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Thomas Eccles (1737–1814)

Thomas Eccles (c.1730-1814), a labourer, was found guilty on 29 July 1782 at Guildford of stealing a flich (side) of bacon and two loaves of bread. His death sentence was commuted to life transportation. He was sent to the Ceres hulk in 1785, where his age was recorded variously as between 43 to 55, and embarked for New South Wales on the Scarborough in February 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Eccles was found guilty on 21 October 1788 of being drunk and stealing vegetables from the garden where he worked and was sent to the work at the brickfields. In March 1789 he was sent to Norfolk Island on the Supply. He began living with fellow convict, Elizabeth Bird. They were one of nearly 100 couples who were married on the island in November 1791. He had a one acre Sydney Town lot. By June 1793 he was selling maize to the government from his clearings. In 1793 he was granted a conditional pardon and in 1796 an absolute pardon. Eccles returned to Port Jackson with his wife on the Porpoise in 1801.

Eccles leased an acre of land at Parramatta to raise vegetables and kept some hogs. He died (as Thomas Hecles) on 2 April 1814; his age was given as 96; it was probably nearer to 80.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 115-16

Citation details

'Eccles, Thomas (1737–1814)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hecles, Thomas

Guildford, Surrey, England


2 April, 1814 (aged ~ 77)
Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

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Passenger Ship
Key Events
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Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: life