• Mel Hulbert

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - #9 ‘Disaster’

‘Disaster’ is the prompt for week nine.


I have recently been exploring some of my side branches, in particular the Thorns. Humphrey Thorn was a convict who arrived in Australia aboard the Neptune in 1790 [1]. Humphrey married another convict Rebecca Richards in 1792 at St John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, NSW [2]. They had five children which included my direct ancestor Elizabeth Mary Thorn. Their eldest child was John Thorn and it’s his interesting life and untimely death that I’m going to focus on. While not strictly a disaster, rather an unfortunate accident, it was a disaster at the time for his young family.

John was born on 4 January 1794 at Parramatta, NSW [3] and married Jane Matilda Humm at St John’s Anglican Church on 6 December 1815 [4] and had at least eight children.

John lived a fascinating life in law enforcement in the early colony. He was appointed Chief Constable in the Town of Parramatta in October 1821 [5]. Interestingly a new District Constable of Parramatta, Robert Batman was appointed at the same time and is also related to me.

John apprehended criminals and upheld law and order in the community, including the recently introduced Dog Act [6]. However he was best known for his apprehension of two bushrangers in 1830 – John McNamara and William Dalton [7]. John McNamara was shot and killed during the skirmish by Samuel Horn (a Wardsman or Conductor in the Parramatta Police depending on which account you read) and Dalton was apprehended and later faced trial. He was hanged for his crimes later that year. McNamara and Dalton were part of Jack Donohue’s gang. Jack is thought to be the inspiration of the song ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’ [8].

As a reward for the capture of Dalton, John received a land grant of one square mile “free of Quit Rent forever” [9] and Samuel Horn who held a conditional pardon at the time was granted a full pardon and a half square mile of land.

John seems to have been good at his job and well respected by the local community as he was presented with a “handsome piece of plate” and a dinner was held for him at Mrs Walkers in March 1838 upon his retirement after 16 years as the Chief Constable [10, 11]. Little did he know that his retirement would be short-lived.

It was only a few months later on Thursday 2 August, 1838 that John was heading to his sheep station in the Goulburn Plains when he was stopped on Razor back and held at gunpoint by two bushrangers who stole cash, two watches and some clothing [12, 13].

The following day, on Friday 3 August 1838, John Thorn was heading to Berrima, and was hastening down to the cross-roads to get ahead of the Berrima mail when just before the Black Bob’s Creek bridge his wheel hit a large stone and he was thrown from his gig. A witness to the accident went straight to where John’s body was lying, sadly to find him dead [14]. It was said he was severely injured with death caused by a sharp stone that indented his forehead. He was 45 years of age [15].

John’s funeral took place on Thursday 9 August 1838 at 2pm with the procession starting at his residence and moving down George Street, Parramatta [16, 17] towards St John’s Cemetery.

John is buried at St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. A large family headstone was erected and interestingly the south face has two inscriptions, one which was later inscribed over the original with a longer tribute to John [18, 19].

John left behind his widow Jane and eight children, the youngest, Isaac, was only about two years old [20] at the time.

Jane never remarried and died in 1879 at the age of 82 years at Brisbane Grove, Goulburn [21].

John is still remembered today as the land he was granted for apprehending Dalton became known as Thornleigh, now a suburb on the Upper North Shore of Sydney [22].






References

1. New South Wales, Census and Population Books, 1811-1825 (database on-line), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com.au/ :downloaded 27 December 2016), Original data: State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia; Population musters, Dependent settlements; Series: NRS 1260; Reel: 1252

2. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Marriages, 1790-1966 (database on-line), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com.au/ :downloaded 09 May 2021), Original data: REG/COMP/1; Description: Vol 01, Baptisms, 1790-1825; Marriages, 1789-1823; Burials, 1790-1825; Parish: St. John's Anglican Church Parramatta

3. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages, Registration numbers 79/1794 V179479 148 & 320/1794 V1794320 1A https://www.nsw.gov.au/topics/family-history-search

4. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages, Registration numbers 735/1815 V1815735 147B & 1864/1815 V18151864 3A https://www.nsw.gov.au/topics/family-history-search

5. Government and General Orders. (1821, October 20). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2180564

6. Advance Australia Sydney Gazette. (1830, June 15). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2195318

7. Advance Australia Sydney Gazette. (1830, June 24). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2195391

8. Bushrangers in Parramatta – part 2. (2017). Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://historyandheritage.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/blog/2017/06/28/bushrangers-in-parramatta-part-2

9. Classified Advertising (1830, July 6). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2195482

10. Domestic Intelligence (1838, March 1). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12863334

11. Advertising (1838, August 7). DINNER TO MR. THORNE. (1838, March 2). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), p. 2 (EVENING). Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32159229

12. News of the Day. (1838, August 8). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), p. 2 (MORNING). Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32160912

13. Local News. (1838, August 7). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 3. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36859470

14. Destruction of the Ship Colvin, Whaler By Fire. (1838, August 8). The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835 - 1840), p. 3. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31721476

15. The Theatre. (1838, August 7). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2548426

16. Advertising (1838, August 8). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), p. 3 (MORNING). Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32160913

17. The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 3. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36859460

18. Dunn, J. (1991). The Parramatta Cemeteries St John’s. Parramatta and District Historical Society Inc.

19. Hulbert, M., personal visit to St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, 13 August 2015.

20. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages, Registration number 661/1836 V1836661 20 https://www.nsw.gov.au/topics/family-history-search

21. The Ryerson Index. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://ryersonindex.org/search.php

22. Rowland, J. (1970, January 01). Thornleigh. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/thornleigh