Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Significant Headstone;To the Memory of William Storey, City of Dublin

" To the Memory of William Storey "

The Headstone of William Storey on Norfolk Island

Native of the
January the 9th 1839

Image uploaded for the Public Domain via Wikipedia ©©

On a recent visit to Norfolk Island, I wandered through the old part of the Kingston Cemetery searching for the headstone of a convict named William Storey, from Dublin, Ireland. Although William Storey is not related to me, this headstone is a very significant memorial to my three times great uncle, because he was the convict who erected the monument to a fellow prisoner who had served time with him at Moreton Bay and on Norfolk Island. Lawrence Frayne, born in Dublin in 1810, was convicted in 1826 of the theft of a piece of rope, aged only 16 years.

I must give credit to my now good friend and 'editor' Chris Goopy, for it was on her blog Irish Graves  that I first learned of the headstone's existence,  in her blog post on the 2nd of February, 2012, in which she posted photographs and information about Irish graves on Norfolk Island. The photograph which I saw on her blog had been reproduced by Chris with permission from the Australian Cemeteries Index.

Below is a photo of the headstone taken on my own visit to Norfolk Island.

The Headstone erected by Lawrence Frayne on Norfolk Island c 1842 in memory of his friend.Image Sharn White ©

Lawrence Frayne's baptism record spells his name as Lawrence, however, most convict records used a 'u' rather than a 'w'. Image Sharn White ©

On seeing the headstone for the first time in person, I was immediately struck by the beautiful craftsmanship, and the time that Lawrence Frayne had devoted to his  memorial to a fellow convict.
Although William Storey died in 1838, it was not until the arrival of Commandant Alexander Maconochie to the penal establishment on Norfolk Island that convicts were afforded the dignity of a proper headstone after death and burial.

Maconachie was commandant on Norfolk Island from 1840 to 1844, in which time he introduced revolutionary,albeit it, unpopular with the Colonial government, ideas of penal reform. Under his Marks sytem, convicts were able to earn points for good behavior which they could use for rewards, or accumulate towards a ticket of leave. This was in stark contrast to the brutal system of punishment which existed on Norfolk Island before Alexander  Maconachie arrived, and which Lawrence Frayne had endured for ten years from 1830 when he arrived on the island. Lawrence Frayne left a 74 page diary describing the horrors he withstood on the notoriously 'dark paradise' , known as Norfolk Island. [Robert Macklin, 2013]. Frayne called Maconachie's Marks system, 'his Godlike ways' in his journal. Under Maconachie, convicts were still flogged, though not as often and importantly, he offered them a way to rehabilitate back into society and an opportunity to regain their dignity, long flogged out of most prisoners.

Lawrence Frayne would certainly have designed and built this headstone after 1840 in memory of William Storey who died on January 9, 1838 on Norfolk Island. 

William Storey's headstone on Norfolk Island October, 2014 Image Sharn White ©

As I touched the headstone, I felt Lawrence Frayne's spirit and strength, through the stone that he had worked with his own hands. His many years working on the Great North Road and in the quarry on Norfolk Island had given hime the skills with which to leave this beautiful legacy.

I can't help thinking that by signing his name to his work, Lawrence Frayne, convict and victim of circumstances, left a testimony to his own existence as well of his friend Wiliam Storey. It's almost as though he is saying.... 'I was here, I mattered'.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Serendipitous Meeting - .A Chance Conversation and Record Found.

A Serendipitous Moment - Another Norfolk Island Convict Ancestor

Remains of the Prison on Norfolk Island Image SharnWhite ©

SERENDIPITY  noun:  finding something good without looking for it.

Early in this year, 2014, year I was contacted by a researcher from Great Southern Televison. Whilst researching the second settlement of Norfolk Island for an episode of Coast Australia, the second series, she had come across one of my genealogy blogs in which I had written about my convict ancestors. Great Southern Television is the company responsible for filming the Coast Australia series which is hosted by Neil Oliver and a team of other renowned presenters. The first series of Coast Australia went to  air on the History Channel in December of 2013, and is available on DVD at ABC stores. I was contacted regarding my connection to the Second Penal Settlement on Norfolk Island (1825-55) through a convict named Lawrence Frayne, who I had been researching for some years.

Remains of the 'new' gaol on Norfolk Island Image SharnWhite ©

While investigating the second convict settlement, the Coast researchers had discovered a convict who had written a 74 page memoir describing his years as a prisoner on Norfolk Island between 1830 and 1844. The original memoir, held in a safe in the Mitchell Library under the title of "A Convict's Narrative" was penned by my third great grand uncle, convict  Lawrence Frayne.  His long and eloquent, but brutally informing account of convict life, compares the treatment he received under harsh Norfolk Island Commandants such as James Morisset, and the tenacious protagonist of penal reform, Alexander Maconochie.  I have written about this document in my  Family Convictions- a Convict Ancestor blog.

After a meeting with producers and director of the series, it was decided that I would be flown to Norfolk Island to participate in the filming of an episode of Coast Australia featuring the second convict settlement there (1825-1855). There was mention of an eminent UK based historian, Dr Tim Causer, who was hopefully to be a part of the episode as well. This prospect excited me, since I had read papers written by Tim Causer on Australian and in particular, Norfolk Island convicts,  as part of my University of New England History degree,

A week before my departure for Norfolk Island, I received an email informing me that historian Tim Causer would be on the flight with me from Sydney to Brisbane, where we would connect with the Air New Zealand International flight from Brisbane to Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island has been self governed since 1979 and to travel there one needs to travel from Australia with a passport.

So unusual is a heavy fog in Brisbane, that if you google 'fog in Brisbane' you will find accounts of the 'thick fog' which blanketed the city on the morning of June 3, 2014, on the day of my departure. The flight from Sydney was delayed due to this weather and both Dr Causer and I missed the connecting flight to Norfolk Island by only minutes. Although this created a huge problem for the Coast team, since there are not flights to Norfolk Island every day, it turned out to be a most serendipitous moment indeed for me!

As Dr Tim Causer and I sat at the Brisbane International Airport, waiting for the Coast producers to find a way to get us to Norfolk Island, we discussed the second settlement on Norfolk. Tim Causer is well known to be an expert on the topic of Norfolk Island convicts, having spent considerable time in Australia compiling a complete database of all convicts sentenced to this harsh penal settlement between 1825 and 1855.

The 'new ' Gaol (1836-) Norfolk Island Image SharnWhite ©©

Over  coffee, we discussed Lawrence Frayne, my convict third great grand uncle, and the man I was heading to Norfolk Island to speak about. When I mentioned that his brother, my three times great grandfather, Michael had also been a convict, Tim's comment took me completely by surprise.

 " Michael Frayne was was on Norfolk Island too wasn't he?" he said, leaving me quite stunned.

During my years of research, I had found no evidence of Michael Frayne being sent to Norfolk Island, despite thoroughly searching all available records in NSW and Tasmania where many Norfolk Island convicts were sent following completion of their sentences on Norfolk Island. I did, however, have some unaccounted for years (1854-58) in Michael Frayne's life. Three convicts by the name of Michael Frayne had been sentenced to transportation to NSW,  and I had followed all of their lives in my search for my great great great grandfather. I had conducted a thorough search for my 3 x great grandfather's convict records. How, I wondered, had I missed that he had been sent to Norfolk Island?

Second Settlement 'New' Gaol Norfolk Island Image SharnWhite ©©

Serendipity stepped in....

Tim Causer had compiled the database of every convict sentenced the to the second settlement penal establishment on Norfolk Island, and because of this, he had discovered what I hadn't been able to. Michael Frayne's Norfolk Island records had been sent to Tasmania, on the closure of the penal settlement in 1855 and although I had searched the excellent Tasmanian Archive convict database under every conceivable variation of the surname Frayne, I had not found Michael's record, for the simple reason that Michael Frayne was recorded in the Index as Michael MAYNE.

Tim opened the convict database on his laptop and showed me the record. The original document is headed Mayne, Michael, and in small handwriting underneath is written, 'also Frayne'. Confirming that this was my ancestor and not one of the other convicts named Michael Frayne, was the name of the ship St Vincent, on which he arrived in NSW on in 1837. Fortunately for descendants  who are researching convicts, the ship on which they arrived, along with other valuable identifying information, followed them around throughout their convict lives on their convict records.  Although it is fortunate for me, I am not sure that Michael Frayne appreciated that his height at the age of a tender 14 years remained the same in most of his convict records from 1836 until 1864.

I would never have thought to extend my search for variations of the name Frayne to Mayne, and unless I had undertaken to compile a full list of all Norfolk Island Convicts, I would not have discovered this record. But for a freak fog, a missed flight in Brisbane to Norfolk Island, and a long wait at the Brisbane International Airport, the conversation between Tim Causer and myself which led to this significant disclosure, would have never taken place. I have no doubt that we would have been too busy filming the Coast episode. A most serendipitous moment indeed!

I have now viewed Michael's Convict Conduct record [ CON 37/1/4 Page 1257], on the Tasmanian Archive Linc website.. I have discovered the names of the ships which transported him from NSW to Norfolk Island, from Norfolk Island to Hobart and on which he returned from Hobart, Tasmania, to NSW.

For me, this is a 'find' that fills in the previously unaccounted for years of 1854 to 1858, in my convict ancestor Michael Frayne's life. The information has provided me with an excellent new line of research to follow and I am planning a trip in the near future to the Tasmanian Archives.

AND.. just in case you are wondering if we made it to Norfolk Island......We did eventually arrive the following day,  by means of a longer than planned route - flying, Brisbane to Sydney, Sydney to Lord Howe Island (in a Qantas Dash 8), followed by an exciting three hour flight from Lord Howe Island to Norfolk Island aboard the Cirrus aircraft pictured below.

Our chariot awaits! Image Tim Causer

THANKYOU to Dr Tim Causer for his assistance and for permission to include his name in this blog post.  Dr Causer is presently transcribing the manuscripts of British philosopher, jurist and advocate of penal reform Jeremy Benthem (1748-1832). For information about his innovative collaborative transcription initiative please click on the link HERE.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

'The Voluntary Declaration of Lawrence Frain, a prisoner in Liverpool Gaol' - a Record Found

" The Voluntary Declaration of 'Lawrence Frain', a prisoner in Liverpool Gaol"

The quote above is the introduction to a statement which was given by my Irish convict great great great grand uncle, Lawrence Frayne and recorded by Patrick Hill, Justice of the Peace for His Majesty's Territory of New South Wales on April 2nd, 1830 at Liverpool Gaol in New South Wales, Australia.

The journey to finding records of convict ancestors can be almost as shackled and manacled as  were the convicts themselves. The search for my FRAYNE convicts from Dublin, Ireland, may not have been impeded by Irons or chains, but it has certainly been challenged by the sometimes erroneous record-keeping of Colonial times and the seemingly ingenious variations of the surname Frayne. Despite the abundance of records available for convict ancestors,  the search may still be impeded by stumbling stones that block the path to finding them. 

It is with dogged determination, therefore, that I endeavor to leave no stone unturned in my search for my convict ancestors. I am gradually chipping away at my genealogical stumbling blocks and shaping them into stepping stones so that I may tread steadily along the path towards gradually piecing together an accurate as possible narrative about the lives of my three times great grandfather Michael and his brother Lawrence as convicts in Australia.

Convict cut stone on the Great North Road, NSW Image SharnWhite ©©

Searches for my  Frayne convict records under name variants that include Frane, Frame, Frene, Freyne, Frain  and even Mayne (an especially exciting tale for another blog!) have all produced records for my convict three times great grandfather Michael Frayne and his brother Lawrence. When I recently added yet another spelling variation to my ever expanding list of mutations of the surname Frayne, the result of this search returned such a significant result, that it may be deemed appropriate to mention my 'happy dance'! (an increasingly popular Genealogical term for the moment of discovery!). 


A Keyname search of the NSW State Records website revealed, under the title of Criminal Jurisdiction, an index for two records for the offence of 'stealing, 8th June, 1830'. One record gives the names of  Lawrence 'Frain's'  convict accomplices, as Alexander Stewart, James Early and John Thoms whilst the second criminal record names, alongside Lawrence Frain,  one Thomas Egan.  Although I discovered these records at State Records New South Wales, through a search for the name FRAINE, in the original record the surname appears as FRAIN.
When the great William Shakespeare pondered, 'What's in a name?', I wonder had he any idea that the answer lay in a significant number of misplaced ancestors! 

You searched for Fraine
Criminal Jurisdiction2

NamesOffenceDateCopyCitationPage(s)Citation 2Remarks
Alexander Stewart, James Early, Lawrence Fraine and John ThomsStealing8 Jun 183013477 [T31] 30/159880 [T145] 48
Lawrence Fraine and Thomas EganStealing8 Jun 183013477 [T31] 30/160880 [T145] 49

Mispelled surnames can be road blocks. [Image  Old Great North Road © © SharnWhite]

When my Key Name Search for 'Fraine' in  New South Wales State Records revealed that the Archive holds two original records relating to the 1830 trial of a convict named Lawrence Fraine, I wasted no time in visiting the Kingswood repository. My hope was that if the Lawrence Fraine in this criminal record was indeed the one and the same Lawrence Frayne who was my three times great grand uncle, it could reveal crucial information about why he was sent to the infamous penal settlement on Norfolk Island. 

Ruins of the Convict Gaol on Norfolk Island Image ©© SharnWhite

Some years earlier, I had made the discovery that my three times great uncle had been sent to Norfolk Island in around 1830. I also learned that he had written a compelling memoir, in which he intelligibly recounted his brutal experiences as a prisoner at the notorious and isolated island gaol. The original document, which is his memoir, is held in a safe at the Mitchell Library in Sydney. I had made a copy of the memoir entitled 'A Convict's Narrative', from the microfilm copy. also kept at the Mitchell Library and had painstakingly transcribed the 74 pages of my 3rd great grand uncle's handwriting. Reading the words of Lawrence Frayne, I discovered that he had been sent to Norfolk Island after spending time on board the hulk Phoenix. In his long memoir, Lawrence Frayne paints a vivid picture of the appalling conditions suffered by prisoners on board the rotting hulk.

At the New South Wales State Records, I studied microfilm reels to verify that in 1830, Lawrence Frayne did spend months on board the convict Hulk Pheonix, which was anchored in Hulk Bay, now known as Lavender Bay in Sydney Harbour, prior to being transported to Norfolk Island.  On microfilm in the Shipping Lists of convicts, sent to and from Norfolk Island, 1828-1850, [4/3876, Reel 1062] I discovered the record of his transportation to Norfolk Island on board the ship Lucy Ann, on  October 25, 1830.  From the Phoenix Hulk Entrance Books [ NSR 4/6281 Reel819] I learned that Lawrence Frayne, of the ship Regalia (1826),  had received a sentence of 'death' later, later commuted, for the crime of stealing in Sydney in January, 1830.  From convict records, I was aware that he had spent two years at the Moreton Bay Penal Establishment for absconding twice from  Iron Gang 7 in 1827, where he had been working on the construction of Great North Road. 


I had great hopes that this newly discovered record of an 1830 trial in Liverpool, might tell me something about the character of a younger Lawrence Frayne, prior to the writing of his memoir, thirteen to fourteen years later on Norfolk Island. The original and first petty crime for which Lawrence Frayne had been transported from Dublin, Ireland,  at the age of 16, was the theft of a piece of rope. After absconding from his first place of assignment, Raby Farm, now Campbelltown, in 1827, he was sentenced to serve time in Iron Gang number 7. This road gang was positioned in 1827-28 at Devine's Ascent on the Lower Hawkesbury, and was one of the gangs conscripted to construct the Great North Road which was designed to link Sydney to the Hunter Valley area. Iron Gang 7 was made up of unskilled men, who, shackled together in leg irons, laboured strenuously in the quarry. After absconding from Iron Gang 7, Lawrence Frayne was sentenced to spend two years at the harsh penal establishment of Moreton Bay. Following his departure from Moreton Bay, I had no record of his whereabouts between January 1830 and October 1830, when he was transported to Norfolk Island. I was optimistic that this new record might fill in the that unaccounted for time prior to his transportation to Norfolk Island, where he spent 13 to 14 years - ten of those years so grim that he barely survived them.

The Convict Settlement at Norfolk Island: Image SharnWhite ©©

Seeking the nature and details of the crime for which Lawrence Frayne was sent to Norfolk Island, was important to me for several reasons. I was committed to investigationg whether Lawrence Frayne was a victim of circumstances, as he claimed in his memoir, or in fact a callous and corrupt criminal, whose memoir could not be relied upon for a truthful account of convict life.  The traditional historical view of the Norfolk Island Penal Settlement is one which suggests that the very worst type of criminal offenders were sent to this Penal Settlement, although many historians now refute that perspective through documented evidence. Since Lawrence Frayne's original crime was of a petty nature, and his subsequent convictions in the colony had all been for absconding, I hoped fervently to establish that the ardent assertions which echoed throughout his memoir, that he was a victim of an unjust criminal system, were authentic. Stealing or bushranging was an unfortunate but necessary process of endurance for escaped convicts. I cherished the hope that survival was the motive behind Lawrence Frayne's criminal demeanor. Throughout his articulate Norfolk Island narrative, a voice of despair and oppression can be heard audibly, as Lawrence Frayne describes discriminatory, immoral and barbarous victimisation for crimes that he believed did not warrant the cruel and severe punishments that were handed down to prisoners. Such punishments, according to the memoir, included, such as 300 lashes, denial of medical treatment following lashes, and months spent in isolated darkened solitary confinement and often were awarded for simple offences such as not tipping one's hat to an officer.  A great deal of credibility for me, regarding the character of Lawrence Frayne, depended on the information in this new document which related to an 1830 charge of 'stealing'. I was aware that if I discovered that he had wilfully or callously endangered lives or committed a heinous crime, this knowledge might somehow invalidate the eloquent and poignant words in his memoir and rebutt his allegations of injustice and maltreatment. 


While serving a life sentence on Norfolk Island, Lawrence Frayne, along with other prisoners, was encouraged by Commandant Alexander Maconochie to write a diary to record his experiences at the notoriously harsh isolated Penal Settlement. Maconochie was the Commandant on Norfolk Island from 1840 to 1844, during which time he became  known for his more humane treatment of the convicts. He introduced a revolutionary system of penal reform known as Marks, which provided prisoners with incentives to reform themselves. He furnished convicts on Norfolk Island, with a school, a library, churches for regular worship, musical instruments and the concept of living in small groups with each person responsible for and toward each other member of the group. The 74 (surviving) pages of Lawrence Frayne's memoir articulately describe the brutal and inhumane treatment he received under more iron-handed Commandants such as James Morisset. By contrast his words show the hope afforded to him and to other prisoners on Norfolk Island, through the returning of human dignity and 'that manly confidence which ought to be cherished in every human being' . [A Convict's Narrative P. 25] 

Through his writing Lawrence Frayne advocated decisively, the benefits of penal reform over what he considered to be the existing demoralizing and debasing system of brutal punishment.  He argued resolutely the merits of humane treatment in the rehabilitating of criminals to become useful members of society and directly attributed the increased rate of crime in the Colony, to the debasement and demoralization of prisoners. The document, which appears significant as a 'convict voice', is confronting in its content. The language and style of writing, punctuated with metaphors and alliteration and raw emotion, demonstrates great natural intelligence rather than a formal education. 

The memoir is held in the Mitchell Library in a safe, and is entitled " A Convict's Narrative".  Although dated 1830, there can be no doubt that it was written after the 1840 arrival of Alexander Maconochie on Norfolk Island. Lawrence Frayne mentions by name,  Commandant Maconochie in the memoir, praising him as the man who introduced his godlike system of Marks and extolling Maconochie's concept of rehabilitating prisoners to prepare them for freedom. Alexander Maconochie had intended Lawrence Frayne's diary to accompany a letter he sent to England to his friend Lord John Russell, a well known  exponent of penal reform in England. That the New South Wales Governor, George Gipps refused Maconochie's request to forward the Lawrence Frayne memoir on to England, had the fortunate effect of preserving the document here in Australia.  Gipps stated his reasoning for not sending Lawrence Frayne's memoir in a letter he himself wrote to Lord Russell, in which he acknowledged that although the document 'contains some shrewd observations on the systems of transportations' , he (Gipps) considered it contained 'libellous accusations against various officers, who have held situations of trust under this Government' . [ Offending Lives: Subjectivity and Australian Convict Autobiographies, 1788-1899, Lisa Christine Jenkins, Stanford University, 2001, p. 179]

The Title Page to Lawrence Frayne's Document, held in the Mitchell Library


As I unfolded the old, yellowed pages of the 1830 document, it was with great elation that I read the following words, 'Rex v Lawrence Frain as per the ship Regalia... charged with Burglary'
It was evident from the mention of the ship Regalia,  that this man, Lawrence Frain, was the one and same man as my great great great grand uncle Lawrence Frayne. Although it was not an encouraging revelation to discover  that he had committed burglary, I was hopeful that from the aged pages of this documentary evidence, I might understand better, the circumstances of his crime, and the man himself .

A page from the testimony of Lawrence Frayne/Frain © SharnWhite 


"Lawrence Frain states that on last Wednesday week, at night, Declarent with two others, viz William Dalton and John McNamara absconded from No. 3 Iron Gang, overseer's name Doyle, and stationed at the Lower Branch of the Hawkesbury -

Thefirst line of the statement immediately reveals vital information about my three times great uncle. I n was  now able to establish  Lawrence Frayne's whereabouts after leaving Moreton Bay as being a member of Iron Gang number 3. From a study of Convict Road Gangs in New South Wales, written by Grace Karskens, I learned that Iron Gang number 3 was, similarly to Frayne's previous Iron Gang, number 7,  stationed at Devine's Ascent, now known as Devine's Hill. Road Gang number 3, however, was comprised of more skilled stone masons and is responsible for constructing some of the most superior stonework on this extremely rugged part of the Great North Road. It would appear from this discovery that Lawrence Frayne had acquired sufficient masonry skills during his time at Moreton Bay, to be placed in a working group quite proficient in stone construction. It is likely that he escaped the drudgery of the quarry whilst in this Road Gang and that he would have been out of irons for part of each day. This situation, however, for a habitual absconder, would have undoubtedly have seduced him towards an  attempt to escape.

One of the original of 5 buttresses known to be constructed by convict Iron Gang 3 © SharnWhite

Lawrence Frayne's statement continues as he describes the escape which indicates that the convicts followed the route of the Great North Road itself, from the Hawkesbury River area to Parramatta.

[  ] with the above named persons travelled [  ] until they came to the [  ] side of Parramatta, when they went into a house on the Parramatta Road to have refreshment, They there met Bridget Daly who was the wife of the owner of the House...'

Lawrence Frayne, in his testimony, describes how Bridget Daly's brother William Whalen, sent them in search of a mate  who could be of assistance to the absconders.

'they then all went into the bush and came to an old Hut which had been the resort of the person in question but who had left it in the moment and had gone to another hut at some distance. The party  was unarmed here until the person alluded to came, He proved to be John Thomas whom Dalt'n and his party knew at Moreton Bay. Thomas said he knew of a place where there was plenty of money...'

The statement continues as a long and vividly colourful anecdote, in which  Lawrence Frayne reveals himself to be a talented narrator. He describes a bark hut where the escapees lived in the bush and his detailed recount notes such  peculiarities as what the escaped convicts  ate. The following excerpt refers to such an incident  after William Dalton and John Thomas had walked to another Hut [house] which belonged to a friend of Thomas named  Samuel Bowler. 

'Thomas and Dalt'n returned to their companions and sent Whalen for Ginger beer - after drinking the Ginger Beer the Party left. This was on Saturday 27' March, Whalen did not accompany the Party - They travelled on this road towards Liverpool until they came to a road which leads off from it into the Bush, 3/4 of a mile from the junction of the road with the road leading from Sydney to Liverpool'

Frayne describes in detail how John Thomas initiated the burglary of a side of 'beef' at a 'Hut' belonging to  Sam Bowler and then suggested another place that they could rob.

'Thomas said there was plenty more at Jacksons, The Party proceeded there without delay taking with them the property stolen at Bowler's which they left at the Bridge near Jacksons, as Thomas said he would take them to his place of hiding, about a mile and a half from Jacksons'

Throughout his statement, Lawrence Frayne refers to himself as the Def't [defendant] and in describing the second burglary, he states that the group knocked on the door of William Jackson's home in the, 'alias of Constables'. In his own defence, he claims that whilst the robbery took place, he, Lawrence Frayne, 'having been knocked down, is unaquainted with any of the proceedings'.

It would be easy to believe that this declaration was a colourful fabrication by Lawrence Frayne to dissociate himself from the burglary, however,  the sworn testimony of William Jackson himself, the man whose home was burgled,  confirms colourfully, that 'the Def't was lying on the floor seemingly dead' after which he was 'taken away'.

The testimony of Constable Thomas Webber of  Liverpool, who was present at the home of William Jackson, when Frayne was captured, also supports the fact that Lawrence Frayne was injured during this robbery. Webber apprehended Lawrence Frain on March 28, inside the home of William Jackson. This information comes from his statement which is included in the bundle of Frain documents held at Sate Records NSW.  Webber's account differs slightly from the version afforded by both Lawrence Frayne and William Jackson. In Constable Webber's report of the incident, Lawrence Frain was knocked to the floor by a person unknown after which a man named Castles 'put his knee on the Def't's chest thinking he was one of the robbers'  and  pinned him to the floor. A servant from William Jackson's household also claims responsibility for wounding Lawrence Frayne. Whosever version of the events at the Jackson home is closer to the truth remains unclear, however, what is evident is that Lawrence Frayne was injured and his companions deserted him and fled with the spoils of the robbery.

The list of property which was stolen includes mostly food and items of clothing plus five gallons of brandy in a keg and two muskets. 

It is clear to me after reading 'The Voluntary Declaration of Lawrence Frain' that my great great great uncle was somewhat a loquacious chronicler, even before he wrote his articulate memoir on Norfolk Island, although there is little doubt that Alexander Maconochie's gift of a library and education, improved both Frayne's vocabulary and his skill as a narrator. Significantly, for me, the prismatic testimony given in April 1830, appears to very much authenticate the later Norfolk memoir as Lawrence Frayne's own penned work.  It bears the same style of storytelling and idiosyncracies that are characteristic of his recount of events at the Norfolk Island Penal Settlement. 


After finding the name of Constable Webber in this document, a Google search for Thomas Webber, Constable, Liverpool, resulted in the discovery of two detailed news articles from June 1830, on the Trove website. I had previously not found these items because Lawrence Frayne's name was spelled as Frane  and  Frame in the respective newspapers.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser carried the story of the trial of Lawrence Frane (Frayne) on June 10, 1830 and the Sydney Monitor published the story of the robbery and capture of the convicts including Lawrence Frame, on June 12.  Both newspapers provide a substantial and detailed account of the capture of  my three times great grand uncle, who is referred to dashingly and daringly as the 'bushranger' Lawrence Frane/Frame and the court proceedings, some of which are not to be found in the Archive documents.

Patrick Beattie, a servant of Samuel Bowler, and a witness in the first robbery in the Bowler's public house, (referred to as a hut by Frayne), offers a delightful description of my great great great uncle during his court testimony. Pointing at the prisoner, Frame (Frayne) he announced, 

'I have a slight knowledge of one of the men; he was a stout looking man: I think that is the man with a yellow handkerchief and blue jacket.'

Most of the witnesses confirmed that Lawrence Frame (Frayne) had been wounded  at Jackson's home and detailed how he was knocked to the ground and left behind when his accomplices fled the scene of the burglary. William Johnstone, a servant of Jackson swore that he did not recognise 'any but the man left behind; I wounded him'

When Benjamin Young, a police constable of Liverpool was questioned at the trial of Lawrence Frayne he confirmed the part of Frayne's testimony in which claimed that he had been living in a hut, 'like a gunyah' in the bush prior to being captured. Constable Young had been sent to the house of Robert and Mary Adlam with a search warrant. He recovered items there which had been stolen from the Jackson home. When questioned as to who owned the items, Mary Adlam answered, referring to Lawrence Frayne 'they were brought here a few days ago by a tall good looking man to be washed'
I cannot fail to be amused by the contradictory descriptions of Lawrence Frayne's physical appearance, by tow witnesses. By a male, he is described as 'stout', while Mary Adlam  paints a more romantic image of  him as a 'tall' and 'good looking man'. 

Mary's husband, Robert Adlam accompanied police officers to show them the whereabouts of the hut 'where the bushrangers were secreted in the scrub'. Lawrence Frayne was in custody at this time and the constables found no sign of William Dalton and John McNamara other than that 'a fire was burning briskly as if they had only just left. '  


John McNamara and William Dalton appear to have eluded the police following these robberies. I have yet to discover what became of the two men who escaped from irn Gang 3 along with Lawrence Frayne.  Frayne, at the age of 20, received a 'death' sentence in June of 1830, after being found guilty of burglary, along with John Thomas (his name is given as both Thoms and Thomas in documented evidence). There is no mention of McNamara and Dalton being tried for this crime. Alexander Stewart and James Early were both apprehended following the burglary at Jacksons, and charged but were found to be Not Guilty. Robert and Mary Adlam each received a sentence of 14 years for 'receiving stolen goods'.

Fortunately for Lawrence Frayne, his death sentence was commuted to 'life', although from his memoir, one must question whether this reprieve and being sent to the  Convict Hulk, Phoenix and ultimately to Norfolk Island, was not worse than a sentence of death for him.  From the Phoenix Hulk , Lawrence Frayne resolutely made yet another attempt to escape. Following this bid for freedom he received a 'life' sentence on Norfolk Island.

Norfolk Island Gaol ruins

From all accounts, it is evident that Lawrence Frayne and his companions committed this crime of burglary in an attempt to survive life on the run, after escaping from their Iron Gang on the Great North Road. Five gallons of brandy in a keg was by all accounts not a necessary item for survival but I have no doubt that it would have been a much enjoyed luxury. Although  crime cannot be excused, I am somewhat relieved to establish that my three times great grand uncle does not appear to have been of an evil or an abhorrent character. He undoubtedly demonstrated traits of  defiance and obstinacy in refusing to capitulate to the convictions  of the Colonial Penal System and indeed one that was even more harsh than typical of other penal systems of the times. The very nature of the colonial prison system, where convicts worked outside the confines of  walled gaols, inevitably bred fear in those responsible for law and order.  Lawrence Frayne himself interpreted this system as being one of retribution subverted by far harsher and barbarous punishments than what fitted the crimes committed.

Lawrence Frayne was released in about 1843-4 on a Ticket of Leave to  Maitland, in the Hunter Valley area of New South Wales, by Commandant Alexander Maconochie. I have little doubt that the articulate but explicit and affronting document Lawrence Frayne wrote under the endorsement of  Maconochie, was the turning point in his convict life, and was in all probability the reason he did not live out his life sentence and die on Norfolk Island. 


State Records New South Wales

Defiance, Deference and Diligence: Three Views of Convicts in New South Wales Road Gangs, Grace Karskens                               


Soon to come...  more tales of the true convict life of Lawrence Frayne......

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Walking in my Convict Ancestor's Footsteps...

Finding the Places where our Ancestors Lived

Raby Farm

The places where our ancestors lived are an important part of our own identity. In places, we find the genius loci or the ancient Roman notion of spirit of place, and so come to sense the spirit of our ancestors. The Romans used the term genuis loci to describe a protective spirit in places, however in the modern Western world it has come to be associated with identity, heritage, and the spirit of the past, especially in the landscape and built environment.

'Consult the genius of the place in all,
That tells the waters for to rise or fall,
or helps th' ambitious hill the heavens to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale....'  
Epistle IV, Alexander Pope to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington (Alexander Pope introduced the idea of genius loci into landscape gardening.)

In my search for ancestors and their families, I like to understand as much as possible about the places from which they came and places where they lived. In these places, the spirit of my ancestors comes to life.

In the NSW, Australia, Convict Indents 1788-1842, (, I learned that my great  great great grand uncle, Lawrence Frayne, arrived in Sydney Cove on August 5, 1826, on board the ship the Regalia. Lawrence was a pantry boy, aged 17 years who had been convicted in Dublin on October 5, 1825, of the theft of rope. For his crime young Lawrence was sentenced to 7 years in the colony of New South Wales. 

Convict records provide much valuable information about ancestors. As well as physically describing  Lawrence Frayne, the record informed me that he bore a scar on his right eyebrow and another on the bridge of his nose and that his appearance included brown hair, hazel eyes and a ruddy complexion. I discovered  that on arrival in Sydney, Lawrence  was assigned to one Edward Riley of Raby Farm.  I now had a physical place to begin looking for the spirit of my ancestor. 

I know from records that Lawrence spent two years at Raby Farm before absconding and being sent to the penal settlement at Moreton Bay (now in the state of Queensland). Moreton Bay was established between the years of  1824 and 1842 to accommodate secondary offending prisoners. It became important to me to understand the place where my great great uncle began his life as a convict as this was the beginning of his Australian story.

 In this technologically connected world in which we live, we are privileged, in the pursuit of family history, to be able to see the places in which our ancestors lived through images available by means of a simple search of Google Images, Google Earth and Maps. Finding the places of our forebears enhances our sense of identity.  To be able to walk in the footsteps of ancestors and past family, helps us to understand our heritage. To see the land which they farmed, the homes they inhabited, to have some sense of the relationship they had with their environment and the landscape which was an integral part of their identity, helps to put their lives into a sense of real  historical context. We are fortunate indeed, if we can visit, in person, the places of our ancestors, and physically walk in their footsteps to 'feel' their presence.

When I began my search for Raby Farm, I was very excited to discover that the property was near Campbelltown, which is an area only a three quarter hour drive from where I live in Sydney. From the Cambelltown Council website, [1] I learned that  a merchant and pastoralist named Alexander Riley ( 1778-1833), was granted 3000 acres in 1809. This large land grant commenced at the corner of Cowpasture and Bringelly Roads, in Liverpool and is situated in what is famously Macarthur sheep country. This information was part of an explanation of the origins of a suburb named Raby, on the council website. Although much of the farm land surrounding Cambelltown has been developed into of housing estates, I was still hopeful of finding some tangible evidence of the original Raby Farm. I also set out to learn who Edward Riley was, and what the nature of his relationship to Alexander Riley was. Records had shown that it was to Edward Riley of Raby Farm, that my 3rd great grand uncle had been assigned in 1826.

Google Map showing the corner of Cowpasture and Bringelly Road

The Australian Dictionary of Biography informed me that Alexander Riley was born in London, in 1778, the son of  George Riley, a bookseller and that his mother's maiden name was Margaret Raby, The Raby family hailed from County Clare in Ireland and I found mention of a family property in England also named Raby.  Now I had the origins of the name Raby Farm. Alexander Riley arrived in NSW in June 1804, with his wife Sophia Hardwick and settled on a farm in the Hawkesbury area, north of Sydney, where he acquired the positions of magistrate and storekeeper. In 1805, Alexander Riley became deputy Commissary and shortly thereafter was appointed to the position of Secretary of State in the colony. A shrewd businessman, Riley quickly realised that there was a fortune to be made through trade. He formed a partnership with Richard Jones, a fellow merchant and pastoralist. The company of Jones & Riley forged trade relations with India through Riley's brother Edward in Calcutta, as well as trade with Canton. Alexander Riley was a founder of the Bank of New South Wales and introduced marine insurance into the colony of new South Wales. From 1812, he concentrated on building his flock of sheep at Raby Farm and was fortunate to benefit from high wool prices.

In 1817, due to ill health, Alexander Riley returned to England with his family, leaving his colonial interests in the hands of his younger brother, Edward who relocated from Calcutta to NSW.  The property Raby Farm was advertised for lease (assumedly to Edward) and was described as, ' convenient buildings, one hundred acres of cleared ground are enclosed and subdivided into convenient paddocks- the whole of the land is well watered, and one of the finest crops of wheat in the colony is now growing on it'...[2]  On the southern section of the property a residence had been built. 

By the  early 1820's, Riley's property, Raby Farm had grown to 3,200 acres with more than 200 acres cleared for the grazing of sheep and cattle as well as the cultivation of crops such as maize, barley, oats and vegetables.[3]

 Raby Farm, sketched  by Joseph Lycett in 1824

Along with his brother Edward, Alexander Riley organised to send an entire flock of Saxon Merino sheep from Germany, to his property in NSW. Chartering a ship named the  Sir George Osborne, Alexander  transported the sheep across the seas, with the first flock of this breed arriving in Sydney in August 1825. The care of Riley's flock during the journey, was entrusted to Riley's nephew Edward Riley, son of his brother Edward. When Edward Jnr arrived in Sydney in 1825, with his uncle's large flock of Saxon Merino sheep,  his father had died. The sheep and property named Raby Farm then became the responsibility of Alexander's young nephew, Edward Riley who under Alexander's expert guidance helped this strain of merino sheep to flourish  to become one of the most significant types of merino sheep in Australia. John Macarthur was known to be envious of Riley's success as his sheep won gold medals year after year in the annual Australian Agricultural Society Shows. 

Because I had found a mentio of Raby farm being leased on Alexander's return to England  I needed to confirm that Edward Riley was living at Raby Farm  as the Convict Indent had indicated. I found evidence that Edward Riley senior had resided at Raby Farm through a search of the National Library of Australia's digitalised newspaper website, Trove, where I found the following article printed in the Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, October 28, 1820,  'Raby Farm, on the Cow-pasture and Bringelly Roads:- Take Notice, that if any Cattle or Sheep are found on this Farm after this date, they will be impounded by the order of Edward Riley.'

I turned to Trove to find any information I could about Alexander Riley's nephew, Edward Riley and Raby farm in 1826 onward which was when Lawrence Frayne, was assigned to work there as a convict labourer. An advertisement placed in The Australian (Sydney, NSW, 1824-1848) read, 'To be Sold, 250 Ewes which have been running this season with Mr Mc'Arthur's Rams, and are now forward in Lamb. Apply for particulars at the Office of Messrs Jones and Walker; or to Mr. Edward Riley, Raby Farm' where the sheep may be seen.'

(Jones and Walker was Alexander Riley's company Riley & Jones with a new partner added named Walker.)

 Significantly, I knew now that the Edward Riley who my three times great grand uncle, Lawrence Frayne was assigned to was Alexander Riley's nephew, Edward (1806-1840), the son of his brother Edward Riley, (1784-1825). I also knew that Raby Farm became extremely successful in the breeding of merino sheep from 1826, the same year that Lawrence Frayne was assigned to work there. Since my two times great uncle had been a pantry boy in Dublin, Ireland, I wondered what his occupation was when assigned to Raby Farm. From various sources, I found that a pantry boy was a cook's assistant in the kitchen. His responsibilities would have included peeling potatoes, cleaning and washing pots and pans. Male convicts were generally assigned work which involved hard labour, outdoors, with long hours. It is unlikely that Lawrence would have been assigned to the kitchen of Raby House, this being work generally assigned to female convicts. 17 year old Lawrence Frayne would most definitely have been drafted by Edward Riley to carry out work with which he was unfamiliar, including the clearing of densely forested land, working the land for crops at Raby Farm, or  caring for sheep or cattle. 

Male Convicts were usually assigned to outdoor labour

From an address delivered by Edward Riley to the Agricultural Society which was published in the Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser on Wednesday February 21, 1827, I learned that the years 1826-1827 were years of economic hardship and severe drought in NSW.  Catastrophic events such as flood and drought would have impacted on the lives of everyone at Raby Farm including the convict labour and my own ancestor. Crops certainly failed at Raby Farm according to news reports, but it appears from articles published in the Sydney Gazette, that Edward Riley's Saxon Merino sheep were, in 1826, unrivalled in quality, their wool being most suited to the climate and Raby Farm seemed to be returning considerable profit despite the drought.   

In a NSW Department of Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) Statement of Heritage Impact, produced in May, 2010, I discovered that Raby House, situated on Camden Valley Way, has survived and is now a State Listed Heritage Item. Excited at the prospect of seeing the homestead where my convict great great uncle was assigned, I set off  by car to find Raby House. My first attempt to find the property was unsuccessful. I arrived in the Campelltown area, having no idea of what the house actually looked like and although I found several heritage properties, I could not identify which was Raby House. 

After more research and finding an old photograph of the driveway to Raby House, which showed a timber bridge which had featured in the  RTA impact statement, I headed south on the M7 and M5, a second time to find Raby House. This time my attempt to walk in my ancestors footsteps was foiled by a thick fog which rolled in over Campbelltown around 3.30 pm. As atmospheric as fog is, finding the 'spirit' of my past in the midst of it proved impossible. Undeterred, and still determined, I set off on a third journey, some weekends later, early on a clear day, and armed with the photograph below which I hoped would help me to find Raby House.

An old photograph of the driveway to Raby House
Below is my own photograph of the bridge crossing and the driveway entrance to Raby Farm which I found on my third trip to Campbelltown. In the background is pictured, Raby House. 

My photograph of Raby farm as it is today
Although Raby House is no longer situated on 3200 acres, there is enough land surrounding the significant house to still retain the feel of a large farm. Gazing along the driveway which leads up to the house which Alexander Riley built and in which his nephew Edward Riley lived at the time my convict great great great grand uncle, Lawrence Frayne was assigned to Raby Farm in 1826, I saw the land that my convict two times great uncle had worked. My thoughts turned to what life would have been like for Lawrence Frayne and suddenly I knew that I had found the genuis loci of Raby Farm and my convict great great uncle. 

Raby House June 2013

There are no words to describe the feeling of connection to an ancestor one experiences when physically walking in their footsteps. Standing on the land where my great great uncle worked and lived for the first two years of his sentence as a convict in Australia, caused a shiver to run down my spine, as I felt the  spirit of Lawrence Frayne through the spirit of the place where he had been. 

Raby House June 2013

A view of Raby House from a street nearby

*Addendum: Since writing this blog post I have been very excited to discover that there exists a convict built barn on the property Raby Farm. 


3. ibid

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Memoirs of a Convict.

"my shoulders were actively in a state of decomposition..."

The above words are an excerpt from the narrative written by my great great great grand uncle, Lawrence Frayne, as part of his memoir written on Norfolk Island, c 1830. This stirring account of his treatment on Norfolk Island is held in the Mitchell Library, in Sydney. Robert Hughes, in his 1987 book, The Fatal Shore,  cites Lawrence Frayne's autobiography and the oppressive punishment he received at the hands of Commandant James Morisset. It is one of nine autobiographies which have survived and which were written by prisoners who were sentenced to serve time at the secondary penal settlement of Norfolk Island. It is the only graphic account of Morisset's strict regime of punishment implemented whilst he was Commandant on Norfolk Island. In its second settlement (1825-1855), Norfolk Island earned a reputation as a  harsh environment where (male only) convicts who re-offended were sent. It was known as a place of despair, especially under the strict command of this Commandant.
James Morisset gained a reputation, whether deserved or not, as a tyrant. In more recent years,  historians have questioned the character of Major Morisset and currently debate whether or not he deserved the notoriety he has been afforded as a tyrannical penal administrator. 

James Morisset
There was no doubt in the mind of my 3rd great grand uncle, Lawrence Frayne as to the unforgiving disposition of the commandant from whom he received the severest of punishments.

"I plainly told the Commandant in the court that he was a tyrant. he replied that no man had ever said that about him before. I said they knew the consequences all too well to tell him so... But I tell you in stark naked blunt English that you are as great a tyrant as Nero ever was... New and heavier cuts were procured purposely for my punishment."

In 1830,  Morisset ordered Lawrence Frayne to receive 300 lashes, probably for participating in one of the numerous mutinies which occurred on Norfolk Island during the administration of James Morisset.  By his own admission, Lawrence had a hasty temper, and he never became resolved to a convict's life, after arriving on the shores of Port Jackson  in 1826, as a 17 year old 'pantry boy' sentenced to transportation for 7 years for the theft of a piece of rope. 

Lawrence Frayne made repeated attempts to abscond between 1826 and 1846. For his escapes he was sent from assignment south of Sydney, to the harsh secondary penal settlements of first, Moreton Bay and then  Norfolk Island, the latter, from whence it would be impossible for him to take flight. 

Penal Settlement on Norfolk Island

After the first 'hundred', as lashes were referred to,  Lawrence Frayne was placed in a cell until his back was healed sufficiently for him to receive the second hundred lashes. It is the initial flogging of one hundred lashes to which he referred when he wrote,

" My shoulders were actively in a state of decomposition, the stench of which I could not bear myself, how offensive then must I appear to my companions in misery. In this state I was sent to carry salt beef on my back with the salt brine as well as pressure stinging my mutilated and mortified flesh up to Longridge. I really longed for instant death..."

More from the Memoir of a Convict written by Lawrence Frayne in my next post....

  •  Frayne, Lawrence Memoir on Norfolk Island, Colonial Secretary's Papers, vol 1, [NSW 1799-1830] MSS681 [CY1084], Mitchell Library, Sydney.
  • Causer Tim, Norfolk Island's Suicide Lotteries, myth and reality, menzies centre for Australian Studies, King's College London.
  • Hughes, Robert, The Fatal Shore, A History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868, Random House London, 1987.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Escape from Barrenjoey - Customs House Boat crew

Customs House Boat Crew - Convict Escape

Barrenjuey (Barrenjoey) George P Slade (1832-96)

This story begins with an article mentioning my convict great great great grandfather, which appeared in the NSW Government Gazette on December 23, 1846 ( ). 

Frayne, Michael, St Vincent, 1837, from Customs Boats crew, Broken Bay on the 21st instance.'

Broken Bay is a large inlet about 50 kilometres north of the Sydney CBD on the New South Wales coast. Captain Cook sailed into this inlet in 1770 and described it as 'broken land'. Three arms of water flow into Broken Bay, the Hawkesbury, Brisbane Water and Pittwater. 

When I read the Government Gazette article I had been unaware that my great great grandfather, Michael Frayne had ever been in the Broken Bay vicinity, having previously only seen records which placed him in Braidwood, an area south of Sydney and Patrick Plains which is north of Sydney, in the Hunter Valley. Both of these are farming communities and so it caught my imagination that Michael may have been involved in an escape from a 'Customs Boat crew'. Being most curious to discover why a boat crew would have been in the Broken Bay area I set out to construct a narrative around the one line entry in the Sydney Government Gazette.

Broken Bay, NSW

Pittwater,  was  named by captain Arthur Phillip in March of 1788 when he sailed into the southern arm of Broken Bay, and declared it to be "the finest piece of water I ever saw".  Phillip named it Pittwater after the British Prime Minister, William Pitt, the Younger whose government had sent him to NSW in charge of the First Fleet of Convicts. 
As the Penal colony established itself in Port Jackson, the area known as Pittwater became an escape for convicts and a haven for smugglers. Until at least 1819, this part of Sydney was beyond the reaches of the law, having not even a police constable to enforce law and order. 

Barrenjoey Head, Pittwater
As a result of a notorious smuggling operation in 1842 which involved the ship, the Fair Barbadian, a Customs Station was built at Barrenjoey by convict labour in early 1843. The following article appeared in the Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW) on November 29, 1842. 

Colonel Gibbs of the Customs Service gave instructions for five convicts to 'form a winding path up the south face of the mountain by clearing the bushes and making steps where required, to a flat place on the top near the western end where a sentry box or watch hut is to be built and a flag staff erected.'  

John Broadley Howard became the first customs officer at the newly established station and with him were sent a coxswain and five convicts. Howard had at his disposal, a whaling boat and another smaller boat.

A whaling boat would have been about this size.
Whilst living in tents, the convicts built the huts which were to serve as the first customs station. A three room cottage was later built for Howard and his family.
Ships were instructed to report to the customs station before entering Broken Bay and a  watchman kept a lookout for vessels attempting to slip past the customs station.  John B Howard was diligent in his attempt to stamp out illegal stills and the smuggling of alcohol. After a number of attempts to prevent the smuggling of rum from illicit distilleries,  going out in his boat, in the dark of night and in terrible weather to apprehend both smugglers and brewers, Howard and other customs officers succeeded in ending the previously lucrative smuggling industry. 

An article published earlier in the Sydney Government Gazette, confirmed that Michael Frayne had  been a member of the crew of the Customs Station boat when he escaped custody.
"Sydney, 16th December, 1846: The following Prisoners of the Crown have absconded since the last publication - Michael Frayne, St Vincent, 1837, 23, Dublin, errand boy and car driver, 4 feet 10 1/2 inches and upwards [ this was his height when he was convicted in 1836 at age 14...later records show that he would have actually been 5 feet 9 inches in height in 1846], ruddy complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, from the Customs Boats crew, since the 15th instance."

When 23 year old Michael Frayne was recaptured in December of 1846,  he had been free for 7 days. Escaped convicts faced many perils in their attempt to survive. The Pittwater area was fertile and many farms had been  established on the land along the waterways. Escaped convicts were a constant problem for farmers in the area, as they menaced families and stole from the homes of farmers to survive. There were many caves to hide in and some escaped convicts joined ranks with bushrangers. Remaining free was difficult and many were discovered dehydrated and starving.

 Evidence such as convict records and Government Gazettes show that my great great great grandfather was an habitual absconder. This was hardly surprising given that he was only 14 when convicted of theft in Dublin and sentenced to Life and transportation to NSW.  Convict discipline and daily life for many was extremely harsh.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Michael Frayne could have been assigned to Customs officer  John Broadley Howard, and was one of the five convicts who built the Customs Station  and the cottage for Howard in 1843.  Records show that Michael was in Braidwood in 1842 from where he absconded and was recaptured in that same year.  I have no record of his whereabouts from 1842 until December, 1846, when he absconded from 'the Customs Boat crew, Broken Bay'. Perhaps Michael Frayne spent time there on duty, keeping a watch for approaching vessels. Perhaps he accompanied Howard on his journeys on the waters of broken bay in the whaling boat to apprehend smugglers.

My imagination is working overtime with new information and I have many yet unanswered questions. Did Michael Frayne abscond in one of the two the customs boats? Did he leave on foot and disappear into the dense bushland of Pittwater? How did he survive for a week and where did he go? Armed with  new information and excited to think that my convict g g g grandfather was  assigned to work at the Customs Station at Pittwater, I intend to visit the site to see for myself the place where Michael Frayne made a bid for freedom in 1846.