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Ann Colpitts (c. 1759–1832)

by Laurence Turtle

Ann Colpitts (previously Watson) was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing twelve cotton handkerchiefs from a shop.  This was not the first time she had had a brush with the law, having been committed to gaol in 1780. She was described in the indictment files as Ann Watson, a Scottish widow who passed as the wife of Thomas Colpitts (alias Stewart). More crimes followed as part of the Bishop-Auckland Gang of Thieves.  Ann was known to have had at least two children in England, possibly four. She arrived in Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Lady Penhryn, in the First Fleet and was recorded in the ship's indent as being aged 28. Her occupation was given as 'in service'. However, when she died in 1832 her age was given as 77 years.

During the voyage she formed a relationship with John Colethread, a marine, with whom she had two children. Both children died in infancy. She then married Thomas Smith at Parramatta in 1791. They had three daughters, Mary, Jane and Elizabeth. By 1800 she had left Thomas and was in a relationship with Joseph Hatton. Their child, Joseph Hatton Junior was born in that year. Ann and Joseph Hatton Senior developed a farm together at Kissing point (Ryde) and Ann appears to have also worked as a midwife. Under the terms of Joseph Hatton’s will, Ann was to stay on their farm when it was to be divided between her children Elizabeth Smith and Joseph Hatton Jnr.

Ann died in 1832 and was buried on 5 August. Her death was reported in the newspaper records as Mrs Hatton of Kissing Point, but her burial records lists her legal name of Ann Smith. She is probably buried in an unmarked grave within the grounds of St Ann’s Church in Ryde where her son Joseph Hatton was one of its earliest baptisms.

Select Bibilography

  • Durham Indictment Files DUR 16/2
  • Newcastle Courant 18 Mar 1780
  • Mayoral Letters 1782, also Newcastle Courant, various dates
  • 1814 Convict Muster
  • English baptism records and NSW BDM records

Citation details

Laurence Turtle, 'Colpitts, Ann (c. 1759–1832)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Wise, Ann
  • Smith, Ann
  • Hatton, Ann
  • Watson, Ann

c. 1759


3 August, 1832 (aged ~ 73)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

general debility

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years
Court: Durham
Trial Date: 19 July 1785


Occupation: domestic servant
Married: Yes
Children: Yes (2)


Children: Yes (6)