Patrick John London – (1770 – 1810) & Sarah (1780 -1818). New South Wales Corps & Irish Rebel Defenders.

Patrick John London or John London as he was also  known and his wife Sarah London and their infant son, William London, were our first London ancestors in Australia.  He and Sarah came to Australia aboard the Ann.  On the 25th August 1809 the English ship left England bound for the colonies.  Aboard were a motley bunch of convicts (men and women), crew, free settlers and soldiers (along with a limited number of soldiers wives and children).  These latter were from the 73rd regiment, who would serve as reinforcements and replacements for the existing unruly New South Wales Corps –  many of whom had taken part in the infamous 1808 “Rum Rebellion” and overthrow of Governor Bligh.   The 73rd were specially trained for this commission and were known as the 73rd regiment on foot. Source  Australian War Memorial Colonial Records

The journey appeared to be largely uneventful.  The ship called in at Rio de Janeiro before arriving at Port Jackson on the 27th February 1810.  Those aboard are remarked in the shipping notes to have enjoyed a pleasant voyage with only one man lost overboard.  As to where (Patrick) John and Sarah fitted into this crew I strongly suspect he was a soldier with the 73rd regiment on foot who would come to Australia. (Thanks to  Lyn Murphy and Allen London who have done the research behind this one and generously shared).

A wide and varied supply of produce had been brought from London and Ireland aboard the Ann and this included ‘slops’ (clothing that was allocated to the convicts)   for their use when they disembarked. They were responsible for maintaining this wardrobe as getting new clothing from the ‘stores’ was not an easy achievement in those days and the clothing was expected to last a considerable period of time.

The Biographical database of Australia has enabled me to almost certainly tie our Patrick into the 73rd Regiment on Foot.   Sarah who is recorded as a free-woman (Mrs. London with a child) would stay on in Australia.  Poor record-keeping at the time with families arriving was a criticism that would make its way back to England’s government of the day.   Tracking Patrick (John) and Sarah’s movements in Sydney has to date proven exasperatingly difficult. What is known without doubt is that a month after arriving  Patrick (John) died on the 27th March 1810.

His record (no. 1342) shows he was buried aged 40, on  27 March 1810 at what would became known as the Old Sydney Burial Ground (opened for interment in 1792). His name was recorded as John London.  The cause of his death at this time is still a mystery.  The Old Sydney Burial Ground now rests beneath the Sydney Town Hall in George Street.  The town hall foundation stone having been laid in 1868.  From  City of Sydney Website (2013),  “The corner close to Kent Street hosted graves of the non-commissioned officers of the 46th and 48th Regiment. Over in the south-west corner near the Presbyterian Church, soldiers of the 73rd Regiment were buried. And in the ground fronting George Street, near Druitt Street, some non-commissioned officers of the NSW Corps were buried”.  The Old Sydney Burial Ground  was on the very outer of  the town perimeter. By 1820  when the now full cemetary was abandoned it enjoyed a dubious reputation as a gathering place for brigands, thieves and woman of poor repute.  Grave robbery was rife and its use as a public urinal was said to turn the noses of those in Sydney itself. (City of Sydney website, 2013).  During the hot summer months the stench from the burial ground was said to be so bad that those in Sydney could not abide its revolting perfume.   Standing on the steps of the building during a hot summer’s day in January 2014, I could only imagine what must have been going through Sarah’s mind as she faced the future with no protector, no income and an infant, reliant on her.  Did she have any friends to whom she could turn?  What opportunities were available to a woman in her circumstance?

By 1814 Sarah who was still recorded as Mrs. London was living off the stores, (so not a woman of independent means), with a ticket of leave  convict, Maurice Holligan (who we also find as Hallighan and Halligan, Wholagan and christian name as Morris).  Sadly by 1818, Sarah herself died.  Now here’s where it gets interesting.  Was Sarah living as a housekeeper with Maurice? was he a relation (possibly a brother?).  I really don’t know for certain. I do know that it is exceedingly unlikely that their relationship was anything other than platonic because very soon after her death Maurice would marry and is listed as  a bachelor. Later records refer to Hallighan (who was recorded as William’s guardian, and also some records refer to him as his uncle and in one case, as father, the latter of course not being correct).  At first I felt quite disgruntled that Maurice would hand over a nine year old boy who’d just lost his mother to an orphanage, but then I did a bit of research on Maurice and it all became a bit clearer as to why this likely happened.

Maurice was a mere nineteen years when he was sentenced 1802. He was held in jail and finally arrived in the colonies aboard the Hercules in 1806. HIs sentence was life.  The Hercules  held a significant number of “Irish Rebels” aboard, of which Maurice was one. Also known as “Defender’s” these political prisoners  had been involved in the 1798 and 1802 Irish uprisings. In Maurice’s case the uprising of 1798. At the time that Sarah died these Irish rebels were still quite a problem for the colonies, frequently rousing dissent and agitating for an Ireland free of British rule.  (All sounds pretty reasonable to me.) However, the times being what they were and the fact that Maurice was still technically a convict it is unlikely that the local authorities were going to leave a young boy in the care of a political-prisoner after his mothers death – hence William was made over to the orphans school. Maurice indeed would not receive a full-pardon until 1820 so by this time there was little  chance that the authorities would have given William back.  Morris or Maurice as he was recorded would marry the same year that Sarah died and after William went into the orphanage. Maurice married a fellow convict, Margaret Rowe in the October.  The Reverend Samuel Marsden would step in and William would be one of the first admissions to the new Orphanage School for the growing number of orphans in the colony.