#8115 Val Heel traces her family line back to the Friendship,


The maternal side of my family is descended from John Folly or Foley who was born in England in 1749 and died in Hobart on 19 March 1830. He was a stonemason and bricklayer who joined the First Fleet vessel Friendship in Portsmouth as a marine. He has been described as uneducated, honest, hard working and very kind. History records him as being the builder of many structures in Sydney before sailing to Norfolk Island on Supply in 1790 as part of another first fleet. As a marine, stonemason and bricklayer he helped establish the first colony there too. Again, history records him as building many structures on Norfolk.


John Foley left that infant colony to return to Sydney in April 1791 on board Supply, to obtain his discharge from the Marines. Foley returned to Norfolk Island on Atlantic 26 October, 1791 as a settler and later added constable and land holder/farmer to his many job titles. On his return he was employed by Governor King to continue laying bricks and pitching stone at 1/- per day   1793 saw Foley appointed constable at Cresswell Bay and West Point Streams. He was granted 60 acres of land at Drummonds Run, now known as The Cascades.    John Foley added to his holdings by leasing 15 acres at West Point Run for 2s6p rent per year for 21 years commencing 12 August, 1801


John lived with Catherine Heyland/Hyland, and though no archival record of marriage has as yet been found, they were said to have been married in 1792. They became the parents of John Foley, born 7 November 1792, and James Foley, born 1 February, 1795. Through James came my line of descent


Catherine Heyland, who was born in London in 1753, and died in Hobart on 18 October 1824, came to Australia on board the Lady Juliana a vessel of the second fleet.   The transcript of her trial before Mr Ashurst on 2nd April 1788, along with William James, alias Levi, and Ann Allen, states they were charged with counterfeiting coins (shillings and sixpences) on 7 March 1788.


William James and Catherine Heyland were found guilty and sentenced to death. William James was hanged in June 1788.  Documents at the time indicate that he was, as he stood on the gallows, still declaring that Catherine was not involved, despite the fact that she was found with newly made fake coins secreted in her cleavage.   Catherine was sentenced to burn at the stake. She received a stay and was then granted a reprieve and accepted transportation for life.  The reprieve came about due to King George III recovering his wits, an event which was said to have been wildly and widely celebrated throughout the nation. Apparently nineteen other women were reprieved at the same time with only fifteen accepting transportation as an alternative.


On arrival in Sydney in May 1790, Catherine was sent to Norfolk Island on the Surprise. By July 1792 she had 102 rods of cleared ground at Sydney Town and was independent of Government stores. Catherine was granted a conditional pardon by Governor Hunter in 1796. John and Catherine Foley and their sons lived at Drummonds Run in a four-roomed wood and stone cottage built by John. Their furniture was all crafted by John from local pine. They farmed diverse crops and kept a few animals.


John Grant, a gentleman convict, was assigned to John Foley as a servant. He was an educated man and tutored the sons of John and Catherine after long days working on the farm. He described his master and his wife as being very caring of and kind to himself. Whilst exiled on Phillip Island, a small island near Norfolk Island, Grant kept his journals by writing on banana leaves. He also undertook, in gratitude it seems, to compose a letter to Governor King requesting payment to John Foley for his toils in the new colony. Apparently he did not receive the promised one shilling per day. In reply Governor King claimed that, in fact, Foley was in debt to the Colony for subsistence supplies given him until he became self sufficient.


The Foley Family departed Norfolk Island, for Van Diemens Land on board HMS Porpoise on 26 December, 1807, as part of the second embarkation. They arrived in the Derwent River in January, 1808. John Foley was granted 40 acres of land in Queensborough near Browns River, some of which is now Kingston Beach Golf Course. There John and Catherine farmed and again became self sufficient so that by 1819 they no longer required government stores.


John died on 19 March 1830, Catherine having predeceased him on 18 October 1824. Both were buried in St. Davidís Church Cemetery, Hobart. John apparently remarried after Catherineís demise as his grave stone, which no longer survives, indicated Anne as his wife. Some early records suggest that he sired a daughter in that marriage.


John and Catherineís youngest son, James Foley, married Mary Shurburd in 1813.   Mary was the daughter of William Shurburd and Esther Thornton both convicts who arrived on Lady Juliana with the Second Fleet. Their second daughter, Elizabeth Foley, previously married to a John Pearce, married the somewhat colourful Thomas James McGrath in 1840. That union produced James Thomas McGrath in 1841, one of six siblings.


James Thomas McGrath married Abigail Rosina Head in Hobart in 1860. One of their family of eight sons and two daughters, Thomas Edwin McGrath was born in Hobart in 1864. My grandparents, Thomas Edwin McGrath and Martha Alice Thompson married in Liverpool in England in 1884. My mother was Alice Martha McGrath the eleventh of their fourteen offspring and had been born in Melbourne. Alice Martha McGrath married Alfred Edward McCabbin in Bowen, Queensland in 1926 and I am the fourth child of six in that family.



Cramer, Yvonne. (compiler) This Beauteous, Wicked Place - Letters and Journals of John Grant, Gentleman Convict. Canberra. National Library of Australia. 2000.

Keneally, Thomas.  The Commonwealth of Thieves - The Sydney Experiment. Sydney.  Random House Australia.  2005.

Schaffer, Irene and McKay, Thelma. Exiled Three Times Over - Profiles of Norfolk Islanders exiled in Van Diemenís Land 1807-13. Hobart. St Davidís Park Publishing.

Rees, Sian. The Floating Brothel : the extraordinary true story of an 18th- century ship and its cargo of female convicts. Sydney, Hodder Headline Australia Pty Limited.  2001




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