Jacob Bellett, First Fleeter - Reluctant Pioneer
Jacob Bellett was born in Shoreditch, London in 1765. He was a descendant of Huguenot refugees from France. A silk weaver by trade, he was tried at the Old Bailey in December 1784 for the theft of silk. Found guilty, although he plead his innocence, he was sentenced to 7 years transportation. He sailed to Australia with the First Fleet aboard the Scarborough.
In 1788 a colony was set up on Norfolk Island. The HMS Sirius was sent to Norfolk Island in March 1790 transporting convicts, including Jacob Bellett, and much needed supplies. On 19 March 1790 the HMS Sirius was wrecked off Norfolk Island, the supplies never making it to shore. After the loss of the Sirius the HMS Supply was now the only link between Port Jackson, Norfolk Island and the rest of the world.
In January 1790 a Second Fleet of six ships had left England for Port Jackson. The fleet was stocked with provisions but also carried more convicts. The Surprize and the Justinian were sent to Norfolk Island in August 1790 which saved the colony of Norfolk Island from starvation. Aboard the Surprize was Ann Harper, future wife of Jacob Bellett. Ann was convicted in Bristol for receiving stolen goods and was transported aboard the Lady Juliana.
No record has been found of a marriage certificate but according to Phillip Gidley King's Journal “Several of the Settlers, requested my permission to marry some of the best behaved Female Convict.” “As the Rev. Mr Johnson, Chaplain to the Territory came here in the Atlantic, I requested him to marry them; Upwards of one Hundred Couples were married in the course of three Days.” Reverend Richard Johnson visited Norfolk Island in November 1791.
In December 1796 Jacob was granted 12 acres on Norfolk Island, which he had settled on in 1791. This land is located at what is today Music Valley. Ann Harper, in her own name, was granted the adjoining block of 39 acres.
Jacob was made a constable and Jacob and Ann were successful farmers. Seven children were born to them on Norfolk Island, from Elizabeth in 1792 to William in 1805.
A decision was made, however, to close the Norfolk Island settlement. Jacob and Ann Bellett and family departed Norfolk Island in September 1808 aboard the City of Edinburgh to travel to Hobart. On arrival in Hobart Jacob was granted 45 acres at Queenborough and a further 40 acres at Gloucester. In March 1812 Jacob and Ann had another son, George.
Jacob died 3rd December 1813, aged 47, and was buried in St David's Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania
Ann died at Sorell 10th September 1842.
Judith O’Shea – Member 8563 - May 2018 (for descendant Warren O’Shea –Member 8695)
© Arthur Phillip Chapter of Fellowship of First Fleeters 2019-