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Susannah Holmes

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Susannah Holmes
Aliases: none
Gender: f

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1765
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 8th November, 1825
Age: 60 years

Life Span

Life span

Female median life span was 56 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 14 years

Crime: Burglary
Convicted at: Norfolk, Thetford Quarter Sessions
Sentence term: 14 years
Ship: Charlotte
Departure date: 13th May, 1787
Arrival date: 22nd January, 1788
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 30 other convicts


Primary source: http://www.firstlanding.com.au
Source description:

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Community Contributions

Eric Harry Daly on 12th January, 2013 wrote:

Susannah Holmes was tried at Thetford, Norfolk on 19 March 1784 for burglary with a value of 53 shillings. She was sentenced to transportation for 14 years having been originally sentenced to death, and left England on the Friendship aged about 22 at that time (May 1787), she died in 1825.
Married Henry Kable on 10 February 1788. They had met in gaol and she had born his child there in 1786.

Phil Hands on 20th March, 2017 wrote:

In November 1783 Susannah was committed to Norwich Castle Gaol accused of stealing clothing, silver teaspoons and linen, value £2.00, from the home of her employer Jabez Taylor at Thurlton nine miles away.
On the 19th March 1784 at Thetford Assizes Mr. Justice Nares donned his black cap and sentenced Susannah to be ‘hanged by the neck until she was dead’. But her life was later spared and the sentence was commuted to 14 years transportation to the plantations of America. Susannah Holmes would never see her Surlingham village and its round-towered church again.
In the claustrophobic squalor of Norwich Castle cells she met another young convict, Henry Kable, also sentenced to death at Thetford Assizes and later commuted to transportation. Conditions in the county gaol at Norwich Castle were unsanitary, over-crowded and disease-ridden, stifling in summer, ice-cold in winter with cells often under water. But according to the prison reformer John Howard who visited the prison at this time, the gaoler George Glynne was a humane man. Although prisoners were shackled they were also allowed to mix. So it was that Henry Kable and Susannah Holmes first met and fell in love, Their incarceration lasted three years. The American War of Independence had halted transportation to the New World and plans were being made to send convicts to Australia instead.
In 1786 Susannah gave birth in her Castle cell to a baby boy. They called him Henry Jnr. That same year mother and baby were sent on the long journey to the stinking prison hulk ‘Dunkirk’ moored at Plymouth to await transportation. They went alone. Agonisingly, the order from London forbade father Henry from going with them. He must have thought he would never see his family again. They were eventually re-united and they, along with their child boarded their transport vessl.
Left England on 13th May 1877.
Ship:- the ‘Friendship’ sailed with 76 male and 21 female convicts on board of which 1 male died during the voyage.
Arrived on 26th January 1788.

On 10th February 1788 Susannah and Henry were married in Sydney in a group wedding, the first European wedding ceremony in the new colony, they went on to have a further 10 children between 1788-1806.
Before the young couple left England, they attracted the attention of Lady Cadogan, wife of Charles,1st Earl Cadogan who organised a public subscription which yielded the substantial sum of £20 to buy them a parcel of goods which Rev. Richard Johnson was to give them on their arrival in the penal colony. The gift was plundered on the voyage, but Kable won damages of £15 against the captain (Duncan Sinclair) of the Alexander (1783),  in the first civil suit heard in New South Wales. Convicts in Britain who had been sentenced to death were regarded as dead in law, and thus had no right to sue, and Sinclair had boasted that he could not be sued by them. Probably from advice the place where a writ would usually describe the plaintiffs’ occupation, the words, “New Settlers of this place” had been crossed out and nothing had been substituted. To have described them as convicts would have been fatal to their case. The fact that Henry and Susannah were convicts and the legal consequences of that fact would have been obvious to all of those concerned; maybe the description “New Settlers” was too close to a fabrication, and hence this part of the writ was altered in order to maintain a discreet silence. When the court met and Sinclair challenged the prosecution on the ground that the Kable’s were felons, the court required him to prove it. As all the convict records had been left behind in England, he could not do so, and the court ordered the captain to make restitution.

Susannha died on 6th November 1825.

Sydney Gazette, 10 November 1825, p 4
On the 6th instant, in the 62d year of her age, after a short but severe illness, at her residence in Windsor, Mrs. Susannah Kable, wife of Mr. Henry Kable. Mrs. Kable was one of the oldest inhabitants of this Colony, having arrived with her husband in the first fleet. From Governor Phillips, as well as the Officers collectively, but more particularly from the Rev. Mr. Johnstone and Lady, Mrs. Kable and family received much friendly attention. Her memory will be long cherished by her friends, as she was very generally and deservedly respected.

Denis Pember on 22nd August, 2020 wrote:

Susannah, and her baby Henry, were NOT transported on the same vessel as her partner, Henry Cable.  Henry (snr) was transported on Friendship.

Convict Changes History

Eric Harry Daly on 12th January, 2013 made the following changes:

convicted at, term years, voyage, source, firstname, surname, alias1, alias2, alias3, alias4, date of birth 0000, date of death 0000, gender, occupation, crime

Eric Harry Daly on 12th January, 2013 made the following changes:

convicted at, term 7 years, source, date of birth 1765, date of death 8th November, 1825, gender, crime

Eric Harry Daly on 12th January, 2013 made the following changes:

term 14 years

Denis Pember on 22nd August, 2020 made the following changes:


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