William Cosgrove, Convict

My 3x great grandpa William Cosgrove is one of those people that you have some info on him from a certain date, but nothing beforehand, so he’s always been a mystery. I know he married in South Australia, had kids there and died there … but before that, nothing!!

However it was relatively recently that a cousin (thanks Judy), mentioned that she believed he was a convict.. So hence the research to prove or disprove this theory. I only have one direct convict on my line so far, so am eager to see if I  have two (and it would be the first on my paternal line).

Let me start off by saying that there are several William Cosgrove’s who were convicts. The three I found were:
– William Cosgrove, transported on the ‘Mariner’ 1827
– William Cosgrove, transported on the ‘Royal Admiral’ 1830
– William Cosgrove, transported on the ‘Mangles’ 1840

What I know of ‘my’ William Cosgrove, age, occupation, and residence matches pretty closely with references to the 16 year old William  Cosgrove, who was transported to New South Wales on the Royal Admiral in 1830.

As I don’t have a nice big long biography of William, or even an obituary giving all the amazing details throughout his life … it’s up to me to piece his life together from what I can find.

As a means to track it all, I have created a timeline and while I still have some gaps to fill, between the convict records, newspapers and gazettes it’s created a reasonable timeline already.

It is a work in progress, and there’s still much research to be done, and at this stage I don’t feel that I can yet say 100% for sure that William Cosgrove, convict is one of ‘my’ convicts. But at this stage I would call it “quite plausible”. Time will tell, and I’m still crossing my fingers.


Timeline for William Cosgrove

  • born 1814 – native place London on Certificate of Freedom
  • born 1815 – native place London passenger list Royal Admiral
  • 27 May 1830 – (aged 16) convicted at Old Bailey, London for stealing a plane, sentenced to 7 years transportation
  • 18 Jun 1830 – transported to the prison hulk ‘Leviathan’ at Portsmouth
  • 1 Jul 1830 – transported to New South Wales on ‘Royal Admiral’  .. age 16, Educ R, Relig P, Sing, native London, Plaisterer 3/2 yrs, stealing plane, where & when tried: Newgate, 29 May 1830, 7 yrs, height 5’1 ½”, ruddy, hair brown, eyes light hazel, Dept of Public Works, tattoos
  • 8 Nov 1830 – Arrived New South Wales
  • between 1 Jan and 31 Mar 1832 – Cosgrove William, plasterer and labourer assigned to Joseph Morley, Sydney
  • 7 Apr 1834 – Cosgrove William, 20 absconded … plasterer, 5 feet 12, ruddy comp. brown hair, light hazel eyes, W outside right arm, cupid, woman, BD and sun on left, WC, heart, and wreath on upper right arm, from Joseph Morley, Sydney
  • 16 Apr 1834 – (in the week before) RUNAWAYS APPREHENDED,  … from Jos. Morley
  • 19 Feb 1837 – (before this date) William Cosgrove 23, absconded (again) …London, plasterer, 5 feet 02 inch, ruddy comp , brown hair, light hazel eyes, outside of right arm, cupid woman B D and sun on left, W C heart and wreath upper right arm. from Joseph Morley
  • 3 Aug 1837 – William Cosgrove – obtained Certificate of Freedom (SRNSW) … native place London, occupation Plasterer, year of birth 1814, height 5’4 ½”, ruddy, hair brown, eyes grey, & a bunch of tattoos
  • 6 Apr 1842 – Newspaper report of a William Cosgrove employed by a plasterer – Sydney. Fined for smashing windows!
  • June 1847 – unclaimed letter for William Cosgrove, plasterer (maybe at Parramatta)
  • Oct 1847 – unclaimed letter for William Cosgrove, at Cassis (between Newcastle & Dubbo
    (no identifier like “plasterer” this time – so may not be the same William Cosgrove)
  • 14 Dec 1853 – William Cosgrove plasterer, witness in a court case – reported in a Goulburn paper
  • 10 Feb 1856 – married Anne McGrath Adelaide
  • 1857-1872 had 7 children with Anne/Hannah McGrath in South Australia. First child Den(n)is, was a plasterer
  • 27 Oct 1873 – a William Cosgrove, Plasterer of New Glenelg died of pneumonia, signature on death certificate is John Cosgrove, or New Glenelg (maybe a brother, or son who would have been 16). Age given as 57, suggesting a birth year 1815/16 – a 1 or 2 yr discrepancy from what is derived from trial/gazette records (this is not uncommon)

So there’s more work to do, but that’s what research is all about. Finding the pieces, and putting them together.

4 Responses to “William Cosgrove, Convict”

  1. Nola Mackey says:

    A very nice lot of research challenges to get your teeth into,Alona.
    Great work with that time-line too.
    Might I suggest you look at convict records at the NSW State Archives, which are not on-line, but have been microfilmed. For instance I got a few extra dates for my timeline on a young convict with a similar story from the local magistrate records.
    I would say good luck,but it is not luck you need, but perseverance,to keep going, when you do that ‘exhaustive’ research, but just cannot get that ‘proof’ you need.
    However as you say, that is what research is all about.

    • Alona says:

      Yes, I have no doubt that the NSW State Archive records would be fun … one day I’ll get there. And I also need to check shipping records for another ancestors while I’m there.

  2. patricia Mather says:

    Hi Alona I am the 3x great grand daughter of William Cosgrove. The John Cosgrove of Glenelg was the father of my mother Joyce Cosgrove.

  3. Donna Rainsford says:

    Hi Alona, William Cosgrove is also my 3x Great Grandfather from his daughter Mary Ellen Williams (nee Cosgrove). This is the first convict relative in my family tree. Having 99% of my relatives settle in South Australia as free settlers I assumed no convicts but this is fascinating. Thanks for all your research. Donna

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