I’ve lost track of con­vict an­ces­tor

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q&A - Sylvia Mur­phy

QMy 5x great grand­fa­ther, John Car­ruthers (b26 March 1747 in Mous­wold, Dum­fries) was trans­ported to New South Wales on the con­vict ship Bri­tan­nia on the third fleet in 1791. He is listed as John Car­ruthers, alias Irv­ing, his mother’s maiden name. I know that he ar­rived safely, but can­not find any trace of him af­ter he left the ship. I have ex­hausted ev­ery av­enue. Can any­one help please?

Grace Smith, by email

AWhen John Car­ruthers was trans­ported to Aus­tralia in 1791 for seven years af­ter be­ing con­victed for theft of bread, he was aged about 43 and left a fam­ily.

Com­pre­hen­sive records of con­victs in Aus­tralia from ar­rival of the First Fleet in 1788 can be found on Ances­try. State Records of New South Wales has some free con­vict datasets and im­ages at

bit.ly/1EfZfDv. A search of Sen­tenced Be­yond the Seas 1788-1801 con­firms John Car­ruthers (alias Irv­ing) was trans­ported on the Bri­tan­nia, hav­ing been con­victed at the Pen­rith Quar­ter Ses­sions in Oc­to­ber 1790.

The com­bined con­vict data­base has no men­tion of John Car­ruthers. Search­ing for John Irv­ing finds a man par­doned in De­cem­ber 1791. This can’t be our John as it was only two months af­ter his ar­rival. The Bi­o­graph­i­cal Data­base of Aus­tralia ( bda-on­line.org.au), a work in progress, brings to­gether tran­scripts and in­dexes of orig­i­nal records and bi­ogra­phies of de­ceased per­sons in Aus­tralia from set­tle­ment. Life event records are linked to cre­ate a Bi­o­graph­i­cal Re­port. Un­for­tu­nately linked to John Car­ruthers, was the John Irv­ing who ar­rived on the First Fleet’s Lady Pen­rhyn, re­ceived a grant of land in 1792 and was buried at Par­ra­matta on 13 Septem­ber 1795.

No men­tion of John

Car­ruthers ap­pears in the Colo­nial Sec­re­taries’ cor­re­spon­dence, His­tor­i­cal Records of Aus­tralia or His­tor­i­cal Records of New South Wales, which are tran­scrip­tions of let­ters to and from early Gov­er­nors, avail­able on ar­chive.org. He is not in the 1800 muster book or any­where else af­ter ar­rival.

John Car­ruthers ei­ther died or left the Colony of New South Wales prior to 1800. Michael Flynn, au­thor of The Se­cond Fleet: Bri­tain’s Grim Con­vict Ar­mada of 1790, agrees he may have died un­recorded

on the Bri­tan­nia or in the Colony. He may also have at­tempted to make his way home af­ter ex­pi­ra­tion of his sen­tence, ei­ther by stow­ing away or as a sailor, but he does not ap­pear in lists of con­victs who made land­fall in Cal­cutta.

The 1791 con­vict reg­is­ter for the Bri­tan­nia in­cludes John Car­ruthers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.