Richard Swan

William, the son of Richard Swan, bearing a great resemblance to the description of his father

Marden to Tasmania

Richard Swan was the 5th son of Stephen Swan of Marden, and Elizabeth Fisher, possibly of Maidstone, Kent, England. They were married at the St. Mary’s Church, Nettlestead, Maidstone, Kent on 10th Oct 1794.

Richard was born on 10th May 1817 in Marden and had 1 brother and 3 sisters, James (born 20th Apr 1800), Mary (born 4th Aug 1803), Phebe (born 21st Mar 1813), and Sophia, (born 14th Apr 1816) all of Marden.

A Protestant, who could neither read nor write, he worked as a labourer and ploughman in the fields around Kent. On 6th January 1842 at the age of 24 Richard was sentenced at the Maidstone Quarter Sessions to 15 years hard labour for stabbing and wounding and imprisoned on the hulk “York” in Gosport Harbour.

Transported as a 2nd class convict to Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land (later to be renamed Tasmania on 1st Jan 1856) on the second sailing of the ‘Marquis of Hastings’ on 11th July 1842 he arrived in Hobart on 8th Nov 1842. During his time as a convict he met Mary Ann Bulmer, a convict from Carlisle, Cumberland, England. Mary Ann was charged and sentenced to 8 years in the Durham Assizes for house breaking and transported to Van Diemen’s Land aboard the “Asia” on her seventh sailing on 3 Mar 1847, arriving in Hobart Town on 21 Jul 1847. After applying for permission to marry twice, on the 9th and 14th Oct 1849, without success, they finally were approved on 21 Aug 1849 and were married at the St. Luke’s Uniting Church, Richmond, Van Diemen’s Land on 29th Oct 1849.

Their 1st son Richard was born 27th Jul 1850 in Richmond, Van Diemen’s Land and their 2nd son Stephen was born 11th May 1851 also in Richmond. Stephen later died on 6th Jan 1852. Richard was given a conditional pardon on 1 Aug 1852 whilst Mary Ann was pardoned on 21st Jul 1853 after which they moved to Sorell, and had two more children. Stephen (2nd) (born 11th May 1856 and died on 19th Dec 1866 after being hit on the head by a timber carriage) and Edward (born 11th Aug 1856).

Somewhere between 1856 and 1858, the family moved to the Spring Bay (Triabunna) on Tasmania’s East Coast where Richard worked the timber mills throughout the Prossers Plains area and fathered 3 more sons, James (born 18th May 1858), William (born 8th Apr 1860), and George Octavius (born 21st Jan 1862).

Mum Swan’s Boarding House at Weilangta

Prossers Plains was a vast region of Tasmania from Triabunna on the east coast to Whiteford just east of Oatlands down almost to Richmond and took up small towns that rose from the timber mills set up to harvest the hardwood forests. These towns with names such as Buckland, Wielangta, Pawleena, Nugent, and many others had and still have an association with the descendants of Richard and Mary Ann Swan. Wielangta is where Richard’s son William and his wife Emma Ellen settled to raise their children and it is believed Emma started a boarding house called “Mum Swan’s Boarding House”, which was still running in the 1920’s. Wielangta is now a National Park and the boarding house still stands as a private residence.

Richard and Mary Ann’s next child, Robert, who was born 26th Feb 1863 in Richmond, is a puzzlement and I wonder whether the family had moved back to Richmond prior to the birth or was just travelling through, as Rachel their 8th child was born back in Spring Bay on 5th Jan 1864. Phoebe, their 9th child, was born at Buckland in April 1866 and died just over 12 months later on 16 Jun 1867, while the rest of their children Charles Henry (born 25th Aug 1868), Rhueban (born 10th Dec 1870 died in 1890) and Frederick Edwin (born 27th Aug 1872 and died 25 Nov 1872) were born in the Spring Bay region.

Richard died 4th Sept 1882 at Buckland and Mary Ann died 16 Apr 1896 and I have yet to find their graves. They had at least 7 children reach parenthood and their descendants are spread all over south eastern Tasmania from Huonville to Oatlands and out to Triabunna on the east coast.

Finally, some reference has been made to Richard being a Pirate or charged with Piracy but I have not found any evidence at this time.

Lance J Swan 2008
“Gwandalan”, Stonor

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