Thomas Moss (1802 – 1860) & Mary Anne Ellis (1805 – 1857) Assisted Bounty Immigrants to the Australian colonies.

Thomas Moss was the first of our Moss ancestors to come to Australia.

Thomas was baptised on the 8th of August 1802 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.  He was the son of Richard and Sarah Moss; a protestant family.  Thomas was born in the parish of St Mary, St Denys, and St George.  Later shipping records give his date of birth as 1803 but his death certificate supports 1802 so I’d suggest this is the correct year.

On the 31st of July 1825, Thomas at the age of 23 married 19-year-old Mary Anne Ellis a fellow local from Oldham, Manchester, Lancashire at St Mary’s Church, Prestwich, Lancashire. Even though both were recorded on their immigration records as being able to read and write; on their registration of marriage, they have both drawn an X as their mark.

Thomas Moss and Mary Anne Ellis

Mary was the daughter of William and Rachel/Rachael Ellis from Manchester, England born on (possibly) the 1st of November 1805. Her death certificate gives her birth as about 1806. Shipping records indicate 1806.  Baptism records indicate Mary was christened on the 27th of July 1806 the daughter of Rachael and William Ellis.

In 1829 their son Thomas was born, followed by Richard in 1834 and Mary in 1835. In Oldham, England where Thomas and Mary were living there were around 42,000 people living in the large industrial township. The same year that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert celebrated the birth of their son Edward; Thomas and Mary chose to leave England via the assisted bounty program.  Bound for the Australian colony. As luck would have it Thomas and Marie were en route to Port Philip when the 1841 English Census was completed so there is no record of them on this census.

The family journeyed the thirty-two miles from Manchester to Liverpool to board the Frankfield. I frequently wonder what sort of conversations families had when they came to making the decision to emigrate, what was the trigger for this to happen?  With the Moss family I imagine as working-class people with a little family, they figured life in Australia would have more opportunities.  At the time they left England their destination (Melbourne) was only a very newly established British settlement.

The ship the Franksfield arrived in Port Phillip (Melbourne) on the 8th of June 1841 under Captain WC Mitchell.  She had sailed from Liverpool via Rio De Janeiro and onto Port Phillip.  As bounty immigrants, their accommodation was in steerage.  The trip had not been an overly pleasant one and the ship was put into quarantine on arrival as there was sickness on board. It was a few days before the medical board lifted the restriction on the ship and those on board were allowed to leave the ship.  In total there had been ten deaths.  One adult and nine children.  Aboard the ship had been 32 cases of typhoid, dysentery, and other diseases in this one journey.  For the bounty immigrants, some of their promised employers in Melbourne were unwilling to engage them if they and their families were sick.

On the shipping records the Moss family were identified as being Protestant bounty immigrants from Manchester in England. They were brought out by importing agents A. B. Smith and Co.  According to shipping records, Thomas aged 38 a Laborer, and Mary aged 35 a House Servant, could both read and write.  With them were their son Thomas 12, Richard 9, and Mary 6.  There may have been a baby John who died on board the ship but I have to find more transcripts to prove this.

The trip can’t have been all bad as it was reported in the papers;


The Frankfield. — The passengers and emigrants, per Frankfield, presented yesterday, Captain Mitchell, the respected commander of that vessel, with a silver snuff box, and which it is believed he well merited. It bears the following inscription:— ” Presented to W. C. Mitchell, Esq, by the passengers and emigrants of the ship Frankfield, as a small testimonial of their gratitude for the comfort and happiness they enjoyed during their passage from Liverpool to Port Phillip and Sydney. July 3rd, 1841.”      

The Australian 8th July 1841 – Maybe it was the Sydney-bound passengers who felt the most relieved as it was whilst they were in Melbourne that they had had the biggest problems with sickness.

The following year in Brunswick my ancestor John; was the first of their ‘Australian’ children born. Followed by William and Emma in the following years. John was baptised at the Methodist/Wesleyan church in Brunswick in 1842 and William in 1845 who was recorded as being born at Moonee Ponds.  (the space between Brunswick and Moonee Ponds at the time being only a matter of a mile or so). Emma again a few miles down the road was born at Pentridge.

Thomas and his family were among the earliest settlers in Melbourne. Melbourne was founded in 1835 as a town of markets and farming areas.  It was incorporated as a town in the Colony of New South Wales in 1842. Around 1847 Melbourne began referring to itself as the City of Melbourne.  Victoria separated from New South Wales as its own colony in 1853.

Home for the Moss family for a considerable time was Sydney Road Brunswick. Which at the time was little more than a track and even in Thomas and Mary’s time just a thin collection of shopfronts.  How times have changed!  I have been able to find two children of Thomas and Mary who did not make adulthood, an infant John (1st) and Thomas (2).

I suspect that Thomas and Mary may have had quite a bit of personal tragedy in their lives with the death at the age of 14 of their eldest son Thomas in 1844.  His death was registered in Moonee Ponds.  Thomas was listed in the Port Philip Australia Directory of 1847 as being a carter from Moonee Ponds. A carter was a person who used a dray or similar to move stock/products, much like our truck drivers of today.

Around 1853 Thomas had what would have accounted as his tools of livelihood removed by an errant worker and much was made of it in the Argus newspaper where he placed an article.


Caution to Auctioned* and Poundkeepers. Bewares

Edward Waghorn,. my hired servant, absconded from by service on the 10th instant and has taken two horses, harness and dray, my property, away; The brands of the horses are 1 black mare, white face, branded M near shoulder, sand crack near forefoot. 1 bay horse, dark points branded CR near shoulder and Q under the CR. I hereby offer a reward of ten pounds to any person or persons who will give such information as will lead to the conviction of the offender or recovery of the property.


Brunswick, near Melbourne. Melbourne, -February 11th, 1853. 183S1

The Argus Melbourne February 12th, 1853.

Within a few days, the whole matter seemed to have been addressed when the absent employee was brought up on charges.

Wholesale Plunder – An elderly man named Howard Waghorne, was brought up yesterday, at the Police Court before the Mayor and Colonel Anderson, charged by Constable Gilbert with stealing a dray, two harnesses,es, and several other articles, the property of his employer Mr. Moss of Brunswick. It appeared that on Thursday last, the prosecutor despatched the prisoner with his dray for the purpose of procuring manure at the depot near Collingwood, where it was afterward discovered that he had arrived the same morning. He told the overseer there, that he had left Mr. Moss’s employ and intended to sell the horses and dray. Nothing more was seen of the prisoner until Saturday last, when he was apprehended. He then stated that the missing property was at Mr. McCaw’s yard: but on enquiry there they could not be found. Information had been received that the horses and dray were in the neighbourhood of Kilmore, and the case was remanded for a week, to obtain further evidence.

The Argus Melbourne Tues 15 February 1853

In 1855 Thomas advertised to let his property out.

To Let, ten acres of land under cultivation, all fenced in with a three-room house, a three stalled stable, and everything complete. The place is watered all year round. Apply at the Edingburgh Castle or Thomas Moss, Brunswick.

The Argus Melbourne 14th March 1855.

Mary Moss died on the 1st of March 1857 a few years before Thomas. She is buried at the Melbourne Cemetary in Carlton and her plot number is MGC-MET-COMP-B-No-258. Her death certificate gave her parents as Rachel Ellis and William Ellis.

Thomas Moss died January the 4th 1860 at Brunswick in Victoria.  The person who registered his death was his daughter, Mrs. Mary Ross also of Brunswick.  Thomas’s burial was conducted by the Wesleyan minister. Thomas had been 19 years in Victoria. He is buried at the Melbourne General Cemetary in Carlton North, his plot number is WES B 258.  His living children were Richard (26), Mary (25), John (18), William (15) Emma (10). Underneath this on the certificate states 5 deceased.

Thomas died from debility of what appears to have been a stomach complaint, possibly cancer on the 5th of January 1860? He did leave a will completed in 1860 that provided for his land and effects to be sold with the profits shared equally between his living children. It is likely that he knew he was dying and put his affairs in order beforehand.  Mary had pre-deceased him in 1857. In his will, he gave his occupation as a Farmer and landowner in the Colony of Victoria in the township of Brunswick.

The Argus newspaper reported;  The Friends of the late Mr. THOMAS MOSS are respectfully requested to follow his remains to the place of interment, Melbourne General Cemetery. The funeral to leave his late residence, Sydney-Road,  Brunswick this day, at half-past 2 p.m.  BERT OVEREND, Undertaker, Sydney Road, Brunswick  7th January 1860

Probate was granted by the June of the same year.  IN RE THOMAS MOSS (DECEASED),Mr. Wyatt moved that probate to the will of Thomas Moss, late of Brunswick, – deceased, be granted to Wilkinson Fielding. Granted. ‘  The Argus,  22 June 1860

Of the children of Thomas and Mary; I can say that I think it is Richard I have been able to identify as living on till nearly 80 and dying in 1913 in Queensland.  Mary married George Ross in 1850 at the age of 15 at Brunswick in the Presbyterian parish at Brunswick and between them, they had eight children.  My ancestor John would go on to marry Sarah Varcoe in 1865.

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