The Mobbs Mob…

One of the most interesting discoveries I made while researching my ancestry was my connection to a man named William Mobbs, an industrious convict who was my great great great great great grandfather.

William was born in London in 1763, the son on Isaac Mobbs (1731-1794) and Mary Ireland (1740-unknown). William married Ann Grover (1761-1850) in 1790 and they proceeded to have three children while living in London – William Jnr (1791-1851), Ann (1795-1867) and George (1796-1821).

In 1796 William was committed to stand trial at Newgate on the charge of stealing salt petre, a crime he committed in conjunction with his brother-in-law William Batman (1765-1833), father of John Batman, founder of Melbourne.

William was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years transportation and after a year in prison he left England on the Barwell, arriving in Sydney in May 1798. His wife Ann and their three children followed William as free settlers, arriving aboard the Earl Cornwallis in 1801. William and Ann then had another son John (1802-1828).

William was quite a model convict and displayed some talent for horticulture.

An early diary by Mrs Felton Matthews commented that…

” Old Mobbs was among the first convicts who arrived in the country and was for years employed in the government garden, from whence he obtained a cutting from the first orange tree brought from Rio: this tree he showed with pride as being the parent of his whole orchard, either by cuttings, layers or seedlings…He was the first possessor of peaches” (from Book of Sydney Suburbs by Pollon p51).

William was emancipated in 1803 and concentrated on the acquisition of land. His first formal grant was 30 acres in the Field of Mars in 1802 although documents suggest he owned land in present day Carlingford from 1798. 26 acres were cleared with 11.5 under wheat & maize. He also had 44 sheep, 19 horned cattle, 12 goats and 2 pigs.

In 1820 he applied for more land & received another 300 acres which he used for cattle grazing. By 1823 he had another 80 acres for the propogation of fruit trees. By 1825 the Sydney Gazette declared that William Mobbs of Pennant Hills “has one of the finest crops of wheat ever beheld in the colony”. The 1828 muster credits him with 907 acres and he was widely known for the best apples & oranges in the colony.

William Mobbs died in 1839 and was buried in St Johns Cemetery in Parramatta.

His widow Ann “of Orange Orchard” remarried but was buried next to her first husband following her death in 1850.

In the main, their children followed their father’s rural interests. Son William Jnr was identified in the 1828 Muster Books as a farmer with 300 acres, while brother Isaac had 200 acres. John was a gardener & fruiterer who died young at age 26. Ann married three times and died in 1867 at age 74.

The Mobbs land together with other orchards in the area including those owned by Cox, Spurway & Neil, were effected in the 1860s  by an insect attack with diseased trees having to be destroyed. A second environmental disaster soon followed and exacerbated the farmers. Severe drought set in & it was another 7 yrs before the orchards operated effectively. However, the orchards & larger land holdings were subdivided for residential development, notably after the first subdivision in 1883 & the Carlingford railway extension in 1902.

William Mobbs Jnr & wife Maria Mobbs (nee Grono)

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19 Comments

Filed under Australian history, Convicts, New South Wales history, Pioneers

19 responses to “The Mobbs Mob…

  1. Judith Hanin

    I found this very interesting. I am doing family research on the Batman Family in Australia. Would be interested in having further details of the court conviction. I previously was led to believe Mobbs & Batman were found guilty of poaching & in possession of gunpowder stolen from the Govt.

    • Hi Judith,
      The Batmans are certainly an interesting family! I have found other researchers have added court documents to their family trees on the Ancestry website and these have been useful. You should also take a look at Michelle Gilliver-Smith’s story of William Mobbs’ life as it details William Mobb’s and William Batman’s crime – http://www.tomareefamilyhistory.com/attachments/File/Tattler/Tattler_August_10.pdf. Specifically, “The charges recorded against them were firstly that on the 20th December 1795, William
      Mobbs and William Bateman feloniously stole six hundred pounds weight of saltpetre, valued at 48 pounds, the property of the Sovereign Lord the King and secondly, laying them to be the property of Edmund Hill Esq.”.
      You can also find the Old Bailey transcript online for their court case – http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17960217-51-defend506&div=t17960217-51#highlight.
      Good luck with your research.
      Rachel

      • Judith Hanin

        Thanks Rachel – I just stumbled on this reply. I was able to make contact with one of the Mobbs descentants in Qland. I live in France & was visiting Batman relatives in Australia – have just returned. I am doing Family research for the rest of the family.
        Judith

  2. Sue Langdown

    William Mobbs may well be my Great Granfather x 5. However, I see that yopu have noted Mary Ireland and Isaac Mobbs as his parents. Please can you tell me where thus information has come from. I have been researching this family for many years, and have never been able to substantiate william’s birth. It would also be helpful to know if you are in contact with any researchers in the UK, as I would be happy to exchange information.
    Thanks
    Sue

    • Hi Sue,
      Williams Mobbs Snr was also my GGGGG Grandfather. There is a huge amount of information online about him as he was obviously quite a significant figure and had such a large family. My simplest advice is to just do a quick Google search in relation to information about his parents and you will find plenty from other researchers. I have relied on the research of others in respect to this but it certainly seems generally accepted that Isaac and Mary were indeed his parents. His sister Mary is also an interesting character due to her marriage into the infamous Batman Family.
      There is a wonderfully comprehensive story about his life writtent by Michelle Gilliver-Smith – http://www.tomareefamilyhistory.com/attachments/File/Tattler/Tattler_August_10.pdf. It is worth a read.
      I’m sorry I’m not in contact with any UK researchers in relation to William.
      Good luck with your research!
      Rachel

  3. Dawn Coleman

    Just stmbled onto your website and will have a good look tomorrow, in the meantime, can you tell me if there is a Harley W. MOBBS who married Thelma V. LOUIE within your Tree. They had a son Keith. Many thanks, Dawn.

    • Hi Dawn,

      I’ve just had a look through my tree and I do have Harley Mobbs listed. I have Harley (1908-1977) and Thelma (1918-1977) as marrying in Burrowa in 1941 but I don’t have any information about their children. Anything you could add would be appreciated.

      You probably already have information about Harley’s line, but just in case…
      My tree has Harley as the son of Howard Mobbs (1870-1954) and Clara Mealey (1872-1922).
      I have Howard as the son of Henry Mobbs (1839-1916) and Rebecca Stephenson (1836-1913).
      Henry was the son of Isaac Mobbs (1793-1877) and Ann Tomlinson (1806-1890).

      My Mobbs line is through Isaac’s brother William, so I’ve researched William’s line a little more thoroughly. There are so many Mobbs that I have quite a few gaps to fill in. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day!

      Thanks

      Rachel

      • Dawn Coleman

        Hello Rachel, Thanks for your reply and information on Harley Mobbs and Thelma Louie who fit into my RYAN line. In my partner’s family line I have Ann “Annie” Mobbs dau of Wm. Mobbs jnr. and Maria Grono. Wm. is son of Wm Snr. & Ann Grover. Maria is dau of Cpt John Grono and Elizabeth Bristow. Annie (M) Thomas Foster 2 July 1839and their dau Ann (M) George Spurway Jnr. I’m running out of space. can I send an ordinary email?

      • Hi Dawn,

        Thanks for all that information. How interesting that both you and your husband have Mobbs in your background, although I guess not too surprising as there were so many of them! My husband and I have some connected histories through the Dorman and Rixon families.

        Yes, my Mobbs relations were orchardists / farmers in that Carlingford area. I loved reading the story about William Mobbs Snr being the first man in the colony to grow a peach. He was certainly someone who did quite well for himself having arrived here in unpleasant circumstances.

        I’m sorry I can’t place Valerie or Keith Mobbs. I’ve had a look through my tree and don’t have either listed, although I have focused more on historical research and don’t have as many living members of the Mobbs Family listed so if Valerie or Keith are still alive then it’s less likely that I have them in my tree.

        Feel free to email me at rachelgoddard@yahoo.com.au if it’s easier.

        Best Wishes

        Rachel

  4. Dawn Coleman

    Ann and George Spurway’s 1st dau Eveline (m) Albert E Cook and their 1st son Guy Eveline Dundas Cook (m) Eileen Maybelle Hingston. Their 4th dau. Elaine (m) Ronald Taylor. Elaine died in 1987. Ron has been my partner since 2000. If this is of interest I can send dates etc. Were your MOBBS people nurserymen/orchardists around Mobbs Hill, Carlingford?

  5. Dawn Coleman

    Have just found an email from a Ryan descendant who writes about having been in contact years ago with a Valerie Mobbs who had a son called Keith, a solicitor in Canberra. Can you place them for me?

  6. Sue Langdown

    I live in the UK, and have been researching the Mobbs family for many years. My ancestor was Mercy Mobbs born about 1797 in London. After many years of research, I have found a birth record for twins, Mercy and Billy Mobbs Blunt baptised in 1797. Their Mother is shown as Jane Blunt, nee Grover. I have not as yet discovered who Jane’s parents were, but it seems too great a coincidence that these babies should have been named Mobbs, and that the name Grover also crops up.
    I believe that William Mobbs family came from Northamptonshire/Oxfordshire. ( County borders changed quite a bit in those days)
    I have also spent time at the London Metropolitan archives, and examined the original transcripts of William’s trial. There is a great deal which is strange. The crime of larceny for which he was convicted was aggravated by the theft being against the King. One would have expected him to have received a sentence greater than 7 years transportation. I wonder too, how William’s wife was able to afford the passage to Australia. I would be interested to hear from researchers in Australia, how often convicts were granted the benefits which William enjoyed, including the endowment of land, and presumably money to finance his early enterprises. Were grants made available for family members to join husbands?There are a lot of unanswered question surrounding this family!
    When I visited Sydney and Parramatta I was surprised that in general, people seemed only interested in the family once they arrived in Australia. Is my impression correct? Would be interested to hear from anyone with information.
    Sue

    • Karel

      I am only just researching the Mobbs but other convicts, if they worked hard and didn’t get into too much trouble were granted land, became constables, police, etc. There were so few people, food and support from England in the colony then that it appears the establishment did all they could to encourage free enterprise and farming was a way to get more food. The early colonists nearly died and apparently would have if the native Aboriginals hadn’t helped them.
      I was surprised that Ann could afford to emigrate, not many wives were able to follow their husbands, most just started a new family. Apparently some wives committed crimes in order to be sent out also.
      in regards to research, from my personal experience, I would love to do more research in the UK but it costs so much money. The records are more easily accessible here and a lot of preliminary research is free or low cost.

    • Hi Sue,

      I think as Karel suggests, many of us are interested in the Mobbs prior to their arrival in Australia but it can be very difficult for us to research UK records online. That’s one reason why it’s wonderful to be able to share research.

      In respect to the land William was given, it was not uncommon for convicts to be given a land grant after receiving their ticket of leave. In William’s case, I believe he was probably quite successful at receiving further land grants (following his first grant of 30 acres at Field of Mars), because he was so successful at farming his land. I know he applied for and received 300 acres in 1820 which he used for cattle grazing and another 80 acres in 1823 for fruit trees. The 1828 Muster states he owned 907 acres in total.

      As for William and Ann’s life in England I believe there is still plenty we don’t know. As you mention, William’s relatively light sentence is odd and we don’t know how Ann and the children were able to afford the passage out to Australia to follow William.

      There’s obviously still plenty of research to be done!

      Rachel

  7. I am just discovering this part of my family tree and there is a lot of conflicting information out there about William Mobbs. Some have him as being 6 years of age when he arrived as a convict and others seem to think that it took 11 years to get here. I am finding that William Snr and William Jnr have had their stories crossed

    • Hi Robyn,

      William Senior arrived as a convict in 1798 at the age of 35. He did wait some time to arrive in the colony after his conviction and sentencing of 7 years transportation. He was convicted in Feb 1796 and spent 6 months in prison before being moved to the convict hulks at Portsmouth where he stayed before finally departing aboard the Barwell in Nov 1797. The ship faced a number of delays along their journey and subsequently didn’t arrive in Sydney until May 1798, 192 days after they left Portsmouth.

      William’s family, comprising his wife Ann and children William Junior, Isaac, Ann and George arrived as free settlers aboard the Earl Cornwallis in 1801 (son John was born here in Parramatta in 1802).

      As I’m sure you’ve found, there are many Mobbs descendants researching William and the Mobbs Family and so there is a lot of information available in print and online. The following is a brief summary of William’s life that I have included in my family tree on Ancestry that is largely taken from the Mobbs Lane Epping Heritage Assessment…

      William was emancipated in 1803 and concentrated on the acquisition of land. His first formal grant was 30 acres in the Field of Mars in 1802 although documents suggest he owned land in present day Carlingford from 1798. 26 acres were cleared with 11.5 under wheat & maize. He also had 44 sheep, 19 horned cattle, 12 goats and 2 pigs.
      In 1820 he applied for more land & received another 300 acres which he used for cattle grazing. By 1823 he had another 80 acres for the propogation of fruit trees. By 1825 the Sydney Gazette declared that William Mobbs of Pennant Hills “has one of the finest crops of wheat ever beheld in the colony”. The 1828 muster credits him with 907 acres and he was widely known for the best apples & oranges in the colony.
      An early diary by Mrs Felton Matthews commented that…
      ” Old Mobbs was among the first convicts who arrived in the country and was for years employed in the government garden, from whence he obtained a cutting from the first orange tree brought from Rio: this tree he showed with pride as being the parent of his whole orchard, either by cuttings, layers or seedlings…He was the first possessor of peaches” (from Book of Sydney Suburbs by Pollon p51)
      Mobbs died in 1839 and was buried in St Johns Cemetery in Parramatta.
      His widow Ann “of Orange Orchard” remarried but was buried next to her first husband following her death in 1850.
      In the main, their children followed their father’s rural interests. Son William was identified in the 1828 Muster Books as a farmer with 300 acres, while brother Isaac had 200 acres. John was a gardener & fruiterer who died young at age 26. Ann married three times and died in 1867 at age 74.
      The Mobbs land together with other orchards in the area including those owned by Cox, Spurway & Neil, were effected in the 1860s by an insect attack with diseased trees having to be destroyed. A second environmental disaster soon followed and exacerbated the farmers. Severe drought set in & it was another 7 yrs before the orchards operated effectively. However, the orchards & larger land holdings were subdivided for residential development, notably after the first subdivision in 1883 & the Carlingford railway extension in 1902.

      With so many Mobbs descendants I am always adding information to my tree! Good luck with your research.

      Rachel

  8. Jason mobbs

    Hello.

    I was wondering if you know where i would be able to purchase the book mobbs muster? As i am the last of the mobbs’ line im am interested in starting an ancestry tree.
    Any help would be muchly appreciated.

    Kind regards

    Jason mobbs.

    • Hi Jason, If you search for it using a good old Google search, you will find a few online booksellers that appear to stock it. Otherwise it is available to borrow through several libraries across Australia or your local library should be able to get a copy via inter-library loan (this is what I did last time I wanted to access a copy). It’s a great resource! Rachel

  9. Dawn Coleman

    Hi Jason, there is a copy of Mobbs Muster on eBAY TODAY (16th Sept 2017) for $29.60, delivery free so be quick. Regards Dawn Coleman

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