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John Primrose

John Primrose, one of 175 convicts transported on the Morley, November 1816

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Primrose
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 15th August, 1794
Occupation: Painter & glazier
Date of Death: 15th June, 1856
Age: 61 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 60 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Housebreaking
Convicted at: Old Bailey
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Morley
Departure date: November, 1816
Arrival date: 10th April, 1817
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 176 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 310
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

Doug Taylor on 30th December, 2013 wrote:

married Ann Roberts youngest daughter of William Roberts & Kezziah Brown.  was Innkeeper of Bells Inn, Windsor, NSW.

D Wong on 30th December, 2013 wrote:

John Primrose was 22 years old when convicted, along with William Gow 19, of burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling house of the Right Honourable William Harry, Earl of Darlington.

28/4/1826: John Primrose age 30 - Permission to marry Anne Roberts, age 17, born in the Colony at Windsor.  They had 9 children.

1825: TOL Windsor
1/7/1832: CP

1841 Census: at Fitzgerald Street, Windsor.
John was then a publican.

1856: John was buried at St Matthew’s Cemetery, Windsor.

1876: Ann died at Windsor.

Denis Pember on 19th January, 2016 wrote:

Sainty & Johnson; 1828 Census of New South Wales:
[Ref P1313]  Primrose, John, 33, ticket of leave, Morley, 1817, life, Protestant, painter, Windsor.
[Ref P1314]  Primrose, Ann, 19, born in the colony.
[Ref P1315]  Primrose, Thomas, 18m, born in the colony.

Phil Hands on 28th June, 2017 wrote:

Tried and convcited at the Old Bailey on 29th May 1816 for breaking and entering and stealing household goods, sentenced to death, this was later commuted to transportation for life.
Left England on 18th December 1816.
Ship:- the ‘Morley’ sailed with 175 male convicts on board, there were no reported deaths during the voyage.
Arrived on 10th April 1817.

Nothing is known of his early life but he must have received an education as he could read, write & play a musical instrument.

In August 1817 John was assigned to William Cox in the Hawkesbury district & stayed in his employ for about eight years, probably using his trade as a painter & glazier. The rectory at St Matthews C of E Windsor was erected in 1825 by William Cox so it is likely that John worked on this project. He became a member of the congregation at St Matthews & rented a pew there. The Sydney Gazette, of 3rd October 1825, records a payment of 10 Spanish dollars to John Primrose for “performing sacred music, July 7th”.
On 13th September 1825 John Primrose applied for his Ticket of Leave with the a reference from William Cox. Ticket of Leave 439/1913 was granted on 22nd September 1825 assigning him to the district of Windsor. John purchased his first property on 13th December 1825, at auction, becoming the owner of “30 roods of ground and house in Fitzgerald St, Windsor for thirty pounds”.

John Primrose,then 30, married Ann Roberts, then 17 (daughter of convicts William Roberts, ‘Scarborough’ 1788 & Kezia Brown, ‘Neptune’ 1790) on 12th June 1826 at St Matthews C of E Windsor. He signed his name while Ann made her mark. Consent was given by the Governor for John, by her mother for Ann. The service was performed by Rev John Cross and the witnesses were John Linsley & Elizabeth Cross. This marriage produced twelve children, all of whom were baptised at St Matthews. Records of their baptisms can be found in the Parish Register. They were : Thomas 1827 – 1905; Eliza 1829 – 1884; George Edward 1831 – 1900; Anne 1833 – 1923; John 1836 – 1914; William 1836 – 1899; Maria Jane 1838 – 1916; Henry Charles 1841 – 1923; Alfred 1843 – 1915; Albert Frederick 1846 – 1908; Richard Burton 1851 – 1851; Charles Herman Burton 1854 – 1912.

The 1828 Census, in the Windsor area, records John Primrose as aged 23, holding a Ticket of Leave, occupation painter, owning one horse & fifty cattle. Listed also is wife Ann, aged 19 & son Thomas 18 months, all Protestants.
From 1835 to 1844 John Primrose held the licence to the Bird in Hand Inn in Fitzgerald St Windsor. After that the licence was held by various others but John retained ownership of the property—it is mentioned in his will dated 13th July, 1855. In 1845 John Primrose opened the Bell Inn on the corner of Church and Catherine Streets, Windsor. It is described by D.G. Bowd in his book “Macquarie Country” as being “a two- storey sandstock brick building. It was typical of the inns of that period, although its bell cast eaves are rather unusual. ”

John Primrose died on 15th June 1856 in his 62nd year leaving a sizable estate. His youngest child was only three but the oldest, Thomas, then 29 years old took over the licence of the Bell Inn.
Ann died in 1876, aged 66 years, and was buried with John at St Matthews C of E Windsor, Left Section,Row 9, Plot 1

Sydney Morning Herald Friday 20th June 1856 p. 1
On Sunday, the 15th instant, at his residence, Church and Catherine streets, Windsor, Mr. John Primrose, after a painful illness, in the 62nd year of his age, highly respected by all who knew him.

Old Bailey Trial Transcription.
Reference Number: t18160529-3

478. JOHN PRIMROSE and WILLIAM GOW were indicted for burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of the Right Honourable William Hurry, Earl of Darlington , about nine o’clock in the night of the 17th of May , with intent to steal, and burglariously stealing therein, one table, value 5 shillings one waistcoat, value 4 shillings his property; one pair of breeches, value 8 shillings the property of Samuel Mitchell ; and one pair of gaiters, value 3 Shillings the property of Richard Whittington .
JESSE WHITTINGTON . I live with Lord Darlington; he lives in King-street, St. James’s-square . In the evening of the 17th of May last, I was in the stable at about eight o’clock, I was there before that time for two or three hours, I had been in the room over the stables at about eight o’clock in the evening; I locked the door; I remained in the neighbourhood of the stables for about half an hour. I put the key in my pocket. It was quite dark when I went away; I had not the stable door in my view all the time; I had not seen it between eight and half past eight; if any one had entered the stable door between eight and half past eight o’clock, I was not in such a situation as I must have seen them. I returned to the stables at about a quarter after nine o’clock; I saw a light in the room up over the stables; my father was with me. We found the door open. My father went in, and stood at the door; I heard my father call out Bob, two or three times; he meant the postillion; I heard an answer made in a strange voice. My father then came out, and locked the door; we have two keys to the stable door; I had one, and my father the other. My father told me to go for assistance; I went to the ale-house, and brought assistance; Mr. Wright and Mr. Mackenzie came with me. When I got back to the stable, my father told Wright to take care of the stable, and he would go for more persons; he did so. On his return, they opened the door, and went in; he went up stairs, Mr. Wright, Mr. Mackenzie, and my father went up. Two or three days afterwards, I found a crow and two skeleton-keys in the litter of the horses in one of the stals; we clean out the litter once a week; we put fresh straw over the old, and so go on for about a week. It was light when I locked the door.
RICHARD WHITTINGTON . I am the father of the last witness; I am coachman to the Earl of Darlington. I remember the evening of the 17th of May, I was ordered to bring the carriage at a quarter after ten. My master’s christian names are William Harry. I was in the stables on the afternoon of the 17th of May, and left them between seven and eight o’clock; I was not farther than the public-house from the stable all the evening; the public-house is about a hundred yards from the stable. I returned to the stable at about a quarter past nine; there was a light in the room over the stable then; the stable door was then shut, but unlocked; I went in under the ladder, and called out Bob, several times, and then I heard a strange voice; then I went outside, and locked the door, and put my shoulder against it, and sent my son to the ale-house for assistance. When they came, we went up stairs; Wright went first with a pitchfork, I followed next, and Mackenzie came next with a lanthorn; we found the two prisoners in the hay-loft, at the top of the ladder, with a bundle tied up behind them. Wright and Mackinzie seized them first, and I said is there any more of you; they said no. I said, I won’t believe you; then I looked all round, and there was no more. After we got them down stairs, we took them to the watchhouse, and had them searched; we lodged the bundle in the watchhouse also. I know the handkerchief in which the bundle was tied up; it belonged to a brother of mine; a tablecloth was in the bundle, that was his Lordship’s; also a pair of breeches, they belonged to Samuel Mitchell , he is a postillion; also a stable livery waistcoat, the property of his Lordship; and a pair of gaiters, which were my own property. This stable adjoins Lord Darlington’s house; it is all in one building.
Cross-examined by MR. REYNOLDS. Lord Darlington’s servants sleeps there; there is a strong party wall between the stable and the dwelling-house, and a person can go from the stable to the dwelling-house by a passage underneath, a covered passage.
SAMUEL ROPER . I live with Mr. Palmer, 199, Oxford-street, he is a coach-harness plater. I remember the evening of the 17th of May; I was sent by my master to Lord Darlington’s stables, to take two territs; it was about nine o’clock when I got there, it was pitch dark; not knowing the stable, I hallooed out at the end of the mews, and was answered by a woman; I asked which was Lord Darlington’s stables, and she told me they were the last on the left hand. In consequence of her information, I found out the stable; I tried the stable door to go up stairs, and found it fastened; I stopped there about four or five minutes; at last I could not make any one hear, and I hallooed out very loud boy, and a postillion answered me from the window, and I perceived by the light of a lamp opposite, that he was in his shirt sleeves, and he said, he was getting into bed, and could not come down, but told me where the coachman was. He sent me to the coachman at the public-house; instead of going to the Golden Lion, I went to the Red Lion, and left the territs there for the coachman.
Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. It was quite pitch dark. I never returned to the stable after having gone to the public-house; all was quiet when I was at the stable; it had gone nine I rather think when I got there; it was four or five minutes after, and I returned straight home from the public-house, it was not a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes after nine. Who had been at the stable between seven and eight o’clock, I don’t know. All I know is that the door was locked at the time I was there; there was no lock outside; I know that, because I felt; I could not see. I felt the door, and felt a little staple, and put my finger through it, and shook the door, and found it was locked inside. The postillion was on the inside of the room.
Examined by the COURT. I found this staple by feeling; for I could not see. I left the two territs for the coachman at the public house; there was two coachmen, only I took the territs to the wrong public-house.
ROBERT BOWMAN . I remember the afternoon of the 17th of May; I was at the stables that afternoon, from five until eight o’clock; I was with Jesse Whittington there; I had been occasionally up stairs in the course of that afternoon; I am the postillion, called Bob. I left the stable at eight o’clock; I stood thereabouts for half an hour afterwards; I mean I was in sight of the stable door, when I say thereabouts. If any one had entered the stable door while I was there, I must have seen them; it was quite dark when we went away; it was only half past eight; it was light enough to see a person’s face eight or nine yards off.
COURT. Would you not have known Jesse Whittington ‘s face at ten yards distance - A. Yes. I did not return any more to the stable that night, until after the prisoners were taken. I was in the stable the next morning, and found six skeleton keys, on the cupboard up stairs, I gave them to the coachman; I found a tin phosphorous box, another day, on Tuesday I found it, containing matches and a bottle; I found that also in the horse litter, and took it to the coachman.
Cross-examined by MR. REYNOLDS. I was not examined before the magistrate.
Examined by the COURT. My Lord has two postillions; there was another postillion at the stable that night besides me; I did not leave him in the stable when I went away. Samuel Mitchell and I want into Lord Dadington’s house the front way.
SAMUEL MITCHELL . I am in the service of Lord Darlington; I am the second coachman . I was in the stable about five o’clock in the evening; I can’t state how long I staid. When we had done the horses up, I left the stable about eight; I did not leave the stable before it was dark; I staid besides the stable; if any one had gone into the stable while I was there I would have seen them. Afterwards I saw the articles in the bundle; there was a pair of breeches in it which were mine; I had worn them that day; I hung them up in the room on a pin that day, when I took them off. I saw all the articles; they had been all hanging on the pins. I went into the house with Bowman; he and I went into the house together; I did not go into the house until nine o’clock; I staid near the stable until I went into the house; it was impossible for any one to go into the yard without my seeing them; nobody went into the stable before nine o’clock.
Examined by the COURT. I staid quite in front of the stable door; nearer to the stable door than I am to your Lordship; I did not see a little boy come and rattle the stable door; if he had been there while I remained, I should have seen him. There is a postillion sleeps over the stable; he was left there; he sleeps over the coach-house; he was not locked in the stables. I came out with Robert Bowman .
Richard Whittington , Re-examined. We all sleep over the coach-house adjoining to the stables; we are obliged to go through the house into this bed-room; the other ways are walled up. At a little after nine o’clock, Robert Bowman answered the boy from over the coach-house, out of the window of that room.
Re-cross-examined by MR. REYNOLDS. Can a person now, or could he at the time of this burglary, have gone by any internal communication, from the place where the prisoners are supposed to have been found, into the house - A. The communication which originally existed, was walled up then, and is now. A person could not have entered the room over the stables where we found the prisoners, from the house.
Q. Could the prisoners have gone from the place where they are supposed to have been found, to where your people slept over the coach-house - A. No. The reason the communication was nailed up, was because his Lordship let part of the stables.
COURT. Although there is no internal communication, yet the place where the prisoners were found, is under one roof with the place where you and some other of your master’s servants sleep - A. Yes; it is all the same building.
Robert Bowman , Re-examined. I went to bed at nine o’clock; I heard a boy at the door after I was undressed; our bed-room looks into the mews; I was not in bed; I spoke to the boy; I did not come down to let him in; I could not, without coming through the house; I told him to leave the territs at the public-house; it was then dark, and I had a candle.
WILLIAM WRIGHT . I went to the assistance of Lord Darligton’s servants; I went through the stable and up stairs; I saw the prisoners there, and collared them both; I afterwards went to the watch-house.
Examined by the COURT. When I went up the ladder, the lesser man, Gow, said, coachman, you have got us; we will give ourselves up to you; I am in distress. I told them I could not help that, and collared them both. I am a coachman, and he addressed the term coachman to me. Mackenzie followed me up.
ELLIS WILLIAMS . I am a constable of the parish of St. James’s. Lord Darlington’s stables are in that parish. I produce the articles given to me by Richard Whittington .
(Skeleton-keys, crow-bar, wax-taper, and phosphorous produced.)
MR. REYNOLDS, for the prisoners, objected, that the part into which the prisoners had broken, was not part of the dwelling-house, because whatever communication there might have been originally, it was clear that there was none now, either with the place where the servants slept, or with the dwelling-house.
MR. MARSHAM, contra contended, that it was under the protection of the dwelling-house, and in support of his argument, cited the case of the “King against Brown, in the 1st East. p. 493; in that case the premises of the prosecution consisted of a stable, cow-house, cottage, and barn, which were not enclosed, nor had any internal communication with each other; the barn was the part broken and entered, in the night time, and the prisoner was found guilty, subject to the opinion of the Twelve Judges, who after a consideration of the case, declared the conviction to be right.
THE COURT, ruled with Mr. Marsham.
GOW, GUILTY - DEATH , aged 19.
Second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice Park.

Convict Changes History

Doug Taylor on 30th December, 2013 made the following changes:

date of birth 15th August, 1794, date of death 15th June, 1856, occupation

D Wong on 30th December, 2013 made the following changes:

gender, occupation, crime

Phil Hands on 28th June, 2017 made the following changes:

convicted at

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