Ann Davis

The senior founder of the family in Australia was Ann Davis who arrived as a convict on the Lady Juliana in 1789. The vessel was the first to arrive in Sydney after the First Fleet and brought Ann and 226 other female convicts.

Ann was probably born in 1772 and when fifteen was arrested for pawning a gown, skirt, five caps and other items of clothing belonging to Betty Gough, the wife of a labourer, Isaac, in the parish of St George's in Gloucester. She might well have been sentenced to death for burglary but the jury convicted her only of theft and sentenced her to seven years transportation. It seems probable that this was not her first essay into crime for a person of the same name and age received a whipping from the Gloucester court in Oct 1887 for the theft of a pair of woman's stays and a dozen caps. That offence took place in the parish of St Philip and Jacob in the city of Gloucester and the punishment was meted out at Lawford's Cross near Bristol. We can therefore assume that our founding mother was a lively young woman from the West Country of England with a penchant for stealing and selling women's clothing.

From Lent in 1788 to mid March of the next year Ann languished in Gloucester Castle Gaol. She was then sent to London to embark on the
Lady Juliana and left England forever on 29 July. The voyage took nearly a year – forty five days were spent in Rio and almost three weeks in Cape Town. This boisterous party of women and a priceless cargo of food arrived in Sydney in June 1790 and received a grateful welcome for the colony was near starvation. Young women were not common in the settlement and Ann was not short of lovers. On Sunday 20th May 1792 David Collins, the Judge-Advocate wrote in his journal that Ann Davis gave birth to a son fathered by Samuel Richards. On 1 July he recorded that the child was baptised Samuel on that day.

We know little of the history of the boy's father. He seems to have disappeared from her life, perhaps as a result of the death of their son in February 1795. Not alone for long Ann was in a relationship with Thomas Fowles (or Fowler) later that year. He was a convict from Manchester who arrived on the Atlantic on 20 August 1791. In July 1796 Ann's first daughter, Elizabeth was baptised and, Fowles was recorded as the father. This relationship was short also lived for the in 1798 she was recorded as being with Thomas Williams.

Like her other common-law husbands we know little of Thomas Williams for there is some doubt about his identity. His was a very common name - three men of this name appear in census NSW in 1818. The most likely person was born in London and sentenced to seven years transportation on 20 July 1791. When he arrived on the Royal Admiral (part of the Fourth Fleet) in October 1792 Ann was still nursing her son, Sam Richards, but may have been separated from the father. We do know that towards the completion of his sentence Thomas met Ann Davis who had completed her sentence some years earlier. They lived together and began farming at Toongabbie grazing their animals on Prospect Common.

The Government Farm at Toongabbie covered 1017 acres. The Governor began granting land around Parramatta to ex-convicts in 1791 in order to supplement the production of food for the colony. By 1792 almost 2000 people lived at Parramatta, almost double the number in Sydney. Ann had a daughter Mary with Thomas Williams who was also baptised at Parramatta by Samuel Marsden in June 1802. These ceremonies were held in a temporary church built from two convict huts on the corner of present day George and Marsden St. The parish was called St. John's and Marsden opened the permanent church of this name in April 1803. Ann’s second son was born at Toongabbie late in 1798 and Thomas II was christened on New Year's Day 1799, the ceremony for her second daughter Mary took place on 10 October 1802.

It seems likely that the Thomas Williams, whose death is recorded in the register of St. John's as having taken place on 11 March 1803, was Ann Davis' partner and the father of Thomas II and Mary Williams. However Ken Roughley rules out this identity in his history of that family - These walls of Time. Another researcher claims that Elizabeth's father was the marine called Thomas Williams who arrived on the First Fleet.

When Thomas Williams died Ann was just over thirty, she had little or no sight, and had three living children. She needed a new partner and by 1804 she had found her last partner, Simon Moulds. Moulds was born in Enfield Middlesex and arrived on the Barwell in May 1798 and at the time was still serving his sentence as a Government Stockkeeper at Toongabbie. In 1805 and 1808 Ann gave birth to two more children - Simon and Sussanah. In 1810 she petitioned Governor Macquarie for confirmation of an 80-acre land grant promised to her by the Anti-Bligh administration but not surveyed. This promise must have been made in 1808-9 and related to the land worked by Thomas Williams. In her application she said she had five children (Elizabeth Fowles, Thomas and Mary Williams, and Simon and Sussanah Moulds), had been blind for thirteen years and had demonstrated good behaviour. Her application was not granted but she did receive Government rations because of her disability.

Ann had two more children with Simon, Charlotte and John, who were born at Toongabbie in 1811 and 1814 respectively. Simon had completed his sentence in 1813 and prospered enough to buy a farm and apply for a further land grant to the in 1820. By then he said he owned thirteen cattle and sixty sheep and supported a wife and four children. From this we can deduce that Ann's three older children were now independent. After living with him for sixteen years Ann married Simon Moulds at St Johns Parramatta on 21 February 1820 and with his new status Simon received his grant of 50 acres in the Bathurst District of Parramatta. He had sown 14 acres of wheat, maize and barley and now owned 2 horses, 15 cattle, 80 sheep and 10 pigs. The farm was situated in what is now Kellyville on the Old Windsor Road, near the Soccer Academy and Meurants Lane. They continued to prosper and by 1828 were living at Seven Hills and holding 170 acres of farmland. At the same time his eldest son Simon II, had also obtained 60 acres of land at Castle Hill and had cultivated 10 acres. Simon Moulds Snr. died in June 1843 but Ann lived until she was 80. Both were buried in the Churchyard of St. John's and their headstone survives.