Finally - a convict in the family!

In Australia it's a very desirable thing to have a convict in the family, so I have been quite dissappointed up until now.  But I found him!

My GG Grandmother was Isabella Fisher, and the family has always said we are related to the famous Fishers Ghost.  (I very much doubt it!)  Recently I found the Fisher who came to Australia - as a convict!

How did I do it?  I had recently been listening to a podcast called Genies Downunder and the podcaster was talking about cemeteries, and the information they can provide.  Just for a whim I got on to Australian Cemeteries Index and put in some of my family names.  There were Isabella's parents Jane and Thomas.  From there, I found lots of the family in the Kempsey area, using the Aust. Cemetaries Index and the NSW BDM. 

The really cool thing is that there was a photo of most of the graves on this site, and I found theirs.   You can imagine how amazing that felt.  I knew who Isabella's parents were from her marriage certificate, but this information then allowed me to find Jane & Thomas's parents from their death certificate information.

So then I searched the ACI site for the graves of Thomas's parents,  Robert and Catherine (Kitty).  I found Robert, but unfortunately not his wife.

Here are a couple of tips for searching this site:
  • I found just using the surname excellent, as the information is in alphabetical order.  Then it was easy to find the first name.
  • The Date of death is listed
  • The Age at death is often listed.
  • The Cemetery and which religion area of the cemetery the grave is in is listed.
  • Click on the little camera on the right to see a photo of the grave.
Thank you goes to all those people who are contributing to this great site.

Still, this was just his grave, not any other information about him.  But now I knew where the family came from, so, once again just on speculation, I went to the NSW Library site to search their convict information.  There are two entries for Robert  Fisher.  Looking at the date of death, and then working out the date of birth pointed me in this direction.  here is what I found, it matched the relevant time and area, so I am siting it as almost convincing evidence.

So now I need to do a trip to the Library to look this information up.  You  can buy copies of the microfilm online, they cost about $15 each. The index told me that he was tried in London so....
My next step was to find  details of his trial are online at Old Bailey  Just search the name, and up it comes, but if you have a very common name you can fill in some of the other boxes to refine the search.  It comes up with a list that have that name, and a brief summary of the proceedings.  There was only one Robert Fisher, so I clicked on the entry:

  ROBERT FISHER was indicted for stealing, on the 25th of November , 112lbs. of canvas wrappers, value 15s.; 4 pamphlets on the silk trade, value 4s.; 1 printed book, value 18d., and 2ozs. of thread-leish, value 9d., the goods of Thomas Davidson , his master

When you find the full entry like this, you have a full transcript of the trial, plus pictures of the original entry.
What fun!  Robert sounds like he might have been trying to set up his own shop!  Anyway, he ended up transported to Australia for fourteen years.
So I have organised a trip to Kempsey to have a look and take some photos of the graves, and a trip to the NSW Library to get the full information on Robert's convict information.  Still looking for Kitty.

A tip for any cemetery trip : don't forget your camera and a small spray bottle of water.  This will not hurt any gravestone, but will make it easier to see the writing for a photo when sprayed on.
Postscript: I have since realised that these are the wrong Fisher's!  So disappointed we don't have a convict in the family.  But I will leave this post on as I think the tips are useful and the story is nice.


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