Parents : George
(includes discussion of the evidence of Thomas' origins in
Thomas Rowley (b 1747 Kingston on Thames Surrey, m Elizabeth, d 1806
Kingston House, Newtown).
Elizabeth died on the voyage out on the Pitt, probably 1791
children by Elizabeth
Selwyn (different to the Elizabeth who died
Isabella Rowley (b 1792 Sydney Cove, m William
(Lieut) Ellison 1807 Sydney Cove, d 1808 Sydney)
Thomas Rowley II (b
Sydney NSW, m Catherine Clarkson 1818 Christ Church, Castlereagh, d
(b 1822 Minto NSW, m Mary Jane (Jane) Onslow 1846 Liverpool, d 1909
John Clarkson Rowley (b 1847 Liverpool, NSW,
m Sarah Jane Smart 1874 Beechworth Vic, d
Joseph Smart Rowley (b 1875
Yackandandah Vic, m Eircell Broome 1909
NSW, d 1957 Bethanga)
m Avis Sirl 1922 Albury
John Rowley (b 1797
Sydney Cove, m Sarah Pear 1819 St John's, Paramatta, d 1873 Scone
NSW) <- Not direct ancestor, but an
explorer of interest.
Mary Rowley (b 1800 Kingston House Newtown, NSW,
John Lucas 1817, d 1869 Nunima, NSW)
Eliza Rowley (b 1804 Kingston House, m Henry Sparrow Briggs 1826 St
Johns, Paramatta, d 1882 Kingston)
Other possible children : Mary Mickle/Muckle Henry Rowley
work on Thomas Rowley was published in 1981 - A Cameo of Thomas
by Ian Ramage. Sadly Ian passed away in August 2007. He was a
historian, whose interest was sparked by the fact that his wife
was a descendant of Thomas. His "Cameo" remains the definitive
the life of Thomas Rowley. This page collects information that has
turned up since, and quotes some selections from Ian's
text (200pps) is available as a PDF. I cannot express too highly my
appreciation of Ian's work. His facts have endured, and his
uncertainties still remain uncertanties thirty years later. He
an enduring interest in family history (I am also a Thomas
I have come across few forebears as interesting as Thomas Rowley,
except perhaps the rogue Thomas Clarkson, whose daughter married
Rowley' son. Thank you Ian. I hope your work can be appreciated by
new generation via the web
Ian Ramage Memorial
In 1789 Thomas Rowley was appointed as Adjuntnt
Francis Grose when Francis was tasked with raising the New South
Corps (also known as The Rum Corps.). Thomas arrived in Sydney on
1792. He served as Acting Commandant of Norfolk Island, and was one
the half dozen farmers who established Merino sheep in Australia. He
had five children by Elizabeth Selwyn, a convict who also arrived on
the Pitt in 1792. Thomas was in his forties when he arrived in
and died in 1806. He and his descendants were prominent members of
Sydney society of the day.
Internal Links Chronology
and a Wife A Marriage?
John Gray Artlcle Children
Merchant and Simeon Lord
Scuttlebutt References Contacts
Although this painting, which is hung at the Women's Pioneer Society
Sydney, is supposed to be Thomas Rowley, there is a doubt. The
he is wearing is a naval uniform not an army uniform, and was not
designed until after his death. However, there is a remarkable
likeness to some descendants. (Comment by John Gray).
Chronology (extracted from a document
1789 Major Francis Grose organises the appointment
"Adjutan" to serve under Grose, for "Gentleman" Thomas Rowley
official warrant to raise the NSW Corps. Recruits to be between 16
& 30 years of age.
Thomas might have been the eldest at 42.
from Grose, Thomas is instrumental in despatching 2nd, 3rd and
4th fleets to NSW
1790 2nd Fleet arrives NSW. Elizabeth Selwyn steals
clothing from employer
1791 Elizabeth (22 years old) sentenced to
for 7 years. 3rd fleet arrives in NSW.
been working at Chatham Barracks, promoted to Lieut Adjutant..
1792 14 Feb Thomas and Elizabeth arrive Sydney on
Pitt as part of the 4th Fleet
19 Nov Birth of
first child Isabella (9 months and 4 days after the Pitts arrival)
10 Dec Capt
Arthur Phillip returns to England, replaced by Grose
1793 "Hope" arrives Sydney - all cargo
including 7,500 gallons of rum purchased by NSW Corps - which from
on also known as the Rum Corps
purchases 2 acre land lease Sydney Town, cnr Church & Brickfield
Grose of 100 acres at Petersham Hill, nucleus of Kingston Farm
now between Newtown & Annandale)
1794 Absolute Pardon for Elizabeth.
acres granted at Petersham Hill and 50 acres at Concorde.
1795 Land Grant to Thomas at Mulgrave Place
1796 Thomas Promoted to Captain
1797 Son John born
1798 Land Grant by Gov Hunter to Thomas, 260 acres
which became Burwood Farm (now Granville/Sth Granville) (Image,
1799 Further Land Grants by Gov Hunter to Thomas,
acres, adjacent to Holdsworthy Army camp and 1500 acres added
1800 Thomas departs to Norfolk Island as Commandant
1801 Thomas places himself on the sick list, and returns
from Norfolk Island
NSW Corps due ill health
1802 Thomas appointed Commandant of Loyal Sydney
Association (a civilian Militia)
1804 Daughter Eliza born
June, birth of
possible daughter Mary Mickle (Positive link to Thomas yet to be
Land Grant by
Hunter to Thomas, 700 acres, at Holdsworthy
1805 In his Will, Elizabeth is clearly mentioned
Thomas fills out
very guarded return on sheep industry
1806 29 May Thomas dies, age about 59 years
of Henry at Holsworthy (Positive link to Thomas yet to be
1843 22 Jun Elizabeth dies aged
The Voyage of
Pitt, and a Wife
In the "Fourth Fleet Families in Australia,
C J Smee", we get a list of 10 soldier's wives on the Pitt, which
include Mrs Elizabeth Rowley and Mrs Grose. Free children are
including a 3 year old Francis Grose, but no Rowley children. To see images of the data
402 convicts, including 58 women were on the Pitt when she sailed
Yarmouth Roads on 17 July.1791. Dr Smee lists 2 Officers, 19 Naval
Military, 4 Free persons, 10 soldiers wives, 1 convicts wife, 2 free
children, and 5 convict children. This comes to 445 plus crew
the voyage. Elizabeth Selwyn is listed among the convicts. (Thanks
Venn for the Fourth Fleet reference). The only information in the
about the source of this information is that Mrs Nancy Gray
the Pitt muster. It is almost certainly wishful thinking, but if the
original document had ages of passengers, it would be very helpful.
Another thought - there should be embarkation records for the Pitt
Bateson in "the Convict Ships" gives details of
voyage. Smallpox appeared shortly after departure, and 15 prisoners
died by the time she touched at St Jago, Despite it being an
season in the Cape Verde Islands, sailors and soldiers were allowed
ashore. The Pitt experienced calms and incessant rain in the
and made scarcely any headway for a month. The prisoners devepoled
ulcers and scurvy but otherwise remained relativley healthy. However
among thr military guards and their families, and the seamen
fever appeared, and is said to have caused 27 deaths in a fortnight.
Her crew was so depleted that in later gales convicts had to be
recruited to help navigate her. By the time the Pitt reached Rio de
Janeiro in October, 13 soldiers, 5 soldiers wives, and 13 seamen had
died.. No convicts had died, but 5 escaped, believed perished (at
Rio?).... Overall there was one convict death on the voyage for
eleven convicts embarked
There is an interesting description of the voyage
the Pitt in Thomas Keneally's new book "The Commonwealth of
Thieves" (pages 399-405) . He adds to Bateson's picture of the
The death rate of convicts
the voyage was one in eleven on the Pitt. They arrived in poor
in mid February, Sydney's most oppressive month,The colony was short
rations as well. Quoting the book, "The record of burials, chiefly of
newcomers, during that late summer is sobering. On 16 February,
convicts were buried, and six the next day, and a further six on
February. Five were buried the next day, a further two the day
on 23 February a further six, on 25 February another four- and
just at Parramatta. And so through the first week of March the
continued. On 8 March there were five male deaths, and on the next
two more and that of a child, Margaret Tambleton. The regular
burials of men continued throughout the month. By May 1792, of 122
convicts who came out in the Queen, only 50 were still alive." All
that when we look at convicts in our family tree who
prospered, they were the lucky ones. Many perished and appear on no
The Pitt (775 tons)
This image has been scanned at low resolution and heavily
cropped. Copies of the print itself can be purchased from the
Maritime Museum in the UK. www.nmm.ac.uk
Compare the following two signatures
signature of a Thomas Rowley
marrying Elizabeth Knott 19 January 1791 at Stoke on
England (witnesses Samuel Poulson and Thomas Geen.
Theses two names
ring no bells). Signature from Pallots Marriage Index
signature of our Thomas Rowley as Adjutant of the NSW
Are they the same person? I am not sure. Signature 1 came out
of one of the
Ancestry,com databases, and is obviously more carefully
that would be expected. Signature 2
came from Ian Ramage. The fact that Rowley describes
"Adjutant" indicates it was written between June 1789 (the
date of the
inception of the NSW Corps) and April 1791 (when he was
Given that Thomas did have a wife
the Pitt, the timing is helpful, as the Pitt sailed in
July the same
year. An earlier marriage would most likely have
produced children, and
made athe move to Australia much more difficult to
it was the other way round. The prospect of the move
brought on the
sudden appreciation of the virtues of matrimony.
Planned research from here is to look for evidence that
this is not the
marriage, eg children in England when Thomas had left.
1775 Thomas Rowley Marriage
One of the prominent early Thomas researchers is John
Gray. The following link is to a very readable article he wrote. It
been reproduced here in text only form at the moment. The original
article has photos, maps and family tree diagrams. These might be
included at a later date if webspace permits. John's article also included Thomas' Will.. John's permission to
reproduce this article is gratefully acknowledged. John Gray's son
a website which gives an extensive family tree of Thomas Rowley
Thomas acknowledged "my five
children begotten in the body of Elizabeth Selwyn namely Isabella
Rowley Thomas Rowley John Rowley Mary Rowley and Eliza Rowley"
in his will..Eliozabeth would have been the formative influece on
children, as Thomas died when they were young. His main contribution
may well have to leave them the Sydney properties
John is of interest in that he
involved in early exploration. the younger
Thomas has a separate page.
However there are two other possible children.
Mary Mickle (Muckle).
The following is extracted from Ian Ramage's Cameo. The full text is
recommended: (Includes thorough documentation of information
earnest endeavours of many descendants, no parish register record
the birth in 1804, or subsequent baptism, of Eliza Rowley, the
child of Thomas Rowley and Elizabeth Selwyn has, so far as I am
been located. Perhaps, an explanation is that Thomas Rowley had
temporarily abandoned Elizabeth Selwyn and transferred his
another young convict lass, Jane Mickle. In June, 1804, Jane
gave birth to a daughter, Mary, who was baptised at St Philip's
in June the following year.
expresses it nicely when, writing about the child, he notes
"Captain Rowley had no objection
his name being entered in the church records as her father, but he
would not, or could not, and in any case did not marry the mother
was a convict who was transported on the Nile, arriving on 15
1801. She had received a seven year sentence, and, at the time of
conviction, would have been only fourteen years of age!
suggest that Thomas Rowley provided for Jane Mickle in his will.
is not so but perhaps the shop and dwelling which she occupied in
Phillip Street, the known as “Back Row East”, were provided by
16.33 Many a
makes a muckle, the Scots say, and it was not long before Jane
became known as 'Jeannie Muckle".
"’Mistress Jeannie Muckle' as Dr
used to call her in conversation, as far back as 1813, held a wine
spirit licence in Phillip-street."
16.34 In the
construction of the first Presbyterian Church in the Colony, Scots
Church, Dunmore Lang received considerable assistance from Jeannie
"The actual subscription £1,500
being exhausted, they had to raise the money as best they could.
first assistance Dr Lang received was from a lady of some historic
interest, Mrs Jeannie Muckle, of Sydney, who advanced the doctor
personal security and without interest the sum of £300 - in
Spanish dollars at 5s. each, the regular currency in 1824. ...
time after Mrs Muckle's loan, Rev. Samuel Marsden lent Dr Laing
£800 sterling. ... The Scots Church ... had cost about
£3,000 and the debt on it ... £1,480. For that debt Dr Lang
was exclusively responsible. His first effort was to pay off
Muckle's loan, as it was the first contracted; this he did in due
16.35 In March,
1826, Dr Lang officiated at the marriage of Jeannie Muckle to
McKellup. McKellup, a leading citizen, was also a publican in
the daughter of Thomas Rowley and Jane Muckle, married Richard
on 28 February, 1837. Roberts was the native-born son of two
William Roberts and Jane Longhurst. Richard who died within three
of his marriage, on 24 June, 1839, was a well-to-do merchant.
the death of her mother, stepfather and husband within five years,
Roberts was, at the age of thirty-five, a wealthy property owner.
remained unmarried and was most highly regarded as a resident of
Sydney-town until her death in 1885.
also was "an eminent benefactress to the Scots Church” continuing
mother's generous interest.
16.42 Not all
descendants agree with Frank Clune's suggestion that Captain
the father of Jane Mickle's child. They point out that another
Rowley (Corporal, Royal Marines) who was 39 years of age when he
buried at St Philip's on 20 September, 1822 and who would
been about 21 when Mary Mickle was born, could have been the
Comment Les Rowley: If asked
take sides on Mary Mickle as a child, I would give a hesitant no.
Reasons : Mary Mickle was born in June 1804, and the acknowledged
daughter Eliza born in the same year, month unknown. Thomas retired
from the NSW Corps due to ill health in 1801, and was to die of
consumption in May 1806, aged about 59. But perhaps I am
underestimating the man, and owe an apology to men in their late
fifties in general. It is worth remembering that there was a also
Thomas Rowley who arrived in the colony as a convict with the second
fleet. Does anyone know anyhing about this other Thomas? (Convict from London, came on the Neptune,
arrived 28 June 1790, 7 year sentence- Margaret Hardwick. Margaret
found Thomas Godfrey Rowley's trial papers from the
Bailey at http://www.oldbaileyonline.org
11th July 1787.))
In an article published in Australian Family Tree Connections, Alan
Hagenson makes a pretty good case for Elizabeth Selwyn being
with a 6th child when Thomas died.
(a) In the 1823-5 Muster, Elizabeth Rowley is said to be the mother
Eliza and Henry, Elizabeth Selwyn is listed as Elizabeth Silvin.
(b) On a couple of occasions, Henry gives his date of birth as 1806.
was not baptised in that year
(c) When Henry applied to marry Margaret Ellems in 1830, the
application is supported by John Lucas and opposed by Henry Briggs.
John and Henry are first generation Rowley husbands
(c) At his marriage in 1839 Henry is said to be living at
where the Rowleys have a property
(d) At his marriage, he states his father is Thomas, and his mother
Alan's very readable article should be read first hand. There is
obviously some connection there. Alan points to a few inconsistences
the facts, but it is pretty convincing. The name confusion is not
surprising. Elizabeth was bringing up the children on her own from
1806, and was probably illiterate. Does anyone
know? To read Alan's
article in full To contact Alan
Comment Les Rowley: If asked
take sides, I would give a fairly confident yes. Doubts:
(a) The same doubt as for Mary Muckle. Thomas was dying of
(b) One of the suggestions as to why Thomas came to Australia is
he came to keep an eye on a son or relative who was transported as a
convict. If this was the Thomas Rowley of the second fleet, it could
consistent with Alan's facts, but it seems unlikely. There is no
evidence for a connection.
(c) Another longshot with no evidence: Could Henry be Isabella's
brought up br Elizabeth? Isabella was to cause a minor scandal by
marrying William Ellison in May 1807 at age 14 and a half. Perhaps
had a child the year before?.
Farmer and Grazier
In his Cameo, Ian Ramage quotes P R Stephenson, The History
Description of Sydney Harbour (p 293)
“The first Merinos in Australia
brought to Sydney from Monterey, California, in April, 1793 in
Daedalus, a naval storeship. Of the six rams and twelve ewes that
shipped at Monterey in December, 1792, only one ram and three ewes
survived the passage. They were degenerate Spanish Merinos,
from stock that had been shipped from Spain to Mexico perhaps two
hundred years previously. They were acquired by Captain Thomas
a military officer who had a farm at Camperdown, on the Parramatta
Road, three miles west of Sydney. The pioneer of the Merino in
Australia, he built a flock from them, twelve years before John
Macarthur imported Merinos from the royal stud in England in 1805.
(Little or no research has been done by historians of the
wool industry in reference to the Daedalus sheep and Thomas
part in their acclimatization.)”
Thomas may well have done his place in history a disservce by his
answers to a survey organised by McArthur in August 1805 (again from
Cameo, originally from "Some Early Records of the MacArthurs of
Camden", MacArthur Onslow p 119).
any true bred Spanish Sheep in your Flocks?
I do not know.
2nd Do you endeavour to preserve the Spanish
Sheep pure and Unmixed with other Breeds ?
3rd What other Breeds of Sheep have you that
I am no Judge.
4th What Rams have you had in your Flocks and
whom and from what Country did you Obtain them ?
My first Ram was from California, and my second
Spanish Rams from Captain Waterhouse.
5th Do you think Breeding the Pure Spanish Sheep
be profitable to you as if you bred other kinds?
I do not know.
6th Do you think the Wool of all kinds of Sheep
Improved in this Colony?
I think it does.
7th How many Sheep do you possess at this time?
Males 219 and Females 300 - Total 519 Sheep.
8th How long do you suppose it will be before
whole Flock will be Increased to twice their present Number?
I do not know.
9th What means have you adopted to Improve the
Carcase and Fleece of your Wool?
It should be borne in mind that Thomas was probably very sick at the
time (He died within a year of consumption). To me though, it reads
like a typical farmer's response to a government survey. Claude
was Thomas Rowley's great great great grandson and a sheepfarmer,
when Elsie, Claude's wife saw the above, she said that is exactly
kind of answers Claude would have given.It might also be true that
MacArthur had the connections and self promoting ability to make
he got the credit anyway.
Merchant, and Simeon Lord
A couple of passages quoted by Ian Ramage in Cameo
“When I arriv'd in the Reliance at
Port Jackson in 1795, Simeon Lord was a Convict in the service of
Rowley of the New South Wales Corps or had just left him, either
time of servitude being out, or he was emancipated. From his good
conduct Capt. Rowley told him if he set him up in any business he
assist him; in consequence he commenced Baker & retailer of
spirituous liquors, & I am told he got himself taught to read
Captain Henry Waterhouse to Sir
Joseph Banks (Banks Papers. Brabourne Collection. Vol 4 pp 272/4
A 78 - )
Simeon Lord. He arrived in the
in August 1791 with nothing but a seven-year sentence. He was
to Captain Rowley and endeared himself to that gentleman by making
money for him, and also, in a quiet way, for himself. When he was
he owned two houses. It was a beginning. His manners were rough,
domestic morals far from strict, but he had drive and
"A History of
Australia'', Marjorie Barnard, p 125
For more information about Simeon Lord, go to http://belindacohen.tripod.com/lordfamily/
A couple of small extracts from a comprehensive discussion in Ian
11.03 In the
1788-1813 which encompasses Rowley's stay, the island outpost
comprised well behaved convicts and a small guard. It was not,
this period, regarded as being a place of further punishment or
banishment. This is not to say that by to-day's standards, cruelty
not often occur although it did not sink to the level of that
succeeded to the command on 12 November, 1799.
“It seems that by this time the
inhabitants' taste for liquor had become an increasing problem.
Lieutenant-Governor King mentioned in his 1796 report that some
convicts habitually bartered their clothing and other necessities
the settlers and soldiers for spirits. John Turnbull, who visited
island around 1801, also commented on the drunkenness of the
inhabitants, noting that some were often intoxicated for a week on
In 1799 the people suffered a period of ill-health, brought on,
according to the surgeon, by drinking spirits hot from the Norfolk
stills. Captain Rowley ordered the stills to be seized, and for
was indirectly threatened with prosecution by two of the owners. "
“Thomas Rowley, in spite of his
unwelcome efforts to enforce the sobriety of Norfolk’s citizens,
appears to have been a popular Commandant. He stated that at his
departure the principal inhabitants wrote a joint letter to the
Governor expressing their sorrow at losing him. He also earned a
or two of praise from the Governor: ‘I think it wright to add that
every account I have rec'd from thence that Captain Rowley's
administering the Government of that Island was much to his credit
the advantage of Government.' (96) But Captain Rowley stated
'I am £1,000 the worse for going to that island.'(97)” (98)
Quotes from Historical Records of
Thomas departed Norfolk Island June 1800, having resigned due ti ill
health. Elizabeth Selwyn presumably did not accompany him, as Mary
born Mar 1800 in Sydney.
Thomas Rowley's will was a big stuff
It was drawn up on 27 Feb 1805. When he died in May 1806, all his
executors were in England. This led to problems which ended with the
family eventually recovering possession of Burwood farm in 1837. See
the judgement in http://www.law.mq.edu.au/scnsw/Cases1836-37/html/jones_v_moore__1837.htm
For a discussion of the will in relation to Elizabeth Selwyn, go to
The following telegram is the last known communication received from
Thomas Rowley. It was received by my parents on their Golden
(thanks to Glenn Rowley)
Just about all the material here has been supplied by other
researchers, and we are very apprecitive of the gift they have given
(0) A search of the internet is dissapointing. The main Thomas
located is a poet, and references to our Thomas are brief.
(1) A Cameo of Captain Thomas Rowley – Ian Ramage. 200pps on Thomas
(2) Harvest of the Years, Dunlop.. History of the Sydney Suburb
Burwood. The land was originally granted to Thomas Rowley as a farm.
At the end are two maps showing the farm and the suburbs today.
(3) Merinos Myths and Macarthurs., J.C.Garran and L.White. Thomas
Rowley as one of the half dozen who introduced merino sheep to
(4) ADB Australian Dictionary of Biography
(5) Life and Work of the Pioneer Captain Thomas Rowley, Huntington,
(6) Fourth Fleet Families in Australia, Dr C J Smee
(7) The Convict Ships, Bateson.
The following researchers are happy to be contacted directly by
"Bob Venn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Alan C Hagenson" <email@example.com>
For mor information on the Lucas family, see
Email from Meaghan Bare
Meaghan Bare pointed out a
reference in the Surrey Archives to a sale of land by Thomas
Burwood Park in 1769. Copies of the documents werew obtained (detailed Analysis) Conclusion is it is not our
but it does strengthen the argument that the Australian Thomas
from this area . Glenis Crocker found a will
Thomas Rowley that looks very much like this Thomas
I was also
whether it might be worth asking these people to see whether
anything of Rowley, as they seem to have done a history of
Also have you
online, which seems to suggest Rowley imported the
thoroughbred horse to NSW. Quite a good story with the
carnival coming up!
If you have additions or corrections
this page, please contact us
7 Mar 2007 30
Oct 2008 16 Mar