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Thomas Summerland

Thomas Summerland, one of 1063 convicts transported on the Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize, December 1789

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Thomas Summerland
Aliases: Sumberland
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1763
Occupation: -
Date of Death: -
Age: -

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 7 years

Crime: Stealing
Convicted at: Warwick Assizes
Sentence term: 7 years
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 67 (35) Derby Mercury - Thursday 24 March 1785 p 4
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

Robin Sharkey on 7th December, 2016 wrote:

THOMAS SUMMERLAND was a convict on the Second fleet ship “Scarborough”  arriving in Sydney Cove on 28th June 1790. He was aged 27 years.

His trial was on 21 March 1785 in Warwick, for stealing five silver watches. After being given the death sentence he was reprieved to transportation for seven years.

Several men who were tried at the same assizes were sent on the First Fleet ship “Alexander” in May 1787, however Summerland did not depart until 19 January 1790 on Scarborough, arriving in NSW on 28 June 1790.

Derby Mercury - Thursday 24 March 1785 p 4:
“ On Wednesday night the Assizes ended for the county of Warwick when the following convicts received sentence of Death Viz, Chatburn, … Elis Green, …  Samuel Packwood, … Samuel Smith, … John Slight alias John Browne, … John Shardlowe.
“ … THOMAS SUMMERLAND for stealing five silver watches from the shop of R. Simister
“—- The first seven of whom are left for execution and the others reprieved.”

* FREE - 1792.  Thomas Summerland would be expected to have been free from March 1792.  He remained at NSW.

*At the time of the Muster in August 1806, he was out sealing for Henry Kable.

Thomas Summerland / Sumberland went on sealing voyages at least twice, on boats owned by Henry Kable who was in partnership with the boat builder, Joseph Underwood. He had built “Endeavour’ for them prior to 1805. When the 1806 Muster was undertaken, Summerland was recorded as being out of Sydney employed on sealing with Kable. He was again going sealing, on the boat “Endeavour”, when it left in early April 1807. (Sydney Gazette 29 March 1807 p.1)


It’s possible that he was out sealing earlier than 1806. It was a harsh and rough life in the Bass Strait and beyond.  The seals were clubbed to death on land. Most of the islands of Bass Strait were occupied by rough-living sealers, left for months to fend for themselves with limited supplies before they would be picked up with their booty of sealskins and oil, and also occupied by many of the lawless sealers who were escaped convicts - on the Kent Group, King Island, the Furneaux Group (Macquarie Island was not discovered by white sealers until 1810 - Captain Frederick Hasselborough of the brig ‘Perseverance’).  In 1805 the government had cracked down on the sealing employers leaving their men without adequate provisions and rations.

In the 1803-04 season, Kable and Underwood employed sixty men sealing and had a sealing base in Kent’s Bay, Bass Strait.  There was occasional rough play with American crews in Bass Strait, who wanted the sealing at Cape Barren Islands for themselves

In 1805 Simeon Lord ( a merchant) joined Kable and Underwood as a partners and the volume of trade increased, as Lord brought them a secure London outlet.


1806, August -  Thomas “Sumberland” Occupation/Residence &c: Sealing, employed by Kable

In 1806, the Muster was held from 12th to 20th August. (per Musters of New South Wales and Norfolk Island 1805-1806 Edited by Carol J Baxter).

Kable and Underwood had several ships:
* The “Governor King” had been wrecked up the coast north of Sydney in May 1805.
* The “Contest” was a much smaller vessel that did not go sealing.
* The “King George” arrived into Sydney from a sealing tour on Friday 8th August, It was still in port at 31st August (from Sydney Gazettes, 10th August and 31 August). Therefore Summerland was not on this boat, which was in Sydney Cove.
The remaining boat that Thames Summerland had to be on was the “Endeavour” which was constantly out sealing.

Sydney Gazette - Sun 19 Oct 1806 -
“Tuesday arrived the Endeavour from the Sirius, with 6000 skins.”
This was a very large cargo.

Sydney Gazette Nov 1805 - Wanted, to proceed in the Endeavour Schooner on a sealing voyage, 15 Men free of incumbrance. Persons answering the description willing to engage are to apply for terms of engagement to Messrs Kable and Co. at Sydney. Seamen will have the preference, or active Men who understand the management of boats.

2 Feb 1806 - the undermentioned persons have obtained H.E’s permission to depart for the Southward, viz: By the Endeavour.— Wm. Clark, John Wybrow, Samuel Wainwright, Edward Crowder, James Guilder.
WHILE THIS DID NOT include Summerland’s name, it does not mean he did not go.

The ship was back on 14th October. Not long after her return Kable, Underwood and Lord brought an action against the master of the vessel - this would have been Joseph Murrell who had been Master since she was launched in 1805. It was all over 450lb of flour that Murrell did not declare to them from out of the vessel’s stores, but Murrell claimed he had right to the flour.  In the Magistrate’s court he argued:

(from Sydney Gazette 2nd November 1806, p.1):
“that himself, in common with the seamen and sealers had set upon a stipulated ration of 11lbs. of flour per week and that for a certain number of days, [?????????] among the islands, when wild animals were to be procured, he had not expected above half that complement, as had been like wise the case with three seamen belonging to his boat’s crew ; that the flour he had withheld accounting-for to the owners upon the vessel’s arrival was barely the overplus of the actual expenditure, and therefore was the undisputed right of himself and the three others, one or two of whom absent, he considered himself accountable to when they should return.” Kable & co argued the 11lb of flour per week was intended only for the men left on the islands, and did not relate to the master of the vessel.”

While the dispute was reported as being stood over since some witnesses were absent for Murrell, the magistrate complained of such an important matter not being set down in written instructions.


Summerland was off again on the “Endeavour” after about six months (although he may also have remained n the ship for its voyage to the Pacific and passing by Norfolk Island over th

summer of 1806-07 Sydney Gazette 29 March 1807 p.1: (also 15th March)
“Secretary’s Office, March 29, 1807.
“THE undermentioned Persons have obtained His Excellency’s pleasure to depart in the
following vessels on colonial pursuits; viz. In the Schooner ‘Endeavour’
William Sawers, Edward Beckford, Thomas Holford, Thomas Sumberland, William Clark”

Endeavour was back by June 1807, reports not stating whether she had been down to the sealing fisheries or not.

What happened to Thomas Summerland after this?
Did he just do a couple of sealing trips to make some money and then stop? Did he remain working on Kable boats?

... Or did he stay behind in the islands of Bass Strait to make his life down there among the wild men of those islands?

Convict Changes History

Robin Sharkey on 7th December, 2016 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 67 (35) Derby Mercury - Thursday 24 March 1785 p 4 (prev. Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Numb

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