Edward Smith was a convict on Scarborough in the First Fleet. He was tried and sentenced to seven years transportation at the Old Bailey on 15 September 1784, his crime being the Theft and Grand Larceny of a cambric handkerchief and which happened at Bow Church door. Smith was ordered to be transported to Africa but aged 28 years was sent to Ceres hulk on 5 April 1785, and dispatched 24 February 1787 by wagon to Portsmouth to embark on Scarborough on 27 February.


This information about him is developed from information discovered in following up the following references:

·        In Colonial Secretary Correspondence 1788-1825 at NSW State Records there is a listing: SMITH, Edward (sawyer and mariner) See BECKFORD, Edward.

·        In the Muster of 1823/4/5: S11616 Edward Beckford C Scarborough 1788 Life Govt Servant to Thomas Street, Sydney. (Street was a ship owner of Market and Sussex Streets).

·        Catherine Johnson, First Fleet convict on Prince of Wales, had a daughter Elizabeth, either 1788/89 or 1791, and by 1808 this daughter was calling herself Elizabeth Beckford.


There was an Elizabeth Beckford in the First Fleet on Lady Penrhyn, recorded as 70 years of age on boarding so born c.1718. She died at sea en route on 12 July 1787 from dropsy. There is some circumstantial indication she may have been Edward’s mother. England and Wales Christening Records 1530-1906 from ancestry.com show an Elizabeth Beckford christened on 11 July 1719 at Downton, Wiltshire, to Gabrill (Gabriel) and Elizabeth Beckford.


The Burney Newspaper Collection (SLNSW website): 11 August 1779 Lloyds Evening Post (London): Intelligence from the Public Office, Bow Street, Wednesday August 11: Four people including an Elizabeth Beckford and her brother E Beckford charged with High Treason for counterfeiting. Elizabeth was discharged. Her son Edward Beckford…..the boy, Edward Beckford, was called forward….was committed as an Accomplice.


In a 25 February 1784 trial of an Elizabeth Beckford at the Old Bailey charged with grand larceny (ref t17840225-56) she says, “I came out that day, I heard my boy was come from the sea, and I came to the Minster at St Gile’s to get his register”. Could this be the same Elizabeth Beckford tried 10 January 1787 (ref t17870110-67) and sentenced to transportation to NSW and on Lady Penrhyn? Her crime was felony for stealing 12 pound weight of Gloucester cheese. Was she a habitual criminal or was she trying to join up with her son, Edward, whom she may have discovered was to be on the sailing to Botany Bay?


Mollie Gillen in Founders of Australia, p 514, has Smith, Edward. Scarborough. Age 31 on arrival (in 1788, so born c.1757). On p 334 – Edward Smith ….from Port Jackson on 2 Oct 1788 Smith was sent to Norfolk Island by Golden Grove. He was one of four young single men “used to the sea” mentioned in a letter by David Blackburn requesting that they be kept on board the ship to help unload stores.


Catherine Johnson was a 17-year-old convict on Prince of Wales who had a daughter Elizabeth (year of birth not certain) listed on the Norfolk Island Victualling List in August 1791 with a blank where “born” or “ship” is entered. Who was her father? Catherine Johnson was on Norfolk Island March 1789 to November 1794 and Edward Smith from October 1788 to March 1795. Was he the father of both Elizabeth, and William Johnston who was born in January 1792?

By July 1791 Edward was subsisting himself on a one acre lot at Sydney Town (NI). On 15 December he was settled on 12 acres at Grenville Vale. Forgotten Generations of Norfolk Island and Van Diemen’s Land by Reg Wright, page 60, Table 5 of Occupations of NI Residents recorded with land grants at 1794 – includes under Sailor – Edward Smith.

Catherine and her two children left Norfolk Island on Daedalus on 6 November 1794 and on 05 March 1795 Smith left Norfolk Island by Fancy and seems to have been on stores at Port Jackson in October 1795. What did Catherine, Edward, Elizabeth and William do 1795-1800? Did Catherine live with Edward from his return to Sydney four months after her?  She lived in and had property in the Rocks from about 1802. At NSW State Records Catherine Johnson’s Memorial of 16 February 1810 to Governor Lachlan Macquarie requesting that her grant or lease of 1809 and that of her daughter be re-granted to them has on the cover page the names C Johnston and E Beckford – was this Elizabeth Beckford and Catherine’s daughter? They were both named on the same 1809 list of grants and leases. Where did Elizabeth’s name Beckford come from and was it a birth or a marriage name? There is no record of either in NSW BMD for Elizabeth. What evidence is there that she was the daughter of Edward Smith / Beckford?



The first evidence found of Elizabeth using the name Beckford is in a NSW BDM record for a 5 June 1808 Baptism at St Philips Sydney for Adeline Louisa born to James Cerony and Elizabeth Beckford (birth was 18 March 1808). Another was of 20 Aug 1809 for a Baptism at St Philip’s Sydney for James William born to James Cerony and Elizabeth Bedford (birth was 21 July). James Ceronio was an Italian American seafarer and captain from Philadelphia who seemed to visit Sydney between 1807 and 1810, possibly from a base in Calcutta where he was domiciled till he died in 1860. Another reference was for a marriage of Richard Ridge and Margaret Foster (Forrester, daughter of Robert) at St Phillip’s C of E in Sydney. Witnesses were Tristram Moore and Elizabeth Beckford. Tristram Moore had fathered 3 children with Catherine Johnson, mother of Elizabeth Johnson/ Beckford, and they stayed together until death. Elizabeth was likely to be a friend of the bride. The Moore/Johnsons and the Forresters lived at Wilberforce or had property in the area.


Edward is recorded in various Musters: in 1800 Edward is Smith not Beckford (possibly because that was the name he was transported under) ref AE333, Scarborough, (sentence) expired. In 1805-06 – Beckford, Edward,  #0481, p16, no ship named. Conditional  Emancipation (CE), Sealing, Kable’s employ. In 1823/4/5: S11616 Edward Beckford C Scarborough 1788 Life Govt Servant to Thomas Street, Sydney. If Edward was born c.1756 then at about 69 years he was still going to sea.


In Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence and the Sydney Gazette there are many references for Edward Beckford being on various ships leaving the Colony between 1802 and 1831. His extensive and almost continual seafaring included sealing on such ships as the Elizabeth and Mary 1817-1819 when he would have been about 63 years, and took him to such places as Macquarie Island and New Zealand. The DVD of Old Registers has 2 references (5/164/842 & 841) for March and November 1812 regarding Bills of Sale for 7343 sealskins between Henry Kable Sr, Joseph Underwood and James Underwood and the skins were on Macquarie Island in the possession of Edward Beckford. References into the 1830’s have him going to the Hawkesbury, Brisbane Waters, Newcastle, Port Stephens and Port Dalrymple, sometimes as a captain. An affidavit in 1823 re the loss of his Certificate of Freedom 59/983 at Port Dalrymple shows Edward Smith alias Beckford, mariner, his mark (so he couldn’t write).


Sydney Gazette notices of 6 and 13 June, and 4 July show Elizabeth Beckford and her two children being about to leave the Colony in the Brig Margaret which sailed for Calcutta on Tuesday 23 July.

NSW BDM V1851 243 37B has for 3 June 1851: Burial of an Edward Beckford, Parish of Camperdown, Beckford Edward Age 97 Abode Balmain. The Burial Butt #1187 shows he was buried in a common grave at Camperdown Cemetery at 4pm on 3 June by Curtis, Undertaker. Could he be the longest known surviving male convict of the

First Fleet, so far claimed to be John Small who died 2 Oct 1850 at 89 years?


In Oct 1874 Elizabeth Beckford Vickery died on Jersey aged 82 and was still using the name Beckford.


The grandchildren of Edward Beckford, James and Adeline Beckford/Ceronio remained in Calcutta when their mother returned to Australia, and spent the rest of their lives in India. James died in Calcutta in 1839. His son, James, died in Calcutta in 1883 and that was probably the end of his line. Adeline (renamed Adelaide) married William Davis in Calcutta in 1824. They had at least 11 children and she died in Calcutta in 1850. A 2 x great grandson of Edward Beckford, William John Davis, was born in 1875 and married in 1922 in Calcutta, date of death unknown. Could there still be any descendants of Edward Beckford, convict in the First Fleet, from his two grandchildren who settled in India, either still in India, or if they left India at Partition now settled in England?


By #7348 Marilyn Long, FF Catherine Johnson


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