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Thomas Gilberthorpe

Thomas Gilberthorpe, one of 404 convicts transported on the Pitt, June 1791

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Thomas Gilberthorpe
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1758
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 1848
Age: 90 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 58 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Theft~simple larceny
Convicted at: Old Bailey
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Pitt
Departure date: June, 1791
Arrival date: 14th February, 1792
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 402 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 161 (82)
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

Tony Marter on 21st December, 2012 wrote:

Convicted together with accomplice, Laurence M’Kenzie on 16th February 1791 at the Old Bailey for stealing “On the 3rd February, 1791, three cornelian stone seals, set in gold, value 3 l. one gold watch key, value 10 s. the property of Samuel Thornton”, Prosecutor, at the Court of King’s Bench, Westminster Hall, Middlesex, London.

D Wong on 22nd December, 2012 wrote:

Had a farm at Pitt Town.

1810: Held the first licence for an inn at Pitt Town.

Had 3 children with Mary Ann Stevenson/Stevens/Smith, a convict from Ireland who arrived on the Francis and Eliza 1815.  Mary Ann was 7 months pregnant when she arrived, the father of the child was a sailor on the Francis and Eliza.  Mary Ann then had a relationship with Isaac Gowlett, and had 3 children with him, but left him and became a housekeeper for Thomas, who was 40 years older than her.  She arrived with her youngest child, 2 months old, and left the other children with Isaac.  Her first child she applied to be put in the orphanage.

By this time Thomas was free and had become a properous farmer.  Mary Ann also left Thomas eventually, and went on to have other relationships.

1828 Census: Thomas Gilberthorpe, age 50, per William Pitt 1792, Farmer, free by servitude.  Sentence 7 years.  Protestant - Pitt Town.
120 acres; cleared 120; cultivated 120; horses 1; cattle 50; sheep; others.

1841 Census: North Shore, Parish/Willougby, County Cumberland, Syd.

1848: Died aged 90.

Phil Hands on 27th August, 2017 wrote:

Tried and convicted at the Old Bailey on 16th February 1791 for stealing 3 cornelian stone seals, set in gold, and 1 gold watch key, the property of Samuel Thornton, sentenced to transportation for 7 years.
Left England on 7th July 1791.
Ship:- the ‘Pitt’ sailed with 352 male and 58 female convicts on board of which 20 males and 9 females died during the voyage, also 5 male convicts were said to have escaped.
Arrived on 14th February 1792.

Thomas bought John Fenlow’s riverside farm at Pitt Town Bottoms and married Mary McCarty by 1806
in 1805 Gilberthorpe purchased a boat for £80. As agent for a high-flying Sydney ex-convict trader, Thomas Abbott, he began trading and receiving wheat as payment for goods.
Immediately after Thompson’s death, but again following Thompson’s lead, Gilberthorpe ventured into inn-keeping. Macquarie’s 1811 decree for settlers to live in the newly created township of Pitt Town, was acted upon by Gilberthorpe who sold his vessel to fund a brick pit and kiln, not just to make bricks for his new inn and nearby grazing premises, but to supply bricks to those who, like himself, meant ‘to occupy those town lands’.
This was the original Pitt Town on the ridge behind today’s township, which was abandoned by 1815 as the present site developed instead. Thomas Gilberthorpe may not have finished this inn, but he advertised for two sawyers ‘to cut Timber for Building contiguous to Pitt Town’, giving his address as ‘Cottage Farm’, Hawkesbury.
Gilberthorpe’s troubles began when he added gunpowder to his sales, having to prove it was not done ‘improperly’. When Abbott died in 1812, Abbott’s executors took Gilberthorpe to court to retrieve the substantial amount of 1000 pounds owed for the goods, not allowing the agreement that the amount should be paid in wheat.
Not only did Gilberthorpe survive financially, but in 1814 Macquarie praised him as ‘the only Settler in the Colony who last year delivered into the Store the Complete quantity [of wheat] he had tendered at the Stipulated rate’. This reflected Thompson’s efforts four years before, in supplying grain for Macquarie, rewarded with the colony’s first ex-convict magistracy.
Whilst applauded by the governor for his efforts, Gilberthorpe was accused by the ministers Robert Cartwright and Samuel Marsden of collecting the wheat by charging high prices, and ‘turning it into the Store at a great profit to himself’. However, Macquarie accused them of seeking to profiteer by withholding their own grain to drive up prices, while retaining his high opinion of Gilberthorpe.
The Pitt Town farmer went on to expand into grazing properties just like his role model, Andrew Thompson, Thomas had become a prosperous man.
In 1823 Thomas employed,  as his servant and housekeeper, Mary Ann Stephens, a convict from Ireland who had arrived on the ‘Francis and Eliza’ in 1815, she had had a relationship with another convict Isaac Gowlett (‘Ganges’ 1797) that produced 3 daughters, she took her infant daughter Maria, who was still suckling, leaving Fanny aged 5 and Sarah aged 2 with Isaac.
Although Thomas was 40 years her senior, the union produced 3 sons.

Mary died on 3rd January 1846 aged 52 at Lane Cove, Sydney.

Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 7th January 1846 p. 3
On Monday evening, two inquests were held in Leburn’s public house, the first was on a female whose body had been found in the water, near Onions’s Farm, in the Lane Cove district, on Saturday last. It was proved that the name of the deceased was Mary Ann Gilberthorpe, and Mr. Surgeon Cuthill deposed that her death had been caused by drowning , but as there was no evidence to show how the body got into the water, a verdict of found drowned was recorded.

Thomas Gilberthorpe died in 1848 aged 90.

Phil Hands on 27th August, 2017 wrote:

Old Bailey Trial Transcription.
Reference Number: t17910216-19

118. LAURENCE M’KENZIE and THOMAS GILBERTHORPE were indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 3d of February , three cornelian stone seals, set in gold, value 3 l. one gold watch key, value 10 s. the property of Samuel Thornton .
The case opened by Mr. Garrow.
I am a corn dealer in Mark-lane. On the 3d of February, Thursday, I took a boat, and came to Westminster-hall; and I went to the Court of King’s Bench door, the Bail door, and could not get in there; and then I went to the curtain, and the first person I saw there was Mr Peatt; he had the curtain in his hand, and made way for me to put in my head; nobody was behind the curtain but myself and Mr. Peatt: the court was so full I could not get any further than the curtain: I said to Mr. Peatt, how do you do, Sir? he said, how do you do, Mr. Thornton? I will make room for you, and I held the curtain with my hand, to keep the curtain from hurting Mr. Peatt; and in a moment I felt a pressure on my groin, and then put my left hand under my right waistcoat pocket, and missed my seals; I thought my watch was gone; then I put down my right hand: I had three seals and a key hanging to my ribbon, which were gone; but I afterwards found I had not lost my watch; but thinking I had, the first word I said was, my God! I have lost my watch; and I said, Mr. Peatt, will not you assist me. and then I found an arm under my right hand waistcoat pocket, which I seized; I kept hold of the hand, and never let it go for some time; I observed it belonged to Mackenzie, as I found his name was afterwards; I said, you have got my watch; he said, I have not; at that moment of time I observed a boy came from under my legs; that was Gilberthorpe; I secured him, and said, you have got my watch, as I said to the other; and he said, no, I have not; I then said, you have got my watch, to which he said either I or we (I am not certain which, but I think it was I) have not got your watch, you have got your watch, and I found my watch quite down at the bottom of my fob, which is very deep: Mr. Peatt was standing by me; and I said, good God! will not you help me? and then he left me; there was nobody else present but me and Mr. Peatt, and the two prisoners, at the time I kept holding the two prisoners, about three minutes; at last a gentleman came out of court, and said, what is the matter, Sir? I said, I will thank you for your protection, Sir: I could get no farther; and immediately I heard something drop; I did not observe who it dropped from; I rather think from Gilberthorpe; and I saw my seals on the ground; I picked them up, and took care of the lads; they were mine; three cornelian stone seals, set in gold, and a gold watch key; I have had one of the seals this four or five and twenty years; and the other two, two and twenty years; I went into court and Lord Kenyon committed the two prisoners: nobody was by at the time the seals were picked up but the two prisoners and Mr. Martyr; the seals and key were cut away from the watch: I received a letter that night from Mr. Dalton, of the Crown Office, to send them to him; I sent them by my servant, and he brought them back: I am sure they are mine.
Mr. Knowlys, Prisoners Counsel. You pushed very much to get in? - Yes; to hear Judge Buller; he was speaking: I suppose I was three or four minutes, when I felt a tickling on the lower part of my belly: nobody was near me but Mr. Peatt; nobody was near me by a couple of yards.
Who passed you or came near you during the time you observed what passed? - I did not observe any body, nor any body to come to look into the court: I had the curtain in my hand.
Who was standing by the curtain? - Mr. Peatt, and I the outside of him.
Were there not persons looking on the outside of the curtain as well as himself? - No; there could not; I did not see any body; they could not peep in: they could not look without my feeling it.
Any body trying to come in would of course have pushed you? - Then of course I should have looked.
That is not the way to answer? - I felt no push.
Was not Mackenzie at the time you felt the push coming in? - I felt some sort of tickling at the bottom of my belly.
Would not his trying to come into court have given you that same sort of sensation? - No; it would not: my arm was up: the waistband of my breeches was extended: Mackenzie was on my side; I was nearest to the hall: nobody could come behind me and the curtain all before me: my back was out of the door: I stood fronting the door.
With the curtain in your left hand, and he came to your right hand? - I cannot answer you any other, was I to stand here eight and forty hours.
You are not new to this court; you have attended here very often: give me a plain answer; first of all, was his hand under your pocket? was it as my hand is now? - I caught his arm close to my side; his left hand next to my side.
Was the hand under your waistcoat? - Yes; it was; the hand was not clear off my hip bone.
Mackenzie made no answer about having your watch, as Gilberthorpe did? - He did not. I will not swear from whom the seals fell; but if I was inclined to swear, I should swear that they came from Gilberthorpe, because he kept fumbling: Mackenzie had only one hand at liberty; if he had any thing he could not have got rid of it only with one hand: I heard the seals fall.
How long have you had that string? - About five months; I cannot see that it was cut at all.
Jury. Could not you find that it was cut? - No.
Court. At the time you say this ribbon was cut you say that the seals dropped off; there must have been knots to tie the seals.
Mr. Knowlys. There is no part of the ribbon that can shew us by the sight of it, whether they fell from wear, or whether they fell from cutting? - No; there is not. I saw no piece of ribbon upon the ground: they did cut both ribbons: I told Lord Kenyon I did not see the piece of ribbon: I saw no ribbon with the seals: I am sure it was cut double, because I carried the watch, and held it up in the court; it was cut strait off; even; both parts alike.
I understand you to say, that there was this remarkable difference in the answers of the two persons; when you charged Mackenzie he said, I have not your watch; when you charged Gilberthorpe he said, Sir, I have not your watch, you have your watch: did he assign any reason to you, or say how he came under your legs? - No, Sir; he said, let me go; I am a very good lad; I am son to an apothecary in Shoe-lane.
JOHN MARTYR , Esq; sworn.
On the 3d of February, the day mentioned in the indictment, I was in the Court of King’s Bench, just within the court; there was a considerable scuffle; a noise without the curtain; which I suppose continued two or three minutes; I went out of the court and saw Mr. Thornton, the prosecutor, very much agitated; I said, what is the occasion of this noise? Mr. Thornton said, I have been robbed, and that the two people that were near him, who were the prisoners, were the people that had taken his watch; I particularly observed the string of his watch hanging out of his pocket; and I particularly observed that the string appeared to have been cut, and that there was no knot, and that I am positive of: he immediately took his hand out of his waistcoat pocket, and said, God bless me! here is my seals, my watch is safe; to the best of my recollection; I will not be positive: he hardly knew what he did: I think, to the best of my recollection, I saw him stooping when I came out of the court, but I will not be positive; and when he said, I had been robbed! I have lost my watch, I observed the string of his watch hanging out of his pocket; and I am perfectly satisfied there was no knot to it: I said, secure the people, and bring them into court; and they were taken into court immediately after.
Mr. Knowlys. At the time you saw him, you say, you think he was so confused he did not know what he was about? - He did not.
I am tipstaff to Lord Kenyon. I searched Gilberthorpe by the desire of the court; I found a large clasp knife upon him: I have had it ever since.
Mr. Knowlys. Nothing was found on Mackenzie? - No.
Court. Did you find this knife open or shut in his pocket? - Shut.
That knife opens with two blades, one of which seems to open with great difficulty, and the other is so blunt it is a doubt whether it would cut a ribbon, or any thing.
Mr. Thornton. A man with a silver-laced hat said, there are your seals. There were five or six persons; a great many offered me assistance.
Who said, there are the seals? - A person a yard from me.
Was that the servant? - Yes.
Why, I thought there had been nobody with Mr. Martyr? - No more there was at first. At the moment the seals dropped, they heard them, and said, Sir, there is your seals; it was a stout man, in a silver-laced hat.
Prisoner Mackenzie. I leave it to my counsel.
The prisoner Mackenzie called three witnesses to his character.
On the 3d of February, about eleven in the morning, I was at that end of the town; I had heard the water had overflowed Westminster Hall, and that the lawyers were obliged to be taken out in boats; my father and me went: he had some business that way: I found it was no such thing, but it had been so; but they were emptying it out from Westminster Hall: the people said, it would be so again at four, when the tide came up: my father told me not to stop: I was going to return, and coming through the Hall there were some people pulling the green curtain back; I went to listen too; I asked Mr. Thornton what it was? he said, it was a trial about some dollars; he did not listen to me after; he was listening to the trial: I was trying to push the curtain, to get my head in as well as Mr. Thornton, to see; and he turned round, and laid hold of me, and said, I had taken his watch from him; and then he laid hold of this young man; says he, you have got my watch? I said, no; he said, you have my seals, and they were on the floor, and he picked them up; I was searched, and stopped, and sent to Newgate; we went to the publick house, where we had something to eat; I gave the gentleman the knife; presently came in Mr. Thornton and a lawyer; he said, he had done what he had; he said, he should be very glad if he could have my boots pulled off, for there might be some other property in the boots; but the constable said, there was no room convenient; and they were pulled off there, and nothing was found in them.
Court to Thornton. Did you hear any conversation between the two prisoners while you was at the door? - No.
Did Gilberthorpe say any thing to you? - No.
Were the seals nearer to the prisoner than to you? - We all stood of a row: the men were near me.
The prisoner Gilberthorpe called one witness to his character.
Transported for seven years .
Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

Convict Changes History

Tony Marter on 21st December, 2012 made the following changes:

gender, crime

D Wong on 22nd December, 2012 made the following changes:

date of birth 1778, date of death 1848

D Wong on 23rd December, 2012 made the following changes:

date of birth 0000, date of death 0000

Phil Hands on 27th August, 2017 made the following changes:

convicted at, date of birth: 1758 (prev. 0000), date of death: 1848 (prev. 0000)

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