of applications for women servants would far have exceeded, the supply. But the fact is, people give a decided preference to English women as house servants." Eliza was lucky as one of the eighty who were assigned.


On the 1st July 1830, Reuben Chapman was granted a publicans license for the 'Crown and Angel' hotel, Harrington St, situated in Circular Quay, Sydney and where Eliza would carry out her domestic duties. The hotel was near the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Baxter, who were involved with the 'Australian Subscription Library' in lower Pitt St, (to eventually become the start of the Fairfax empire) who had under assignment one Thomas Wade. Thomas Wade was born in 1812 in Dublin and arrived in the Colony under sentence of life, for robbery of a house. Wade was tried on the 3rd July 1828, as a 16 yr old at 'The Four Courts', Dublin City.


The consequences of which Thomas was sentenced to transportation for life to NSW, arriving on the 'Fergusson', which had set sail from Dublin on the 16th November 1828, under the command of John Groves with Surgeon Superintendent Charles Cameron, along with 214 Irish male convicts arriving at Port Jackson on the 26th March 1829, Thomas Wade is described as 5ft 4in tall, ruddy complexion with dark brown hair and blue eyes, aged 17. The 'Fergusson' dropped anchor in Sydney Cove and a muster was held by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 28th March 1829. In all the transports of the wretched convicts, disease was the scourge of their voyages, and with the energies of the ship surgeon's, loss of life was kept to a minimum for what could only be described as the most harrowing of experiences. In the case of Thomas Wade, his convict transport ship fared no different from scores of ships sailing from the United Kingdom to the antipodes suffering with the effects of life threatening diseases, luckily as reported in this extract of the voyage of Thomas Wade's ship 'Fergusson' Naval Surgeon, Mr. Charles writes of some success about the remedies to combat illness employed by Charles Cameron that saved many lives; "...there is given an account of a severe scurvy which broke out among the convicts on board the 'Ferguson' transport, on her passage from Ireland to New South Wales, and which threatened to depopulate the crew till fortunately it was checked by a solution of nitrate of potash in a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice. The convicts 216 in number were embarked on the coast of Ireland in 1828 and were then in a low state of health, from deficient nourishment and the depressing passions. Bad weather was experienced on the early part of the voyage and the convicts suffered greatly from sea sickness. Their constitutions were thus still farther debilitated and before the ship crossed the equator, the hospital was full of scorbutic patients,and many others were confined to bed in a dangerous state. Dysentery, however, was the most prominent feature or form, and affections of the lungs was also very common. Two of the of the men died of the scorbutic dysentery. When they were preparing to bear away for Rio Janeiro in order to procure refreshments for the sick, Mr Cameron tried an old remedy recommended by Patterson many years ago, in his treatise on Scurvy - namely nitre. The common stock of this being soon exhausted, a supply was soon procured from the gun-powder on board. The effects Mr. Cammeron describes as almost miraculous so much so that they abandoned the idea of putting into Rio and pursued their course to New South Wales where the convicts landed in unusual good health."


Thomas Wade's Indent
The 'Fergusson', as part of her consignment of convicts, carried a number of offenders younger than Thomas Wade who at 17 was not considered young, here is a list and ages of the youngest; Hugh Gallagher age 12, Matthew Cannon age 14; Bernard Neil age 14; Samuel Johnstone age 14; Patrick Crowe age 15 and Daniel Mullin age 15.


Thomas Wade was a 'lifer' and the prospect of a pardon of his sentence, would at best, not be granted until well into his debt to society was repaid, this prospect put any notion of a normal life of marriage and family way beyond the young convict. This is not to say that romance was not achievable, soon after Eliza Somers had arrived and commenced work for the Chapman's, Eliza made the acquaintance of a younger man for whom a romance blossomed, that man was Thomas Wade three years her junior, Eliza and Thomas may have been known to each other in Dublin from life in the tenements and upon her arrival had re-established their friendship.


When Eliza commenced Domestic Duties with the Chapmans, evidence now points to vicissitude brewing for Eliza and within a short period found herself in trouble with the authorities, when on the 26th April 1830, Eliza was returned to the Parramatta Female Factory for 'Drunkenness' either by authorities or Mr. Chapman, shortly after Eliza was again reprimanded for 'Drunkenness and Outrages Conduct', this time using the christian name of Elizabeth when caught, once again Eliza was sent to the Parramatta Female Factory this time in 3rd class for one month then again returned to her master. Eliza's duties with the Chapmans tried their patience and on the 2nd of August 1830, after seven months she was 'Given up by her Master' and sent to back to the 'The Female Factory' as a 2nd class defaulter for one month, arriving on the 4th August 1830, the reason for her return was that at this time Eliza had discovered she was with child, fathered by Thomas Wade, on completion of Eliza's confinement of one month, Eliza returned to the Chapman residence for the last time.


Anne Gordan, Matron
of Female Factory,

1827-36.
Contrary to the belief that Reuben Chapman was a magnanimous master, evidence supports that this was not the case, as on the 28th September 1830, Chapman, who was described as a very pugnacious sort of a gentleman, was finally at his wits end, returned a pregnant Eliza to the Parramatta Female Factory as 'Her Services where no longer Required', the notion that Reuben Chapman supported Eliza and even paid for the medical requirements at the future birth of Eliza's son is short of the truth, on returning Eliza to Parramatta, although this time as a 1st Class inmate, meant that Chapman had relinquished his responsibilities towards Eliza as per the statute, where if servants were returned by a magistrate as in Eliza's case, this alleviated Chapman's financial commitment, as stated here:  "...direct it to be notified, that, in future, persons to whom Convicts are assigned or lent, shall be required to defray all expenses attending their return to Government, excepting only in such cases as they shall be committed for Trial, or ordered by one or more Magistrates to be punished for some offense". "...Felons convicted in a summary way of disorderly conduct, shall be liabel, if males, to be kept to labour on the roads or other public works, or be publicly whipped; or, if Females, to be committed to the Penitentiary or third class of the female Factory, and there kept to hard labour." Eliza's indiscretion's with alcohol and other misdemeanor's followed by the pregnancy brought an end to her 'Domestic Duties' in the Chapman household.(By September 1832, Reuben Chapman had moved to Hobart where he purchased another hotel). Life for female convicts held at the Parramatta Female Factory was sorted by class, there were three types, listed as follows;


Parramatta Female Factory©
Ration distribution for Female Convicts and their Children at Parramatta.
1st Class included - Those women employed at the factory or awaiting assignment. Those who were homeless and those who had been returned from assignment without complaint and who were eligible for immediate reassignment. They were employed at spinning and carding and similar occupations.

2nd Class (Probationary) - Those returned from assignment because of bad behavior and those being promoted from 3rd class or demoted from 1st class. They were employed at the same work as the 1st Class but could not be assigned to private service. Females who became pregnant while in service were included in the 2nd Class.

3rd Class-   These women were kept at hard labour such as breaking stones. They may have been deprived of tea and sugar, may have been placarded or had their heads shaved.'

The above list is of Eliza's misdemeanors,
 which contributed to Eliza's continuous return to Parramatta 
and eventual dismissal from the Chapman's.
Thomas Wade would have become well acquainted with the township of Sydney and as Eliza was finding her way, leaned on Thomas' knowledge. Eliza's lodgings at the Chapmans where a stones throw from the Baxter's residence in lower Pitt St and the two would of had ample opportunity for liaisons. 

Those liaisons bore fruit when on the 24th April 1831, Eliza gave birth to their son whom she named Thomas Wade. The idea that Thomas Wade, a 'Lifer' and assigned to a well respected family the Baxters, could have found it possible to abscond from his bondage and disappear without the most severe repercussions is not plausible. History does not supply the emotional attachment that may have existed between the two convicts and there has been some conjecture in the past from different unresearched sources that Thomas Wade was some kind of cad and had left Eliza in the lurch or did a runner on the news of her pregnancy, but under the circumstances and the law's of the day which made it extremely difficult for two convicts to marry, without special permission from the Governor, the future of the two was doomed from the start. 

Fr John Joseph Therry
Eliza christened the baby, Thomas Wade, at St Mary's Catholic church, on the 6th May 1831, conducting the ceremony was Fr John Joseph Therry, born in County Cork in 1791, Therry was responsible for attending to the spiritual needs of 10,000 Catholics in Sydney town. (Fr. Therry died at Balmain 1864.) The christening would also have been attended by Thomas Wade as well as Eliza's sister, Catherine Delany who arrived in the colony with her only child onboard the 'Forth II' under the command of James Robertson with Surgeon Superintendent Joseph Cook, the ship dropped anchor on the 12th October 1830. Catherine was convicted at Dublin of shoplifting and sentenced to seven years. Catherine was assigned on arrival to Mr. Bettington, a shipwright who had premises at Cockel Bay (site of the Darling Harbour complex today).


Warrants of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for Catherine Delany 1830
Catherine Delany's Indent
Catherine Delany would marry Mr. John Wynn a 'Ticket of Leave' holder on 29th June 1836 at Parramatta. Catherine received her 'Certificate of Freedom', 24th June 1837. Catherine and John Wynn settled at Maitland, where Eliza and Benjamin Hall had commenced residing and where Ben Hall was born in May 1837, most probably at Catherine Wynn's residence. Unfortunately Eliza's sister Catherine died at Maitland in 1847. By the end of 1831, any contact Eliza may have had with Thomas Wade is not recorded, and the travel distance between Parramatta Female Factory and Sydney Cove precluded any chance of meeting. For Thomas Wade it is recorded that he was granted a 'Ticket of Leave' in May 1841 and then it was superseded when Thomas was granted a 'Conditional Pardon' for his crime from the Governor of NSW, Charles Fitzroy in 1847. How his life turned out is unknown but Thomas was to marry a widow, Bridget Hilton aged 39 in 1857 at Port Macquarie, Thomas Wades profession was listed as Sawyer at this time and there is no known record of his ever seeing his son Thomas in later life, from 1841 or earlier Wade was residing at Port Macquarie, NSW, although his death was recorded in 1866, at Walcha, NSW. It is interesting that Walcha via Tamworth to Murrurundai is 90 miles. 

Thomas Wade, 16th May 1841.

Thomas Wade, 1st February 1848.


























Eliza Somers, now returned to the Female Factory as of 4th October 1830, would see out her pregnancy with her future son Thomas there in First Class. Eliza gave birth on the 24th April 1831 to baby Thomas and continued residing at the Female Factory until another assignment could be found. The next position that Eliza obtained was with a Mr. William Panton, a free settler who arrived in the colony on the 'Andromeda' in 1822, unfortunately for Eliza and her baby the stay with the Panton's would be for less than one year, but this assignment was also fortuitous, as while Eliza worked for the Pantons were she commenced her assignment in June of 1832 with young Thomas by her side. Whilst assigned there, Eliza made the acquaintance of Benjamin Hall recently arrived from the Hunter Valley, who was also employed at Stonquarry, at the Panton's/Chisholm estate which had been established in 1824, as a farm hand. Benjamin Hall now a 'Ticket of Leave' holder and though an ex-convict his farming experience would of been much sort after. Benjamin Hall after the trek from the Hunter Valley, obtained a position with Panton through A.B. Spark's his former master and through the business contact between Spark's and Panton who were both members of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society at Parramatta and who both hailed from the same area of Scotland, it goes without saying that in 1832, as with today it is not what you know, but who you know for obtaining work, this applied to Benjamin Hall, so a good reference from A.B. Spark's was a big plus. Benjamin Hall commenced work at Stonequarry in the first day's of September 1832. The Pantons were established land owners at Stonequarry, as noted on list of persons liable to serve as jurors in the District of Liverpool. (See Below)


Panton, Stonequarry NSW.
Eliza would have worked under the supervision of Mrs Panton, a mother of infant children herself at their residence at Stonequarry as a domestic servant. Stonequarry was in an area that was collectively known in 1820/30's as the Cowpastures, roughly the area between Camden and Picton. The land the Pantons had acquired was commonly known by the name of the 'Forest of Bumbalo', or 'Bomballowa', at Stonequarry, it would later become the town of Picton, gazetted in 1841. It was here that William Panton in partnership with Mr James Chisholm were farming a variety of produce, including wheat and barley, the pair also took part in the Government’s experiment with tobacco growing and also began to speculate in livestock trading and leased out pasture for agistment, the cost of feeding the Panton's convicts was deferred to the Kings Stores.(see below)

The King's Stores.

In 1826, Panton commenced an attempt at wine producing and planted a large vineyard and changed the name of his property to 'Montpellier' after the famous wine producing district in France, but by the end of July 1833, Panton with his partner were in financial difficulties, a situation Panton had also found himself in, in 1831, but was able to trade out of the threatened insolvency, but by 1835, Panton's financial disposition had deteriorated and Panton was again faced with and was declared insolvent, relating to the losses incurred through his speculative investments, 'Montpellier' was eventually sold for £1100 in early 1836. After the foundation of Eliza's relationship with Benjamin Hall was established, it was soon consummated and by the end of September 1832, Eliza was pregnant. On the 13th May 1833, a seven month pregnant Eliza appeared in the NSW Government Gazette as an absconder from the Panton's employment, her absconding may have been a ruse to ensure that as pregnant Eliza could return to the Female Factory in First class and that the Pantons would be exempt from her associated costs due to their financial difficulties, as after absconding, Eliza now seven months pregnant with her second child was arrested but did not face prosecution for the crime nor returned to the Panton's and was returned to the Female Factory where she gave birth to her second child, a girl she named Mary in early July 1833, and where Eliza and the two children would remain for sometime with Benjamin visiting Eliza at the Factory as often as possible, as the distance from the Stonequarry district to Parramatta was only 30 miles, a good horse ride for a free man. (William Panton, in March 1836 with his family left NSW on the Ship 'William' for Scotland. Though his family made landfall in Scotland, William died and was buried at sea off the Ascension Islands on 3 June 1836) 
NSW Government Gazette, May 1833, absconding from Panton's.
Furthermore, with Eliza's return once more to the Female Factory, a notice appeared in the 'The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser' in May 1832, highlighting the unusual amount of assigned female servants who were, after only short periods on assignment being returned to the Factory, prompting the management to make the following observation and alteration of the conditions of return whilst also highlighting the benefits of maintaining the convict women inside the assigned household, as well as those no longer under sentence; ASSIGNED FEMALE SERVANTS-THE COMMITTEE of MANAGEMENT of the FEMALE FACTORY have observed, with great regret, how speedily a portion of the Female Convicts assigned from the ship, on their arrival from Europe, are returned to Government and sent to the Factory at Parramatta. It has fallen within their observation, that, in many cases, those persons have been returned for awkwardness or misbehavior which, in free servants, would be noticed by a gentle reproof. The facility with which an assigned servant may be returned to Government has, doubtless, favored the injurious practice of which the Committee complain. To remedy it, in some measure, the Committee are authorised, by His Excellency the Governor, to require, in future, that all persons receiving Female Servants, on assignment, shall enter into an engagement, under a penalty of forty shillings, to keep them for one month in their service, unless removed therefrom by due course of law; and if, at the expiration of that period, they shall desire to return their servants, they will be bound if residing in any part of the County of Cumberland to leave a written notice at the office of the Principal Superintendent of Convicts in Sydney, and to retain the Servant for fourteen days from the service of that notice. Persons residing without the County of Cumberland, will be required to give one month's notice to the Clerk of the Bench of Magistrates nearest their residence.

This time is required to enable the Principal Superintendent of Convicts and Committee to make arrangements for the transfer of the Female to another service without being sent to the Factory.The Committee take this opportunity of asserting their readiness, at all times, to assign any Female in the Factory, not under a Colonial sentence of imprisonment, to persons of good moral character; and if the supply of those Women, whose conduct offers a fair chance of their becoming useful servants, should at any time be unequal to the demand, the Committee would willingly assign those, of whose conduct it would, at the same time, be their duty to make an unfavourable report.



It might happen that virtuous example and regular habits in a private family would operate more powerfully in reclaiming an individual from vice than the most judicious regulations when applied to numbers in a public establishment. For reasons somewhat similar, and from having observed the change which new modes of life, and the accession of new duties, sometimes operate in the character and disposition, the Committee are at all times disposed to favour the marriage of these Women to persons in circumstances to maintain them honestly.

Parramatta Female Factory,
S. MARSDEN. M. ANDERSON J. S. WRIGHT
May 29th, 1832.

Eliza Somers, mother of two children under the age of two was housed at the Parramatta Female Factory under the supervision of Matron Gordan and after four months and the birth of Mary, Eliza was would again be placed on assignment, this time to a Landlord in Sydney, Mr W.G. Barker who operated a boarding house known as the 'Dolphin Hotel' in Sydney town and where as with the Chapman's and Panton's, Eliza would be employed as a domestic servant. Eliza at the commencement of her assignment was once more pregnant having fallen in the August of 1833, and by December of 1833, had had enough of the Barker's and of being separated from her children and Benjamin. Eliza as a result once more absconded, in fact twice, first in December 1833, Eliza was caught and returned to the Barker's but not for long as on the 4th January 1834 and five months pregnant, Eliza absconded again and was reported in the 'Government Gazette' on the 13th January 1834, as with her termination with the Panton's, Eliza was returned to the Female Factory, here Benjamin stepped in and advocated Eliza's return to the Factory and Benjamin commenced the lengthy process of permission to marry, although Eliza was not prosecuted by the authorities due to her voluntary return at the time. Benjamin Hall soon departed Stonequarry, and moved to Parramatta where he was residing by the time of their wedding. Benjamin was very supportive of Eliza and the children and was providing the financial help required for Eliza and the children as well as the firm hand Eliza needed to avoid any further consequences of her behaviour, so much so that on the 16th April 1834, after their application to marry was approved on the 5th April 1834, Benjamin Hall and Eliza Somers were married at Parramatta on the 16th of April 1834, and their marriage was officiated by the Reverend Samuel Marsden with the consent of the Governor, Sir Richard Bourke, what is interesting in the marriage ceremony was the fact that Eliza being Catholic married Benjamin a Protestant in a Protestant church, 'St John's Anglican Church' and was as stated officiated over by the then famous and in some circles infamous Samuel Marsden.  

NSW Government Gazette, January 1834, absconding from Barker's.

Application to Marry
Marriage Certificate of Eliza Somers and Benjamin Hall, Benjamin
signed his name where as Eliza made her mark X. Benjamin is recorded F, as Free
and Eliza, B, as Bonded.
St John's Parramatta
c. 1830's.
It is interesting to note on the marriage certificate that Benjamin Hall states his age as 32 which would see him born in 1802. On the certificate of marriage Benjamin signed his name where as Eliza made her mark with an X. Benjamin Hall had left his employment at Picton sometime in 1834, prior to his marriage and achieved employment at Parramatta, most probably with Thomas Simon, who was the witness at their wedding and was an ex-convict arriving on the 'Isabella' in 1818 and was granted 'Ticket of Leave' in 1824. 


Thomas Simon, advertisement
1834.
The Simon's were goods carrier's and operated a Dray in the early 1830's between Parramatta, Windsor and Sydney carrying general cargo. In 1835, Thomas Simon became the publican of the 'Duke of Wellington Hotel' in Church St, Parramatta, not far from the Parramatta Female Factory. The relationship between Thomas Simon and Benjamin Hall, after Benjamin's move to Parramatta from Picton so as to be closer to Eliza and the children, may have lead to work with the Simon's carrier business and where a good working relationship had formed with the Simon's. This friendship became close enough for the Simon's to be included in the Hall's wedding party as witness', which indicates Thomas and Mary were 'Best Man' and 'Matron of Honour', after the ceremony, with Eliza eight months pregnant, saw a small celebration of the nuptials for the newly married couple at the Simon's home or at the 'Duke of Wellington Hotel'. Based on this employment and with the Simon's subsequent purchase of the 'Duke of Wellington Hotel' in 1835, enabled Benjamin to make contacts with the land holders and farmers around the Parramatta-Windsor district who frequented the hotel or had used the Simon's for their transport needs and created Benjamin's opportunity to return to the Hunter Region and familiar country where prospects for an ex-convict where extremely promising.


Thomas Simon
Publican.
With Eliza's penchant for absconding from her masters, this waywardness at first, must of been a set back for Benjamin Hall's plans to return to the Hunter, as Eliza's ability to achieve her 'Ticket of Leave' was hampered by her actions and shortly after their wedding Eliza was returned to the Female Factory for the imminent birth of her third child and where on the 9th of May 1834, three weeks after their marriage, Eliza gave birth to her third child named William. After four years servitude, Eliza was eligible for her 'Ticket' but was rejected on behavioral grounds, maybe Eliza's marriage was a blessing in the eyes of Matron Gordan. Undeterred by the delay in Eliza's release Benjamin was now responsible for Eliza and soon after William's birth Eliza departed the Factory with her three children. Benjamin was now the father of two children Mary and William and Eliza's son Thomas Wade for whom Benjamin accepted responsibility for and who developed a close relationship with Thomas in those early years. With Benjamin's move to Parramatta and Benjamin's relationship with Thomas Simon's, a job opportunity arose at Windsor in early 1835, that would see the Hall's return to the Hunter Region.


Government House Windsor
Built 1796-1800.
Windsor NSW, was only 17 miles from Paramatta and was originally called Green Hills and not to be confused with Green Hills at the Hunter River, where Benjamin had arrived at as a convict in 1827, and which in 1834, became the town of Morpeth near Maitland. Windsor was in the early part of the 1800's the favorite retreat of the NSW Govenor's with a Government House built in-between 1796 and 1800, under John Hunter. Windsor had the reputation as the food basket of Sydney, due to the fertile flats of land around the Hawksbury River and was in the early days of the settlement of NSW, its most important town. As Windsor grew and its assigned convicts completed their sentences, many remained in the district for work and some of those less fortunate ex-convicts required help in sustaining a living, there was no government support, no housing, no cost of living help, if you could not work to earn, well that was your problem, it was under these circumstances that the more socially compassionate citizens who were well off and more sensitive to the needs of those destitute, formed asylums for the purpose of catering to those in need. 


Govenor
Lachlan Macquarie
c. 1805.
In 1818, a number of those compassionate citizens gathered and created the 'Hawksbury Benevolent Society' to cater to those in need. As with all charitable organisations it required funding and the most effective means for that purpose during that period was through agriculture and the principle method was through the farming of cattle. Lachlan Macquarie then Governor granted land to the society in 1819, the following grants of land were for the societies breeding of those cattle, the grants were; Ten acres at Wilberforce, Five hundred acres at Currency' Creek, and Thirteen acres on the Penrith road, near Windsor, and a herd was acquired which became the society's chief source of income for over forty-five years, other sources of raising funds were through donations, subscriptions, church collections and fines from the Police Offices. The society generally supplied food and clothing for the destitute. One of the early reports of the institution will be found in the 'Sydney Gazette', of July 8th 1820, and gave a brief summary of business transacted towards the destituteThe half-yearly meeting of the 'Hawksbury Benevelient Society' was held at the Court House on July 3, 1820. Present: Wm. Cox, Esq., Rev. John Cross and others, including Robert Fitz, treasurer, and John Howe, the storekeeper. It was reported that eighteen persons had been relieved with such stores as wheat, maize, sugar, rice and salt, and also with cash, fifty-three pounds, fourteen shillings and threepence. Also, that the institution owned sixty head of cows, and two calves. A close logged shingled roof dwelling had been erected for the stock-keeper, and twelve, acres of land fenced in with the necessary yards and garden. In 1832-4 this old stock-keeper's house on the Penrith road was used for a poor-house before the old asylum was built in Brabyn street. 


In 1822 the cattle held by the society numbered some one hundred and forty-four head, and growing, but the current holdings were to small and the society required more land. This land was to be found at the Liverpool Plains. John Oxley was the first European to visit the the Liverpool Plains while exploring the Macquarie River area in 1818. The Plains were subsequently named after the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Earl of Liverpool. Agricultural settlement of the Liverpool Plains commenced in the late 1820's some of the first draught's of cattle were removed to the Liverpool Plains and driven to the district by Thomas Dargin, who years later may have given his name to Billy Dargin the Blacktracker, who hailed from Windsor, the cattle were under his care until 1827, when John Gaggin took charge and settled with them on new land at Philips Creek, (the town of Quirindi today) Liverpool Plains, where they remained, and by late 1835, numbered over six hundred head. The society would face a fight with the all powerful Australian Agricultural Company for the run at Phillips Creek and lose, therefore requiring the present stock to be relocated to a new run called 'Mooki', headed by Edward Nowland who would replace John Gaggin as superintendent of the societies cattle station.


John Gaggin c. 1825
John Gaggin through Mr Edward Nowland, employed Benjamin Hall to drive more of the societies cattle from the small holdings at Windsor to the Liverpool Plain, following the most direct route along the Bulga Trail (Putty Rd) to Singleton through Jerrys Plains, Wybong, Manobalai, Kars Springs then onto Breeza a trip of 160 miles where it was reported; "... great herds of fat cattle are daily driving through to take advantage, I presume, of the rise in the market. Perhaps the greater part cross the Bulga." There has been historically, a belief that Benjamin Hall had obtained work for a Mr Samuel Clift as overseer of Mr Clift's large holding of Doona Station situated on those vast plains that make up the Liverpool Plains and the position was in 1836, however this is pure speculation, as to the relationship between Clift and Hall, there is no doubt Benjamin Hall knew Samuel Clift and knew him very well. (John Gaggin would become 'Commissioner for Crown Lands' in 1851 as noted; CROWN LANDS.-His Excellency the Governor has appointed John Gaggin, Esq., of Sydenham, near Singleton, to be a Commissioner of Crown Lands within the Boundaries of the Colony, and to act in and for the police districts of Patrick's Plains and Merton and Muswellbrook.) 

What has come to light through new research is that Mr Samuel Clift only came into the possession of the Doona run in 1837. Doona was acquired by Samuel Clift from one Joseph Merrick for £5 and a fat Bullock as stated; "...it appeared from the evidence that the plaintiff had purchased the right of the run from a person named Merrick, in the year 1837, for £5 and a fat bullock", this evidence therefore nullifies any possiblity that Benjamin took an overseer placement with Samuel Clift at Doona prior to 1837, however court proceedings in both the 1840's and 1850's, where a number of trespass cases involving Samuel Clift surfaced and where it is reported that Benjamin Hall was called as a witness on behalf of Mr Samuel Clift, it is those proceeding's which categorically established Clift's procurement of Doona in 1837. 

During those trespass cases, evidence supported the fact that Benjamin Hall was indeed at Doona in late 1835, but not in the employ of Samuel Clift, but employed in taking cattle to the Liverpool Plains for Mr John Gaggin of the 'Hawksbury Benevelient Society', evidence shows that during those court proceedings, Benjamin Hall who was a witness on behalf of Samuel Clift stated; "... that at a certain time he was brought to court by Merrick for having trespassed on Duono", Benjamin Hall also gives an account of quarreling between Eliza and Joseph Merrick, this indicates Eliza's presence on the Liverpool Plains and that the moving of the cattle from Winsor to the Liverpool Plains was effected in late 1835 and that Edward Nowland and his brother, William, (who is credited with finding the Gap in the range north of Murrurundi in 1827, others soon followed his dray tracks which opened a route to the Liverpool Plains, the Gap today is known as 'Nowlands Gap' and is on the New England Highway about 3 miles north of Murrurundi. The pass is approximately 730 metres (2,400 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by high ground of over 1,200 metres)accompanied Benjamin, Eliza and the children in droving the cattle to the societies run at the Liverpool Plains. Benjamin Hall, in his court appearence goes on to state as deponent that; "... The deponent's wife had been quarreling, and the magistrates had bound her over to keep the peace", another witness at the time stated; "...during the time of Merrick, Hall also went up with some cattle of Mr Gaggin's, to find a station, and William and Edward Nowland accompanied him to Winda." It was also stated of Hall's presence at Doona in 1835 that; "... Hall went to Duona, and stayed there some months, and was taken to court by Merrick for trespass. He went away for want of rations, and left the cattle behind him."


Samuel Clift
c. 1850's.
The above statement's create the hypothesis that Benjamin Hall did not take a position of employment with Samuel Clift prior to 1837/38, as has been espoused over the years and that in 1835, Benjamin Hall commenced employment with the 'Hawksbury Benevolent Society' of Windsor to remove their cattle from Windsor to the Liverpool Plains under the direction of John Gaggin. It is also revealed during the court proceedings, where it was stated that John Gaggin was present at the Liverpool Plains; "... Mr. Gaggin, a member of the Society, was at the Mooki in 1836 or 1837 and saw the Society's cattle running between the Mooki river and Warrah. In January that year 1836 the society's cattle were then being removed from Phillips's station to the Mooki." Furthermore, John Gaggin was a friend of Hall's master A.B. Spark during Hall's convict assignment and held land amounting to 2000 acres adjacent Spark's Hunter River property.


Spark's, Radfordslea,
John Gaggin property,
and Mudie's,
Castle Forbes. c. 1829.

Courtesy NLA.
The reason for Benjamin's departure was recorded as a 'need for ration's', but at the time of the families arrival at the Plains, Eliza was once more with child and the primitive amenities may have forced the Hall's on to Doona/Breeza runs from Phillips Creek, where some semblance of civilization exsited at the McLaughlan store on Breeza, where with the help of Mrs McLaughlan, Eliza gave birth to her third son Edward in early 1836, as it was stated that; "... McLaughlan or his wife was always at Breeza and McLaughlin and his wife kept a store at Breeza in 1830 to 1837." Another possible reason for the families move to Breeza is that the Aboriginal's of the district where troublesome as stated; "... and the strong cattle on the Duona run fed as far as the edge of Breeza; a hut was built about half a mile down the dry creek, but was subsequently removed to the oak tree, in order that the occupants might be nearer to neighbours, the blacks being then troublesome." In 1925, the second son and third child of Benjamin and Eliza passed away at Tamworth at the reported age of 9o, he was Edward Hall and in the obituary recorded of his death it stated; "... there passed away at his residence, Bligh street, Tamworth, on Monday, 27th April, Edward Hall, in his 90th year, the immediate cause of death being senile decay. The late 'Ned' Hall was born at Breeza, Liverpool Plains, in the year 1835." 


6 comments:

  1. This is a great site and terrific effort at production. As Ben Hall is my great great great grandfather I have found this to be very informative for my family history records. Ben jr is my great great uncle through Edward Hall b 1836. Well done!

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  2. I would like to get in touch with descendent of Edward Hall. I'm researching the son's of Edward Hall at the moment. Thanks.

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  3. I am a descendant of Edwardd Hall b 1836...I realise there are two years between this first post and my reply... but I can be contacted at janevanwoerkom1952@gmail.com cheers

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  4. Dear Mark,

    Tremendous work - thank you very much! Fascinating. I believe I am descended from William Hall. Best regards Peter Hall

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  5. When was the Hyde Park Barracks painting by Wayne Hagg created?

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  6. What an incredible amount of research, time, effort, dedication and most of all - love of history this site demonstrates. Well done!

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