Ann was born on the 1st September 1771 to John and Hannah Forbes(Nee Davis) in the East End of London, Spitalfields Markets where her father John was a gardener and a greengrocer.  Her baptism was held at Christ Church Spitalfields on 15 September 1771. 

 Ann stole 10 yards of printed cotton along with Lydia Munro and they were arrested on 28th October 1786, committed on the 30th with a hand written note on the margin of her court transcript stating ‘’Guilty, No Chattels, to be Hanged  and she was sent to Newgate prison.  She was then tried at the Surry Lent Assizes on 5th April, 1787 where her death sentence was firstly upheld then reprieved to Transportation for 7 years on the 17th April, 1787. What a terrifying 12 days she must have experienced.

Ann was transferred by prison wagon travelling shackled by day and by night, to the Prince of Wales waiting in Portsmouth harbour in an area called the Mother Bank off the coast of the Isle of Wight.  They travelled through many villages where people closed doors, drew curtains, and closed their shops as the prison wagons passed by.

After the fear and filth of Newgate prison, and then the bone shattering ride in a wagon devoid of any suspension, on rain soaked roads and where bogging was frequent their arrival at the new ship (the Prince of Wales was build in 1786) must have seemed like heaven. However Captain Arthur Phillip commented that many of the crew and most of the women were sea sick for most if not the entire journey, another hell on earth to be endured.

Ann arrived with Lydia on the Prince of Wales on January 20th 1788 in Sydney Cove.    

We know nothing about what she did within the colony in those early days but we do know that soon after landing she formed a relationship with George Bannister and she gave birth to her first child Sarah in 1789.  What happened to Sarah is unknown but as she did not join her parents when they went to Norfolk Island in 1790.  It is believed that she died in early childhood. 


Ann and George left for Norfolk Island on the Sirius in March 1790.  This ironically was the ill fated journey of the Sirius. The weather was not conducive to the Sirius or its accompanying ship the Supply to land within the harbour at Sydney Bay.  Therefore Sirius sailed to Cascade Bay on the leeward side of the Island where the Marines and the women and children were put ashore having to walk about 2 miles through thick forest across the Island back to Sydney Bay.  Ann and George parted company at some time over the next 18 months. 

Then on the 5th November 1791 Ann married William Dring in a mass ceremony presided by Rev Johnston and a daughter Ann was born in 1792 and another, Elizabeth in 1794. 

Ann and William had a small plot of land on which they had a house and enough land to grow their food and William worked as a coxswain and, according to Phillip Gidley King he was a most useful man

By 1792 they were off stores and selling a surplus to the government and by 1793 Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King commented in his journal that William had become a well behaved man Marriage and perhaps with the settling hand of Ann he had calmed down. 

As William was sailor and it could be suggested that he knew little if anything about growing crops so perhaps as well as having a settling effect on William it was Ann with her family knowledge of growing vegetables that bought about the success of their garden.

Then in the period between October 1793 and December 1794 trouble began to brew between William and the NSW Corp Marines.   A certain Charles Windsor began to show interest in Ann and frequented their property whilst William was away attending to his duties as Coxswain.  .  

William is reported to have hit a Charles Windsor who had been repeatedly found in the company of his wife.  For this he received a fine of 20 shillings and a surety of good behavior which was obtained and all was well until two soldiers were over heard in December 1793 threatening his life.’   

Charles Windsor was also at this time accused by Govern Phillip Gidley King as one of the perpetrators of the incident referred to the Christmas mutiny of the NSW Corps. They complained of being less well treated that the convicts.  The failure of the mutiny meant that the marines involved were returned to Sydney Cove for Court martial and Ann and William continued their lives.

In August 1794 Ann gave birth to another daughter Elizabeth and in November 1794 they returned to Sydney Cove with daughters Ann 2 years and Elizabeth 4 months. 


On their return young Ann died in January 1795 the cause is unknown leaving Elizabeth the only surviving Dring.  In August 1796 a son was born but he too died in September 1796

Ann had named him Charles. Was this after Charles Windsor we will never know for sure? However, I think it is possible as Charles was still in the colony as he did not leave until 1810 when the NSW Corps was recalled.  He married in 1802 so it is possible that he and Ann had continued the affair on Anns return to Sydney.  Was there an argument between Charles Windsor and William Dring? Did the NSW Corps Marines finally murder William or did he escape their clutches by going to sea? There are no answers at present.

In 1798 Ann had another daughter Jane F Dring and it is believed that this child was the first of 10 Ann she had with Thomas.

Thomas had come directly to Norfolk Island in 1791 arriving on the Salamander in the third fleet.  Ann and Thomas no doubt knew each other then.  Thomas received a grant of 55 acres in Windsor in September of 1794 on his returned to Sydney and Ann was assigned to him as his housekeeper around 1798.  They had 10 children and lived on Thomass second land grant given to him as Thomas Huxley on the Hawkesbury River at Paradise Point’.

Thomas had 3 boats to take goods to Windsor and Sydney and bring supplies back.  Their future generations remained in the Hawkesbury area spreading branches of the family tree throughout NSW.  By the time Ann died in 1851 at Sackville Reach where she is buried at St Thomass graveyard, she had 116 Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren

Thomas died Richmond in 1854 and is buried in St Peters Church of England Cemetery in Richmond.

Thank you Ann for being a wonderful Pioneer of this wonderful nation.


Sources for Article on Ann Forbes

1. Parish: Christ Church, Spitalfields County: Middlesex Borough: Tower Hamlets Parent(s): John, Hannah Record Type: Baptism Register Type: Parish Register

2. Guilty, No Chattles’ to be Hanged by Ian Forster

3. Morgan’s Run by Colleen McCulloch

4. Documents that Shaped Australia by Ian Thompson

5. The Goodwin Family Book Outland ‘A Misfortunate Girl - Lydia Munro

6. Phillip Gidley King’s Journal on Norfolk Island Mitchell Library Manuscripts pp 341-42;398-99;401-402

 (the Christmas Mutiny, William’s trouble with the NSW Corp and Sinking of the Sirius and the information on how Ann and William lived)

7. NSW Census and Population Books 1811-11-1825

8. NSW Returns of the Colony 1822-1864

9. NSW Marriage Index 1788-1950

10. Australian Cemetery Index 1808-2007

11. NSW and Tasmania Australian Convict Musters 1806-1849

12. Australian Convict Transportation Registers - other Fleets and Ships, 1791-1868

13. NSW, Australia Colonial Secretary Paper, 1788-1825

14. NSW, Australia Settler and Convict Lists 1787-1834

15. NSW, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records 1790-1849



Submitted by Lynne McDonald # 7709

B.A History, Ancient History and English. UNE, Armidale

Descendant of William Dring and Ann Forbes/Huxley.




Further information


The birth of Ann Forbes has been put into doubt by a number of new information being found.  I had come to doubt the parentage we had in 2015 and after receiving an email from a fellow researcher Barbara Parker with a death of an Ann Forby in Spitalfields Markets in early 1776 I have begun to do further research. 


I have since found resounding evidence to suggest that Ann Forbes daughter of John and Hannah Forbes may not be the Ann Forbes who came in the First Fleet.  This evidence is speculative but highly probable. There are in fact 3 other Ann Forbes who could be our Ann.


I therefore wish it known that further research is being undertaken  and that the birth information in this article and may not be correct.


When I have made a decision on these new facts I will update this

article to express the new findings.


Lynne McDonald # 7709




Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters