In her blog challenge for Australia Day 2013 Helen V Smith has challenged geneabloggers "to tell the story of your first Australian ancestor."
I think James Westbrook was my first ancestor to arrive on Australia's shores but as there is no way to verify the paternity of Elizabeth Phipps' offspring I cannot be 100% sure that he is my ancestor.
James WESTBROOK, son of Edward WESTBROOK and Elizabeth FITCHETT , was born on 3 November 1784 in London, England and was christened on 23 November 1784 in St. Sepulchre Holborn, London, England.2 He claims to have married Elizabeth PHIPPS before 1812 in England but I cannot find any evidence to support this.
On 1 April 1812 he was a butcher living in Angel and Porter Court, Golden Lane Parish of St Luke Old Street, London, England with Elizabeth Phipps, a cotton spinner. He and Elizabeth had a bit of trouble with the law and found themselves before the court at The Old Bailey indicted for "feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Joseph Covington." A transcript of this trial is available online.
As a result the hapless pair were sentenced to Transportation. James was one of 200 convicts who left England on the Earl Spencer on 2 June 1813 and arrived in the Colony of New South Wales 9 October 1813. On arrival he was assigned to William Cox; James worked as part of Cox's gang that built the road over the Blue Mountains.
James and Elizabeth were both assigned to the Windsor area and had several children together. It is just not clear which of Elizabeth's children were Westbrooks and which were fathered by William Magick.
He appeared in the convict muster in 1814 in Windsor, NSW, Australia. Between January 1816 and January 1818 he was resident in Bathurst, NSW, Australia. On 7 July 1818 he was a prisoner resident in Bathurst and he reappeared in the convict muster in Windsor in 1822 with a Conditional Pardon. James earned his pardon as a result of the work he did for Cox on the building of the road.
He appeared in the census in 1825 in Sydney listed with children Louisa, Harriett, Emily, William, Ann and Sarah. This could indicate that these were his children.
In the 1828 Convict Muster he was back in the Windsor area at Richmond where it is presumed that he lived until his death. James must have lead an ordinary life as I have not been able to dig up any stories about him on Trove!
When he died on 14 July 1859 in Windsor Hospital, Windsor, NSW, Australia James was listed as a pauper.3,4 He was buried on 16 July 1859 in St.Matthew's Church of England, Windsor, NSW, Australia.