Thomas Kidner, First Fleet Convict

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Thomas, the son of James Kidner, agricultural labourer, and his wife Mary née Ridon, was baptised at North Petherton, Somerset, on 16th November 1765. He was convicted, under the name of Thomas Kidney, for stealing four pieces of Irish linen valued at £6 in the parish of St John, Bristol, and was sentenced on 30th October 1782 to transportation for seven years. He remained in gaol in Bristol until early in 1786 and, having served four years of his sentence was aged 21 when transferred to the hulk Censor, moored at Woolwich. On 6th January 1787 he boarded the Alexander for the voyage to Australia. After an 8-month voyage, the Fleet reached Botany Bay in January 1788, and landed at Port Jackson a few miles to the north.

At Port Jackson on 20 July 1789 Thomas was charged with three others for buying "necessaries" from a private marine, Mark Hurst. Thomas was one of the two who received severe punishment, sentenced to 150 lashes. On 11th November that year, he was sent to Norfolk Island on the Supply

In July 1791 Thomas was noted as having felled 30 rods of timber, and with Robert Nunn and Mary Carter he shared a nine-month old sow which produced a litter of 4 piglets in March 1792.

He was settled on 15 acres (Lot No.14) in mid 1792, though his grant was dated 23 March 1796; by October 1793 he had four of his seven ploughable acres cultivated. He was employed as a stone cutter, and living with Jane Whiting, who had been transported on the Lady Juliana, aged 14, in 1789, and arrived at Norfolk Island on the Surprize on 7th August 1790 (source: Norfolfk Island Victualling Book). Thomas and Jane were married by the Reverend Samuel Marsden in 1795, and had a daughter, Ann, baptised on 14th October 1798. A son, Thomas, was born shortly after the marriage.

On 15th October 1805 Kidner left Norfolk Island with his wife and two children, Thomas and Ann, by HMS Buffalo, and was disembarked at Port Jackson. On 25th May 1806 the Sydney Gazette reported his permit to leave the colony: on 9th November 1807, with his son Thomas, he went to Van Diemen's Land on the Lady Nelson. There, at 30th April 1809 he held 22 acres at Brown's River; on 20th September 1813 he was holding 30 acres at Queenborough. He also held 60 acres at Sussex. It is unlikely that he lived in Tasmania with Jane, who appears to have formed an association with George Clark whilst still on Norfolk Island. In 1817, George gave Jane a cottage and land in Hobart in lieu of 50 pounds for her services as housekeeper. Thomas's land grant at Sandy Bay was too far from Hobart for easy commuting!

A land grant, dated 4th August 1827, relates to the sale of Thomas's property at Sandy Bay by his son Thomas to one James Moody. Part of the deed reads: "Whereas the said Thomas Kidner the elder by his last will and testament in writing bearing date on or about the twelfth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eighteen hundred and thirteen bequeathed unto his son the said Thomas Kidner his heirs (etc.) forever amongst other things the land and premises herein after mentioned but which said will was not properly attested to - real estate nor has the same evere been proved & whereas the said Thomas Kidner the elder sometime since departing this life without revoking the said will...".

Jane's burial was recorded in the register of St David's, Hobart, on 14th September 1826, age stated as 50.

As an aside, Norma Cunningham found the Treasury Board Papers record for the cost of equipping the 1st Fleet Convicts. Titled "Estimate of Clothing to secure a male Convict for one year", it reads:


£ s d

2 Jackets 4/6 9/-
4 woollen drawers 2/- 8/-
1 hat 2/6 2/6
3 shirts 3/- 9/-
4 pr. worsted stockings 1/- 4/-
3 Frocks 2/3 6/9
3 Trowsers 2/3 6/9
3 4/6 13/6


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Last updated on 20th December 2007

© Simon Kidner 2007