Many youngsters came out on the First Fleet.  James Grace was one of them, the first Grace to arrive in Australia.  Since he died on Norfolk Island as a youth, I have adopted him… Warwick Grace (# 6496.1)


JAMES GRACE, born about 1771?  Parents and birthplace (Middlesex?*) at present uncertain. 

1. OLD BAILEY Records:


Sessions Text - The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t17840114-40 

JAMES GRACE, theft: burglary, 14 Jan 1784. 

Trial Summary: Crime(s): theft: burglary, Punishment Type: transportation, 

Verdict: Part Guilty: convicted of a lesser offence; other trials on 14 Jan 1784. (Original Text minimally edited: See original in Old Bailey records.) 

JAMES GRACE (a boy eleven years old), was indicted for burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of Samuel Barton, at the hour of six in the night, on the 22d of December last, and feloniously stealing a pair of silk stockings, value 7 s. and yards of silk ribbon, value 2 s. the property of the said Samuel.



I was fifteen last Christmas.  I am servant to Mr. Smart in Oxford-street.  I was in the street between six and seven the 22d of December at night, and as I was passing by, I saw the prisoner put his hand through a pane of glass, and take out a pair of silk stockings.  As he passed by me I laid hold of him, and I had him for five minutes before any body came.  He threw down a pair of stockings, and he was also taking out some ribbon, and he could not get it all out.  Then Mr. Burton came out and took hold of him.  

He said somebody else took them.



COURT.  In what state was the glass of your window before this happened?                        Whole. 

Can you swear that positively?                Yes, I had looked at them about half an hour before this happened and they were all whole. 

Might not the whole glass be taken out and you not see it?           I generally walk about my shop and I saw the glass was whole, I came out on the alarm, and took the prisoner into my shop.  The other young man had hold of him.  I found nothing upon him.


COURT to Prisoner.  What age are you?              Eleven.



I am a baker.  I was going up the road, and the other witness desired me to pick up that pair of stockings, which I did.  It was two doors off, they were white silk stockings.  I gave them to the prosecutor.


(The stealing deposed to.)



Between the hours of six and seven, as I was coming down Oxford-road I saw this pane of glass broken.  I looked into the window, and this pair of stockings lay under the window.  I picked them up, and was going to carry them in to the gentleman, and that gentleman and that boy caught hold of me. 


JURY to (George) Windsor.  Did you observe this window broke before?       No, I had not passed by.


COURT: GUILTY -- of stealing, but not of breaking and entering. 

TRANSPORTED for seven years. 

TRIED by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice HEATH.


2. MOLLIE GILLEN Records: 

JAMES GRACE was born about 1771. Parents and birthplace (*Middlesex [?] Ralph Clarke diary note) are unknown.  He was listed in one record as 'James Graves'. The information below uses the correct surname, from p. 147 of 'The Founders of Australia, A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet', by Mollie Gillen.


'James Grace (was) "a boy eleven years old" when he was charged with breaking into a shop and stealing a pair of silk stockings and ten yards of silk ribbon in Oxford Street.  He was seen to put his hand through a broken window and take the goods out. 

'Sentenced at the Old Bailey to transportation for seven years on 14 January 1784 for theft of the goods (but not for breaking and entering), the boy was sent from Newgate to the Mercury transport on 30 March.  

'He was among those taken at Torbay by Helena after the mutinous convicts had brought the ship into the harbour, and was committed to gaol at Exeter on the 16th'.


Of the mutiny in which James was embroiled the book records (page 435): 

'The superintendent of the Thames hulks, Duncan Campbell, received a warrant on 26 March 1784 naming fifty male convicts to be delivered to the contractor George Moore on board the Mercury transport (hitherto the Grand Duke of Tuscany).  On the same date, the keeper of Newgate was instructed to send a further 105 convicts, male and female, making a total of 185.  A first batch of 90 from Newgate went on board at 7 a.m. on 30 March, including "upwards of twenty women and girls and two little boys about twelve (James Grace and John Hudson)".  With eight from Maidstone, Kent, 22 from Oxford and one from Dorchester, Dorset, the final total was only 179 on board when the vessel (Mercury) sailed.  Under Captain Pamp's command (it left) from Gravesend on 2 April "for Georgia" and from the Downs (inside the Goodwin Sands on the east coast of Kent) on the 4th "for America".


'On 14 April the captain of HMS Helena wrote to the Secretary of the Navy to inform him that he had found the transport (Mercury) at Torbay.  (He reported) that about 60 of the convicts had already escaped into Devon.  66 were taken by Helena and would be delivered to Exeter as soon as possible.  They had risen on the crew when the ship was some 12 leagues beyond the Scilly Islands, but had had to put back because of bad weather.  Escaping convicts captured by the naval vessel were lodged in Exeter gaols, and one by one others, who had reached various points in Devon, were brought in.  On 24 May a special Commission tried 24 of the ringleaders and sentenced all to death, though all were later reprieved and two acquitted.  The remainder were remanded to their former orders'.


(Page 147): 'Remanded to his former orders by the Special Commission on 24 May, James Grace was recorded on the Dunkirk hulk in June as aged fourteen and "in general tolerably well behaved but troublesome at times".


'On 11 March 1787, he was discharged to Friendship, where Ralph Clark said he was eighteen and a shoemaker, born in Middlesex'.  He was transported on the Friendship to Botany Bay in 1788.


'From Port Jackson, (James) Grace (went) to Norfolk Island by Sirius on 4 March 1790.  With Joseph Morrell (Scarborough 1790), he went to Mount Pitt Path on 23 March 1791 "to See if the Birds were come in".  The 23 (birds) they caught were confiscated by the patrol, but they served to inform the community that the mutton birds were indeed "come in", and men were sent every night to collect as many as possible.


'At 1 July, (James) Grace was subsisting (with) two persons on a Queensborough lot, with 72 rods cleared.  (He was) sharing a nine month sow, provided by the government, with Elizabeth Smith (Lady Juliana, aged 16… both London convicts) and James Thomas 2nd (probably one of the two First Fleet men of this name, both at Norfolk Island at this time).  

'(James) Grace was settled on 12 acres at Morgan's Run, Queensborough, in December.  By 25 February 1792 he was working for other settlers and off stores.


1793, 15 November.  '(James Grace) died on at Norfolk Island'.


(Mollie Gillen, 'The Founders of Australia' (pp 147/435) plus records from the Old Bailey and Ralph Clark's Diary).


3. Some more information on James has since been gleaned… 

This is an updated version for 'Colony', News Bulletin of the South Coast Chapter December 2010 (editor, Jean Mortimer).



Samuel Free.  

Tried Old Bailey, 1788 (aka Tree, Frear, Isreal). 

Transported on 'Salamander' (Third Fleet#). 

Died June 3, 1819 (49 years), Sandy Bay, Tasmania.


Elizabeth Smith (aka Fue, Free, Grace). 

Tried Middlesex, February 27, 1788. 

Transported on 'Lady Juliana' (Second Fleet#). 

To Norfolk Island on 'Surprize' August 7, 1790. 

Died June 22, 1850 (75 years) at Clarence Plains.


4. MARRIAGE: I. SCHAFFER and T. McKAY Records‡: (7/3/2008: Copy, Norfolk Island Library): 

ELIZABETH SMITH (Fue/Free /Grace, ['Lady Juliana' #] married to SAMUEL FREE ['Salamander''## 1791])…


    (‡Irene Schaffer and Thelma McKay 'Exiled Three Times Over. Profiles of Norfolk Islanders exiled in VDL.' p 58).


5. CHILDREN of Elizabeth Smith: 

i) Dr CRAIG SMEE Records*: (19/1/2010: from *Dr Smee Notes):


'18/12/1792: Elizabeth (born to) GRACE, JAMES (1788 / 'Friendship' / Convict) // (de facto to) SMITH, ELIZABETH (1790 / 'Lady Juliana' / Convict). Legend used: 'GS' 'd.' 'GS': that is, 'Government Servant' (convict), 'de facto' 'Government Servant'.


    (*Dr Craig Smee, 2009: 'Born in the English Colony of NSW' -- 'List 6', re 'Norfolk Island'.)


A. To JAMES GRACE?  (Note *Dr Smee's paragraph above, plus Molly Gillen: 

'He [James] was recorded as sharing a lot at Queensborough with an Elizabeth Smith and a James Thomas, July 1 that year' [1791].)  James died November 15, 1793.


ii) I. SCHAFFER and T. McKAY Records‡: 

 1.   Elizabeth (Smith) born on N.I. ‡13/12/1792.  (N.B. *Dr. Smee has '18/12/1792' in his record.) 

       Elizabeth married John Chipman, March 16, 1829.  Died 1831.




'Unfortunately I didn't get very far with Elizabeth Smith. I know she came out on the 'Lady Juliana' and have read the book "The Floating Brothel", about that ship. Elizabeth is only mentioned once in the book. 

'I have Elizabeth's first child on Norfolk Island listed as being the child of James (Grace): that is Elizabeth Smith born 13/12/1792. She married John Chipman on 16/03/1829, had a son John William Chipman born 06.06.1830.  Elizabeth Chipman died in 1831 in Tasmania. 'I doubt there is a descendant from the Chipman line. A John Chipman died in 1831 age 22, at Clarence; not 100% sure if this is Elizabeth's husband but it is a possibility. He was buried 18.01.1831.  There was also a baby named John Chipman who was buried 04.05.1831, at Clarence.  His age was given as 0.  As Elizabeth and John's son was born on 6.6.1830, this could possibly be their son.  I am yet to find a marriage in Tasmania for a John William Chipman.  If both parents died when he was a baby he more than likely didn't have much of a chance.' 


    (†Natasha Walters, descendant of Samuel Free – via Email, 04/04/2008 <nmwalters@austarnet.com.au>




 2.   Sarah (Smith) born by December 30, 1797 on N.I.  

            Sarah married George Munday. 

            Died November 12, 1871 (74) at Clarence Plains. 

            *Dr Smee has '30/12/1797 Sarah (born to) Free, Samuel (1791 'Salamander' / Smith, Elizabeth).


 3.   Mary (Free) born July 2, 1799 on N.I. 

            Mary married  i)  James Joseph, October 23, 1815. 

                                      ii) Edward Maum, May 8, 1832. 

            Died September 15, 1882 (82). 

            *Dr Smee has '2/7/1799 Mary (born to) Free, Samuel (1791 'Salamander' / Smith, Elizabeth).


 4.   Susannah (Free) born July 25, 1801 on N.I. 

            Susannah married Jacob Bellette, April 16, 1827.

            Died January, 1833.


 5.   Samuel (Free, Grace [?]) born November 1, 1804 on N.I. 

 (N.B. James [d. 1793] could not be his father. Elizabeth may have chosen Grace for a family name). 

            Died May 8, 1839.


 6.   Thomas (Free) (born 1805-6?); baptised January 1, 1820 at Hobart. 

            Thomas married Mary Ann Waterson, November 22, 1826. 

            Died September 5, 1861). 

                (†Natasha Walters email: 'My Free connections come through Thomas.')


 7.   William (Free) born c 1812, Hobart; baptised February 19, 1812. 

            Died May 10, 1830 (18).


  #Second Fleet: HMS Guardian, Lady Juliana, Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize plus Justinian (Stores).


##Third Fleet: Mary Ann, Matilda, Atlantic, Salamander, William and Ann, Gorgon, Active, Queen (from Cork, Ireland) Albemarle, Britannia and Admiral Barrington (all except Queen departed from Plymouth).


Warwick Grace, April 2012.



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