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Edward Riley

Edward Riley, one of 1063 convicts transported on the Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize, December 1789

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Edward Riley
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 26th July, 1771
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 8th November, 1821
Age: 50 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Highway robbery
Convicted at: Middlesex Gaol Delivery
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize
Departure date: December, 1789
Arrival date: 26th June, 1790
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 1072 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 56
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

Ron Garbutt on 18th January, 2020 wrote:

Posted 15 Jun 2009 by LynnMareeM
Australia’s Second Fleet
From Barbara Turner, 1992.1

A second fleet of six ships left England -  Guardian, Justinian, 
Lady Juliana, Surprize, Neptune, Scarborough. The Guardian struck ice, and was unable to complete the voyage.  She was stocked with
provisions. Only 48 people died in the first group of ships, but this time 278 died during the voyage.  This time transporting the
convicts was in the hands of private contractors.
Excerpts from the “SYDNEY COVE CHRONICLE”, 30th June, 1790
At last the transports are here
278 died on the fearsome journey to Sydney Cove
——-”  The landing of those who remained alive despite their misuse upon the recent voyage, could not fail to horrify those who watched.
  As they came on shore, these wretched people were hardly able to move hand or foot. Such as could not carry themselves upon their legs, crawled upon all fours. Those, who, through their afflictions, were not able to move, were thrown over the side of the ships; as sacks of flour would be thrown, into the small boats.
  Some expired in the boats; others as they reached the hore. Some fainted and were carried by those who fared better. More had not the opportunity even to leave their ocean prisons for as they came upon the decks, the fresh air only hastened their demise.
  A sight most outrageous to our eyes were the marks of leg irons upon the convicts, some so deep that one could nigh on see the bones.——
——-  We learn that several children have been borne to women upon the Lady Juliana, the cause for which were the crews aboard African slave ships which met up with the transport at Santa Cruz.—- ”
———”  So the Guardian is lost and with it our provisions. 
What, in the name of Heaven, is to become of us ?——- “

Ron Garbutt on 18th January, 2020 wrote:

Edward Riley (c 1762 - 1821)
Posted 15 Mar 2011 by stringfe1

Edward Riley was sentenced to death at the 14 Jan 1789 Old Bailey Sessions for the Highway robbery of a man on New Year’s Eve. A bricklayer walking home through Whites Yard, off Cable Street in the East End was set upon at about 9.30pm by three men who demanded money. He told the court that Riley clapped his hand over his mouth, the other two held him and rifled his pockets. Finding no money they took his hat and ran off. A local resident looking out his window said he recognised Riley as a man who lived in the next street. Both he and the prosecutor claimed the lamplight was strong enough for them to identify him positively; We could not pursue him; he had got off, and turned down Saltpetre Bank, where he lodges, which is a dangerous place. Saltpetre Bank appears to have been regarded as something of a no-go area and a haven for criminals. The prosecutor at first claimed the robbers had stolen two guineas, but later recolledted that he had left the money at home. Riley’s landlord, George Ashton, appeared as an alibi witness, stating that Riley had been home all night on the date in question. The jury disregarded his evidence, but recommended Riley to mercy. He was held in Newgate under a temporary respite from execution until Sept 1789 when his sentence was commuted to life transportation. He was embarked on the Scarborough transport on 10 Nov 1789.

Riley was employed at Sydney in Sept 1791 when he gave evidence at the trial of a man charged with stealing a barrel of gunpowder from a ship in port. He gave evidence the following month at a burglary trial. Both cases suggest that he may have been employed as a watchman. In Dec 1794 Riley was granted a conditional pardon and granted 30 acres at The Flats in the Concord area which he sold to Commissary James Williamson prior to 1800. He was granted an absolute pardon in Sept 1795, which suggests that he was occupying a position of trust.

At Sydney on 5 March 1797 he married Mary Burk(e) (Indispensable, 1796).

In March 1800 Riley was one of two men who put up 50 pounds good behaviour bonds for Edward Dogherty after he was sentenced to a flogging for making a drunken statement about planting the tree of liberty in NSW which was regarded as seditious. Clearly Riley was sympathetic to liberal ideas; he was probably Irish.

In Jan 1810 Riley petitioned Governor Macquarie for confirmation of a lease for a house and town allotment in Upper Pitts Row, Sydney, and a grant of land at Milk Maid Reach on the Hawkesbury which he had received from the anti-Bligh regime in 1809. He was still holding land in the Portland Head area in 1820.

The Second Fleeter was almost certainly the Edward Riley buried at St Matthews Cemetery, Windsor on 9 Nov 1821; he was descibed as free, aged 59, having arrived as a sailor on the Scarborough in 1790. Muster records indicate that the emancipist Second Fleeter was the only man of that name in the colony; he may have attempted to give his neighours the impression that he had arrived free.

Reference: Britains Grim Convict Armada of 1790; Michael Flynn

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

26 July 1771. Birth. Middlesex, England


Ancestry.com. Australia and New Zealand, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

14 Jan 1789. Trial and Sentence
Middlesex, London, England.
Sentenced to death for the highway robbery. Commuted to transportation for life.


Class: HO 11; Piece: 1
Source Information
Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Second Fleet, 1789-1790

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

19 January 1790. Departed Portsmouth aboard convict ship Scarborough.

Free Settler or Felon website
Convict Ship Scarborough 1790

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

28 June 1790. Arrived at Port Jackson, NSW on convict ship Scarborough.

Free Settler or Felon website
Convict Ship Scarborough 1790

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

5 Mar 1797. Married Mary Burke (1777–) Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

1810 Marriage to Mary Dolley (nee Bellass) (1788–1839)
Hawkesbury, New South Wales, Australia

Source not found

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

8 Nov 1821. Death. Windsor, New South Wales, Australia

Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985

Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 wrote:

Notes on The 2nd Fleet and the Supply Shortage in the Colony.

Supply crisis
By 1790, no supply ships had reached the penal colony of Port Jackson for two years. Food harvests had failed and the colony was reduced to living off the remaining stores they had brought from England. An individual’s rations were reduced to about a third of the original allocation. The weekly allowance per person amounted to 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of pork, 2.5 pounds (1.2 kilograms) of flour and 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of rice. On the orders of Governor Arthur Phillip (1738–1814), this ration was distributed equally, regardless of status. After the loss of the supply ship HMS Sirius in March 1790, relief came in October with the arrival of HMS Supply laden with provisions from Batavia.

In June 1790 the Second Fleet, known as the ‘Death Fleet’, arrived with enough supplies to end the famine. The first ship that docked in two and a half years was the convict ship Lady Julian with 226 female convicts. It brought letters and news from home. Later in the month the store ship Justinian arrived with much-needed supplies. It was followed a week later by the Surprise, Neptune and Scarborough, each having convicts in very poor condition. The nine-month sea journey was fraught with dangers and many deaths from dysentery, scurvy and fever. During the voyage, the convicts were chained below deck with only a few rations and had to breathe the foul air. When the ship docked, some were unable even to walk off the ship. The Second Fleet was the first transport organised by private contractors, which had reduced convict rations and medicines in order to increase their profits.

In December 1792, Governor Arthur Phillip left for England, leaving behind a viable penal colony. He had served a term of five years that had been pitted by famine, food shortages, loss of ships, disgruntled officers and conflict with Aboriginal groups and individuals.


Convict Changes History

Denis Pember on 27th May, 2015 made the following changes:

date of death: 8th November, 1821 (prev. 0000), gender: m

Ron Garbutt on 29th January, 2020 made the following changes:


Ron Garbutt on 1st February, 2020 made the following changes:

date of birth: 26th July, 1771 (prev. 0000)

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