The Australian Langley Family Association

The Langley Family Association is open to any descendants of David Langley who arrived in Australia on the Rolla on May 12, 1803.

The Association started in about 1988 but genealogical research of Australian Langleys had a very much earlier beginning. Our first family history was written by one of David's great grand daughters, Bertha Emily Phelps (1870-1949). Her book, "An Australian Tells England", was published in 1935.

Our newsletter was sent to about 150 families but we have reduced our effort in the last couple of years because we have located most, if not all, of David's descendants in Australia. Our convenor is Mrs Alison Howe. Alison does not use the internet and any questions for her can be sent through me, Alan Byrnes.

Though research by our members has discovered descendants in Australia, we have not been able to find out much about David and Ann before they came to Australia.

We also have some cousins who left for America last century. So there are definitely descendants of our David Langley in America. Hey, where are you? You probably have a SAMPSON somewhere in your tree. Marraina Eliza Sampson born in 1847 and her niece Eliza Bertha Sampson born in 1865.

We have had two family reunions. The first was at Bathurst where David lived for many years with his son-in-law, Richard Mills. Richard built a house on his grant that he later used as an inn. The original building is now the Evans Shire Council Offices, in Lee Street, Kelso. It is in excellent condition. The second reunion was held at Richmond where David's house is still standing. It was built in about 1815 - I am the proud owner of a brick from one of the walls. (No I didn't steal it, the present owner gave it to me).

While many Australian cousins have been found, my main interest is in the part David and his immediate descendants played in the early history of Australia. David and his daughters lived in interesting times.

David arrived just 15 years after the colony of New South Wales was founded and during his lifetime Australia changed from a single penal colony with a population of some 5000 to a collection of colonies with a population over 1,000,000. These colonies became the states of Australia in 1901.

It is interesting to compare the early histories of Australia and the United States. Both started as colonies of England, both used English convicts as a source of labour. When the American War of Independence ended in 1783, England believed America would still accept convicts because convict labour was so valuable to a growing colony. However, America had discovered a better source of labour - the African Negro slave. England was thus forced to find another location to transport its convicts to and so the colony of New South Wales was founded in 1788.


David Langley married Ann Stimpson in London at Saint Saviours, Southwark on August 14, 1791.

On January 18, 1802 David wrote to Lord Hobart asking for permission to come to the colony of New South Wales. His address was No. 2 Clements Lane, Clare Market in London. He gave his occupation as a "whitesmith and bellhanger". A whitesmith is a tinsmith, a craftsman in metals such as bronze (tin plus copper) and pewter (tin plus lead). Bells are made from bronze.

His application includes a reference from the captain of the Hindostan that states that on a voyage to India and China, David was "a sober and good workman".

He is given permission and leaves Cork on November 4, 1802 on the Rolla (438 tons) with his wife Ann, who is pregnant and a daughter, also Ann who is about 11. On November 30, 1802 when the Rolla is near Madeira, Ann gives birth to a second daughter who is later baptised Sophia in Australia. On May 12, 1803 the Rolla reaches Sydney. Towards the end of the voyage the Rolla struck bad weather, she sprung her main-mast and lost her main-yard.

New settlers were given grants of land, some stock and convicts for labour. David's grant was 100 acres at Richmond, some 30 miles west of Sydney. He was provided with two convicts. One was 24 year old Richard Mills who had been sentenced to death for highway robbery in England when he was 19. The sentence was commuted to transportation for life to the Colony of New South Wales.

In 1806 Governor William Bligh appointed David to the position of Superintendent of Government Blacksmiths. He is responsible for the blacksmiths in the Colony.

This is the same William Bligh who featured in the Mutiny on the Bounty.

The Langleys have their third daughter, Elizabeth on April 9, 1807.

David works in Sydney while Richard works on the farm that grows wheat and barley and has sheep and pigs.

To understand the next events, a knowledge of early Australian history is required.

When Governor Bligh arrived in 1806, he found the Colony was plagued by corruption. The two groups who were running the Colony for their own benefit were the Army and the wealthy landowners.

Bligh was very much against this corruption and attempted to end it. However the Army and the landowners resisted and in January, 1808 they staged a coup d'etat by rebelling against Bligh, deposed him and ran the colony as a military junta for two years.

David had supported Governor Bligh and it is on record that at a meeting where there were soldiers who were against Bligh, David made a remark that upset the soldiers and one of them struck him. David was not afraid to make his opinions known.

Because David was a supporter of Bligh he was dismissed from his position, but when the rebellion was quelled in 1810 David was reinstated by the new Governor, Lachlan Macquarie.

Meanwhile back at the farm, Richard was sowing more than barley and wheat. On June 15, 1807, he and David's daughter Ann had a daughter, Harriet. Richard and Ann married on June 11, 1811. It is interesting that at the marriage, Richard the convict signs his name with a firm signature whereas Ann, the daughter of the highly literate David, can only make her mark with a cross.

Richard and Ann had a son, Richard Langley on October 29, 1811, another daughter, Elizabeth, on December 23, 1812 then another son, John Joseph on October 9, 1817.

Richard had been granted a conditional pardon on January 31, 1813. This means he is now free but cannot return to England.

David had built a house on his land that is not only still standing but is being restored by the present owner.

To understand the next events also requires a knowledge of early Australian history. When our first fleet arrived (1788) a settlement was founded where the city of Sydney is now. Farming commenced but by about 1810 all available land was under cultivation and the colony needed to expand. Unfortunately expansion further inland was not possible because of a range of mountains that had proved impenetrable for 25 years. Then in 1813 a way was found over these mountains, a road was built and this opened up the west.

Governor Macquarie had decided that land west of the Blue Mountains would be colonised by granting land to selected settlers, "sober, industrious men, with small families, from the middling class of free people." Macquarie believed these would be the equivalent of the English 'yeoman' who would supply the colony with food. Macquarie decided that ten will be chosen in the first batch.

Richard was obviously an excellent farmer because not only had the farm at Richmond prospered but Richard was selected by Macquarie to be one of the first ten settlers to be granted land west of the mountains. He is granted 100 acres at what is now known as Kelso, near Bathurst, some 125 miles west of Sydney.

On August 5, 1818 David's wife Ann dies at the age of 47. Family history suggests that it may have been the result of a broken hip from falling downstairs. The house David built is two storey and I have seen the stairs to the first floor, they are very narrow. By now David has lost his position as Superintendent of Government Blacksmiths and sells his grant and house at Richmond. He moves to Bathurst with his son-in-law, Richard.

In May, 1819 David requests permission for banns to be published for his marriage to a Martha Huson. There is, however, no marriage recorded. In 1820 David is living with his daughter and a convict, Julia Dundas. Julia dies in 1823. In August, 1823 David applies to marry a Jane Willson. However, again, there is no record of a marriage. Women were greatly outnumbered by men in this period of Australia's history but David, though in his fifties, seems to have been able to attract the ladies.

David stayed with his son-in-law Richard for many years. By the 1820's Richard had cleared the grant, had 30 acres under cultivation, four horses and twenty cattle. He has three employees. One of his horses was a stud horse called Rocket that he advertised as: "Rising three years old, the property of Richard Mills, will cover this season at Bathurst, at two pounds ten shillings. Rocket stands 16 hands and a half high; is a bright bay. His high bone and symmetry are too well known to require comment, and will prove a valuable acquisition for Gentlemen to improve their breed of horses in that district."

There were no suitable schools in Kelso so a group decided to start their own school. Richard was one of the office bearers and the school was initially located on Richard's land.

Richard built a house on his grant at Kelso that he later turned into an inn, the King William. This building is also still standing and is now used for the Evans Shire Council Offices, in Lee Street, Kelso. It was the location for our first family reunion.

Richard dies on December 12, 1850 aged 69. David, his father-in-law, dies on July 16, 1860 aged 90 at the home of his daughter Elizabeth.

This page was written by Alan Byrnes.

Details of David's direct descendants, their spouses and children, can be found in the Langleys Database

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