Thomas Rowley (soldier)

Last updated

Captain Thomas Rowley (c.1748 – 27 May 1806) was a soldier and landholder in the convict settlement of New South Wales, Australia.



He was appointed adjutant of the New South Wales Corps in 1789 and promoted to lieutenant in 1791.

Rowley arrived at Port Jackson in 1792, he had the convict Simeon Lord assigned as servant. He was promoted to captain in 1796 and in 1799 he commenced a tour of duty on Norfolk Island. When Captain John Townson departed prematurely in November, Rowley, as the senior officer, took charge of the settlement. During his rule he ordered liquor stills to be demolished to reduce the drunkenness on the island, and this move brought threats of prosecution from the owners. He was relieved by Major Joseph Foveaux in July 1800 and returned to Sydney. He claimed that his rule was sufficiently creditable to earn the respect of the settlers and Governor King.

In 1802 he resigned his commission and became a farmer. He had received his first land grant in 1793, and accumulated land at a steady rate at Bankstown, Petersham and Burwood By 1805 he owned 519 sheep, but made no effort to breed from them. He was interested only in meat production, not wool growing.

In 1802 Rowley was given responsibility for the management of the civil and military barracks and became captain of the Sydney company of the Loyal Association, of which he became commandant in 1804. In the same month he became a magistrate.

He died of consumption on 27 May 1806, [1] leaving his property to his children and to his partner Elizabeth Selwyn, a former convict who had arrived on the Pitt in 1792. [2]


He had five children, four with Elizabeth Selwyn. [2] His eldest daughter died in 1808 aged 17. [3]

Related Research Articles

First Fleet 11 ships that left Great Britain to found the penal colony in Australia

The First Fleet comprised the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England on 13 May 1787 to New South Wales, the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The First Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports, carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 convicts, marines, seamen, civil officers and free people, and a large quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed south-west to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay (Australia), arriving over the period of 18–20 January 1788, taking 250 to 252 days from departure to final arrival. During the period 25–26 January 1788 the fleet moved from Botany Bay to present-day Sydney.

Philip Gidley King

Captain Philip Gidley King was the third Governor of New South Wales, and did much to organise the young colony in the face of great obstacles.

William Paterson (explorer) Scottish soldier and botanist in Tasmania

Colonel William Paterson, FRS was a Scottish soldier, explorer, Lieutenant Governor and botanist best known for leading early settlement at Port Dalrymple in Tasmania. In 1795, Paterson gave an order that resulted in the massacre of a number of men, women and children, members of the Bediagal tribe.

History of Australia (1788–1850) Era of Australian history

The history of Australia from 1788 to 1850 covers the early colonial period of Australia's history, from the arrival in 1788 of the First Fleet of British ships at Sydney, New South Wales, who established the penal colony, the scientific exploration of the continent and later, establishment of other Australian colonies. European colonisation created a new dominant society in Australia in place of the pre-existing population of Aboriginal Australians.

Nathaniel Lucas (1764–1818) was a convict transported to Australia on the First Fleet. His occupation was listed as carpenter.

Charles Grimes was an English surveyor who worked in colonial Australia. He served as Surveyor General of New South Wales and discovered the Yarra River in what is now the state of Victoria. During his career, he mapped the route of the Hobart Road, Tasmania's main north-south arterial route. Much of the modern Midland Highway still follows the route that he planned.

Henry Hacking (1750–1831) was a seaman and early explorer in New South Wales, Australia. He was a convicted murderer, and also responsible for shooting and killing the Aboriginal resistance fighter Pemulwuy in 1802.

<i>Sydney Gazette</i> Australian 19th century newspaper

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser was the first newspaper printed in Australia, running from 5 March 1803 until 20 October 1842. It was a semi-official publication of the government of New South Wales, authorised by Governor King and printed by George Howe. On 14 October 1824, under the editorship of Robert Howe, it ceased to be censored by the colonial government.

George Howe was a poet, printer, and editor of the first Australian newspaper, the Sydney Gazette.

Simeon Lord Australian businessman (1771 - 1840)

Simeon Lord was a pioneer merchant and a magistrate in Australia. He became a prominent trader in Sydney, buying and selling ship cargoes. Despite being an emancipist Lord was made a magistrate by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, and he became a frequent guest at government house. His business dealings were extensive. He became one of Sydney's wealthiest men. He was at various times a retailer, auctioneer, sealer, pastoralist, timber merchant and manufacturer. He is mentioned in many Australian History books, in particular regarding his status as an emancipist.

HMCS Integrity was a cutter built by the Colonial Government of New South Wales in 1804. She was the first vessel ever launched from a New South Wales dockyard and carried goods between the colony's coastal settlements of Norfolk Island, Newcastle, New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land and Port Jackson. In 1804 she took part in a series of voyages to Van Diemen's Land with the aim of founding a colony at Port Dalrymple, the site of the modern settlement of George Town, Tasmania.

<i>Britannia</i> (1783 whaler)

Britannia was a 301 burthen ton full-rigged whaler built in 1783 in Bridport, England, and owned by the whaling firm Samuel Enderby & Sons. She also performed two voyages transporting convicts to Port Jackson. She was wrecked in 1806 off the coast of New South Wales.

Charlotte Badger was a former convict who was on board the Venus during a mutiny in Tasmania in 1806. Taken to New Zealand, she was rescued by Captain Turnbull of the Indispensible, and eventually she returned to Sydney. In the intervening centuries, a number of writers have contributed to the fiction that she took an active role in the mutiny and she became known – erroneously – as Australia’s first female pirate.

Thomas Laycock

Thomas Laycock was an English soldier, explorer, and later businessman, who served in North America during the War of 1812, but is most famous for being the first European to travel overland through the interior of Tasmania.

Martin Mason was a surgeon, magistrate and commander who is notable as a pioneer settler of Australia, and also as a supporter of Captain Bligh following the 1808 Rebellion at Sydney, New South Wales.

Albion was a full-rigged whaler built at Deptford, England, and launched in 1798. She made five whaling voyages to the seas around New South Wales and New Zealand. The government chartered her in 1803 to transport stores and cattle, to Risdon Cove on the River Derwent, Tasmania.

Journals of the First Fleet

There are 20 known contemporary accounts of the First Fleet made by people sailing in the fleet, including journals and letters. The eleven ships of the fleet, carrying over 1,000 convicts, soldiers and seamen, left England on 13 May 1787 and arrived in Botany Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788 before relocating to Port Jackson to establish the first European settlement in Australia, a penal colony which became Sydney. At least 12 people on the fleet kept a journal of their experiences, some of which were later published, while others wrote letters home during the voyage or soon after their arrival in Australia. These personal accounts of the voyage were made by people including surgeons, officers, soldiers, ordinary seamen, and Captain Arthur Phillip, who commanded the expedition. Only one known account, that of James Martin, was by a transported convict. Their journals document the day-to-day experiences of those in the fleet, and record significant events including the first contact between the European settlers and the Aboriginal people of the area. In 2009, the manuscript journals were included in The Australian Memory of the World Register, a regional register associated with the UNESCO international Memory of the World programme.

Norfolk Island convict mutinies were a series of armed uprisings by convicts on the penal colony of Norfolk Island. All were unsuccessful.

Harrington was launched at Calcutta in 1796 for the Bengal Pilot Service. A French privateer captured her on 9 November 1797 at Balasore Roads. She returned to British ownership and Calcutta registry c. 1800. She undertook sealing expeditions, captured two Spanish vessels off South America, and was seized by convicts in Port Jackson, before being wrecked in March 1809.

Andrew Thompson was transported at the age of 18 to New South Wales, arriving in Sydney on 14 February 1792. He rose to become a respected Chief Constable in the Hawkesbury district, a successful farmer and businessman, and eventually the wealthiest settler in early colonial Australia. In 1810 he was the first ex-convict to be appointed as magistrate.


  1. "Family Notices". Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803–1842). 1 June 1806. p. 2. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  2. 1 2 Fletcher, B. H., "Rowley, Thomas (1747–1806)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 24 September 2020
  3. "Family Notices". Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803–1842). 30 October 1808. p. 2. Retrieved 24 September 2020.