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Abraham Chapman
17 July 1798 - 3 May 1874
1998-1999 Submitted by
John Graham

Abraham Chapman is believed to have been born in Dartford, Kent. He enlisted in the British Army on his 15th birthday, which makes his date of birth July 27th, 1798. According to his death certificate, his parents were William Chapman, a butcher, and his wife Mary, but no trace of a baptism can be found.

Abraham enlisted in the 57th Regiment aged 15, on July 27th, 1813. His early service was varied: six months in the Iberian Peninsula, one year in North America, and three years in France. In November 1818 the 57th moved to Ireland, and to Galway in August 1820. Here he is believed to have met Hannah Glynn, whom he married on September 11th, 1822 at Charleville, Co. Cork. before transferring to the 3rd Rgt on November 25th, 1823.

Whether this transfer was because the 3rd was earmarked for a spell in Australia, or for some other reason, is unknown. However, Abraham, Hannah and their eldest daughter Catherine arrived in Sydney aboard the convict transport "ANN AND AMELIA" on January 2nd, 1825. Their daughter Charlotte was either born during the voyage, or soon after, being baptised in Sydney on April 9th, 1825.

Abraham and Hannah spent almost two years in Sydney, before he was one of 20 soldiers from the 3rd regiment selected to establish the settlement at Westernport Bay. The group of soldiers, 20 convicts, an unknown number of wives and children (including Hannah, Catherine and Charlotte), and a handful of civilians (including William Hovell, who was to act as their local guide), left Sydney on the morning of November 9th, 1826, and reached Westernport 15 days later.

The settlement was short lived, but by the time the 3rd regiment was due to return to England the government had not given it up, and the 3rd was replaced by soldiers of the 57th who had recently arrived in NSW. Some members of the 3rd who wanted to remain in NSW transferred to the 57th, and Abraham was one of these. However, he did not remain with the 57th at Westernport but returned to Sydney with the departing 3rd regiment at the end of November 1827. By this time, his family had increased with the birth of Abraham Western, born at the settlement on July 17th. He was baptised in Sydney in January 1828, shortly after their return.

During the next three years, Abraham and family lived on Melville Island and at Moreton Bay, before another transfer (to the 17th regiment) in 1831. Local postings then followed (Parramatta, Windsor, and Longbottom - now Concord) before his final transfer to the 28th regiment in 1836. Service with this regiment was entirely in Sydney, and included a spell from February until December 1838 as a turnkey in Sydney Gaol, and all of 1839 with the Town Surveyor's Department in Sydney. According to his service record, Abraham was officially discharged on August 22nd, 1839 with a pension of 10d per diem, but he is shown in the muster lists for the 28th as being on a "general pass" until discharged on January 31st, 1840.  

During his service in both the 17th and 28th regiments, a fellow soldier was Private Thomas BAGOT. Thomas, by then a Corporal, became Abraham's son-in-law in 1836 when he married Catherine.

Following the completion of his service with the Town Surveyor's Department, Abraham was immediately appointed Overseer of the Civil Hospital on Norfolk Island, and left Sydney on February 20th, 1840 aboard the "GOVERNOR PHILLIP". His appointment was noted in the NSWAO ColSec correspondence as letter 40/22 dated February 18th,1840 which states:

Apparently this salary was not sufficient, as on September 29th, 1841 Abraham applied for an increase (ColSec letter 41/9162). This was rejected on November 9th by the Colonial Secretary.

Under regulations introduced shortly before his discharge from the army, as a former soldier he was entitled to a cash grant towards the purchase of land, and he applied for this grant. His application is dated March 23rd, 1840 and signed at Norfolk Island, and a remission of twenty-five pounds towards the cost of land bought at auction was granted on April 20th.

At an auction held on September 10th, 1840 Abraham is recorded as being the purchaser of Lot 10 in Section 11 of Clarence Town, at a price of twenty four pounds. It is not known how he bid for this land, still being on Norfolk Island at the time.

Not all the children accompanied Abraham and Hannah to Norfolk Island. The 1841 census shows:

and this is consistent with the shipping list for the "PESTONJEE BOMANJEE" on which the family returned to Sydney (from Hobart) in June 1847.

Abraham Western joined his family on Norfolk Island in 1844. In a letter (ColSec 44/2971) dated April 13th, 1844 his brother-in-law (Sgt Thomas Bagot) requested the Colonial Secretary to furnish him with a passage on the "GOVERNOR PHILIP". This was followed up by another letter (ColSec 44/3072) dated April 18th from the Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, which had the desired effect, the passage being approved the same day. The passenger list for the "GOVERNOR PHILIP" departing Sydney on April 20th, 1844 contains an entry for "Master A Chapman".  

However, why Abraham Western was apart from the remainder of the family for 4 years is not known - one possibility is that he may have been living with his eldest sister Catherine Bagot and her husband, and either working or attending school in Sydney.

There is some confusion as to whether or not Abraham and the family spent any time in Tasmania. Abraham Western's death certificate states he spent "about 4 years in Norfolk Island, and some time in Tasmania", while Abraham's police service record shows he was the Hospital Overseer on Norfolk Island until 1847. If this is true, then it suggests the "PESTONJEE BOMANJEE" only made a stop-over in Hobart en route from Norfolk Island to Sydney.

Abraham and Hannah then moved to Newcastle, where Abraham joined the police force on May 1st, 1848 and Hannah worked at the local hospital. The "Newcastle Chronicle" of March 16th, 1861 reports her resignation when not made Matron.

Abraham died at Newcastle on May 3rd, 1874, and Hannah on May 17th, 1880, and both are buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Newcastle.

Abraham and Hannah had seven children:


  1. Catherine bapt. 28AUG1822 Charleville, Co. Cork
    marr. 20JUN1836 Sydney to Thomas BAGOT
    died. 04NOV1876 Newcastle
  2. Charlotte bapt. 09APR1825 Sydney
  3. Abraham Western born. 17JUL1827 Westernport
    marr. 24AUG1850 Newcastle to Bridget Mary CHERRY
    died. 31MAR1892 Sydney
  4. John born. 16OCT1829 Moreton Bay
    marr. 09FEB1857 Newcastle to Ellen RYAN
    died. 07FEB1880 Wallsend
  5. George Stephen born. 25AUG1831 Parramatta
    marr. 02MAY1853 Sydney to Honora Anne DOYLE
    died. 28OCT1902 Glebe
  6. Ellen born. c1834
    marr. 09JAN1854 Raymond Terrace to John FORD
    died. 31DEC1904 Newcastle
  7. Samuel G born. c1835
    marr. (1) 19NOV1855 Newcastle to Bridget HAYES

marr. (2) c1881 (reg at Newcastle) to Rose HEYDON

    died. 20JAN1887 Waratah


Created by John Graham, a great-great-great-grandson of Abraham Chapman, who can be contacted at johngrah@ozemail.com.au.

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Last modified: May 20, 2006