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Margaret Stewart (c. 1762–1836)

Margaret Stewart (c.1762-1836), a char woman, Thomas Blades, and Thomas Saxby were found guilty on 28 August 1786 at the City and County Court, Exeter, of three counts of theft from shops. (It was later found out that Margaret and Thomas Blades were married. If she had made this known at the trial she might have been acquitted as having acted under the influence of her husband.)

Sentenced to 7 years transportation, Stewart was sent to the Dunkirk hulk, where she remained until she embarked for New South Wales on the Charlotte in March 1787. She was transferred to the Friendship at Rio de Janeiro and, on 28 October 1787, to the Lady Penrhyn at the Cape of Good Hope, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

As Margaret Stewart she was sent to Norfolk Island on the Sirius in March 1790. By mid-1794 she was living with former marine John Watts whom she had known on the Friendship. They both returned to Port Jackson on the Daedalus in November 1794.

In August 1799 Stewart received a 20 acre grant at Mulgrave Place. By mid 1800 she had seven acres sown in wheat with four ready for maize and owned nine pigs. She was living alone and was on stores. By 1802 she had 13 acres cleared and owned two goats, 12 hogs, and held 17 bushels of maize. She was listed off stores with one child (there is no record of them having children). John Watts received a land grant in the area in 1806; Stewart was listed as his wife, as she was in successive musters.

Margaret Watts was buried on 30 April 1836 at St Peter's. Richmond; her age was given as 73. She was described in the burial record as the 'wife of Jno.Watts'.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 346

Citation details

'Stewart, Margaret (c. 1762–1836)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Blades, Margaret
  • Reed, Margaret
  • Steward, Margaret
  • Stuart, Margaret
  • Watts, Margaret

c. 1762
Yorkshire, England


29 April, 1836 (aged ~ 74)
Richmond, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years