Josias Austin (1797-1883)

Josias Austin was born in Sampford Courtenay, where he was baptised in 1797. At the age of 8 he became an apprentice to John Sloman of Lake, Sampford Courtenay. When he was 23, he married Catherine Harvey, who was a few years older and from the same village. Neither was able to write so both marked the register with a X. Catherine had a twin brother John. Shortly after they were born, the twins were baptised at home, privately, just before their mother died. When they were about eighteen months old, they were baptised again in the church.


Josias and Catherine had seven children before he was convicted in 1835, although one had died aged 2. All their children were baptised in Sampford Courtenay Church. They all remained in Devon with the exception of his son John who took his family to Queensland Australia in 1866 with nearly disastrous consequences.

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Josias's First Wife: Catherine Harvey (1793-1883)

When Josias was transported, Catherine was left behind with their 6 children aged 1 to 14. She described herself as a widow and never remarried. At first she worked as a serge weaver and was maintained by her children. In 1871, she was a pauper, living alone in Okehampton. She was living in a nearby village, Exbourne, two years before she died aged 90.

Josias Austin's Life in Australia

The three men were sentenced at the Exeter Assizes in March 1835. Coombe and Croote were sent together to New South Wales, Austin was to be transported to van Dieman's Land - Tasmania. From Exeter he was first taken to the Prison Hulk Ship Ganymede, moored at Woolwich. He was then transferred to the Layton, taking her second consignment of convicts to Australia. She left Sheerness with 270 male prisoners on board on 29 August and arrived in Hobart on 10 December 1835, a journey of 103 days. Within a few days of landing he was assigned to a settler. By 1841 he was one of a large number of convicts working for Thomas Archer of Woolmers, an estate about 25 Km South of Launceston.