Friday, 16 February 2018

More "Australian Royalty" - Thomas Seward - From England to Australia via India

On 21 July 1864, John Killion died at the family farm on the North Shore, Port Macquarie.  Less than six months later, on 12 January 1865, Jane married Thomas Seward at the Office of the District Registrar in Port Macquarie. Imagine the difficulty that Jane faced in 1864 with a farm to manage and 5 young children between 2 and 10 years. As was often the case, marriage followed fairly quickly after the death of a partner in the 1800s. 
Thomas Seward was born on 03 August 1814 at Moats Hole, Sandwich, Kent to Thomas (a mariner) and Ann Seward.  He was baptised on 16 October 1814 at St Mary's Church in Sandwich.  Prior to his marriage to Jane, the spelling of Thomas's name is either Seaward or Seeward.
"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018, Thomas Seeward, 16 Oct 1814); citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,835,668

As a young man, Thomas was employed by the East India Company.  On 19 July 1836, at the Bombay Court Martial, Thomas was sentenced to transportation for 7 years for desertion and theft "in taking away a boat".  These two documents cover Thomas's offences and transportation.  The quality is very poor and we haven't attempted a transcription.

New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849

New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849

It's clear from the following article in the Calcutta Monthly Journal and General Register that Thomas was on the Pestonjee Bomanjee when he and two other prisoners "contrived to make their escape a little after gunfire".  All three prisoners were recaptured and were transported by the Eudora to Van Diemen's Land and from there to Port Jackson on the Blenheim, arriving on 11 August 1837.

Calcutta Monthly Journal and General Register

In the Convict Indent, Thomas is shown as aged 22, able to read, Protestant and single from Sandwich Kent.  His occupation is shown as "coachman and groom, and seaman in the East India Company's Service" and having no former convictions.

Thomas's physical description is 5' 11 1/2" with dark pale and freckled complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes.  Particulars of marks and scars are described as-

"Eyebrows partially meeting, small horizontal scar on centre of lip, INRI, two angels, sun, moon, seven stars, crucifix and two candlesticks on upper, J x ST x S x A x SJ x S x W x SES insider lower right arm, woman's bust and wreath on upper, HOPE, woman, anchor OH inside lower left arm, two scars outside left knee."

We need to do more research to decipher the meaning of Thomas's tattoos.

On 11 December 1843, Thomas obtained his Certificate of Freedom and this document shows that he was living in Port Macquarie on 2 January 1844.  We don't have any information about what Thomas was doing for the next 20 years.  When Jane and Thomas married on 12 January 1865, Thomas was 50 years of age and a "bachelor" and Jane was about 33.

New South Wales, Australia, Certificates of Freedom, 1810-1814, 1827-1867
There were five children from this marriage and two, James and Richard, died as infants.  The other three lived to be adults - William Thomas (1865-1929), Anne "Annie" (1867-1937) and Matilda (1869-1941).  Annie married Thomas Francis Quinn in 1890.  Matilda married John Hand in 1905.
The family moved from the farm on the North Shore to the town of Port Macquarie between the births of Annie and Matilda.  On William and Annie's birth certificates, Thomas shows his occupation as farmer and after that his occupation is shown as boatman and labourer.  By 1871, Jane's brother, Edward Feeney, was advertising the land for sale in the Sydney Morning Herald.

In the five years between the death of the twin boys, James and Richard, in 1873 and Mary Jane Killion's marriage to Thomas Newton in 1878, Jane and her eight children had moved from Port Macquarie to Kempsey.  We don't know where Thomas was living during this time.  

On 23 July 1880, Thomas was sentenced to 6 months in goal for "vagrancy" and was sent  from Port Macquarie to Darlinghurst Goal on 27 July 1880.  Thomas was discharged in January 1881.  

The NSW Police Gazette of 16 March 1881 records-

"Thomas Seward, charged with having no visible lawful means of support, has been arrested by Senior-Contstable Ryan, Port Macquarie Police.  Sentenced to six months imprisonment in Darlinghurst Goal."  

Thomas was discharged from Darlinghurst Goal in August 1881.

After this time, we can't find any information about Thomas's life.  On 25 April 1885, Jane sold the farm on the North Shore, Port Macquarie and she's recorded as a widow.

So the search continues to find details of Thomas's life and birth family along with evidence of Thomas's death between August 1881 and April 1885.  We're left to speculate about the demons that Thomas carried and the family situation that Jane and her children faced.  

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