When I decided in 1981 to research the history of my family, i believed that we were on my father’s side, descended from an average English, Protestant  family with nothing very exciting to be found.

How wrong I was for I have found that we are descended from Irish Roman Catholic  convicts, that there are numerous skeletons in the family closet and that there existed adventure and romance that I for one never dreamed of and my father, as far as I am aware, never realised.

My mother, would have been shocked, for my earlier memories of her are that she was rather biased against Irish Roman Catholics and judgemental about people’s moral values but as she got older, in line with the changes going on, she mellowed and became more tolerant of other people’s points of view.

The detective work necessary to ferret out the information has taken my wife,Lois, and I to many parts of NSW and VICTORIA whilst the rest of the family have waited to see what would be the next discovery.

The pleasant surprise of receiving phone calls from others researching the READY family has introduced me to Doug Howe and Betty Alford, grandchildren of Catherine Louisa and Sarah Ann, my grandfather’s sisters who married Joseph Howe and William henry Watson respectively. This has opened up more information and has not only led to a continuing friendship with Doug but introduced me to several more cousins on his side of the family. Research by Doug also led to a meeting with Ken Eccleston, great grandson of George Eccleston and his wife Catherine, sister of my great,great grandmother Elizabeth Curtis. Ken’s contributions on the Curtis Family have been invaluable.

Each time I find more information I get a thrill, for there are times when I despair of ever finding the information I want, such as; WHAT HAPPENED TO THOMAS and ELIZABETH HOGAN and to JOHANNAH PRENDERGAST?  I thought that release of the Victorian Records might help but a search of these records has also proven fruitless. Time and further research may find the answer.

Finding my ancestors and researching their history has helped fill in some of my genetic heritage and what has helped in making me the way I am, for each member has added their contribution. I well remember strange feelings I had when I read JOHANNAH’s letter to Governor Darling, and also the story of HANNAH HUTCHINS or HITCHINS ( for there are many variations to the spelling of her name.)

Reading the Surgeon’s account of the voyage of the ‘Dorothy’ gave me some idea of what it was like to travel out on one of the Convict Transports, although the Dorothy apparently had a much better trip than many others.

In some ways I feel that I may have deprived those who come after me of the fun I have had but there is still a lot left untold and each day I guess, we are making history. I hope  that later researchers will enjoy it as much as I have. be careful of what you throw out for, I believe, that although we are not responsible for our ancestors, who incidentally wen through situations that I,for on, would not like to have gone through, we are, as guardians of our heritage, responsible to our descendants.

Phil Ready. July 1988. 



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



2 1776 SARAH

3 1778 JOHN

4 1779 THOMAS

5 1780  ?

6 1781 JOSHUA

7 1782 FRANCIS

8 1784 WILLIAM


10 1785 WILLIAM H

11 1787 ANN


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.

Ever pray

John Curtis

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.




KING’S successor WILLIAM BLIGH had even more trouble with MACARTHUR and the NSW CORPS as he was more interested in discipline than seeing the officers get rich for he well remembered the mutiny of his crew on the BOUNTY. So while JOHN and ANN  worked hard to build a future for their family which had grown to five with the birth of two sons, JAMES and JOHN, friction was building up between BLIGH and MACARTHUR.

The smaller settlers and emancipists  whom the Corps despised, backed BLIGH as he tried to bring the Corps under control and stop them abusing the privileges they had squeezed from his predecessors. On Friday 1st January 1808 as evidence of their backing they penned an address of loyalty to him , which JOHN CURTIS also signed.

Unfortunately, under the threat of financial ruin along with other signatories, John was forced to retract and sign another in favour of MAJOR JOHNSTON when MCARTHUR and the more influential settlers , feeling threatened by Bligh, persuaded Johnston to depose BLIGH and assume command himself ( Banks papers. vol 622 captan bligh and nsw corps 1906 1811 p 301).

As no provision had been made for settlers by the English Government when setting up the prison Colony, there was a great shortage of coins at this period so coins from other nationalities were put into use and IOUS and PROMISSORY NOTES came into circulation. John Curtis was unfortunate enough to lose one of these promissary notes and during March 1809 advertised in the papers for its return. ( Check the details on They read a little differently with access to NLA ).

Leaving Lt Gov Patterson in charge McArthur and Johnston made the mistake of going to England to explain their actions to the English Government which was not amused by the way they had deposed BLIGH. Major Johnston was casheered and John McArthur exiled from the Colony for 8 years.


On 17th December  1809 JOHN CURTIS was notified that Lt Gov Patterson had granted him land at Parramatta. Eleven Days later Lachlan Macquarie Bligh’s replacement arrived and within a few weeks had assessed the situation and cancelled everything that had been done officially since Johnston had deposed Bligh ; all land grants, appointments and trials. It had been decided that the NSW CORPS was to become one of the ordinary regiments of the British Army and sent home.

With staggering speed Macquarie started to clean up the mess he had inherited for he found the population continually threatened with starvation, the buildings decaying and the morals of most of the population in the lowest state of debasementwhilst religious worship seemed to be in a state of almost total neglect. Arrival of the grain ship MARIAN a fortnight after Macquaries arrival followed by a mild autumn and bounteous spring partly relieved the problem of feeding the starving community and Macquarie was able to concentrate on other matters needing his attention.

Cancellation of all land grants made during the rebel’s rule meant that JOHN CURTIS too lost the land granted to him by Lt Col Gov Patterson so he wrote a memorial to Gov Macquarie seeking confirmation of the grant. ( sm folio pp 4 1810 NSW Colonial Sec in letters and memorials 1810 AK NO 80 REEL 1066 AONSW). Macquarie as was his way when dealing with those he considered worthy emancipists acquiesced.

The skills John was  acquiring in the Colony coupled with those he had learned as an accountant in England were coming in handy and life was improving steadily for he appears to have been able to use some of the Government Land at the dairy for his own cattle. Ann  too was proving to be a marvellous help and mother and on Wed 3rd July 1811 gave birth to their third son PETER. This was ANN’s 4th child but John’s 16th, two of his English children had died before he left England leaving 5 sons and 5 daughters there.

During March 1812 there were again heavy rains and the Hawkesbury rose 12 feet over its banks. Flood years seemed to stir John’s spirit for on 7th December he further petitioned the Governor , this time for a free pardon which was granted. (NSW COL SEC IN LETTERS Petitions mitigating sentences 1811 – 1812 pp 110-111 reels 1227 and 612 ) (register of pardons and tickets of leave Vol 1 p 183 Col Sec papers COD ML ).

As cattle were always straying through the burial grounds  behind St Johns Church Parramatta, an appeal for funds towards enclosing the grounds was made, to which JOHN CURTIS subscribed ( Sydney Gazette Jan 1813).

On Tuesday 16 August 1814 in a ceremony at St Johns Church at Parramatta witnessed by Chistopher Grogan and Margaret Neale , JOHN CURTIS and ANN MORAN were married. This ceremony was followed by the baptism of 3 year old PETER and his baby sister CATHERINE ( Kitty) born on 7th June that year ( 1814) . A muster taken at this time lists JOHN, ANN and these 2 children as still being supplied from Govt Stores whilst the other 3 children were not.

The CURTIS children grew as the years passed with all helping out on the farm as they became able . Elizabeth blossomed into a young woman and JOHN READY  who lived nearby became interested in  her.  In 1829 when ELIZABETH was 17 and JOHN READY was 30 they were married.

With other ROMAN CATHOLIC members of the community, JOHN CURTIS signed a petition to J T  BIGGE for a ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL when Bigges came out to the Colony to investigate and report on how it was going. ( 20 Feb 1820 Bigges Report app p 3943).

Because of John’s advanced age,( he was now 72), ANN CURTIS set up business for herself. On 21 April 1821 she paid into the POLICE FUND for 6 months brewing licence and a retailing licence ( Wenworth Papers dip 228).

Almost six months later on Wed 12 September 1821 , John Curtis died and was laid to rest in the BURIAL GROUND behind ST JOHNS CHURCH PARRAMATTA.




In his will JOHN CURTIS left everything to ANN in trust for his children, ELIZABETH, JAMES, JOHN, PETER and CATHERINE.

Ann having an equal portion in the rest. To his married daughter ELIZABETH READY he also left 10 head of cattle.

This left 26 head of cattle and 2 mares, a certain house in the township of PARRAMATTA , and a 30 acre farm along the SYDNEY ROAD which he had bought from JAMES WRIGHT. These were to be divided as evenly as possible between ANN and the children but if ANN were to remarry ad the childrens’ shares become endangered , then his friends, JOHN LACEY and THOMAS GARTY were to become the guardians of his children’s property until they were able to look after their own interests. Witnesses to his signature were JOHN LACEY, THOMAS GARTY and his son-in-law JOHN READY.

Two months after John’s death, a letter came from J MEEHAN ordering him to remove his herds etc from his land at TOONGABBIE as it was now required by the Government. ( NSW COL SEC in letters p 14 reel 2167 ) .

ANN had received a grant of 100 acres at PARRAMATTA ( Vol 18 p 169) and was leasing two small blocks nearby one of 36 perches ( Vol 16 pp 339 and one of 38 perches Vol 16 p 231 ) In 1822 she is reported as supplying yeast for the prisoner’s barracks at PARRAMATTA (A 766 p 2 ML)

As ANN’S brewing licence had expired although her eyesight had been damaged in an accident she went to SYDNEY on 5 MARCH 1822 to renew the licence. Upon her return she found that her brewery with most of its stock had been destroyed by fire. There was always the danger of this happening for at that time there were only wood fires for cooking or oil lamps for lighting. The fire was put out with the help of several people and in the 14th March Edition of the AUSTRALIAN Ann thanked them for their help. At the same time she circulated a petition for help from the local populace to get started in business again so that she could feed her children. ( petition to the people of SYDNEY from ANN CURTIS )

The 16 October 1822 edition of the SYDNEY GAZETTE carried an advertisement from Ann advertising that she was leaving the Colony but in November that year a court case COOPER V CURTIS took place with the verdict being found in favour of COOPER.

On the 10 November 1822, J T CAMPBELL placed a notice in the SYDNEY GAZETTE,

Pursuant to levy I will cause to be set up and sold. one Cow and calf, 1 pig,a small quantity of sugar and sundry household items of furniture . I will further sell by auction at my office in HUNTER STREET at 12 noon the defendant CURTIS’ right, title and interest in and to the house wherein she now resides situated near the Turnpike gate at PARRAMATTA on the road leading to WINDSOR being on a corner of the road leading to the ORPHAN SCHOOL.

On Tuesday 25 November 1823 JOHN CURTIS’ request for land was granted ( too late for JOHN ) : 80 acres at PILGRIM HILL, LIBERTY PLAINS. (Bk p 4 D 225 ) . The following year 1824 on page 4 of the 19th February Edition of the SYDNEY GAZETTE Ann’s home was again advertised for sale and she moved to the 30 acre farm on SYDNEY ROAD where in 1826 she was listed as  property owner ( Wentworth Papers A 767 p39).

As soon as he was old enough PETER CURTIS was apprenticed as a BUTCHER to WILLIAM SHARP in HUNTER ST SYDNEY and on 5 DECEMEBER 1828 gave sworn evidence for SHARP when SHARP was accused of dishonesty. Apparently Sharp was unable to read and signed a document read out to him by one BENJAMIN KIRKBY purported to be an agreement to lease a house which Kirkby was about to take from one MERRITH. it later turned out that what Kirkby had really tricked Sharp into signing was a bill of exchange for 50 pounds and it was only because of PETER being there at the time that he was able to appear as a witness for SHARP.

By 1828 John and Ann Curtis’ eldest son JAMES had reached the age of 22 and had met and courted MARY PARSONS born in the Colony in 1811. During the year they were joined in marriage and set up home together.

When the Census was taken in November of 1828, there were only 15 year old Catherine, Ann and 72 year old JOHN BRYAN left living at the SYDNEY ROAD property. Bryan had arrived on Sat 15 Feb 1806 aboard the TELLICHERRY and was working as a labourer for ANN.

(This census shows ANN as arriving on the ATLAS but careful research shows that none of the three Anns who arrived aboard that ship married a CURTIS. AS THE ATLAS and HERCULES had left the same port on the same day sailing most of the way together it is reasonable to assume that a mistake has been made in the entry.)

1829 saw the birth of a son JOHN HENRY to JAMES and MARY CURTIS and to ELIZABETH READY who had given birth to a daughter in 1826, a son- PETER MARK READY.

WHAT part if any ANN played in the events that shook the family in 1829-30 is not known but one day in 1830 her son-in-law JOHN READY arrived at her farm with some cattle which were branded JC on their rumps . These beasts he left at the farm and departed. The next day they were removed by the Police. Later JEREMIAH DALEY who lived at the farm testified that JOHN READY was the one who brought them there.

Two years later on 6 October at the age of 60, ANN died and was buried at the SYDNEY BURIAL GROUND, at that time where central Railway Station now stands. About 73 years after ANN’S burial, when the land was required to build the Railway Station and tracks her remains were transferred to the PIONEER SECTION of BOTANY CEMETERY where her headstone still stands today among those of numerous well known early settlers. 




3 1807 JOHN



JAMES CURTIS became a very successful cabinetmaker, upholsterer and UNDERTAKER carrying on his business in HUNTER STREET , SYDNEY and several times having to move into larger premises. After the death of his wife MARY in 1848, JAMES with a family of 7 children to care for remarried , his wife being ELLEN SWEENEY.

CATHERINE continued to live at the SYDNEY ROAD property until she married GEORGE ECCLESTON who had arrived in NSW as a soldier and was later a founding member of the NSW MOUNTED POLICE.

Very little is know of JOHN CURTIS JNR and although there is an interesting story of a JOHN CURTIS who was executed in 1828 for stealing a cow at BRINGELLY belonging to W C WENTWORTH, the account does not appear to tie up with our JOHN whom I believe was in the MOLONGOLO PLAINS AREA where he advertised in 1844 for three lost horses which had strayed. It was to this general area that PETER CURTIS and GEORGE ECCLESTON moved after their respective marriages with George setting up his cattle station BLACKFOREST near COOMA and PETER running a very successful cattle and butchering business there . The last known of JOHN JNR was at DIAMOND CREEK in VICTORIA . After that there were too many JOHN CURTIS’ to distinguish one from another.

PETER CURTIS raised a family of four girls and one son  and lived until 1885 , his wife ADELAIDE, having died in 1875 at the age of 52. 

CATHERINE and GEORGE ECCLESTON had a family of two boys and eight girls. both George and Catherine died in 1882. George on the 18 May and Catherine on 22 September at the age of 62.




” The ARCHDUKE CHARLES , a one class two decked vessel of five hundred and twenty five tons burthen was built in Newcastle England in 1809.  With J.P.  JEFFRIES as master and JOHN PAWSON as surgeon the ship sailed from Cork, Ireland on Friday 15th May 1812 with 147 male and 54 female convicts for the Penal Colony of NSW. Travelling via Rio de Janeiro she arrived at Sydney two hundred and seven days later on 16th February 1813. ( The Convict Ships by Charles Bateson)

Among the prisoners was 47 years old Johannah Ready sentenced by the court during 1811 in County Tipperary, Ireland to fourteen years transportation to the Colony.

On disembarking at Sydney Cove, Johannah was taken to the women’s barracks and then allocated to work at Government House Windsor. This necessitated a journey that was long and dangerous at that time for there were many thieves and bushrangers about so the party travelled with an armed guard. Johannah is listed in the Windsor Ration Book as receiving rations during 1813 and 1815 ( loc A 803 pp 59,90,122 ML) and during this time became Housekeeper at Government House.

Records show that she received payments for this position during 1814 and 1815 from the Police Fund. (Wentworth Papers loc. D1 M4 pp 121 137 ML)  Her salary was published in the following editions of the SYDNEY GAZETTE.

5 AUGUST 1815 12 MONTHS WINDSOR 20 pds

11 MAY 1816 6  MONTHS PARRAMATTA 10 pds

8 FEB 1817 12 MONTHS WINDSOR 20 pds

As housekeeper at Government House Johannah would have come in contact with some of the most influential people in the Colony including the Rev Samuel Marsden and William Cox , Magistrate.

Johannah’s son John Ready, arrived as a prisoner aboard the convict ship THE THREE BEES in June of 1814 and by the end of the year had become overseer of the Government Dairy at Windsor.

In July of 1814 there was great excitement in the Colony for Governor Macquarie had accepted the generous offer of William Cox to build a road over the mountains along with the route discovered by Blaxland,  Lawson and  Wentworth. So well did the team work that by 21 Jan 1815 the road had been completed and by May the Governor with his wife and a well equipped party was able to travel along the new road from Parramatta. Crossing the mountains Macquarie was able , with the help of Cox to lay out the proposed town of Bathurst on the banks of the Macquarie River which had been discovered by George Evans the previous year.

Two years later John and Johannah both still  at Windsor, testified at an inquest held on Wednesday 16th December 1817 into the accidental drowning of a dairy stockman. In their testimony they stated that the stockmen John Holland  and Edward Knight were good friends at the time of the accident.

Holland and Knight had gone to a nearby creek to bathe at a spot that John Holland considered safe but unfortunately neither could swim and when Holland got out of his depth Knight was unable to help him. He ran to a nearby Mill but being unsuccessful there went on to Government House where he asked the Gardener for help. As only one of those who came to help could swim ( very few people at that time could) it was two hours before John Holland’s body was recovered.

The Coroner being absent the Rev Samuel Marsden swore in the Chief Constable Francis Oates to act in his stead and Johannah unable to write put her mark on her testimony whilst her son John signed his name ( INQUESTS AONSW)

On 31 August 1819 both Johannah and John Ready received their pardons from the Governor and just over 6 months later on 7 Feb 1820 John married Elizabeth Curtis, daughter of John Curtis and Ann Moran . Elizabeth born in 1803 was now 17 years of age and John 30.

Although of the Catholic faith the wedding took place in St Johns Church of England Parramatta for at that time Catholicism was discouraged with no Catholic Priest being allowed to officiate.

In 1822 Johannah applied to the new Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, to have her sone Phillip and his family brought out as assisted immigrants from Ireland stating that Phillip was known to Mr Walsh the gaoler at City Cork where both she and John had been held for some time before embarkation but there is no record of the family ever having migrated to the Colony ( Governors Despatches 1822 loc 1193 p 230 ML)

Finally restrictions on the Roman Catholic Faith were relaxed with a move made to build a RC Chapel at Parramatta. Johannah is listed in the SYDNEY GAZETTE EDITIONS

17 MAY 1822

11 OCTOBER 1822

13 MARCH 1823

17 MARCH 1824

as making a subscription towards this aim. However as the Chapel had not been built by the 9th June 1824 Johannah was obliged to use St John’s Church, this time for her own wedding , for at the age of 59 she married 46 year old FRANCIS PRENDERGAST.


FRANCIS had arrived from England as a prisoner in the CORAMANDEL I having been tried at Pembroke County Sessions in Wales on Saturday 10th April 1802 for stealing eight linen shirts of the value of 50/- and two packets of silk of the value of 7/-, the goods of Emmanuel Fisher, Thomas Dillon and Hugh Stokes in the Parish of Hubberston, Pembrokeshire. The trial resulted in 24 year old Francis being sentenced to 14 years transportation to new South Wales. Twenty one months later on 4th December 1803, with John Robinson as master and Francis aboard, the CORAMANDEL left England and headed on its second voyage, for the Colony. The voyage took six months with the Master dying at sea and George Blakey taking over in his place. This was two months longer than its first journey out and the ship dropped anchor in Sydney Cove on 7th May 1804.

Two years later, Francis was again brought before the authorities. This time, on 20th May 1805, he was jointly accused along with F Donnely and Racey on the deposition of Mrs Martin and committed for trial by Thomas Arundel from Hawkesbury. 

Mrs Martin stated that her apartment had been forcibly entered at dead of night and that she had been inhumanely assaulted. She has identified Racey whom she said had raced across the room to her bed, she had screamed, he had grabbed her by the neck, struck her several blows on the head, his hand had been stained with blood: a child in her bed with her had started to scream and was likewise beaten. Racey was soon taken into custody and from further suspicious circumstances, the other two were taken into custody.

Arundell ordered that they be given 200 lashes each and work in the gaol gang until further notice.

Francis seems to have learned a bitter lesson from that escapade, if he were really involved for he never again seems to have been in trouble with the law. he received a pardon from the Governor on the 1st may 1809 and was emancipated in March 1810.

In the 1814 Muster, Francis was listed as a landholder and four years before his marriage to Johannah, when a large amount of timber was needed for the erection of the houses and public buildings that arose under Macquarie’s vigorous direction, had carried out the task of carrying teak for the Government. He had been paid for this from the Police Fund in the March of 1821. ( Bigge’s report. appendix p 5126 Bt Box 24 and Wentworth papers dip 2170 ML) He was also a tenant on 70 acres of land in the Hawkesbury River District and held land in the Town of Windsor. The land in Windsor having been given to him in consideration of his cultivating the lowlands in the District.

By 10th July 1823, Francis was able to purchase … acres of land from Lawrence Macdonald. This land had originally been granted by Governor Macquarie to DAVID WHITTAKER who came out on the GLATTON in 1803 and the year after his marriage to Johannah, Francis was given a grant of land. (  Sydney gazette 21st April 1825) In 1827, he was listed among the owners and occupiers of land in the Hawkesbury District. (A767 9 23 ML)

Assisted by his servant, Jeremiah  Early, who had arrived on the MANGLES on 8th November 1822 from Cork, Ireland, Francis must have worked hard for in the Census of 1828 he is listed as having a farm of 230 acres at Upper Nelson on the Windsor Road,with 60 acres cleared, 10 acres cultivated, 90 head of cattle and 6 horses.

In the June of 1829, Johannah was absolutely devastated when her son John’s marriage to Elizabeth Curtis broke down. For the next 18 months she battled to help her son as his mental condition deteriorated. He was living with Johannah in the June of 1830 and by the end of September the situation had degenerated to such an extent that Johannah found herself writing to the Governor, pleading for John’s life.

To his excellency Lietuentant Governor Ralph darling, Captain General and Governor in Chief of New South Wales.

The humble Memorial of Johannah Cavanagh most dutifully setteth forth;

That your Memorialist had a son be her former husband the name of JOHN READY who came to this country per THREE BEES but who to her sorrow was lately tried for CATTLE STEALING at the Supreme Court, Sydney, on the prosecution of JOHN CONIEN of which offence he was found guilty and Sentence of death recorded against him. 

That the taking of the Cattle your Memorialist does not intend to deny but begs most respectfully to state that her unfortunate Son married a woman who behaved herself in a most unbecoming manner towards him by leaving him and living with another man by whom she has one child – that in consequence her Son has been subject to mental derangement for the last 18 months and even to this day is now wearing a straight jacket on board the Hulk in Sydney Harbour.

That Your Memorialist who si 65 years of age came to this country in the ARCHDUKE CHARLES 1813, and is induced to emplore your Excellency in behalf of the unfortunate situation both to the mental derangement and miserable condition her Son has brought himself to.

Your Memorialist begs to refer your Excellency to the accompanying testimonials of character both to herself and her Son up to the period of his having committed the Act for which he is now suffering and Your Memorialist as in duty bound will ever pray.

Johannah Cavanagh now Pendergrast.

Perhaps Cavanagh was Johannah’s maiden name as there is no other record of her under this name. 

Johannah’s plea may have had some effect as JOhn’s sentence was commuted to transportation to Moreton Bay but she never saw her son again for he survived for just one more year under the conditions there. Under the circumstances it might have been better if the original sentence had been carried out.

On the 23rd December 1830, a notice appeared in the SYDNEY GAZETTE:

In the Supreme Court, 23rd December.


On Saturday 1st January next, at one o’clock, on the premises. all those five houses and premises situated in George Street Parramatta, 2 fronting the street, with gardens in front and rear, and three houses in the rear, occupied with tenants at present, with bakehouses attached, one of the fronts renting at 14/- per week and the other at 8/-;unless the execution is previously satisfied.

Obviously John’s problems had created difficulties for Johannah but no full explanation of this matter is yet available.

Nothing further is known of Johannah. She did not appear to have been living with Francis at the time of John’s breakdown but what happened to her after John’s death, or when she died remains a mystery, as no grave or death record has been found for her.




In the 24th June 1838 edition of the AUSTRALIAN,on p 3 Francis placed an advertisement seeking the return of the lost Deeds to his property at KURRAJONG.

Apparently Johannah had left a daughter behind in Ireland, who had married a JOHN JORDON as on the 5th November 1841 the ship FAIRLIE arrived in Sydney Town from Cork bringing two of their children to the Colony as assisted immigrants. They were BARTHOLOMEW and JOHANNAH JORDON aged 20 and 18 respectively. Bartholomew had been a farm labourer in Ireland and Johannah a farmhouse servant. Their Mother was deceased and their father remained in Ireland. their immigration papers state that neither could read or write and their native places are given as Cork and Garrycloyne. ( Garrycloyne is a small town just outside the city of Cork in County Cork). Whether Johannah lived to see them is unknown.

The Colony then consisted of 101,749 free citizens and 26,977 convicts and these two were the first members of the family to arrive as free persons.

Bartholomew and his sister went to live with FRANCIS PENDERGRAST, staying there until after his death on 27th July 1844.

In his will, presented for probate on 17th December 1844, Francis left a bequest to these ” the grandchildren of my former wife who are residing with me at present”. ( wills for probate. reel 3004 no 1651 series 1 SAG). “My former wife” is rather ambiguous and this reference does nothing to explain what may have happened to her. However in his will he left his property to his wife Mary, so presumably he had remarried.

Bartholomew Jordon was 26 when in 1847 he married MARTHA ANN CLEMPTON, born in the Colony in 1811 to AUGUST CLEMPTON and his wife ADA. ( Castlereagh banns register). Bartholomew and Martha had a small farm at Castlereagh and eventually a family of four children, one son and three daughters. Bartholomew died on 19th July 1859 at Castlereagh from apoplexy and was buried at McCarthey’s cemetery, Cranebrook, having lived in NSW for 18 years. At the time of his death his youngest child was one year old, ELEANOR.

Although Johannah Jordon never married, in 1855 she gave birth to a son whom she named George. Johannah Jordon died on 22nd July 1870 and George in 1876. They were buried together in the cemetery at REGENTVILLE.   


m 18 ?
JOHN READY 1790c m 1820



JOHN READY c 1790-1831

John Ready was born circa 1790 to ? Ready and Johannah nee Cavenagh in the ancient town of Limerick ,constructed during the 9th century on the shore of the River Shannon which flowed through South Western Ireland into the Atlantic Ocean. Nothing is known about John’s childhood  but when he was arrested at the age of twenty two he was a tall sandy haired young man with hazel eyes and a fair complexion working as a garden labourer.

John was tried along with John Morgan a forty year old shoemaker from from Tipperary , at the assizes in County Tippery ? in August 1812, for the numerous felonies which they had committed together. Found guilty, each was sentenced to 14 years transportation to New South Wales and were moved to Cork to await their ship.

It was 13 months before the transport THE THREE BEES built and launched at Bridgewater earlier that year and on her maiden voyage arrived at Cork on a sultry  Wednesday in the early Autumn of 1813. She had taken her first convicts at Canal Docks in Dublin on ThThe ursday August 26th and now on September 22nd was to take on the rest of her compliment. The small prison hold was very crowded and John, standing 5′10 1/2 ” tall would have found it particularly cramped as those over 5′ in height were unable to stand upright.

Thirty five days later on Wednesday 27th October 1813, the THREE BEES sailed out of Cork harbour to join a convoy at Falmouth England. There she waited for another five weeks with the temperature plummeting  as Autumn turned to Winter. Some of the prisoners were suffering severely for they had been aboard in their tiny prison for over three months but , coming from hardy stock, as they did, there were very few among them sick when she sailed on Sunday 5th December 1813 for Rio de Janeiro.

Stormy weather during the voyage meant that the prisoners were often not allowed to go on deck and the conditions in the crowded prison were terrible for many of the prisoners suffered from sea sickness. The stench from this, from their unwashed bodies and body wastes were very hard to bear.

At Rio having crossed the Equator, it was Summer and extremely hot but the prisoners were quite freely allowed on deck with the prison temperatures  dropping six to eight degrees when the prisoners were all out. One man died of fever but when the ship sailed on Thursday 17 Feb 1814 there were very few sick among them.

Ten days later after leaving Rio the lookout sighted a strange ship. Worried that they might be attacked Captain John Wallis ordered the convicts’ bedding to be brought on deck to forma  barricade. A sudden downpour of rain soaked the bedding and they found it impossible to get it dry before nightfall ( The Convict Ships – Bateson)

(Both the Broxbornebury and Surrey I were in the fleet which originally set out.  An ancestor of Janice Maurice- Hugh Kennedy – was also on the THREE BEES . His daughter Elizabeth Kennedy married John Taylor one of whose descendants married Agnes Sanders
Hugh Kennedy born about 1768 was indicted for having in his custody at Belfast on August 1812 a counterfeit Bank of Ireland note for one pound two shillings and ninepence knowing it to be forged transported for 14 years age 44 occupation weaver.
The Three Bees only made one voyage after her arrival in 1814 she caught fire near Government wharf and exploded in the harbour then drifted onto the rocks at Bennelong point where she burnt to the water line.
Hugh died in march 1843 he owned land in Grose Street Parramatta.

The prisoners were advised not to use their damp bedding but rather than sleep on the bare boards most chose to ignore the warning.  Scurvy broke out and seven prisoners died due to their weakened state and lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.

On the THREE BEES’ arrival in Sydney on Friday 26 May 1814 fifty five of the remaining one hundred and twenty one prisoners were taken to  hospital. Many of these were affected by scurvy and some with other complaints. Contrary to the earlier on their state of health on embarkation. “on enquiry  it was claimed that many had embarked in a bad state of health and that not a few were infirm from lameness or old age. but all bore grateful testimony  to having been treated with unremitting care,attention and kindness from the time of their embarkation to landing” . (HRA Series I Vol 8.P.)


Whilst John Ready journeyed out, Governor Macquarie had been making tremendous advances in the affairs of the Colony and had worked hard to better the lot of all. The new towns of Windsor, Castlereagh, Wilberforce and Pittown that he had created were going well, but the Gentry were upset by his kindness and thoughtfulness to the emancipists whom he considered to be the backbone of the future nation. He was also having problems with the 73rd Regiment and asked that it be removed complete for instead of upholding the law, it was like its predecessor the NSW Rum Corps, flouting it. (Macquarie His Life, Adventures and Times. A. M. Ellis.)


Drought had continued all through the Summer and Autumn of early 1814, but by April the road to Windsor was finished and the Turnpike from Sydney to Liverpool almost completed, with all able bodied men having to contribute labour in building the section near the properties, which would benefit them when completed.  

It was into this scene, with food becoming ever scarcer as the drought continued and the Colony awaiting the shipment of grain from India, that JOHN READY and the other prisoners from the THREE BEES entered.

Taken to the prisoners’ barracks they were divided into groups, allocated to Parramatta, Windsor or Liverpool and sent there under guard. John , travelling along the newly completed road was sent to WINDSOR and put to work in the Government Dairy. Whether this was just coincidence, or because his mother, JOHANNAH READY, worked in Government House is unknown, but he was receiving rations there in 1814 (Windsor Ration Book loc. A 803 pp 56,66,116 ML) and in the same year was mentioned as being Overseer at the Government Dairy.


Towards the end of that desperate year, whilst Cox was building his road over the mountains, the rains came and the crops which such a short time before looked doomed, began to look as if they would give a reasonable harvest. Things commenced to improve for all, grass finally started to grow again, the cows to give more milk and the beef cattle to fill out.

In the SYDNEY GAZETTE of the 21st September 1816 and again in 1817, it is recorded that a letter had arrived for JOHN. Regretfully there is no record of who sent them or where they came from but the family in Ireland was obviously keeping in touch as moves were later made by his mother to bring his brother Philip and family out to Australia. On his next visit to Sydney, John was able to see the advances made to the Town for the new Hospital was rising in Macquarie Street under the direction of FRANCIS GREENWAY and built at no cost to the Government. 


For the next two years John went about his business at the Dairy without attracting adverse attention and on the 30th April 1819 there appeared an entry in the LAND OFFICE Records.



Deed Poll bearing the date the 15th day February 1819 under the hand and seal of PATRICK DOWNEY of prospect, settler whereby for the considerations therein mentioned he, the said PATRICK DOWNEY.

Did absolutely bargain, sell, assign, transfer and make over to JOHN READY of PARRAMATTA all his right, title and interest of five houses and tenements, situate in GEORGE ST PARRAMATTA, formerly the Property of THOMAS PEARCE purchased by him the said PATRICK DOWNEY at Public Auction which said houses and Tenements are more particularly described in a certain assignment dated 30th day November 1818 from  ROBERT JENKINS to him the said PATRICK DOWNEY.  



As a married man owning twenty head of cattle, John applied for a grant of 50 acres of land to start a farm of his own. The grant was made in 1821 and listed in the 12 May edition of the SYDNEY GAZETTE. 

On the 31st August John was granted a pardon by Governor Macquarie (Pardons Reel 771 AO) and on 4th February 1820 at the age of thirty, was joined at ST JOHN’S PARRAMATTA, in the bonds of Holy Matrimony to Elizabeth, the 17 year old daughter of JOHN CURTIS and ANN MORAN who lived nearby at Toongabbie. The ceremony was conducted by JOHN CROSS with MICHAEL AND MARY DWYEE as witnesses. ( St Johns Register ML).

In the 1825 Muster, John is listed as being a landholder at CASTLE HILL but he is recorded as supplying fresh meat to the Commissariat at Parramatta on 24 February 1821 and Pork on 24th March 1821 so must have had access to some land in the meantime. 

John and Elizabeth’s marriage however was going through a stormy time with the unhappy Elizabeth eventually running away, for in the 15 February edition of the SYDNEY GAZETTE a notice appeared warning anyone against giving credit to his wife ELIZABETH READY, formerly Curtis, on his account as she had run away from home without any just cause or provocation.

John was again mentioned in the SYDNEY GAZETTE of 8th JANUARY 1823 as having supplied meat to the Government Stores.

With the income from the property acquired from PATRICK DOWNEY earlier, John decided to expand his interests and on the 25th April 1825, a notice from the Surveyor-General’s Office appeared in the AUSTRALIAN that a grant of land was ready for delivery to JOHN REIDY(sic) and FRANCIS PENDERGRASY. ( Francis had married John’s mother Johannah the previous year.)




3 thoughts on “READY OR NOT”

  1. An update on Elizabeth Curtis

    The marriage of John Ready to Elizabeth Curtis was bigamous – see TROVE “The Sydney Monitor” Saturday 5 June 1830.

    Elizabeth married Thomas Hogan at St Mary’s Ch, Sydney on 10 June 1831. She had at least six children with Thomas Hogan, not including Peter Mark Ready who was most likely the child mentioned by Johanna Ready/Pendergast as belonging to another man. Thomas Hogan died in January 1839 in Bathurst. (Think descendants should really have been Hogan in answer to Phil’s “Ready or Not”)

    Elizabeth next married James Quinn at St Mary’s Ch, Sydney in 1840. James Quinn died 28 July 1841.

    Elizabeth’s final marriage took place in 1847 at Parramatta to Michael O’Brien, he died 18 August 1862 in Parramatta.

    She died on 11 September 1867 at Parramatta and was buried in the Parramatta Roman Catholic cemetery on 13 September 1867.

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