George Wells was born 1804 in England, United Kingdom and died 17 August 1849 Sydney, New South Wales, Australia of unspecified causes. He married Harriett Vidler (1819-1891) 23 September 1839 in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

George was a convict, sentenced to 14 years transportation at the York Assizes on 15 March 1823 for housebreaking. He was transported to the Colony of New South wales aboard the Guildford on 18 August 1823 arriving at Port Jackson (Syndey) on 5 March 1824. He spent most of his sentence in the Bathurst area. On 14 October 1825 he was a runaway from the Wellington Valley. He also served some additional time in Bathurst Jail when he was convicted of "having a gun in his possession with intent to commit a felony". This conviction, on 23 August 1836, delayed the eventual issue of his certificate of freedom. His Ticket of Leave had been granted on 30 April 1830, and under normal circumstances his freedom would have been granted in early 1837. Although he served less than half of his 3-year sentence (making personal application in Sydney on 12 January 1838, for his certificate), it was not granted until 2 April 1840.

George meet his wife Harriet in the Dapto area. George was a blacksmith at Dapto when they married, at St. Michael’s Church of England Wollongong on 23 Sep 1839.

After their marriage, George and Harriet lived at Dapto. They shared a house (owned by William Keevers, of "Hussar Farm") with Henry and Ann Fowler. Henry was a wheelright, and it is likely that he and George worked together. The two families were recorded together in the 1841 census, and baptisms from both families were recorded in the Vidler family bible.

Sometime between the birth of Phoenix in 1843 and Edward in 1847, the family left Dapto. They were living in the Liverpool area when Edward was born in 1847, but shortly after moved closer to Sydney.

Harriet was left a widow (for the first time) when George died in August 1849 at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum in George Street.

Voyage of the Guildford - Master (Captain) Magnus Johnson, Surgeon Superintendent James Mitchell.

In August 1823 Jackson's Oxford Journal reported: On Thursday, 160 convicts were transhipped from the Hulks at Portsmouth for the Guildford bound to New South Wales, and placed under the superintendence of Mr. J. Mitchell, Surgeon, R.N. The rapid increase of emancipated convicts, the last returns being 7556 and 5859 children has determined Government to establish a Court of Judicature in the colony. Chief Justice Sir Francis Forbes and family go out in the Guildford.

As well as Chief Justice Forbes, Lady Amelia Sophia Forbes, their three children, 2 house servants & a butler, the ship carried some other passengers and Lieutenant Richard Thornhill, commanding a detachment of one sergeant and 32 Rank and File of the 40th Regiment. Lady Amelia Sophia Forbes kept a brief diary on the voyage. She recorded her alarm on hearing the clanking of shackles and learning that the Guildford also carried 160 male convicts `bound for Botany Bay'.


The Guildford arrived at Portsmouth from the Downs on 13th August and departed Portsmouth on 18 August 1823 in company with the Asia which was taking convicts to Van Diemen's Land , and a few days before the Sir Godfrey Webster which was also taking convicts to Van Diemen's Land and then part of the 40th Regiment and passengers on to Sydney.


While crossing the Bay of Biscay the ship had sprung a leak. The ship put into the island of Tenerife to assess the damage. Arriving in Tenerife at the same time had been the Sir Godfrey Webster. The passengers and the military and ships' officers from both vessels dined together ashore but on leaving dinner found all the men drunk and a terrible riot immediately commenced--soldiers, sailors, officers and men were all fighting together--their shouts and oaths were echoed, or ought to have been, from the neighbouring Mountains--the business continued at this height for about an hour--many an awkward thump was given and received that evening and many a powerful body laid low (recorded in the journal of GBTW Boyes, a passenger on the Sir Godfrey Webster). The ready availability of an unlimited supply of Spanish wine after three weeks on the ships' grog ration had inflamed the sensibilities of the detachments of the 40th and the ships' crews.


Despite the leak it was assessed that there was less danger in making for Rio de Janiero for repairs than to lay up in Tenerife. At Tenerife the activities of Spanish privateers, bringing in French prizes to the island during the hostilities between France and Spain over the restoration of the Bourbon King Fernando VII to absolute power in Spain, was daily expected to precipitate an attack by a French fleet.


The Guildford sailed from Tenerife on 22 September, heading for Rio. The Sir Godfrey Webster also sailed from Tenerife but took a different route arriving in Sydney on 17 January 1824. Alarm was being felt in Sydney when the Guildford still had not arrived by the end of the month.

On the voyage out from Tenerife to Rio the leak on the Guildford' had worsened considerably so that the combined efforts of the crew and the prisoners were required to man the pumps, the convicts working under a guard with loaded muskets. The leaking vessel arrived at Rio on 28 October, where the Brazilian government made available a hulk on which the convicts and their guard were quartered until repairs were completed. The ship was not able to sail for Sydney until 2 months later on 26 December 1823.


The Guildford finally arrived in Sydney on 5 March 1824 with 159 male prisoners. The Sydney Gazette reported on 11th March: Arrived on Friday last to the joy of the whole Colony, alarming apprehensions being entertained of her safety, the ship Guildford, Captain Johnson, from England. She brings 159 male convicts: the original complement was 160, but one was accidentally killed.

The prisoners were landed on 8th March 1824. 57 men were forwarded by water to Parramatta for distribution to Liverpool, Airds, Appin, Minto, Windsor and Bathurst. The following day another 76 convicts were forwarded - 31 men to Parramatta, 24 to Liverpool, 16 to Bathurst and 5 to Windsor.


Offspring of George Wells and Harriett Vidler (1819-1891)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Rebecca Wells (1841-1905) 14 November 1841 Dapto, New South Wales, Australia 27 September 1905 Bangalow, New South Wales, Australia James Smith (1833-1928)
Phoenix Wells (1843-1923) 1 October 1843 Dapto, New South Wales, Australia 22 July 1923 Rydalmere, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Hannah Willmott (1851-1946)
Edward Wells (1847-1926)


Footnotes (including sources)