ST JOHNS FEATURES THROUGHOUT THE FAMILY.
The Sydney Gazette and… Sunday 10 April 1803, page 4.
This being Easter Sunday, Divine
Service will be performed by the Rev. Mr.
Marsden, at St. John’s Church Parramatta, for the first time.
THE NSW BEGINNINGS ARE WITH JOHN CURTIS AND ANN MORAN.
FROM PHIL READY’S “READY OR NOT”.
JOHN CURTIS – 1749-1821
At his trial March 1795 in Gloucester, England, forty five year old accountant , John Curtis, was found guilty of coinage. (forging coins) and sent to Portsmouth where he was placed aboard the prison hulk LION to await a ship for the Colony of NSW . Separated from his wife Jane and 10 remaining children who lived in the Parish of St Augustin Bristol, he was never to see them again.
1. JOHN CURTIS married 1773 to JANE PURRIER
THE CHILDREN OF JOHN AND JANE CURTIS
During the 18 months wait, John and the other prisoners aboard THE LION were “employed as health and weather permitted” by instructions from Mr James Bradley and in compliance with the desire of the Master General in Ordinance, in removing mud and gravel , raising, sloping and preparing Glacis on Weevil lines near Gosport and other occasional works under the direction of the Engineer appointed to superintend the fortifications at that place. ( HULK RETURNS. PRO REEL 3557 AONSW).
On 29th September 1796 John was discharged from the LION , placed aboard the GANGES and sailed via Rio de Janeiro to New South Wales. Arriving at Sydney Town on 2 June 1797 he was sent to the Government Stores and put to work there. John’s skills at reading and writing would have been of great benefit at the stores and he worked so well there that three years later he was promoted to an overseer and a numerous stock of cattle placed in his care. ( Petition from John Curtis to Governor King – King papers Vol 1 pp 66-69 M.L.)
John had been overseeing the dairy for two years when he was advised that there was also to be a dairymaid at the dairy. Enquiries revealed that her name was ANN MORAN.
ANN had been tried at MEATH, IRELAND, during the Spring of 1800. Found guilty , sentenced to seven years transportation to NSW she too was held in custody to await a ship. On Sunday the 29th November 1901, two vessels, HERCULES with Ann aboard and ATLAS sailed from the port of CORK.
HERCULES – a two deck square masted vessel of 395 tons burthen built in Newcastle England was armed with 10 guns, carried a crew of between 32 and 35 men , 140 male and 25 female prisoners and several passengers among them MAJOR JOHNSTON who was later to figure prominently in the history of the Colony. The ship HERCULES also carried a detachment of the NSW Corps under CAPTAIN RALPH WILSON ( PRO REEL 413 WO 12/9901 FOLIO 160 ML)
GRANTED an emancipation by Governor King on the Anniversary of GEORGE III , JOHN CURTIS was now a free man but unable to leave the Colony.Very lonely he formed an attachment with ANN MORAN but, sadly missing his family and unaware that his wife JANE PURRIER had died in 1800, tried in 1803 to obtain permission to return home to them. Taking up his quill and paper, John wrote in his neat script to the Governor. ( I am presuming Phil Ready sighted these documents. )
” HIS Excellency Governor King,
Your humble petr, John Curtis begs leave to state that he is now at the advanced age of 60 years.
Marked by the hand of misfortune he was torn from a beloved family and a wife and ten children who live in the Parish of St Augustin City of Bristol, tried at Gloster March Assizes 1795 convicted and arrived in this Colony in the ship GANGES . That petr has been three years in his Majesty’s Stores and from that situation promoted to an overseer and a numerous stock of cattle consigned to his care.
Petitioner need not to a gentleman of your Excellencies perspicacity and distinguised knowledge point out his unwearied attention and strict integrity in the dishcarge of his duty suffice to say that thru your Excellencies experience Wisdom of Humanity you were pleased to extend his majesties gracious bounty of an emancipation on the celebration of H.M. anniversary on June 4 1802.
The petr situation and conduct so universally known to the gentleman of this country emboldens him to solicit their signatures as a testimony of his good behaviour in every situation since his arrival and trusting in the merciful disposition of your Excellency has ever invinced in the cause of justice, humanity and the unfortunate must humbly implore a further extension of the Royal clemency by suffering him to returning and spending his latter days with a long estranged family who with petitioner as in duty bound.
Under the signature of John CURTIS are the signatures of
1. W Patterson Lt Governor
2. Geo Johnston
3. Rev Samuel Marsden
4. Thomas Jamieson Supt of Govt Stock
John’s petition could not be granted as it was not within the Governor’s power to do so but ANN had already become pregant to John and later that year have birth to a daughter whom they named ELIZABETH, perhaps after John’s first daughter, Elizabeth, born in England in 1744.
The busy Governor had other things on his mind and a revolt in 1804 by the convicts at CASTLE HILL, only a few miles from John and Ann, made him realise how much his authority depended on the unruly NSW CORPS. The thought kept him on edge for he was having trouble with its officers and more especially with its paymaster JOHN MACARTHUR who wanted the Governor to comply with the CORPS’ wishes and become rich. By 1806 King had had enough and resigned as Governor.
On Sunday last St. John’s Church, at Parramatta, was opened, and Divine Service performed by the Rev. Mr. Marsden ; who delivered an excellent Sermon on the following Text,
But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth ? behold, heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built !” II. Chron. c. vi. v. l8 : In the course of which he made some animated allusions to the structure of ‘Solomon’s Temple,, and afterwards gradually traced the progress of Religion in succeeding ages, adverting to tge many solid advantages that must be necessarily derived to this Colony, from a proper observance of the duties of christianity and a religious worship.
The concourse of persons that attended from all parts of the Colony, and the becoming silence that prevailed, added much to the solemnity of the service. Many Ladies of the first respectability were present, some of whom went purposely from Sydney ; and the Military Detachment on duty at Parramatta, were alfo partakers at the sacred festival. St. John’s Church may justly be stiled the finest building in the Colony ; the paintings are well designed, and tolerably executed. The Altar Piece, tho’ somewhat heavy, is nevertheless entitled to praise. The pews are not yet put up, but when they are, it will certainly become a handsome, well-finished. and commodious place of worship.
On Wednesday last, at St. John’s Church,
Parramatta, Lawrence Brady, baker to M.
Peat, spinster. She is the first young woman
married from the Orphan House.
Whereas a Promissory Note of Hand drawn by John Curtis of Parramatta in favor of one Thomas Jones for the Sum of £40 Sterling, was about a twelvemonth ago lost at Parramatta, and has not since been recovered. Now this is to give Notice, that the said Note was negociated to me, Hugh Davlyn, of Richmond Hill, who do hereby acknowledge to have received from the above Drawer (John Curtis) full satisfaction for the same ; I do therefore forbid all persons receiving the same under any pretence whatever, as it is the sole property of the said John Curtis; any person rendering it up to whom or to myself will be handsomely rewarded. Hugh Davlyn.
The Sydney Gazette and… Sunday 3 September 1809, page 2.
MELINDA KENDALL : HER LIFE AND WRITINGS