Convict Histories

Thomas Crowde, (c1821 – 1868) (Reg. No. 2310)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

Thomas Crowde (aka Crow, Crowed, or Crowd), soldier, was born at Swingfield in Kent in 1821. As a member of the 90th Foot Regiment he was convicted at Cork on 14 April 1851 of losing his regimental clothes and deserting from the Army. He was sentenced to 7 years’ transportation and arrived in WA on the Robert Small, on 19 August 1853.

His description on arrival was – single, 5’9¾”, with dark brown hair, oval face, grey eyes, a dark complexion, of stout build, with no marks.[1] From Fremantle Prison Thomas Crowde was part of a group of Probation Prisoners drafted to the Branch Establishment at FW Bay (Freshwater Bay), on 20 September 1853.[2] His date of Ticket of Leave was 15 November 1853.[3] On 21 December that year he was one of 12 probation prisoners discharged PTT(?).[4]

It is not known when Thomas Crowde arrived at the Bunbury Convict Depot. It is likely that from there he joined one of the parties engaged in roadworks before catching the eye of Marshall Waller Clifton, formerly Chief Commissioner of the failed West Australian Company at Australind, who was always on the lookout for healthy reliable workers.

Clifton recorded that Thomas Crowde entered his employ (probably as a cook), on 12 August 1855, but due to issues over him going into Bunbury at Christmas and not returning to work as ordered, Thomas was briefly dismissed, only to be re-hired the following year:

14 February 1856 – ‘Hired Thos. Crowde as under Cattle Man to go out tomorrow with the Herd at £1 per Month to be £1.5 if he suited me & remained the twelve month.’[5]

Crowde remained with Clifton until August 1860. The longevity of his period of service indicates the mutual respect which developed between the two men. Crowde was a reliable worker and apart from a couple of instances of drinking to excess he served his master well. He spent most of the time away from the main homestead, managing the livestock on the various outlying properties, rounding up stray stock, moving them to new pastures or slaughtering sheep and cattle to provide meat for the family and workers. When other seasonal tasks such as potato digging, threshing grain, or wine-making needed to be done, Thomas and others were called upon to assist.

On 6 May 1857 there was some excitement when word was received that there were a couple of bushrangers in the area. Clifton put some native trackers on their trail and after policeman William Bashford arrived from Bunbury, Clifton recorded that he ‘dispatched him & Harris, Townsend [6] & Crowde & Jem on horseback & late at night they caught the two men asleep near the Point of the Collie.’[7]

Clifton owed Thomas Crowde a debt of gratitude for saving his life, following an incident in 1858 between a ticket-of-leave man named Patrick Clancey[8] and a servant girl named Annastasia Kennedy. Clifton recorded the incident and its consequences as follows:

27 December, 1858 – After Dinner Patrick Clancey, Gervase’s man having struck Anna, I went to speak to him when he committed a brutal assault on me, knocking out two teeth & would have killed me by a blow of a Poker but for Crowd having seized him. Swore in George, Offer[9] & Guthrie as Special Constables. […?] my Cart & lodged him in Gaol. Very ill from the blows.[10]

28 December, 1858 – Pearce walked up to breakfast & He & I rode down, Crowde walked as Witness. Case against Clancey heard & He was fully committed on the Capital Charge.[11]

17 March, 1859 – Rode to Bunbury with Crowde to Clancey’s case which was heard by the full Bench & Patrick Clancey was sentenced to Penal Servitude in the Convict Est. for the term of his Natural Life. He then violently assaulted the Police & with difficulty was secured.[12]

Clifton was always pleased to see his workers marry and settle down. In 1859 he had recorded in his journal on 15 August that ‘the Marriage of Crowde with Ann Cook settled to take place on Thursday.’ Clifton put his men to work in cleaning and preparing a room on the property for Crowde and his wife to occupy, then on 18 August he wrote ‘Thos. Crowd & Ann Cook [Coote?] married at Bunbury today. Went down & returned in Revd. Brown’s Cart & I gave them Dinner here.’[13]

In 1860 the Crowdes welcomed a son Charles, whose birth was recorded as taking place at ‘Wallingup’.[14] All seemed to be progressing well for the little family, with Clifton on 16 January 1860 recording that he had a ‘conversation with Crowde respecting His having the Dairy up the Lake & at Mornington.’[15] However, not long afterwards, differences developed between Crowde’s wife Ann and Mrs Clifton over the management of the Dairy. Crowde went in and gave notice over the issue:

21 March, 1860 – Crowde came in & I settled with him, leaving after applying all Mrs Crowde’s Wages, Crowde in Debt to me £1.14.1. Gave Crowde Old Rover & Ellen’s pup.[16]

In June 1860 Thomas and Ann suffered the loss of their infant son Charles.[17] On 14 July Clifton ‘sent Crowde out to bring in his Wife to attend Ellen.’[18]

The last mention of Crowde in Clifton’s journals was on 4 August 1860, when he wrote – ‘Message from Crowde that he had been taken ill on the Road & I sent David out upon My Horse for him but He got in upon One of Mr Allnutts.’[19]

Whether Crowde was still employed there at the time of MW Clifton’s death on 10 April 1861 is not known. The birth of his second child William Crowde was recorded in Bunbury in 1861.[20] Soon afterwards the family moved to the Blackwood District, where the birth of their third son George David Crowde was registered in 1864. Their fourth boy was Thomas Crowde, born at Busselton in 1867.

Soon after the birth of William, Thomas and Ann took up land at Balbarrup, in the Warren District, a heavily timbered area about 30 kilometres from Bridgetown.

Children of Thomas Crowde and Ann Coote –

Charles Crowd, born at Wallingup, 1860, died June 1860. (Reg. No. 5306A). Buried at Australind Cemetery.

William Crowd, born in Bunbury 1861. (Reg. No. 6162). Married Sarah May Gardiner at the Preston in 1894. (Reg. No. 174). He died in 1928 at the Blackwood. (Reg. No. 38). [See Obituary, Bunbury Herald, 3 Sept 1928.]

George David Crowd, born 1864 in the Blackwood District. (Reg. No. 7513). Married

Clara Elizabeth Wheatley at the Warren District in 1893. (Reg. No. 137). He died at the

Blackwood in 1921. (Reg. No. 4). [See Obituary, South Western Times, 22 January 1921.]

Thomas Crowd (jnr), born at Busselton, 1867. (Reg. No. 10069 – his name recorded as ‘Croud’.) Married Gertrude Hannah Dunn at Bunbury in 1902. (Reg. No. 1911). He died in 1941 in the Wellington District. (Reg. No.18).

Thomas Crowde (snr), after a lifetime of hard work, died aged 50 on 3 September 1868 at the Warren River.[21] His widow Ann(e) later married Alfred Trott, a farmer of Bridgetown, at Albany in 1869. She died on 1 November 1908, aged 79, at the residence of her son William Crowd of Bridgetown.[22]


[1] Convict ships to WA, at

[2] Convict Department, Superintendent Orders (SO1 – SO3)

[3] Convict Database at

[4] Convict Establishment, Receipts & Discharges (RD1 – RD2)

[5] Phyllis Barnes, et al, Eds., The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park WA, 2010, p.495.

[6] Joseph Townsend, Convict Reg. No. 2777

[7] Phyllis Barnes, et al, Eds., The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park WA, 2010, p.536.

[8] Patrick Clancey, Convict Reg. No. 3330

[9] Henry Offer, Convict Reg. No. 746.

[10] Ibid, p.575.

[11] Ibid, p.575.

[12] Ibid, p.583.

[13] Ibid. p.596.

[14] WA Pioneer Index, at

[15] Phyllis Barnes, et al, Eds., The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, p. 612.

[16]Ibid, p. 618.

[17] Infant Charles Crowde was buried in the Australind Cemetery, Lot 18.

[18] Phyllis Barnes, et al, Eds., The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, p.628.

[19] Ibid, p.631.

[20] WA Pioneer Index, at

[21] Convict Database at

[22] Blackwood Times, 10 November 1908.