Stafford Labourer Thomas Tilley was aged 39 when he was delivered aboard the Censor Hulk on 19 January 1786. Sentenced with Edward Parry and Thomas Wood for the theft at Kinfare of six pieces of Fusian called Queen’s Cord of the value of ten pounds and one Flaxen Bag of the value of one shilling of the goods and chattels of John Harrison, James Harrison and William Topping, feloniously and did steal take and carry away. Tried at Staffordshire Summer Assizes on 27 July 1785 Thomas Tilley received a sentence of 7 years transportation.
Whilst on the Censor Hulk, Tilley made contact with one of the itinerant engravers or traders who frequented the prisons and hulks to peddle his wares. Tilley commissioned a Love Token to be engraved on a copper coin, then to be left with a love one in England.
One side of the circular smooth-down copper coin Love Token (hand-engraved), is a bird chained to the ground and on the observe side: Thomas Tilley transported 29 July 1785 for signing a note sent to the hulks Jan, 24 1786 sent to the Hulks Jan 24 1786.
Thomas was not sentenced for signing a note but for feloniously stealing.
On the 6 January 1787 Thomas Tilley was delivered aboard the Convict Transport Alexander.
Embarking aboard Lady Penrhyn on 31 January 1787 was 30 year old Mary Abel, alias Tilley. She had been tried at the Lent Assizes held at Worcester on 5 March 1785 for feloniously stealing three ells of hempen cloth, table cloths, clothing etc being the goods and chattels of Robert Wright and the second indictment of feloniously stealing the goods and chattels of one John Page. Convicted of Grand Larceny, Mary received the sentence of 7 years transportation. Held over in Worcester gaol, where she became pregnant, Mary was ordered to Southwark gaol in London on 25 November 1786, before being transferred to Lady Penrhyn. One month before the fleet sailed, Mary bore a son William Abel on 20 April 1787, when the vessel was anchored at the Motherbank, Plymouth.
Sydney Cove 4 May 1788, Thomas Tilley and Mary Abel/Tilley were married in the presence of Thomas Restell Crowder and Martha Davis. 15 days later on Monday 19 May, baby William Abel/Tilley was buried. Mary Abel/Tilley died in Sydney Cove and was buried there on 21 July 1788.
Following the arrival of the Second Fleet transport ship Lady Juliana, Thomas Tilley met and married convict Betty (Elizabeth) Tilly on 12 August 1790. Betty Tilly, had been transported for an untraced crime, and described as the wife of Daniel Tilly. By 1794 Thomas Tilley was farming on 30 acres at The Ponds and in mid 1800 he owned 16 hogs and had ten acres sown in wheat another three ready for maize. He was off stores with a convict employed and one woman and four orphan children. In 1802 Tilley had lost his land when he assigned the title of Tilley Farm to George Bass. The following year he was living with, and probably employed by First Fleet settler Robert Forrester.
No death date had been found for Thomas Tilley, although it could have been between 1803 and 1814. Elizabeth (Betty) Tilley was recorded as a widow in 1814 when a burglary was reported in Mrs Tilley’s house near George Street Sydney.
Cobley John, Sydney Cove 1788, The first year of the Settlement of Australia
Cobley John, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts
Flynn Michael, The Second Fleet
Gillen Mollie, The Founders of Australia
Holden Robert, Orphans of History, The Forgotten Children of the First Fleet
Tilley Thomas – Convict Love Token c1786-1787 – Power House Museum, Sydney Australia, 87/1494 Dimensions: 27 mm in diameter x 1 mm high.
Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney, NSW https://collection.maas.museum/object/73510