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Thomas Willsmore

Thomas Willsmore, one of 160 convicts transported on the Guildford, 22 August 1823

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Thomas Willsmore
Aliases: Wellsmore
Gender: -

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1802
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 5th July, 1876
Age: 74 years

Life Span

Life span

Median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Housebreaking
Convicted at: Essex Assizes
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Guildford
Departure date: 22nd August, 1823
Arrival date: 15th March, 1824
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 159 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/5, Page Number 84
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

Anonymous on 4th August, 2011 wrote:

After arrival worked in several positions. Then worked for Hannibal Macarthur for 6 years from 1827 to 1833. Received TOL 1833. Married Elizabeth Nicholls in 1833 but by Nov 1833 she had died. Worked at Carters Barracks selling horses in Sept 1835 at time of marriage to Mary Barrett who came free from Cork, Ireland. Was Policeman at Bungendore from 1838 for few years. Then at Bibbenluke Station, near Bombala, for several years. Fathered 1 girl, 2 boys with Mary. Died 1876 near Cooma.

Phil Hands on 8th July, 2017 wrote:

On 11th December 1822 Thomas was tried in the Essex Assizes on a charge of housebreaking. He was convicted and sentenced to transportation for life. He was transported to Australia on the ship ‘Guildford’ on it’s sixth voyage, leaving England on 28th March 1823, which was not without incident, as the ship sprang a leak between Teneriffe and Rio, and spent two months in Rio for repairs. The ship carried 160 male convicts on board of which 1 died during the voyage, arriving on 5th March 1824.

Upon his arrival in the colony Thomas was assigned to the Hyde Park Barracks.
Thomas was employed at first by James Wiltshire who had arrived in NSW aboard the ship Royal Admiral in 1800 and had became Deputy Commissionerin 1804. He had prospered in the tanning, trading and farming businesses and his tanning business may have prompted him to obtain the services of Thomas Wellsmore who, according to his convict indent papers, had a skill in tanning. In April 1824 Thomas was busy tanning for JamesWilshire. Mechanics were the skilled workers of thetime and valued for their skills and sought after in those early days of the colony. Thomas must have been very talented because he grew up illiterate. After this he was employed by Lieutenant Stoddard who was the Assistant Inspector of Roads and Bridges, as a house servant, Lieutenant Stoddard had observed him working on Parramatta Road in Sergeant Pickles’ gang. Stoddard had discussed with Captain Dumeresq the possibility of having Thomas reassigned to him and a letter to the Chief Superintendantof Convicts followed this discussion but no reply was received so Lieutentant Stoddard wrote again on the 30thNovember 1826. Finally Lieutenant Stoddard received a reply from F. A. Hely Esq., Principal Superintendant of Convicts, giving him permission for Thomas Wellsmore to be assigned to him with the approval of W. Hely and Captain Dumeresq.This was dated 2nd December 1826. When Lieutenant Stoddard went back to England, Thomas was recommended to the Macarthurs. On 5th February 1827 Hannibal MacArthur wrote, from Vineyard Cottage, to Alexander McLeay, Colonial Secretary, stating that Lieutenant Stoddard had recommended Thomas Wellsmore as a good domestic servant, calling Thomas a deserving character. Next day Alexander McLeay wrote that His Excellency the Governor had commanded him to direct that Thomas Wellsmore be transferred to the service of Hannibal MacArthur at the Vineyard.

In the census of 1828, Thomas was a groom for Hannibal MacArthur at the Vineyard. Thomas wanted to marry Elizabeth Nicholls in 1831, but was not allowed. Elizabeth was a house servant of Mrs. Redfern at Airds .She was serving a seven year sentence imposed on her in London. They didn’t give up the idea of marriage and applied again in 1833 and this time were given permission. They both had a ticket of leave by this time, so were married at St. Luke’s Church in Liverpool on the 22nd April 1833 by the Reverend Robert Cartwright, Elizabeth signed in good hand and Thomas made his mark on the register.

Thomas had his Ticket of Leave revoked at the end of August 1833 for intoxication and was again required to be assigned. Sadly Elizabeth died that same year on 25th November and was buried in St. Luke’s cemetery by the same Reverend Robert Cartwright who married them.

Mary Barrett had arrived in the colony, as a “free settler”, aboard the ship ‘Duchess of Northumberland’ on the 27th February 1835. The ship had sailed from Cork in Ireland in late 1834. Mary was aged 18 years and upon her arrival she was engaged by Mrs. Biggs of Phillip Street, Sydney as a house servant. In August 1835, Thomas made application to marry Mary and his request was granted and he married her at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Sydney on 26th September 1835. At that time Thomas was the overseer of stock at the Carter’s Barracks in Sydney. He was designated to show 6 aged horses and a mare with foal, from the Surveyor General’s Department, to prospective buyers who were expected to bid for them at an auction.
Thomas and Mary had three children, Mary Anne baptised 1836, Thomas junior born ca.1837, James born ca 1838. Mary Anne married Thomas Fleming on 15th September 1851 at Buckalong. Thomas junior married Mary Rankin at Bombala on 4th November 1860. James married Ellen Sarah Whalan in 1866 at Ironmungy. 

Mary Wellsmore, nee Barrett, was gaoled for 1 month at Darlinghurst on the 14th March 1836 but served only 2 days because she paid a fine of 40 shillings and the costs of 5 shillings and 1 penny, the crime for which she was gaoled is unknown.

On the 17th December 1838, Thomas was granted another Ticket of Leave, this time for the district of Limestone or Queanbeyan NSW. He moved to Bungendore with Mary and their children where they settled into a hut. On the 26th April 1839 the Police Magistrate for Queanbeyan, Captain Faunce, wrote to the Colonial Secretary for approval of his appointment of Thomas Wellsmore to the position of Ordinary Constable as from the 15th March 1839.

Thomas’ appointment was approved andgazetted on the 29th April 1838. On the 8th February 1840 Constable Wellsmore and Constable Patrick Maguire were escorting 2 prisoners to Berrima, by the names of Paddy Curran and Berry, when they stopped at a hut at Lake George for refreshments. Thomas left Patrick Maguire in the hut with the two prisoners handcuffed together. Upon his return Thomas found Maguire on the floorof the hut unconsious and bleeding from gunshot wounds and the prisoners with a gun and no handcuffs on. They escaped after tying Thomas to a tree.
On the 8th December 1840, whilst living at Bungendore, Mary was overcome by two bushrangers, Paddy Curran and White, who burst into their home while Thomas was away labouring. The bushrangers made demands and terrorized her, finally Curran overcame her resistance, assaulting her at knifepoint and then leaving with White. Curran was finally captured and brought before the Berrima Assizes in September 1841, charged with rape and murder. Mary Wellsmore gave evidence at the trial of the bushranger Paddy Curran and he was convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death. Paddy Curran was the first person to be hung at Berrima Gaol.

On the 8th March 1840, Thomas petitioned the Governor Sir George Gipps, for a pardon from the King, the request was refused by the Colonial Secretary on the grounds that his referees had only know nhim for 2 years and although his Ticket of Leave had been restored for 6 years, the fact that it had been cancelled went against him.
In February 1843 Thomas Moore was granted permission to employ Thomas Wellsmore to go with him to the Monaro district where he had a run at Burnima. This was granted after Thomas Wellsmore was granted a Passport, No.521, on his Ticket of Leave for 12 months.
On the 14th March 1845 Lord Stanley wrote from Downing St., London to Sir George Gipps, Governor of the colony, giving the Queen’s permission for a Conditional Pardon for Thomas. At last ThomasWellsmore was a free man and didn’t have to worry about the restrictions of a Ticket of Leave. At about this time a tragedy occurred when Mary died when giving birth to twins in the remote outpost where Thomas was working. An Indigenous woman was the only available midwife. Apparantly the twins died as well. There is no record of Mary’s death but it is believed that she was buried at either Craigie or Mount Cooper.

Thomas was a shepherd at Ando from March 1852, and then employed as a fleece winder from the 9th November 1855 untill 2nd April 1856. During this period he was also paid 5 shillings for 80 roods of fencing totalling 20 pounds and another job at 30 shillings amounting to 9 pounds. He was also described as a carrier at Mt. Cooper.
In 1858, he was living at Bombala. The Parish of Wellsmore bears his name.
Thomas Wellsmore was found dead in a gully near Cooma on 5th July 1876. He had been riding his horse to deposit cheques in the bank in Cooma.
Thomas is buried in the old cemetery at Christ Church, Cooma. His headstone reads:-
Thomas Wilsmore
Died 5th July 1876
Aged 77years.

Convict Changes History

Phil Hands on 8th July, 2017 made the following changes:

convicted at, alias1: Wellsmore, date of birth: 1802 (prev. 0000), date of death: 5th July, 1876 (prev. 0000), crime

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