The passage to Penrith – the story of Thomas Appledore, 1767 – 1841.
Thomas Appledore was baptised on Christmas Day 1767 at the Parish Church of St Stephen-by-Saltash in east Cornwall, across the River Tamar from Devonport Dockyard. His parents were Richard Appledore and Elizabeth née Rounsefield who were married May 4th 1753 also at St Stephens.
In 1792 Thomas married Ann Jagoe at the Parish Church of St Andrew, East Stonehouse, across the River Tamar in Devon, possibly because he was employed at the Victualling Yard at Devonport Dockyard.
The first child, Richard was baptised 3rd Nov. 1793 at St Stephen-by-Saltash, the original parish church of the locality, across the deep valley from Trematon Castle. But the second and third children were baptised “in town” at the church of St Nicholas and St Faith. Thomas was baptised there on 6th December 1795, and Ann Jagoe Appledore on Christmas Day 1798. All three children figure in this story later on.
The difference between these two churches is crucial for research: those from the main parish tend to be recorded on later censuses as having been born in “St Stephens”, whereas those from the the town appear on censuses simply as from “Saltash”. The records of both churches should be searched. It is also important to distinguish between St Stephens-by-Saltash and the other St Stephens-by-Launceston, which is further north.
Thomas worked as a Labourer in the Victualling Yards at Devonport Dock. Three paysheets record his wages. He earned £10.17s 4d for the first quarter of 1799, but the money was collected on his behalf on 22nd July, 1799 The paysheet also shows that unlike many of his fellow-workers he did not claim any lodging allowance. The second quarter he earned just £2.10s 4d – collected on his behalf in October. The third quarter the record reads: “Absent the whole time without leave”. [Public Record Office Ref: ADM42].
So what had happened?
It appears from a report in the Sherborne Mercury (available at the Bodmin Cornish Studies Library) that Thomas had been accused of stealing 22 shillings’ worth of copper sheathing from His Majesty’s Dockyard at Devonport. This was attached to the hull of sailing vessels to improve resistance to water penetration, and gives rise to the expression “a copper-bottomed guarantee”.
According to the Western Circuit Assize Records [PRO Ref: ASSI 23] Thomas Appledoore [note the spelling variation] was tried on 15th July 1799 at Exeter. There were three counts. However, he was found guilty of stealing only 19 shillings’ worth of copper. Whereas the next man on the charge sheet, George Taylor, was sentenced to be hanged for the theft of £4.13s 0d of Naval Stores, Appledore was luckier: he was sentenced to be transported beyond the seas for the term of seven years.
The Court issued a Transportation Order following the sentence, ordering Appledoore and a companion called Pawley/Poley to be sent beyond the seas for the term of seven years respectively for Grand Larceny, and committing them to the safe-keeping of two Justices of the Peace meanwhile.
Appledore and Pawley were committed to the prison at Exeter Castle – which can still be visited today. The Exeter Gaol Delivery – a list of prisoners held, their charges and sentences – for 17th March 1800 shows that Appledore, Poley and the unfortunate Taylor are held pursuant to their several sentences and orders.
While he was holding the prisoners at Exeter, the High Sheriff had to apply for funds to provide for them. Appledore is listed as having been kept from 17 July 1799 to 12th Feb 1800 – 30 weeks – at 2s 6d per week. Poley and Taylor also appear on the list. The following year’s application for funds, known as Sheriff’s Cravings – show that Appledore, Poley and others were put in the hulk on 19th June 1800. Taylor, poor fellow, had died in gaol on 16th November 1800.
The hulks were old, de-masted ships lying at anchor offshore. Where Appledore was sent is not recorded, nor have I been able to find evidence of hulks nearer than Portsmouth, to the east. They were overcrowded and insanitary prisons, where men were lucky if they survived. However, Thomas did survive those two months, to be transported to New South Wales in August 1800.
The Accounts Office [PRO Ref: AO3/291] records the charges made by Thomas Shelton for gathering transportees from gaols in the various counties of England onto the Convict Transport Vessel Earl Cornwallis. The date is August 26th 1800. One detail is familiar: by far the largest sums claimed were for Stamps and Paper. How little things change! The individual overseeing the transportation is John Wilsone of Basinghall Street in the City of London. It is he who empowers Thomas Shelton to make a contract with any suitable person for the transportation of the offenders.
A schedule attached to the empowerment gives the names of convicts assigned to the Earl Cornwallis. Each comes with his/her name, place and date of trial, destination and term of sentence.
Appledore and Poley/Pawley both appear.
Another record (PRO Ref: H11) gives a similar list.
Meanwhile, the impact of the sentence on Thomas Appledore’s family had been dramatic. His Wife, Anne (née Jagoe), and the three children Richard, Thomas and Ann Jagoe immediately became a charge on the Parish of St Stephens-by-Saltash. It would be thirteen years before the youngest, Ann Jagoe, disappeared from the churchwardens’ list in 1813.
Poor Relief records held at the County Record Office, Truro, show that for the first year after Thomas Appledore’s arrest, the Wife and three children cost the parish £10.9s 2½d. This included 8s 6d for three pairs of shoes; 1½d for thread; 2s 6d for “Relief”; and 6s.0d for Firing – presumably firewood.
During the following year, 1800-01 three pairs of shoes were tapped [sic] at a cost of 3s 9d. Firing had gone up to 8s 0d. In 1801-02, the three children’s names are mentioned. Richard’s shoes cost 4s 6d; Thomas’s 3s 9d, and Anne’s 3s 3d, a confirmation of their respective sizes according to age.
Richard, the oldest, disappears from the list in 1802, apprenticed by the Overseers of the Poor to George Pearce to learn Housewifry [sic]. From the date of apprenticeship his new master rather than the Parish became responsible for maintaining him. The second child, Thomas (my own direct ancestor) also disappears from the list, but I do not know where he went. He re-appears in 1825 when he marries Betty Crews, and remained in the parish of St Stephens to his death in 1866.
Ann, the youngest, remains a charge on the parish until mid-year 1812-13. She married Francis Plant in Portsmouth in 1820.
Thomas-the convict’s Wife, Ann, was re-married as a “widow” in Stoke Damerel, Devon, in 1802 to Peter Pascoe a mariner from HMS Cambridge.
Returning to Thomas, sent on the Earl Cornwallis to New South Wales: we know that he arrived via the Cape – i.e. Cape Town – in June 1801, a voyage of 10 months. We know that the Master of the Vessel was one Tennant. An early NSW Muster (PRO Ref: HO10) lists all the convicts in the colony, giving – again – their names, date of arrival, place and date of trial and term of sentence with the date of its completion. In addition under the picturesque heading How disposed of, details are given of the situation of the (former-)convict at the time of the Muster: listed by trade, or as landholder, or as in one case “Murdered by his wife”. It also stated whether the convict is still in the colony, or deceased.
The early events of Thomas’s time in NSW are unclear. His sentence of 7 years was due to be completed in 1806. However, already in July 1803 he was given a grant of 50 acres in the District of Evan as a “discharged soldier”. This may imply that he was recruited into the New South Wales Militia – a convict looking after other convicts – and was rewarded by reduction of sentence and grant of land. The List of Land Grants 1788 – 1809, page 134, signed by the then Governor Philip Gidley King, shows he is “I” = Industrious as opposed to “W.L” = Worthless and Lazy.
His Grant of Land is described in a list available on microfilm in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. It was given on 1st July 1803; rent of 2s 6d became payable exactly 5 years later. The location of the grant is given as : “Bounded on the W. Side by Westmore Farm on the River Nepean”.
If Thomas had indeed served as a soldier in the NSW Militia, he must have been regarded as in some degree trustworthy. This is further evidenced when he is employed by the Deputy Surveyor General, George Evans, as one of a party which ventured beyond the Blue Mountains in 1815 to explore the potential of the land there. They found rolling grassland, very suitable for pasture or cultivation. In addition the party discovered a new river, the Lachlan. At Philip’s Crossing, eight km northwest on the Billimari Road out of Cowra, NSW, stands an eight foot high granite stone, mounted with a brass plaque bearing the names of the whole party. Appledore features as “George Kane, alias Thomas Appledore”. The reason for the alias is a mystery. If anyone can explain it, I would be greatly indebted!
This was not Thomas’s only high spot in 1815. On 24th April he had been married to Susannah Davis, a fifteen year old (Thomas was 47!) born in the colony. They were married by the famous Anglican clergyman, Henry Fulton, with James Portsmouth and Marianne Field as witnesses. Thomas was the only member of the wedding party who could write. The others made their marks.
By the time the Muster of 1822 was taken, Thomas was well established at Birdseye Corner on the River Nepean. By this time he has 75 acres, 70 acres of which had been cleared. He was producing well – wheat, maize, and fruit – and running 50 hogs. He had at least one convict, surnamed Peneloc who had arrived on the Britannia, to assist him.
In December 1831, Appledore this time listed as “of Castlereagh” is assigned another convict to assist on his farm. (Return of Applications for Male Convicts, 1831).
Appledore’s acreage increased yet further. By 1832 a map (Ref AO 809) in the Surveyor General’s Office, Sydney shows he was farming 100 acres. Today this acreage forms part of the large gravel quarry on the north bank of the Nepean River. Part of his property may even have been incorporated into the 2000 Sydney Olympic Rowing Lakes. This has an additional personal connection: as a schoolteacher, Matthew Pinsent, the rowing gold medallist who partnered Andrew Redgrave, was once a pupil of mine!
Penrith Regional Library possesses a photograph, dated around 1863, of the slab house known as The Appledore House, built by Thomas – and possibly taken over by his eldest son, Richard. Saws were rare in the colony at this time. Timber had to be split lengthways by wedges. The resulting slabs of wood give rise to the term “slab house”, of which this is an example. I understand the house was standing until recently. Any further information on this point would be welcome.
Thomas Appledore died on October 22nd 1841, and was buried at the church of St Stephen at Penrith, described as a landholder. By his Will he divided his land equally among his three children. But the oldest, Richard, evidently bought out the share of the two siblings, and went across to Adelaide, then to Penrith to inherit the landholding.
Richard Appledore, Thomas’s oldest son, travelled as a free settler with his Wife, Mary Ann (née Hodge) on the Phoebe, arriving in South Australia on May 2nd 1846. It is stated in the arrival records that three children accompanied them: Emma, Thomas and John. Of these, John was drowned in the Nepean River in 1866; Thomas never married; and Emma married Robert Stone at Trinity Church, Adelaide in 1847. A member of the Stone family, Ken, was present at the Family History Conference in Penrith in April this year. The two of us look back to Thomas Appledore as a worthy ancestor.
With the death of the Thomas Appledore’s son, also called Thomas, this line of the Appledores died out. Another family of the Appledore line, descended from the same Richard and Elizabeth (née Rounsefield), (see above), arrived in 1849 in Adelaide on the David Malcolm. Their descendants are successful farmers in Victoria. In England there is just one Appledore family left.
Do I have any wishes now that I have seen Thomas’s memorial plaque at Cowra and his headstone at St Stephen’s, Penrith? Yes indeed: I noticed on my two visits in 1996 and 2002 that many of the early settlers are commemorated in street names. But not Thomas. He is named in brass in Cowra, but at Penrith, nothing to my knowedge. It would be a wonderful ending to my Appledore quest if that omission could be rectified someday, especially if I could be present at the opening!
Woking, Surrey, UK.
Bound for Australia, David T. Hawkings Phillimore UK 1987. An invaluable and indispensable route-map for convict research.
Dharug and Dungaree: Robert Murray and Kate White Hargreen Publishing Co. 1988. A valuable insight into conditions in Australia. It gives many details and names many individuals of the Evan/W indsor/Castlereagh/Penrith area. Fascinating.