Our Hodgetts Family Saga-Thomas Hodgetts, 1795,Sydney

I have previously blogged about convict weddings Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts were witness to.

See Our Hodgetts Family Saga Thomas Hodgetts,1790, Sydney posted 31 May 2020


Our Hodgetts Family Saga Harriet Hodgetts,1790, Sydney posted 8 June 2020


Our Hodgetts Family Saga – Thomas Hodgetts,1792, Parramatta. posted 13 July 2020

The above marriages were mentioned in John Cobley’s series of books about the early settlement in New South Wales and ‘The Brave Old Pioneers: the story of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts and their family, by Richard Hodgetts.

However, this marriage is one of several documents I have recently located about Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts and their life in Australia. To my knowledge, this marriage is a new document for our Hodgetts family and has not been mentioned in any published works.

His Excellency, John Hunter Esq, the second Governor of the Colony of New South Wales sailed into Port Jackson on 7th September 1795 on board the HMS Reliance. [1] It had been nearly five years since he had left the infant colony under Governor Philip. He assumed his office on the 11th September taking over from Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson.

One of his first official duties was to give permission for the marriage of the convicts James Richards and Margaret Williams. This took place at St Phillip’s, Sydney on Wednesday 16 September 1795. Rev Richard Johnson officiated and Thomas Hodgetts and Sarah Bond were the witnesses.[2]

Thomas Hodgetts was the only one to sign the register. All the others in the wedding party signed with their X mark.

Comparing this signature with that of his wedding entry to Ann Duce in the Wednesbury Marriage Parish Register helps our claim this is the same person.

The references for this marriage in the index on the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages for New South Wales website is:-



311/1795 V1795311 3A; RICHARDS JAMES to WILLIAMS MARGARET at CA [3]

As I have indicated before,  this was only the beginning, not the end of my research when I transcribed these records.

How did I use these records to further my research into the lives of our Hodgetts ancestors?

Remember our ancestors lived complex lives and their family and friends played an important part. As Sydney was a convict settlement the Government officials also played a part and greatly influenced where and how our ancestors lived.

James Richards.

There was only one man of this name in the colony at this time. He had arrived in the First Fleet in 1788. Originally he had been sentenced to death at Launceston, Cornwall, England for horse stealing but was later reprieved and transported for seven years on the Scarborough on the First Fleet.

He married Ann Everitt of Lady Juliana on 26 July 1790.

After the completion of his sentence, James Richards was one of those convicts granted 30 acres of land on the Hawkesbury River.

By 1800 Muster Richards owned 12 pigs and had ten acres of his grant under wheat and had the rest cleared and ready for maize. He and Ann were off government stores and had no children or servants.

James and Ann Richards can be traced through subsequent Musters and Census until his death in 1831. His wife Ann died in 1837.[3]

Returning to the marriage which was solemnized on 16 September 1795. I believe ‘James Richards’ should read as ‘James Roberts’. Given the circumstances, at the time of the change-over of Governors, I believe it would have been very easy to get these names confused.

James Roberts was sentenced at Middlesex in 1787 for larceny to seven years transportation. He embarked on the William and Ann in the Third Fleet. This ship carried 188 male convicts and arrived in Sydney on 28 August 1791. After completing his sentence he received a Land Grant at Mulgrave Place on the Hawkesbury river on 3 November 1794 and is believed to have taken it up the following year.[4]

Margaret Williams was sentenced to seven years transportation at Bristol Quarter Sessions in 1788 for theft. She embarked on the Lady Juliana in 1789 and arrived in Port Jackson on 3 June 1790. After marriage, this couple is believed to have settled on the Hawkesbury River.

In the 1800 Muster, they were on the Hawkesbury. They were recorded there in the 1806 Muster with one male child. At this time James Roberts had purchased 15 acres which he had under wheat. He also had one horse and six female hogs. This family can be found in subsequent Musters and they are recorded at Windsor in the 1822 Muster.[5]

Thomas Hodgetts was implicated in a robbery in 1787 in Staffordshire and was sentenced to 7 years transportation. He embarked on the Scarborough in the Second Fleet in 1790. After a few months in Sydney, he moved to Parramatta with Harriet, a free woman who arrived on the Neptune claiming to be his wife. After their first two children were born they moved back to Sydney.

1795 was a big year for Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts. Their eldest daughter Mary died in April aged two years. Another daughter was born in April and on Sunday 13th September 1795, Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts had this daughter baptized at St Philip’s, Sydney as  “Mary Maria”. She had been named after their eldest daughter who had died a few months before. The Richards/Roberts-Williams wedding took place a few days after the baptism of their daughter.[6]

Sarah Bond had been convicted of grand larceny in London and sentenced to seven years transportation on 23 May 1792. She was 38 years of age and was the wife of William Bond and they had at least three children when she was convicted. She arrived in Sydney on the store-ship Bellona on 16 January 1793 with seventeen other female convicts. She was assigned as a servant to William Brodie the Superintendent of Blacksmiths of the Colony. Although Thomas Hodgetts had completed his sentence he was still effectively under William Brodie’s control concerning his employment.[7] We believe Sarah Bond was a close friend of the Hodgetts family as she crossed paths with them in other colonial documents.

Rev Richard Johnson.

He was a Church of England clergyman ordained in England in 1784. In 1786 he received a Royal Warrant appointing him chaplain to the new colony in New South Wales. Shortly afterward he married Mary Burton at Islington, London on 4 December 1786. They embarked a few months later in the Golden Grove in the First Fleet.

Soon after arrival the Rev Johnson held his first service and continued to do whenever and wherever he could. These he carried out in tents, barns, or even under trees when a building was not available. He also carried out baptism, marriage, and burial services and entered them into his private register. Later he sent a list to the Governor’s Office of all baptisms, marriages, and burials.

Johnson was known for his care and interest in the convicts and often gave articles and food for their comfort from his own stores brought out from London in a private capacity.

Although Governor Phillip required the convicts to attend Sunday service, he was reticent to build a church as he felt all the Government building projects should be to house and feed the colony.

By 1793, Johnson was so frustrated by the lack of progress towards the building of a church that he undertook this project himself and paid for the materials and labour for the church to be built. It was a wattle and daub construction at what is now Richard Johnson Square at the intersection of Bligh and Hunter Streets. Unfortunately, this was burned down in 1798. The Governor had it replaced with a larger and more substantial building.

Johnson was also concerned about the lack of facilities for the education of colonial children and established schools in Sydney and later Parramatta. He also travelled to Norfolk Island when he could for the spiritual care of the convicts there.

Johnson and his family remained in the colony for nearly ten years before he asked to be returned home to England citing ill health. The family left by the Buffalo in September 1800.[8]]

View of Sydney Cove / painted by Thomas Watling1794-1796?

From <https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/collection-items/view-sydney-cove-painted-thomas-watling>

Although this marriage is not mentioned in ‘The Brave Old Pioneers 1788-1988 by Richard Hodgetts, this book is still available for purchase from the author. Those interested can contact me by leaving a request in the comments box below and I will happily pass on the message.

A list of my references is available to family members and interested researchers on application. Please leave a request in the comments box below indicating your interest.


2 thoughts on “Our Hodgetts Family Saga-Thomas Hodgetts, 1795,Sydney

    • It is interesting to have a glimpse into our ancestors’ lives over 220 years ago. Some people especially convicts have a big paper trail because they were in trouble or were big movers in the colony. Our Hodgetts not so much, so every little helps.

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