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Henry Hayes

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Henry Hayes
Aliases: Sir Henry Brown Hayes, Sir Harry
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1762
Occupation: Gentleman
Date of Death: 1832
Age: 70 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 57 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: -
Convicted at: Cork County
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Atlas
Departure date: 29th November, 1801
Arrival date: 7th July, 1802
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 199 other convicts


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Community Contributions

Eric Harry Daly on 26th December, 2012 wrote:

Sir Henry Brown Hayes was convicted of kidnapping and sentence to hang but was later commuted to transportation for life.


  In July 1797, Sir Henry heard that a lapsed young Quaker heiress, Mary Pike had recently inherited ?20 000, from her late father the banker Richard Pike and that she was now residing at “Woodhill”, her Uncle Cooper Penrose’s house in Cork. Sir Henry at this juncture in his life, widowed, with an insensitive “buck’s” gamblers mentality and living far beyond his means, concluded that abducting the heiress and marrying her was the simplest way of finding him a young wife and ?20 000 of spending money.

  Never having met the heiress before, Sir Henry invited himself to Cooper Penrose’s garden. Cooper who at that stage was still a stranger to him invited him to stay for dinner and that’s where he met Mary Pike for the first time. Two weeks later according to the court transcripts, Sir Henry obtained a handwriting sample of the doctor treating Mary’s mother Mrs. Pike and forged a note in his handwriting stating that Mary’s mother, Mrs. Pike had “suddenly taken suddenly ill”.

The note was duly delivered to Mary at the Penrose house late on the rainy night of the 22nd of July, 1797. Mary alarmed by her mother’s sudden illness, immediately ordered a carriage to take her to her mother in Cork. Her cousins, Miss Ann Penrose and Mrs. Ann Pike came with her for moral support. They set out for Cork well after midnight and when they were about halfway there, the carriage was held up by four or five men, one of whom was masked, on horseback and brandished a gun.  One man ran towards Mary’s carriage, cut the traces holding it to the horse, while the masked man reached inside the carriage and pulled Mary out.  He then transferred her to a waiting carriage where inside was a strange lady, Sir Henry’s sister.
The carriage drove off and when it reached “Vernon Mount”, it was Sir Henry who opened the carriage door. He reached inside and lifted Mary out, removed the handkerchief covering his face[i]  and carried her up the steep wet path into his house.
a Justice of the Peace , read as follows “the informant saith she was taken out of the said carriage Mary Pike in her deposition given in Cork on the 22nd of July, 1797 to Jasper Lucas Esq., by the said Hayes, and led into the said house called Vernon Mount, where informant had not long continued when said Hayes brought a man dressed like a clergyman into the room where informant was in the company of two women , to informant unknown, and said Hayes there and then , at Vernon Mount aforesaid, by threatening to shoot himself and such language the will and consent of informant, and forcibly, unlawfully and felonously against the statue in such case made and provided, did force a ring on one of the fingers of the informant, whilst the man dressed in the habit of a clergyman( who informant heard was a priest) read some ceremony part in a language unknown to informant but which she believes to be French, which the said Hayes called a marriage ceremony, on forcing of which ring on the finger on the informant, informant screeched, and immediately after said Hayes drew a pistol from his pocket and flung it on a chair near him…….”

Once the “marriage ceremony “was over, Sir Henry forced a wedding ring onto Mary’s finger which she furiously tore off and threw away. Sir Henry’s response was to push her into an upstairs room and force her towards a bed and then in Mary’s words he “behaved rudely to her”. What Sir Henry did to Mary inside the room remains unclear, perhaps he tried to consummate the “marriage” as the ballads hinted but once he was rejected by her, he desisted with his advances, gave Mary a pen and paper and told her to write to Cooper Penrose informing him of her whereabouts. Sir Henry instructed her to sign the note “Lady Hayes” and Mary wrote the note but signed it Mary Pike. It was necessary for Sir Henry to consummate the marriage because only by doing so, would she feel too embarrassed to add rape to the abduction charge and prefer marriage to shame. When Mary continued to resist his advances, he may have desisted, locked her in the room and fled in panic.

Cooper Penrose received the note shortly before daybreak and by eight that morning he arrived at “Vernon Mount” with the Sheriff, the High Constable and several of his men. A very embarrassed Atwell Hayes, Sir Henry’s father, met them at the front door. Sir Henry and his sister (Ann Catherine) could not be found, they had fled from “Vernon Mount”.
Sir Henry was declared an outlaw which meant that he could be shot on sight. A government reward of £200 was offered for his capture and ?50 for each of his accomplices. He was described in the reward notice printed in the “Hibernian Chronicle” of 24th July, 1797,” as “ The said Sir Henry Browne Hayes was lately a Lieutenant in His Majesty’s Regiment Of Militia, commanded by Lord Doneraile, is straight-made, rather fresh colored, a little pock marked, and brown hair, with remarkable whiskers, about 5’7” high, and about forty years old”
Richard Pike, Mary’s uncle and executor of her fathers will, determined to catch Sir Henry, issued his own reward notice offering an extra 500 guineas to any person “that shall lodge the said Sir Henry Browne Hayes, within six calendar months, in any of his Majesty’s gaols, in this kingdom, .........one hundred guineas for each and every of his accomplices.
After two years as an outlaw Sir Henry decided to surrender himself and face trial. He chose Charles Coghlan’s place of business (his barber and perfumer) to turn himself in to the authorities because Charles Coghlan was a fellow Freemason and secretary of his Lodge No. 71.. Sir Henry wanted someone of his choosing to claim Richard Pike’s five hundred guineas reward. It was his gift to his friend who helped him during the last two years.  Sir Henry’s loyalty to his friend was noted by other Freemasons and that probably helped to save his life.
Sir Henry’s trial opened at the Cork Assizes on the 13th of April 1801, four years after the abduction; the presiding judge was Mr. Justice Day and John Phillpot Curran the prosecutor. The case created an enormous amount of interest and as Curran made his way to the Courthouse, a flower seller in the crowd wished him luck and “hoped he would win the day (Mr. Justice Day)”. Unable to resist with another pun Curran answered, “If I, do you may lose the (k)night”.
The court trial lasted three days and on the 10th of August 1801 it concluded and after only one hour’s deliberation the jury found Sir Henry guilty and sentenced him to death, to be hanged at Gallows’s Green.
Sir Henry’s counsel at the trial appealed against the verdict claiming there was insufficient evidence that Sir Henry had held up the coach; the twelve judges however upheld the verdict that he was to be hung. Powerful Masons helped overturn the death sentence delivered by Justice Day.On the basis of the stated doubt and commuted it to transportation for life. He arrived in New South Wales on 6 July 1802 in the Atlas. He paid handsomely for a privileged passage, which was as well for him, for the voyage was the worst in the history of transportation. During it he antagonized the surgeon, Thomas Jamison, which earned him six months imprisonment after his arrival.

Hayes’s sojourn in New South Wales was noteworthy largely for his war against authority. There is no positive evidence that he took an active part in the 1804 Castle Hill rising, but he was certainly a suspect and it would have been out of character if he had not encouraged it behind the scenes. He befriended various intransigents, including Maurice Margarot and John Grant, and their continued defiance of Governor Philip Gidley King earned Grant exile on Norfolk Island, Margarot and Hayes in Van Diemen’s Land. When Hayes returned to Sydney, he spent his time chiefly at Vaucluse until in 1808, for his expressed sympathy with the deposed Governor William Bligh, George Johnston, sent him to the Newcastle coal mines. He was released after eight months, was back there in May 1809, and was further charged by the commandant, Lieutenant William Lawson, for attempting to bring the rebel government into ridicule. That was on its way out, however, and a pardon made out by Bligh in 1809 was honoured by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, and Hayes left for Ireland in December 1812, surviving a shipwreck at the Falkland Islands. He retired in Cork and died in 1832.

His first positive contribution to the colony was his attempt in 1803 to found a Masonic Lodge for which he incurred the displeasure of Governor King. It is doubtful if Hayes had a warrant to establish a lodge, though he claimed he did, but his meeting on 14 May 1803 is regarded as the foundation day of Freemasonry in Australia. His second contribution was Vaucluse House, the home he built near South Head. Here, when not on his ‘travels’, he lived in remarkable style and freedom for a convict. Because of its later associations it has become a national monument. It passed to John Piper after Hayes’s departure, and in 1829 to William Charles Wentworth who considerably extended it. It was bought in 1910 by the New South Wales government for preservation as a memorial to Wentworth and the establishment of responsible government. Built in snake-infested country, Hayes surrounded it with a moat of turf which he had imported from Ireland, and which he believed would keep the reptiles at a safe distance. Curiously, the turf appeared to have had the desired effect.

Convict Changes History

Eric Harry Daly on 26th December, 2012 made the following changes:

convicted at, term 99 years, voyage, source, firstname, surname, alias1, alias2, alias3, alias4, date of birth 1762, date of death 1832, gender, occupation, crime

Robin Sharkey on 29th November, 2016 made the following changes:

alias2: Sir Harry

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