The Peter Hibbs Story

The Parry Family

Peter Hibbs - Of the First Fleet

Peter Hibbs is one of a number of people, free and convicts from the First Fleet who are numbered among the descendants in the Parry family line

Peter Hibbs, (c1762 — 1847) from Ramsgate, in Kent. After being discharged from the guard ship ‘Goliath’ at Portsmouth he joined the ‘Sirius’, the Flagship of the First Fleet and one of the two warships with the fleet. On 25th March 1787 the Fleet sailed from Portsmouth. The Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove on 26th January 1878 under the command of Governor Phillip, who was charged with setting up the first colony in Australia. The ‘Sirius’ was subsequently dispatched to Norfolk Island, with convicts and marines, to set up a colony there, in order to prevent any other nation placing a claim to the island. In addition, the island was very fertile and consequently its produce would be of assistance in feeding the Sydney colony.

After the Sirius was wrecked off Norfolk Island in March 1790, Hibbs and most of the crew and marines were stranded on the Island, due to a lack of ships to take them off. Hibbs was granted Lot No 50 of 60 acres of land at Cascade Stream. He later sold half of this to Aaron Davis, but from his remaining acres he is recorded as being able to sell grain to the Government stores in 1794.

Mary Pardoe (or Barlow) who arrived in the Sydney colony as a convict in 1790 aboard the ‘Lady Juliana’, was shortly afterwards transferred to Norfolk Island and on 5th November 1791 she married Peter Hibbs. Three of their children were born on Norfolk Island.

With the apparent concurrence of the Norfolk Island Commander, and members of the Island free settlers, who were concerned about their isolation and a lack of ability to trade their goods. Peter Hibbs and others decided to build a sailing vessel. With Peter as its master, the 25-ton sloop, built of Norfolk pine, named the ‘Norfolk’, sailed into Sydney Cove on 13th June 1798. Upon arrival the vessel was confiscated by order of the Governor, as the building of unapproved vessels was forbidden because of the possibility that they could be stolen by convicts trying to escape. In addition the Sydney colony was short of vessels for exploration and trade.

Soon after, in 1798 Peter was sent on a voyage of exploration around the coast of Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) as master of the ‘Norfolk’, under the command of Matthew Flinders in the accompanying 'Reliance', to discover if Tasmania was an island or connected to the mainland. The discovery of Bass Straight shortened the travel distance from England to Sydney, as previously the ships had sailed to the south of Tasmania. On December 11th, Flinders named Hibbs Pyramid, a small rocky outcrop about half way down the west side of the island, in Hibb’s honour. Also named at the time and in the same immediate area, were Hibbs River, Cape Hibbs and Hibbs Bay.

It appears Mary left Norfolk Island in 1802, to join Peter in Australia, as their son William is shown as being born ‘at sea’. On 11th August 1804 Peter was granted 100 acres at Mulgrave Place, opposite Spencer, on the Hawkesbury. Peter lived there with his wife and where their other four children were born. He sold his grant to Mary Reiby in 1812 and some time later received another grant at Haycock Reach, Hawkesbury River.

Peter died at Lower Portland Head on 12 September 1847, his wife Mary had died previously in May 1844. His age at his death was given as 90 but is more likely to have been 85.