SARAH ARCHER (nee Burdo)

Convict, Lady Penrhyn c1760 - 1834


Died 14 July 1834, aged 74.


Sarah Burdo, also known as Bordeaux and Rebecca Davidson, had invited a young man for a glass of gin at the Bunch of Grapes on Rupert Street, London. “With all my heart,” he replied.  Then, he said, she asked him to lay with her.  “I said no, then they unbuttoned my breeches, and one fell down on the sofa, and the other pushed me upon her; and I found my money was gone; I charged them with the watch; they were searched and nothing found.”


Sarah was sentenced to transportation for seven years at the Old Bailey on 25 October 1786 for theft of £3.13s.6d.  An intriguing paragraph appeared in the Whitehall Evening Post on 21 August that year, about the accusation by a young man against Sarah Purdue, with whom he cohabited, for theft of his watch.  Taken before the magistrate, she returned the watch, and he declined to prosecute.  “Just as they quitted the Magistrate’s Office, the woman stabbed him in the side, and cut him upon the neck in such a manner that a surgeon was of the opinion that had the wound reached a sixteenth of an inch lower it must inevitably have occasioned his death.”


On 6 January 1787, Sarah, aged 23 was delivered to Lady Penrhyn. At Sydney Cove on 1 June 1794, Sarah married former marine Isaac Archer. They both signed the register, Sarah listed as Bordeaux.


In 1806, Sarah was recorded (clearly in error) as an orphan living with Isaac Archer at Parramatta, presumably on his grant at Field of Mars, but she is given also, as by the Lady Penrhyn and both before and after 1806, as wife of Isaac Archer.  The ‘orphan’ notation may refer to the one male natural child credited to her by Samuel Marsden in 1806 (possibly adopted).  She worked in the community as a midwife, and was still with Archer at Clarence Street, Sydney, aged 73, in 1828.


Sarah died in July 1834. Her burial recorded in the St James’ register, Sydney on 16 July 1834, aged 74.


 Note: This information, which appears on the grave stone of Mary Marshall at the First Fleet Memorial Garden at Matraville, is based on research by Molly Gillen.



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters