John Thomas Allsopp

John Thomas Allsopp [1815 - 1891]

Thomas Allsopp (aka John Thomas Allsopp) was born c.1815 in Derbyshire, England.His year of birth is reasonably certain as it is recorded that he was 18 years of age on arrival in Sydney in 1833 and that he had 18 tattooed on his lower right arm which was probably applied during the voyage to NSW. His birth year is also reflected in the fact that he was 76 years of age at death in 1891.

His actual birthplace however still 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 childrens 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 variey 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 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 the indent for the 'Lloyd' states otherewise where he is described as not able to read nor write, had brown hair and ruddy skin, possessed 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 around 1836 went to work for Hendersons father-in-law, ex convict, Thomas Rose of Mt. Gilead, near Campbelltown, NSW. Thomas was the only convict assigned to Thomas Rose in 1837 when the 1837 Muster was conducted and was in his employ when the Mt. Gilead Windmill was constructed.

Sometime after the death of Thomas Rose (3 March, 1837), 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 also 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 hem married Mary Ann Ridgely (b. 12 Oct 1825 at Parramatta NSW as Mary Ann Rudgley). They had two children,  Ann (1842-1849) and William (1845-1927). Thomas and Mary Ann were living in Ashfield in 1842 when he was charged but not sentenced with theft from John Henderson.

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'. According to the aforementioned letter, Thomas traveled overland alone.

While in Brisbane, Mary was charged and acquitted of passing a counterfeit coin in July 1847 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' brought about by Mary Ann running off to live with the actor Gustavus Arabin, taking their 2 children with her. This relationship appears not to have lasted long as after their daughter Ann's accidental death in 1849, Mary Ann turn to excessive drinkind, dying in 1858 from 'disease brought on by intemperate habits'. She died in an alley off Castlereagh St, Sydney. Her death certificate states her husband as Thomas Allsop but no children are mentioned, which indicates that Wiiliam was with Thomas after Ann's death.

Thomas was again before the judge at Sydney Quarter Sessions in March 1853 for assaulting Mary Fitzgibbon and sentenced to 3 months gaol in Darlinghurst. This event took place in George Street, Sydney, not far from where the Keating family lived.

It is believed that Thomas took up with Jane Keating in 1853 during this period  given the birth date of Thomas and Jane's first child, Anne Elizabeth.

The second theory, although unsupported or proved, is that Thomas changed his name to Joseph Barker to disguise his past so as to marry Jane Keating, a free settler, in 1843; only to change it back to Allsopp several year later after a amnesty was afforded to convicts. According to convict experts with SAG there has NEVER been a amnesty afforded to convicts in Australia. If so,  this theory would place all children born to Jane Keating where Joseph Barker was stated to be the father were in fact fathered by Thomas. Jane Keating and Joseph Barker are recorded as being in the Sofala goldfields in  1851 and it is more likely that Jane returned to sydney with the death of her father and Joseph remained around Sofala, dying in 1857.

When tried in Nottingham, England his occupation was given as Slaters Boy and the slaters tools tattooed on his lowever left arm reinforce this, yet as this skill was not required in NSW. 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 on 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:

Ann Allsopp (1842- est 1847)
William Henry Allsopp (1845-1927)
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 also record ‘several deceased’ but no other detail has been discovered to date.

Image of Thomas Allsopp courtesy of Leah Clark.

Jane Adelaide Keating [1825 - 1895]


Southwell House of Corrrection (facade)

Plaque on House of Correction Wall

Nottingham County Gaol
Cells, Nottingham Shire Hall
Exercise Yard, Nottingham Shire Hall