I am sitting here wondering if I should get excited or just stay calm. I’m wondering if after 20 odd years, I’ve actually found when my ancestor John Shoulders arrived in NSW.
All the information that I know up today, was that he married Mary Ryan (Ryan is on the marriage certificate but actual maiden name was Hanratty), in 1851 at Armidale.
John & Mary had 4 children, of who the youngest Ellen Shoulders was my GG Grandmother. According to her birth certificate in 1856, John was aged ‘40’ and had been born in Aylesbury Buckinghamshire.
John died in May 1858 at Hernani, New South Wales. His death certificate stated that he was 42 and had been in the colony for 26 years, making his arrival to be about 1832 and therefore making his age to be about 16 when he arrived. I’ve never been able to find what ship he arrived. With his age and the year of arrival, I always wondered, was he a convict?
A few weeks ago I requested a research service from the Buckinghamshire Family History Society to provide a list of all the baptism’s, burials & marriages for the surname of Shoulders, spanning from 1750-1850 across Buckinghamshire, using all possible variant spellings, including Shouldar, Showler, Shouler, Shouldar. With this, there were a few possibilities with baptisms in Aylesbury ranging from 1804 to 1816.
I then did a search on the NSW State Record Online Index for John, using a number of different variant spellings, which I had not considered doing before.
This is what I find:
- SHOWLER John Countess of Harcourt 1828 33/758 Ticket of Leave [4/4090; Reel 920] District: Inverary; Tried: Bucks QS
- SHOWLER John Countess of Harcourt 1828 40/0846 15 May 1840 Certificate of Freedom [4/4358; Reel 1006] TL 33/758
I then checked the UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849 Record for John Showler and find that he was tried at Aylesbury Buckinghamshire on the 15th January 1828 for stealing bacon, and pork. Another record shows that John was 21 and that he is listed as being in custody before and of ‘bad character’. His NSW convict indent in 1828 though shows that he was only 20. He arrived in April 1828 but does not appear in the NSW 1828 Census.
From checking the baptism records a John Showler, the closest possible baptism is one that is recorded in 1804 to parents James & Esther both of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Despite this John Showler being about 10 years older than John Shoulders, could he actually be John Shoulders? There are no records of John Shoulders prior to his marriage in 1851 in NSW or any of the other Australian states and apart from the TOL and CF that John Showler received in 1840, there appears so far to be no other record of John Showler in NSW. I note that at this present time I am in no way confirming that John Showler is John Shoulders but just putting it out there that MAYBE they might be the one and the same. So if you are connected to the Shouler/Showler family in Aylesbury Buckinghamshire, let me know and maybe we might be able to confirm the connection. I am the type of person who will not confirm a connection until I have positive proof.
I also note that a Thomas Showler, also arrived in 1832 on board the Georgina. On his convict indent, it states that he had a cousin John Showler living in the colony for 3 years.
- SHOWLER Thomas Georgiana 1831 38/1157 Ticket of Leave [4/4121; Reel 930] District: Goulburn; Born: Bucks; Trade: Ploughs; Tried: Bucks QS
- SHOWLER Thomas Georgiana 1831 49/0225 11 May 1849 Certificate of Freedom [4/4412; Reel 1026] TL 39/1157
I’ve also found reference to a James Shoulder born Aylesbury, who had served in the 11th Dragoons. From checking James’ military record on Find My Past, James had enlisted in 1817 and was discharged in 1838. He is in the 1841 census and living at Aylesbury, also in the household is a Mary Showler (45), Thomas Wheeler (20) and Joseph Freman (10). The next census I find James is in the 1871 census and he is living at Chelsea London with his wife Elizabeth (60) and with two children Henry (20) and Sophia (19). From checking and comparing the baptism records for Aylesbury, it appears James’s parents were Thomas & Mary or Maria and is ‘possibly’ the brother to Thomas Showler, the convict who arrived here in 1832, as his parents appear to have been Thomas & Maryann.