Sarah (Smith) Cobcroft [Free "Neptune" 1790]

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Sarah (Smith) Cobcroft [Free "Neptune" 1790]'s Geni Profile

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Sarah Cobcroft (Smith)

Also Known As: "Sarah Smith", "Sarah Cobcroft"
Birthplace: Holborn, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Death: May 31, 1857 (84)
Wilberforce, NSW, Australia
Place of Burial: Wilberforce, NSW, Australia
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Smith and Esther Smith
Wife of John Cobcroft, Convict “Scarborough” 1790
Mother of Richard William Cobcroft; John Frederick Cobcroft; Sarah Ismena Blackman; Mary Ann Ford; Susannah McManus and 5 others
Sister of Susannah Spencer - Sephton, convict "Indispensible" 1796

Occupation: Midwife
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sarah (Smith) Cobcroft [Free "Neptune" 1790]

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 (Smith) Cobcroft [Free "Neptune" 1790]'s Timeline

November 30, 1772
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
December 3, 1772
Holborn, London, England
December 3, 1772
Holborn, London, England
February 3, 1793
Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
Hawkesbury, New South Wales, Australia
May 15, 1797
Wilberforce, NSW, Australia
September 13, 1799
Wilberforce, NSW, Australia