ELIZABETH (FITZGERALD) WILKINSON 

   

Thelma McKay found the Fitzgerald headstone being used as a gateway threshold stone in a Memorial  Enclosure where headstones were being re-erected at Longford. She identified the First Fleeter from early muster records she had studied. Nevertheless Elizabeth Fitzgerald was one of those mystery people to research. Using different surnames she appeared in the records at Norfolk Island, NSW and finally in Van Diemenís Land. It was only when Thelma noted that one of Elizabethís twin daughters, Susannah Mitchell, had baptised her children at St Johnís Church in Launceston using the names Mitchell (formerly Fitzgerald) that she was sure she had found the right person.

 

Elizabeth Fitzgerald was born in 1760. She was listed in her indictment as a 20-year-old widow in the parish of St Giles in the Fields, London. She was brought to the Old Bailey on 13 December 1786 on a charge of theft of a cotton gown from a shop and received a sentence of seven years transportation. The gown was found at a pawnbrokers in Denmark Street.  Elizabeth claimed that she was in the shop to collect a handkerchief.

She sailed on Lady Penrhyn. Elizabeth remained in Port Jackson for two years and was then sent to Norfolk Island on the ill-fated Sirius on 4 March 1790. Twin girls, Mary and Susannah, were born in February 1791, the father being William Mitchell, a First Fleet marine. The couple returned to Port Jackson on Kitty in 1793, along with their daughters.

 

By 1806 Elizabeth was living with NSW Corps soldier, Thomas Wright, William Mitchell having returned to England. She had three illegitimate daughters with her, the twins and Sarah Jane, who was born in 1798, Thomas Wright being the father.

Elizabeth Fitzgerald arrived at Norfolk Plains on Porpoise in 1809 and youngest daughter Sarah came to join her on Brothers in 1816. 

Elizabeth, now using the surname Mitchell, married Henry Wilkinson at St Johnís Church, Launceston on 19 March 1814. Henry, a former convict, had been tried at York in 1803 receiving a 14-year sentence. He arrived in Sydney on Fortune in 1806 and later that year was sent to Van Diemenís Land on Sophia.

Elizabeth would have lived with her husband Henry on his 50-acre farm at Norfolk Plains, where she died on 20 August 1832 aged 72 years. 

She was buried in a large tomb, and 50 years later in 1883, The Mercury noted that ďthe tomb of Elizabeth Wilkinson in Christ Church Cemetery Longford, who died in 1832, was a plain four square brick tomb with a large heavy stone slab and it looked at least 150 years old and was falling over.Ē It is this slab which has been relocated as the threshold stone in a Memorial Enclosure.

 

It is not known when Henry Wilkinson died. Susannah Wilkinson married John McAllister in 1814. They had three children between 1811 and 1815, Sarah, William and Margaret.

Twin Mary Mitchell, using the name Fitzgerald, lived with Thomas Algate/ Holgate, a convict on Canada. They had four children in NSW and five more after arriving in Van Diemenís Land in Glory in 1819.

Sarah Wright had a daughter, Susannah, to Richard Jordan in 1817. Richard had been born on Norfolk Island in 1794 and sailed from there to Van Diemenís Land on Minstrel with his father James Jordan in 1813. Sarah was recorded at Norfolk Plains in 1823. Her daughter, Susannah Jordan, remained with her father at Norfolk Plains and later married William Howard. Their daughter, Charlotte, in turn married a James Wheeler.

In 1993 the Fellowship dedicated a memorial plaque to Mary, fixed beside her relocated headstone in the Memorial Enclosure at Christ Church, Longford.

 

 

 

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