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Judith Bidwell

Judith Bridewell, one of 94 convicts transported on the Surprize, February 1794

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Judith Bidwell
Aliases: Bridewell
Gender: f

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1774
Occupation: Servant
Date of Death: 26th August, 1855
Age: 81 years

Life Span

Life span

Female median life span was 57 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Stealing a watch
Convicted at: Middlesex Gaol Delivery
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Surprize
Departure date: February, 1794
Arrival date: 17th October, 1794
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 94 other convicts


Primary source: England and Wales Criminal Registers 1791-1892 Middlesex Oct 20th 1792
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

Anonymous on 14th July, 2012 wrote:

Judith BIDWELL (not Bridewell) was convicted 5 Nov 1794 at Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), London. Her crime was, "Stealing a metal watch with a tortoiseshell outside case, value 30s, the goods of Matthew Fisher"
(Transcript of trial is available at: http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17921031-54-defend518&div=t17921031-54#highlight)

Judith’s crime is recorded as taking place on 18 Oct 1792.  She was taken to Newgate Prison to await trial; the gaol book records her committal on 26 Sep 1792 (commitment No. 37) but given the date of offence, it seems more likely that she was imprisoned on 26 Oct.  Judith is described in the gaol register as: "aged 17 years, 5ft, hazel eyes, brown hair, fresh complexion, born in London, single woman".  The Middlesex Court sessions at the Old Bailey commenced on 31 Oct 1792 but Judith’s trial did take place until 5 Nov 1792.  She was found guilty and was sentenced to 7 years transportation.  After her trial she was returned to Newgate to await her voyage to NSW. 

Judith appears to have remained in the gaol for about 16 months; being discharged on 10 Feb 1794 for embarkation on the Surprize.  She was one of 59 female convicts onboard Surprize; there were 23 male convicts, 21 soldiers, 12 free passengers and 30 to 40 crew.  Surprize left the Thames in early March but did not sail from southern England until 2 May 1794.  Details of the voyage are recorded in Michael Flynn’ book; ‘Settlers and Seditionists, the people of the convict ship Surprize - 1794’.  It is described as an, "extraordinary voyage" with attempted mutiny and much ‘socializing’ between the soldiers and the mainly young female convicts.  The ship finally arrived at Sydney on 25 Oct 1794.

Shortly after the Surprize arrived at Sydney, Judith was living with William EVANS, who had arrived on the same ship.  Judith was probably William’s assigned servant but their relationship produced at least 5 children: Sarah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Charity & Samuel.  Their first child, Sarah was born on 19 Sep 1795 and her baptism is recorded in the register of St Philip’s, (CoE) Sydney on 4 Oct 1795 as the child of Judith Bridewell & William Evans.  Elizabeth, the next daughter’s baptism is recorded in the Parramatta register on 12 May 1798 or 1799 but it seems that the following two children were recorded in St Phillips at Sydney.  Each time the parents were recorded as Judith Bridewell & William Evans. 

Although William was a soldier, he too had been in prison.  According to Michael Flynn’s book, William is reported as enlisting in the NSW Corps (the Rum Corps) on 8 Jan 1793, after having previously been in the 1st Dragoon Guards.  He had been court martialled (probably for desertion) and was imprisoned in London’s Savoy Prison and was released to serve in the NSW Corps.  He, and other ex-prisoner soldiers, embarked on Surprize on 20 Jan 1794.  During the voyage, when conspiracy and a plot to murder was uncovered, William signed his X mark to a statement implicating the accused conspirators.  He, and a few other ‘Savoy soldiers’  had been, "stapled to the deck in double irons, exposed to the elements for several days" before making his statement.

Judith and William are listed in the various musters books from 1800 to 1811.  William was born abt Jan 1768 at Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, Wales and he died in 1811, aged 52 years.  His burial was recorded 17 Nov 1811 at St Phillips, Sydney.

Sometime after William’s death Judith’s children were placed in the care of the Orphan School in Parramatta and when the 1814 Muster was conducted, Judith was living with a former soldier, Richard FRYER (Frier) [102nd Regiment], who had arrived on the Salamander in 1791.  Richard spent some time on Norfolk Island and had owned land there but by 1814 he was a landholder in the Parramatta district.  Richard had arrived as part of the Third Fleet, on the Salamander 21 Aug 1791; he is believed to have been born in London, circa 1754/1760.

In the 1822 muster there is an entry for "Mrs Fryer" which gives Judith’s details, ie "free by servitude", by ship Surprize (2) and a sentence of 7 years.  She and Richard were recorded as living in the Liverpool district with 2 young sons (William & John Fryer - aged 7 & 12); Judith’s son, Samuel Evans appears to have also been living with them. 

By the 1823-1825 muster, Richard was a landholder at Minto and "Mrs Fryer" is with him and also their 2 sons, John and William Fryer.  Again, the census of 1828 shows:  Richard Fryer, Judith Fryer (free-served sentence) 54ys & William Fryer - 13yrs (born colony). The occupation of all three is given as, "farmer" and their residence was at Cobbitty, Cooke.

Richard died 26 Aug 1844, and is listed in the burial register as aged 90 yrs(?) [ie born circa 1754].  He was buried on 30 Aug in the churchyard of St Paul’s (CoE) at Cobbitty.  He was described as a veteran of Pomare Grove, which was a property at Cobbitty.  It seems Judith died on 26 August 1855 and was also buried in St Paul’s churchyard on 27 Aug.  The register entry is actually for an Elizabeth Fryer, with a stated age of 95 years; which is clearly overstated;  Judith would have only been about 80-81 years old.

Anonymous on 17th July, 2012 wrote:

Thank you for recording the information I submitted regarding Judith Bidwell.  However, I note that in one paragraph you have mis-quoted what I sent and as such it makes the information misleading, particularly for any future researcher.  In the following paragraph you have incorrectly substituted the name Bridewell where I had stated Bidwell; the actual parish baptism registers have the name BIDWELL, recorded.

This is the paragraph:  "Their first child, Sarah was born on 19 Sep 1795 and her baptism is recorded in the register of St Philip’s, (CoE) Sydney on 4 Oct 1795 as the child of Judith Bridewell & William Evans. Elizabeth, the next daughter’s baptism is recorded in the Parramatta register on 12 May 1798 or 1799 but it seems that the following two children were recorded in St Phillips at Sydney. Each time the parents were recorded as Judith Bridewell & William Evans."

Also, is there any possibility that a cross-reference (under Bidwell) can be added to your site so future researcher who know that the lady was actually Bidwell, will find the information.

Thanks, and thank you for a great site.

Christine Cannon on 2nd January, 2013 wrote:

Correct surname is Bidwell as recorded in UK and Australian official documents including criminal record, Transportation record, Convict Musters, childrens’ birth certificates etc.

Lea Katrina Knight on 8th February, 2017 wrote:

her death is recorded under Elizabeth FRYER

Convict Changes History

Christine Cannon on 2nd January, 2013 made the following changes:

source, surname Bidwell (prev. Bridewell), date of birth 1775, date of death 1855, gender, occupation

Carol Axton-Thompson on 2nd January, 2013 made the following changes:


Bob Hogan on 31st January, 2016 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1774 (prev. 1775), date of death: 26th August, 1855 (prev. 1855), occupation

This record was discovered and printed on ConvictRecords.com.au