Saturday, 1 February 2014

52 Ancestors #3 Kezia Brown

Kezia Brown was born in 1771 in Severn Stoke, Worcestershire. Her parents were Aaron Brown and Mary Farley. On 10 March 1771 Kezia was baptised at St Denys Church at Severn Stoke.
Part of the existing Church of St Denys was built in the 12th century.

When her grandfather, William Farley, died in May 1787 he left Kezia the sum of three pounds which she inherited when she turned 18. By 1789 Kezia appears to have left home and is working as a labourer in the garden of a property belonging to Mr James Wheeler and his family in Gloucester, approximately 24 miles from Severn Stoke. In July 1789 Kezia contracted smallpox and was looked after by the Wheeler family for six weeks. On 20 August 1789 Kezia ran away from the Wheeler house and was found by Edward Wheeler at Norton, probably on her way home to Severn Stoke. She was arrested for allegedly taking with her items belonging to the Wheelers.

On 9 October 1789 at Gloucester City Sessions Kezia was tried for the theft of one black silk cloak and hood, one piece of black lace and one piece of black ribbon, one flannel petticoat, one dimity petticoat,, two shifts, three muslin aprons, one shawl, five caps, one apron cloth and one check apron. She was found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation.

In November 1789 female prisoners from county gaols were taken to the transport ship, Neptune. The ship was to carry 421 male convicts and 78 female convicts to New South Wales. On the short journey from Plymouth to Portsmouth a number of convicts died and were buried at sea. Unfortunately this was a sign  of worse things to come as the mortality rate on the Neptune during the voyage was 31% with 147 male convicts and 11 female convicts dying during the six month voyage. The contractors were paid for each convict who boarded the ship with no concern for the number who arrived in the colony alive. The contractors were also allowed to sell any surplus stores when they reached the colony so convicts were expected to survive on minimum rations. An enquiry was held when the ships returned to England however that did not assist the convicts who had had to endure incredible hardship.
The ships of the Second Fleet were due to leave England in December 1789 but stormy weather postponed the departure. Instead they set sail on 19 January. The Neptune arrived in New South Wales on 28 June 1790. Charles Bateson's book, The convict ships 1787-1868 (2004) and Michael Flynn's book, The Second Fleet: Britain's grim convict armada of 1790 (1993) describe in detail the Second Fleet voyage. The following two posts in this blog - Second Fleet and Second Fleet Ships Notes - provide some information about the journey.

By the time the ships of the Second Fleet arrived supplies in the colony were running low and there was general dismay when it was realised that instead of ships carrying much needed supplies the ships carried additional people that the colony had to support. The condition of the new arrivals added to the despair of those attempting to manage the colony. Under the circumstances it is amazing that so may convicts did survive.

Once settled in her new environment Kezia shared accommodation with William Roberts. Their first child, William, was baptised in Sydney on 4 September 1791. A daughter, Mary, was born 15 June 1793. As William had a wife and family in England, William and Kezia had to wait seven years from the day of his sentence before they could marry. On 14 August 1792, William and Kezia were married at St Phillip's Church in Sydney. William and Kezia had an additional eight children, Sarah born 1795, James born 1798, John born 1801, Robert born 1803, Maria born 1805, Hariett born 1807, Ann born 1809 and Edward born 1813.

From 1804 William received a number of grants of land initially near Sydney and later in the Windsor area where the family eventually settled. They lived on a property known as Hobby Farm (named after the original owner of the land, Thomas Hobby) which they successfully farmed. There were challenges as the area near the Hawkesbury River was prone to flooding and from time to time there were disputes between settlers. There would also have been disputes in the area with the Aboriginal people who had been displaced when Europeans started subdividing the area. Kate Grenville has written about the challenges of surviving in the early years of the colony in her novel, The Secret River, the first book in a trilogy written about this era.

When William died in 1820, Kezia and her family continued to live at Hobby Farm. The General Muster of 1822 provides information about the land and livestock belonging to Keziah Brown. In her final years Kezia lived with her son, Robert, in Richmond where she died on 22 June 1854 aged 83.

The two volume work, A rich inheritance: William Roberts and Kezia Brown, their background and their family (1988) provides additional information about what is known about the life of Kezia.

Kezia was my great (x4) grandmother.

6 comments:

  1. I am descended from Kezia's brother Job

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    1. Good to hear from you Michael. I know nothing about Kezia's brothers and sisters, except for their names and date of birth. It would be great to learn a little about the life of the family that remained in England.

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  2. I am a descendant of Kezia and William!

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    1. Aimie, Thanks for adding a comment about your relationship to Kezia and William. There is a contact box at the bottom of the right hand column of the page if you would like to provide me with more information.
      Cheers
      Vicki

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  3. I am Kezia's 5x great grand daughter

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  4. Keziah, Thanks for adding a comment about your relationship to Kezia. There is a contact box at the bottom of the right hand column of the page if you would like to provide me with more information about your family's connection with Kezia.
    Cheers
    Vicki

    ReplyDelete