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Details for the convict Thomas (the younger) Rawlings (1832)

Convict Name:Thomas (the younger) Rawlings
Trial Place:Huntingdon Assizes
Trial Date:7 March 1832
Sentence:14 years
Arrival Details
Ship:Parmelia (1)
Arrival Year:1832
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Researchers who have claimed this convict

There is currently one researcher who has claimed Thomas (the younger) Rawlings

  • Researcher (Roberta Muir)
Claimed convict


Thomas Rawlings was born in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire on 28 Apr 1811 and was baptized there a month later in St Peter & St Paul’s Anglican Church on the High Street. He was one of 9 children born to Thomas Rawlings (The Elder) and his wife Elizabeth Crofts. His 6 older siblings were Hannah, Mary, William, John, Alice and James, with brothers Richard and David being born after him.

Thomas worked as a waterman, ferrying passengers across the rivers that drained the marshy fens on which Chatteris is located. In July 1831, banns were read in the parish church for his marriage to Ann Watson, although it seems the couple may not have made it up the aisle as no record of the actual marriage has been found and his convict records list him as single. Perhaps this was due to his arrest, as in March 1832 he was tried at the Huntingdon assizes for stealing a horse from his master. Despite having no prior convictions, he was sentenced to death, which was commuted to transportation for 14 years. Four months later he departed aboard the “Parmelia” with 195 other male convicts, arriving in Sydney on 16th November 1832, after a 4 month journey.

Thomas was described as being 5 feet 2½ inches tall (159cm), with a sallow, freckled complexion, black hair and brown eyes. He had scars on the lower inside of both arms and a large round scar on his breast, possibly from injuries incurred working as a waterman. Like many convicts, he had distinctive tattoos; tattooing each other (using pins, charcoal, ink and gunpowder) was a way to pass the time as the men sat day after day crammed into the tight quarters of the convict ships. Thomas had his initials ‘TR’ tattooed on his right arm and a sun, halfmoon, anchor, large star, square & compass and a level on his left arm, as well as a star on the back of his left hand and a blue ring on his left ring finger (perhaps in memory of Ann Watson).

In 1839, 7 years after arriving in Australia, Thomas was granted a ticket of leave. This was the first step towards his freedom and meant he could work for an employer rather than being assigned as convict labour, lease land and move freely within the district of Windsor, where it was issued. That year he married Mary Ebbs in Richmond (near Windsor) and was also granted a passport to travel with his employer’s bullock team between Windsor and Sydney. Unfortunately in 1841 he was convicted of stealing a piece of silk valued at £10 and his ticket was revoked.

By 1844, when his ticket of leave was reissued, he was living in Queanbeyan, and in December 1850, a few months before his 40th birthday, he married Irish immigrant and widow, Mary Ann Parker at the Anglican Christ Church Maneroo near Cooma. Mary Ann had 4 children to her late husband and she and Thomas had 7 more: Elizabeth "Betsy" (who married Joseph Matthew Oldfield), Anne, Thomas, Richard, Mary Ann (who married John Sheehy and was the common-law wife of Peter Thurbon), Robert, and William.

Thomas worked as a labourer, shepherd, and horse driver to support his family, several of whom went on to marry into other significant pioneering families of the region. Cooma being a small community, the newspaper reported everything that happened, so we know that over the years Thomas had a stolen horse returned, was sentenced to 6 months hard labour for using obscene language in a public street (reduced to 3 months in lieu of a £5 fine) and had a run-in with a neighbour who charged him extortionately for housing his horses in a paddock overnight after Thomas had transported some shearers to his property.

Thomas died on 20th April 1864, just 52 years old, and is buried in Cooma Cemetery. Mary Ann was left with a large young family to raise and remarried 2 years later.
Submitted by Researcher (Roberta Muir) on 31 December 2019

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  • The National Archives (TNA) : HO 11/8, p.375

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