Jane/Jenny Rose (née Jones) was the last known Free Female survivor of the First Fleet in Australia.
Jane Jones (Jenny) was born in England circa 1778, and came free as a nine-year-old on Lady Penrhyn with her mother Elizabeth Evans (alias Jones) on Lady Penrhyn.
On 4 March 1790, Supply transported Jane and her mother to Norfolk Island. They returned to Port Jackson in 1794, and on 19 November, her mother was granted 20 acres at Concord. Elizabeth later sold the land to James Wilkinson, and from 23 November 1797 held a lease on a lot, 60ft x 100 ft, in Sydney. This allowed her to support herself and Jane by keeping nine pigs.
On 24 May 1800, at age 21, Jane married Thomas Rose Jr in Sydney. They had two children, Thomas c 1800 and William c 1802. The couple parted in 1803 when Thomas went back to England with his brother Joshua on family business. He may have gone to the Napoleonic Wars.
By 1806 Jane Jones, now aged 27, was living with the emancipated convict Matthew Conroy and they had four sons. In 1814 Jane is noted as being the wife of Thomas Jones, but not living with him.
In 1818, Jane’s son Thomas, then aged 18, was granted 60 acres at South Bulli.
Jane’s mother Elizabeth, who in 1810 had married James Vandercom, died in Sydney on 27 September 1820, aged 60.
Jane’s husband Thomas Rose returned from England after ten years in around 1813, and found the Jane was now living with James Walsh. Thomas formed a de facto relationship with Ann Crew, who bore him 14 children, then left him to marry Isaac Woodford.
By 1825, under the name Jane Rose, Jane was listed with convict James Walsh (Atlas 1802) and a two-year-old child. In the 1828 census she was recorded as wife of James Walsh (both Catholics), at Airds, where he was a landholder. They had 55 acres, of which 50 are cleared and cultivated, plus 2 horses, 24 cattle and some sheep. Jane’s son Thomas Rose, now 28, was a labourer on the property, but he left Australia in 1829 and was not heard from again. They also had two assigned convicts working for them, James Chard, aged 20 and Henry Morton (Duke of Portland 1806), aged 59. They had two additional labourers who were born in the colony, John Ryan, aged 20 and Edward Whittle aged 17.
By the 1830’s Jane and James had moved to Bulli and Jane then ran his farm. In 1831 James was a signatory to an address, published in the Sydney Gazette on 1 February, to George Sleeman Esq, the Resident Magistrate of Illawarra upon his retirement from that office. William Rose, and Edward Whittle also signed the address. James Walsh/Welsh is listed in Illawarra on the 1833 road petition. He also appeared on the schoolhouse petition of 7 August 1840.
In 1839 Jane was granted 60 acres at Bulli – this became Seafield Farm
Son William Rose married Bridget Neil in 1840 at the Roman Catholic Church Wollongong. They had 4 children Elizabeth (1841), Jane (1842), Thomas James (1844) and Johanna (1845)
William died on 25 June 1845 and was buried in the Old Roman Catholic Cemetery (now Andrew Lysaght Park). Jane Rose died at Wollongong in August 1849 and was buried on 29 August, aged 70, with her son William.
She was described in a Police Report dated 10 September 1849, into her death ‘as Jane Rose commonly known as Jane Walsh late of Crown St Wollongong shopkeeper’.
Compiled and Written by John Boyd
Originally published on Fellowship of First Fleeters
edited by J. Moore, September 2017