|Sailing Ship Kitty, 235 tons, in the Mersey off Liverpool, 1808, |
Oil Painting by Robert Salmon
- Five were very helpful with their responses.
- One said ‘Little is known about XXX and what there is was researched by YYY and which is only available to proven descendants’.
- Another said ‘Sorry I don’t share family information regarding our research for other researchers to put into books etc. Especially since the cost of certificates and the such are prohibitive. We are (the family) doing our own book’.
From my notes I structured a book draft, 111 pages long. But the book about the Kitty did not have a high priority. Other books were ahead in my personal queue and three of those stories have since been published. Meanwhile, someone else has published a book covering the voyage of the Kitty. Unhappy Exiles: Convicts of the Pitt & Kitty 1792, by Marion Starr. I hasten to say she was not one of the people mentioned above.
Just as the male convicts during their long months at sea aboard transport vessels sometimes ‘bonded’ or made ‘enemies’, so did the women. I'd already worked out many new angles on three or four of the Kitty women through the links between two couples, Paul Bushell and his wife Jane Sharp and Robert Forrester and his wife Isabella (Bella) Ramsay (who was not a Kitty passenger). Among the low number of women living at the Hawkesbury before 1800, Jane and Bella were part of a female friendship group among the Kitty transportees.
The Forresters moved to the Hawkesbury in 1794 and Robert’s former colleague on the night watch, Paul Bushell, moved there around 1798. Paul had recently married Jane Sharp, who was much the same age as Bella. Despite her life sentence, Jane was obviously a model prisoner and she was recommended by Captain Collins for a conditional pardon before he departed the colony in September 1796. Already at the Hawkesbury from around 1795 was another Kitty shipmate of Jane’s, Elizabeth Chambers, the wife of the Forrester’s neighbour Private Henry Lamb. This set the scene for all three pioneering English women, Jane, Elizabeth and Bella, to help each other at the frontier of settlement. Childless Jane later raised Bella’s youngest child.
Soon Irish convict Sarah Dailey, who also bore a daughter by a man on the Kitty, was living on Wilberforce Reach with William Douglas. Another shipmate, Elizabeth Clough, lived at Richmond with James Nugent.
By 1803 another member of the Kitty cohort of women, and a particular friend of Jane Sharp, was living close to the Forresters. This was Charlotte Stroud, caring for her daughter fathered by the Kitty’s captain. She’d created a new family with Sergeant George Loder, the assistant store keeper at Windsor. Robert already knew Loder well, as they’d been on Norfolk Island together. The ship returning them both to Sydney in March 1793 was the Kitty!
My draft of a book about the Kitty has been scrapped. But references to the Kitty will make frequent appearances in my forthcoming book Sentenced to Debt: Robert Forrester, First Fleeter.