Charles Tompson (1784-1871)
Elizabeth Boggis (1792-1822)
Charles Tompson was born in 1784 in Warrickshire, England, his parents being Charles Tompson (b. 1748) and Martha Louisa Webster (b. 1755). Charles was a convict transported on the Coromandel, which arrived in Sydney in 1804. He was an educated man whose crime was to steal two books. For four years was employed in the office of Commissary John Palmer; later he kept a shop at the corner of Pitt and Hunter Streets and about 1819 bought a 700-acre (283 ha) farm, Clydesdale, near Windsor. [Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography.] Leading up to his marriage he had also been involved in the education of the girls in the Female Orphan School in Sydney.
Clydesdale in 1995, © Blacktown City Council; click here for an extensive description and full history.
William Boggis was a convict who arrived on the First Fleet on board the Scarborough. He was born in London on 09 Jun 1766. A descendant of his, Gillian Doyle, has written about him and his family – see the her entry on William Boogis in the Fellowship of First Fleeters, and the book Where Honour Guides the Prow she co-wrote with Elisabeth Curtis.
This is a brief summary of what Gillian wrote; there is more detail in the link above.
- William Boggis was arrested in 1782 for stealing bed sheet and was flogged; arrested in 1784 for a felony and sentenced to death, but this was commuted to transportation to America. That practice ceased when America refused to accept any more convicts. Boggis remained incarcerated until departing for NSW, aged 21. In the ensuing early years of the Sydney colony he re-offended on a number of occasions before being transported in 1790 to Norfolk Island.
- Elizabeth Smith, born in about 1749, was a convict sentenced to 7 years transportation for theft. She arrived in NSW in June 1790 on board the Lady Juliana but in October was sent to Norfolk Island. By 1791 William Boggis had completed his 7 year term and was granted 10 acres; Elizabeth was assigned to him as a housekeeper. Their daughter, Elizabeth Boggis, was born on 03 Feb 1792. She attended a school for orphaned girls in Norfolk Island and later the Female Orphan School in Sydney. Elizabeth Smith died on 21 Aug 1820, aged 71.
Elizabeth Boggis married Charles Tompson on 08 Jun 1806 when Elizabeth was just 14. In these early days of the colony that was the legal age that a person could be married, and it was also the age at which Elizabeth would have had to leave the orphanage school.
Elizabeth Boggis in 1806, sketched by Charles
Charles Tompson, a self portrait
Charles Tompson,age about 50
Charles & Elizabeth’s family:
01. Charles (b. 1807, d. 1883)
02. Martha Louise (b. 1810, d. 1826)
03. Frederick (b. 1812, d. 1812)
04. Frederick Anslow (b. 12 Dec 1814, d. 1884)
05. Eliza Harris (b. 21 May 1817, d. 1879)
06. Edwin Harvey (b. 1818, d. 1893)
07. Alfred Fulton (b. 1820, d. 1889)
Elizabeth died in 1822 aged just 30.
The Sun Herald published the following account, written by Bob Murray, based on these three generations on Sun Jan 17 1988:
MYSTERY MAN WHO LIVED WITH THE WHIP
THE tale of William Boggis is an unlikely success story, if ever there was one.
He never seemed to be able to steer clear of trouble and received:
- Seven years’ jail at Kingston, Surrey, for felony in 1783.
- Fifty lashes in August 1788 for gambling with cards contrary to regulations.
- One hundred lashes the following month for an assault on a lass returning from swimming – an assault that might have been rape except that he was caught in the act.
- Two hundred lashes in 1789 for entering a hut and stealing a shirt.
Boggis is one of the many First Fleeters who soon afterwards disappeared from the records and may have died or left the colony. Before that, he married former shoplifter and mantua (gown) maker Elizabeth Smith.
Their daughter, Elizabeth, was born at Norfolk Island orphanage in 1792 – and that was just about the bottom of the world social heap then.
On the face of it, Elizabeth didn’t have much of a life. She married an ex-convict named Charles Tompson when she was 14, bore him five sons and two daughters and died at 30.
But Tompson was a “goer”. He had been educated to white-collar level, was transported from Warwickshire for stealing a book and got a clerk’s job in the commisariat (government store) when he arrived in Sydney in 1803.
He made his way through owning stores and pubs in Sydney to a landed estate near Richmond when he re-married after Elizabeth’s death.
He was poised there, ready for the pastoral boom, and by the early 1840s was a wealthy squatter with extensive “runs” along the Murrumbidgee.
Tompson lost heavily in the economic crash of 1843 but remained comfortably middle class.
Charles Tompson Jr, eldest son of Charles and Elizabeth, received a classical education at the Castlereagh Academy, near Penrith, joined the public service and became Clerk of the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1860. [See also his Wikipedia entry.]
He was the first Australian-born poet, with his Wild Notes From The Lyre Of A Native Minstrel published in 1826, before he was 20.
The literary historian H.M. Green commented that Tompson’s youthful poems were “so polished and urbane that their appearance in such a place and time is something of a marvel”.
Charles Jr continued to be a prolific writer but most of his subsequent work has not been published other than in contemporary magazines and papers.
Another of old William Boggis’ seven Tompson grandchildren, Frederick, followed his father’s sheep down the Murrumbidgee and stayed there to become “father of Wagga”, businessman, grazier and first town clerk.
Some of Charles Tompson Jn’s poetry can be read on line – for example, 15 of them are available on the Australian Poetry Library. The entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography contains one stanza from a poem he wrote celebrating the thirty-sixth anniversary of the foundation of the colony:
Peace lifts her olive sceptre high,
Brown Industry assumes the plough,
Commerce expands her canvas wings,
Wealth points where honour guides the prow;
These, happy Australasia, these
Proclaim thee “Queen of Southern Seas”!
Following Elizabeth’s death Charles Tompson Sn married Jane Morris (1794-1871), a woman who had had three children with Charles Armytage (Charles Alexander, 1817-1871; Jane Ann, 1818-1892; George James, 1819-1871). A further eight children were born:
08. Emma Hannah (b. 1823, d. 1860)
09. Ferdinand Macquarie (b. 1825, d. 1908)
10. Elizabeth Henrietta (b. 1827, d. 1895)
11. Hannah Louisa (b. 1829, d. 1903)
12. Martha (b. 1831, d. 1915)
13. Theodore Lachlan (b. 1833, d. 1910)
14. Selina Maria (b. 1835, d. 1918)
15. Rebecca Harriet Septima (b. 1838, d. 1915) married Frederick Robert Bode, died in Harden, NSW
The marriages of these Tompson children (apart from Rebecca’s) can be viewed on their Australian Royalty webpage.
In a discussion of the accuracy of the 1828 census returns Charles Tompson is used as an illustration. His holdings read as follows:
One of the major items of information not transcribed to the Lists was the property name and its location. In almost all cases where a householder held land and even just livestock on another person’s land, the property was named. It was also recorded who owned that land and in many instances, particularly in the Bathurst District, it described where the property was e.g. “125 miles north of Bathurst”.
Even more importantly, a Return records which people were where in the so-called household. An example is T0936 Charles Tompson whose PRO [Public Records Office] Listing indicated he had 2565 acres, 365 cattle, 1043 sheep & 18 horses, all at Bathurst the Less (near the Nepean River). However the Return tells the true story, 700 acres at Clydesdale Farm, South Creek, 70 acres at Upton’s Farm, 35 acres at Palfreys Farm, 60 at Loder’s Farm, along with 300 cattle, 795 sheep and 14 horses, 600 acres at Alfred’s Retreat, East Bargo, Co. Camden, 800 acres at Drummond’s Farm, Van Diemens Land and 100 acres at Leyland Park, Battery Point held as trustee for Charles Armitage a child of 12 years, and 200 acres, 65 cattle, 250 sheep and 4 horses at Goulburn Plains, Co. Argyle held by Charles Tompson Junior by grant. In addition, seven named men are not at Bathurst the Less at all, they are on a property named Binbingine at Argyle. In other examples, servants are divided between as many as five different properties, some great distances apart.
Charles Tompson’s fortunes declined and in 1849, after discovering that a close friend had been defrauding him for some years, he became insolvent. He lost Clydesdale in 1850 and he was forced to take work as a clerk. He purchased a semi-detached house in 1864 at 18 Church St (now Arthur St) Surry Hills, which he named Clydesville. He died at home on 10 Jan 1871. His wife Jane died on 29 Oct 1871.