On 19 November 1791 when William Rayner was 24, and according to his own testimony, he married Elizabeth Goldsmith, daughter of George and Elizabeth Goldsmith, on Norfolk Island.1 No marriage registration has ever been found but the records were lost from the early years on Norfolk Island.
Elizabeth Goldsmith was christened on 19 April 1765 in Cripplegate, Middlesex, England, and was transported as a convict on the Lady Juliana, having been sentenced to death at the June 1788 Old Bailey Sessions for a highway robbery in which a bonnet, an apron and 14 pence had been stolen.2
403. ELIZABETH GOLDSMITH was indicted for feloniously assaulting Elizabeth Cockburn , on the king's highway, on the 1st of June, and putting her in fear and danger of her life, and feloniously taking from her person, and against her will, one check apron, value 1 s. one silk bonnet, value 1 s. and 14 d. in money, her property .
ELIZABETH COCKBURN sworn. Between the last of May and the first of June, about half after one in the night, I was going out on some family business for my master, and I met with this unfortunate prisoner and she asked me to treat her, which I did. Did you know the prisoner before? - To the best of my knowledge I never saw her; I met her a little on this side a place called New-gravel-lane; she asked me to give her something to drink, and it being late, I took pity on her, and gave her something to drink; I took her to a public house, and we had each a glass of gin, and then we went out of the public house; I paid for the gin; we went on together for a good way, till we came to the place called the Match-walk; then she seemed to stop me, by way of crossing me; I seeing her a stout, sturdy body, being late in the evening, I did not date to refuse her; there were little or few words; what passed I cannot, in conscience, mention, but she stopped me, and untied my apron, then she took off my bonnet, then she rifled both my pockets; I do not know whether she rifled my right or left pocket first. What did she take from your pocket? - As near as conscience will give me leave to speak, about 14 d. I then went home; I was in hopes to find her on Monday; I am but a poor woman; I could put nothing in force against her; I went back from her; I could not go any further with her; I was going to London-street with her; I cannot recollect the words-that were said; I think I told her I was a Welch woman, and she was going to rob me; to the best of my knowledge, I never saw her before; I can give but little account, but I think she seemed rather in liquor. How came you to go along with a strange woman to give her gin? - I did it out of pity. There was no pity in giving a drunken woman gin you know? - There are two apprentices in the family where I live, and they had had words and were gone out; one was a resolute boy, and I went in search of him; the apprentice boy was brother to my master. Was your master at home? - Yes. Had you taken any steps to find this woman? - I had searched at several places; I only wanted my property of her; I found her at one Mr. Anderson's, a public house by Smithfield; I do not know the sign; when I saw her there, I did not know her immediately; when I went in, on her speaking, I immediately knew her voice; I said, you took my property; she turned about, and said, me, Madam; I said, yes, my dear, you to be sure; I went to get a watchman; when he stopped her, she attempted to run away, but he took her to the watch-house. What time was it that you took her? - About half past ten in the evening; she said charge for charge, which I did not understand then; the officer of the night detained me two nights and a day with her in the watch-house; I was taken before the justice; there I gave the same account as I have here, and she was committed to prison; I am sure as far as conscience will permit me to speak, it is the same person. Are you quite sure of it? - I am sure it is the same person that took the things from me in Match-walk; when first I saw her, when I took her, her back was towards me; I did not know her, but by her voice; but when she looked over her shoulder, I knew her. Was you quite sober when you came out of the public house? - I was quite sober, and quite sensible; I would not belie my conscience for the world; I had drank a little in the course of the day, but nothing to hurt me; I was truly sensible of what I was doing; I cannot recollect any words she said when she took the things; she was a strapping sturdy body to me; and I am rather of a faint spirit; and there was nobody in the street that I could see. Prisoner. Am I the person that took your property? - Yes, my dear, you are. See original Oh! do not say it? - Yes, but I will fly it.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON sworn. My brother is a pawnbroker, and I serve in the shop for him; the prisoner came the 3d. of June, with this checked apron; she said it on the counter, and asked me to give her a shilling; I told her no, she might have 9 d. she took the 9 d. I gave her a duplicate and she went away; the prisoner has used our shop a considerable time; I am sure it was her; this apron has been in my custody ever since. (The apron deposed to) Prosecutrix. The apron has been out of my hands four weeks; I cannot swear to it; but it is pretty much like mine by the appearance of it.
MARIA CHARLES sworn. The prisoner told me she had a bonnet to sell; it was Thursday or Friday I am not sure which; after this woman said she was robbed; and I told her our people did not want such a thing; I knew her before; I never knew her to be guilty of such a thing; I gave her a shilling for it; it is here; about a week after I heard she was in custody. Who are your people? - The people of our house where I live.
JOHN MAYNE sworn. I produce the duplicate of the apron, which I took out of her pocket before the magistrate.
WILLIAM WHITEWAY sworn. While the prisoner was under examination before the magistrate, information was brought to me that she had sold a bonnet; I went and found that woman out; she delivered it to me; it was taken to pieces when I got it. Court to Mrs. Charles. Was it taken to pieces when you bought it? - Yes. Prosecutrix. When she took it from me it was sit to wear, now it is cut to pieces it is impossible to swear to it.
JOHN SERJEANT sworn. Between eleven and twelve I was walking to and fro by my box; I am a watchman; it was last Saturday was a fortnight, and a woman called, watchman, stop that woman, she has robbed me; I immediately stopped her, and took her to the watch-house; she was running as hard as she could when this woman called to me; they charged one another at the watch-house.
PRISONER's DEFENCE. On Saturday month coming up Angel gardens, I met the prosecutrix very much testicated in liquor; she fell into the kennel; I helped her up; we went to the house and had a quartern of gin; I laid her down on the step of the door she was so much in liquor; I believe it wanted about a quarter to twelve; I could not get in; coming back again I saw this woman sitting; she asked me for a lodging; she said, says she, take care of my bonnet, but the apron is not hers; I found she did not come, and I sold it to that woman for one shilling unpicked; as to the Match-walk, my lord, I never was there; I was down between Angel-gardens, and Old-gravel-lane. GUILTY , Death . Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice WILSON.3
After 10 months, in April 1789, she was reprieved to transportation for seven years, and sent from Newgate to the Lady Juliana.
The Lady Juliana was the first all-female transport ship. It was the first of the Second Fleet ships to leave Britain but took almost twice as long as the other ships to arrive in the colony (taking almost a year for the voyage, possibly because the captain had allowed his crew free access to the women). When they finally arrived, the convicts on board more than doubled the female population of Sydney.4
Many babies were born on board ship, and soon after arrival, and there is no doubt that those on board abandoned the restraints of English society. There is no record of Elizabeth giving birth to a child.... Never the less there is no reason to suppose that Elizabeth was ignored by the amorous sailors, or rejected their advances.
On 1 August 1790 Elizabeth joined 193 other convicts sent to Norfolk Island on the Surprize, and it was there that she joined up with William Rayner.5 William Rayner and Elizabeth Goldsmith had two sons, William, born on 5 August 1792, and George, born on 15 March 1794, both on Norfolk Island.[1a] Both brothers were baptised on Norfolk Island on 20 May 1804 by the Reverend H. Fulton.6
On Norfolk Island they were required to work for the government, subject to convict discipline, but had time to work their own land, keeping poultry and growing vegetables and corn. No record of their marriage has survived but they were probably among those married by the Reverend Richard Johnson during his brief visit to the island in November 1791.7 On 19 November 1794 William is recorded on a list of all grants and leases of land registered in the Colonial Secretary's Office.8
About 1796 the relationship between William and Elizabeth dissolved and Elizabeth moved in with their neighbour Robert Jones, who farmed alongside the Rayners on the slopes of Mt Pitt on the north side of the island. Jones was convicted of burglary of a house in Old Gravel Lane in the East End of London at the Old Bailey Sessions on 22 October 1788. He came out on the Scarborough and was part of the group sent to Norfolk Island on the Surprize in 1790. He may well have been an old friend of them both.
Robert Jones and Elizabeth Goldsmith had two children, Elizabeth born in 1798, and Mary, born in 1799. These two girls are often erroneously recorded as the children of Elizabeth and William Rayner. Robert is sometimes confused with another Robert Jones, known as "Buckey", who became Goaler in the island in 1801. He moved to Van Diemen's Land after 1811, while Robert and Elizabeth moved to Sydney, where Robert became Assistant Superintendent of Police from 1810 until his death at their Harrington Street home in 1818, aged 57.
His widow and their daughter Elizabeth were awarded 60 pounds, and the widow a small pension and a land grant in Van Diemen's Land in view of Jones' meritorious services. Mary Jones was already married, and therefore provided for. Elizabeth had kept custody of her two children by William Rayner.9 William Rayner is recorded as leaving Norfolk Island - “… in October 1796 [when] … he returned to Sydney... ”10
- 1. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
- 2. "England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J3MT-X2B : accessed 08 Mar 2013), Elizabeth Goldsmith, 19 Apr 1765.
- 3. Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 17 April 2011), April 1754, trial of Elizabeth Goldsmith (t17880625-1).
- 4. State Library New South Wales: Second Fleeters; http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/research_guides/convicts/information/second_fle...
- 5. Lou Daniels: The Rayner Family; Privately Published.
- 6. The boys births are recorded in the Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857, the baptisms may have been recorded in the New South Wales records
- 7. Unknown Reference
- 8. NSW Colonial Secretary Index, 1788-1825 Fiche 3267; 9/2731 p.32
- 9. Lou Daniels: The Rayner Family; Privately Published.
- 10. Unknown Reference