ANTHONY ROPE Ė Convict-Alexander

and ELIZABETH PULLEY-Convict- Prince of Wales


Anthony Rope was baptised on 1st August 1755,  at the round-towered church of St Marys,  Norton Subcourse, Norfolk, England.

He himself was illiterate and a labourer but he came from a family of carpenters and brickmakers and would have been able to use such handy skills when he came to Sydney Cove.

At his trial at Chelmsford Assizes in Essex on 10 March 1785 he, now close to  30 years of age, was found guilty of stealing clothing and coin to the value of 35 shillings from Robert Gosling and Robert Bradley. As was usual at the time the full list of what was stolen is recorded in the Assizes records:

Two printed cotton gowns of the value of twenty shillings, one Petticoat made of silk and worsted of the value of five shillings, one silk neck handkerchief of the va1ue of eighteen pence, one pair of womenís leather shoes of the value of one shilling, one pair of metal buckles plated with silver of the value of six pence one manís hat of the value of five shillings, one pair of menís leather shoes of the valve of two shillings, one pair of other menís shoe buckles plated with silver of the value of one shilling, and one hempen sack of the value of sixpence of the goods and chattels of the said Robert Gosling; and one pair of others menís leather shoes of the value of five shillings, one pair of other metal buckles plated with silver of the value of three shillings, one cotton waist coat of the value of two shillings, one linen shirt of the value of sixpence, silk handkerchiefs of the value of two shillings, one piece of silver coin of the proper coin of this realm called a half crown of the value of two shillings and six pence, and one piece of proper silver coin of this realm called a shilling of the goods and monies of Robert Bradley in the same dwelling house.

He was sentenced to transportation for seven years and after two years on a hulk at Woolwich came to New South Wales on the Alexander, one of the convict transport ships of the First Fleet. There is no record of any misdemeanours committed by Anthony Rope while on the voyage.


Elizabeth Pulley, also from Norfolk, was born in Felthorpe, a village just thirty kilometres north-west of Anthony Ropeís birthplace at Norton Subcourse. Her baptism took place on 21 Feb 1762 at St Margarets in Felthorpe with her parents listed as Tobias and Alice Pully. She and her three brothers were orphaned by the time she was 6 and all four may have been then sent to the workhouse.

During her teenage years Elizabeth ran wild. In July 1779 she was acquitted of stealing clothes and just a year later she was sentenced to three weeks in Wymondham Bridewell prison for stealing clothes from a house near Drayton. Her punishment included a public whipping in the market place.

Things were getting worse by 1781 when again she was in court for stealing clothing and money belonging to a Mr Pightling of Heatherset. This crime earned her a yearís hard labour at Aylsham Bridewell. Not long after her release she was in trouble again and in March 1783 she was tried at Thetford Assizes and convicted of stealing a large quantity of food and material (worsted) from the shop of a Mrs Elizabeth Minns of Hethersett.  This time she was sentenced to death by hanging but was reprieved by the judge as he left for London and she then spent three years languishing in gaol at Norwich castle while awaiting transportation. A short time in the Dunkirk hulk at Plymouth preceded her voyage to New South Wales on the transport Friendship.

Along with 20 other female convicts Elizabeth suffered dreadfully, as she herself was in irons for 72 days of the 93 days from 13 May till 13 August 1787. Lt Ralph Clarkís diary pinpoints five fighting women which he at one stage labelled as damned whores. Elizabeth Pulley was listed as one of the five.  The ship travelled in extremely hot weather and it was lice-ridden, so her conditions were very uncomfortable. Thankfully, when the Fleet reached Cape Town (South Africa), she was transferred to the Prince of Wales ship with other female convicts. This was to make room for animals and other supplies to be taken on board the Friendship.

Upon the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, all the convicts were put to work in various jobs necessary to build shelter and feed all the people. Anthony Rope was sent to work in the brickfields, which were located near what is now Central Station in Sydney. In Anthony's small amount of spare time he built a hut there for himself and this was finished by May 1788. Elizabeth, along with other women, would have been put to work sewing, cleaning, washing and cooking.

Anthony and Elizabeth met on the first night that the women of the Fleet were set down at Sydney Cove on 6th February 1788. They were married on 19th May 1788 by the Reverend Richard Johnson, celebrating with meat from a goat that one naval officer reported as missing. Their son Robert Rope was possibly one of the first children conceived and born in the settlement.

Anthony was given a grant of land at The Ponds which is now part of the Sydney suburb of Dundas, but this later had to be sold to repay debt. Farming was very harsh and the settlers were constantly deluged by floods and ravaged by fires and droughts.

The family moved to various farms out in the west of Sydney as they looked for land that would safely grow crops. It should be noted that although the farms were granted to the owners, Anthony was the first settler at all of the farms he moved to, so he first had to clear the land before he could put crops in. He also had to build the family home every time they moved.

Anthony did extra jobs to make money along the way. At one stage he was employed to build a dwelling for the workers on Elizabeth King's farm Dunheved in 1807.

Recent research by Rope family historians has identified at least five sites where the family lived as they moved from leasehold to leasehold: Rope's Farm at The Ponds, now Dundas; a farm at Toongabbie; Tumbledown Barn at Mulgrave Place, now Riverstone, near Windsor; Badgery's Farm on the Nepean River near Richmond; and Jordan Hill in what is now Llandilo, on the west bank of South Creek. The stretch of land leading to this leasehold was known as Rope's Paddock for many years. The new suburb, Ropes Crossing, has been named after him as it lies near where the family farmed at Jordan Hill.

Stories about the Ropesí eight children and their descendants can be found on the website of the

Rope-Pulley Family Heritage Assoc


In order the children were Robert b1788, Mary 1791, Elizabeth 1794, John 1795, Sarah 1798, Susannah c1800, William 1805 and Elizabeth Ann 1808.


Elizabeth Pulley died on 9th August 1837 aged 75 years (note her stone reads 80 years), her husband Anthony Rope died on 20th April 1843 aged 88 years (note his stone reads 89 years).

Anthony and Elizabeth are buried with extended family members and friends in Castlereagh Anglican Cemetery where the Fellowship of First Fleeters installed memorial plaques in 1985 (Elizabeth) and 1995 (Anthony).

The above information is an edited version of material provided by Rosemary Roberts, Chairperson of the Rope-Pulley Family Heritage Association.

Extra details came from an article by Dick Meadows which appeared in EDP Weekend (Norfolk, UK) on 14 February 2014.

Readers are also referred to Dispatched Downunder, pages 180-187.



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters