Sarah Cobcroft (Smith) (1772 - 1857)

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Sarah Cobcroft's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Holborn, London, England
Death: Died in Wilberforce, NSW, Australia
Occupation: Midwife
Managed by: Anne-Michele Baker (Werbeloff)
Last Updated:

About Sarah Cobcroft (Smith)

Sarah Smith, aged 17, was one of a small group of women and their children who embarked on the ship 'Neptune' in late 1789. They had accepted a government offer of free passage to the colony for the wives or de facto partners of convicts on the fleet. Two of the other free women who embarked on the 'Neptune' were legally married to John Wood and William Fielder, who had been convicted with Cobcroft. -------------------- Sarah Smith, aged 17, was one of a small group of women and their children who embarked on the Neptune transport in late 1789. They had accepted a government offer of a free passage to the colony for the wives or de facto partners of convicts on the fleet. In the colony she lived with John Cobcroft (b.c1760, tried Old Bailey), but for an unknown reason they did not marry until 1842. It seems almost certain that she embarked as Cobcroft's de facto wife. Two of the other free women who embarked on the Neptune were legally married to John Wood and William Fielder, who had been convicted with Cobcroft. Sarah Smith was baptised at Holborn, London on 3 December 1772, the daughter of William and Esther Turner. The couple's children born in the colony were: Richard William (1793), Elizabeth (b. & d. 1795), John Frederick (1797), Sarah (1799), Mary Ann (c1801), Susannah (1805), James (c1807), George (1810), Eliza (1812) and Matilda (1813). Until his death at 23 in 1830 she cared for her son James, who suffered from a condition described as parralitic insanity (epilepsy) from childhood. From 1795 the couple were settled on a 30 acre grant on the left bank of Wilberforce Reach on the Hawkesbury River. They prospered steadily, building their landholdings by grant and purchase to a total of 485 acres by 1828. Throughout her working life Sarah acted as a midwife to the women of Wilberforce district and delivered the children of convict women free of charge. A portrait of her in old age depicts a determined and indomitable matriarch. She was reunited with her sister Susannah after a separation of 50 years when the latter arrived in the colony in 1839 (dying 1844), John Cobcroft died in 1853. Sarah died on 31 May 1857, aged 85, and was buried with her husband in the family vault in Wilberforce Cemetery. Their descendants are estimated to number well in excess of 8,000. Notes: See D. Bowd, Hawkesbury Journey p98; Sarah Smith was unable to write her name; some publications have incorrectly identified her as a female convict of this name who arrived on the Neptune; Sarah stated in her 1825 memorial (AONSW 4/1840C, p777) that she had come free to the colony together with six other females sent out by Government for the purpose of practising midwifery per ship Neptune; although she undoubtedly became a skilled midwife in the colony there is no evidence that the Government sent free women to the colony for this specific purpose; her statement is more likely a slight distortion of the circumstances of her arrival in an attempt to give her position and services a more official appearance; some details contibuted by W.J. Luxford, P. McIntyre & A. Needham.3

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Sarah Cobcroft's Timeline

1772
November 30, 1772
Holborn, London, England
December 3, 1772
Holborn, London, England
December 3, 1772
Holborn, London, England
1789
1789
Age 16
UK

Sarah Smith, aged 17, was one of a small group of women and their children who embarked on the ship 'Neptune' in late 1789. They had accepted a government offer of free passage tot he colony for the wives or de facto partners of convicts on the fleet. Two of the other free women who embarked on the 'Naptun'e were legally married to John Wood and William Fielder, who had been convicted with Cobcroft.

1790
1790
Age 17
1793
February 3, 1793
Age 20
Parramatta, NSW, Australia
1795
1795
Age 22
Hawkesbury, New South Wales, Australia
1797
May 15, 1797
Age 24
Wilberforce, NSW, Australia
1799
September 13, 1799
Age 26
Wilberforce, NSW, Australia
1802
1802
Age 29
Wilberforce, New South Wales, Australia