George & Elizabeth Youngson
Transportation to Australia was a dire sentence for anyone; one that meant months of incarceration in England followed by an arduous journey to the other side of the world. How much harder it must have been for children can only be imagined.
Among the 688 convicts who landed in Australia in January 1788 (the First Fleet) were George and Elizabeth Youngson.
The children of Thomas Youngson and Elizabeth Robinson, they were tried at Lancaster Assizes on Monday 26th March 1787 before the Earl of Mansfield and Sr Richard Perryn.
Evidence was given that at 3a.m. on 15th September 1786, the pair had been discovered in the silk warehouse of James Noble in Moor Lane, Lancaster. They had apparently forced open a window, gained entry and stolen 41 shillings in silver and six shillings and ninepence in copper.
Both children confessed to the crime, which at that time carried the death sentence.
Both were convicted and duly sentenced to hang, but were reprieved some three weeks later, their sentences reduced to seven years transportation. Taken to Portsmouth, they were put aboard the convict transport ‘Prince of Wales’ and after a voyage of 252 days landed at Port Jackson – modern day Sydney. Records show that from there they were sent to Norfolk Island where they remained until 1794. After this date no further record exists of George’s fate.
In May 1798 Elizabeth married a fellow-convict, Abraham Lee. The couple separated in 1808 after Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter fathered by another man. Lee died in 1819.
There is a record of one Elizabeth Lee dying in 1854 at the age of 82. Although there is still some uncertainty that this was ‘our’ Elizabeth, the ages do tally, and many of her descendants believe the two women to be one and the same. If so, at the time of her death Elizabeth would have been one of the oldest survivors of the First Fleet, as she was 13 at the time of her trial, and George a year younger.
We are grateful to Pamela Christiano of Victoria, Australia for the information supplied about her ancestor.If anyone knows any more about George we would be delighted to hear from you.