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Sarah Mason (c. 1768–1809)

Sarah Woolley (c.1768-1809) and Ann White were found guilty on 28 October 1789 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing four yards of printed cotton, with a value of 8 shillings, from a shop. Sentenced to 7 years transportation the women arrived in Sydney aboard the Neptune in 1790 as part of the Second Fleet.

Woolley was sent to Norfolk Island on the Surprize, arriving in August 1790. She was probably living with John Ryan in February 1791 when each was issued with a pig; the couple were married by Rev. Richard Johnson in a mass wedding ceremony on the island in November 1791. They were settled on 10 acres at Mount Pitt Path, Queenborough, in December 1791 and were selling grain to the government within a year. John Ryan left Norfolk Island for Port Jackson on the Kitty in 1793; Sarah and their daughter Elizabeth left on the Francis in March 1794. Three more children were born at Sydney.

John Ryan received a 30 acre grant at Mulgrave Place in March 1795 and a further 30 acres in January 1797. He disappears from records after 1800. It is not known if he died or left the colony. In 1800 Sarah was listed as a landholder in her own right — a status usually accorded to widows. In October 1803 she had a son with William Mason; the couple married on 20 April 1807. She was granted 100 acres in her own name (Sarah Woolly) in  about 1804; it was later merged with Mason's land under his name. By 1806 the couple held 166 acres and fully supported themselves, six children and two convict workers.

Sarah Mason died following a buggy accident near MacKellar's Creek, Windsor, on 12 August 1809.

* information from Michael Flynn, The Second Fleet: Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790 (1993), pp 629-30

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Mason, Sarah (c. 1768–1809)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Woolley, Sarah
  • Wooley, Sarah
  • Ryan, Sarah
  • Woolly, Sarah

c. 1768


12 August, 1809 (aged ~ 41)
Windsor, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

horse-drawn vehicle accident

Passenger Ship
Key Events
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years