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Spencer, Thomas (1759–1821)

Thomas Spencer, a marine in the 50th (Portsmouth) Company, arrived in Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Scarborough as part of the First Fleet. He served at Port Jackson in Captain John Shea's company. He was sent to Norfolk Island on 4 March 1790 on the Sirius, returning to New South Wales by the Supply in May 1791. It is believed that he is the father of Mary Philipps' daughter, Sarah, born in November 1791.

Spence returned to Norfolk Island on the Atlantic in October 1791 having decided to settle there. He settled on Lot no 63 (60 acres) at Arthur's Vale in November. By the end of 1792 he was selling grain to stores and in October 1793 was elected a member of the Norfolk Island Settlers Society. In May 1794 he hired James McIlven as a labourer for a year.

Spencer left Norfolk Island in April 1796 for Port Jackson. In 1800 he was living in purchased land at Mulgrave Place. He received a grant of 100 acres at Mulgrave Place in 1802. By then he was living with a woman. In 1806 he was described as a settler at Richmond with half of his 130 acres in grain, 1½ acres in garden and vegetables, and more than 100 as pasture. He owned a horse, 30 goats, 30 hogs. He, his wife Susan Smith, and two free men he employed, were all living off stores. William Faithfull was renting land from him in 1806.

Spencer and Smith had no children but there are letters, written in 1820, stating that he was caring for the orphan William Osburne. Spencer died at Richmond on 3 February 1821 and was buried at St Peter's, Richmond; his age was given as 61.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 340-41

Citation details

'Spencer, Thomas (1759–1821)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 5 August 2020.

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