Some Notes on Ann Robley ( nee Adams), of Norfolk Island, wife of George Seymour William Robley.

(John Robley 1764 1840 was sentenced to death in the Old Bailey, Middlesex on a charge of burglary. Robley spent the next 6 months in Newdegate prison awaiting execution but on the 9/9/1789, he was presented before the Old Bailey and offered a pardon on condition that he accepted transportation for life to New South Wales. Robley accepted the offer and was held in custody until 10/11/1789 when he was placed on board the Scarborough with 259 other prisoners who were to be transported, clothed and fed for the sum of approximately $35 per head. Eighty five convicts died on this voyage.

In New South Wales on 11/10/1791 Robley married Jemima Wasker @ Wilson who had been transported on the Mary Anne after being sentenced to 7 years transportation at the Old Bailey on 24.2.1790 on a charge of receiving. They had two children:-

Elizabeth Robley born NSW 27/11/1792, baptised at Parramatta 23/12/1792 and George Seymour William Robley baptised at Parramatta August 1795.

Elizabeth Robley aged 14 years married Michael Massie Robinson a lawyer on Norfolk Island in May 1806.

George Robley married Anne Adams the adopted daughter of William Mitchell at Hobart on 10/10/1815).



Ann Adams was born on Norfolk Island to William Adams @ Merritt and Honora Sullivan on the 11th of May 1797. Her sister, Maria, was also born on Norfolk Island on the 5th of September 1798.

Honora Sullivan was transported from Cork on the Marquis of Hastings leaving on the 9th of August 1795. William Adams @ Merritt had been transported to Botany Bay on the Active after having been sentenced in the Old Bailey on the 14th of April 1790 to seven years transportation. He arrived in Botany Bay on the 26th of September 1791.

Both Adams @ Merritt and Sullivan were transferred to Norfolk Island to serve out their sentences.

After the girls had been born and after 1801 Adams left his girls in the care of a Mrs Mitchell when he went to sea. There is no written record and it must be assumed that Honora Sullivan had died before 1801.

William Mitchell was a seaman on board the Sirius which was one of the ships which made up the First Fleet. When the Sirius was wrecked near Norfolk Island Mitchell decided to stay on the Island as a settler and a constable. He was granted 60 acres of land and built himself a two storey shingled roof house and two sheds. In 1791 he had married Susannah Hunt who was born circa 1748. Hunt had been convicted in the Ipswich Quarter Sessions in Suffolk in 1789 on a charge of stealing 8 yards of material and was sentenced to 7 years transportation.

Susannah Hunt was transported out of Plymouth on the Lady Juliana as a part of the Second Fleet. The Lady Juliana is recorded in history as the floating brothel as many of the female convicts were pregnant when the ship arrived in Botany Bay. In August 1790 she was transferred to Norfolk Island where she married William Mitchell in 1791. She was appointed by Governor King as a teacher for young children and in 1793 she was appointed to teach children from the orphanage.

In the 5 years, after and including 1801, Merritt left Norfolk Island several times. During this time he was sentenced to work for the government on Norfolk for 11 months after being convicted of stealing a watch. In 1806, when Adams was preparing to leave the island on the Favourite, he was arrested and charged with committing incest on his daughter Ann.

Adams @ Merritt was convicted and sentenced to 500 lashes and 4 years servitude. He received 225 lashes and then refused to work. He was then transferred to Phillip Island which is south of Norfolk Island. Nothing further was heard of Adams.

By 1805 William Mitchell had a total of about 105 acres of land and 47 pigs. After Adams @ Merritt was convicted of incest Mitchell and his wife adopted Adams' two girls, Ann and Maria. In 1807 Mitchell and his family were resettled in Van Diemens Land where he was granted 103 acres of land in the area known as Argyle. (New Town)

Susannah Mitchell died on the 28th of November 1814. On the 10th of October 1815 William Mitchell's adopted daughter, Ann married George Robley while the other daughter, Maria, married Robert Blinkworth on the 21st of February 1817.

By 1823 the Government took over Mitchell's property at New Town and he took up residence at his home known as Royal Oak in Macquarie Street. He was suffering from poor health and died on the 13th of June 1827. He is buried with his wife, Susannah, in St David's Park.

On the 1st of March 1823 it was advertised that at the house of George Robley, in Macquarie Street, a large sale was to take place and that the vendor was intending to go to the interior of the Colony as soon as possible.

By the 25th of October 1823 the relationship between George Robley and his wife Ann must have been shaky as George advertised that he would not be responsible for the debts incurred by wife Ann as she had left him. The advertised word was that she had eloped from him.

On the 20th of May 1824 it was registered that the son of George and Ann Robley, William Michael , was christened. Nothing further about this boy is recorded including death or adoption.

On the 4th of September 1834 Ann was fined 5/- for drunkenness. Then on the 24th of June 1835 Ann Robley was convicted of being a common prostitute well known to the police. On the 9th of September 1835 Ann Robley was sentenced to 3 months for drunkenness.

In 1836 a claim was lodged by a Robert Murray as trustee for Ann Robley, for the grant of a house in Macquarie Street known as Royal Oak previously owned by William Mitchell but left to his adopted daughter, Ann Robley, with a life interest.

A Richard Brownlow challenged the application on the grounds that George Robley had borrowed almost 296 pounds from him and had used the property as security. The court found that the claim by Robert Murray, as trustee of the property appointed by William Mitchell, must succeed subject to him taking care of Ann Robley who was believed to be living in poor conditions.

On the 9th of January 1840 a notice was published in the daily newspaper by Ann Robley that any person seeking to buy the property known as Royal Oak in Macquarie Street, Hobart should be aware that she, Ann Robley, was holding a deed giving her a life interest in the property to the value of 40 pounds per annum.

Ann Robley, nee Adams died on the 20th of April 1875 and was buried as a pauper in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery.

Trevor Hoodless. Tasmania. June 2011.