Jane Cooper (1813?-1873)

by Colin Tuckerman


Jane Cooper stated she was born in Lisbon Portugal. Her parents were recorded on her death record as Thomas and Mary. Cooper was single, Catholic and a servant. She was described as stout, of fair complexion with dark brown hair and grey eyes. She was unable to read.

   On 24 March 1832 she was sentenced at the Warwickshire Assize to a 7-year transportation sentence for larceny from a person. She was sent to the convict ship Fanny with 105 other women. While the Fanny was being prepared for sailing, a cholera outbreak in the London docks came o-board and ten of the women fell ill. Six of the women died of cholera by the time the Fanny left London on the 28 July 1832. Scurvy also occurred during the voyage and two more women died. The Fanny arrived in Sydney on the 6 February 1833.

   On arrival Cooper was assigned to James Barker of Sydney. She appears three times in the Sydney Goal records for minor offences prior to her freedom on the 26 August 1839.

   Cooper was given approval to marry William Coughlan in November 1836 and William Greenwood in March 1837. In March 1838 she was given approval and did marry Charles Wilby, who was now free, having arrived on the Bussorah Merchant in 1828 and was farming in the Maitland area. Charles Wilby died at Morpeth on the 6 February 1852 of heart failure. After his death, in 1859 Jane sold their horses and farm implements.

   During the marriage they may have had seven children. At least two children married and their descendants lived in country NSW, Sydney and Queensland. Jane Wilby (nee Donovan) died in 1873 at Newcastle.

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