Eleanor Blake1

#9971, b. 1790, d. July 1850

Jeffry Hart BENT was one of the free passengers on board this voyage. He was sent out from England as the first Judge of the 'Supreme Court of Civil Judicature'. Before this, Governor Macquarie had presided, and there was much argy bargy between Jeffry and his brother Ellis on one side and the Governor on the other.
Journal of a Voyage Performed on Board the Ship Broxbornebury from England to New South Wales
By J. H. Bent 1814

Individual's Timeline

Birth1790Eleanor Blake1
EmigratAU27 July 1814Eleanor Blake1
Marriage7 March 1820Eleanor Blake1
Death23 February 1850Peter McAlpin1
DeathJuly 1850Eleanor McAlpin2

Primary events

  • Birth: Eleanor Blake was born in 1790 in Unknown date from her age at conviction.1
  • Marriage: She married Peter McAlpin on Tuesday, 7 March 1820 in St Peter's, Richmond, New South Wales, Australia, when they were 52 years ~&~ 30 years old. Eleanor was assigned to Peter, and it appears that the marriage was one of ceonvenience. I have not found any record of children, but it is said she was living in a house owned by Peter when she died.1
  • (Widow) Death: In 1850, at the age of 60 years, Eleanor was left a widow by the death of Peter McAlpin; Buried St Matthew's Windsor. This death was not registered officially (compulsory registration for deaths was not in force until 1856).1
  • Death: Eleanor died in July 1850 in Richmond, New South Wales, Australia, in Richmond, living in one of Peter's houses at the time. Buried St Matthew's Windsor. This death was not registered officially (compulsory registration for deaths was not in force until 1856). (Aged 60 years, worked back from recorded birth date).2
  • Burial: She was buried on 1 August 1850 in St Matthew's Romon Catholic Churchyard, Windsor, New South Wales, Australia, 31 days after she died?2

Secondary circumstances

  • Criminal: On 8 June 1812 in Greater London, England, Eleanor Blake was sentenced to 7 years for theft of a watch.3
  • EmigratAU: She emigrated to Australia on 27 July 1814 in ship 'Broxbornebury' from Australia. a convict.1
  • Married Name: Her married name was McAlpin.1

Census details

Brushes with the LAW

Her trial details from the Old Bailey web site - ELEANOR BLAKE was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 8th of June, a watch, value £10, a seal, value 10s., and two watch-keys, value 6d., the property of Phineas Taytasac, in his dwelling-house; and ELIZABETH CASSDAY for receiving, on the same day, the said goods she knowing them to be stolen.

PHINEAS TAYTASAC - I am a merchant. I live at 71 Great Prescott-street, Goodman's-fields. I lost my watch on the 4th of June. I missed it from the parlour. It was hanging at the mantle-piece. Immediately I missed it I had a number of handbills printed, and distributed them among the silversmiths and pawnbrokers without any effect. On the Sunday following I called Eleanor Blake, my servant, into a room, and told her, that I suspected she had taken the watch, and that I was well convinced that nobody else could have taken it. She then denied it very strongly. I said, if you have taken the watch, I will forgive you, on condition that you return me the watch. She said, if I would forgive her she would confess.

Q. Did you find it afterwards - A. I did, in the box of Elizabeth Cassidy.

Prisoner Blake. You know very well that you gave me that watch, and what for; so you need not go on no more.

Prosecutor. I did not. She said, if I would forgive her she would disclose the circumstance. I answered; I would, provided I got the watch back again. She then said that she had taken it from the parlour, and gave it to Elizabeth Cassidy to save. I immediately applied to the headborough of the parish. The prisoner Blake, the headborough, and myself, went to Cassidy, and asked her for the watch. Cassidy denied having the watch. I immediately gave her in charge of the headborough. He took both the prisoners to the watchhouse. Cassidy, previous to her being brought before the magistrate, she said, if you will not do any more to me I will acknowledge it. She immediately took the key of her house out of her pocket, and gave it me. We went to her house. She took us up stairs into the first floor. She said, that is the box where the watch is in. She looked for the key. Not being able to find it she broke it open. We took the watch from the bottom of the box.

Prisoner Blake. He gave me the watch for having connexion with me.

Prosecutor. Upon my oath, I never did.

Blake's Defence. He gave me this watch at the time he was ill. I was lighting him to bed. He took the opportunity of ill using me. He gave me a dollar. I would not have it. I knew it was a bad one. He then said, take my watch. I consented, and took it in keeping until the next morning I had no place to keep it. I gave it to this gentlewoman, for fear I should lose it. This woman is innocent. She knows nothing at all about it.

Cassday's Defence. Blake came to me one day when my husband was at dinner. She said, Mrs. Cassidy take care of this, and give it to nobody but me. The officer broke open my box. I was so frightened I could not find the key. I know nothing about how she got the watch. I am quite innocent indeed.

JAMES KING. I am an officer. I apprehended the two prisoners. Blake confessed that she had taken the watch, and given it to Cassidy to keep. She shewed us Cassday's house, Cassidy denied having the watch. I took her down to the watch-house and confined her two hours and a half. She told us in the watchhouse, if we would forgive her she would take us back to her house, and give us the watch. We went back and found the watch in the bottom of her box. This is the watch.

Prosecutor. It is my watch.

Cassidy called four witnesses, who gave her a good character.

BLAKE, GUILTY, aged 22, of stealing to the value of 39s. Transported for Seven Years .


Eleanor was originally put on to the Emu in 1812, one of 40 women convicts.

The ship and the voyage - Convict transport. Brig. 220 tons. The first Emu under the command of Lieut. Alexander Bissett was captured on 30 November 1812 in the Atlantic by the American privateer Holkar during the British-American War of 1812-1814. The Emu was subsequently taken to New York as a 'prize' and sold there. The captain, crew (22), and forty-nine women convicts on board were put ashore at Porto Grande on the island of St Vincent in the Cape Verde Islands on 17 January 1813. The castaways were eventually rescued after 12 months by the Isabella and returned to Britain. However the convict women were not permitted to land but were placed on a hulk in Portsmouth harbour and subsequently placed on board the transport Broxbornebury which sailed for New South Wales on 22 February 1814, arriving on 27 July 1814.

Her next ship and voyage - Embarked 120 women. Voyage 156 days, Deaths 2. There is no record of a Surgeon's Journal for this voyage
Master Thomas Pitcher jnr. Surgeon Colin McLachlan

The Broxbornebury was built at Gravesend, River Thames in 1812. She was condemned in 1843

The Broxbornebury with female convicts departed England 22 February 1814. Some of the seamen who were employed on the Broxbornebury included Cornelius McGuire, Thomas Lewis, Alexander Grant, James Sullivan, James Ryan, Thomas Hunt, John Simmons, Aaron Walters, Thomas Davis, Andrew Angel, John Morris, Nicholas Johnson and Samuel Johnson. These sailors later absconded in Sydney and a reward was offered for their apprehension.

The Lloyds Marine List of 31st March reported that the Broxbornebury on her voyage from London to New South Wales; and the Cape Packet, Agnew, from London to the Isles of Frances, and Cape of Good Hope, put into Corunna, on 3rd, having separated from the fleet which sailed from Portsmouth 21st ult., under convoy of His Majesty's ship Dannemark, in a very heavy gale of wind. The Cape Packet had received so much damage that it was supposed she would be obliged to discharge.

The Broxbornebury arrived in Port Jackson on 28 July 1814 with 118 female prisoners. The voyage took 156 days to complete. This was the same day the fever ship Surry arrived. The Broxbornbury fell in with the Surry off Shoal Haven and on speaking to her, learnt that from the relaxed state of the crew, and illness of the surviving officers, her safe conduct into Port Jackson was despaired of, unless assisted from the other ship with some person capable of navigating her in; for which service a seaman capable of the task generously volunteered his service and brought her in. Thomas Raine, a junior officer was the only surviving officer left on the Surry.

The Broxbornebury was one of three convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1814, the others being the Wanstead and the Catherine. A total of 322 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1814.

I have not found any record of Eleanor in NSW convict records - no assignment, no details of her freedom, no description. There is no mention in NSW records of convicts aboard the EMU (not surprising as it never arrived in Australia) and the list of women from the Broxbornebury does not include anyone who could be Eleanor.

Eleanor has no known connection to our BLAKE families, but the story of her voyages is surely worth telling. None of the above is original research carried out by me.

Research Notes

  • Research note 01: Eleanor and Peter appear in the index of the 1822 General Muster. She stated to be the wife of P McAlpine who was living in Windsor, and she had 4 children with her. They are simply named as BLAKE, with no given name noted. Odd that they would be BLAKE and not McALPINE. She was free by servitude, which means her term of 'imprisonment' had expired..

Family of Eleanor Blake and Peter McAlpin


  1. J. Selkirk Provis C. J. Smee, 1788 - 1820 Pioneer Register.
  2. Copyright 2006, updated continuously, ISSN 1833-7538 Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian Dictionery of Bigraphies online, Spurway, John, ed. Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record. Series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899. Sydney: A.B.G.R., 1992.
  3. Claim a convict, online http://users.bigpond.net.au/convicts
  4. Research opportunities unknown file number.
  5. On line index of film, unknown repository address, McAlpine Peter 424 Francis Street, Richmond, County Cumberland, District Windsor [X951] 47 2223.