Ship wreck sirius 1790

Thomas Eccles and Elizabeth Bird convicts of the First Fleet

Thomas ECCLES, Convict, Scarborough 1788.
Crime: Steal 1 Flitch of bacon & 2.5lb. of bread.
Tried: Guildford 22 July 1782.
Sentence: Death commuted to 7 years transportation.

In October 1788 Thomas was charged with being in liquor and taking vegetables from a garden. He was found guilty and sent to work in the Brickfields.

Thomas arrived on Norfolk Island aboard HM Supply in March 1789. On Norfolk Island Thomas formed a relationship with Elizabeth BIRD alias Winifred BIRD, Convict, Lady Penrhyn 1788. Elizabeth Bird arrived on on Norfolk Island aboard HMS Sirius in March 1790

They were one of nearly 100 couples who married in November 1791, no marriage records were kept or survived. 

In December 1791 Thomas Eccles was appointed by King as one of night watchmen stationed from the stump of a tree by Captain Paterson’s garden to the Governor’s garden, with particular attentive in visiting the barn yard, which they must do twice during their watch.[1]

In June 1794 Elizabeth Bird was recorded as a convict, married with no children, off stores supported by convict, Thomas Eccles.[2]

Thomas Eccles received a 10 acre land grant on 20 October 1796, being Lot 106, today located near the junction of Country Road and Taylor Road Norfolk Island. Thomas received an Absolute Pardon in December 1796.

Thomas and Elizabeth returned to Sydney aboard HMS Porpoise in March 1801 and established themselves on a small farm at Parramatta.

Thomas Eccles headstone 1814

Thomas died 2 April 1814 Parramatta, with a recorded age of 98 years, buried St Johns Parramatta. His headstone today stands at St Johns Cemetery Parramatta, Section 2, Row P Plot 8, featuring a First Fleet Fellowship plaque.

Thomas Eccles headstone at St Johns Cemetery Parramatta, photo courtesy of Brett Miller and Leonie Bedford.

Elizabeth then worked at “the dairy – Ranger’s Cottage” Parramatta and known as Betty Recles. Elizabeth Eccles died 25 July 1835 Governor’s Dairy, Parramatta, she was buried 27 July 1835 St Johns Cemetery Parramatta. Her death notice appeared in The Colonist, 6 August 1835:

Died at the Governor’s Dairy, Parramatta, on the 25th inst. Elizabeth Eccles, aged 105 years. She arrived in the first fleet at the age of fifty seven, and has resided ever since in Parramatta excepting the time of her going to England to see the Prince Regent, who settled upon her a small pension for life. She was born on the 18th of September 1730, at Stratford-on-Avon, her maiden name was Bird; her conduct was honest and upright, and obtained the favour of all the Governors. She possessed her mental faculties till the last, and died respected by her numerous acquaintance. She was buried on last Monday week at the expense of Governor Bourke, and her funeral was attended by His Excellency’s servants and many of the old inhabitants of Parramatta.

[1] Norfolk Island General Order, December 1791, HRNSW, Series 1, Vol. 1, Part 2, pp. 578 – 580.

[2] Women off the Stores 16 June 1794 Norfolk Island, AJCP PRO CO/201/10, pp. 199 – 200.

Supply March 1789 to Norfolk IslandArticle written by historian Cathy Dunn of Australian History Research

Cite this article as: Cathy Dunn, 'Thomas Eccles and Elizabeth Bird convicts of the First Fleet', Australian History Research,, accessed [insert current date]
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