FF Mary Smith, Convict ‘Lady Penrhyn’(c1761-1792)


 Trial: Before the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice WILLES.


MARY SMITH was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 5th day of May, one pair of leather boots, value 21 s. the property of Charles Taylor, privily in his shop .

I keep a shoemaker’s shop, my goods are openly exposed, on Friday the 5th of this month I lost a pair of boots, they were hanging over the arm of a chair which I keep for customers to sit down in, they were bespoke, I was drinking tea in the back-room, and a young man that works in the shop was sitting close to the shop, the prisoner and another woman who is not in custody, came into my shop to buy a pair of women’s leather pumps, the other woman sat down in the chair, she had a child in her lap, the prisoner was standing as close as possible to the arm of the chair where the boots hung, the other young woman had a pair of pumps tried on, I heard some kind of a dispute, and I went out, and she asked me the price, I told her they were three shillings; they bade me two shillings and nine-pence; I said I could not take it; they went out immediately, they went up Lemon-street; I says to my young man, they are a pair not so well made, tell them they shall have them for two shillings and ten-pence; he sat himself down to work, and coming out I missed the boots, I immediately said to the man, them women have the boots; we both went out of the shop in pursuit of them, and in three minutes my man got before me, we could see nothing of them, I saw nothing of them till I got into the shop.
Are you sure that was one of the women that was in the shop? - Yes.

I am journeyman to Mr. Taylor, I was in the shop; between five and six, the prisoner and another woman came into our shop to buy a pair of leather pumps, I am sure to the prisoner, my master was in the parlour drinking tea, there is a large glass window that looks into the shop, the boots hung on a chair, the prisoner was leaning on the left hand side of the chair where the boots hung, she bid me threepence less than the selling price, after I had fitted her with a pair; my master sent me to tell them they should have them for two shillings and ten-pence, they were two houses off, I did not observe they had any thing particular about them then, and they said they would not have them at all, when I came back my master went into the parlour to drink another cup of tea, and in about three minutes he came out and missed the boots, then he sent me after them, I took both the women in Rosemary-lane, I said nothing to them, they were coming towards the street that my master lives in, and the prisoner had the boots under her cloak, I was sure she had them, though her cloak was so very much confined I could perceive the heel under her cloak, I clapped her on the shoulder, says I, where are the boots you stole; she said, I have no boots; then she dropped one, and I picked it up, and brought her into the shop, and we found the other boot under her clothes, which I brought into the shop with her; I am sure this is the woman, those are the boots.
Have they been in your possession ever since? - Not ever since, I left them upon my master’s table last night till this morning, I am sure these are the boots.
Taylor. I can swear to these boots, my own name is inside.

There was a woman with me, and that woman gave me the boots.
Court. Was the prisoner in a situation best calculated to take the boots, or was the other? - I think it was hardly possible the other woman could take them, she had a child on her left arm where the boots hung, and this woman had nothing but a cloak on, and stood as close as possible, and she urged the other woman to go.
What may be the value of these boots? - I valued them at a guinea, the price is twenty-seven shillings.
Court to prisoner. Are you married or single? - Single, my Lord.
What way of life are you in? - I am a mantua maker .

GUILTY, Death .
She was humbly recommended to mercy by the Jury and Prosecutor mercy recommended by the Jury and Prosecutor. This was later commuted to transportation for 7 years.
Left England on 13th May 1787.

Ship:- the ‘Lady Penrhyn’ sailed with 101 female convicts on board of which 3 died during the voyage.
Arrived on 26th January 1788.


Mary Smith, married James Sheers Convict Scarborough on 21 February 1788 St Phillips Sydney by permission of His Excellency Arthur Phillip.

On 4th March 1790 James & Mary were sent to Norfolk Island on the ‘Sirius’ embarking on 5 March 1790, disembarking at Cascade Norfolk Island on 14 March 1790. Their daughter Mary Ann was born on Norfolk Island on August 4 1791.


James was the Government Butcher on Norfolk Island. He also was the holder of Settlers Block 12 which adjoined Settlers Block 7, only separated by Stockyard Creek. Block 7 was held by another married couple John Owles (Alexander) and Mary Wilson (Prince of Wales).


Unfortunately Mary and James Sheers separated on Norfolk Island, prior to Mary's passing on 9 December 1792 aged 31 years. She was marked as dead 27 December 1792 Norfolk Island, leaving James to care for their 3 year old daughter Mary Ann .


Their daughter Mary Ann became the wife of Captain John Piper, Commandant of Norfolk Island from 1804 to 1810


For more information on James Sheers and their Ann daughter see story with FFF Plaque No 86.


Complied by John Boyd 2020

The Fellowship of First Fleeters installed a FFF Plaque forMary Smith at Kingston Cemetery Quality Row Kingston N I on 6th March 2001.

. Refer FFF Web Site:http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/graves.html

Under FFF Plaque 112 – Installed 6th March 2001for

FF Mary Smith, Convict ‘Lady Penrhyn’(c1761-1792)



-The Founders of Australia by Mollie Gillen pages 336

-Dispatched Downunder by Ron Withington p 48 &49

-Convict Records https://convictrecords.com.au/convicts/smith/mary/71936



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters