The Swinfield, Hough and Henderson Linkages
to the Chesterman and Clark Families
by Bob Chesterman & Ann Chesterman Jeffries
Recent discovery of convict associations and the details of historic events in the early and mid 1800s have cast a new light on part of our family history. The stigma associated with a convict past is probably the main reason for omission. The presence of a convict background, although a definite plus in terms of today’s family research, was for some eighty years a history to be denied. There is no written or anecdotal family reference to the fact that Amelia Swinfield had a convict background. It is likely that Amelia kept her background very much to herself through the 1870s until her death. Other family members were probably unaware of this as well.
The earliest internment in the Chesterman family vault at Cornelian Bay Cemetery in Hobart
is that of Amelia Henderson (nee Swinfield). The
date of her death is listed as Sept 4 1896, she was aged 77. Amelia
was the paternal aunt of Henry Chesterman’s wife Mary, and her
sister Mary Ann Clark - the wife of Moses John Clark. Both of these
women are the great grandmothers of one of the authors Bob (R B
Chesterman) – obviously on different sides of the family. Amelia,
(Aunt Henderson) was very highly regarded by the family for her
character and the fact that she arranged to bring her nieces to
Hobart from Sydney. At this time in her life she was Mrs Amelia
Hough. This transfer occurred following the death of the girl’s
mother Mary Ann and a younger sibling William aged 3, at the Sydney
quarantine station after a harrowing voyage out from England in
1852/3, and is likely to have been precipitated by the subsequent
remarriage of their father John Swinfield sen. Amelia assumed the
role of kindly guardian aunt to the three girls and cared for them
along with her son Belmont Francis Hough.
|Grave of Amelia (Millecent) Henderson |
(nee Swinfield) (1818-1896)
Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania
The Convict Background
Amelia Swinfield was baptised on the 28 June 1818 as Millecent, the daughter of Thomas Swinfield (b 1781) and Elizabeth Hackett (b 1779), at Wolvey, Warwickshire, England. She was well educated by the standards of the time, being able to read and write, and trained as housemaid and needlewoman. This was probably related to the educational standards of her mother Elizabeth, who in the 1851 England census was listed as a school headmistress. After marrying 23 year old William Hough on 19th August 1839, Amelia gave birth to a son Thomas. This child was born to Amelia and William in January 1840, but died 29 May 1840,(at 6 months) of consumption at Atherstone.
In 1843 Amelia was convicted, along with Thomas Simpson of theft, for stealing cloth from a boat. As this was a second offence of theft, she had served a six month sentence previously, she was sentenced to 14 years (Life) incarceration. From her convict records Amelia apparently had a six month de facto relationship with a William Simpson following William Hough’s conviction. Amelia, along with some 200 other female convicts, was transported on the vessel Woodbridge, arriving in Van Dieman’s Land on the 25 Dec 1843. The fact that she was literate and could handle needle and thread helped no doubt with her assignment to the household of Sir John Eardly-Wilmot, Lt Governor of Van Dieman’s land (he served in Hobart Town from August 1843 until October 1846). During this time she kept in touch by letter with her parents back in England and, at her request, they wrote to the authorities requesting a pardon, so that she could accompany the Wilmot household to Sydney. The pardon application was unsuccessful as it was only a couple of years into her sentence. (Refer to Attachment 1).
Amelia was apparently very much liked and appreciated for her character. The front page of a book held by Vicki Cowles has the following inscription on the front page “Amelia Hough - A token of esteem from Mrs Hopkins April 2 1847”. At this stage Amelia was still a convict. Maybe Amelia worked as a servant in the Hopkins household prior to gaining her pardon. After serving eight years and one month, and exhibiting good behaviour, Amelia gained a Ticket of Leave pardon (in 1849), and was able join her now free husband William. Her complete pardon is dated on the 9 August 1852. Her convict records indicate that Amelia was 5’ 1” tall, fair complexion, light blue eyes with a mole on her left arm.
On the 29 June 1851 the birth of Belmont Francis Hough was recorded in Hobart, Tasmania - - (Belmont) Francis Hough to Amelia and William Hough.
Henry Chesterman at the age of 23 arrived in Victoria from Chippenham, England in the John Chalmers in November 1852 and spent three years at the goldfields prior to settling in the township of Franklin on the Huon River, Van Dieman’s Land, where he acquired a partnership in the Kent Hotel. At 19 years of age Mary Swinfield married Henry Chesterman on the 13th of October 1857 with William Hough as a witness; and in November 1859 Amelia’s younger sister Jane Swinfield married John Stanton with Amelia as witness.
|John Swinfield senior |
Amelia’s brother John Swinfield sen., along with his wife Mary Ann, and a family of three girls and two of their sons, John and William, (the eldest son Edward remained at home), sailed from England in the vessel Beejapore arriving in Sydney on 11th February 1853. The vessel was a clipper ship of 1600 tons with 960 passengers, 53 died on the voyage out, and a further 60 or more died at the Sydney Quarantine Station including Mary Ann and William. The daughters Mary (15) Caroline (13) and Mary Ann (7) along with John (17) and their father survived and settled in Redfern, Sydney. John sen. set up shop as a jeweller, and in 1856 married widow Eliza Hartley who already had three children from her previous marriage.
|Belmont Francis Hough |
with Caroline and Mary Ann Swinfield
About 1856 Amelia arranged for the transfer by Capt. Robert Henderson of her three nieces Mary, Caroline and Mary Ann from Sydney to Hobart to live with her and William. This undoubtedly removed a lot of pressure from John sen. and his newly acquired wife; and the girls would have been useful in assisting at the White Hart Inn, along with their cousin Belmont Francis Hough. It is not clear as to whether John Swinfield jun. accompanied his sisters on the journey south; however in 1860 he is recorded as assisting Henry and his wife Mary at the Kent Hotel Franklin.
In August 1854 William Hough applied for the license of the White Hart Inn situated on the corner of Elizabeth St and Bathurst St in Hobart Town. The application – along with many others - was refused. However, the following year his application was approved, and along with Amelia he operated the Inn up until William’s death at the age of 38 on the 25th November 1857. The license was then transferred to Amelia in her own right on the 2nd of December 1857 and she retained it until about 1860.
|Capt Robert & Amelia Henderson|
Some two years after the death of William Hough Amelia married Swedish born Captain Robert Henderson on the 3rd of December 1860. The couple sold off the licence of the White Hart Inn and lived in a house in Cross St, Battery Point. Capt. Henderson continued with his sailing activities both as officer and as captain on various interstate and overseas vessels. He introduced his stepson Belmont Hough to the seafaring life. Robert Henderson died on the 8th July 1868 at the age of 45 from heart disease and oedema. Amelia at the age of 50 was a widow for the second time in twelve years.
Later that year twenty two year old Mary Ann Swinfield married Moses John Clark (1846 -1921) on the 12th September 1868 at St Georges Church Franklin, close to where both the Clark family and Mary and Henry Chesterman resided.
Amelia Henderson continued living in Cross St Battery Point, the home originally purchased by husband Robert. However, in 1891 with the collapse of the Van Dieman’s Land Bank, Amelia lost all of her assets and was effectively destitute. She lived the remainder of her life with Mary and Henry Chesterman at ‘Henriville’ in Hobart until her death September 4 1896. The front cover page shows a photo of the Chesterman family vault at the Cornelian Bay Cemetery where Amelia and many of the Chesterman family are interred. Mary Ann Clark is buried at the Nubeena cemetery on Tasman’s Peninsular. Frank Hough and family are buried in Sydney.
|Mary Swinfield (19)||Henry Chesterman||13 October 1857||St Davids Cathedral Hobart|
|Caroline Swinfield (18)||James Alfred Mitchelson||2 August 1859||St Johns Church Hobart|
|John Swinfield (31)||Sophia Walton||3 August 1867||
St Georges ChurchBattery Point Hobart
|Mary Ann Swinfield (22)||Moses John Clark||12 September 1868||St Georges Church Franklin|
Marriage Table of the Tasmanian Settled Children of John and Mary Ann Swinfield
|John Clark father of Moses and Aaron||Not known||Pre 1837||Not known|
|William Hough||Leyton||1841||Hobart Town|
|Amelia Hough||Woodridge||1843||Hobart Town|
|William Swinfield||Walmer Castle||1848||Sydney|
|Henry Chesterman||John Chalmers||1852||Hobson’s Bay Victoria|
|John Swinfield and family||Beejapore||1853||Sydney|
|Amelia Matilda Chesterman||Medway||1854||Melbourne|
|Robert Henderson||Astoria||19 June 1854||Newfoundland to Sydney|
|Jane Swinfield||Cadet 2, Emma||1855 6 Feb 1855||Cadet 2 to Sydney. Emma Sydney to Hobart|
Summary of Clark, Hough, Swinfield, Chesterman and Henderson Family
Australian Arrival Data
It is probable Capt Robert Henderson introduced his stepson to the seafaring life. On the 25th April 1865 Belmont Francis (Frank) Hough is listed as a 14 year old seaman/boy on board the schooner Malcom with Capt Henderson as Master. A poignant poem written on the 31 December 1867 by Frank, referring to his caring mother Amelia, is glued on the inside of his camphor wood sea chest is reproduced below. The sea chest is now with the family in Hobart. (See Attachment 2.)
NEW YEAR’S DAY SCHOONER "MALCOLM"
31 December 1867
Thoughts of home are creeping o'er me
Of my friends so far away
And a vision comes before me
In thought I am at home today
Out upon the trackless ocean
Headwinds keeping me from rest
But my mind is now in motion
As I lie upon my chest
This time last year I was there
Happy as a boy could be
With my mother's gentle care
But I now am out at sea
God I thank thee for thy goodness
In keeping me another year
For all the mercies thou hast shown us
Help me thee to love and fear.
B F Hough
Passenger arrivals lists for the 23 November 1870 reveal Frank Hough at the age of 19 as arriving in Melbourne on board the Talisman of 460 tons from Batavia. This vessel was involved with the rescue of the crew of the Countess of Seafield that ran aground on Bramble Cay, a reef at the eastern end of Torres Strait, on the 23 June 1870. The fact that Frank Hough is listed as a passenger would indicate that he was a member of the rescued crew.
Shortly after returning on the 4 June 1881 to Sydney from San Francisco in the vessel Zealandia, Frank Hough married on the 24th of the same month. A daughter was born on the 29th March 1882, and a son on the 26th Jan 1885. Both children were baptised Anglican at St Davids, Surry Hills, Sydney. Following his marriage Frank Hough lived and worked in Sydney as a ’special agent Australian Widows Fund’. In January 1887 his wife died of typhoid fever, and on the 11th December of the same year Frank Hough died ‘very suddenly’ at 36 years of age. On 1st January 1888 their daughter aged 5 died and on the 7th October that year their son aged 3 years died.
Special thanks is due to the members of the Hood family; Vicki Cowles, Toni Hood, also my cousin Ruth Cuff for the opportunity to copy some of their images, access letters and postcards and for their additional insight and assistance with recognition of individual photos family members. Also for the input and enthusiasm of Ann Jeffries in New Zealand, who has given time and insight over several years on a wide range of family tree matters. Her review of drafts has helped to minimise the errors within the text. Whilst every attempt has been made to authenticate the identity of the individuals within the photos, in many cases names were not recorded in the albums. This made rigorous identification very difficult.
Attachment 1 Letter from Amelia and Amelia’s Parents 1845/46
Information from Female Convicts Research Centre Inc.
Amelia Hough A letter written to her parents.
Letters written by convict women were rare and rarely survived, but a letter written by Amelia Hough to her parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Swinfield of Camp Hill Cottage, Near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, does, at least in part. The text of Amelia’s letter is recorded in a petition* written by her parents in 1846 requesting a pardon on behalf of their daughter and permission for her to leave Van Diemen’s Land with Governor Wilmot, for whom she worked as a domestic servant. It reads (the identity of Miss Loftus is unknown):
My dear Father and Mother, Miss Loftis having informed His Excellency that I had received a letter from you her very kindly asked me if my friends were all well, I thanked him for his enquiries at the same time asked His Excellency if he could please to read the letter which her did, and when her came to that part where you expressed a hope of my pardon, he sent for me into the drawing room, and told me that he would most willingly do it if it laid within his power but it did not altogether, he told me that when I wrote to you again that, if you would intercede for me to the Government at home. My Lord Stanley would then send out to him (Sir E Willmot) and he would then do all that possibly lay in his power for me as Sir Willmott does not expect to stay more than 18 months in Hobart Town expecting to go to Sydney as Governor. I shall [illegible ] to leave the family having experienced so much kindness from them but I cannot go unless I have my liberty. I have (by the time you receive this letter) been in His Excellency’s service two years and I hope I shall never forget their kindness.
We hear many stories of female convicts rebelling against being assigned as domestic servants, behaving badly, getting drunk and being absent without leave and so on; but this letter give a picture of a female convict who is happy and co-operative, appreciates the kindness she receives from her employers and sounds like a model servant. Amelia Swinfield and William Hough, a brickmaker, were married at Newton Regis in Warwickshire in August 1839. In 1840 a son, Thomas, was born to them – but also in that year in 1840, William, aged 24, was sentenced to transportation for housebreaking. He left his wife with his father. Whether Amelia committed a crime in the hope of joining him we shall never know, but in 1843 Amelia was living with William Simpson. She and Thomas Simpson were charged with stealing cloth from a boat, and Amelia was sentenced to fourteen years’ transportation. She arrived in Hobart in 1843.
Amelia’s pardon did not arrive. It was very soon to apply for it; Amelia was only a few years into her fourteen-year sentence, and pardons were not given so early. She was a well-behaved convict throughout, not only at government house; she committed no offences and gained her ticket of leave in 1850, and her conditional pardon in 1852.
Meanwhile, Amelia had met her husband William Hough. A son, Francis, was born to them in 1851 whilst they were living in Hobart. William Hough was at that stage a brickmaker, though his occupation would soon change to publican. What became of their older son Thomas is unknown.
In 1854, William Hough became the licensee of the White Hart in Elizabeth Street, Hobart. He died at the hotel in November 1857 and Amelia assumed the licence. In 1860, she married Swedish-born Robert Henderson, captain of the Hargraves, a brigantine that sailed between Hobart Town and Sydney. Henderson died at his home in Cross Street, Battery Point, aged 45, in 1868.
Amelia Millicent Henderson remained in Battery Point. She died at 78 Montpelier Street in September 1896.
Researched and written by Alison Alexander, Colette McAlpine and Keith Searson