Benjamin Cusley, born around 1759, was a native
of Kettering in Northamptonshire, and in his early days
he was employed in the shoemaking business. But he was
attracted to the military lifestyle and, in 1781, he
joined the Plymouth Division of Marines, seeing service
during the American War of Independence. From his
military record comes this description of the man: he
was 5ft 6in tall with a thin sallow face, dark brown
hair and hazel eyes.
Benjamin came to Australia as a marine private in
Captain Meredith's company aboard Friendship. He
was employed in the early days of the settlement as a
tradesman making shingles for the storehouses and huts.
He then went to Norfolk Island on Supply and
did duty there until his return to Port Jackson in 1792.
The NSW Corps was now in the Colony, so Benjamin joined
them on 6 April 1792, not wishing to return to England
with the Marines.
Phoebe Penlaric (Pendorick) had arrived in NSW on Mary Ann in
1791, a convict from Exeter with a seven-year sentence.
She lived with Benjamin Cusley and a daughter was born
to them on 2 September 1792. The child was baptised on 8
December at St Phillip's, Sydney, as Ann Cusley, daughter
of Benjamin Cusley and Phoebe Penlaric. On 31 March
1795, Benjamin and Phoebe were married by the Reverend
Samuel Marsden at St John's, Parramatta.
The family is next recorded on a farm at Mulgrave Place.
Benjamin and two other soldiers were sharing a grant of
150 acres, calling the farm Fulham Park. Apparently this
arrangement was not successful as the grant was
cancelled. Maria Cusley was born on 27 January 1797 and
was baptised at St Phillip's, Sydney, on 5 April 1797.
For a short time after his discharge from the NSW Corps
in 1797, Benjamin tried his hand at farming by himself,
having received a grant of 200 acres at Mulgrave Place.
By 1800 he was back in the Army, having re-enlisted in
Captain Johnston's company. In 1810, at the age of 51,
he transferred to the NSW Veterans' Company in which he
served, most of the time at Windsor, until it was
disbanded on 24 September 1823.
Benjamin's wife, Phoebe, died on 15 November 1815, aged
60, and was buried at St Matthew's Cemetery.
His two daughters had married, Ann to
George McGinnis and Maria to David Dunstan. Ann had
eight daughters and Maria had five sons and two
daughters. Meanwhile Benjamin had married again in 1824
to May Baker, a twice-widowed convict from Mary Ann. He
lived on the land grant given to him as a retired
veteran on a pension.
Benjamin lived to see 11 of his grandchildren married
before his death on 20 June 1845. His age was
incorrectly stated as 98 years. He was laid to rest with
Phoebe at St Matthew's, Windsor.