William Rayner and Susannah Chapman

After William Rayner left Norfolk Island in 1796 he returned to New South Wales. In 1800 he was employed by Captain Thomas Rowley.1

Thomas Rowley (1748?-1806), soldier and landholder, was appointed adjutant of the New South Wales Corps in 1789 and promoted lieutenant in April 1791. His background is unknown but the singularly poor grammar and spelling in his letters indicate that he could not have been well educated. He arrived at Port Jackson in 1792 and was promoted captain on 21 June 1796. He served in Sydney until 1799 when he left for a tour of duty at Norfolk Island. The premature departure of the commandant, Captain John Townson, in November obliged Rowley as the senior officer present to take charge of the island's affairs. His rule lasted until July 1800...2

Rowley had actually been involved with Norfolk Island since 1794 when he was part of a Court of Enquiry to deal with an alleged mutiny against the then Lieutenant-Governor Philip King by members of the New South Wales Corps. The exact nature of the relationship between Thomas Rowley and William Rayner is unknown. “After securing a conditional pardon [William] joined the New South Wales Corps on 23 December 1801. In September 1808 he was described as a baker by trade, 5’ 5” in height, with a dark complexion, blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a small visage.”3 On 9 November 1809 when William was 42 he married for the second time to Susannah Chapman in Newcastle, New South Wales.4

Susannah Chapman was born about 1785 according to her prison records (17 in 1802), or about 1791 according to the age stated when she died (74 in 1865). At either age she was too young to be the Susannah Chapman "...indicted for stealing, on the 30th of August, five yards of printed cotton, value 10 s. the property of Robert Roberts." as some material would indicate.5 Susannah did appear before the harsh English Justice system however at Newington in July 1802 for stealing:

According to the ‘Kalendar of Prisoners’ for the gaol at Newington (prior to trial at Quarter Sessions) in July 1802, Susannah and John Chapman were charged with “feloniously stealing one frock and one handkerchief, the property to Sarah Ward” The deposition (no. 62 in the bundle for Midsummer 1802) given by a witness, William Matthews, indicates that Sarah Ward, a child of seven, was wearing the clothes at the time of the offence, which took place in the parish of St. George, Southwark.

Susannah was sentenced to be transported to Australia for seven years. According to the Quarter Sessions Order Book, she was 17 years old in 1802. John Chapman was recommended to be admitted to the reformatory of the Royal Philanthropic Society (at Reigate). John Chapman was Susannah’s younger brother, aged nine in 1802, according to the details of his admission. He absconded in 1809 and was sent to sea in that year. His parents, unnamed, but “persons of indifferent character”, bought and sold old clothes: their address is given as formerly 14 Lambeth Walk, then 11 Whitecross Street, Southwark.6

Susannah was transported to the antipodes on 'H. M. Glatton'. The ship sailed from London on 23 September 1802, visiting Madras and Rio before arriving in Sydney on 11 March 1803, the journey taking 169 days. The ship's commander was James Colnett and besides cargo, she was carrying 385 convicts and 24 adult passengers and their children.7 The following item appeared in the "Sydney Gazette" 12 Mar 1803.

Yesterday, shortly before our paper went to press, arrived within the heads His Majesty's ship GLATTON, commanded by Capt COLNETT, from England, with prisoners of both sexes. Capt Colnett saw a ship the day before he got in, which he supposes to have been the BRIDGEWATER, whose arrival may be hourly expected.8

In the Sydney Gazette" on 19 March 1803:

On Sunday last anchored in the Cove, His Majesty's Ship Glatton, James Colnett, Esq Commander, with Prisoners from England, from whence she sailed the 23rd of September last. In her way she put into Rio de Janeiro to refresh. She left England with 270 male and 135 female prisoners - seven of the former and five of the latter died, brought upwards of 30 Free Settlers, Eight Pieces of Heavy Ordnance, and a quantity of Ordnance Stores. The day before she got into the Cove 100 weak people were taken out, and put on board the Supply. 50 of the most ailing were soon after sent on shore to the General Hospital, where every attention was paid them. Their complaints were slightly scorbutic, of which they are recovering very fast.9

Susannah was probably assigned to someone in the Newcastle area where the association with William Rayner was initiated. Although by William Rayner's later deposition they were married there is no record of the event in the state based registration records. If they were married it was technically bigamous as William also stated at that time that he had been married earlier to Elizabeth Goldsmith who was alive at the time of his second marriage.

Returning to William's point of reference, from a muster of the NSW Corps, apparently taken in 1808, it is shown that Private William Rayner joined the NSW Corps on the 23rd December 1801 in Sydney. (The date of his arrival in the colony was left blank). "Aged 40 years and 7 months; height 5"5' servitude 6 years, 253 days, born parish Spittlefield, London, County of Middlesex, dark complexion, blue eyes, dark brown hair, small visage and having the trade of Baker."10 The Colonial Secretary's letters sent to the penal settlement at Newcastle reveal the following information on William Rayner:

Newcastle, 12th April 1810 To John Thomas Campbell, Secry Sir, I had the honour to receive your letter of the 4th instant by the Sally which arrived here on the 9th instant bringing everything mentioned in your letter with the exception of Private William Rainer [sic] wanted to complete the Detachment at this post. This soldier the Sergt. days had libery to remain at Sydney until the coming of the next vessell. John Purcell, Commandant.11

The following quote does not tally with known dates from the Colonial Secretary's Index site published by the Records Office of New South Wales. A copy will be reviewed and this section revised.

Newcastle, 15th June 1810 ...among other details Purcell notifies Campbell that he is sending down to Sydney per the Nelson cedar logs for Government use and sale, also '1 small log of cedar given for services to Lance Corpl. Rainer and the party that were with him in apprehending runaways.'12

In 1810 [William Rayner] was still a private, quartered at Sydney and transferred to the incoming 73rd Regiment when the NSW Corps was recalled in that year. By June 1810 he was described as a Lance Corporal based at Newcastle...13

On 4 August 1810 it was reported that William had been sent in pursuit of escaped convicts and was rewarded for successfully completing his duty:

Head Quarters, Government House Sydney, Saturday, 4th Augus, 1810 Alexander Melville and William Rayner, Privates in the 73d Regiment, and belonging to Lieutenant Purcell's Detachment, stationed at the Coal-River, having been sent from thence in pursuit of two Convicts who had absconded from their Labour and fled to the Woods, and having persevered in the Pursuit until they came up with and apprehended the Fugitives, whom they have brought to Sydney, His Excellency the Governor directs, that as a reward for their active Exertions and soldier-like manner of executing the Duty they were thus sent upon, the two Soldier above- named shall each receive a Donation of five Pounds Sterling from the Police Fund, and One pair of shoes from the King's Stores ; and that they shall at the same time be informed that the Governor HIGHLY APPROVES of their Conduct. By Command of His Excellency, T. S. CLEAVELAND, Acting Major of Brigade14

According to the New South Wales' Colonial Secretary's Office correspondence, on 9 August William brought the escaped convict prisoner to Sydney and then returned to Newcastle. On 13 October he was rewarded for capturing runaways. On 26 October he was permitted to send a piece of cedar to Sydney, given to him as a reward.15

William and Susannah had their first child Elizabeth on 5 November 1810 in Newcastle, New South Wales. Their second child, another daughter they named Sarah, didn’t arrive for another four years on 19 August 1814, also in Newcastle.16

Just prior to the birth of Sarah, William's sons William and George Rayner had advertised in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser that they were quitting the colony of Sydney for the Derwent:

MR. WILLIAM, and GEORGE RAYNER, intending to leave this Place for the Derwent, request all Claims may be presented for Payment forthwith.17

  • 1. Flynn, Michael: The Second Fleet, Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790 [pp. 491-492]
  • 2. B. H. Fletcher, 'Rowley, Thomas (1748–1806)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/rowley-thomas-2614/text3605, accessed 9 March 2013.
  • 3. Flynn, Michael: The Second Fleet, Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790 [pp. 491-492]
  • 4. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
  • 5. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913: Reference Number: t17900915-16; http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/ and quoted on http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~butlervogelerayner/
  • 6. AOT Rayner Family Correspondance Folder which includes a typed sheet of notes with the heading - Susannah Rayner, with some information added by Mrs. Jean McKenzie of Sandy Bay, Tasmania [Acc. 661 & Acc. 661/3/9]
  • 7. Bateson, Charles: The Convict Ships - 1787-1868; Brown, Son & Ferguson; Glasgow (pp. 338-339)
  • 8. Sydney Gazette 12 March 1803
  • 9. Sydney Gazette 19 March 1803
  • 10. The reference for this information does not cite the repository [PRO Reel 1302]
  • 11. Colonial Secretary's Office: Records Office New South Wales [Reel 6066; 4/1804 p. 7]
  • 12. Colonial Secretary's Office: Records Office New South Wales [Reel 6066; 4/1804 p. 18]
  • 13. Flynn, Michael: ibid
  • 14. "GOVERNMENT AND GENERAL ORDERS." The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 4 Aug 1810: 1. Web. 9 Mar 2013; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article628041.
  • 15. NSW Colonial Secretary's Office [CSO: Reel 6003; 4/3490A p.81, CSO: Reel 6038; SZ758 p.108, CSO: Reel 6003; 4/3490A p.125]
  • 16. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
  • 17. "Classified Advertising." The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 12 Mar 1814: 1. Web. 9 Mar 2013; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article628874.