William Rayner and Elizabeth Goldsmith

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
John Horton
John Horton's picture
The Trial of Robert Jones

The trial of Robert Jones for theft and burglary occurred on 22 October 1788 in the Old Bailey in London.

660. ROBERT JONES was indicted for burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Isabella Hall , about the hour of eight in the night, on the 7th of October , and burglariously stealing therein, twenty-four yards of linen cloth, value 3 l. three muslin handkerchiefs, value 5 s. four tuckers, value 1 s. two shifts, value 3 s. a pair of sheets, value 3 s. two diaper table-cloths, value 2 s. a plated milkpot, value 4 s. a pair of sleeve-buttons, value 1 d. a tea-board, value 2 s. a silk purse, value 2 s. two guineas, one half guinea, and eight shillings in monies numbered, her property: three printed cotton gowns, value 12 s. a muslin ditto, value 8 s. a green silk skirt, value 5 s. three muslin aprons, value 5 s. five pair of robins, value 1 s. six tuckers, value 2 d. two cotton night-caps, value 6 d. a cotton handkerchief, value 1 s. a handkerchief made of silk and cotton, value 4 s. three lawn handkerchiefs, value 6 d. the property of Margaret Hall : seven pieces of silk, value 40 s. a figured sattin waistcoat, value 20 s. two pair of dimity breeches, value 3 s. a pair of black velvet breeches, value 3 s. two pair of thread stockings, value 1 s. four handkerchiefs, value 4 s. six shirts, value 20 s. a pair of stone knee-buckles, value 2 s. four silk handkerchiefs, value 6 s. the property of William Wilson , in the same dwelling-house.

(The case opened by Mr. Garrow.)


I live in Old-Gravel-lane, Ratcliffe-highway ; I keep a school ; and a sister of my husband's, Margaret Hall, lives with me; Mr. Wilson is a friend of mine, who has gone to sea, and left his property under my care; I had it the seventh of this month, at five o'clock at night; Wilson's property was in a large trunk, in the garret; I went out on that day first, at six o'clock, and returned at seven; and when I went out at six, I fastened all the house; I stood at the street door while my sister fastened the parlour window, which are two outside shutters bolted; then my sister came out, and double locked the door; that was about seven; then we went to a neighbour's, and returned a little after eight; and we found the street-door open; I got a light, and we went in, and found the lock of the door bent back, and the staple that holds the lock intirely taken away; the post that used to hold the staple was broke almost down from the wall; then I went up stairs, and the first thing I saw in the garret, was two trunks, that were full of clothes at five o'clock, and they were emptied of every thing that was in them; they lay on the floor; I left them in the garret; the little trunk

was locked, and the big one so full, that it could not be locked, but the key was in it; the large one I found empty in the place where I left it; and the little one had been removed, and lay on its side empty; those were both my own trunks; but the property was part mine, and part my sister's, and part Mr. Wilson's, who is gone abroad; then we came down stairs, and observed matches burnt, and unburnt, laying on the carpet; there were two or three; my whole house was pillaged of every thing that was easily moveable.

Do you know all the articles that Mr. Wilson left with you? - Yes, I know them all; and know I left them in the house; there were several waistcoats, all of which were sattin; there was one made up, and eight not made up; they were all in the large trunk in the garret; (Repeats the things in the indictment.) The mark on the silk handkerchiefs was W. W. no part of the property has been recovered, but one waistcoat, which was made; and my sister's handkerchief, which is unmarked; I left my trunks safe at five o'clock; and saw all the clothes; because I had the waistcoat in my hand; the reason I searched the trunk, was, my sister and I were going out, and she wanted her gown; we went up in the garret to get my sister's gown, which had been laying in the trunk, under the waistcoat; we took out the gown, and put the other things in; I saw the waistcoat in the custody of Mr. Armstrong the officer; I missed all the articles to the value of thirty pounds.


I went out with my sister in the evening, about six o'clock; and previous to that, I had occasion to go to the trunk in the garret; I saw all the property, particularly the figured silk waistcoat; I took this gown from it; I can swear that every article was then safe; I went out about six, making every thing safe, except the parlour window; while I shut it up my sister stood at the street-door; I put to the shutters, put up the bar on the outside, and bolted them within; when I had done that, I came out immediately, and double locked the street-door; then we went to our neighbour's, and returned at eight; when we returned, by the light of the lamp, the street-door was open; I went into the dark house by myself; I went up stairs; I got a light; and I found the street-door open; the wood of the door-post was broke in several places; the staple was intirely taken away, and bent back; I went up, and the great trunk, which had been shut down, was wide open; it was intirely empty when I came back; I understood the wood of the little one was a little hurt; the trunk was locked when I left it; when I came back it was empty, open, and laid on its side; every closet was broke open, and every thing was taken away; on Wednesday night, about seven, the property was brought to our house, and shewn to me by Armstrong; there was nothing brought to me, but a green sattin waistcoat of Mr. Wilson's, and my own policat handkerchief; it was a new handkerchief, and had never been used.

Mr. Knowlys, Prisoner's Council. Then this policat was brought to you by Armstrong, before you went to the justice's office? - Yes.

Then before he came to you, you had no intimation of the property? - No.

I take it, in looking into this trunk, you were more attentive to find your own clothes, than to observe any other? - When I went to the trunk, I went to take out this gown; I was not looking for the waistcoat.

Mr. Garrow. It was in consequence of the hand bills, that the things were brought to you? - Yes.

When did you give the information to the officers? - The very night it happened.

Court. How do you recollect the hour at which you fastened your door? - I do not know to the minute, but it was nigh that time.

What is your reason for recollecting it was about the hour of seven? - Because I know it was but seven; when I was at the house it wanted but a few minutes of seven; I took notice of it from a clock in the house; we came down from the place where we was, just as the eight o'clock bell began to ring eight; the bell at St. George's; I heard the eight o'clock bell ring before I left the house.


When had you received this information respecting Mrs. Hall's burglary? - On Thursday, the 8th of October, I was going down Spital-square, between ten and eleven, in the forenoon, in company with Harper and Shakeshaft; I stopped the prisoner, and searched him; and in his coat-pocket, I found this handkerchief and waistcoat; he was in company with another person, who separated; the waistcoat was wrapped up in the handkerchief; I asked him whole the waistcoat was; he said, it was his own, and he was going to pawn it; he said, he had had it two months; I then told him, we should take him to the justice's; and in company with the other officers; and on my returning, I received this hand-bill, which led me to Mrs. Hall.
Does that hand-bill describe any such waistcoat? - It says here; one green sattin waistcoat, spotted.

Court. Did they describe the waistcoat before they saw it? - Mrs. Hall, and her sister, and another, were in the room; they said, they should know the things; the little lady, on seeing it, said; oh, my God, that is my handkerchief! I know it; I hemmed it; that waistcoat has been in my possession ever since; I am sure it is the same that was taken from me.

Mr. Knowlys. The prisoner told you the waistcoat was his own, and always persevered in that story? - Yes, he was taken immediately; when the things were found upon him; and he said, it was his own; he said so when I apprehended him, and also when I took him before the justice.

(The waistcoat shewn to Mrs. Isabella Hall.)

This is quite new; it was never worn; when the taylor brought it home, I looked at it, and said, I was happy they had put such buttons upon it, which were the same as the waistcoat; because it was genteeler than metal buttons; I knew the pattern, which me and my sister chose out of three; Mr. Wilson at that time was at my house; he is not in England now.
Were there strings at the back of it? - Yes, there were three strings on each side.

Have you any sort of doubt, that was the one you saw at five o'clock? - No.

Look at the policat handkerchief.

Armstrong. This is the same.

To Hall. Was it such a sort of policat handkerchief, as was lost? - Yes, I cannot speak to the hemming, I could if it was to my own; there was one in the trunk, one of that sort unmarked, and new; this is unmarked and new; upon looking at it now, I am sure it was never washed from the hemming.

Mr. Knowlys. The policat handkerchiefs are not at all uncommon? - No.

To Margaret Hall. Look at that policat handkerchief, do you know your own work? - This is my work.

Are you able to swear positively? - I am able to swear it is my own hand work, I hemmed it myself.

Court. Can you distinguish your hemming from another persons? - I can, by the way that I hem in general, I could not distinguish it after it had been washed, but while new, and before wetted, I could.

Court. How do you know your own hemming? - Because I always fasten the end of my hemming at the bottom, instead of the top.

Court. Now look at this waistcoat? - This waistcoat is a sort of sattin, like that of Mr. Wilson's, that was lost; and he has another, exactly the same, unmade; the buttons were covered with the same silk; I observed these strings behind, I think it is the same.

Mr. Knowlys. Other sempstresses may fasten down at the bottom, as well as you? - They may.


I am a journeyman taylor.

Mr. Garrow. Did you work for a master opposite the Royal Exchange? - Yes, his name is Joseph Ryley .

Do you remember making a waistcoat there, for Mr. Wilson? - I did not know who it was for, I made it, this is the waistcoat.

When did you make it? - Some time about the latter end of September, or the beginning of October; I knew it by its being cut, by a mischance, in the back linings on each side, I seamed it up; I do not know the prisoner; I never made the prisoner a waistcoat, to my knowledge.

Does a mischance of that kind, often happen? - The mischance is not common at all.

Mr. Knowlys. You work for other taylors, you say, beside Mr. Ryley? - Yes.

Can you swear to all your work? - No, I cannot; I swear to that waistcoat, from this mischance, I know my work; I should not know it all.

Did you ever swear to your work before? - No, I never did, that accident is the most particular thing; and there is a cotton interlining in the collar, that is not in every collar.


The last witness did work for me; I did some work for Mr. Wilson; Richard Cavernor made this waistcoat; I cut it out, and covered the buttons; I know it by a particular mark, by a cut in the lining. which is not very common, which Cavernor has spoke of, it was near to the bottom of the back, on both sides of the waistcoat.

Have you the least doubt of its being made for Wilson? - No.

Did you ever make such a one for the prisoner? - No, nor for any other person.

Court. No waistcoat like that, for any other person? - I have not, my Lord.

Mr. Knowlys. I take it for granted, it happens to you, as it does to other taylors, sometimes the sheets make a slip, and injure the cutting out a little? - It does some times.

(The waistcoat handed up to the Jury.)

One of the Jury. This accident is not a common thing.


I have had the waistcoat two months; the man I bought it of, is gone into the country, and could not be found, or he would have attended.

The prisoner called three witnesses to his character.

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron THOMSON1

  • 1. Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 15 February 2014), October 1788, trial of ROBERT JONES (t17881022-54).