Discovery of a Convict – Rowland Allsop – Part 3

Where Rowland and Jane first met is a mystery to this day.  We know that at the time of Rowland’s Certificate of Freedom he was still in the Goulburn area so the assumption is that Jane had been assigned to that area as well, although that is not known for sure.  As one of the conditions of a Ticket of Leave or Ticket of Leave Passport was to attend church services so perhaps the couple met at a church gathering.  Maybe they met when Rowland accompanied Captain Campbell into town for supplies, or whilst on a visit to another land owner. What we do know is that by June of 1848 Rowland and Jane were expecting their first child. Under the laws of the new Colony a convict was free to marry if he had served his sentence and/or been away from their homeland for seven years of more.  As we know Rowland was married with two children, but Jane had also married in about 1833 in Ireland and that marriage had produced a daughter, Margaret –  born in 1834.  Having both served their sentence they still chose not to marry, but simply move to Dapto and begin living as man and pregnant wife.  Much time and effort has been spent on researching the marriage of Rowland to Jane, but the simple truth is that it appears they never did marry. The trip from Goulburn to Dapto is around 450 kilometres but this time they would have sat on a horse drawn cart and headed out on the journey as free people.  In 1848 Dapto was a wheat farming district so presumably Rowland found work as a farm hand.  It’s interesting to note that wheat production in the Dapto area failed miserably and within a short number of years was replaced with other industries. Rowland and Jane’s first child, a son they named Michael, was born on 25 March 1849 at Five Islands, which is a group of islands  between 1/2 and 3 1/2 kilometres off the coast.  These islands were originally farmed however due to over farming they have now been turned into a nature reserve.  Presumably Rowland was working on one of the Five Islands as a farm labourer at the time of Michaels birth.  Their son was baptised in Dapto on Sunday 18 November 1849.  Interestingly, it is on Michael’s baptism certificate that Rowland changes the spelling of his name to Roland, dropping the “w”.

Five Islands, birthplace of Rowland's first Australian Child - Michael
Five Islands, birthplace of Rowland’s first Australian Child – Michael

Over the next few years as the area struggled to produce wheat of a decent quality, and crop after crop failed, Rowland decided that the small family should move north.  Rowland, Jane and their son had made it to Maitland by late 1851 or early 1852 as the couple’s next son, Robert Roland, was born in West Maitland on 13 March 1852.  The family spent the next few years in the Maitland and Singleton areas where farming provided good work opportunities for Rowland. It is not known when Rowland first fell sick but an assumption of around 1855 – 1857 could be made.  He would have experienced breathlessness upon exertion, wheezing and coughing and fatigue as he grew sicker.  Unfortunately we can now never know exactly when he was admitted the Sydney Infirmary, but it is safe to think that by his admission he would have been quite ill.  Just six years after his second son’s birth Rowland died, at the Sydney Infirmary on Saturday 27 November, 1858.  He died from Disease of the Lung. This may have been Tuberculosis, a disease which was rampant in the Colony around the time of Rowlands death.  Of course it may also have been Lung Cancer.

Picture of Sydney Infirmary in 1870 (12 years after Rowland Passed Away)
Picture of Sydney Infirmary in 1870 (12 years after Rowland Passed Away)

Tuberculosis would have explained why Jane was not present to give the personal details required at the time of the registration of Rowlands death, due to the fact that Rowland would have been in an isolation ward.  Details on the Death Certificate were supplied by an Infirmary employee and do not include information of Rowlands first wife and children, his parents, or where and when he was buried.  Neither does it name Jane as his “wife” or provide the names of his two sons.

Death Certificate – Rowland Allsop. Saturday 27 November 1858

What a sad end to a turbulent life!  Rowland died as he had spent much of his time on earth – alone and without the support of loved ones close by. Presumably he was buried the following day 28 Novemeber, 1858 which was the custom of the time.


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