The following story was told to the children of Class 3S at Yowie Bay Public School in November 2012 following the presentation of the First Fleet chart to the school by our granddaughter Tiffany Wilson.

Ann Forbes was born about 1770 (the year Captain Cook discovered Australia).  She grew up in very hard times - no comfortable place to go to sleep, often going hungry because there was no food for the family, and bad things were happening to people who lived around her.  So no wonder from an early age she was in trouble with the law.  When she was about 18, her friend, Lydia Munro persuaded her to go to a shop nearby and together they stole a bundle of cotton material - we think they were each going to make themselves a dress or perhaps make one for their mothers.  Unfortunately, someone saw them and the shopkeeper reported it to the police who immediately arrested them and put them in gaol.   At their trial, the judge decided they would die by hanging for their crime.  Another judge later reduced their sentence to being sent to Botany Bay in one of the ships that was about to sail for the new land discovered by Captain Cook 8 years before.   This was because the gaols in England were so full that the government had to find somewhere else to send those who had committed a crime. 

Ann was given a 7 year sentence but her friend Lydia got 14 years so we believe Ann was not the main culprit in the crime.   So together with 777 other convicts, only 191 of whom were women, Ann Forbes left England in May, 1787 on the sailing ship "Prince of Wales" with the First Fleet bound for the new colony in Botany Bay.


Poor Ann must have found the trip very unpleasant and perhaps wondered where on earth they were taking her when the distance was so great.  She managed to survive the trip that took 8 long months.  Many times she was seasick from the rolling of the boats in the rough seas.  They were often kept below deck for days at a time with no fresh air, no dry blankets to keep them warm, no pillows to snuggle into, no toilets or clean water to wash themselves and very little food to eat.   For 8 months!! When they finally arrived in Sydney Cove the women convicts were kept on board their ships until the male convicts had prepared a place of shelter for them at Sydney Cove.


Soon after her arrival in Sydney, Ann made friends with another convict named George and they soon had 2 children.   Food was very scarce because the place they had chosen to set up the colony had very bad soil and the seeds they had brought from England soon died, so no flour to make bread and no fresh vegetables.


Governor Phillip decided to send some of the convicts to Norfolk Island in the hope of finding somewhere else to grow more food so Ann and George were chosen to go.   She stayed on Norfolk for 4 years and during this time Ann had 2 more children to another convict named William Dring.  Three of her babies died.


In 1794 Ann and her 1 surviving child were taken back to Sydney and here she separates from William Dring.  Ann married Thomas Huxley, a convict who had come to Sydney on the Third Fleet.  His crime was that he had stolen a handkerchief and for that he was given a sentence of 7 years. 

Thomas was a hard worker and promised Ann that he would work to provide for her and her children.  Ann was very happy with Thomas and together they had another 11 children.  At first they lived on land given to Thomas after he had served his 7 years - that was in the Blakehurst area.  Thomas made friends with the aborigines who lived in this area but they couldn't pronounce his name properly so instead of saying "Tom Huxley" they called him "Tom Ugly".  So when a punt was built to cross the Georges River between Sylvania and Blakehurst it was called Tom Ugly's Crossing.   Of course, today we know it as Tom Ugly's bridge. So if you have ever wondered who Tom Ugly was that they should name a bridge after him - now you know - it was Tiffany's great, great, great, great, great grandfather!!


Later Thomas and Ann moved their family to Lower Portland on the Hawkesbury River where they started a little farm and grew their own vegetables and had a couple of cows.  They worked very hard to make a living there and made friends with the aborigines who lived in that area.  


Ann died in 1851 at the age of 80. She was recognised as being the oldest living First Fleet convict in Australia at that time.  At the time of her death she had 115 grandchildren!!!  Just imagine trying to remember all their names and birthdays.  However I don't think Ann and Thomas would have had any money to buy them all presents, do you?


Our family is very proud of Ann - she is Tiffany's great, great, great, great, great grandmother - she was a true pioneer and founding mother of our nation!!

Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters South Coast Chapter