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Ann Rumsby, one of 108 convicts transported on the Mary Ann, November 1822
Name, Aliases & Gender
Birth, Occupation & Death
|Date of Birth:
|Date of Death:
||18th March, 1850
life span was 61 years*
* Median life span based on contributions
Conviction & Transportation
Sentenced to 7 years
||Norfolk, Norwich City Quarter Sessions
25th December, 1821
20th May, 1822
|Place of arrival
||New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land
Travelled with 108 other convicts
||Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/4, Page Number 133 (68)
||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 24th July, 2017 wrote:
Ann was tried and convicted at the Norfolk Quarter Sessions in Norwich on 16th May 1821 for theft, sentenced to transportation for 7 years.
Left England on 25th December 1821.
Ship:- the ‘Mary Anne I’ sailed with 108 female convicts on board of which 1 died during the voyage..
Arrived Van Diemans Land on 2nd May 1822, unloaded 45 females.
Arrived Sydney on 20th May 1822 with Ann & 61 remaining convicts.
Married convict William Bragg (‘Baring’ 1819) on 3rd February 1823 at Parramatta, they had 8 children between 1823-1842.
Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 19th May 1821 p. 2
Ann Rumsby and Charles Edwards were severally charged with stealing from out of the dwelling house of Thos. Foulsham, of St. Augustine’s, confectioner, copper coin to the amount of 5l six silver tea spoons and dessert spoons, and some wearing apparel, his property. Edwards was acquitted. Rumsby was convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation.
Convict Ann Rumsby was a humble servant girl when she became a pawn in a violent political game between some of the most powerful men in NSW. By defending the honour of the master wrongly accused of seducing her, she found herself in Parramatta Court in 1822, facing retribution.
She braved this to tell the truth about a man who had only been kind to her.
At the heart of this intriguing story was a Dublin-born Doctor, Henry Grattan Douglass, age 30 years, who had arrived in Sydney with his family in May 1821. He received a warm welcome from Governor Macquarie, was made a Magistrate and rose speedily to prominence. A year later, he was appointed Superintendent of the Female Factory for Convict Women in Parramatta.
The Factory was long regarded by the conniving missionary Samuel Marsden as his own domain.
With the help of a fellow Magistrate, Hannibal Macarthur, nephew of powerful John Macarthur, Samuel Marsden, the “flogging parson”, had meted savage punishments on many convict women under his protection.
As a result, Henry G Douglass, a believer in reform, became an enemy of the rigid social elite from the start.
Convict Ann Rumsby must have blessed her lucky day when she was plucked from the cruel conditions of the Factory to be a temporary servant in Superintendent Henry G Douglass’s home. There are no pictures of her but Governor Brisbane called her “a handsome young girl”.
Meanwhile conflict had been growing between the humane Governor Macquarie, lenient towards the convicts, and the “exclusives” - the families who wielded most of the colony’s wealth and power. They hated the Governor’s “emancipists” convicts granted their freedom before their prison sentences expired - reaching high positions. Even more annoying to them was that the Governor entertained such ex-convicts - men like architect Francis Greenway and surgeon William Redfern.
Instead, the likes of Hannibal Macarthur and Samuel Marsden believed in the rule of “lash and chains”. When the exclusives’ conniving led to Governor Macquaries’ removal, the elite also prevailed on the House of Commons to investigate colonial rule. Its report demanded that “salutory terror” be restored to the penal settlements.
There were to be no more appointments of pardoned convicts as Magistrates or high officials.
Upon the arrival of Governor Brisbane (1821 - 1825), the emancipists’ mchampion, Dr Henry G Douglass, found an ally and friend, But Henry G Douglass was unaware of how savage his enemies were.
The Rumsby plot, designed to bring about his downfall, began on 31 July 1822. Two gentlemen called at the Douglass residence in Parramatta where Ann Rumsby was working. They were John Jamison and James Hall, the latter a surgeon of the convict ship “Mary Anne”, on which Ann Rumsby had sailed to Australia.
James Hall had seemed agitated. Ann Rumsby was called to accompany the two men to the gate but, strangely, no conversation occurred. Minutes later, the men asked a convict called “Scrummy Jack” Farley to take an urgent message asking Ann Rumsby to come out and meet James Hall. The turnpike keeper later confirmed that “Scrummy Jack” Farley took a message and he saw the girl talking to James Hall. They then disappeared into a thicket.
Questioned later by a fellow servant, Ann Rumsby said she had only told James Hall that Henry G Douglass would “be the ruin of her” because he wanted her to marry a convict named William Bragg (or Bragge), who, she said, was hateful.
Two days later, Ann Rumsby received an extraordinary letter from James Hall completely misrepresenting her words. In part it read: “Your conduct my dear girl, in having successfully resisted all the attempts that have been made to seduce you, continue to
excite my admiration. But should you be in danger, act like a really virtuos girl and scream for help”.
He (James Hall) said he had made her situation known to the pious Minister Samuel Marsden, to whom she should “tell all”. This was followed by a second letter.
Samuel Marsden, meeting with Henry G Douglass by chance, suggested - without giving reasons - that he should send the girl (Ann Rumsby) back to the Factory. Meanwhile, Samuel Marsden published the banns for Ann Rumsby’s marriage to William Bragge.
Next day at breakfast Ann Rumsby, worried lest it be thought she had accused her master of trying to seduce her, told Henry G Douglass of the letters. Shocked, he called in his wife and asked Ann Rumsby to repeat the allegations.
James Hall had meanwhile sworn a signed affidavit to Judge Advocate John Wylde. James Hall now alleged Ann Rumsby had ran after him to appeal for help, saying: “That Dr Douglass had taken her out of the factory a few weeks before; that if she continued at Dr Douglass’ it would be her ruin; that he would not let her go; that after a week at his house he commenced familiarities with her and progressively to take liberties with her person on every occasion he could without being seen by other servants or his wife”. “That several times he had been rude, entering her bedroom and taking indecent liberties with her person whilst she was dressing herself. He had also on some occasions forced her down on a bed and then attempted to raise her clothes and force her to comply with his wishes; his object was to ruin her”.
Both were ordered to appear before the Parramatta magistrates, where Samuel Marsden said he had been called upon to investigate complaints by Ann Rumsby against her master.
Henry G Douglass, meanwhile, arranged to take Ann Rumsby to the Governor to tell him her version of the true events. But before the matter could be resolved, Ann Rumsby was forced to appear before the Bench.
Alone, Ann Rumsby faced under oath a panel of five justices for five hours, during which she never once contradicted her testimony in proclaiming her master’s total innocence. But the magistrates were determined to disbelieve her. Finally, Samuel Marsden announced their verdict saying: “The Bench have the fullest conviction that Ann Rumsby has been guilty of willful and
corrupt perjury”. The girl (Ann Rumsby) was to be “taken to HM gaol in Parramatta and then banished to Port Macquarie to serve the remainder of her sentence” - about five years.
The colony’s first Chief Justice Forbes reviewed the case in 1824 and decreed she “had been illegally tried and sentenced”.
Thankfully, Governor Brisbane stepped in, saved Ann Rumsby from Port Macquarie and granted her a free pardon. The following year, she was married - incredibly, to William Bragg, by now the overseer of Parramatta’s hospital.
In an enquiry ordered by the Governor, Henry G Douglass was exonerated from any immorality. He died in 1865, having weathered all political storms.
Ann died on 18th March 1850 at Ryde, NSW
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Friday 22nd March 1850 p 2
“Village of Ryde.-
An inquest was held at Mr. Dowdell’s, Steam Boat Inn, on view of the body of Ann Bragg, wife of William Bragg, district constable of Kissing Point. The husband of the deceased being sworn, stated my late wife was forty-seven years of age, she has been ill six years , Doctors Hill, Gwynne, Robertson, and Rutter, have seen her, Dr Cartwright examined her, and told me to listen at the chest and I would be convinced of her having water on the chest; Dr. Douglass has lately seen her; deceased was in Sydney last week, and came home on Saturday night, and was not worse than usual, she attended divine service on Sunday, and a prayer meeting on Monday ; was as well as usual at family prayer on Monday night ; she retired to read at nine o’clock ; I went to bed at ten o’clock, we conversed about family matters, and upon the sacred scriptures, till two o’clock, I awoke at six o’clock, and saw her out of bed with our grandchild in her arms ; she came into bed again ; I said, ” it rains ,” she replied “yes, it has thundered and lightened very much,” I said, ” I will set the tubs to catch the water;” she replied ” yes ;” I was in the act of putting on my socks, when I heard her make a noise of hoarseness in the throat ; I said ” what is the matter? ’” she did not answer; I put my hand on her foot, but she did not move it, as the place was not very light, I lit a candle, and saw she was dead ; I was formerly employed as Dispenser in the Parramatta Hospital, and have seen many sudden deaths from similar causes ; I was of opinion she would die suddenly, and have therefore put written directions in my children’s pockets when they have gone to Sydney with her, lest she should die and not be known. Dr. Rutter deposed: I have known the deceased many years, and attended her professionally some years ago; she was labouring under disease of the heart; I have since been in company with five or six other medical practitioners who have attended deceased, and who perfectly concurred with me in reference to the disease ; the water on the chest is merely a symptom of disease of the heart ; sudden death is the usual termination of this disease, and what might have been expected in this instance. The Jury returned a verdict accordingly. “
Convict Changes History
Phil Hands on 24th July, 2017 made the following changes:
date of birth: 1802 (prev. 0000), date of death: 18th March, 1850 (prev. 0000), gender: f, occupation, crime