Lydia Broomfield Etherington, daughter of Hannah Robley (Etherington) and Eleck Etherington

Lydia Broomfield Etherington was born at Sunninghill Brk. on 2 March 1794. Her middle name came from her grandmother, Elizabeth Broomfield. Elizabeth married Mathew Robley, at St. James, Westminster, London on March 20, 1738. We have no further information on Elizabeth Broomfield, at present.

The earliest records of the Robleys are from Cumberland, UK. Nearly all the Robleys on the IGI from the London area have been traced back to their origins in that county.

In March 1712 Thomas Robley of Burthwaite, Cumberland, married Mary Cawper in St. Cuthbert's Church, Carlisle. This couple went on to have 8 children. The eldest, Matthew, was christened on March 2nd 1713. This is almost certainly the Matthew who married Elizabeth Broomfield, and became the father of Hannah, and the grandfather of Lydia. We do not know why Matthew left Cumberland, but records show that some of the family of Robleys at Cobham were soldiers.

Lydia Broomfield Etherington married Benjamin Esden, although at the time of her conviction seems to have gone under the name of Lydia Astell, alias Clayton.


Yesterday, a young woman of genteel appearance and address, wearing a large white veil, was charged with uttering forged notes, under peculiar circumstances. She appeared under the names of Lydia Astell, alias Clayton. On the 12th February she drove to the Red Lion-inn, Ashendon-Common, Washington, Sussex, where she remained about 3 hours, during which time she had 4 glasses of mulled wine, in payment for which she gave a 5 pound note, purporting to be a note of the Bank of England. Mr. Bristow, the landlord, not having change, procured it of his neighbour, Mr.Baker, a grocer. In the course of the afternoon of that day, it was discovered that the note was a forgery, and Mr. Bristow set off to pursue her, but failed in overtaking her; but he continued his journey to London, and gave information to the Solicitor of the Bank. On the afternoon of the same day she went to Burrell's Arms Inn at West Grinstead, in a post-chaise, and uttered a 1 pound forged Bank-note to Mrs.Margaret Money, the landlady.

Bishop the officer was employed to trace out the prisoner, and on Saturday found her lodging with Mr. Finnigan in Lumney-court, Queen-street, Bloomsbury, by the name of Clayton. It has been ascertained that she has uttered a forged 1 pound note at a public-house in that neighbourhood. On her person were found 1 pound notes of the Guilford, Old Yeovil, Portsea, and other Banks, which, it is supposed, she has obtained in change for 5 pound forged Bank of England notes. She had also a good 1 pound and 2 pound Bank of England note, of which she gave no account, except that she had had them by her some time She stated herself to be a married woman, but separated from her husband. She said she had lately been engaged at Covent-garden and Astley's theatre as a singer.- She was committed for further examination.

The Times. March 13th 1819.

Lydia was sentenced to 14 years, at Sussex Assizes 24 March 1819, for having forged notes and was transported to Australia on the Janus. There is an application for marriage between Lydia Estell and James Nelson, in September 1820, just a few months after arrival in the colony. It would appear that this marriage did not take place.

Lydia did in fact marry Thomas Barnes, in November 1821, and after many other colourful escapades settled down to have a family. She and Thomas Barnes died in Goulburn in 1859.

Contributed by Marg Curd and Mary Herbert, Australia.