The two Pares sisters, Lucy Meares and Sophia Richards, sentenced to fourteen years transportation, were more fortunate than most of their fellow passengers on the convict ship Friendship. Two of their relatives had preceded them to the colony and by the time the Friendship arrived in February 1819 had established themselves and would have been well placed to provide support to the newcomers and ‘show them the ropes’ of colonial life in Sydney.

Frances Pares

Frances had arrived in the colony in March 1803 on the Glatton under the name Frances Wood. She herself was not a convict, but came free as the ‘wife’ of convict Nathaniel Miller. Nathaniel, aged 21, and a butcher by trade, had been found guilty of ‘feloniously stealing, on 12th of June, nine pigs, value 36l the property of Thomas Saunders’. He was sentenced to seven years transportation, imprisoned in Newgate, and then delivered to the hulk Fortune on 20 November 1801 where he spent a year before the departure of the Glatton in September 1802. Having received his ‘discharge’ in 1808 Nathaniel and established a butcher’s shop in Castlereagh Street.

Beef, Mutton and Lamb, is constantly on Sale, at the House of Nathaniel Miller, No. 7, Castlereagh Street, at 8d. per lb. Sterling, or 10d. Currency.

Frances Wood’s name regularly appeared in the lists of those who tendered supplies of fresh meat for the government stores. The successful partnership came to a sudden end with Nathaniel’s death on 3 October 1819. In her own right, Frances had successfully applied for, and was granted a licence for the “Sale of Spirits’ in April 1815.

Frances married (probably for the first time) three years after Nathaniel’s death and it was the marriage record that almost certainly confirms that Frances was in fact an elder sister to Lucy and Sophia. When 35 year old spinster Frances married 38 year old widower David Kelly, by licence, on 3 September 1822 at St Philips Church, Sydney, she did so under the name Frances Pear. This was the same surname ‘adopted’ by both Lucy and Sophia on their marriages respectively to John Laws and John Beeson. I am sure that the girls would have enjoyed this little conspiracy.

David Kelly had been born about 1785 in Ireland, but was living in London and plying his trade as carcase and retail butcher from a slaughtering-house in the Basing-yard, Shoreditch, when he was indicted at the Old Bailey on 1 July 1812 for ‘feloniously receiving, on 8th of December, two pigs, value 8l the property of Matthew Ashton’. By the time the lost pigs were found they had been slaughtered and were hanging up ready for sale. The evidence tendered during the trial was circumstantial, but David Kelly’s fate was sealed by the identification of the pigs, one witness stating

I knew them by their features, and by the four feet that were not scalded; and the ring was not cut out of the sow’s nose; and if it had I should have known the sow. One of the sows was knock-knee’d; and I knew it by its features.

Despite pleading his innocence, and calling nine witnesses to vouch for his good character, David Kelly was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. After a year on the prison hulk at Portsmouth, and leaving behind his family and wife, he was shipped out on the Earl Spencer, which departed from Portsmouth on 2 June 1813 and arrived in Port Jackson on 9 October 1813. Two years later, David Kelly, together with three other men and two women prisoners, who had all been convicted at Sydney on October 24 1815 and sentenced to two years imprisonment, was aboard the Lady Nelson bound for the penal establishment at Newcastle. I am not sure what crime he had committed or when he arrived back in Sydney, but by 1821 he was in business in Pitt Street.

David Kelly, at the old established Butchers’ Shop, No. 10 Pitt-street, most respectfully informs the Families in general, and the Public at large, that he has purchased a large Quantity of Sheep and Lambs recently from Bathurst, the quality of which is too well known to need any remarks; and which, for the future, he will be able to sell his Customers at Nine-pence per lb: He therefore solicits the continuance of that support heretofore so liberally given to the above house.

By marrying Frances Wood, David not only gained a wife, but also someone whose experience in the butchery trade would have been a considerable asset to his business. But the partnership did not last long because on 25 January 1827, as announced in the press, Frances died.

DIED – On Thursday morning, Mrs. Frances Kelly, wife of Mr. David Kelly, butcher, in Pitt-street, after an illness of only five days.

DIED. On Thursday last, Mrs. Kelly, wife of Mr. Kelly, Butcher, Pitt Street; much respected by her friends.

In fact, after a rather shaky start to his life in the colony, David did rather well for himself (and Frances). Evidence of this comes from a newspaper advertisement placed six months after Frances’ death.

TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, by Mr. S. LYONS, on Saturday 7th July, at 11 o’Clock precisely, on the premises.
ALL those VALUABLE PREMISES, eligibly situated in Pitt Street, Sydney, belonging to Mr. David Kelly; comprising the House which he now occupies, and the Four Houses opposite (lying between Mrs. Waples’s House and the sign of the Loggerheads) with the Ground attached to each. The Four Houses rent for 169l per Annum.
Conditions of sale, sterling money; One-fourth of the Purchase-money to be paid down, and a credit of 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, will be given upon approved Bills for the residue. The Purchasers to pay the expence [sic] of the transfers.

But what was the reason for this sale? Was it a portent of things to come? Did it suggest that the Kellys were in some financial trouble before Frances died?

No longer in the butchery trade, David Kelly opened up “The Hibernian Family Hotel”, a board and lodging house, with stabling in Pitt Street. Families could be accommodated ‘on the most moderate Terms, by paying their Bills, PREVIOUSLY to their Departure’. In July 1829 Mr. Kelly, Proprietor of the Hibernian Hotel was calling in all claims against him for liquidation, and he begged further

… that those who stand indebted to him, will come forward with the needful, as much in the shape of CASH as possible, on or before the 20th Instant, otherwise he will give his Solicitor a job.

The writing was on the wall for David Kelly. By December of that year he was bankrupt, and four months later he was dead.

DEATH – On Thursday 8th instant, in abject circumstances, at the General Hospital, after a protracted illness, in his 48th year, Mr. David Kelly, once well known as a butcher in Pitt-street. After making his fortune by several years’ industry, poor Kelly lately retired from the business, took to drink, got involved, became imbecile, thrown into gaol, and died not worth enough to bury him, though his remains were interred by the generosity of a few friends, with singular respectability.

Fortunately Frances did not live long enough to witness her husband’s pathetic end. Of all the four Pares girls’ husbands, David Kelly was the only one who could be described as a failure.

One question remains in regards to Frances. A Joseph Pares was baptised on 21 April 1796 at Kegworth, whose mother was Frances Pares, but for whom no father is listed. I have found nothing further for this boy, but wonder if he was an illegitimate son of ‘our’ Frances.

Mary Pares

Sixty-one of the sixty-two convict women who left England aboard the Indispensable on 2 March 1809 and arrived at Port Jackson on 18 August survived the journey. Among these was Mary Plowright. One year earlier, on 4 August 1808, she had been tried and convicted at the Nottingham Assizes for stealing a number of silk handkerchiefs and other articles, the property of William Swift, a hawker, and was sentenced to seven years transportation. As noted in the Transport Registers, Mary was the wife of William Plowright. They had married in 1798 in Nottingham for which event the bride was Mary Goddard. Nine years earlier, on 4 January 1789, Mary had married John Goddard at Kegworth, Leicestershire, and this time she was named Mary Pares. She had been baptised at Kegworth on 28 March 1770, and her parents were Charles and Sarah Pares. It is more than likely that Charles and John Pares (father of Frances, Lucy and Sophia) were brothers, and therefore Mary was a cousin to Frances, Lucy and Sarah. When Mary left England she not only left behind a husband, but also three children – Elizabeth, William and Henry (a fourth child, Edward, died and buried on 10 December 1798).

On arrival in the colony Mary was assigned as a servant to David Bevan, Auctioneer and Appraiser of George Street. In February 1811 she applied for a Ticket of Leave which was granted and she received an absolute pardon in 1812. One year later, on 7 February 1813, she gave birth to a girl, Eleanor, whose father was James Ball who had arrived in the colony some twelve years earlier. James Ball’s crime was in a class above stealing ribbon, lace and pigs. As an employee of the Mint he had not been able to resist temptation and was indicted for

… feloniously stealing, on the 3d on November, twelve penny-weights of gold, value 2l. 3s. and eight pieces of gold, called blanks, of the weight of two ounces four penny-weights three grain values, value 8l. 8s. …

and then trying to pawn them off. According to the pawnbroker, this was not the first time James had been to his premises with such booty. On 6 December 1797 James, aged 28, was found guilty of grand larceny and sentenced to seven years transportation. He arrived at Port Jackson on the Minorca on 14 December 1801, one of 99 convicts who, according to Governor King, were the

… healthiest and best conditioned that ever arrived here, being all fit for immediate labour …

Presumably there was not much call for ‘minters’ because on muster James claimed to be a sawyer. A free man and a self-employed carpenter by 1806. When Governor Macquarie introduced the licensing system in July 1810, James Ball, of Back Row East, was one of the fifty people licensed to sell beer at Sydney. He would have had to show that he had the means to pay the £5 annual licence and a £25 security, and undertake to keep an orderly House. So when Mary and James became acquainted he was well established, and by the time Eleanor was born James’ had upgraded his licence and his calling was Wine and Spirit Licencee of Pitt Street. It seems, however, that James played no further part in Mary’s life. At the age of 56 he married widow Catherine Bryant in August 1827.

But like James, Mary earned her living in the hotel trade. In April 1816 Mary Plowright of Pitt Street was one of those ‘Publicans duly licenced for the Keeping of Public Houses and the Vending of Wine and Spirits’. The name of the establishment was Speed the Plough and the licence was renewed annually in her name until 1820, when she was refused a licence, as decreed by Governor Macquarie on 10 February 1820.

List of Names of Publicans at Sydney whose Houses are either of bad fame, or injuriously situated as to the Morals and Sobriety of the Troops in Garrison and Convicts in the immediate service of Government and who therefore are not to receive Spirits Wine or Beer Licenses for the ensuring year.

Mary Ploughwright [sic] was the first name on the list, and this explains why, for the 1820 convict list, there is no reference to Mary Plowright, Publican. But she does appear as Mary Plowright, ‘widow’.

Why was she so described, as she (if not the authorities) no doubt knew that her husband William was still alive in England? The convict listing for 1821 provides a clue – because for this one, under the column ‘How Disposed of’ she was listed as ‘married’. On 11 January 1821 a special marriage licence was issued to Mary Plowright and Thomas Arkell, and they were married 4 days later by the Reverend Marsden at St. Johns Church, Parramatta. If Frances Kelly was aware that William Plowright was still alive, she was complicit in the ‘conspiracy’ as she and her husband David Kelly were the witnesses. Thomas Arkell, aged 46, a widower, and the Superintendent of Government Stock at Bathurst was quite a catch for the 50 year old bride. Thomas came free in January 1804 on the Experiment and quickly made his mark rising to Principal Overseer of Stock in 1813. His wife Ann, who had emigrated with him, died at Parramatta in September 1820. And, most conveniently, when the list of Licenced Publicans was published in February 1821, it was Thomas Arkell whose name appeared next to “Speed the Plough”.

But within a very short time the marriage had soured and, coincidentally, the “Speed the Plough” had metamorphosed into “The Nottingham New Inn”. Two notices appeared in the Gazette of 28 July 1821. The first was a repeat of a previous notice under the hand of Thomas Arkell.

I, the undersigned, do hereby caution and forewarn all Persons from giving Trust or Credit to my Wife, MARY ARKELL, late MARY PLOWRIGHT, of Pitt-Street, on my account, as I will not hold myself responsible for any debts or expences [sic] by her contracted after this public notice; as I have been separated from her by a certain Deed, bearing date the 21st of June last.

This was immediately followed by a notice placed by Mary Arkell and approved by George Crossley and Frances Wood. Referring to Thomas Arkell’s advertisement, which she regarded as ‘calculated to injure’ her business affairs, she ‘deemed it necessary, for public information, to state the following Matters’.

Previous to my marriage with Mr. Arkell, the greater part of my freehold and other estates, value more than £4000, were assigned to Trustees in trust, for my sole and separate use, notwithstanding my intended coverture; and upon Mr. Arkell and myself agreeing to separate, we mutually named two Trustees, with whom Mr. Thomas Arkell covenanted that we should at all times thereafter separate and live apart from each other and that I should, notwithstanding such my coverture, carry on trade on my own separate account, as a feme sole trader, and to enable me so to do, and to indemnify my said husband, for any act of mine in trade or otherwise, as well all the property settled before the marriage for my sole and separate use, as the stock in trade, household goods, and the premises now known by the name of the Nottingham New Inn, were assigned to trustees, to suffer me to occupy the premises, and to carry on the trade thereof, for my own sole and separate use, as a feme sole trader; with which premises, stock-in-trade, or any dealing in respect thereof, she said Mr. Thomas Arkell covenanted with the trustees, under a very considerable penalty, not to interfere or to claim any interest or property therein hereafter, or to molest me in my person or trade in any wise; and all the goods and effects were conveyed to such Trustees to protect them from interference or claim, either by Mr. Arkell, or any person claiming under him; and also, upon trust, to suffer me to sell the same and trade therewith, as a feme sole trader; and, by the Deed of Separation, the said Mr. Arkell covenants with the Trustees, that as well as the goods so assigned as all future purchases made by me for carrying on the trade, should continue, and from time be deemed and taken to be vested in such Trustees for the future protection of them against Mr. Arkell, or any other person, and possession of the house and effects in the Nottingham New Inn were delivered upon the trust:- and, by the Deed of Separation, the Trustees covenant with Mr. Arkell to pay all debts, if any, that were due by me before the marriage, to which he, by such marriage, might be liable; and any sums he might be deemed in law liable to pay, either for maintenance, or by reason of my carrying on such separate trade, and all costs and expenses eventually to arise to him in respect of the same.
And to prevent all future attempts to injure me in my trade, I do hereby give Notice, that the Trade of the Nottingham New Inn has been legally assigned by Mr. Thomas Arkell, my husband, to Trustees, upon trust for them to suffer me to conduct and carry on the Inn and Trade, for my sole and separate use and profit, as a feme sole trader: -and I wish it to be understood, than no goods, purchased by me in future for carrying on such trade or otherwise, are intended to be deemed as having any claim of payment from my said husband, but to be paid by myself or Trustees, for which they are fully indemnified by the effects so assigned;- and Mr. Thomas Arkell, my husband, is not to receive or take payment, form any person or persons whatever, for any goods or other effects, matters to arise in respect of the said Inn or Trade thereof, and all such payments are in future to be made by and to me; and if any goods or other property have been supplied by my order for the trade of the said Inn, or otherwise, before or since my marriage with the said Mr. Arkell, which I have not already paid or called upon and arranged payment for, the account is to be furnished to me, at the Nottingham New Inn, in Pitt-street, and, if just, shall be forthwith arranged and settle by me or my said Trustees.

And, in confirmation of her sole trader status, she restated the situation in a follow-up notice and assured clients that it was ‘business as usual’ at the Nottingham New Inn, where travellers and others, and particularly ‘Captains of Ships, and other seafaring Gentlemen’ would continue to be ‘well accommodated’.

The pre-nuptial agreement proved to have been a wise move and clearly reveals that Mary was a ‘canny’ businesswoman. But was she also a scheming woman? Did she marry Thomas in order to have her licence reinstated? Was Thomas Arkell party to what was possibly a marriage of convenience?

At least four times between 1812 and 1824 Mary Plowright advised the Sydney public that she intended to sail for England. In October 1812 she intimated that she planned to leave on the Isabella, but she must have shelved her plans because she was then five months pregnant, and her daughter was born in Sydney – hardly time to make the voyage to England and back. Two short entries in the Gazette in May 1819 notified Mary Plowright’s intention of leaving the Colony on the Surrey, which sailed out on 25 July and arrived in England on 16 December 1819. In December 1821 the following notice appeared twice in the Gazette.

TO be LET or SOLD, ALL those very desirable and well situate PREMISES, known by the Sign of the Nottingham New Inn, Pitt-street, Sydney, consisting of good Stabling, Granaries, &c. together with the Fixtures and part of the Household Furniture. The numerous advantages of the above-named situation are too well known to require any comment. The Proprietor is about to proceed to Europe per earliest Opportunity. For Particulars apply at the above Inn.

The 1822 General Muster and the Land and Stock Muster were taken together, between 2 and 13 September. Mary Plowright is listed in both – as a licensed victualler for the former and as owning 1 horse for the latter – which precludes any long sea voyages for that year. A similar notice was placed repeatedly in the Gazette between January and March 1824.

TO be LET, with immediate Possession, well worth the Notice of Gentlemen, Settlers, and New-comers for 2 or 3 years, if required. All that commodious HOUSE, known by the Sign of Nottingham New Inn, situate in Pitt street, Sydney. These Premises are well adapted for extensive business, either in the mercantile or public line. The dwelling-house contains 9 rooms, with kitchen, cellar, outhouses, granary, and other apartments, most conveniently fitted out, as also excellent stabling, with chaise-houses, &c. – For further Particulars apply to the Proprietor, Mrs Mary Arkell, residing on the Premises, she being about to proceed to Europe.
It is also requested that all outstanding Debts be immediately paid, to prevent other steps being taken.

Mary certainly did not go anywhere far in 1824 as she placed the identical advertisement in the Gazette in February 1825. The final time that Mary was included in the convict documentation was in for the 1825 General Muster, conducted in October. Once again she was listed as a Victualler at Sydney. One month later, on 20 November, Mary Arkell died, her passing marked by the briefest of entries in the bottom corner of the newspaper – ‘Died on Sunday last, Mrs. Mary Arkell, of Pitt-street, Sydney’. She had drawn up her will on 31 December 1824. Commencing with a reiteration of the terms and conditions of the Indenture of Settlement made prior to her marriage to Thomas Arkell, and the subsequent Deed of Separation, the document continues –

First I recommend my Soul to God who gave it in hope through the mediation of the Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ to have pardon for all my Sins and I commit my Body to the Earth and with respect to my worldly estate which it has pleased God to give me I give and dispose of the same as hereafter mentioned upon the Trusts herein expressed and concerning the same I give, devise and bequeath unto my Executors hereinafter mentioned and to the survivor of them their or his heirs executors administrators or assigns all my real and personal estate whatsoever wheresoever and of what nature or kind so ever to be by my said Executors taken received or held in trust for the uses intents and purposes hereinafter expressed.
Concerning the same (that is to say) with respect to my stock in trade, household goods and moveable property as soon as conveniently may be after my decease to sell and dispose of the same to the best advantage by Public or Private Sale for the most money that can or may be gotten for the same and after payment of all my just debts, funeral and other expenses to place the residue of such money out on good security at interest and to pay and apply the same and the interest thereof in like manner and according to the mode in which my other Estates hereinafter directed to be paid and applied for the benefit of my children hereinafter mentioned or such of them as may become entitled by coming to this Colony or sending authorities within the time hereinafter expressed.
And my Will is that with respect to my freehold premises in Pitt Street Sydney now known by the Nottingham New Inn and numbered 39 in the said Street. My will is that by said Executors and the survivor of them and or his heirs hold the same in trust for my daughter Eleanor Plowright now living with me in Sydney with power to let and act the same and to receive the rents, issues and profits thereof and to apply the same or so much thereof as may be necessary for the education support and maintenance of my said daughter Eleanor Plowright until she shall attain the age of Twenty one years or day of Marriage which shall first happen and after such event (if married) to assign the same to Trustees to be appointed for that purpose upon Trust to permit and suffer my said daughter Eleanor Plowright notwithstanding her coverture to receive the rents issues and profits thereof to her sole and separate uses and not to be subject to the control debts or any engagement of her husband in any wise howsoever.

Mary appointed her good friends Mr. James Chisholm, Merchant, and Mr. Thomas Cooper, Blacksmith, both of George Street, as her Executors and also Guardians of her infant daughter Eleanor Plowright. They wasted no time in acceding to Mary’s wishes. The first sale of effects was scheduled for 30 December.

On Friday the 30th instant, at eleven o’clock, at the Nottingham Inn, Pitt-street, by order of the Executors of the late Mrs. Arkell.
The valuable HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, consisting of bedsteads, bedding, tables, sofas, chairs, chest of drawing, looking glasses, kitchen utensils &c. &c.
Two excellent horses, a handsome gig and harness, cart and harness, with the residue of stock in trade and other effects.
Conditions made known at the time of sale.
N.B. – the above desirable PREMISES to LET. Inquire of Mr. Chisholm, George-street.

Subsequently, by order of the late Mary Arkell’s Executors, a ‘Centrical and Valuable Tenement’ in Clarence-street ‘capable of very great improvement; combined with a most improving neighbourhood’ was put up for auction, the advertisement directly targeted at ‘Capitalists and Persons desirous of making an excellent investment in property. Shortly after, the attention of ‘Merchants, Traders and Others’ was drawn to a sale to be conducted on the premises of 47 and 48 Pitt-street. Having been recently renovated, these premises were vaunted as another excellent investment opportunity, and

… to persons desirous of residing in a respectable and populous neighbourhood, they will be found truly valuable. Present rent is very low, being only 60l per annum.

Eleanor (Ellen) Plowright was only 12 years old when her mother died. If, as directed, the Executors invested the proceeds of Mary Arkell’s estate wisely, Ellen Plowright would have been well provided for and could look forward to a secure future. But this was not to be. On 12 May 1830, just turned seventeen and expecting their first child, Ellen married Benjamin Kirkby at St James Church, Sydney. Benjamin, then aged 26, had arrived in Sydney on the Mangles in March 1826 as a free settler. The following year, in partnership with William Merritt he commenced business as a butcher in George Street. By mid-1828 he was a declared bankrupt. He seems to have recovered from this set back and, with George Britton, established the firm Kirkby and Britton, Butchers of Market Street, which was short-lived. By the time he married Ellen in 1830 he was butchering on his own account. He was again charged with bankruptcy in 1831, this time interestingly by Eleanor’s father James Ball. In the face of financial disaster the Kirkbys turned to the Equity Court in 1832, invoking the clause of Mary Arkell’s will by which, on her marriage, Eleanor would be entitled to the rents and profits derived from the Pitt Street property, but which by coverture, if not in fact, could not be used to bail out Benjamin. At the same time the property was put into the hands of two new trustees – Messrs Lamb and Spark. Benjamin’s father-in-law James Ball died in 1834. In October the following was placed in the Gazette.

In the Estate and Effects of James Ball, late of Sydney, Sawyer deceased.
To the next of Kin of the said James Ball deceased and to all Christian People.
You are hereby cited, that you appear personally, or by one of the Proctors of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, at the Court House in King-street Sydney on Monday the 16th, day of February, at ten o’clock in the forenoon, and shew cause why administration (with the will annexed) of all and singular the Goods and Chattels, Rights, Credits, and Effects of James Ball deceased, should not be granted to Benjamin Kirkby of Pitt-street, Sydney, Victualler, a party beneficially interested under the said will as is represented to us.

Here Benjamin is referred to as a Victualler – he had taken over the licence of the “Bunch of Grapes” in Pitt Street from 7 October, three weeks before the above notice was published. I do not know if there were any objectors to Benjamin’s claim to administer the Ball estate, or if the Kirkbys inherited anything, but a later news item, dated 8 September 1838, tells a very sorry story.

Coroner’s Inquest
Yesterday morning an inquest was held at the “Tanner’s Arms”, Castlereagh-street, on the body of Ellen Kirkby, who was found dead in her bed the previous morning. The deceased was the wife of a person at present under confinement in Parramatta Gaol for a debt, and was a great drunkard. She retired to bed about twelve o’clock on the previous night, but not in good health, as she had been complaining before that time. In the morning about six o’clock she was found dead. Mr Surgeon Gillespie, who was called in at the time, certified that her death proceeded from natural causes, but might have been accelerated by intemperance. The Jury returned a verdict “That the death of the deceased was brought on by habitual intoxication”.

Eleanor Kirkby was only 25 when she died. She left a hopeless husband and three children, Julia Adelaide aged just 8, and Maria Lucy aged 6, and William Frederick aged 4, to mourn her loss.

Two people of note, both butchers, outlived Mary Arkell. Her father Charles, born about 1847, was buried at Kegworth on 28 October 1835 just short of his 90th birthday, leaving behind his third wife and an extended family, including twins born in April 1826!

On Thursday morning last, the wife of Mr. C. Pares, a respectable tradesman of Kegworth, of twins, a fine boy and girl. Mr. P. is now in his 78th year, a fine, hale, hearty old man, and welcomed the young strangers with an enthusiasm that did him honour. He has a large and healthy family by his third wife and has been a great grand-father for some years. One of his children by his first marriage was baptised in the year 1770. We are happy to add that the mother who is an exemplary wife and parent, together with the children are likely to do well.

The other person was Mary’s second husband, William Plowright, who also lived to a good age, and died on 22 October 1843.

On Sunday last, in Maypole yard, in his 85th year, much respected, Mr. Plowright. He was formerly a butcher in this town, but for the last eight years had been confined to his room.

In her will Mary made reference to ‘my children’ who, excluding Eleanor, were the three living Plowright offspring – Elizabeth (who by 1839 was Mrs. William George Morris), William, and Henry – the last of whom had emigrated to Australia and was, as previously noted, living with Sophia Beeson in 1846. And it was in 1846 that a rather complicated legal case – Plowright and Others v. Lamb and Another – caught the attention of the Sydney newspapers. This was an action of ejectment brought by the plaintiffs William Plowright, Henry Plowright, and W.G. Morris and wife to recover the possession of twenty-three and a half perches of land at the corner of Pitt and Market streets. The defendants were the two trustees of the property appointed in 1832. The case, as reported, was laid before the court.

By the evidence adduced on the part of the plaintiffs, it appeared that William Plowright, the younger, the present claimant to the property, professed to derive his title through William Plowright the elder, the husband of one Mary Plowright, to whom the property was alleged to have been granted by Governor Macquarie, on the 1st July 1819 … The earliest trace of Mary Plowright was upwards of forty years ago, when she was living a Nottingham with a man named Goddard to whom she was said to have been married. By this man she had three children, Ann, Jane, and Rose, all of whom were said to have been dead, although there was no positive proof of such fact. It was shown from evidence, as to the statements which had been made by the older members of the family, that Goddard, who was by trade a watch and clock maker, died from the effects of brass filings having settled on his chest; some time after the death of Goddard, this female being still resident at Nottingham, was said to have married a second time to William Plowright, the elder, who was a carcass butcher in that town. There was no positive proof of an actual marriage between these parties, but it was show that they had passed as man and wife, and one witness said that his father, who knew them well, spoke of having been at the wedding; by Plowright she had three children, Elizabeth William, and Henry, who were all named on the record as lessors of the plaintiff, the female being there described as the wife of one Morris; in the year 1808 Mrs. Plowright came to New South Wales under a sentence of transportation for seven years, her family remaining in England; some years after this some of her relatives, who also came to the colony, found Mrs. Plowright in possession of the land now claimed on which she was then conducting a public-house, the sign of which at that time was “Speed the Plough”, although it was afterwards known as the “Nottingham New Inn”; at this time she had a daughter known as Eleanor Plowright, but who on account of her age must have been illegitimate. Afterwards Mrs. Plowright became known as Mrs. Arkill [sic], but it was not known whether she was married to Arkill or not, and it appeared that her own name, Mary Plowright, remained on the sign of the public-house which she kept, up to the time of her death. Mrs. Plowright died towards the latter end of 1825, but it was proved that the elder Plowright survived his wife for several years, and that the whole of the three children were still living, William and Elizabeth being in England, and Henry in this colony. The plaintiff’s counsel relied upon the proof of Mrs. Plowright’s possession as tantamount to the possession of her husband, she being during the whole time a married woman; and the father being dead, William Plowright, the younger, now claimed through him as the heir-at-law.

[Further, and presumably with any claims that may be made on behalf of the Kirkby offspring]

It appeared from the statement of counsel that this property had been devised by will from Mrs. Plowright to her daughter Eleanor, which will it was contended was invalid, on account of the position in which the testatrix stood. The interest of the present defendants in the transaction was that of trustees, by the appointment of the Court on behalf of the person to whom the property had been thus bequeathed.

The defence called into question two issues critical to its case. The first was Mary Plowright’s right to the property in question, given that there was nothing specifically in writing under the Governor’s signature confirming the ‘alleged’ grant, and an entry in the Register of Lands Grants by itself being insufficient proof. However, it was the opinion of the Chief Justice that in the absence of proof positive of a title deed, possession for a period of time could be regarded as prima facie evidence of ownership. The second point was that there was insufficient evidence that Mary had ever married William Plowright. Indeed Mary did marry all three of her husbands, and further, Sophie Beeson and Lucy Foulkes gave evidence that Mary was fully aware that husband number two was alive when she received the grant, and that also at the time she died. His Honor, having summed up, returned a verdict for the plaintiffs. The issue of Mary Plowright’s bigamy would have been irrelevant to this case.

Henry, the younger son of William and Mary Plowright, like so many men of this account was a butcher. I am not sure when he arrived in the colony but he died in Sydney in August 1852.

On the 20th instant at his residence No. 41 Elizabeth-street, Mr. Henry Plowright, aged 42 years, after a long and painful illness, which he bore with Christian fortitude.

He bequeathed all his ‘share estate and interest in certain houses and premises in Pitt and Market Streets in Sydney’ to his brother William Plowright, subject to payment of £300 and all his personal estate, property and effects to his housekeeper Catherine Owens, widow. As far as is known Henry Plowright was a bachelor, but his ‘cosy’ domestic arrangements led some to refer to his housekeeper as Mrs. Catherine Plowright. It was as such that she was the defendant a spat which was gleefully reported in the press.

The Police Register
JEALOUSY. – A strong example of this powerful passion was afforded in an interview which took place before the police authorities, between Mrs. Barrett of Burdekin’s Terrace, and Mrs. Catherine Plowright of Castlereagh-street. The former ascended the rostrum with an air of success, while Mrs. P. looking equally confident, was handed to Mr. Nichols, her advocate, by the most polite butcher in the metropolis. Notice to start having been given, the complainant went off at a break-neck pace, and deposed that the defendant used the most threatening language to her, and some words which she could not soil the delicacy of her tongue by repeating. They, however were heart-rending, and accused Mr. Plowright of being fonder of her than he was of Mrs. P., and all this was very wrong of the defendant, knowing as she did that that Mr. P. was a relation of hers, and no further intimacy between them, good bad or indifferent. Mrs. Pearce and Mrs. Bryan, two female friends of the complainant, were not quite so reserved in their disclosures. They favored the court with divers specimens of the language complained of, and, if the accusations then made were true, Mr. Plowright certainly cannot be looked upon as a model husband. “But,” as Mr. Nichols observed, “ladies in a passion will say strange things, and much extenuation ought to be given to an individual who looked at certain harmless affairs through the jaundiced glass of jealousy. He begged to assure the court that the complainant had not the slightest occasion to be in fear of her life from his client, who was of the mildest and most harmless being in existence.” The bench was deaf as an adder to the learned advocate’s oratory, and order the defendant to be bound over to keep the peace – herself in £20, and two good substantial tens.

The other party in this case was Mrs. Sarah Barrett, great-niece of Sophia Beeson, and second cousin to Henry Plowright. I wonder what John William Barrett, Sarah’s husband, thought of this embarrassing little contretemps.

William Plowright the younger died at Nottingham on 13 September 1868. His will, with effects under £3,000, was proved on 26 October 1868. Administration of his estate in New South Wales – goods under $28,500 – was not granted until 16 May 1882. The eldest of the Plowright children, Elizabeth Morris, died in London on 2 January 1880. Her personal estate was valued at under £800, but when administration was granted in Sydney on 9 May 1882 her assets were valued at £10,700.

The final transaction on the Plowright estate had occurred just a short time earlier on 29 August 1881.

Mary Plowright Properties

Plowright Estate – Cnr Market & Pitt Streets

Sale of City Property
Messrs. Hardie and Gorman report having sold, on Monday, that block of city property next Farmer and Co.’s, known as Plowright’s Estate, including a shop in Pitt-street, Packer’s Hotel, at the corner of Pitt and Market streets, six shops in Market-street. Area of land – 37 feet to Pitt-street, and 150 feet to Market Street; price, £30,000; Messrs. William Farmer and John Pope, purchasers.


Genealogy Websites
England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
England Select Marriages, 1538-1973
England, Select Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991
London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1821
New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849
New South Wales, Australia, Butts of Marriage Licences, 1813-1835, 1894
New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1856
New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Land Grants and Leases, 1792-1867
New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834
New South Wales, Census and Population Books, 1811-1825, 1824
New South Wales, Convict Registers of Conditional and Absolute Pardons, 1788-1870
Pallot’s Marriage Index 1780-1837
UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849

England Births and Christenings 1538-1975

England, Births & Baptisms 1538-1975
New South Wales Will Books 1800-1952

Other Websites
Biographical Database of Australia,
Free Settler or Felon? Convict Ship Earl Spencer 1813,
Free Settler or Felon? Convict Ship Minorca 1801,
My Genealogy Home Page : Information about Mary Pears,
NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages,
Old Bailey Proceedings Online,

Online Newspapers
The British Newspaper Archive
Leicester Chronicle
Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties
Oxford Journal

Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer
Evening News
The Australian
The Monitor
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser
The Sydney Herald
The Sydney Monitor

© Leonie Fretwell, 2017