Mary Cavanaugh : Edward Kimberley

On the 31st of March a young girl was seen loitering around the base of the London monument.  Several times she was seen to walk past the linen-draper shop at No 42 Fish Street hill near London Bridge.  Then she quickly snatched a length of printed cotton from a wooden display horse by the door of the shop.  Perhaps, because of her age or inexperience she was unaware of being watched by a man standing on the opposite corner of the monument.  The man we know as Philip Hammond from the court of proceedings immediately seized her and brought her into the shop.

The young girl was named Mary Cavernor / Cavenaugh and so little is known of her that just the mention of her name brings so many different reactions and response’s from her many descendants.

Mary tells the court of the Old Bailey on the 2 April 1788 that she is ten-years-old?

She is found guilty but not sentenced at the dock?  We know that she spent almost a year in the notorious Newgate Prison in London from the 31 March 1788 until we find her embarking along with 226 women on the infamous sailing ship the Lady Juliana on the 14 March 1789 where she was said to have passed herself off as fifteen years old?

Mary Cavanaugh receiving her irons before leaving Newgate Prison to embark on the Lady Juliana. (The costumes are authentic to the period)  Illustrated by Phillip Lock


We can only presume that she must have been sentenced to seven years transportation to Port Jackson (Sydney) Australia.

At Sydney we find her once again in the registry of St Phillips Church being married to the First Fleeter Edward Kimberley three years after her arrest.  Was she married at thirteen?  Or was she twelve on the date of her arrest and aged fifteen on her wedding day?  Even in London in 1788 one doubts that a fifteen-year-old girl could pass herself as a ten-year-old.

That same year Mary along her husband set sail from Sydney to Norfolk Island by the Atlantic, where she lived and gave birth to four children.  Mary and her husband Edward sailed for Tasmania in 1808 on the sailing ship City of Edinburgh where they lived for the remainder of their lives.  Mary died at Kangaroo Point Hobart on 11 September 1851 at the recorded age of 78.  That would mean that Mary was born in 1773 and would have been fifteen years old at the time of her arrest?  Or was she in fact only 73 when she died?

Mary is buried in St Matthews Church of England, Rokeby Hobart Tasmania and it is incredible that Mary who is the mother to some of the first Europeans ever born in the new colony and the ancestor to thousands of Australians has no headstone in the cemetery.

Without her we could never be.  But she was real as we are now, so a little bit of Mary lives on in all of her ancestors today.

Edward Kimberley
Edward Kimberley was born at Lillington, near Leamington Spa.  His actual date of birth is unknown.  But as Edward died in Rokeby Tasmania on 24 November 1829 and his age at death was recorded, we assume by his wife Mary as 67 years of age.

Edward and Mary had been together for 38 years, having been married at Sydney Cove on 29 October 1791.  So we can be fairly confident in the fact that Mary would have known how old her husband was in 1829.  Some quick mental arithmetic shows that at 67 Edward would have been born in 1762.  His baptism is recorded in the Lillington Parish Register: is as follows: Dec 23 1764, Edward ye son of John and Hannah Kimberley was baptised.

What age Edward was when baptised, we can surmise to be around 2 years old.  It is known that Edward Kimberley was educated to the level of being able to read and write his own name as his signature on several surviving documents testifies to this fact.

At the age of 19 Edward was tried at the Assizes at Coventry for Stealing several parcels of muslin from Mrs Lewis Millinery Shop.  On the 23 March 1783 Edward was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, which led to his subsequent transportation to the colonies.

Edward spent the first four years of his sentence on the prison hulks and is listed as being one of a group of ‘convicts transported to the Justitia moored at Woolwich, on which he stayed from 17 October 1786 to May 1787.  In May of 1787 Edward along with other convicts, was transported by wagon from the hulk at Woolwich to Portsmouth, where they awaited embarkation on the transport ship Scarborough bound for Botany Bay as part of the First Fleet to the new colonies.

As Chief Constable on Norfolk Island and latter as a Constable at Clarence Plains, (now Rokeby) Tasmania, Edward would have to have been able to read and write as he was in charge of musters, log books, shift rosters, arrest sheets, pay rolls, etc.  None of which has ever some to light in the many researches into Edwards’ life as a First Fleeter.

Phillip LOCK

Read Phillip’s other article on Mary Cavanaugh under Stories


© First Fleet Fellowship Victoria Inc 2011