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Elizabeth Tebbutt

Married to Robert Chapman 1809  [1]

Married to John Ashcroft 1818

Elizabeth was born in London the eldest child of Ann and John Tebbutt and baptised at St. Clement Danes on 15th August 1790, opposite today’s Australia House on the corner of Fleet Street, London. Three little brothers followed in the next seven years. We do not know when Elizabeth’s father joined the army but living in London John Tebbutt was in a good place to hear of the opportunities to prosper as a member of the New South Wales Corps in the new colony and in 1801 sailed for Port Jackson with his wife Ann, Elizabeth and the three small boys on board the Nile [2].

Elizabeth was about fourteen years old when she went to work for Rowland Hassall as a serving maid and it is while working there she met Robert Chapman a young convict who had been assigned to Rowland Hassall as a servant. The young couple Elizabeth eighteen and Robert twenty six appear to have married in 1808. John was born on 3rd August 1809 and William on 15th August 1811 both were baptised at St Philips, Sydney on the 19th April 1812, Elizabeth was born on the 26th April 1814 and baptised on the 18th February at Parramatta [3].

Shortly after the birth of John, Robert Chapman was leased forty acres at Airds for the rent of one shilling a year on the 25th August 1809 [4] by Governor Macquarie and the young couple lived there in a small hut they built. Five-year-old John died 12th September 1814 and was buried at St. Luke’s Liverpool. Further tragedy followed swiftly and seven months later Elizabeth’s husband Robert was killed when he was thrown by a horse on the 12th April 1815. Robert was buried at St. Luke’s Liverpool on the 15th April 1815.

The young widow Elizabeth managed to keep her small farm and went to work for Colonel Molle as a housekeeper she took young William with her and her baby daughter Elizabeth went to live with Elizabeth’s mother Ann Tebbutt at Windsor. While working at Colonel Molle’s Elizabeth met the convict John Ashcroft.

William had been assigned to Samuel Hassall as an apprentice shoemaker. Elizabeth and John had a son John on 14th March 1817 and Elizabeth applied for John to be assigned to her as a servant and they married on the 20th April 1818, in all they had six sons and three daughters. William Chapman took a lively interest in his six half brothers and a number of them followed him to the Riverina and made their lives down there. Elizabeth died on the 18th January 1847 and was buried at St Peter’s Churchyard, Campbelltown on the 21st January by Rev. W Stack. Elizabeth had eleven grand children from her first marriage and forty from her second marriage.


William Chapman inherited his parents’ home, which became known in the family as the Old Farm and remained in the family possession until about 1900; it was on the outskirts of Campbelltown near the railway crossing and today is still known as Chapman’s Corner and Glenlee Coal Washing Plant occupies the site.

[1] The records for Robert Chapman and Elizabeth Tebbutt’s marriage have never been found though often spoken of; when Elizabeth married John Ashcroft in 1818 she was entered in the registry as a widow this would not have been permitted unless there was a recognised marriage.
[2] The Corps returned to England in 1810, but 500 officers remained behind to receive land grants and to become the first free settlers. Encyclopaedia of Australia.
[3] In all records the parents are given as married.
[4] The custom was if a convict married for him to be given a parcel of land to rent — initially 40 acres.

Margaret Hardwick, 2009

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  ••• web page made 26 November 2009; last edited  •••