JANE POOLE 1770 to 1826

 Author: Dennis James Thomas McManus PSM BA, Dip T and C P, M.B.Env. [dennis.mcmanus3@bigpond.com]

Jane Poole's story - 1770 to 1826


Born: Prior to 24 March 1771, the date of her baptism in Saints Peter and Paul Church in Combe Florey, near Taunton, Somerset, England. Her headstone records her as dying at the age of 56 (and if so born 1770) but the Cemetery Register records show 58 years of age (and, if so, born in 1768).


Where: Combe Florey near Taunton, Somerset, England


Occupations: Convict, Wife, Home Duties, Settler


Married to James McManus: By Rev Richard Johnson on Norfolk Island November 1791.


Second Partner Name: Richard Ridge


Died: 28 November 1826


Aged: 58 Years


Where: Parramatta. N.S.W.


Buried: St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta.


Children born to Jane Poole: Prior to marrying James McManus in 1791Jane had a daughter Margaret (1790.-1866). With James she had 3 children Sarah (1793-1793) James (1794-1839) and John (1797-1873). With Ridge she had a daughter Martha (1803-1821)


Jane Poole's birth and family

Jane Poole was the daughter of John Poole and Elizabeth Chedzoy of Combe Florey near Taunton, Somerset, England.  John Poole and Elizabeth Chedzoy were married in the Combe Florey church  sixteen years earlier in 1755. They had eight children baptised in the same church: Jenny 1755, Thomas 1757, Elizabeth 1759, Betty 1763, John 1766, Hannah 1768, Jane 1771 and Martha 1774.


Jane Poole's sentence in 1786

At the age of 16 Jane Poole was sentenced to be hanged for ‘feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of John Cunnit about 11 in the forenoon, no person being therein, and stealing thereout one silver watch and other goods valued at 2 pounds 15 shillings his property at the parish of Bishop's Hull on 22 May, 1786’. (Source: The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts by John Cobley, Sydney 1970 p.223)  The trial was held in the City of Wells on 19 August, 1786. Her sentence was reprieved to 7 years transportation.


The website http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk records that Jane was one of three persons convicted of house breaking in August 1786 in the Somerset Assizes in Wells who were reprieved to 7 years transportation each. On 11 March 1787  Jane was discharged to the Charlotte which left  Portsmouth on 13 May 1787 for Botany Bay.  Of the 21 prisoners recommended for transportation in the Summer Western Circuit, Jane is the only female. Of the 21 only four from this Circuit were sent to Australia. Of these, two were on the same ship as Jane, but both died at sea -John Clarke in June 1787 and Edward Chaning on 9 January 1788.


Jane Poole is sent to Norfolk Island in 1789 and returns in 1792 with James McManus

On 11 Nov 1789 Jane was sent on the Supply to Norfolk Island. The Supply carried supplies plus six male and eight female convicts including Jane. In 1790 Jane gives birth to Margaret Poole, father unknown. James McManus arrived on Norfolk Island on the Atlantic in late 1791.

In November 1791 James and Jane are among some 100 couples married by the Rev Richard Johnson. I have been unable to find any record of their life on Norfolk Island. What we do know is that they both left together on the Atlantic in September 1792 and Jane's daughter Margaret Poole was with them.


Jane Poole on the Hawkesbury

Jane's seven-year sentence expired on 19August 1793. James McManus died in 1798 and was buried on 15 April.

Two years later, on 12 March 1800, 160 acres at Mulgrave Place was granted to Jane by Governor Hunter as explained in the history on James McManus.

By mid-1802 Jane ‘owned 8 goats and had 8 acres ready for planting maize.  Her household was herself, one male convict servant and 3 children – all supported on Government rations.  In 1802 Jane was recorded as living with Richard Ridge, 2nd Fleet convict on 250 acres on the Hawkesbury. Jane and Richard went from strength to strength and in the 1806 muster they owned and leased 305 acres of which 51 acres were sown in grain, one acre in potatoes and 205 acres utilised as pasture.  They also owned a horse, 2 oxen, 20 hogs and 19 bushels of grain in hand. In addition to Jane’s children they supported 5 convicts and 1 freeman’.

(Source: Australian History Research)


Jane's daughter Martha born in 1803 was fathered by Ridge. Ridge received his first land grant of 50 acres on 11 August 1804 (R J Ryan's Land Grants 1788-1809).In 1806 Ridge is listed as ‘sole owner’ of 305 acres, 51 sown in grain, 1 in potatoes, 205 as pasture, with 1 horse, 2 oxen, 20 hogs and 19 bushels of grain on hand. The land was made up of grants to himself and a ‘wife’ (Jane McManus) and by lease, 2 persons and 3 children all off government stores. They employed and supported 5 convicts and 1 freeman.  Around 1806 Poole and Ridge parted.  In 1806 Jane was renting part of her land. Ten acres each was worked in this way by Benjamin Mills and Hugh DoolingOn 7 November 1809 Ridge married Margaret Forrester, a young colonial born girl of First Fleeter Robert Forrester.


Jane Poole's later years in Parramatta

Excellent research of Jane's life for the St Johns Cemetery Parramatta Project in 2016 by Michaela Ann Cameron provides good largely new material on Jane's days in Parramatta.


‘From 1809, Jane lived in ‘a good substantial…well-fenced…dwelling house’ on ‘an extensive allotment’ granted to her on the south side of George Street, Parramatta on the block between present-day Barrack Lane and Charles Street.

Despite being a Parramattan, Jane must have continued to maintain a farm in the Hawkesbury region, too, because in September 1815, ‘Mrs. Jane Poole’ was one of only two women to appear on ‘A LIST of Persons…AT PARRAMATTA…who have tendered SUPPLIES of FRESH MEAT for the Use of His Majesty’s Stores.’


Also on the list were affluent landowners like John Blaxland, Sir John Jamison, Thomas Barber, and future owner of the Woolpack Inn, Andrew Nash, to name just a few, which gives a good indication of how much Jane’s life had changed.


As part of Governor Macquarie’s major improvements to public buildings and roads, construction began in 1820 on a new ‘Prisoners Barracks’ and lumberyard on Macquarie Street, directly behind Jane’s George Street residence of fifteen years.


Eventually the government saw fit to reclaim Jane’s allotment, with her consent, ‘for the purpose of Converting the same into a Garden for the area of the Prisoners Barracks.’ In what appeared to be a fair agreement drawn up by Deputy Surveyor General James Meehan and witnessed by Richard Rouse Superintendent, ‘Government engaged on their part to give an adequate alotment [sic] of Land – and to put up such Buildings and make such Improvements as had been done on the alotment of Land so given up to Government.’


(Michaela Ann Cameron, “Jane McManus: The Maid Freed From The Gallows,” St. John’s Cemetery Project (2016) https://stjohnscemeteryproject.org/bio/jane-poole-mcmanus/ accessed 9/6/2019)

Jane was given an allotment on the south side of Macquarie Street, just two properties from Church Street, but she did not receive any compensation for the loss of her house until 1824.  The Sydney Gazette of 19.9.1818 mentions land still owned by Jane Poole and the location referred to is Yarrow Mundie's lagoon.


During her final years Jane was a housekeeper to a shoemaker in Parramatta, William Parrot. When he died in 1824 he bequeathed to her and her children his property and possessions. R J Ryan's Land Grants 1788-1809 p. 280 records that William Parrot leased 76 rods of land in Main Street, Parramatta.


Jane died in 1826, listed as a ‘Settler’ and was buried at St John's Parramatta Cemetery, Sydney. 

Her headstone reads: ‘Sacred to the memory of Jane McManis (sic), who departed this life, November 26th 1826, aged 56 years (Note 58 years of age was recorded on the Register)  The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.’


There is a 1984 First Fleeter's bronze plaque in the corner of her headstone. The adjoining headstone is of her daughter Martha, 18yrs dated 17th June 1821.


Jane bequeathed her estate ‘Share and share alike’ to her remaining 3 children- James, John & Margaret. (James McManus and Jane Poole had three children of their own - Sarah (1793-1793), James (1794-1839) and John (1797-1873).  Margaret (1790-1866) was born to Jane Poole on Norfolk Island father unknown.  Martha (1803-1821) was the child she had to Richard Ridge. Sarah and Martha died before Jane in 1793 and 1821. Several horses were left to John and Margaret and also to Margaret's daughter ‘Harriet’.


Reflection on the lives of James and Jane

James McManus and Jane Poole are among a handful of First Fleeters to settle in Australia.  Of the 1373 persons landed 306 were crew leaving 1067 as settlers. There were few free women on the First Fleet and 189 convict women but not all married first fleeters so the number of first fleeters married to each other is very small.


Although we know the broad outline of the lives of James and Jane – and  in the case of Jane, where she came from and her conviction - their journey to Australia, their move to Norfolk Island and return to Sydney, their children, their land grant on the Hawkesbury River and Jane's life in Parramatta -  we have few other details to bring them to life.


We have several contemporary accounts of the voyage and the first settlements which give a good indication of the life they would have led.  Even so these accounts are by people who were of a higher status and these writers would no doubt have had an easier life than both James and Jane.


There is no doubt that Jane would have suffered greatly as did all convicts of that era, including her life as a settler on the Hawkesbury.  But James's life would have been pretty tough also. The first-hand accounts indicate that marine privates were dealt with very poorly including food.


The reference to James' misdemeanours in August 1790 makes one wonder what sort of person he was. Perhaps the hardship of his life made misdemeanours, crime and even mental illness relatively common for him and his fellow marines. James did take up a grant on the Hawkesbury but he was dead the next year so we do not know what kind of settler he would have made. Also unanswered are the place of his birth and cause of his death in April 1798 at the young age of about 28.


What I do know is that my line of  the descendants of James and Jane moved across the Blue Mountains in  very early times and that until 1951 when my family came to live in Prospect near Parramatta this line lived in the Meadow Flat/Portland area. My parents Horace Oliver James McManus (1911-1992), born in Portland NSW  and Kathleen Dorothy Joan McManus (nee Norris) (1916-1993), born in Orange NSW died at the St John of God Hospital, North Richmond, just across the river from the 1790s land grant.


My family knew nothing of that grant nor of the connection with the Hawkesbury. My older brother Brian has for many years lived at Grose Wold a few kilometres to the west. Both my father and myself have James in our names but the connection to our ancestor was never made.  Like so many other things the reason was lost in time.DJTM



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