Henry Wright, Royal Marines, Prince of Wales 1788

Henry Wright, Private, Royal Marines 51st (Plymouth) Company, Prince of Wales 1788.

Also aboard was his wife Mrs Ann Wright and their new born daughter Mary Ann. Henry and Ann were married 20 Oct 1786 Portsea, Hampshire, England. Their daughter Mary Ann Wright was baptised 19 Aug 1787 on board the Prince of Wales at Rio de Janerio, the baptism appears in St Phillips registrar as Charlicut Wright.

Henry Wright died at his residence, Park Street Sydney, on 1 Aug 1837, age 80 years. His death notice in the Sydney Herald 3 Aug 1837 stated:

Mr. Henry Wright, of the Royal Marines, who arrived in the Colony with Governor Philip’s expedition, in 1788, as one of the Convict guard, and is, it is believed, the last  of the individuals who arrived at that memorable period. Mr. Wright labored at his trade as a carpenter until a few months before his death. He was an honest and intelligent man, and would have been a valuable acquisition to the Colonial historian from the rich fund of information he claimed of the early affairs of the Colony. May he rest in peace !

Had Henry’s criminal past of child rape not been known or remembered?

Upon arrival at Sydney Cove Henry was appointed to Captain Campbell’s Company as part of the Port Jackson Garrison. On 10 Sept 1789 Henry finds himself in Court, Charged with raping an 9 year old girl, Elizabeth Chapman at Long Cove. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, he recommended by the court for mercy which was later commuted to life exile on Norfolk Island.[1]

Judge Advocate David Collins wrote:

On the 10th (Sept 1789) a criminal court of judicature was assembled for the trial of Henry Wright, a private soldier in the detachment, for a rape on a child of eight years of age; of which heinous offence being found guilty, he received sentence to die; but being recommended by the court to the governor, his excellency was pleased to pardon him, on condition of his residing, during the term of his natural life, at Norfolk Island. This was an offence that did not seem to require an immediate example; the chastity of the female part of the settlement had never been so rigid, as to drive men to so desperate an act; and it was believed, that beside the wretch in question there was not in the colony a man of any description who would have attempted it.[2]

Henry Wright was transported to Norfolk Island aboard HM Supply in Nov 1789, arrived on 3 Dec 1789. On 18 Jun 1791, Ralph Clark on Norfolk Island recorded that he punished Henry Wright by:

making him Run the Gantlet throu all the men and women in her (sic) for attempting to deflour Elizt. Gregory a Girl of about ten Years of Age  He was about two Years ago tried at Port Jackson for his life for the Same offence and Sentence to Suffer death but his Sentence was changed from Death to Transportation for Life to this Island. He is to undergo the Same punishment at Port Jackson (sic) when his Back is well.[3]

On 2 Aug 1791 Henry was made to undergo this same punishment at Queenborough on Norfolk Island. Henry Wright is listed as receiving rations on Norfolk Island till 1795.[4]

Whilst still living on Norfolk Island Henry received his Colonial Pardon on 17 October 1795. [5]  Henry Wright worked as a member of the boat crew for the unloading of ships arriving at Norfolk Island such as for HMS Reliance in Feb 1796.

Among the letters bought sent to Sydney via the Union in Mar 1804 was a report of once again Henry Wright committing another sexual crime:

Hen. Wright was shortly since convicted   of a violent assault upon an infant, and it being his third heinous offence received a severe corporal punishment and a sentence of three years hard labour for the Crown, during the whole term to be exposed in the stocks for the space of two hours upon every Saturday. Such is the nature of the crime, that the miscreant is precluded from every hope of commiseration, and lives the objects of reproach and scorn.[6]

Yet in Jul 1804, on Norfolk Island, Henry is recorded in the Jul 1804 Victualling Book as a free Man from sentence expired.

Feb 1805: Sentence Expired on the Stores, employed as a servant.
January and July 1805 – 1806 – 1807 Victualling Book: Free Man from sentence expired, on stores

Henry left Norfolk Island on the maiden voyage of the Island built schooner Endeavour, captain by Arron Davis, departing the Island 19 Nov 1808, arriving at Sydney Cove 29 Dec 1808. Now back in Sydney, Henry Wright formed a relationship from about early 1809 with Mary Daily, convict, Speke 1808.

But what of Henry’s wife Ann and their daughter Mary Ann who were left behind at Sydney Cove, when he was transported to Norfolk Island In Nov 1798. Ann had a relationship with Marine Charles Brixey, born c1758, Royal Marines 54th (Plymouth) Company, Charlotte 1788. Charles worked as a carpenter supervising the colonies shingle makers from Sept 1788 to December 1789. Ann gave birth to a son from this relationship, William Brixley, baptised 18 Dec 1790, St Phillips Sydney, son of Charles Brixey (sic), Marine and Ann Wright. Charles Brixley returned to England aboard HMS Gorgon in Dec 1791, also travelling with him was Mrs. Ann Wright and her two children Mary Ann Wright and William Brixley.

The 1811 NSW General Muster records Henry Wright as Arrived per Prince of Wales, Status: Convict; Occupation/Residence NSW, Colonial Sentence: NSW, Life.

Children of Henry Wright and Mary Daily:

  1. Henry Wright, born 10 March 1810 Sydney, baptised 29 April 1810 St Philips Sydney as son of Henry Wright and Mary Daily, with the notation of baptisms of illegitimate children. Henry Wright died March 1812, aged 2 years, buried 29 March 1812 Old Sydney Burial Ground.
  2. Ann Wright, born 14 February 1812 Sydney, baptised 17 May 1812 St Philips Sydney as daughter of Henry Wright and Mary Daily.

Mary Daily has left Henry by October 1814, taking with her their children. Henry and Ann with her as she was recorded as Mary Daley, Convict, Speke, off stores with two children, living with J. White.

October 1814 Henry Wright: per Prince of Wales, Free, Carpenter, Mustered at Windsor, off Stores.

Sometime after 1819 Henry cohabited with Mary Parson nee Swain Convict, Pitt 1792. No marriage record for Henry Wright and Mary Parson nee Swain has been located. However Mary was commonly known as Mrs Mary Wright.

Sept 1825 Henry Wright: 7 years, arrived per Prince of Wales 1788, Free by Servitude, Residence: Sydney, employed by Captain Piper.

Nov 1828 Henry Wright: Age: 70, Protestant, Arrived per Prince of Wales 1788, Came Free; Carpenter; Householder: Henry Wright; Residence: Park St Sydney. Household Return district: Sydney. Also in the same household was Henry’s defacto Mary Parson nee Swain recorded as Mary Wright. Nov 1828: Mary Wright (sic), Age: 56, Protestant, 1791, 7 years, Free by Servitude; Householder: Henry Wright; Residence: Park St Sydney. Household Return district: Sydney.

Oct 1829, a Mary Parsons, of Clarence Street Sydney was a witness of marriage to Joseph Mitchell and Catherine Grant, St Phillips Church Sydney. This may be Mary Parsons nee Swain even though she was also going by the name of Mary Wright by this time. Her daughter Mary Parsons married James Curtis in 1828.

October 1834, “Henry Wright and Mary, his wife of Park Street Sydney” received a land grant of an allotment in Clarence Street, Sydney.[7]

Henry common law wife (no marriage record found) Mary Wright died 18 March 1839 in Sydney; her death notice appeared in The Australian, 19 March 1839:

On the 18th instant, at her daughter’s (Mrs Curtis, of Hunter-street), Mrs Mary Wright, aged sixty-nine years, formerly widow of the respected Barrack Sergeant (Parsons), who was followed to his grave by Colonel Erskine, and the Officers of the 48th Regiment, and an old inhabitant of the Colony and much respected.

[1] Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Minutes of Proceedings, 1788 to 1794, SRNSW, 5/1147A. See transcript of court hearing at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/NSWSupC/1789/4.html

[2] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1.

[3] Ralph Clark, The Journal and Letters of Lt. Ralph Clark 1787-1792.

[4] Norfolk Island Victualling Book, 1792-1796, SRNSW Reel 2747 and ML A1958.

[5] Registers of Colonial Pardons, 1 Mar 1788 – 29 Jul 1867, SRNSW 4/4493, Reel 771, pp. 10 – 11 with a sentence date of 16 September 1788 (sic).

[6] Sydney Gazette, 25 March 1804, p, 2.

[7] Sydney Gazette, 15 October 1834, p. 4.

Cite this article as: Cathy Dunn, 'Henry Wright, Royal Marines, Prince of Wales 1788', Australian History Research, http://www.australianhistoryresearch.info/henry-wright-royal-marines-prince-of-wales-1788/, accessed [insert current date]
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