Thomas' life
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A Summary of Thomas' life

This summary details what is known (to date) about the life of Thomas Hawkless.  

Thomas married three times and children were borne by two of his wives - Mary Ann Wraight and Eliza Sloan.  There are no known children from the 1838 marriage between Thomas and a fellow convict Hannah Knott who died in 1842, although Hannah arrived in the colony in 1834 with a female child. The fate of this child is unknown as no record has been uncovered as yet. 

For more specific information on the families of Mary Ann and Eliza, go to the individual pages - the plan is to "join all the dots" and include the combined information on the relevant pages.  

In addition to the valuable and continuing responses from several other descendants, additional resources are included below:

Article written by a Hawkless descendant, Cathy McHardy, for the Ryde Bicentenary Celebrations in 1992.  It formed part of a publication "From Bush to Suburbia - Pioneers of Ryde Volume 1".  
"Lifer Makes Good" - a chapter in a publication by John Stevens, "Faversham's Reluctant Exiles" - available for purchase through The Faversham Society - Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre, 13 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8NS  UK view the Faversham website on or email
Research undertaken on behalf of Les Greer, a descendant in New Zealand, of Assizes Records and Kent Newspapers of the 1829 period - 
Port Fairy Historical Society - book available to purchase "A Shamrock beneath the Southern Cross" written by Pamela M Marriott - This book details the early pioneering families of the Port Fairy (now St Helens) settlements during the 1800's.  A chapter on James and Mary Ann Bartlett describes their early years and many of their descendants remain in the area.

Thomas Hawkley(ss) was born on 2 March, 1799 - baptised on 7 April - in Luddenham, Kent, England to John Hawkley (1758-1813) and Elizabeth Thurston (1768 - ?).  He married Mary Ann Wraight at Preston parish church in 1819 and four children were born; Margaret 1820 at Luddenham, John 1821 at Faversham, Thomas 1823 at Davington and Mary Ann 1825 at Ospringe.

Thomas was convicted of sheep stealing and sentenced to death at the Maidstone Lent Assizes, Kent on 16 March 1829. According to the report of Thomas Hawkless' trial in the Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, he took and then killed a sheep from a flock of 44 belonging to James Foord, of Brogdale Farm. Foord's bailiff, George Richardson, said that after receiving information he went with a constable and a search warrant to Hawkless' house, where a quantity of mutton was found. Hawkless said he had bought it at the market. A Faversham butcher named Jolly gave evidence that the mutton exactly fitted a skin found in the field from which Foord's sheep had disappeared.

A commutation to transportation for life (or 14 years) to New South Wales was granted; Thomas' occupation is shown on court documents as "gardener".  Documents also describe Thomas as being able to read and write, as having a ruddy complexion, 5ft 8in tall, brown hair and grey eyes.  The surname has had many variations from Hockley, Hockeys, Hawkley, Awkley and perhaps others as well.

The 490-ton ship Layton left for Port Jackson in June 1829 - arriving on 8 November that year. Thomas was assigned to work for Colonel Charles W Wall at Prospect - on a property known as Wall Grove - a farm near Parramatta in what is now the western suburbs of Sydney.  Thomas was granted his Ticket of Leave in March 1836 by which time he had accompanied Colonel Wall to the Bathurst area. The ticket of leave was altered to the Parramatta area in September 1838.  Recent research shows that Colonel Charles Wall arrived in the colony in 1822 as Major Charles Wall of the 3rd Foot (East Kent Regiment - known as "The Buffs" - so named for the colour of the regiment's coat facings).

This is the 3rd Foot East Kent Regimental insignia

Colonel Charles Wall became Commanding Officer of the Regiment

Colonel Wall took up a grant of 2,560 acres of land in the Bathurst, NSW area - on the lower reaches of Evans Plains Creek. He named the property Winslow.

Whilst in Bathurst, Thomas applied for permission to marry a fellow convict also assigned to Colonel Wall.  Hannah Knott, a 40-year-old widow born in Lancashire arrived in New South Wales a convict aboard the Numa in 1834 - listed as a widow with a female child.  To date, we have not been successful in tracing the age or fate of this child as no mention is made in research to date.  Hannah had been working in London as a plain cook and laundry maid when she was convicted at Westminster of pledging and sentenced to seven years transportation. Like her husband-to-be she could both read and write. Her complexion was ruddy, her hair brown flecked with grey and her eyes chestnut.  The Colonial Secretary's papers contains a letter written by Colonel Wall from "Westbourne", Bathurst, supporting a request by Thomas and Hannah to marry and seeking permission from the Governor. The marriage took place on 4 April 1838 at Trinity Church, Bathurst by Reverend J K Walpole.  It appears by the ticket of leave alteration that Thomas and Hannah moved back to Sydney in late 1838.

Cathy McHardy writes in her article for the Ryde Historical Society in 1992 "In 1841, Thomas Hawkless was recorded as living in the Parish of Hunters Hill. There were four persons in the household. The house was wooden and was inhabited by three males and one female. As the census did not name individuals, one can only guess that the female member of the household was Hannah Hawkless."

Hannah Hawkless died the following year and is buried at St Anne's Church of England, Ryde on 13 March 1842 - no grave now exists.  She was listed as a 45 year old free gardener and no known children were born to Hannah and Thomas. 

Governor Gipps signed Thomas' Conditional Pardon on 1 May, 1843 and the date of certification of "Her Majesty's Gracious Approbation and Allowance of the Conditional Pardon"  was noted on 14 June 1844.

The marriage by Banns of Thomas Hawkless and Eliza Sloan(e) took place on 15 September 1843 at St Anne's Church of England, Ryde. Elizabeth Sloane was from County Armagh, Ireland and was born about 1818.  It is thought that Eliza arrived in the colony on 12 February 1842 with her parents and siblings aboard Champion, but this has not been confirmed.

Thomas and Eliza's first child was born on 17 February 1845 and at that time they were living at Field of Mars (Ryde area).  The family then travelled to the Port Fairy (Belfast) district of Victoria where their next five children were born. Amy (Eliza) was born in 1846, Robert in 1848, Thomas 1849, Annie 1851 and Charlotte 1853.

Cathy McHardy further writes "It appears that the couple then returned to Sydney because, on 3 December, 1854 a child, Maria Matilda was born and was baptised at St Anne's Church of England, Ryde on 10 June 1855. According to the Baptismal Register at St Anne's, the Hawkless family were living at Bedlam Road when their next two children Rebecca 1857, and Charles 1859, were born. The family's address was given as Gladesville when the twins Emily and Sara J were born on 23 June 1865. At this time Thomas was 65 years old and Eliza gave her age as 48 years.

"Several properties in the Ryde district were owned by Thomas Hawkless. According to his Will made in March 1874 he owned nine acres of land at Gladesville called "The Oaks" which he had purchased from Rev George Edward Turner, Rector of St Anne's Ryde. A codicil added to the will in September 1874 noted a house and land on the corner of Bateman's Road and Great North Road, Gladesville. The block was to be divided into four sections and be given to four of his children, Robert, Charlotte, Maria and Rebecca. When he died he was also the owner of two houses on the corner of Simpson Street and Church Street Ryde. One was the family home and the adjacent house was rented to a Mrs Longcroft.

"Thomas Hawkless had been a gardener all his life and his gardens and orchards are mentioned in his will. He died on 8 March 1881 and was buried at St Anne's Ryde. His grave has not been located."

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