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Mary Stevens (1754–1850)

Mary Phillips (1754-1850) was found guilty, on 20 March 1786 at Taunton, Somerset, of breaking into a house and stealing two linen aprons and other goods. Her death sentence was reprieved to seven years transportation. She was ordered to the Dunkirk hulk until sent to Sydney aboard the Charlotte as part of the First Fleet. On 11 March 1787 she was one of six badly behaved women transferred to the Friendship at Rio de Janerio and was moved to the Prince of Wales on 28 October to make room for stock bought there.

At Port Jackson in November 1788 Phillips was sharing a tent with Mary Turner and offered to spend the night with James Baker, a marine, while the man she usually lived with was away. She later refused a similar request from another marine Thomas Bullmore, who created a disturbance.

On 4 February 1789 Phillips was ordered 25 lashes for baking her flour on an iron spade over a fire. Her son, James, was baptised on 5 September 1789; Alexander McDonald was the father. Mary and James were sent to Norfolk Island on the Sirius on 4 March 1790. She lived there with James Riley but was believed to have had a daughter, Sarah, with Thomas Spencer in November 1791. She was recorded as living with Riley and three children in June 1794 (including John born in 1793).

Phillips remained at Norfolk Island until leaving for Port Dalrymple, Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), with Thomas Stevens in February 1813 and three children on the Minstrel. She died at Norfolk Plains on 22 January 1850, her age given as 89 (85 on the civil death register).

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 287

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Stevens, Mary (1754–1850)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Stephens, Mary
  • Phillips, Mary



22 January, 1850 (aged ~ 96)
Longford, Tasmania, 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.

Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: theft (house)
Sentence: death
Commuted To: 7 years
Court: Somerset
Trial Date: 20 March 1786