Lydia Matthews
Sex: Female
Birth: 1813 Cornwall, England
Baptism: 16/10/1813, Madron, Cornwall
Death: 28/6/1904, Gundebri Station via Merriwa, New South Wales
Father: Charles Matthews
Mother: Jennifer Pollard
Spouse/Partner: John Shaw
Marriage: 20/10/1832, Maitland, New South Wales
2nd Spouse: Robert Webb
2nd Marriage: 26/10/1844, Muswellbrook, New South Wales


Lydia was baptised on 16th October 1813 at the church in Madron in Cornwall, to parents Charles and Jennifer Matthews (nee Pollard). Her baptism occurred on the very same day that her grandmother Lydia was buried in the very same church yard. Lydia was named after her grandmother who was buried on that day.

Many of Lydia's elder siblings died before she was born. From a family of 10 children, it is likely that Lydia's only siblings alive at the time of her birth were elders sisters Christian, Jane and possibly Grace.

Death of FatherEdit

Lydia's father Charles died in 1823 when Lydia was 10 years old. What the family did for income after his death is not currently known.

Death of MotherEdit

Lydia's mother Jennifer died only 1 year later in 1824 when Lydia was 11 years old. Who looked after Lydia and her siblings after this is also unknown. Based on what happened next, it appears that they did struggle.


Lydia was charged with stealing a shirt worth 3 shillings from Mr John Templeton in 1828 when she was 14 years old. She was a dairymaid at the time. She was tried and sentenced at the County of Devon, City of Exeter Quarter Sessions on 21.3.1828 and 14.10.1828. The record lists her date of birth as 1811 in Madron, Cornwall which was the baptism of her elder infant sister of the same name who had died. This meant that they treated her as a 17 year old when she was, in fact, only 14. She was sentenced to transportation to Australia for 7 years.


Lydia was transported from Downs to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 on board the ship “Sovereign”. She shared the voyage with 118 other female convicts, all of which arrived in the colony safely. On her arrival, Lydia was placed with a Mr William Lee of Bathurst, one of the first settlers in the Bathurst area.

Application for MarriageEdit

In 1830, Lydia was still in the Bathurst area when she made application for marriage to James Sherrard who had arrived in the colony as a ‘free’ person on the ship “Morley”. Lydia was 19 years old at the time. There is no record of the marriage ever taking place.

Lydia matthews permission to marry 1

Lydia Matthews permission to marry 1


On 20.12.1832, when residing in the Maitland area, she was given consent to marry John Shaw, a convict who was 18 years her senior. He had been baptised 18.10.1796 in Nottingham, England and had been tried and sentenced at the Nottingham Quarter Session on 20.4.1815. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation and was described as 5 ‘4” tall, fair to pale complexion, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He had been transported to Australia aboard the ship ‘Elizabeth’ in 1816. The couple were married in Maitland, New South Wales. John’s occupation was a sawyer.

Lydia matthews permission to marry 2

Lydia Matthews permission to marry 2


The couple had 4 children – Rachel Mary Ann (born 24.2.1833), Lydia (born 8.4.1834), Anne (born 03.09.1837) and John (born 31.05.1839).

Certificate of FreedomEdit

Lydia received her certificate of freedom on 30.09.1836, her certificate number being CF NO. 36/0997. It describes her as 5 foot tall with brown hair and hazel eyes, and a small scar inside her left arm. Her skin was described as florid – having a bright red colour.

Death of HusbandEdit

Lydia's husband John died on 22.09.1841 at Newcastle Hospital, New South Wales. He was buried as a ‘free pauper’ in Newcastle. Lydia was in Newcastle Gaol on charges of having bashed her husband John at the time of his death.

Lydia’s children Anne and John were sent to an orphanage in Sydney after their father’s death.

3rd application to MarryEdit

Another application to marry was made on 05.02.1842 between Lydia and a convict called George Longford, who had arrived on the ship Hercules in 1825. He was originally a blacksmith from the Isle of Wight. Permission was granted, but again, the marriage does not appear to have taken place. It is interesting that Lydia was using her maiden name in the application.

Lydia matthews permission to marry 3

Lydia Matthews permission to marry 3

Second Marriage and Change of NameEdit

Lydia married again on 26.10.1844 to Robert Webb, another ex-convict who had been sentenced for life and had arrived in the colony aboard the ship “Adrian” on 20.08.1830. Robert was on his ticket of leave when they married at Muswellbrook, New South Wales. Robert died on 30.10.1881 at Bell’s Hollow, Gundebri Station via Merriwa.

By this time, Lydia had changed her name to Edith Harriet. This is likely due to the charge linked to the circumstances surrounding her first husband's death. Her fourth 'Permission to Marry' document contained detail about her previous marriage and her 3rd application to marry. Changing her name on marriage was likely to help her hide this background.

Lydia matthews permission to marry 4

Lydia Matthews permission to marry 4.


Lydia died on 28.06.1904, aged 90 years, at Gundebri Station via Merriwa, New South Wales. Because all her records from her conviction forward had recorded her birthdate at 1811, they mistakenly recorded her age at death as 93. She had outlived all her children and, according to her death certificate, she is buried as Harriet Webb in the Merriwa General Cemetery.

At the time of her death she was using the name Harriet Webb and had told people she knew a story that she was the daughter of a Donald McDonald (a captain of cavalry) having being born in Windsor, New South Wales but went back to England at an early age, returning to the Colony at the age of 26 years. This would have again been created to hide her convict background.


Name Birth Death
Children of John and Lydia Shaw

Rachel Mary Ann 24/2/1833
New South Wales
Singleton, New South Wales

Lydia 8/4/1834
New South Wales

Ann 3/9/1837
New South Wales

John baptised 31/5/1839
New South Wales


  • Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010
  • "Descendents of Jehu Pollard, as related to Peter Underdown," collated by Peter Underdown, South Australia, 1/1/1992
  • GEDCOM of Barbara and Gary Cady, Montana, USA
  • "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018, Lydia Matthews, 16 Oct 1813); citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 0254188, 0254190-91.
  • "Australia Marriages, 1810-1980," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), John Shaw and Lydia Matthews, 20 Dec 1832; citing Maitland, New South Wales, Australia, reference ; FHL microfilm 993,950.
  • New South Wales And Tasmania: Settlers And Convicts 1787-1859
  • New South Wales Registers Of Convicts' Applications To Marry 1825-1851
  • Australia, Marriages, 1788-1935
  • New South Wales Convict Arrivals
  • New South Wales Marriages 1788-1945
  • New South Wales Government Gazette Indexes 1832-1863
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