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George Francisco, one of 262 convicts transported on the Lady Penrhyn, Scarborough and Alexander, January 1787
Name, Aliases & Gender
Birth, Occupation & Death
|Date of Birth:
|Date of Death:
life span was 53 years*
* Median life span based on contributions
Conviction & Transportation
Sentenced to 7 years
||Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 3. Records of the Od bailey. NSWBDM Deaths 1789: 119/1789 V1789119 2A. Secondary Records: Cassandra Pybus "Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia's First Black Settlers"
||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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Robin Sharkey on 19th January, 2018 wrote:
George Francisco was one of eleven black men of African heritage (so far identified) transported on the First Fleet.
He was probably aged only 19 or 20 years, given his age recorded at later date of transportation.
He was convicted at the Old Bailey on 8th December 1784 for stealing three linen shirts (3s), one pair of stockings (6d), and four guineas (£4 4s). He stole them on 6th November 1784 from a man named Alexander Andrews who Francisco said had alloeed him to sleep in his shop. Andrews found one of the shirts upon Francisco. As to the four guineas, the prisoner “had confessed to Samuel Greatrix, that he had taken” the money.
He told the court that he had been three years in a French prison, his Captain’s name was Collins, and he had received prize money at the India house..
What does this all mean?
Probably that he was homeless when in London and he’d been allowed by this Alexander Andrews to take shelter at night in his shop – December is after all in cold English winter.
He probably also was part of a ship’s crew, and saying that he’d been to the India House for prizemoney means the Headquarters of the East India Company, a grand building at that time located on the corner of Leadenhall and Lime Streets in London. This implies that he had been in a seaman’s job of some kind on a ship in the service of the East India Company and that his ship had captured an enemy ship (perhaps French?) and that the sailors had been given a share in the “prize” – i.e. any merchandise, good or value captured on another vessel.
He was probably kept in Newgate prison from December 1784 until May 1785. Other black African /American Convicts in Newgate until April 1785 were John Mosely, John Martin and Thomas Orford. They were in a group of 100 convicts sent from Newgate to the ‘Ceres’ hulk in April, in readiness for transportation to Africa. (See Pybus’ book. p 64)
In May 1785 George Francisco was also selected to be sent as transported convict to Africa:-
Letter dated 3 May 1785 of James Adair, Recorder of London, to Lord Sydney submitting a list of convicts sentenced and conveying his request for certain court orders to be prepared with the permission of the Privy Council ‘declaring’ and ‘directing’ the destination of transportation for these convicts. This list is a selection of prisoners who for their respective cases and ‘demeanour’ in prison are fit to be treated with severity.
Adair’s letter listed three groups of convicts, the second group being:
“2. Convicts sentenced for transportation beyond the seas for 7 years
Luke Rogers, Andrew Simms, Alexander Macdonald, Robert Freeman, Dennis Hayes, Edward Humphreys and George Francisco.”
In May 1785, pursuant to this letter, he would have ben taken before the old Bailey Bench and assigned to transportation to Africa; and sent to the “Ceres” hulk until then. [See Cassandra Pybus book above]
However, these convicts were not sent to Africa and instead were assigned to the First Fleet a couple of years later. Francisco would have stayed on the “Ceres” hulk until then.
Also on the Ceres Hulk with him were two more black African heritage convicts (additional to the above three) destined for the First Fleet. Presumably they formed friendships, being notably different to the other convicts on board. these additional two were Caesar and Janel (“Jack”) Gordon.
The Ceres was not a place where convicts would come off well and strong! Its diet was conducive to scurvy and illness and living arrangements were damp and confined. Sixty men died on “Ceres” between July and Decemebr 1785 - probably mostly typhus.
Francisco may have already been weakened from having spent three years in a French prison. He then had two years on the Ceres and the trip in the hold of “Scarborough” sailing to NSW. Is health must have been poor when he arrived in NSW.
‘SCARBOROUGH’ First Fleet
From ‘Ceres’ he was transferred to Portsmouth where the ship ‘Scarborough’ lay. They were put in a wagon, chained by neck and ankles to other prisoners.
He was recorded as aged 24 years on the Scarborough’s departure in 1787.
On arrival, by April 1788 Collins expressed concern about the number of convicts with scurvy. Rations were being limited.
It is very probable that poor George Francisco, who shoud ave ben healthy and strong being in his prime of young manhood would have had scurvy. He died the year after arrival, In August of 1789.
Surgeon White recorded in his diary in October 1789 that over 100 convicts had died of scurvy since departure from England.
Convict Changes History
Robin Sharkey on 19th January, 2018 made the following changes:
source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 3. Records of the Od bailey. NSWBDM Deaths 1789: 119/1789 V1789119 2A. Secondary Records: Cassandra Pybus "Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Austr