John Thomas Allsopp
John Thomas Allsopp [1815 - 1891]
Thomas Allsopp (aka John Thomas Allsopp) was most probably born late 1814 in Nottingham, England. Based on the date when first sentenced in Nottingham and his age given as being 18 years at the time, his birth would need to have occurred before 31 December 1814, possibly as early as 21 October 1814, if he was 18 at the time of his arrest. His age given at the time is reasonably certain as it is recorded that he was 18 years of age when tried, again on arrival in Sydney in 1833 and that he had 18 tattooed on his lower right arm which was probably applied when imprisoned, or during the voyage to NSW. However, his death certificate would place his birth after September1815 in stating that he was 76 years of age at death on 22 September 1891.
His actual birthplace also remains a mystery. On convict lists he is shown as a native of Derbyshire however he gives Nottingham as being his place of birth on his children’s birth certificates.
Family legends have him linked to the brewery of Samuel Allsopp and Sons which would make his birthplace as Burton-on-Trent however no links have been found to prove these tales nor does my research to date indicates that this link is highly improbable. A number of people have assigned parents to him on a variety of online family trees but none provide sources therefore these should be taken with a grain of salt, especially given that at least 3 sets of parents have been proposed.
Thomas was tried at the Nottingham (town) Quarter Sessions on 10 April, 1833 charged with stealing a pair of shoes to the value of 5 shillings, the property of Robert Lownds and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment to be served by transportation to New South Wales. After leaving Nottingham Gaol in late April 1833 he was received at the Hulk 'Justitia', moored just off Woolwich and this became his home until being delivered to the 'Lloyd' on August 15th. Thomas left England behind on 19 August 1833, bound for Sydney. The convict indent states that he had previously been tried and sentenced to 3 months imprisonment at the Southwell Correction Centre (located just to the north of Nottingham), and flogged. His offence being that he and a few mates stole a gander.
It is suggested that he could write, although on the indent for the 'Lloyds' he is described as not able to read nor write, having brown hair and ruddy skin, possessing a number of tattoos and identifying marks on his arms. These included:
Lower Right Arm: Mermaid, Sun, Half-Moon, Seven Stars, Woman, letters A A J A G A, M A, double Heart, 18, two Tobacco Pipes, Bottle and two Glasses.
Left Arm: Slaters Tools, two sears, double Heart pierced with two dots, letters I N B H, LOVE, S A, Anchor and several other letters or marks.
Back of left had: Mermaid
At 18 years of age he arrived in Sydney on the 18th December, 1833 aboard the barque Lloyds mastered by Edward Garrett. On arrival he was assigned to Dr John Henderson of Cooks River, Sydney, and later around 1836 went to work for Henderson’s father-in-law, ex-convict, Thomas Rose of Mt. Gilead, near Campbelltown, NSW. Thomas was one of about 14 convicts listed as being assigned to Thomas Rose when the 1837 Muster was conducted and remained in his employ when the windmill at Mt. Gilead was constructed, through to the death of Thomas Rose on 3 March, 1837.
Sometime after the death of Thomas Rose, Thomas Allsopp was reassigned to Dr. John Henderson. It was reported in the Sydney Gazette in February 1838 that he had absconded from John Henderson, only to be apprehended in October that same year. He absconded a second time and apprehended in February 1839. Thomas was granted a Certificate of Freedom in 24 April, 1840.
The following December at St Peters Cooks River he married Mary Ann Ridgely, born 12 Oct, 1825 in Parramatta NSW as Mary Ann Rudgely. They had two children, Ann (1842-1849) and William (1845-1927).
It is known that they were living on Liverpool Road, Ashfield in 1842 as it was here that Thomas was charged but not sentenced with theft from John Henderson, his former master.
A letter held by one of Thomas' grand-daughters indicates that the couple went to Brisbane in 1846 with shipping records identifying a Mary Allsopp and 2 children traveling in steerage aboard the Steamer 'William the IVth' to Moreton Bay. According to the aforementioned letter, Thomas travelled overland, alone.
Whilst in Brisbane, Mary was charged and acquitted in July 1847 of passing a counterfeit coin and Thomas was hospitalised in Moreton Bay Hospital for 2 weeks in August 1847. No record of their return to Sydney has been found however a Mr Allsop travelled left Moreton Bay for Sydney 2 days after Thomas was discharged from hospital.
By late 1848 they were back in Sydney when in November 1848 Thomas was charged with 'Breaching the Peace', a charge related to Mary Ann running off to live with the actor Gustavus Arabin, taking their two children with her. This relationship does not appear to have lasted long with Mary Ann turning to excessive drinking after their daughter Ann's accidental death in 1849. Mary Ann died in 1858 from 'disease brought on by intemperate habits' in a lane off Castlereagh St, Sydney. She died alone but her death certificate gives her husband as Thomas Allsop. No children are shown which tends to indicate that William was with Thomas in the period preceding her death.
Sometime, probably around late 1852, Thomas formed a relationship with Jane Keating. Jane had earlier that year returned to Sydney from the Sofala goldfields. Jane Keating and her husband, Joseph Barker are recorded as being in the Sofala goldfields in September-December 1851 and it possible that Jane returned to Sydney for either the birth of her 2nd son William Joseph Barker, or the illness of her father (Philip Keating). Joseph remained around Sofala, dying in 1857 at Nuggety Gully, NSW.
The relationship between Thomas and Jane is evidenced by a letter from Jane petitioning the Colonial Secretary from Thomas' release from gaol as she was destitute and had four children to support, believed to be William Henry Allsopp, Jane's first child Emily Jane Keating, and Phillip Thomas and William Joseph Barker from her marriage to Joseph Barker.
Thomas had been arrested in January 1853 and sent before the judge at Sydney Quarter Sessions in March 1853 for assaulting Mary Fitzgibbon and sentenced to 3 months imprisonment in Darlinghurst Gaol. The assault took place in George Street, Sydney, not far from where the Keating family lived.
When tried in Nottingham, England his occupation was given as Slaters Boy and the fact that slaters tools were tattooed on his lower left arm tend reinforce this, however all documents pertaining to his life in Australia between the years 1857 and 1891 show him as either a labourer, goldminers or tinplate worker. It is suggested that he learned the latter skill from Jane Keating's father, Phillip who was a wire worker.
During the period 1860 through 1864 he worked the goldfields of Sofala and Hill End.
On 22 Sept. 1891 Thomas died from bronchitis in Sydney Hospital, Sydney, NSW aged 76 years. Previously, he had been operated on for hernia, spending 2 months and 30 days in hospital, attended to by Dr. Davies.
Thomas was buried on 25 Sept. 1891 in the Church of England Section L, Rookwood Cemetery, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia. Although no details of any of his marriages or children appear on his death certificate there is considerable, although at times conflicting, information to confirm this fact.
Documentary evidence lists Thomas’s children as being:
To Mary Ridgeley:
Ann Allsopp (1842-1849)
William Henry Allsopp (1845-1927)
To Jane Keating:
Ann Elizabeth Allsopp (1854-1922)
Samuel Henry Allsopp (1857-1931)
Jane Amelia Allsopp (1860-1942)
Cussiah Jane Allsopp (1862-1946)
Elijah John Allsopp (1864-1944)
John Thomas Allsopp (1865-1956)
Various documents list ‘several deceased’ but no other detail has been discovered to date.
Image of Thomas Allsopp courtesy of Leah Clark.