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Francis Simpson

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Francis Simpson
Aliases: Frank
Gender: -

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1776
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 23rd March, 1803
Age: 27 years

Life Span

Life span

Median life span was 52 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: -
Convicted at: Ireland, Galway
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Atlas
Departure date: 30th May, 1802
Arrival date: 30th October, 1802
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 189 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project Sydney Gazettes - 5 March 1803, p4; 15 March 1803, page 4; 26 March 803 page 1 and 4.
Source description:

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Community Contributions

Robin Sharkey on 1st December, 2016 wrote:

CONVICT SHIP ATLAS II, Left Ireland May 1802 and arrived 30 Oct same year. Ship’s Captain Musgrave.  [This is a different ship voyage to ATLAS I which departed Ireland in November 1801 and had a heavy death rate under Capt Richard Brooks.]

FRANCIS SIMPSON tried (date ?) at Galway. Sentenced to death, apparently reprieved to life transportation.


Francis Simpson was one of twelve men who escaped from Castle Hill on the 15th February in a plan to head west of Sydney. They went to Colonel Verincourt De Clambe’s house at Castle Hill. His convict housekeeper and mistress was Mary Turley off “Hercules”, Irish pickpocket well known in Dublin.

When Mary Turley saw the men loitering outside her house, she locked the door. However the convict servant Patrick McDermott, who was in cahoots with them persuaded her from the outside to open it by knocking and telling her that he there was a constable with a letter from the master.  Then a group of eight of the men charged in, took firearms and ammunition, silver spoons, buckles, a telescope and clothing. They left with McDermott joining them, and went and raided another farm. At the trial Mary Turley very positively identified Simpson, because he had compelled her to fill two glasses of wine for him.

Francis Simpson and Patrick Gannon and (tried Meath, arrived per Atlas I in July 1801)  appear to have separated themselves from the main party the next day, because they were seen together at Lapstone Hill Here they stole bread from Joseph Willoughby (“Willerby’).

It did not come out in the court evidence at trial that Simpson and Gannon had gone to other farm houses, shot a servant in the face or raped 18 year old Rose Bean in front of her mother, on their farm.  (See writings of Laurence Butler referred to above, but not specifically sourced).

However it was reported in the Sydney Gazette of 5 March 1803 p 3 that the “labouring men” who had escaped from Castle Hill on 15 February, after describing the ransacking of Mr DeClambs’ house, had:

“ …  next proceeded to the farm houses of Bradley and Bean, at Balkham Hills. Mrs. Bradley’s servant man they wantonly and inhumanly discharged a pistol at, the contents of which have so shattered his face as to render him a ghastly spectacle, in all probability, during the remainder of his life. In Mrs. Bean’s house they gave a loose to sensuality, equally brutal and unmanly. Resistance was of no avail, for their rapacity was unbridled. Numerous other delinquencies were perpetrated by this licentious banditti, whose ravages, however, could not long escape the certain tread of Justice.”

This double speak meant they had raped 18 year old Rose Bean, in front of her mother, and shot a servant in the face with a gun.

It was then reported that “Two of the depredators were taken into custody upon the second day after their flight near the Hawkesbury road, by Mr. JAMIESON, junior, assisted by A. Thomson, Chief Constable at Hawesbury, and a party of the Military, who had been dispatched in pursuit of them.”

They may have been treated more harshly than the others because they had perpetrated this assault and rape. Gannon and Simpson were tried on 15th March and hanged on 8 days later on 23rd March, as was Patrick Macdermott.


The three were taken from Sydney Gaol early on a Monday morning,  taken to the provost Martial, and then up to Parramatta from the wharf by boat under a guard of constables. There they were put in the watch-house overnight.

Next morning they were taken out the eight miles to Castle Hill where they arrived at half-past-ten in the morning with Rev Marsden. (From Sydney Gazette, 26 March 1803 page 4)

“The fatal tree, which had been purposely erected near to the spot on which they had committed the offence for which they were about to atone, was half-surrounded, by the Parramatta Detachment, formed semi-circularly. At a proper distance stood a concourse of spectators, composed chiefly of the prisoners employed at Castle-Hill and places adjacent, orderly assembled,
with their overseers. Mr. Marsden, with his usual fervor, emphatically administered the only consolation the unfortunate men were capable of receiving …”

“At 11 the criminals ascended a temporary scaffold that had been erected on the end of the cart ; and, when the executioner was about to drive away the vehicle, Macdermot was reprieved. (!!!)  As soon as he descended, Gannan and Simpson were launched into eternity. “

{Other research claims that Mcdermott and Gannon were allowed to draw straws for who would get the gallows-step reprieve and Simpson was not included because he was considered too hardened. See for example Castle Hill Conservation Management Plan 2007 document, for Baulkham Hills Shire)

The newspaper first incorrectly reported Simpson as behaving penitently, however corrected this on Page 1 to say “ Patrick Gannan it was who behaved himself with a penitence becoming his situation, but Francis Simpson died truly impenitent and hardened.” Sydney Gazette - 26 March 1803 Page 1

“The GOVERNOR trusts, that the dreadful example made this day at Castle Hill, by the Execution of two out of the 14 Malefactors that were condemned to die by the last Criminal Court, will prevent the atrocious acts that rendered that Judgment necessary.
After the repeated Orders, Advice, and Warnings given by the Governor and his Predecessor, and the little effect they have had in preventing those under the sentence of the Law, that have lately arrived, from being imposed on by the artful, designing knaves, who have no other pleasure than enjoying the mischief they occasion, the Governor only hopes, that the convicts at large will be assured, that their ridiculous plans of leaving public labour to go into the Mountains, to China, &c. can only end in their immediate detection and punishment ; and that they will take warning from the fate of the unhappy men who have this day expiated with their lives the atrocious and vile crimes they committed.
By Command, &c. W.N. CHAPMAN, Sec. Government House, March 23d, 1803.”

Penny-Lyn Beale on 9th October, 2020 wrote:

New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1802 Atlas II
Age; 26.

Convict Changes History

Robin Sharkey on 1st December, 2016 made the following changes:

convicted at, term: 99 years, voyage, source: Australian Joint Copying Project Sydney Gazettes - 5 March 1803, p4; 15 March 1803, page 4; 26 March 803 page 1 and 4. (prev. ), firstname: Francis, surname: Simpson, alias1: Frank, alias2: , alias3: , alias4:

Robin Sharkey on 1st December, 2016 made the following changes:

date of death: 23rd March, 1803 (prev. 0000)

Penny-Lyn Beale on 9th October, 2020 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1776 (prev. 0000)

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