Private Edward Robley of the 73rd. of Foot

On the 14th. of August 1805 Elizabeth Richie/Riches/Richards aged 20 years was sentenced to death in a Surrey Court for stealing printed cotton and lace from a dwelling. This was subsequently commuted to transportation for life to Australia. She was transported to Sydney aboard the 'Alexander', arriving on 20th. August 1806. There she met and formed a liaison with Private Edward Robley of the 1st. Batallion, 73rd Regiment of Foot.

73rd Regiment of Foot

In 1809, the 73rd had been ordered to accompany its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, to the colony of New South Wales, to relieve the NSW Corps. The Battalion embarked on the 8th May 1809, at Yarmouth, in the Isle of Wight, on board HM ships "Hindustan" and "Dromedary" and sailed from St Helens on the 25th of that month. The fleet touched at Madeira, Port Praya, Rio Janeiro and at the Cape of Good Hope and anchored at Port Jackson, New South Wales on 28th December 1809. Due to unfavourable winds the "Hindustan"and "Dromedary" were forced to wait until proceeding up the harbour to Sydney Cove.

The 73rd landed at Sydney on the 1st January 1810, and detachments were sent out in the course of the following two months to Newcastle, Parramatta, Derwent (Hobart Town), Norfolk Island and Port Dalrymple.

Private Edward Robley is almost certainly the same person as the Edward who was born on 8/5/1794 in Falstone, Northumberland, the son of Nevison and Christian Robley and a grandson of William Robley the Curate of Falstone. Records in the same Parish show that he married Ann Hutchinson in Allendale, Northumberland in 1819.

In 1811 a child , Isabella Leonora, was born and both Elizabeth and Isabella henceforth took the surname of Robley. In May 1812 Private Edward Robley was transferred from Sydney to Port Dalrymple (later to become George Town) in Tasmania. He was followed by Elizabeth, in July 1812, accompanied by their baby daughter. In May 1814 the 73rd.was sent to Ceylon to take part in a campaign against the King of Kandy who surrendered after 6 months confrontation.

Following Edward's departure with his regiment , Elizabeth took up with a William Field and , while retaining the name Robley, had a family to him. William, formerly a butcher in England, was a convict who had been transported to Australia for 14 years after having been convicted in May 1800 for receiving sheep which had been stolen by his brother.

There is a revealing insight into the prevailing social and economic conditions of northern Tasmania during the early years of settlement. In particular, the records of the Land Commissioners show that in the late 1820's they recognised the ex-convict squatters as a threat to the orderly development of the region. William Field was described as a "notorious rogue", who with others was exercising power in a manner which prevented smaller immigrant settlers from establishing themselves.

Further Field, and others with convict origins, appeared to share a strong sense of community which often offended the sensibilities of those whose power derived from either government position or inherited personal wealth. There was considerable animosity between William Field and a James Brumby which may have had its origins as far back as the time they both spent on Norfolk Island - one as a convict and the other as a free settler.

Both Field and Brumby were relocated from Norfolk Island to participate in the establishment of Port Dalrymple. William Field eventually made his fortune in cattle and horse breeding. James Brumby's name lives on as part of Australian folklore. We no longer recall that William Field's wild cattle were known as "W.F's" - a reference to their distinctive brand, but Brumby's wild horses which so freely roamed the northern regions of Tasmania became the "brumby" and an Australian icon.

Elizabeth and William had five children: William in 1816; Thomas in 1817; Richard who died as an infant in 1820; John in 1821 and Charles in 1826. Although an ex- convict, William Field became a wealthy man and,when he died in 1837, he left his estate to his wife, Elizabeth, who in turn left the properties to be shared among the surviving offspring of her two relationships.

The grand colonial mansion, now Calstock Country Guest House near Launceston,was built by John Field ,the son of William.

Calstock Country Guest House

William Field's son ,William, represented Tasmania in a first class cricket match against Victoria on 11th February 1851, he scored 2 runs in two innings and took 1 wicket in two overs. It seems he was not selected again! Another descendant, Michael Field, became premier of Tasmania in the 1980s.

A few weeks following her move to Tasmania in 1812, Isabella was sent to live with Thomas and Mary Smith who regarded her as their own child. Eventually, Isabella married Alexander Rose in Tasmania in 1831. The couple lived at 'Corra Lynn'. They had two children, David in 1832 and William in 1835. Alexander was a man of considerable influence not only was he a prosperous landowner but he was also a member of the State Parliament.

Alexander Rose

In 1837 there was a case in the Supreme Court of Van Diemans Land regarding an alledged slander between Alexander Rose and Mary Smith. By this time Mary was a widow and, if the lawyers at the time are to be believed, much addicted to 'the drink'. The case revolved around advertisements placed in the 'Cornwall Chronicle' newspaper by Mary Smith which Alexander claimed had slandered him. The subject of the advertisements was the transfer of Mary's property, arranged by Alexander Rose, giving immediate title to Isabella.

Now the property involved was extensive and the Court records refer to four farms at Norfolk Plains and one at Anthill Ponds. Norfolk plains took its name from the early pioneers of the area who origionally came to Tasmania from Norfolk Island. Mary Smith lived on one of the Norfolk Plains farms. Apparently Mary had deeded her property to Isabella on the understanding that she would retain life interest. The Roses disposessed her and Mrs Smith made it public by speech and articles in a newspaper what she thought of the Roses. They sued her for libel. She won the first round and Rose appealed. The court could not reach a conclusion on this appeal.

While the court found for Mary, it is of interest that a strong bond remained between the two women, and it was clearly Mary's intention to leave the property to Isabella following her death. However, she soon realised that the Roses had a less charitable view of affairs and that her actions had in fact left her at the mercy of the Roses.

Despite their convict background, William Field, Elizabeth and Isabella were fully accepted into the polite society of the colony probably due to their wealthy circumstances. Isabella died in 1840 at the tender age of 29.

There is a portrait of 'Isabella Leonora Rose (nee Robley)' hanging in the house at Clarendon Gardens in the Nile Valley in Tasmania. Their son, David Rose married Margaret Adelaide Ryan aged 17 at Westbury on 21/5/1855. They had eight children.

There is no record of a marriage for their second son, William.

John Robley, Lesmurdie, WA. April, 2004.