Separation Henry, Susannah and baby Henry

The birth of Henry Jnr and other circumstances, saw Henry and Susannah’s profile, prior to departure, become very public. In 1786 Susannah was nominated for transportation to Botany Bay and was transported to Plymouth to wait in the hulk Dunkirk. Upon arriving at the Dunkirk, her child Henry Jnr was not allowed to board as the ship’s Captain did not have official papers for the child. Thanks to the turnkey John Simpson who had known Susannah and Henry for several years while they were in gaol at Norwich and who had transported Susannah and the baby to the Dunkirk, he took the child and commenced a journey of advocacy, to London, to appeal directly to Lord Sydney for Susannah and Henry’s well-being.
While on this journey he spoke to various people and the media became aware taking up the story with much social concern being gathered. The consequence was that Mrs Jackson, an actress, took it upon herself to gather donations to be made available for the future benefit of the child and family. These donations later became the subject of another chapter in the lives of Henry and Susannah and are recounted below. Concurrently there was another chain of communication and appeal from Norfolk when via the local Squire, Jacob Preston, who along with his friends Robert Fellowes, Dr Edward Rigby and Brampton Dillingham, wrote to Lord Suffield the local member appealing for his intervention in the case of this young family. Lord Suffield in turn wrote to The Under Secretary, Evan Nepean who in turn wrote a letter of appeal to Lord Sydney seeking for the child to be reunited with his mother. Similarly, Simpson arrived at London in person and received an audience with Lord Sydney and appealed for Henry Snr to be reunited with his family as well. Eventually permission was granted for all to board the Dunkirk and in October November 1786 all were reunited at the Dunkirk, with all boarding the ship Friendship on the 11th March 1787 sailing from Plymouth to Portsmouth on the 13th March 1787.

The  cruel decision to separate Susannah Holmes and Henry Kable and send Susannah and her baby alone to Plymouth to await transportation caused a public outcry when the story  was widely reported in the newspapers.

For a selection of letters ….. click here.



The official convict list for the journey to Australia.

Susannah and Henry are listed in the highlighted box.