Thomas Chaseling (c1772-1847)

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Thomas Chaseling was born circa 1772 in Spitalfields, England, United Kingdom and died 27 November 1847 in Wilberforce, New South Wales, Australia of unspecified causes.

Thomas Chaseland - convict on the Royal Admiral in 1792

Thomas is shown in records for his court appearances and transportation as "Thomas Chaseland". In records in New South Wales the names Chaseling and Chaseland were used interchangeably.

Some details of the life of Thomas Chaseling

Thomas arrived in New South Wales as a convict on 7 October 1792 on the Royal Admiral, a ship in the "3rd Fleet". The ship had sailed from England 4 months earlier on 30 May 1791. Details of the voyage are found at the end of this article.

On 13 April 1791 Thomas had been tried for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of Thomas Copps and stealing 230 new silk handkerchiefs valued at 40 pounds. He was found not guilty of the breaking and enetering but for the theft he was found guilty and sentenced to death. After 5 months in a holding gaol, he, and 14 other prisoners, was "set to the bar" on 14 Septemeber 1791 to receive the King's Pardon. That meant that these 15 men were not tp be executed "on Condition of being tramsported to Botany Bay for life." The other 14 men accepted the fate of transportation , but Thomas "refused and (he) was ordered to a separate cell". Still under sentence of death, Thomas, aged 19, changed his mind, and 5 weeks later on 26 October 1791 was again "set to the Bar" where this time he accepted the King's Pardon. After time on a hulk in the Thames River Thomas was embarked on the Royal Admiral.

In about 1797 Thomas fathered a son, Tommy Chaseland (c1797-1869), with an aboriginal woman. He was later to raise this son as part of his family.

On 4 June 1801 Thomas received a full pardon. He settled and farmed in the Hawkesbury region west of Sydney.

By 1802 Thomas had began a defacto relationship with the Irish convict Mary McMahon who had arrived in the Colony aboard the Marquis Cornwallis in 1795. He became step-father to her oldest child, John McMahon or Hammond, who was then given his surname and raised as his own son. He fathered 5 children with Margaret before marrying her on 29 November 1812. In the marriage record he is shown as Thomas Chaseling, and she is shown as Margaret McBland. On 29 Novemebr 1812 they also had their then 5 children baptised. His children with Margaret were Ann (1802), Jane (1804), Thomas (1807), Louisa (1809) and Charlotte (1811) and a child who died in childbirth (1815). Birth records exist for only some of Thomas's children. For the birth records of Jane, louisa & Charlotte he is shown as Thomas Chaseling.

In the 1806 muster of New South Wales he is shown as Thomas Chaseland. He is shown as farming a grant of 30 acres, being 10 acres of wheat, 6 acres of maize (corn), 3 acres of barley, and 11 acres of pasture. He had 6 male hogs (pigs) and 7 female and a store of 8 bushells of maize. 1 proprietor (Thomas) was being victualled on Government stores, his wife (Margaret) was not being victualled on Government stores being able to be supported by the produce from his farm. There were also 3 children (step-son John, and daughters Ann & Jane) who were also not being victualled on Government stores. In additon there were 2 convict labourers that had been assigned to him. 1 was being victualled on Government stores, and 1 was not. There was no mention in the census of his "half-caste" eldest son Tommy who was living with them. This has to be because the Government of the time had no interest in accounting for the aboriginal, or part-aboriginal, population. His farming activities were enjoying a measure of success as 2 adults and 4 children (including Tommy) were no longer supported by the Government and he only needed to draw on the Government Stores for 2 adults. Also in February 1809 it was recorded that he was able to supply produce to the Government Stores at Hawkesbury. Not much is known about his convict labouers, but there is a record that in November 1822 he was assigned convict labourer who had just arrived in the Colony aboard the Mangles.

In the 1811 muster of New South Wales he is recorded as Thomas Chaseland.

In 1815 his wife Margaret died.

In the 1822 muster of New South Wales he is shown as Thomas Chaseling, a landholder at Windsor (this description included Portland Head) with no age specified. Also recorded in this muster is his son Thomas, 16, his "son" John, 24, also a Landholder at Windsor, John's wife Ann, 20, and their 2 children (with no details of name or age). Also in this muster is recorded Thomas's married daughters Ann and Jane and their families.

In July 1824 Thomas "Chasling" applied for a second grant of land that would not be periodically flooded, as was his existing 30 acres at Lower Portaland Head on the Hawkesbury River near Windsor. He stated that he had arrived in the Colony ‘upwards of 31 years ago and (was) now settled upwards of 21 years’.

In the 1825 muster he is shown as Thomas Chaseling, a landholder in the district of South Wilberforce (which included Portland Head). Also recorded in this muster is his "son" John also described as a landholder in the district of South Wilberforce, John's wife Ann and their 2 children James, 6, and John, 4. No ages were shown for any of the adults. Also in this muster is recorded Thomas's married daughters Ann and Jane and their families.

In the November 1828 census of New South Wales he is shown as Thomas Cheeseling, 56, a man who had received an Absolute Pardon, a farmer of 90 acres at Portland. His 90 acres were shown to have 30 acres cleared and cultivated. He also had 3 horses. Also recorded in this census was his daughter Charlotte, 17, his son Thomas, 22, a farmer of 30 acres at Lower Portland all cleared and cultivated, with 3 horse and 30 cattle, and his "son" John, 30, a farmer at Lower Portland of 55 acres with 42 acres cleared and cultivated. There was also John's wife Ann, 26, and their children James, 9, John, 7, Margaret, 5, and Louisa, 3. Also in this census is recorded Thomas's married daughters Jane & Louisa Ann and their families. There is no record in this census for his married daughter Ann and her family even though they were farming in the same area.

Thomas Chaseling had 2 sons by the name of Thomas - Tommy Chaseland (c1797-1869) and Thomas Chaseling (1807-1878).

In about 1797, Thomas fathered a son to an aboriginal woman. This son was named Thomas but known as Tommy. Tommy was raised by his father Thomas and his step-mother Margaret in the family home in Portland Head. He was not, however, included in the count of children living at the home of Thomas "Chaseland" in the 1806 muster of New South Wales. This can only be because he was "half-caste" and therefore of no interest to the Government of the time. In 1807 Thomas fathered a second son to Margaret McMahon. He was also named Thomas. Tommy Chaseland left the family home and made a life at sea. He settled in New Zealand earning a living from sealing and whaling. He married in New Zealand and had 6 children with his 2nd Maori wife. He became a legendary figure in New Zealand folk-lore. Thomas Chaseling stayed in the area of Portland Head earning a living from farming. He also married twice and had 1 child from his 1st marriage.

Thomas Chaseling raised the eldest son of his wife Margaret, John Chaseling (1799-1876), as his own son.

Margaret had a son John from an earlier relationship. When she began living with Thomas Chaseling her son was given Thomas's surname and raised as his son. John names Thomas Chaseling as his father in documents to the government requesting land grants.


Offspring of Thomas Chaseling and Aboriginal Woman
Name Birth Death Joined with
Tommy Chaseland (c1797-1869) 1797 Portland Head, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 5 June 1869 Stewart Island, New Zealand Mary Puna (-1849)
Margaret Anthony Pakawhatu (1837-)

Offspring of Thomas Chaseling and Margaret McMahon (c1777-1815)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Ann Chaseling (1802-1863) 21 December 1802 Portland Head, New South Wales, Australia 27 May 1863 Windsor, New South Wales, Australia Matthew James Everingham (1795-1884)

Jane Chaseling (1804-1847) 7 August 1804 Portland Head, New South Wales, Australia 8 September 1847 Sackville Reach, New South Wales, Australia William Everingham (1797-1859)

Thomas Chaseling (1807-1878) 7 January 1807 Portland Head, New South Wales, Australia 30 October 1878 Pitt Town, New South Wales, Australia Eleanor Brown (1812-1866)
Mary Loder (1816-1875)

Louisa Ann Chaseling (1809-1892) 17 July 1809 Portland Head, New South Wales, Australia 6 July 1892 Paddington, New South Wales, Australia George Turnbull (1806-1885)

Charlotte Chaseling (1811-1873) 1 December 1811 Portland Head, New South Wales, Australia 18 September 1873 Windsor, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Edgar J Kable (1806-1849)

Unknown Chaseling (1815-1815)

The Voyage of the Royal Admiral

Master (Captain) Essex Henry Bond, Surgeon Richard Alley

The Royal Admiral, with a weight of 914 tons, had been built on the Thames River in 1777. She was 120'2" long with a beam of 37'10".

The first of the female convicts boarded at Gravesend on 4 May 1792, with the last of the female convicts on the 13 May 1792.

Whilst the Royal Admiral was docked at Gravesend about 20 soldiers from the NSW Corps joined her on 14 May 1791. One of these soldiers was Private John Hammond. Also assigned to the NSW Corps during the voyage was a convict from Scotland, Donald Kennedy, who was being transported aboard the ship accompanied by his wife Ann.

14 May proved to be a busy day: Captain Bond along with owner Mr Larkin came on board and “paid the Ship”; the long boat was ousted and received 7 packages for private trade; and live stock and sundry stores were received on board.

The London Times reported that on the morning of Friday 27 May 1791, 102 convicts were sent off from Newgate Prison, put on a lighter and sent down the river in preparation for being transported to New South Wales.

In total 348 convicts were placed aboard the Royal Admiral, 299 male and 49 female. (The ships log, instead, records 297 male and 51 female convicts. Records of convicts for voyages were not the best. For example the ship indents for the Royal Admiral included 6 convict women who actually arrived on the next sailing ship, the Bellona and some women listed on the indent were already in Australia, having arrived on the Kitty. Also some women’s names were missing on the indent but their names appear in Log Entries.) Onboard there was also some wives of the male convicts, possibly some husbands of the female convicts, and some children of the female convicts. The Royal Admiral also carried some passengers travelling to work in the Colony, and their wives and children.

The object of this voyage was to transport both male and female convicts to Port Jackson and from there proceed to China to load tea for the voyage back home. The Royal Admiral sailed from England on 30 May 1791. The ship arrived in Port Jackson just 4 months later on 7 October 1792. One of the seamen, Thomas Dargin, deserted the ship at Sydney Cove. He was in love with one of the convicts, mary Loveridge, onboard who he later married. On 29 October 1792 he received 6 lashes for quitting the ship without leave.

The convicts - both male and female - had mixed together on the voyage, as there are many entries in the ship’s log referring to "The soldiers under arms and all convicts on deck".

During the voyage 1 male convict had managed to escape at the Cape of Good Hope. 8 convict men and 1 convict women died on the passage out. A further male convict and a further female convict died whilst the ship was docked at Sydney Cove. 3 seamen also died during the voyage, 1 from drowning when he fell overboard. 4 children were born during the voyage and another child whilst the boat was docked at Sydney Cove. The 4 children born during the voyage included a stillborn infant, and a baby boy who died on 25 September 1792 at 19 days old, his mother being the 1 female convict who had died during the voyage. She had died a week earlier from complications of the childbirth. The female convict who died whilst the ship was docked at Sydney Cove had also died from the complications of childbirth 2 days after giving birth.

On board the Royal Admiral all passengers (free and convict) experienced fever and sickness during the voyage. This fever had caused many of the deaths during the voyage, and continued to cause deaths after disembarkment. 72 men, 11 women and 5 children were landed sick. The remainder of her convicts were sent to be employed at Parramatta and adjoining settlements.

Captain Bond also brought goods to the Colonies to trade. His agent John Macarthur sold Porter (a heavy dark brown beer made with malt) and other goods at the trading stores at both Sydney Cove and Parramatta.

The only addition made to weekly rations in the Colony because of the Royal Admiral arrival was the allowance of 6 ounces of oil to each person. This oil was issued in lieu of butter. Major Grose directed the officers commanding companies of the NSW Corps to purchase for each company from the Royal Admiral a 25 gallon of spirits.

The Royal Admiral departed Port Jackson bound for China in November 1792.

Sources and notes

‡ General
2 Wedding 2
  • BDM Index ref for marriage: V18121428 3A/1812
  • BDM Index ref for marriage: V18161904 3A/1816
¶ Death
  • BDM Index ref for death: V1847779 32B/1847

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