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Sophia Walbourne (c. 1758–1816)

Sophia Lewis (c.1758-1816) was found guilty on 25 October 1786 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing clothing and money from a man who had agreed to go home and to bed with her. Sentenced to 7 years transportation, she arrived at Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Lady Penrhyn as part of the First Fleet.

Lewis married James Walbourne on 24 March 1788 at Sydney Cove. The couple, and their infant son William, were sent to Norfolk Island on the Atlantic in November 1791, returning to Port Jackson in November 1794. Their son James was born on Norfolk Island in October 1794. James snr was charged with assaulting Sophia in 1800. The couple was ordered to live apart, divide their property and take a child each. Sophia was still recorded as Walbourne's wife in 1806 and was listed as a soldier's wife in 1814. They may, however, have still lived apart. She did not accompany him when he left the colony for Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1814.

Sophia was living in Sydney with her son James and a convict woman in 1816. She threw herself into Cockle Bay near Dawes Point on 3 November 1816 and drowned. Her son said she had been drinking heavily 'of late' and had attempted suicide in a similar manner several months earlier.  

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 220

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Walbourne, Sophia (c. 1758–1816)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Lewis, Sophia
  • Walbourn, Sophia
  • Walbron, Sophia
  • Walborn, Sophia
  • Walburn, Sophia

c. 1758


3 November, 1816 (aged ~ 58)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years