John Pye, born on 4 August, 1809, was the middle child of Joseph and Mary Pye of Rickerscote, Staffordshire.
John appears to have been a strong-willed youth who was determined to marry the girl he wished as the young couple married in St Peter’s Collegiate church in Wolverhampton and not in their parish church of St Mary’s, Castle Church near Stafford. The year was 1826. They were both recorded as being of ‘full age’ however, John Pye was only seventeen years of age when he married and his bride, Sarah Lees, was probably of a similar age.
They returned home to Rickerscote and two children were born to them; John junior in 1828 and Mary in 1831. Both children were to die in 1831. It appears that John and his family moved to Lancashire and it was in this county in 1835 that John Pye was convicted, jointly with a man named William Shaw, of stealing malt and hops. John was described as a farm servant of Rixton-with-Glazebrook, Lancashire.
The two men were convicted and sentenced to transportation to the Colony of New South Wales for a period of seven years. What became of Sarah and their two daughters (recorded on John’s transportation record; unnamed and presumably born in Lancashire) is unknown. I was unable to find an 1841 census record in Rixton-with-Glazebrook of a Sarah Pye with two daughters, or even a remarried Sarah, not born in the County with two Pye daughters.
I have since found that Sarah Pye returned to Staffordshire and married a widower called Joseph Dain in 1839. They had a daughter named Sarah Ann Dain in 1841 who married Edward Purcell.
John Pye and William Shaw were sent to London and held on the prison hulk “Justitia” which was moored on the Thames at Woolwich. The prisoners were engaged in dock works and other similar works prior to transportation. After about eleven months on the Hulk John Pye left Woolwich on 25 May, 1836 and arrived in New South Wales on 12 October, 1836. The Lady Kennaway’s shipping list states that John Pye was a 26 year old Farm servant, 5’ 4’ in height. His distinguishing marks were a scar on the left side of forehead and scars on top of the middle and third fingers and they were much disfigured. (I wonder if John injured his hands in various scraps – as he appears to have been a feisty little fellow).
When John Pye arrived in Sydney at the end of 1836, the convict population had increased to 31,186 (of a total population of 77,096). Of these some 1,152 were ‘on the roads in irons’, 4,480 held ticket-of-leave, and 20,934 were ‘in private service’. John Pye was assigned to William Brown of Pitt Town near Windsor. John Pye received his Ticket-of-Leave on 9 January, 1841, five years after his arrival. He received his Certificate of Freedom on the 11 October, 1842.
John married the native born Elizabeth Wood on 17 April, 1843. Elizabeth was sixteen years old when she married John, who was 33 years of age. Elizabeth’s father was John Downing Wood who had been convicted in the Old Bailey for forgery and had arrived in the Colony in 1811. At the end of his sentence John Wood gained employment as a teacher.
Though John Pye was not a widower, he was legally able to marry again if a period of seven years had elapsed from the separation of his wife ‘by distance and time’. John and Elizabeth had twelve children, two of whom died as infants. All ten surviving children married and raised their own families. As evidenced by where their children were born, it appears that John and Elizabeth first lived at Kurrajong, were their first two sons were born, before moving south to Braidwood where the third son was born, before returning to the Windsor district where he farmed at Cornwallis.
After the great flood of 1867, in which 13 members of two Eather families drowned, John and his family moved up above the river flat to Newtown, a part of Windsor town.
According to the ‘Parliamentary Return of Landholders 1885, Windsor District’ John Pye had 31 acres of land, 4 horses, 2 cattle and 4 pigs. He was also the Church Warden at St Matthew’s church, Windsor.
When John Pye died at Newtown, Windsor on 20 December, 1892 at the age of 83, he was described by Rev. Gerard D’Arcy Williams of St Matthew’s as “an aged Saint” His Will showed that he was able to leave houses and blocks of land in Windsor to his sons and daughters.
Further details on John Pye and his descendants are recorded in my books, “Tapestry”.