Overview of a convict’s life by an 8 year old

My 8 year old daughter has begun Year 3 at school learning about the First Fleet, settlement of white people in Australia and convicts.

After Miss 8’s first history lesson she came home and excitedly told me everything she could remember that they had learnt that day, (which I am sure would be more than I would!).

As Miss 8 talked about convicts, the crimes some committed, how long they could be transported for and what may have happened to them after they reached Australia, I asked her if she remembered that we have a convict ancestor. She had forgotten, but her eyes lit up and she wanted to know all about him.

My children know I research our family and so she also asked if I had ‘any photos or files’ on our convict, George Simmons. When she came out with that phrase I realised they do listen to me sometimes! Miss 8 decided she wanted to interview me as if I was George and she was a journalist, so we spent some time playing our roles and teasing out some interesting facts about him and his subsequent life in Australia. I tried very hard to make few suggestions because I did not want the resultant interview to sound like me, and it didn’t.

It also didn’t stop there because Miss 8 decided that she needed to include a description about George, taken from his shipping record, and then a short narrative about how people could become convicts.

Miss 8 took it to school this week and presented what she had done to her class. She was so excited, as was I, that I thought I would share it here. Hopefully it will inspire some other little budding family historians.

NB. For anyone thinking of copying this information, please keep in mind that the copyright belongs to an 8 year old child. We would love to hear from you if you would like further information.


My Convict Ancestor

What was his name?
His name was George Simmons.

How many years was he sent to Australia for?
He was sent to Australia for ten whole years!

How old was he?
He was only fifteen.

What crime did he commit?
He stole a pair of shoes.

Did He survive on the way?
He survived on the way. However, he did catch a disease called dysentry.

When did he arrive at Australia?
He arrived on the 27th of April in the 1840s.

What ship did he come on?
A ship called Mangles.

Did he try to escape?


George was 5 foot 5 inches tall, he had a sallow complexion and brown hair with light hazel eyes. His eye brows practically meet in the middle of his head! He had a scar on the back of his head, a wart on the knuckle of right middle finger. He had T T J and other blurry letters tattooed on the back of his hand.

Other things about George’s life

  • He got his ticket-of-leave in 1845 (which means he wasn’t a convict anymore).
  • He left for Australia in 1839 on November the 28th
  • George bought some land, in fact he owned seven blocks in Milton, NSW. He must have done a great job in his days of enslavement
  • He was married in Australia in 1847 on August the 28th. He was married to Sarah Tuckerman in Braidwood, NSW. We think George met Sarah when he worked as a convict on the farm next door to her father’s.
  • Nobody’s really sure when George was born but they think it was the 1th January 1825 and he died when he was 49 on the 20th of June 1874.

What is a convict?

Well it starts like this a convict is a person that has stolen something from a shop or a different person then they either get caught by the police or get daubed in by somebody else and that’s kind of how it starts and then they get sent to someone called a judge then the judge decides if they go to jail, if they are instant or whether they go on the ship to Australia and that is what a convict. It is someone like George Simmons who has been banished to another place like Australia.



20 thoughts on “Overview of a convict’s life by an 8 year old

  1. I Just love it!! I do so hope she stays so engaged as time goes on. I also love that they teach history in a more interesting, Australia-relevant way than they did back when dinosaurs roamed ;) Well done Miss 8 and Mum.

    • They are doing a great job of engaging the kids and making it interesting for them. As part of the curriculum for this subject they are taking them on an excursion to St Helena Island. I wish they took parents but they don’t want any tagging along!

      • My ancestor had a short “gig” at St Helena as a latter-day convict….not the royalty sort. I wish you could go too;) One day.

      • I think we’ll have to do a day trip. Apparently there is a night tour with a ghost component. After doing one of those in Port Arthur I’d give that a miss!

  2. Love it Tanya. As a teacher it is great to see history being studied and letting the young ones understand how Australia was settled by Europeans. It is also wonderful that George was my great great grandfather and I learned even more information about him.
    Now I know where our son inherited his mono brow. Haha. Love Rosie.

  3. I love this, Tanya! Miss 8 is a bright little button, isn’t she? How wonderful that they’re teaching history in a way that engages and excites children. Isn’t she lucky to have a mum like you and a convict ancestor?
    I think you may have a super-genealogist of the future on your hands.

  4. Tanya, your delightful Miss 8 has the makings of a great family historian. They do listen, just don’t always tell us what they’ve heard. You have every right to be proud of her, I hope her interest lasts. Thanks to you both for sharing.

  5. I loved seeing the interesting facts and, as a teacher, was quite thrilled to see that she is interested in getting the finer details of information and has a trip to St Helena, once a penal institution. It was extremely interesting to me as George Simmons) was my paternal great great grandfather. Great work Miss St Claire. Love Rosie Simmons

  6. That is great! Well Done Miss 8 and Mum!

    Great to see that Primary Schools are teaching Australian History too.

    It was a school project that got me started many years ago so maybe this is the start for your daughter too?

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