FF ELLEN/Eleanor (Redchester) FRASER
Convict "Prince of Wales"
Eleanor Redchester was born in November
1764 in Aldborough, North Yorkshire, England to Robert
Register and Dorothy Simpson. She was known as Ellen or
Nell. Although her father's surname was spelt Register,
all his children had the spelling of Redchester.
She was baptised on the 16th of November in St Andrew's
Church in Aldborough.
She married William Fraser (sometimes
spelt Frazer or Frazier) on the 8th of November 1783 at
St Andrew's Church in Aldborough.
In 1784, Ellen and William had their
first child, a son named William. Unfortunately William
died in infancy.
Ellen and William were both tried and convicted for
stealing cloth. They were sentenced to 7 years
transportation at Manchester Quarter Sessions on the 8th
of January 1787 for larceny. Her crime was that "Ellen
Fraser alias Ellen Redchester of Manchester, singlewoman,
stole six pieces of fustian, one piece of yellow canvas,
and half a gross of white filletting, property of James
Leigh, Robert Leigh, Thomas Leigh, Thomas Darwell; also
property of Marmaduke Clarke".
While awaiting transportation to Australia she was
imprisoned in Lancaster Castle. Prison reformer John
Howard visited Lancaster in 1776 and noted the
conditions in the prison. His efforts to instigate
reform led to prisoners in gaols throughout the country
being separated by gender and category of their crime.
Improvements were also made to sanitation; in the
18th century more people died from gaol fever than by
hanging. In the last two decades of the century, around
£30,000 was spent rebuilding Lancaster's county gaol.
Architect Thomas Harrison was commissioned to complete
the work. Under his auspices, the Gaoler's House was
built in 1788 in a Gothic style.
She was recorded as being a single woman,
which if she had taken advantage of her real marital
status to claim influence by her husband, she may have
been acquitted. It was only after their request to the
Gaoler Higgins, at Lancaster Castle, to be sent to the
same place that Higgins on the 5th of April 1787 sent a
letter to Evan Nepean, enclosing a copy of her marriage
certificate dated 8th of November 1783 from Aldborough,
Yorkshire, and reporting their wish to be sent to the
same place "as they have been married some years and
have had children". The name was spelt "Frazer" in the
Ellen and William both arrived in Sydney on the 26th of
January 1788. Ellen departed England on the 9th of April
1787 aboard the "Prince of Wales". Ellen’s
husband William arrived in Australia on the
"Charlotte" and it may be that Ellen was
transferred to the "Charlotte" at Rio on the 13th of
August 1787, as one female convict was transferred from
the "Prince of Wales" to the "Charlotte" at Rio. The
Census of 1828 indicates that she arrived on the
"Charlotte". She was 1 of the 189 female convicts that
arrived as part of the First Fleet.
After arrival William Fraser settled in to the new life
he and Ellen would now face.
"He was employed as a blacksmith in the
early days of the colony, and was a favourite of Captain
Tench and Governor Phillip, who once asked Fraser to
examine some locks that Phillip had specially imported
for the Public Store. Frazer reportedly asked for a
crooked nail and in an instant picked the locks."
(Extract taken from "1788 The People of the First Fleet"
by Don Chapman).
He is described by Collins as "an
excellent workman, who seldom chose to accept any
article but spirits in payment for work done in his
On the 7th of June 1789 their second son, John Fraser,
was born in Sydney. John would later change his surname
to the spelling of Frazier. John was one of the first
British children born in Australia. He is generally
regarded as the second born white child in Australia.
The first born is generally regarded to
be William Nash who was baptised on the 25th of May
1788, and died on the 19th of June 1789. Governor
Phillip's reports are published in The Historical
Records of Australia Series 1 Volume 1, but there is no
mention of the first birth in the colony; on 12 February
1790 he simply states the number of births (59) and
deaths (72) that had occurred to date.
William Fraser died on the 13th of June 1791 in Sydney
aged 31 years. His death was a result of heavy drinking.
One month later, on the 18th of July 1791, their third
son, Daniel Fraser, was baptised shortly after his birth
in Sydney. With the birth of her third baby and the
death of her husband the month earlier, Ellen began
seeing William Morgan who arrived in Australia on the
28th of June 1790 as part of the Second Fleet as a
Private aboard the ship "Neptune".
It is most probable that William and Ellen never
married. They had 5 children; Ann Morgan, Lucy Fraser
Morgan, William Fraser Morgan, Sarah Fraser Morgan, and
Richard Fraser Morgan, all of whom took the middle name
On the 20th of February 1794 Ellen
received her first land grant of twenty acres at
Concord. She is believed to be the first woman to own
freehold land in the Colony.
On the 22nd of July 1794 she received a further twenty
William Morgan had a grant adjoining Ellen. Ellen had 15
acres under full cultivation of wheat and maize, and had
6 prisoners working for her.
60 acres of land belonging to
close by and. Ellen and William's daughter Sarah would
marry First Fleeter Frederick Meredith's son
On the 3rd of November 1798 William
Morgan was charged with illegally withholding some of
Ellen's pigs, which the court made him return. It was
said at this time that they had separated after living
together for seven years, but by 1800 they were back
together again as Ellen bore him their second child
Lucy, and they were to have more children before finally
separating permanently sometime after 1806 when their
last child, Richard was born.
After her relationship with William ended
she began a relationship with Thomas Humphries. Thomas
was an ex-convict who was assigned to her in her early
days as a land holder, and remained with her until her
On the 12th of July 1806 her third child,
Daniel Frazier, passed away at 15 years old. He was
crossing Homebush Bay on the Parramatta River when the
canoe he was in overturned. A man who was with him
survived the capsizing, however young Daniel did not.
His funeral was held at St. Phillip's Church of England,
Sydney. He was buried on the 14th of July at The Old
Sydney Burial Ground (now the site of Sydney Town Hall),
in George Street. He was not buried with his father as
his father was buried in the first Sydney cemetery which
was on "land adjacent to the military barracks near the
present day Grosvenor Street in the Rocks.
The Old Sydney Burial Ground was used
between September 1792 and September 1820, but then
closed. When the new Town Hall was to be built, graves
were cleared, but mainly where the foundations would be
located. Any remains that were found were reburied at
Rookwood Cemetery and a single monument raised
presumably because no names were known. If any of
Daniel's remains were found they would have been
re-interred at Rookwood.
On the 10th of December 1823 her second
child, John Frazier passed away aged 34 years old. At
this stage in her life, all of her 3 children to her
first husband William Fraser had passed away.
William Morgan died on the 22nd of
October 1828 aged 64 years.
Ellen continued to live at Concord until
her death. At the time of her death she was seen as
being a highly regarded settler.
Eleanor died on the 18th of November 1840
at her residence in Concord aged 76 years. She was
buried on the 20th of November in St Luke's Church
Cemetery in Liverpool under the name Eleanor Fraser
along with her son John.
A comment in the publication “Concord - A Centenary
History” noted that “Eleanor Frazer was obviously a
woman of remarkable resilience and fortitude who well
deserves recognition as a pioneer of Concord”. Eleanor
bequeathed her land at Concord to her two sons William
and Richard Frazer Morgan but also requested in her will
that Thomas Humphries be provided for. Thomas Humphries
died 11 years later in 1851.
Will of Eleanor Frazer "Willed and bequeathed to William
Frazer Morgan and Richard Frazer Morgan 20 acres each of
land originally granted to Richard Hudson. Provided that
Thomas Humphries (carpenter) to be provided for, for the
rest of his life. Witness - Isaac Nichols, James Hopson,
John Kelly (by his mark) Executors - George Nichols,
Thomas Humphries Will No. Serial 1 No. 1261 dated July 6
One of the witnesses of her will, Isaac
Nichols, was one of the main land owners in the area of
Concord. The 50 acres of land he had on the coast still
remains today. This land includes the Dame Edith Walker
Estate which can be visited today.
Ellen and William's adjoining properties
today make up part of the Concord Golf Course.
by Clayton Talbot
The Fellowship of First Fleeters
installed a FFF Plaque on Ellen Fraser’s Grave on 14th
This Plaque was replaced in 1993.
Refer FFF Web Site:http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/graves.html
Plaque 3 – Installed 14th August 1977
(*Replaced in 1993)
FF ELLEN/Eleanor (Redchester) FRASER
Convict‘Prince of Wales’(1764-1840)