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Alice Mansfield

Very early european deaths in Australia

A first fleeter - Sydney 1788

By Gary Buck

Alice was born at Barkway in Hertfordshire, England in 1754 to John and Elizabeth Mansfield. It was a large family with more than eight siblings.


John's brother William was my 4th great grandfather making Alice my 5th Great Aunt.


She married Thomas Harmsworth in Barkway on 25 Jan 1780.  Thomas was also a Barway local and was 4 years older than Alice.


In 1771, Alice's father died (she was a 16 year old) and in 1780, her mother passed away. In the subsequent four years, Alice and Thomas had a daughter, Ann and son Thomas.


On 13 May 1787, the family of four boarded the "Prince of Wales" in Portsmouth headed to Australia as part of the first fleet.  Thomas was a marine private.  The "Prince of Wales" was the second smallest of the eleven vessels and had a crew of around 25.  It carried 62 female convicts, 3 male convicts , 3 children of convicts plus 459 marines and their families..  En route to Australia the vessel stopped at Tenerife and Rio de Janeiro for supplies.



In December 1787 John Harmsworth was born and then on 20 January 1788, "Prince of Wales" reached Australia's Botany Bay. Many stories of the difficult trip abound but one can only imagine the difficulty of doing it while pregnant and caring for two small children.


Alice's life was to get much worse very quickly. In February 1788 their son Thomas died of fever and then her husband died from "Flux" (Diarrhoea and Fever) in Sydney Cove on 30th April 1788. Thomas junior and Thomas senior are two of the earliest deaths of european settlers. John is one of the last, if not the last, of the 'first fleeters' to die in Australia


In April 1790 Alice had a son Daniel and then in 1791 she married Corporal Daniel Stanfield, a Marine who had also arrived with the First Fleet on board the "Sirius".


Earlier, in May 1791, Daniel was granted 60 acres of land at Norfolk Island as part of a 'marines grant' and so the family moved to Norfolk Island.  The family had a son and two daughters while on the Island.  Daniel left the miltary and initially turned his hand to farming and then became a constable.



Alice and Thomas' eldest child, their daughter Ann was married to Private Samuel Marsden on 19th January 1800. The marriage was registered at St. Philip's in Sydney. Samuel Marsden had arrived with the Second Fleet on board the "Surprize" in 1790 and was a soldier assigned to the "NSW Corps" on Norfolk Island. 


The history of Norfolk Island is fairly grim and the family moved to Van Diemen's Land (Now Tasmania) on October 1808 on "City of Edinburgh".  This relocation was government enforced and was not well accepted by the residents.  There are reports that,as the 'City of Edinburgh' was the last of a number of vessels to take people on this journey, the departure was delayed until settlers that had been hiding in the bush were 'captured'.


Ann and Samuel remained on Norfolk Island with their 4 children until the recall of the NSW Corps in 1810 when in order to remain in the colony, he transfered to the "Royal Vetern Company".


Given that Hobart was only founded in 1804, you can imagine that the facilities would have been fairly basic.


More on Daniel Stanfield and family here and here


Alice had eight children and at least 45 grandchildren.