New Norfolk – Betty King

Marvelous things on our own doorstep! We do not need to travel far to be transported into another world. Transportation was certainly uppermost in out thoughts when Dedrie and I visited New Norfolk in Tasmania and then travelled through Launceston on our way to catch the ferry.

In the New Norfolk town cemetery we came across the grave of Betty Thackeray King .

Betty (born 1767) was a convict. She was sentenced at Manchester 4th May 1786 for seven years transportation for stealing two black silk handkerchiefs and three others.

Betty spent her first year in prison hulks, but when the First Fleet set sail she was aboard the vessel, Friendship.

She proved to be a troublesome prisoner and at the Cape of Good Hope she was transferred to the vessel Charlotte. Betty was a problem for the authorities. In July 1787 she was handcuffed to Elizabeth Pulley (Pooley), (who had her death sentence commuted to transportation), for making their way to the seaman’s quarters.

This did not deter Betty as she repeated the performance. She was then handcuffed to Elizabeth Barber. Lt Ralph Clark wrote: “The damned whores the moment that they got below fell a fighting amongst one another – and Captain Meredith ordered the sergeant not to part them, but to let them fight it out, which I think is very wrong in letting them do so.”

After many months at sea, on the 20th January 1788, “Land Ho” was shouted. At long last Botany Bay was sighted.  officers and other marines gathered around an erected flagpole and history was enacted.

According to anecdote, Betty at the time of arrival at Botany Bay, acted as a Lady’s Maid to the Officer’s wives. The Officer’s ladies were to be the first white women to land. They did not like the look of the surf through which they were to be carried, with the possibility of getting a wetting. Just to be reassured, they asked that Betty be carried ashore first as a rehearsal. This was apparently done.

From Sydney, Betty was transported to Norfolk Island. Trouble followed Betty as she was given 25 lashes for being absent without leave from the settlement.

Samuel King arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1808. Betty, a freed convict then, arrived with other Norfolk Islanders where she married Samuel and they were given land grants at New Norfolk (Back River).

In her Will (1855), Betty left her property to Ebenezer Shoobridge. It was Mr. Shoobridge’s descendant, Henry, who went to lengths more than a hundred years after her death to erect a tombstone to her memory – the one Dedrie is now looking at. This was done by the permission of the Trustees of the Back River Methodist Church. The exact spot of her burial place was not exactly known, so the tombstone was erected “near this spot”. A latter owner of “King Rocks” said that Betty was buried in the corner of the cemetery, about 20