Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Notes from mc2 - George Guest & Mary Bateman

George Guest (Gess) was born at Prestbury, Gloucester in 1767. On 4 March 1784 at Gloucester Lenten Assizes he was sentenced to death on two counts of theft - stealing ten live pigs and a chestnut mare. The sentence was reduced to seven years transportation to America. Initially the seventeen year old was taken to the hulk Censor. At the end of February 1787 George was transferred to the Alexander to leave for New South Wales with the First Fleet.

After almost a year at Sydney Cove, George Guest was aboard the Supply on 7 January 1790 bound for Norfolk Island where he completed his sentence.

Mary Bateman was born in London in 1773. On 7 May 1788 fifteen year old Mary Bateman was tried at the Old Bailey for the theft of a silver watch from James Palmer and Elizabeth Sully was tried for receiving the watch as stolen goods at her lodgings at 45 Cable Street, East London where she entertained her clients.

Mary Bateman and Elizabeth Durant had met James Palmer in Welclose Square and had a drink of ale with him. From there they went with him to their lodgings where his watch disappeared. Mary Bateman was sentenced to seven years transportation to New South Wales, travelling on the Lady Juliana as part of the Second Fleet, arriving on 3 June 1790.

Mary Bateman was one of the female convicts sent to Norfolk Island arriving on 7 August 1790 aboard the Surprise.

On 5 November 1790 George Guest and Mary Bateman married. In 1791 George farmed one acre of land. By October 1792 his land had increased to 12 acres and six acres had been ploughed. He sold and purchased land and also received grants so by 1805 George owned 242 acres on which he grazed 600 sheep. He was the largest landowner on the island.

George did not escape the harsh penalities implemented on Norfolk Island to maintain order. He was flogged for the crimes of lying to Major Ross, neglecting his duty and employing two convicts without permission.

When it was decided to transfer the settlement to Tasmania the Guest family volunteered to leave. In September 1805 George Guest and his family were transferred to Tasmania and settled at New Norfolk. However, Guest felt that he never received his just entitlements in the transfer of land from Norfolk Island to Tasmania and spent much of his life, including several trips by ship to Sydney, disputing this and other decisions with government officials.

The resettlement of George Guest's family and other families at New Norfolk in Tasmania helped establish the sheep industry in that state as the sheep from Norfolk Island flourished in their new environment. Tasmanian sheep were later used to establish the sheep industry in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

George Guest also undertook a number of business enterprises including opening the Seven Stars Inn in Campbell Street, Hobart. He owned a number of houses in Hobart as well as large land holdings.

The children of George Guest and Mary Bateman:
  • Sarah 1792 - 1868
  • George 1794 -
  • William 1804 - 1835
  • Mary 1802 - 1804
  • John 1805 - ?
In 1810 in Sydney George Guest reported to government officials that his wife was deprived of her reason. By 1828 Mary Bateman was an inmate of a lunatic asylum at Liverpool in New South Wales where she died on 2 April 1829.

George Guest died in Hobart on 23 March 1841. He was buried in the cemetery at St David's Church.

Sarah Guest married Thomas Birch.


  1. Hi, I am a local of Norfolk Island and I am compiling information about George Guest and I was wondering a few things:
    1.You stated that his sentence was changed from death to transportation, why?
    2. Do you have any information on George Guest's lineage or the names of his parents?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. I suspect that the sentence was commuted from death to transportation largely due to his age. He was 18 when he was arrested. Unfortunately I do not at present have any further information about George's family. If you make an enquiry in the Contact Form on the right at the bottom of the page I can get back to you if I locate any further information. I would be interested to see the information you have about his time in Norfolk Island. George was definitely a complex character. Vicki

  3. Thank you, I will see what I can do. It may be a while though.

  4. Oh, and I just went to the convict cemetery and found a plaque that was erected by the family in memory of Mary Guest. Ill get that to you aswell.

  5. Hi Vicki, George and Mary are my 5x Great Grandparents :). Thank you for all this wonderful research - I have a basic family tree underway but this detail is wonderful. Shae

    1. Thanks for your comments, Shae, and good luck with your family tree. I hope to add some additional posts about George and Mary and their family during the next few months. Vicki

  6. Hello I am also a decent of George Guest and Mary Bateman. My Mum has done a lot of research on this.

    Pamela Andrews

  7. It is good to hear from you Pamela. If you contact me again in the Contact Box in the top right column of this blog site maybe your family and I can share some information. As you can tell I have done quite a bit of research on George and Mary but there is still much that I do not know. Vicki

  8. Did you ever find any details of George's parents? There are 2 Prestbury's in England - the one in Gloucestershire and another which was in Lancashire but now in Cheshire. There's a lady who was in my FH group who had connections to the Gloucestershire lot. If you still don't have any information, I'll contact her. I've always believed that George was the Lancashire/Cheshire guy. Joan Nichols