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Mary Jones, one of 1063 convicts transported on the Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize, December 1789
Name, Aliases & Gender
Birth, Occupation & Death
|Date of Birth:
|Date of Death:
life span was 61 years*
* Median life span based on contributions
Conviction & Transportation
Sentenced to 14 years
||Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 56
||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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Phil Hands on 9th March, 2017 wrote:
Tried and convicted at Shrewsbury, Shropshire on 8th August 1789 for thrft of linen from a bleaching yard, sentenced to death, this was later commuted to transportation for 14 years.
Left England on 19th January 1790.
Ship:- the ‘Neptune’ sailed with 424 male 78 female convicts on board of which 147 males and 11 females died during the voyage, the ‘death ship’ had the worst record of all the convict transport vessels for the number of deaths recorded from one voyage.
Arrived on 26th June 1790.
Mary had her first relationship with a neighbour Farmer Gough by whom she had a child, daughter Mary. He refused to marry her as he did not consider she was of his social standing. She then married William Morgan and they had a son James. They were both caught stealing linen from the bleaching yard but William Morgan escaped and was never charged with the crime. Mary was transported on the Neptune but she managed to have William Morgan on the ship with her as a member of the NSW Corp and he became personal servant to Captain Nicholas Nepean who was in charge of the fleet. Mary became Nicholas Nepean’s mistress and they had a long term relationship but no children. After Nepean returned to England and William Morgan had left her for Mrs Frazer, Mary managed to get herself back to England to see her children. While there she remarried bigamously to Thomas Mears but committed another crime in London and was re-transported for 7 years under the name of Mary Mears.
Molly obtained her freedom in NSW and found herself another man, one Thomas Byrne who was a magistrate in Parramatta. Mary became the owner of property but committed another crime (stealing Govt cattle) and her property was returned to the Government and she was sent to Newcastle jail where she eventually bigamously married another convict Joseph Hunt. Mary became very well known in the district of Maitland, setting up the first Inn in Maitland and eventually became the owner of a considerable amount of property. Mary became famous for her travelling stills and set up camp anywhere there was timber getters or other workers to buy her grog. She made considerable amounts of money from this enterprise and was also granted land by the Government.
Mary was known for her hard drinking but also for her charity to schools and convicts and treated her convict workforce somewhat better than most land owners. She was obviously a women of much energy and drive. As she got older Mary retired to her property at Anvil Creek and lived a somewhat quieter life. Her husband Joe Hunt, who was many years her junior, is said to have treated her poorly and to have been responsible for her death. However he was never charged with any crime. Mary died at her property Anvil Creek in 1835 without leaving a will. Her marriage to Hunt was declared bigamous and her son James, her only next of kin, was contacted in England. However there was little left in her estate by this time as she was known to have swapped land for drink in her later years and also the Curator of Intestate Estate, Mr Manning, was found to have defrauded many estates and pocketed the proceeds for himself. It is not thought James inherited much, if anything, from his mother’s estate. It is also not known what happened to her daughter Mary by Farmer Gough.
November 1794 - Escaped from the colony, with other convicts, on the ‘Resolution’ and made it back to England. She remarried after her arrival in England
1803 - Mary’s husband, Thomas MEARS accused her of burning down their house and had her arrested.
October 1803 - Sentenced to 7 years transportation at Croydon in Surrey.
Left England on 2nd January 1804.
Ship:- the ‘Experiment I’ sailed with 2 male and 136 female convicts on board of which 6 females died during the voyage.
Arrived on 12th June 1804.
1806 - The Muster lists her as being childless and working at the Parramatta Female Factory
It is believed she lived with a Thomas BYRNE some time after this. There were three convicts named Thomas BYRNE in the colony at this time - one arrived on the ‘Boddingtons in 1793 (tried in County Donegal), and two on the ‘Minerva’ in 1800 (one tried at Dublin and one at Kildare). All three were transported for Life. The Thomas Byrne that Molly lived with was believed to be the local Magistrate.
August 1809 - Granted a lease on 37 rods in Church Street, Parramatta
1816 - Mary was caught with stolen Government cattle in her possession. She was sent to the Penal settlement at Newcastle
1819 - She was one of a party of convicts sent to Wallis Plains, now the site of the town of Maitland. Once here she continued farming in her own right and later opened a wine shanty near the banks of the Hunter River
1822 - Mary remarried
1828 - Listed in the Census as Mary HUNT (her new married name) being aged 60, free by servitude. She held 159 acres of land, 40 horses and 337 cattle. Her husband Thomas HUNT, thirty years her junior, was with her and still under sentence. She was well known in the community for her philanthropic activities such as providing beds for the sick and donating money to the church and the School Corporation.
The Wallis Plain settlement was for a time referred to as Molly Morgan’s. She later purchased 203 acres at Anvil Creek which is about 11 miles from Maitland near the town of Greta. The Angel Inn was built c1820 on her Maitland Land. This became the nucleus of what is now the town of Maitland. She subdivided part of her land for the village.
This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, 1967
Molly Morgan (1762-1835), convict and landowner, was baptized as Mary Jones on 31 January 1762 at Diddlebury, near Ludlow, Shropshire, England, the daughter of David Jones, ratcatcher and labourer, and his wife Margaret, née Powell. She became a dressmaker after a brief period of schooling. On 25 June 1785 she married William Morgan, a wheelwright and carpenter from the village of Hopesay. On 8 August 1789 she was tried at the Shrewsbury Assizes and sentenced to transportation for seven years for having stolen hempen yarn from a bleaching factory. She arrived at Botany Bay in the Neptune with the Second Fleet on 28 June 1790 and was sent to Parramatta. There she was joined by her husband and, after she gained a ticket-of-leave, they opened a small shop. On 9 November 1794 she escaped in the store-ship Resolution with thirteen other convicts whose sentences had not expired. During the next few years there was some conjecture in the colony as to what had become of Molly Morgan, but she was working as a dressmaker in Plymouth, where she bigamously married Thomas Mears, a brassfounder. In 1803 their home was burnt down, and Mears accused his ‘wife’ of the crime; Molly was tried at the Croydon Sessions on 10 October 1803, found guilty and once again was sentenced to transportation.
She arrived at Port Jackson for the second time on 24 June 1804 in the Experiment. She soon acquired a protector in Thomas Byrne and became virtually a free agent. Several years later she was given land near Parramatta and a few cattle, but in 1816 she was found to have branded government cattle as her own, and was sent to the Newcastle penal settlement.
In 1819 she was one of a small party of well-behaved convicts given tickets-of-leave by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and sent to establish a settlement at Wallis Plains (Maitland), where they were given a few acres of land. Molly worked her land herself and in a small way became a successful farmer. Near the river she opened a wine shanty, which became increasingly profitable as the settlement grew and river navigation extended. On 5 March 1822 she married Thomas Hunt, a young soldier stationed at the garrison at Wallis Plains. In November 1823 Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane , impressed by her efforts at farming and her general resourcefulness, allowed her the lease of 159 acres (64 ha) (converted to a grant in May 1830) and the help of a convict clearing gang. She bought 203 acres (82 ha) at Anvil Creek and built the Angel Inn in the centre of her lease, which occupied the nucleus of the town of Maitland.
By the mid-1820s Molly had become a wealthy woman. Through her personality, Wallis Plains became known as Molly Morgan’s and the track from the settlement to Singleton as Molly Morgan’s line of road. The Australian, 23 January 1828, named her as one of the largest landholders on the Hunter River. As the settlement at Wallis Plains grew she subdivided her lease and sold small blocks as a quick means of making money, though irregularities in the sales and transfers were later to cause countless legal difficulties. Her wealth rapidly decreased and at her death the only property remaining in her name was mortgaged. Her last years were spent in retirement at Anvil Creek where she died on 27 June 1835.
Molly Morgan, the ex-convict with a long record of petty crime, immorality and self-indulgence, was also a women of generosity and compassion for those in unfortunate circumstances. In 1827 she gave £100 towards the building of a school by the Church Corporation, and many other acts of generosity to the settlers have been recorded. She conducted a rough-and-ready hospital for the sick and is reputed to have ridden to Sydney more than once to intercede with the governor on behalf of convicts sentenced to execution.
At a time when the majority of women remained in the background of colonial society, Molly Morgan stands out as a colourful and rather remarkable personality, a pioneer of the Maitland district and one who successfully established her farm, built up trading interests, and impressed Governors Macquarie and Brisbane with her resourcefulness and ability.
Convict Changes History
Phil Hands on 9th March, 2017 made the following changes:
convicted at, term: 14 years (prev. 7 years), date of birth: 1762 (prev. 0000), date of death: 1835 (prev. 0000), crime