ANN SMITH (COLPITTS) 1759 Ė 1832
The earliest record
family researchers have of Ann Colpitts is that of Ann Watson. The early
court records of the1780ís described Ann Watson as a widow and a Scot.
Her actual maiden name however has yet to be established.
From a series of
more than a dozen entries from the Newcastle Courant newspaper
between 1780 -1785 both Ann and her partner Thomas Colpitts were
involved in many acts of petty larceny. Together they were part of a
long standing gang described as the Bishop Auckland gang. Although Ann
and Thomas were often described as members of this Bishop Auckland Gang,
it seems likely that these petty crimes were the sporadic acts of
associated tinkers and villains rather than that of an organised gang of
criminals. The gang was regularly reported as frequenting Gateshead and
Gateshead Fell near Newcastle and had warerooms at both places.
They were regulars at the local Crown and Canon Inn
where no doubt nefarious transactions took place.
Over about a
decade, Ann and her partner Tom Colpitts became quite notorious in the
border area of north eastern England. Thomas was jailed on about five
occasions and Ann on three occasions. One of her visits to the prison
was for picking a Highlanders pocket. She must have been very skilled at
her profession. Ann may have been traditionally Scottish tight with her
money but she was not so inclined with other peopleís pockets and
There is no
evidence that Ann and Thomas were ever married. They had at least three
children over the period from 1779 to 1784. It is likely that the
children may have ended up in the Work Houses since both their parents
were often behind bars. Apart from petty larceny, Thomas was also
convicted for forgery of the British currency. Despite public floggings
and regular incarcerations, he remained a serial criminal of varied and
dubious talents. Ann was tried at Durham on 20 July 1785 for stealing
twelve handkerchiefs from a shop with a value of twenty shillings. She
was sentenced to transportation for seven years and left England with
The First Fleet on the Lady Penrhyn. She was listed as aged 28
years and her occupation as being a servant; perhaps to Tom Colpitts!
On the voyage to
Botany Bay, Ann was recorded as acting as a midwife. She also formed a
liaison with a marine
Colethread. She bore him a son during the voyage and another in the
colony but both died in their infancy. On 25 September 1791, Ann
Colpitts married Thomas Smith at St Johnís Parramatta. They had three
daughters: Mary (1792), Jane (1795) and Elizabeth (1797).
Two months before
receiving his land grant, Joseph Hatton had married a convict, Rose
Sparrow on 18 March 1792. Rose arrived in the colony with her
mother in 1791. However in June 1795 she stabbed Joe in the stomach in a
fit of jealousy and we can only guess that a relationship with Ann
Colpitts may have been the likely cause. Hatton generously requested
that his wife be put well away from him and she not be committed to
trial; perhaps he had a guilty conscience. While Joseph was well rid of
her, thirty seven years later after Annís death in 1832, Rose Sparrow,
still Hatton by marriage, was to reappear and make an unsuccessful claim
on his estate.
By the 1800 Muster,
Ann and her three daughters were living with Joseph Hatton at Kissing
Point together with Joseph Hatton junior who was born that year.
Twenty-two settlers including Joseph Hatton partly subscribed to the
building of the first bark schoolhouse and chapel Ė one of the earliest
in the colony.
1800, the new structure was officially opened and Joseph and Annís son,
young Joseph, was one of three children christened on that momentous day
for the settlers of the district. That bark structure was to be the
forerunner of St Anneís Church.
While Joseph and
Ann both came from northern England in the Yorkshire area, it is
difficult to determine if they knew each other prior to their arrival at
Sydney Cove in 1788. However, Joseph was described at his trial as a
hawker and peddler and Ann was a clever pickpocket and thief so there is
a somewhat complementary nature about their liaison.
By 1802, Joseph had
sold his fifty acres to the colonial brewer James Squire and had
purchased John Jones original grant of thirty acres.
continued to be very hard on the land and to make matters worse, in
December 1804, The Sydney Gazette reported that the family had
been robbed of all its possessions. So having become respectable
settlers in their new homeland, it is ironic that Joe and Ann became
victims of the very sorts of crimes they themselves had committed while
back in England. Nevertheless, after their turbulent lives back in the
Old Dart, Joe and Ann took their opportunities and together became a
leading family in the life of the small rural community of Kissing
Joseph died on 1
June 1828 having lived half of his life in England and the other half in
New South Wales.
four years later on 3 August 1832. Her death notice and obituary
referred to her as Mrs. Hatton of Kissing Point. This was the name she
was known by for many years in the local district. She was buried
however by her legal married name of Ann Smith.
After her death
young Joseph took control of the whole thirty acres and laid claim to
it. He had probably been working the grant through Joe seniorís later
years and before Annís death. Apparently young Joseph stated that the
original will made by his father in 1823 had gone missing
However his half
sister Elizabeth Bryan (nee Smith) must have known the contents of her
stepfatherís will and attempted to win back her share. Meanwhile in
Sparrow, Joeís legal wife, reappeared and won her case in the Supreme
Court for the ownership of all of Joseph Hattonís possessions including
her case on the fact that Joseph Hatton had left no will.
By now it
became evident that young Joseph would need to ďfind the willĒ or Rose
Sparrow would become the owner. Miraculously, young Joseph was soon able
to find it and in March 1837 Elizabeth finally won her case and received
from Joseph junior as her share of the estate the adjoining twenty acres
of Richard Hawkes farm that Joseph senior had previously purchased. Rose
Sparrow received only a small amount of cash. Justice was finally
familiesí long association with St Anneís church at Ryde goes back now
for seven generations. From such humble beginnings Joseph Hatton and Ann
Colpitts have left an enduring legacy of which we can all be proud and
it is fitting that after all these years Annís two memorial plaques are
now rightfully placed next to those of Joseph Hatton.
18 Wyarama Street