Convict Scarborough.


Edward Humphreys was born in 1765 at Deptford Kent England and baptised on 6 January 1766. His father was William Humphrey/Humphries and mother Elizabeth Holmes. He was indicted at the Old Bailey as Edward Humphreys on 11 May 1785. His crime, committed on 8 November 1784, was feloniously stealing, one cloth coat value 30s, one pair of leather boots value 10s, all the property of Henry Martin Bird Esquire. At this time his occupation was given as a dustman.

The details of the crime stated, that he was stopped by a man named Nathan Nathans who was in possession of a great coat and boots and he asked Edward to carry the items for him. Sarah Biggs the house servant, deposed that on 8 November, she let the prisoner into her master's house, as a dustman, but did not miss any things till they were brought back. In his defence Edward stated, that a gentleman asked him to carry the items and that he had a “sack on his head.” He called three witnesses who gave him a good character reference.

The judiciary however, decided to make an example of him, stating to him that it was a second such instance that had occurred in the Sessions, of dustmen robbing houses, It was further indicated to the court that it was an offence that was particularly dangerous, because the credulity of servants was challenged as they allowed people into the house under a trust. Found guilty he was sentenced for seven years to Africa.

From the time of his arrest on 8 November 1784 until the time of his trial on 11 May 1785 Edward was held in Newgate Prison. He was transferred to the Censor hulk on 23 May 1785 and following a decision to gather up a group of convicts for transportation to New Holland he was transferred from the Hulk to Portsmouth on 24 February 1787. Newspapers of the day recorded that as convicts travelled through many villages on their journey to the hulks they endured abuse on the way. Finally, he was embarked on the Scarborough on 27 February 1787 which left with the First Fleet on 13 May 1787 arriving in Port Jackson (Sydney) on 26 January, 1788.

On 14 February 1791 Edward married Mary Williams. Some indecision as to which Mary Williams this was exists.  A Mary Williams is reported arriving on the First Fleet as well as on the Second Fleet. Other records state that Mary Williams, the 2nd Fleeter, did not arrive in the colony at all but died in England before departure. Whichever is the case Edward and Mary had six children, with Edward and Mary's second son (also called Edward) dying on 13 March 1796 at Sydney, aged 2 years and 4 months. All other children reached maturity.

Edward is mentioned in colonial records as having a pumpkin stolen from him by William Parr on 12 April 1790 with William Parr receiving 100 lashes for his crime as the theft of food was a serious crime as the supply of food was scarce in the colony and this type of theft was a serious offence.

At a later date Edward became a Constable in The Rocks area on the western side of Sydney Harbour which suggests that prior to becoming a Constable he had worked as an Overseer of convicts. He is recorded on the list of Constables taking their oath on 8 February 1800 - Masculine District (Dawes Point), The Rocks, Sydney. He is also on record as being eligible for victualling as a Constable appointed on the day of 15 December 1798.

Edward died on 4 November 1804 and his wife Mary died on 24 December 1805 leaving their four surviving children as orphans.                                     


Submitted by Jan Halson #7976



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