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Thomas Howarth


Family Links

1. Martha Pearson Post

Thomas Howarth

  • Born: 22 Aug 1803, Head of Hill, Heap nr, Heywood, , Lancashire, England
  • Christened: 1 Sep 1805
  • Marriage (1): Martha Pearson Post on 9 Dec 1835 in St Peters Anglican Church, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia
  • Died: 23 Aug 1865, Dunkeld, New South Wales, Australia at age 62
  • Buried: Sep 1865, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia

bullet  General Notes:

The following detailed history of Thomas has been penned by another researcher whose name is unknown. It was published on an online noticeboard at Ancestry.com here: http://boards.ancestry.com.au/thread.aspx?mv=flat&m=529&p=surnames.howarth

Thomas Howarth

James Howarth married Betty Collinge by banns on 3rd of February 1803 at Heap, Bury St Morgan, Lancashire. James was a cotton manufacturer and tradesman. Both the Howarth and Collinge families were extremely numerous in Lancashire, complicating the work of family researchers. James and Betty apparently had a family of nine children.

Born / Bap
Thomas 22nd August 1803 / 1st Sept 1805
John 24th July 1805 / 24th July 1807
Samuel 7th May 1807 / 17th May 1807?
Benjamin 28th May 1809 / 28th May 1809
Richard 9th Feb 1810 / 8th April 1810
Mary 3rd March 1811 / 24th March 1811
James 13th June 1813
Betty 9th July 1815
Jessie 5th October 1817

Thomas Howarth was born at Head of Hill, Heap near Heywood, Lancashire. He was the eldest of nine children. According to Howarth family researchers George Howarth, Madeline Forgie, Colin Post and Leonie Carson, Thomas married Elizabeth Redfern while still a young man and had a family of three children by the age of 24. It is believed Elizabeth may have died in childbirth.

Needing to provide his children with milk, Thomas went to the home of Moses Hardiman, who was living with one of Thomas' female relatives, to retrieve a cow he previously loaned to Moses. Thomas was apprehended and charged with cow stealing. A week after his 24th birthday, Thomas was found guilty at Lancaster Assizes and sentenced to transportation for life. He is thought to have left behind three young children whose names are not known.

Thomas was taken from Lancashire to London where he and other convicts were placed on board the 414 ton Waterloo. The convict transport sailed from London on March 14th 1829. Also on board were Colonel Dumaresq, his wife, Mr W. Grove of the 63rd Regiment and Thomas Pitty, his wife, Martha Pitty, and their child. Grove may have been the colonels' batman, the Pittys were servants of the Dumaresqs. A Mr H. Butler made the journey as a free settler. The ships' captain was Stephen Addison, the surgeon, Michael Goodsir, RN, and his wife. Waterloo had a crew of 32.

Thomas arrived in New South Wales on July 9th 1829, on board the Waterloo, just over six weeks before his 26th birthday. The convict indents (page 189) were located by Madeleine Forgie, Thomas' great grand daughter.

Name Thomas Howarth
Offence Cow Stealing
Age 24 years
Education Could Read and write
Religion Protestant
Marital Status Married with three children
Where Tried Lancaster Assizes
Sentence Life
When Tried 29 August 1827
Former Convictions None
Native Place Lancashire
Height Five feet seven inches
Complexion Reddish, freckled
Eyes Hazel
Hair Brown
Trade or Calling Butler or labourer
How Dispensed George Williams
Where Dispensed Sydney.

On disembarkation, Thomas was assigned to a farmer named George Williams who owned land near Bathurst. Thomas was still working for George Williams in 1830 when George died.

Thomas then found himself re-assigned to Major Thomas Mitchell, the colonial surveyor and explorer. Thomas went to work on the majors' farm at Picton, 80 kilometres south west of Sydney. Major Mitchells' duties as Surveyor General kept him busy as he explored and mapped the inland. The Picton locality later became known as Campbelltown. Major Mitchell and his wife were married in about 1817 and had 12 children, reason enough for the couple to hire house maids. Mrs Mitchell was the daughter of a general in the British army, so order and discipline may not have been strangers in the Mitchell household or to their servants.

The Government Gazette issued on Wednesday 8th March 1837 in which Thomas Howarth was described as a runaway:

Howarth, Thomas, Waterloo (1), 29-303, 32, Lancashire. butler and labourer, 5 feet seven inches, ruddy and freckled comp., brown hair, light hazel eyes, horizontal scar of cut left side of forehead at top, from Major Mitchell, Sydney.

This notice confirms that Tom Howarth arrived on Waterloo on its first voyage in 1829. His convict number was 29-303. He was 32 years old, (32 years since he was baptised, 34 years five months and about two weeks and two days old since his birth), in 1837 by my reckoning. He was indeed a butler and labourer, five feet seven inches (about 165 cm) tall and he had the other descriptors mentioned in the convicts except for a scar. The scar on the left upper side of his forehead was not mentioned in his description on arrival in 1829, so it is possible that he acquired it while working on the No 2 Road Gang in the early 1830s. Scars and tattoos were common among convicts, sailors and labourers at this time. Tom may have acquired his in a fight or work-related accident.

His liberty was, however, short-lived. The Government Gazette of Wednesday March 22, 1837, Thomas was mentioned on the:

List of Runaways Apprehended During the Last Week.
Howarth, Thomas, Waterloo, Major Mitchell, Sydney.

What was Thomas Howarth running away from? While employed by Mitchell in the mid 1830s, Thomas met a young house servant named Martha Ann Pearson Post. They were married on December 9th, 1835, two months after the birth of John who was born on October 29th 1835. John was baptised on his parents' wedding day. The couple and their son were still in the employ of the Mitchells in 1837 when Tom went absent without leave in March 1837. It is not known whether he took his family with him. Martha was six months pregnant with their second son, Thomas Howarth Junior, when his father absconded. Tom Junior was born in June 1837. This episode does not appear to have affected Thomas' eventual opportunity for freedom. In1837 he became a free man with a Ticket of Leave.

The family oral history dictates that Thomas then rented a farm from a Mr Moore at Lower Minto, near Liverpool and that it was here that the couples' second son, Thomas, was born on June 17th, 1837, the same year Thomas received his Ticket of Leave.

These differing accounts may have arisen out of a misunderstanding. If Thomas received a letter from the Governor telling him his TOL had been approved and that his freedom was imminent, he may have packed up and left the Mitchell residence before the TOL was 'Gazetted' or made legal by publication in the Government Gazette. Thomas may have pre-emptively assumed he was a free man when in fact he was still assigned to Thomas Mitchell. Once this misunderstanding was cleared up with an exchange of letters, the TOL may have been granted and the Howarths would then
have proceeded to their own rented accomodation at Lower Minto. Thomas Howarth junior was baptised on September 17th 1837 at St Lukes' Lower Minto. Ten more children were to follow.

Born Place / Married

John 29th October 1835 Picton / Jane Goode, nee Makepeace
Thomas 17th June 1837 Lower Picton / Mary Ann Goodlock (2nd) Harriet Harvey
James 11th September 1839 Redbank, Picton / Ann Osbourne
Ann 3rd April 1842 Redbank, Picton / Joseph Kerr
Edward Napoleon 3rd August 1844 Redbank, Picton / Christina Gately
Charles Adolphus 3rd August 1844 Redbank, Picton / Ann McGeorge
Robert Bonaparte 24th November 1846 Cooks River / Eliza McGeorge
Alfred Nimrod 10th March 1849 / Carrie Cole
George Ophir 9th August 1851 Winburndale / Eliza Hallett
Mary Jane 19th August 1853 Woodside / Walter Milne
Delilah 22nd October 1855 Solitary Creek / William Goodlock (2nd) Thomas Bartimote
Harriet 1860 Talwash / Ambrose Bartimote

Following Thomas' receipt of his Ticket of Leave in 1837, he conducted a carrying business between Sydney and Goulburn. It was during this time that Martha Howarth caught the eye of an unwelcome admirer, William Ambling, who connived to have Thomas jailed on a trumped up charge. The Government Gazette of Wednesday May 23, 1838 tells the official story like this:

Colonial Secretarys' Office
Sydney, 14th May 1838

Notice is hereby Given, that the undermentioned Cattle and other Property, found in possession of Thomas Howarth, a prisoner of the Crown, by the ship Waterloo having been taken possession
of by the Police when his Ticket of Leave was cancelled, will be Sold by Public Auction, at the Pound at Stonequarry, on Wednesday, the 13th of June next, for the benefit of such Creditors of the said Howarth, as may prove their claims to the satisfaction of the Bench of Magistrates of that District, within ten days from the date of the Sale; namely-

Nine working bullocks
One Dray
One Tarpauling(sic)
Chains, Bows and Yokes
Cooking Utensils, and Other Articles

E. Deas Thomson

Because of the false information given by Ambling, Thomas lost his oxen, dray, tarpaulin and cooking implements and spent about a year (1837-1838) in penal servitude to a Picton innkeeper, Mr Crisp, of Myrtle Creek, before his conviction was reviewed and quashed in circa late1838. It is not known whether he was compensated financially for this injustice. It is not known whether William Ambling was convicted for perverting the course of justice over this matter. Although, on the positive side of the ledger, Thomas seems to have acquired a taste for innkeeping while employed by Mr Crisp, later going into the trade himself and doing well out of the business.

Innkeeping would appear to be a wise choice, given that he had previously spent two terms of incarceration for wrongful convictions of livestock theft, the hotel trade was a safer occupation than some others. However, playing safe does not appear to have been part of Thomas' vocabulary as
the following incident illustrates.

John Posts' 14 year sentence expired in about 1837, the same year his second Howarth grandson, Thomas Howarth Junior, was born. The 1841 Census lists a John and James Post, both living in Red Bank in 1841. If these Posts are 'our' John and James, they would have been about 45 and 26 years of age and living within walking distance of their daughter and sister. How Johns' residential status harmonises with the following incident is unclear. An extract from The Australian Bushrangers by George E. Boxall, ( London: T. Fisher Unwin, Adelphi Terrace, MCMVIII, Third Edition May 1908), relates a colourful episode from John Post and Thomas Howarths' lives:

In March, 1842, John Wilkinson alias Wilton escaped from Towrang stockade, carrying away with him Captain Christy's double-barrelled gun and a fowling piece. He was joined by another runaway named John Morgan, and on March l0th they took possession of the Sydney Road near Berrima and bailed up every person who passed. They plundered several drays and stopped the mail-man. They searched the mail bags, but finding no money in the letters, they permitted the mail-man to gather them up and proceed on his journey. They took seven pounds from a passenger named Jones, but on his saying that he would have no money to pay for his board and lodging while in Sydney, they returned him two pounds. At Red Bank they stole a horse belonging to Mr. Post to carry their plunder.

Further along the road towards Sydney, they met a trooper and a constable, and told them that they were in pursuit of a woman who had run away from her husband and had taken his spring cart and horse and some of his property, They pretended that they expected to overtake her before she reached Liverpool. At Crisp's Inn they had some champagne. Not far from there, still going towards Sydney, they tried to bail up Dr. McDonald, but he rode away. They fired at him but failed to overtake him. They slept that night in the little church at Camden. The following day they rode straight into Sydney, put up at a first-class hotel and remained there for several days, "living like gentlemen." By some means, however, they excited the suspicions of the police and became alarmed at the enquiries made about them. They therefore left suddenly and returned towards Berrima. Mr. Post, who had been away from home when his horse was stolen, started out in company with his son-in-law, Tom Howarth, to follow the bushrangers. The rapidity of their motions, however, threw him off the scent. On their return to the district in which he lived he met them and tried to bail them up, but the bushrangers rode away. The following day Chief-Constable Hildebrand, of Stone Quarry, and Tom Howarth saw the bushrangers near Bargo Brush. Hildebrand pretended to be drunk, and rolled about on his horse as if he was going to fall off, and Howarth started singing to heighten the illusion. This put the bushrangers off their guard and they allowed the constable to come close up. As soon as he was near enough Hildebrand pulled out his pistol and called upon them to surrender. They were taken by surprise and yielded at once. Howarth boasted that these two made eighteen bushrangers whom he had helped to capture. The two men were tried at Berrima, and sentenced to penal servitude for life. They narrowly escaped being charged with murder, as one of the bullock drivers stuck up on the l0th had been severely wounded for forcibly resisting the ransacking of his dray. He recovered, however.

John would have been 46 years old in March 1842. Thomas would have 38 years and eight months. From the account given by George Boxall, it would seem that John was living away from his home in Red Bank where his horse was located. He could not have been far away. It was from Red Bank Creek, near what is now Picton, that he and Thomas Howarth were ready, willing and able to pursue armed bushrangers in order to retrieve Johns' stolen horse. Redbank Creek and Stonequarry Creek both run through Picton. Picton and Redbank are given as the home and birthplace of Martha and Thomas Howarths' first six children. Indeed, Ann Howarth was born on April 3rd, 1842, only three weeks after her father and grand father went after the bushrangers. The state of anxiety these events placed on a heavily pregnant Martha Ann Pearson Howarth can only be imagined. She could not have been terribly pleased to learn of the risks her husband and father were taking over a stolen horse being used by two armed and dangerous bushrangers.

The Crisps' Inn mentioned in this passage was the same employer to whom Tom Howarth was assigned in 1837 when wrongfully convicted of stealing two of Major Mitchells' oxen. The Inn was apparently located on the road from Picton to Liverpool. This coincidence raises the possiblity
that Tom Howarth knew Mr Crisp and was somehow able to negotiate his assignment so that he would be close to his wife and family in nearby Redbank. Mr Crisp could have previously been a patron of Toms' carrying business. It is likely that Tom, and perhaps John and James Post, were
occasional guests of the inn. If so, Toms' unjust incarceration would have been made less onerous by his friendship or familiarity with Mr Crisp. If Crisp was persuaded to sponsor Tom, he would have been doing the Howarth family a very great favour.

The Doctor McDonald mentioned may have been on his regular rounds but the possibility that he was visiting Martha Howarth and other patients in Picton cannot be dismissed. Given that the bushrangers were on their way to Sydney, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the doctor was either headed toward Picton or leaving Picton for Sydney when he was fired upon by Wilkinson and Morgan. Similarly, the postman and drays held up earlier on March 10th 1842, could all have been acquaintences of the Howarths, Posts and Mr Crisp. Undoubtedly, Dr McDonald would have been the most vitally important of these victims, if indeed, he was Marthas' doctor. With a baby due at any time, Thomas would have put a high value on anyone who could have helped his wife safely deliver their child. So, he and his father in law had another reason to locate and capture the bushrangers before Martha would go into labour. Had the only available doctor been killed or injured, then the safe delivery of the baby would be less certain. In that light, capturing the bushrangers may have had life and death connotations for Thomas, not just revenge for the theft of John Posts' horse.

More interesting is Tom Howarths' boast that he had captured 'eighteen bushrangers' including John Wilkinson and John Morgan. Martha Howarth must have been a very tolerant wife to persevere with a husband whos hobbies included capturing armed bushrangers when his occupations did not require him to enforce laws or apprehend villains. Tom was a carrier, butcher, goldminer, inn keeper and entrepeneur, not a policeman. What is more, he had an expanding family to look after and his potential widow, Martha, would not be eligible for a police pension should he die suddenly. Martha could not have been happy with this situation, yet there is no record of her ever telling her husband to be more prudent in the future for her sake or their childrens'. Her father seems to have had a similar impetuous nature. How the two Marthas' coped with their impetuous husbands is anybodys' guess. The eventual return of Johns' horse thanks to Thomas' efforts would certainly have endeared Tom to his father in law, giving them both more reason to celebrate the birth of Martha and Toms' first daughter only three weeks later.

The birth of the familys' first daughter, Ann, in 1842, coincided with Thomas receiving his pardon while they were living at Redbank, Picton. Ann would be eleven years old before another girl would be born into the family. Until then, Ann was surrounded by three older and five younger brothers ranging in age from 2 to 17 years. The youngest of these sisters, Delilah and Harriet married into the Bartimote family. According to my research, the family of Aaron and Mary Bartemote, from Westlidge in the county of Gloucestershire, arrived in Australia on board the John Bright on June 8th 1849 with Elizabeth, aged 7 and Sarah aged 1.

In 1842, Thomas was listed as a butcher living at Stone Quarry. By 1844, he had opened the Jolly Butcher Inn at Picton. Thomas Howarths' family moved from Picton some time between the births of twins Edward and Charles in Augusrt 1844 and before 1846, when Robart Bonaparte Howarth was born at Cooks River. Since Alfreds' place of birth is unknown, it is possible that he was born out of town or on a rented family property somewhere between the Blue Mountains and Bathurst. It is not beyond reason to suggest he was born in a tent on the banks of a river while his father and older brothers were panning for gold, hence the lack of a locality on his birth certificate. The rest of the Howarth family history relates how Thomas set up a butchers' business, farmed the land, sought gold and eventually went into the innkeeping business. His occupation differed with the birth of each child. After so many years of working for others, this freedom of movement and choice must have been intoxicating.

By 1849, the Howarths were living in Bathurst where he had contracts for the construction of a road from the Blue Mountains to Orange. He also had inns at Meadow Flat, Bathurst, The Rocks, and, in 1860, the Australian Inn at Fredericks' Flat.

Apart from the usual problems of running businesses, Thomas had to be on his guard against the unexpected, as the following advertisement from the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal of October 28, 1854 indicates:

Public Thanks THOM S Howarth, publican of Solitary Creek begs to return his sincere thanks to Mr Brown of Penrith, Mr M'Clean of Georges' Plains ne r Bathurst, Constable Ward, lockup keeper Solitary Creek and others whose names are unknown to him, for their invaluable assistance in quenching flames at his residence, on the night of Monday the 9th inst by which the whole of the premises were preseved from destruction. This being the only acknowledgement which it is in his power to make he trusts it will be received as cordially as it was given.
Thomas Howarth

A further item in the same edition of the paper recounts how the Howarth hostel was threatened by a fire which had started in the adjoining stables owned by a Mr Perry. A mare and a foal in Thomas' stable were "singed from head to tail". Thomas also lost a store shed, 4 tons of hay, a large quantity of bacon and pork, half a cask of beef, three hogsheads of ale, some cases of gin, some other spirits, four sets of gig and cart harness, two saddles (one of which belonged to Mr M'Clean and contained 20 pounds in cash). The fire was believed to have started when a careless groom entered the stables with a naked candle. It proved to be a costly mistake, the night being windy.

A collection taken up by Mr Lees' Coach and Horses Inn and Mr Wades' Mill, Fish River, raised about 20 pounds by the time of printing.

At the time the fire broke out, the baby of the Howarth family, Mary Jane, was just a toddler of 14 months. Her mother, Martha, must have been frantic to get her children out of the hotel once the alarm had been raised.

The paper mentions the presence of bullock team drivers camped close to the hotel at the time of the fire. Their assistance in fighting the fire might well have turned the tide in Thomas' favour. The fire damaged the kitchen and several outbuildings were lost entirely. This would indicate that Thomas was close to losing the entire hotel. They were indeed lucky not to have lost lives as well as possessions. This period of Thomas Howarths' life was not without controversy. On December 29th 1855, the following letter appeared in the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal.

New Line of Road

To the Editor of the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal

Sir, - In a paragraph in one of your late issues, headed as above, you may have given me credit for having found a mares' nest. I beg to inform you that this is a mistake, as it was not a mares' nest, but a black horses', with his toes cocked up, branded HR (conjoined). It is said that Mr Rotton was acquainted with this line of road before I came to the district, and that the McPhersons deserve the credit of the discovery.

Mr R. is somewhat mistaken, as I arrived on this side of the country in 1830, when I erected a home and dairy at a place called Williams Creek. In 1831, I joined Sir Thomas Mitchell's party under the superintendance of Mr Lamb, and assisted in surveying the present line of road. I continued in his service till 183?, that was before the McPhersons came to Solitary Creek, as they were then living
at the Stoney Range.

When I first spoke to Captain Battye about the road, he immeadiately started with me to examine it, and approving of it himself, he asked me if I would point it out to Mr Samuel, M.C. and Captain Scott. I promised to do so, and afterwards fulfilled my promise. Mr R. refers to another line with which he is acquainted, by which the Coxs' River and junction hill is avoided, if he can find such a road I must give him credit for being a better bushman than I am, and I think he ought to point it out to the public.

I was not actuated by a desire of gaining either place, credit or gain, when I spoke of the road, but I consider that it was a matter of interest and might result in a great public benefit.

I am, Sir,
Yours, & c.,

Solitary Creek, December 18, 1855.

In the opening portion of Mr Howarths' letter, he says we give him credit for having found "a mare's nest". We are ready at all times to answer for ourselves, but cannot undertake to do so for Mr. Rotton. [Ed]

The letter, written four weeks after the birth of Delilah on October 22nd,1855, describes, in Thomas' own words, the early events of his life as a convict, settler and surveyors assistant. With famous acquaintances, like Sir Thomas Mitchell and Colonel Dumaresque, (with whom he shared the voyage to Australia), and less famous early pioneers like George Williams, it could be fairly said that Tom Howarth had the ability to mix with people of all kinds. This talent would have stood him in good stead as a butler, publican and businessman.

However, it did not protect him from business deals that failed to materialise the way he would have hoped. In the 1860s, Tom signed up as a guarantor to a loan. When the loan recipient failed to pay the creditors, they obliged Tom to make good their losses and Tom was financially ruined. In the winter of 1865, Tom rode his horse across a river, caught a chill, and, in September 1865, succumbed to illness. He is buried in an unmarked grave at Bathurst Cemetery.


Thomas married Martha Pearson Post on 9 Dec 1835 in St Peters Anglican Church, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia. (Martha Pearson Post was born on 25 Dec 1819 in Ashford,Kent,England and died on 6 May 1905 in Orange, New South Wales, Australia.)

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