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Joseph Lycett

Joseph Lycett, one of 300 convicts transported on the General Hewett, August 1813

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Joseph Lycett
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1774
Occupation: Artist
Date of Death: 9th February, 1828
Age: 54 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 59 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 14 years

Crime: Forgery
Convicted at: Salop Assizes
Sentence term: 14 years
Ship: General Hewett
Departure date: August, 1813
Arrival date: 7th February, 1814
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 300 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 123 (63)
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

Anonymous on 16th June, 2012 wrote:

The Argus (Melbourne) Wednesday 16 June 1954 page 6 states the following: "Sydney from the North Shore," a water-color by Joseph Lycett, a convict transported to Australia in 1810 for forgery, sold for 62 gns.

D Wong on 8th June, 2014 wrote:

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967:

Joseph Lycett (b.1774?), convict and artist, was born in Staffordshire, England. By profession a portrait and miniature painter, he was convicted of forgery at Salop Assizes on 10 August 1811 and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. He sailed in the transport General Hewitt, in which Captain James Wallis, of the 46th Regiment, an amateur artist of considerable ability, was coming out for a tour of duty. He reached Sydney in February 1814 and was soon appointed a clerk in the police office.

In May 1815 Sydney was flooded by hundreds of skilfully forged 5s. bills drawn on the postmaster. They were traced to Lycett, who was found in possession of a small copper-plate press. He was convicted of forgery and sent to Newcastle.

Discipline there was strict and punishments were severe, but Lycett’s lot appears to have become comparatively easy after Wallis became commandant in June 1816. Lycett drew up the plans for a church which Wallis projected and, when it was built in 1818, he painted the altar piece; he is said to have also produced the three-light window which still survives in the bishop’s vestry of Newcastle Cathedral. He received a conditional pardon on Wallis’s recommendation. In 1819-20 he executed many private commissions. In February 1820 Governor Lachlan Macquarie sent to Lord Bathurst three of his drawings, including a large view of Sydney. It is generally believed that the absolute pardon which the artist received on 28 November 1821 was a reward for these.

Lycett, whose ‘habits of intoxication’ were ‘fixed and incurable’, according to Commissioner John Thomas Bigge, had possibly married in the colony, for in June 1822 he advertised that he intended to leave accompanied by his two daughters. They sailed together in the Shipley in September.
Lycett had already planned to publish in England a book of Australian views. There were to be twelve sets, published monthly, each with two aquatint views of New South Wales and two of Van Diemen’s Land, with descriptive letterpress, and a supplement with maps of both colonies. By permission the series was dedicated to Bathurst. The parts began to appear in July 1824 at 7s. plain and 10s. 6d. coloured, and when all had appeared they were bound together and sold as Views in Australia (London, 1825). Lycett announced that he intended to publish a natural history series along similar lines, but the project fell through.

Nothing is known of the rest of his life. A pencilled note in a copy of his Views in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, states that, when he was living near Bath, he forged some notes on the Stourbridge Bank. On being arrested he cut his throat, and when recovering in hospital he tore open the wound and killed himself. However, this is not confirmed.

Beth Kebblewhite on 2nd August, 2019 wrote:

The Life of Convict Artist: Joseph Lycett

1810 -1813

Joseph LYCETT & his de facto wife Mary Stokes were arrested in London & returned to Ludlow Shropshire to appear before the Court. They were both charged with the possession of forging equipment & unfinished bank notes & placed in Shrewsbury Gaol for some months to wait their trial at the Azzizes.

Mary was released on bail on the 1st January 1811. She set up house nearby to care for their daughter Mary Ann & another child, Emma Selina, was baptised at Shrewsbury in April 1812. (The gaol must have allowed conjucal visits - probably for a price!).

In August 1811 the trial was held & Mary was found innocent. Joseph was given a 14 year term of transportation to New South Wales but found another wait incarcerated until his removal in July 1812 to a hulk near Portsmouth. He remained here for one year until his banishment from England on board the convict ship General Hewitt in 1813.

Although the evidence is circumstantial, Mary seems to have had a liason with James OATLEY after Joseph’s sentencing. James was a watchmaker from Litchfield near Staffordshire (near the home of the Lycetts) & Mary lived with him for some months in 1813 as his wife.

Joseph applied for permission to have his daughter Mary Ann accompany him in exile. It is speculated that her mother was not Mary Stokes.
1814 - 1819 -

Meanwhile, Mary STOKES & Emma were living with James OATLEY, who had a history of previous thefts & had spent 6 years in the hulks. In August 1813 James was again under arrest & was committed for trial at Winchester Castle. He was found guilty of stealing household goods in March 1814 & sentenced to death! Fortunately he was reprieved & given a life sentence to New South Wales.

While Joseph was in Sydney & Oatley was in the hulks, Mary STOKES fell pregnant in April 1814. A son was born & later adopted by James OATLEY who denied paternity. Who was the boy’s father?

Only legal spouses received permission to join their loved ones across the oceans, so Mary STOKES posed as the wife of James & called herself Sarah OATLEY & stated that they had been wed in 1802! Her daughter Emma also called herself OATLEY & they took passage on the ship Northampton as free passengers. Mary’s child Robert (baptised as Robert STOKES), was born 9 days before the ship reached Rio.

Mary Ann LYCETT, aged nine, Joseph’s daughter, took passage to Botany Bay on the ship Wanstead in company with Ann HUBBARD, the wife of an exiled convict. The ship left England at the same time as the General Hewitt but reached Sydney 4 weeks prior to the other ship in January 1814. They reached NSW in June 1815.

OATLEY was working as a “mechanic” in the construction of public buildings when Mary & the children arrived. He was probably working as a watchmaker in his spare time & soon became the Keeper of the Town Clock with a salary of 30 pounds per annum. Mary STOKES & James OATLEY’s first child was James, born in Sydney in 1817 & another, Frederick in 1819.

Poor young Mary Ann LYCETT was placed into the Female Orphan School from 1815 until 1821 when she was apprenticed as a teacher. There was no mention of Emma LYCETT in the records living with her mother & James OATLEY, & it is supposed that she also spent some time there.

Joseph LYCETT had been sent to Newcastle in 1815 for punishment (3 years for forgery in the Colony) & could not care for the child. On his return to Sydney in 1819 his painting flourished, directed by Governor Macquarie. He also traveled with the Governor on a tour around NSW & Tasmania, producing sketches, paintings & engravings.
1821 - 1828 -

Joseph received an absolute pardon in 1821 & a year later decided to return to England. It is unknown how he came to have a large amount of money, including 200 pounds for his passage (first class this time!) & paid 800 pounds (by cheque) to a Sydney business man.
The Shipley departed the Colony in September 1822 with Joseph and his two daughters, Mary Ann & Emma. Back in London, Joseph had a book published showing some of his lithographs. With money running short, LYCETT returned to the area he knew best & settled in Birmingham in 1826. The local banks were alarmed to discover forged bank notes in 1827 & Joseph was confronted by the police who discovered vital evidence of his guilt. Alarmed by the consequences, LYCETT attempted to commit suicide & slit his own throat. He was rushed to hospital & his wound was still life-threatening months later. Fifteen weeks after his arrest, Joseph LYCETT died in the Birmingham General Hospital on the 9th February 1828, aged about 53.
1832 - 1862 -

Back in NSW, Mary had remained for some years with James OATLEY until she separated in 1832 & wed Charles HOWELL. OATLEY then promptly married the widow Mary Ann BOGG (nee COWLE) in 1833.

Emma LYCETT was reunited with her mother when she returned to Sydney as an assisted immigrant in 1833. Emma wed George SLATER in Sydney in 1833 & her mother & step-father were witnesses. The fate of the other daughter, Mary Ann, is not known.

Mary was living with HOWELL until her death at Brickfield Hill, Sydney in 1838.

One of Mary STOKES’ sons, James Oatley Jnr. became Mayor of Sydney in 1862 & a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly.

(Notes from: “Joseph Lycett, Governor Macqaurie’s Convict Artist”, by John Turner, 1997 & http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lycett-joseph-2382)

Convict Changes History

Anonymous on 16th June, 2012 made the following changes:

gender m

D Wong on 8th June, 2014 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1774 (prev. 0000), date of death: 1828 (prev. 0000), occupation

Beth Kebblewhite on 2nd August, 2019 made the following changes:

date of death: 9th February, 1828 (prev. 1828)

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