Convicts Martin Peeling

Convict: Hannah Peeling [c1769-1799]

Relationship: Direct Ancestor, 6th Great Grandmother


Details of Hannah’s life before being convicted and transported to NSW are sketchy; information surrounding Hannah’s date of birth, birthplace, and parents have proven elusive and as yet have not been found.

Many researchers have stated that her birth year is c1769; however, her age is not mentioned in any of the records I found.

One possible candidate is Ann Paling, born in the London metropolitan area; her birth year is approximately the same as Hannah’s reputed birth year.

What I know about Hannah.

Hannah was almost certainly born and raised in the London Metropolitan area. She received a donation of clothing from the St Clement Danes Parish on the 1st of September, 1785. The parish provided a substantial poor relief system, and Hannah is recorded in the Books of Clothing provided by the parish.

Two years later, on the 12th December 1787, she was indicted and subsequently found guilty for stealing a Silver Watch, Silver Chain, and a Silver Seal from a Duncan Ross and sentenced to seven years transportation to NSW.

From the time Hannah was charged to her eventual transportation, she was incarcerated at the Newgate Prison, London.


1785/6: Recieving poor relief provided by St Clements Dane1

This record shows that Hannah received the following articles of clothing. A pair of shoes, a checked apron, and a coarse apron.

1787: On trial for stealing2

Extract from the Old Bailey Sessions: Sessions Papers – Justices’ Working Documents.

Middlesex to wit

The Information of Duncan Ross of No 12 Red Lion Court, White Hart Yard & later taken before me this 20th day of November 1787.

Who being upon Oath said that on Tuesday last the 13th Instant about 9 o’clock as he this Informant was coming through Cross Street, Drury Lane, the person now present who calls herself Hannah Pealing then asked this informant for a Penny. That Informant told her he had not a Penny, that she then caught hold of his watch chain and snatched his watch out of his Pocket and ran into a house with it.

That informant followed her into a back room in said house, that said Pealing then called for some person when five women and a man came in and beat this informant and turned him out of the house, and this informant further says that the said Hannah Pealing is the person who stole his said watch aforesaid.

Sworn before me the day and Year (aforesaid)


Duncan [his mark] Ross

1787: Trial3

HANNAH PEELING was indicted for stealing, on the 13th of November last, a silver watch, value 3£, a steel chain, value 1s. a silver seal, value 5s. the property of Duncan Ross.

The prisoner stopped the prosecutor in the street, and asked him to go with her, which he refused; she then pulled his watch out of his pocket, and ran into a house; he pursued her, and she called down five women and one man to her assistance, who swore they would take his life.


Transported for seven years .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice HEATH.

1787: Old Bailey Proceedings, punishment summary4

The Session being ended, the Court proceeded to pass Sentence as follows:

Received Sentence of Death, 8, viz.
John Green , alias Jacob Hobbs , George Smith , James Lara , Charles Berckley , Francis Warner , John Durham , Edward Crowther , John Greenaway .

To be transported for seven years, 58, viz.
Edward Matthews , William Grocer , Richard Hawthorn , Alice Haynes , Robert Savage , Samuel Harding , William Archer , William Read , Ann Brooks , Edward Crouch , Mary Arnold , Hannah Peeling , James Morley , Henry Fudge , John Neale , Elizabeth Hopper , Samuel Jones , William Alsop , William Martin , Rachel Turner , Joseph Herbert alias Herborne, Thomas Peacock , Ann Amies , William Perry , Mary Randall , Mary Butler , Eleanor M’Donald , John M’Carthy , Thomas Hartman , William Higgins , Joseph Holden , Thomas Grose , John Hardinge , William Watson , William Higgins , George Todd , William Brown , George Cash , John Fenton , William Lilly , Thomas Morris , Jane Saunders , Thomas Winstan , Mary Chaplin , Matthew Walton , Thomas Smith , John Roberts , John Spencer , Ann Howard , James Ward , Mary Beech , William Evans , Thomas Smith , John Dyer . Susannah Pickett , James Davidson , Thomas Spencer , Michael Bath .

To be imprisoned twelve months in Newgate [Prison], 1, viz.
John Davis .

To be imprisoned six months, 2, viz.
Jeffery Raffel , William Screw .

To be whipped, 6, viz.
Jeffery Raffel , Charles Dryer , William Martin , William Tuckwood , William Screw , Alexander Forbes .

1789: Languishing in the Newgate Prison5

For nearly two years after her conviction, Hannah was incarcerated at Newgate while waiting to be transported to NSW.

1789: Embarking to an uncertain future

Hannah was assigned to the Convict transport ship, Lady Juliana, which was the first transport ship to arrive at Port Jackson after the first fleet (1788) and before the second fleet (Sep 1790).

It set sail from Plymouth, England on the 29th July 1789 and following a voyage that took it via Tenerife, St. Jago (present-day, Santiago) in the Cape Verde Islands, Rio de Janeiro and The Cape of Good Hope. The ship finally making landfall at Port Jackson, NSW on the 3rd June 1790, a voyage that took over 309 days to complete.

The steward aboard Lady Juliana, John Nicol6, wrote an account of the voyage and gave a fascinating account of the voyage and the convicts. Most of these were London prostitutes, but there were some hardened criminals – thieves, receivers of stolen goods, shoplifters among them.

The voyage of the Lady Juliana gained the reputation for being a floating brothel. Nicol recalled that;

“When we were fairly out to sea, every man on board took a wife from among the convicts, they nothing loath.” At the ports of call seamen from other ships were freely entertained, and the officers made no attempt to suppress this licentious activity. No provision had been made to set the convicts to any productive work during the voyage, and they were reported to be noisy and unruly, with a fondness for liquor and for fighting amongst themselves.”

1790: Norfolk Island7

Within 2 months of arriving in the NSW colony, Hannah along with 150 other convict women and children and at least 30 male convicts was transferred to Norfolk Island aboard the Surprize.

1791: Hannah marries Stephen Martin7

While on Norfolk Island, Hannah formed a relationship with a First Fleet Convict, Stephen Martin (Convict Alexander, 1788). Stephen had been transferred to Norfolk Islandaboard the HMS Sirius in 1790.

And within a year of arriving on the Island, Hannah and Stephen were one of the many couples married by the Rev. Richard Johnson on the 5th of Nov 1971 on Norfolk Island.

1793: Daughter Mary is Born8

Mary, or Mary Ann as she is commonly known, was born the 12th Nov 1793, Norfolk Island, NSW. While her father is Stephen Martin, her surname was recorded as Peeling, Hannah’s maiden name.

1794: Hannah is no longer receiving stores.9

The 1794 census of Norfolk Island shows that Hannah was married with one child and that Stephen was supporting her.

1796: Land Grants held by Stephen

Stephen at this stage had two parcels of land, lot 10 (60acres) and lot 21 (12acres).

1799: Death10, 11

Old Sydney Burial Ground

The exact time and reason unknown, but Hannah returned to Port Jackson, NSW, and never return to Norfolk Island, as she died on the 17th of August 1799.

Buried in the Old Sydney Burial Ground on the 27th of August 1799, Hannah’s surname is listed as Pealing in the St Phillips Burial registry.

A memorial plaque for Hannah was erected at the Norfolk Island Cemetery to mark her place in history.

If Hannah’s birth year of c1769 is correct, then she would have only been about 30 years old when she died.


  1. London Lives: WCCDBC355010140, Image 140 of 434, 1st September 1785
  2. London Lives: LMOBPS450320719, Image 719 of 774 20th November 1787
  3. 1787: Old Bailey Proceedings Online, December 1787, the trial of HANNAH PEELING (t17871212-27).
  4. 1787: Old Bailey Proceedings Online, December 1787 (s17871212-1).
  5. 1789: The National Archives, PCOM 2/176
  6. 1789: The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner. A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook: eBook No.: 1600031h.html
  7. 1791: Cathy Dunn: Norfolk Island Rev. Fulton Baptisms, Burials, and Marriages 1801 -1806, ISBN: 978-0-9805255-3-3
  8. 1793: Cathy Dunn: Norfolk Island Rev. Fulton Baptisms, Burials and Marriages 1801 -1806, ISBN: 978-0-9805255-3-3
  9. 1794: AJCP PRO CO/201/10, pp. 197 – 200
  10. RST: St Phillips Church parish Register Vol 2 has C/E burials 1787 to 1831
  11. RM: Thomas D. Mutch Index, Mitchell Library CY377 – 378