Mary Phillips was committed for trial in April 1786 at Taunton, Somerset. She was found guilty of breaking into the home of Nathanial Shorney and stealing goods to the value of 18 shillings. She was sentenced to be hanged but was reprieved and sentenced to transportation for seven years. Mary sailed aboard Charlotte for Sydney Cove with the First Fleet. She was among the badly-behaved women convicts who were transferred to Friendship at Rio. Clark reports in his diary that they had received "six of the Worst from  the Charlotte which I don't think is right." He was more than glad to see them go when they were again moved at the Cape, this time to make way for the animals, So Mary actually arrived on Prince of Wales.


Mary's first months in her new home were not peaceful. She was the cause of a brawl between two marines, who both felt they had a right to her favours. Mary was abused and punched, and the losing marine, Thomas Bullmore, was kicked to death by the victor, James Baker. She was punished with 25 lashes for using a spade as a baking dish, and was witness to the theft of another cooking utensil. As a result of her association with another marine, Alexander M. Donald, she had a son James born on 5 September 1789.


Mary and her son went to Norfolk Island on Sirius on 4 March 1790. She had a new protector, another marine named Thomas Spencer, by whom she had a daughter, Sarah, born on 27 November 1791. Years later, Sarah and her father lived at Richmond NSW where Sarah married and Thomas was buried at St Peter's Church of England, Richmond. Thomas's grave bears a Fellowship plaque, and Sarah's descendants still occupy Hadley House on the banks of the Nepean River.  

Mary finally settled down with Thomas Stevens, a convict who had been tried at the Old Bailey in 1789 for stealing 90 pounds weight of copper, value 40 shillings, and sentenced to seven years transportation. They remained together on Norfolk Island till 1813, and had three children.


The family was embarked on Minstrel for Port Dalrymple along with other Norfolk Islanders. They established the first settlement at Norfolk Plains East (now Pateena). Here the Stevens family prospered. They received several land grants including one of 85 acres and some government stock. Thomas was appointed District Constable.

Their children also prospered. John Stevens and his wife Mary Trimby lived all their lives at Norfolk Plains. Elizabeth Stevens married William Saltmarsh son of First Fleeter William Saltmarsh, and had a family of six sons and five daughters. Mary Stevens married Richard Puffin and had a family of four children at Norfolk Plains before settling at Perth, Tasmania.


Thomas Stevens lived to the age of 68 and died at his residence in 1831. Mary (Phillips) Stevens survived her husband by 19 years and died in 1850 aged 81 years. Both were buried in the cemetery at Christ Church, Longford. In 1988 the Fellowship dedicated a memorial plaque to Mary, fixed to her relocated headstone in a Memorial Enclosure at Christ Church. 


Return to Prince of Wales


Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters