Convict, Alexander c1756 - 1836


Died 24 July 1836, aged 88.


Thomas Prior may have been the child baptised Thomas, son of John Prior and Elizabeth Whetcloe, on 11 June 1756 at Stanford in the Vale, Berkshire.


Thomas was sentenced at Abingdon Quarter Sessions on 16 January 1784 to seven year’s transportation for theft of ten turkeys, thirteen fowls, five ducks and two geese in a linen bag.  By October, age 28, Thomas was removed to the Censor hulk and on 20 January 1787 he was ordered to the transport ship Alexander. On 24 February he was sent by wagon to embark at Portsmouth on the 27 February 1787.


At Port Jackson on 23 January 1789, Thomas Prior was sentenced to 300 lashes for buying a shirt, trousers and a pair of shoes from William Radford, as well as a pair of shoes from John Trace.  Trace was ordered 50 lashes, but Radford was forgiven, having informed authorities, evidently fearing punishment.


Prior was sent from Port Jackson to Norfolk Island by Sirius on 4 March 1790.  There, in July 1791 he was subsisting himself on a Sydney Town lot, with 50 rods cleared and 30 rods of timber felled.  By May 1794 he was earning a living as a shoemaker.  He left Norfolk Island by Daedalus in November 1794.


Prior married Rebeckah Holmes in Sydney on 14 August 1795. Rebeckah was Rebecca Davidson, widow (or former wife) of William Holmes who had left her for India. Rebeckah has also been on Norfolk Island and she also had returned to Port Jackson on the Daedalus on 6 November 1794.


In June 1803, Thomas Prior held a lease for a town lot in Sydney, where he operated as shoemaker and was still there in 1814 employing one convict.


In 1828, age given as 79, Prior was listed as a gardener in Gloucester Street. He died at Princes Street, Sydney, on 24 July 1836. His burial on 26 July was registered at St James. 


Note: This information, which appears on the grave stone of Thomas Prior at the First Fleet Memorial Garden at Matraville, is based on research by Molly Gillen



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters