Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A1 Elizabeth Bradshaw - Followed her husband Thomas Bradshaw

Elizabeth Creamer's only crime was to marry Thomas Bradshaw, and to receive permission to accompany him, as a free settler,  to the colony of Australia, on the ship "Hillsborough".

Thomas was born in 1777 at Sutton Cambridgeshire in England, his parents  William Bradshaw and Mary Gimbert.

Elizabeth Rebecca Creamer was baptised in Milton Bryant church she was born around 1775.  
Thomas married Elizabeth Rebecca Creamer born about 1775 in Milton Bryant.  

They had two daughters, Elizabeth born around 1795. and who died prior to 1798, and Mary Ann, who was born in 1795.  Mary Ann was baptised at the St John the Baptist church Coventry 3rd December 1796. 

Thomas Bradshaw was tried at the Warwick Assizes and sentenced to life for Highway Robbery, where he was accompanied by others. 

 Bradshaw, Thomas Convict Warwick Assizes 31 March 1798 Life

The ship the Hillsborough departed England in October 1798 and arrived in New South Wales 30th May 1799.

On 18th October 1798 a total of 56 convicts were transferred from the hulk "Stanislaw" to the "Hillsborough".  The convicts were housed in the lowest deck where the conditions were grim, with no portholes to allow light or fresh air.  They were given a plank of wood, a blanket and a pillow for sleeping.

Thomas's wife Elizabeth was granted permission to travel with him on the Hillsborough.  She had with her their young daughter.  Could she possibly know what her future was to be?

The Hillsborough was known as The Death Ship. The following accounts of life aboard the Hillsborough give an insight into the conditions they faced at the time.

Imagine going through this voyage with a young child!


Consider the following excerpts from books written by a convict, William Noah, and by a crewman Ebenezer Kelly, of life during the voyage of the "Hillsborough" from England to Botany Bay.  Frank Clune's "Bound for Botany Bay" provides more insight into the conditions of those onboard.

Then try to put yourself in Elizabeth Bradshaw's shoes, after such a horrible journey, her life in the colonies would probably be a breeze.

It is quite interesting to read the different perspective of the journey, by two vastly different people.

NOAH, William, 1978.  Voyage to Sydney in the Ship Hillsborough 1798-99, and a Description of the Colony. [Ms. in Dixon Library], Library of Australian History.    
   Gives a vivid description of the voyage and conditions endured by the convicts.  It also notes that six women were given permission to accompany  convict husbands to "the Bay"[Port Jackson=Botany Bay], though not Noah s own wife. 

Thomas Bradshaw is listed amongst the convicts, transported for life.  

While Elizabeth Bradshaw does not appear on formal lists for the Hillsborough, confirmation that she was indeed aboard comes from Noah s diary entry for Saturday 15th June, 1799, "a Mrs Bradshaw caught the Fever by Attending her Husband & it spread among the Women that several of them was very poorly".  

Thomas Bradshaw apparently survived to be landed alive, but there is no further reference to him in musters and lists for NSW. 

p.63  Thomas Bradshaw, tried at Warwick, listed amongst convicts sent from the Stanislaw's Hulk, Woolwich, Oct. 20th 1798.
p.64  Robert Jillit {sic, no alias), tried at Newgate, Shoemaker,listed amongst those convicts sent from the Prudentia Hulk, Woolwich, Oct. 20th 1798.
October 1798
p.11       Thurs 18th inst  "......Arrived alongside the Hillsborough laying at the Upper Hope Gravesend ........"
p.12       Frid 19th inst     ".....only a few of the Ship s Company on board besides 6 Convicts Wives going out with their Husbands ....."
                "Saturday ye 20 inst  Received on board from the Prudentia Hulk 72 Convicts & from the Stanislaw 56 of Woolwich from a Lighter guarded by a Party of Soldiers &c these Men were truly Deplorable so Rag d & Altered that the several [who] went from Newgate I hardly knew them for Vermin they was Eat up with these to us was no very Agreeable Companions having never experienced the Hardships of the Hulks which by Account is very Miserable.  But kind Hope Paints in our mind a Better Day & leads us thro the Most Disagreeable Pangs and Misfortunes of Life which Death would Otherways be a Happy Relief  "

November 1798

p.15      having left the upper Thames, now lying off Deal (Downs of the Town of Deal)
                Mon 12th inst  "...... Departed this Life and Infant belong g to one Holderness a Convt who was at Langston but his Wife had with 6 other women got permission to go to the Bay with their Husbands and Came Onboard the Day we Came and Allowd a place a purpose on the Gun Deck ...."
                17th inst  [arrived off the Mother Bank, Portsmouth, opposite Rye
December 1798
p.19       one wife was charged 150 guineas for the voyage.
p.20       Thurs 20th   sailed from Portsmouth
                Frid 21st  anchored off Portland Roads
p.21       Sun 23rd  sailed from Portland,  by this time Robert Jillett  would have spent 8 months in Newgate Goal, 13 months on the Hulk Prudentia at Woolwich and just over 2 months on the Hillsborough while she was engaged in loading convicts and stores, tending the sick and preparing for sea.  Immediately sailed into a gale which resulted in saturated clothes and bedding
Called at Funchal (Madiera) taking on provisions - wine and produce - sailed past Tenerife - Called at Island of Mayo, Cape Verde Islands - lengthy time at Cape Town tending sick.
Contains details of food and issue of clothes, discipline, potential mutiny, convict discipline of fellows, etc. etc
p.51       Sat 15th June, 1799, "a Mrs Bradshaw caught the Fever by Attending her Husband & it spread among the Women that several of them was very poorly".

July 1799
                Friday ye 26th inst  "at 4 in the Morning Hove to off the Harbour Mouth till Daylight at 7 made Sail & turned up the River which is 7 miles from the Town the appearance is Wild and uncultivated but it made our Hearts glad to think we would now be releast from our unhappy & Miserable Situation in Every Countenance it was Easy to see the Happiness it Created this Voyage was one Continual seen of Harrucan Winds that is seldom meet with in any part of the Globe being here the Depth of Winter & a Voyage the Wind set this Way .........    the following Ship laying in the Harbour the Buffalo & Reliance Kings Sloop of War the Supply a Hulk the Albion and Britannia whaler .............  we were now visited by the Gentlemen of the Town & our Irons Knockd Off"

                "Monday ye 29 Inst    ............. We had now got to the End of a Long and Painful tedious Voyage where Every Distress was to be meet with Heat Cold Hunger Thirst want of Remant Air &ca witch Created in us poor Convicts filth, Vermin & all kind of Diseases which caused a Hundred poor Souls to be Buried in the Bowels of the Depth"

William Noah was sentenced to death for burglary in 1797 at the age of 43. The sentence was commuted to transportation for life. From Newgate Prison he was taken to the Hillsborough. Noah arrived in Sydney on 26 July 1799. He received a conditional pardon in 1815 and an absolute pardon in 1818. He became a clerk in the Government lumber yard and died in 1827.

Read more about the voyage in the Journal of  William Noah  



This account of life on the "Hillsborough" was written by Ebenezer B Kelly in his Autobiography from 1856..Kelly was working on ships travelling to America and the West Indies.  He begins this encounter back on the docks in London.

" Seeing a ship lying off Blackwall stairs on inquiry, I found it to e the "Hillsborough" bound for Botany Bay with convicts.  A waterman carried me aboard and after applying to the Captain I shipped with him for 3 pounds 10 shillings a month.  They gave me two months pay in advance.  Monday I went to the hotel for my things, by night, fearing that into he daytime the people in "Poplar" might seize me, and on Tuesday went on board the ship, where  worked until we were ready for sea. We dropped down to Portsmouth to take in more convicts, and on 20th February started with the convoy sloop-of-war "Bulldog".

According to law when the prisoners behaved themselves, they were single-ironed and allowed to go on deck in gangs.  Part in the forenoon and part in the afternoon were brought up and chained to a  large chain which ran from mast to mast; they looked very much like a string of beads.

When we were on the edge of the Bay of Biscay a severe gale of wind arose, which lasted six days.  During this gales, as we soon afterwards learned, the convicts planned the capture of the vessel and their own release.  There was one among their number - Holmes, by name, an educated man, who on account of his pedigree was permitted to walk the deck.  He was entrusted with the formation of their plans and one day, when they were complete and all written down, he handed the paper to the captain. The captain called all hands aft, and then shutting down the hatches, read us the paper.  The convicts had already succeeded in removing their irons.  They were to kill the captain and wash their hands in his blood; the first and second mates, with such of the crew as were unwilling to assist in taking the vessel into France, were to walk the plank, the third mate alone was to receive no injury.  The time agreed on  the execution of this plan was the next morning at breakfast hour.

The captain, desirous to see whether Holmes had deceived him, determined to take no immediate steps in the affair, except to arm all hands with a brace of pistols and a cutlass.  Thus prepared, we took our station next morning behind the hatchways.  Clark, the steward, opened them to go down and serve out the "Bergoo", a kind of food resembling our hasty pudding.  At that instant the prisoners rushed up the hatchway and the crew fired upon them, killing two and wounding several more, when the remainder retreated.  We locked the grating forward, and the captain calling us aft told us that he should not give the convicts a mouthful to eat until they were all brought on deck, ironed and flogged, hinting at the same time that some would be hanged.

The carpenter was sent down to read the ship's articles to them.  By these, power was given to the captain to hang them all or sink them with the vessel.  Clark, the steward, before mentioned went to call up the first mess - for the convicts were divided into messes - but none of them would come.  After waiting ten minutes the steward again went, with orders to fire among them.

He immediately came back, saying it was useless to fire, as they had barricaded the place with beds and mattresses.  At this time the gale having somewhat abated, we signalled for the "Bulldog" sloop of war, our convoy.  She bore down upon us, and after learning the state of our vessel, commanded us to fire a shot through her bottom.  A boatman went below to tell the convicts what we were going to do, and give them a final warning, but they did not move until they heard the 9 pounder rolling over the deck.  Then they started, and we got possession of them all.

We were eight days flogging, ironing and packing them again.  Some received fifty, some three hundred, and one man five hundred lashes, instead of hanging, as the captain had threatened.
About latitude 18 degrees North, the ships parted company.  We sailed on regularly and in the fore part of March arrived at the isle of Mayo on the African coast, where we took in fresh provisions.  From here to the Cape of Good Hope we had a long and boisterous passage.  Once the vessel sprung and leaked so badly that we had hard work to keep her free.

The last of April we anchored in Table Bay with sickness raging among the prisoners.  May 13th the flagstaff on "Lion's Rump" was struck, and we sailed for False Bay - a three weeks' voyage.  There we buried 89 convicts.  From hence to Botany Bay we encountered many severe gales, in one of which the man at the wheel was thrown under it by a wave and the spokes passing through his body, killed him instantly.  The vessel still leaked badly and it was ten month from the time we left London till our arrival in Sydney.  The irons were knocked off the convicts, they were sent ashore, and we were paid off."


Elizabeth arrived in Sydney on the Hillsborough in 1799.  What a brave lady she must have been.  There were 6 ladies who travelled as free settlers, on the Hillsborough.
Five of them came without payment, and the other was charged 150 guineas to come.  What an exorbitant amount of money in those days.

Elizabeth would have need help on her arrival.  It can be supposed that Thomas her husband, died between Cape Hope and Sydney, as there is no mention of his  arrival. 
The author Frank Clune has written some very interesting stories about the convicts and early life. In his book, "Bound for Botany Bay", he followed the lives of 3 of the ladies on the Hillsborough, and two of them became very wealthy ladies indeed.

Frank made mention of Elizabeth and the other ladies, who were granted leave to go ashore during the voyage and purchase oranges, to tend for the huge number of prisoners who were sick with typhoid.

Thomas Bradshaw was ill, and Frank Clune mentions Elizabeth tendering to him.

The Governor at the time writes of the condition of the prisoners and the ladies who disembarked from the Hillsborough.

Historical Records of Australia
  -  A letter from the Governor regarding the terrible condition of those on the Hillsborough

Series 1, Volume2, 1797 - 1800, p. 376- 77
Governor Hunter to the Duke of Portland {Extract}
Sydney New South Wales 27th July 1799

My Lord Duke,
The Albion, south whaler, anchored here on the 29th of June, and delivered nine hundred tons of salt pork, and the Hillsborough, transport, arrived  yesterday, in which had been embark d three hundred convicts, but I am sorry to say that such had been the mortality on board that ship two hundred d and five only were landed here, and of that number six are since dead; most of them must for a time be placed in the hospitals.

Here again my Lord, I am compelled, much against my inclination, to recur to my former representations of the want of clothing and blankets. These people have been put on board this ship with a miserable mattress, and one blanket, and the clothes only in which they embark d, not a supply of any kind to land them here in, and those women on board the ship are not fit to be taken on shore; yet, ragged as they are, I cannot suffer even those things which are liable to carry infection to be destroyed, because I have nothing to supply in lieu, the whole colony being naked.

I will direct every means to be used for preventing the goal fever (which I understand to be the principal malady) from being introduced into our hospitals. Permit me, my Lord, to solicit most earnestly that your Grace may issue such directions on the subject of clothing for the people in this colony as may serve to furnish us with an early supply.

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