Robert Parsons and Sarah his daughter

Robert Parsons was born in Newton St Cyres in 1786.

He married Sarah Luxton in Crediton in 1809 and they had three daughters in Crediton before he was convicted in Exeter on 12 January 1819 of stealing a quantity of gunpowder. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation but served just 4 years in HMS York, a prison hulk moored at Portsmouth.

He then returned to his family in Newton St Cyres where they had four more daughters and then two sons.

In 1831, he was committed by the magistrate John Quicke, Esq, charged with stealing in the parish of Newton St Cyres, a piece of oak timber, the property of Ambrose Holmes (a wheel wright). The warrant was dated 25th January.


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At his trial in Exeter in June 1831 he was sentenced to 14 years transportation. He was transferred to the Prison Hulk “Captivity” moored at Devonport. In July he was put on board the convict ship "Strathfieldsay" which sailed from Plymouth to Tasmania, arriving in November.

He was assigned to William Gwillim Walker, a Welsh sheep farmer whose mansion, Vron, was in an area now known as Bishopsbourne.

Apart from one episode of drunk and disorderly conduct in 1837 he was not in trouble with the authorities in Tasmania. He received a conditional pardon in August 1842, and a certificate of freedom in July 1853 when at Longford.


His wife Sarah moved into Exeter and worked as a servant into her sixties.

Sometime between then and 1861, Robert returned from Tasmania to live with his wife in Newton St Cyres, after an absence of about 25 years. He was employed there as a “Tin Plate Worker”.


His wife Sarah died in the Devon and Exeter Hospital in 1870.

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Widowed Robert then lived in Newton St Cyres receiving parochial relief with his daughter Jane (Crump – sister in law of John Crump who drowned in a mining accident in Newton St Cyres).

He died in 1874 but we learn a little more about him from a newspaper article published two years before he died.

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Sarah Parsons

Sarah, the second daughter of Robert and Sarah Parsons, was born in Crediton where she was baptised in January 1813. From 1822, she had been a “parish poor” apprentice to William Godfrey, a paper maker living in Shobrooke, although he was originally from Newton St Cyres. In Exeter in 1832 she was convicted of obtaining money (a five pound note) by false pretences, from Jane Collins in Newton St Cyres, although the alleged offence took place in 1829. She had claimed Grace Godfrey (her master's wife) had asked to borrow some money to pay her workers' wages.


She was found guilty and sentenced to be transported for seven years, and taken to the female convict ship “Fanny” in London in July 1832.

Cholera broke out on the ship just before she was due to set sail. According to the surgeon's reports, during the voyage Sarah was treated for diarrhoea (9-11 Jul), Cholera (19-22 Aug) and fever (15-18 Jan 1833) before arriving at Sydney Cove on 2nd February. During the voyage eight convicts died, and towards the end many developed Scurvy.

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In July 1840 Sarah Parsons, was charged with stealing wearing apparel from her employer - the Police Magistrate of

Berrima, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to one month imprisonment in Berrima gaol.

She received her certificate of freedom in August 1841.


She had two daughters Charlotte and Eliza Jane in 1845 and 1850 by another convict, William Amlin, but they split up in 1853.

In 1855, she married Henry Williams at West Maitland. It is not known what became of her thereafter, although both her daughters married in Queensland.

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