Tell Us About – Family History

Hello everyone its that time of the month when I join fellow bloggers for Tell Us About. We all take turns suggesting topics and this month it was my turn and I choose Family History as a way to learn more about each other.

My own family history is fairly typical of many Australians who have been here since the early days of settlement. My ancestors are a mix of free settlers and convicts.

I will start with the maternal side of my family – the Heazlewoods who hailed from Ashfordby in Leicestershire, records show they had been carpenters since the 17th. century.

My direct ancestors  Henry and Elizabeth had nine children and seven of the living children emigrated to Tasmania between 1823 and 1842. In September 1833 my great great grandfather Henry and his wife Sarah and their two little boys along with his sisters Frances and Elizabeth and younger brother Robert set sail on the Norval to join their elder brothers James and Joseph.

Henry and Elizabeth settled in Longford where Henry was a carpenter and blacksmith . Their family grew quite considerably as they had seven more children including my great grandfather , Charles Best.

In 1849 Henry and Sarah moved from Longford to Hagley and became tenant farmers. Over time Henry acquired more land and this was passed on to his sons and stayed in the family for many generations.

Not a lot is known about my grandmothers family other than a record of one convict , John Trethewie, from Cornwall who was transported for seven years for stealing a pig, reading the court records this is questionable. John was 36 years old and a father of six children , a farm labourer and was according to the records able to read and write. He was assigned to Richard Dry who was an Irish political prisoner who was sent to NSW in 1800 who became a respectable citizen in Launceston and owned land .

After completing his sentence John returned to England, only to find that two of his daughters had died during the period of his sentence. His daughter Elizabeth married John Keast in Guernsey and moved to America. On January 1st., 1844 John and his wife Mary returned to Tasmania as free settlers accompanied by their son John and his wife Francis and daughters Grace and Caroline,  sadly Caroline died during the voyage aged 21.

Records show John prospered on his return and acquired farming land at White Hills and St. Leonards.

Growing up little was known about my father’s side of the family. My sister, Lyn, has spent many hours compiling a Barlow family history with the sketchy records available.

We do know that there were eight convicts , all transported for a variety of petty crimes  no doubt committed for survival for themselves and their families.Their main crime was being poor.

One of the sad stories we do know through the records was of Sarah , aged 17 , a single mother of a daughter , Sarah and son , James who was transported for stealing two blankets , no doubt to keep her children warm. Female convicts were only able to have one child with them so sadly Sarah was left behind in England and there was no record of what happened to her . Records also show that James did arrive with his mother but they did not stay together and he died at a young age. One can only imagine the hardships faced by a young single mother on her arrival here.

My great great grandfather was John Barlow who was born in Middlesex possibly in 1805. Nothing is known about his early life and all I know is that he was arrested at the Lyttleton Arms in Camden High Street , London for theft and found guilty at the Old Bailey in April , 1833 and transported to Tasmania in August of the same year. I actually visited the pub when I was in London last year out of curiosity , it was closed and had seen better days.

My great great grandmother was Mary Sandy , also a convict. I know little about her early days either. Records show that Mary and John received permission to marry but they never actually married but did have children including Henry my great grandfather.

Despite her best efforts my sister can find no death notice for John but we do know that Mary Sandy married a Mr. Pye . Did John go to the gold fields in Victoria to seek his fortune as did many , no idea but hopefully one day the pieces will fit together.

That is my family history in a nutshell , a few surprises but no skeletons in the closet.

As I write this I am fully aware of the trauma that our early settlers and the English government caused our First Nations people by taking their land and destroying their culture; does this sound familiar to you.

As usual my technical skills or lack of have failed so to read everyone’s take on Family History please go to Gail at Is this Mutton.





  1. Mary Katherine
    March 21, 2024 / 7:29 pm

    Jill, this is SO fascinating to an American like me. We learn nothing about Australian history, except that it was “originally a penal colony” – like no one lived there before…And then I would have just pictured hardened male “criminals”, not people with families, or women & children. So much tragedy in all our countries in the past, and I doubt future generations will look on us any kinder. Thanks for your always-intriguing windows on life on the other side of the world.

    • grownupglamour
      March 22, 2024 / 6:49 am

      Thank you Mary Katherine glad you found the post of interest. So true both our countries have tragic histories and like you only ever were taught pretty basic history.

  2. March 21, 2024 / 7:37 pm

    I remember reading about transporting convicts to Australia, but I have to say your account really makes this so much more real. I cannot imagine the anguish of Sarah, her mother, and her brother. I have relatives on both sides who emigrated to the US but have no idea why with the exception of one male on my grandmother’s side. His mother wanted him away from the Kaiser in the early part of the last century.

    I’m so glad you suggested this theme, Jill. It was fascinating to write and even more fascinating to read the various stories.

    • grownupglamour
      March 22, 2024 / 6:44 am

      Thank you Marsha I am so glad you enjoyed the theme and I am interested in reading everyone’s story. Growing up we were told very little about the convicts themselves and imagined them to be awful criminals other than poor people simply surviving .

  3. March 22, 2024 / 5:51 am

    Wow. That convict tale (stealing 2 blankets!) is barbaric. And yes, very understandable from this modern lens. I really liked most your acknowledgement at the end that there is a weird flipside to our history. In early settlement, those that were very fortunate and properous may not be viewed as kindly with the modern lens. History is fascinating, and never static. It changes the further you are removed from it. And of course, some people just disappear into the shadow of time….Lovely post!

    • grownupglamour
      March 27, 2024 / 6:32 am

      Thank you for your comment Lydia. Yes they were harsh times for so many and so many of those sent to Australia as convicts committed very minor crimes. Agree seeing those times through todays lens is so very different.

  4. March 22, 2024 / 7:35 am

    Hi Jill, this was such a fascinating prompt and I discovered a surprise ancestor in the process. Family on my maternal side came and settled in Tasmania so we have that in common.

    • grownupglamour
      March 27, 2024 / 6:42 am

      Thank you Sue , so pleased you found the prompt interesting. I do wonder if your relative and mine crossed paths.

  5. March 22, 2024 / 10:06 am

    They were hard days weren’t they Jill? Poor Sarah having to leave one child behind and then losing her other soon after arrival! It’s always a bit hit and miss finding out information with changes to spelling of names and lack of records but you’ve done well to piece this much together. A great prompt for this month’s Tell Us About thanks Jill.

    • grownupglamour
      March 27, 2024 / 6:39 am

      So glad you found the prompt interesting Sue. They certainly were hard times for so many. It can be quite difficult putting all those pieces together , I was fortunate as a relative researched my mother family in the 1970’s and my sister did most of the work on my fathers side.

  6. March 22, 2024 / 7:11 pm

    How absolutely fascinating Jill! One can only imagine the hardships and heartbreak your ancestors suffered. Thank you so much for sharing your family history! I do wish I knew more about mine. xxx

    • grownupglamour
      March 27, 2024 / 6:35 am

      Thank you Ann I do find the family history very interesting . I am very lucky in that most of the research was done by other family members. I do hope you can find some family information.

  7. March 26, 2024 / 3:02 pm

    How absolutely fascinating Jill, what hard lives these people had. As for the women, how they managed all their children in these circumstances is a wonder, and so many of these ‘crimes’ were so very petty and absolutely committed because of poverty. Harsh times and a harsh policy. But I do think their descendants must have done much better in Australia and Tasmania than if they had stayed in Blighty.

    Thanks so much for giving us this theme – it was a good one!

    • grownupglamour
      March 27, 2024 / 6:25 am

      Thank you Penny , pleased you appreciated the theme , not sure everyone did. Yes from what I have read times certainly very hard in those times especially for the poor. You maybe be spot on those descendents probably did end up with better lives.

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