Jane Langley’s Journey – First Fleet Convict – Part 2

Our Jane managed to survive the horrors of Newgate Prison and was “marked out” of the prison on 1 January 1787 for delivery to the ship Lady Penrhyn.  She boarded the Lady Penhryn on 6 January, roughly 18 months after her conviction. Interestingly she is not listed on the ships log, although another convict – Ann Morton – is logged twice. It is believed that there was a simple mix-up with administration. Jane did not appear on the ships log until the 23 October.

The Lady Penhryn
The Lady Penhryn

Not long after boarding the Lady Penhryn Jane developed a relationship with Philip Shewing who was the foremast man. Philip’s name is spelt in various ways depending on which document you read and includes: Shewing, Shewring, Scriven, Sherring & Skirving. Jane fell pregnant almost immediately and delivered her daughter, Henrietta Langley on 23 October 1787, whilst aboard the Lady Penhryn and off shore of the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Route of the Lady Penhryn and First Fleet
Route of the Lady Penhryn and First Fleet

The Reverend Richard Johnston baptised Henrietta Sherring on 4 November 1787, daughter of Philip Skirving, foremast man.

The Lady Penrhyn and other ships of the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay Australia on 20 January 1788, however it wasn’t until Captain Phillip found Sydney Cove, a few weeks later, that the convicts were landed. Jane set foot on Australian soil for the first time on, or about, the 6 February, 1788, but life was anything but ideal for the 1400 or more people who had arrived.

The first years in the colony were extremely difficult. Clothing was very limited, with no clothing supplied for babies or children. Crops failed and food was strictly rationed. The tents and shelters provided in the early days of the settlement were adequate in the fine weather of summer, however as winter drew in it became obvious that more permanent structures would be needed. Over the course of the first few years many one room huts were built to accommodate people. Jane, once again, survived the hardships of hunger, little clothing and inadequate housing as she raised little Henrietta.

The Founding of Australia at Sydney Cove
The Founding of Australia at Sydney Cove

Added to Jane’s burden was the worry over the fact that Philip Shewing had gone missing in the bush land around Sydney Cove on 29 January 1788. He was not found until the 9 March, and he was in particularly bad health by then. Philip recovered a little, but remained very weak and feeble.

Dense Australian Bushland
Dense Australian Bushland

Philip was sent back to England aboard the Lady Penhryn on 4 May 1788 and is recorded in the ships log of 3 Jul 1788, when near Tahiti, as being extremely debilitated and not expected to live.  . There is no record of Philip after this date, and it is presumed that he died at sea.

This left our Jane to suffer the difficult conditions and raise a child on her own.  Just 2 short years later, though, there seems to have been a turn in luck for our Jane. It would seem that her life was about to improve both in quality, and in happiness.


Picture – Lady Penryn – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Penrhyn_(1786_ship)

Picture – First Fleet Route – http://firstfleetfellowship.org.au/ships/the-voyage/

Picture – Sydney Cove https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Cove

Picture – Australian Bushland https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_bush





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