|John Triggs Thomas and Jane Ann Gregory
- the Ship's Steward and the Butcher's Daughter -
My Great x 3 Grandparents
John Thomas aka John Triggs Thomas was born about 1823 and baptised on 14th
December 1823, St Andrew Plymouth, son of John Thomas and Mary Stabb. John was a
mariner like his father [a]. He could not read or write. He signed his marriage certificate with
an X. At the time of his marriage he gives his residence as Bow, Middlesex. [a] The funeral
notice for wife Jane states John was for many years a steward in the Australasian Steam
Navigation Company. A probable sighting of John in the 1841 census is at Basket Street,
St Andrew Plymouth with brother Henry aged 12 and sister Mary aged 9. John is a 17 year
old mariner. They are boarding with the Skelton family. Preliminary research suggests that
Elizabeth Skelton nee Stabb was related to John Thomas senior. Possible seamans ticket
Jane Ann Gregory was born about 1820 in London England, daughter of James Gregory
and Mary Ann Maria Wilson. James was a butcher [a&b] There is a baptism for Jane Ann
Gregory born 16th July 1819, Baptised 5 November 1819 All Saints Poplar, father William
Gregory, butcher and mother Mary Ann that is most likely for our Jane with her father's
name being recorded incorrectly. At the time of her marriage Jane was residing at Bow [a].
She signed her marriage certificate, suggesting she could read and write. A probable sighting
of Jane in the 1841 census is at High Street Popular at the residence of Alexander [aged 59]
and Elizabeth [aged 45] Wilson. Alexander is a Mast M [Mast Maker]. Jane is a dressmaker.
Alexander Wilson is the brother of Jane's mother Mary Ann Maria Wilson.
Old Bailey Records: It appears that John Thomas was the victim of theft in 1844. The
following is from the Old Bailey online website and makes for interesting reading:
Date: 6th May 1844 Simply Larceny. Case 1415. HENRY COLE was indicted for
stealing 1 purse, value 6d.; 3 sovereigns, 2 half-crowns, and 9 shillings, the monies of
JOHN THOMAS: I am a ship's steward, and lodge in Park-place, Poplar. The prisoner
promised to show me where I could purchase some things that I wanted—I called on
him about ten o'clock in the morning of the 13th of April to go to town, and he went
with me to show me where I could get some candles which I wanted—after we got
outside the turnpike he said, "Thomas, you walk on slowly, I will overtake you"—I
waited—he was away about half an hour—I had locked my door when I went away,
and left no one in the room—I had three sovereigns and 14s. in silver in a little
cupboard with some clean clothes—he had often been in the habit of coming to my
lodgings before—he did not know where my money was that I know of—I am sure that
I left the money safe when I left—I came home at half-past three o'clock and went to
the prisoner's house—he said, "I am going backwards, I will be with you directly"—I
waited three quarters of an hour and he did not come—I went home to get some money
to pay my lodgings, and the purse and money were gone—I returned to the prisoner's
and his wife gave me a key—it fitted my room door exactly.
Cross-examined by MR. BALLANTINE. Q. Are you sure about the hour ? A. It was a little
after nine o'clock when I called upon him—he lives in Gill-street, about a quarter of a
mile from Limehouse turnpike—he left me about ten o'clock at the Limehouse
turnpike—I swear he did not join me within a quarter of an hour—I walked on and
then stopped—I had got to the Regent's canal before he joined me, and had rested a
good bit—I have been home about three months—I have no woman to sleep with me—
there have been women to see me as acquaintances, but not stopping all night—two
women of colour, and one was an Englishwoman—a great many female visitors have
called on me of a day but not of a night—Mary Carroll lodges in the next room to me—
when I missed my purse I asked her if she had seen any one—I told her the prisoner
left me at Limehouse turnpike, after she told me he had been there—when I told her I
was robbed she said, "Robbed, Thomas! I do not know how you could have been
robbed, there has been no person in this house but the tailor (the prisoner) I heard the
clock strike ten a little before he came and opened the door—my room door was
MARY CARROLL . I am single, and live in the same house as Thomas. On Saturday
morning, the 13th of April, Thomas went out—soon after he went, about ten o'clock, I
heard some one come up the stairs, put the key in, and unlock the door—I opened my
door, and saw some one's back going into the room—I shut my door again, looked out
of the window, and saw the prisoner go out of the door—I am sure he is the man—I
remember Thomas coming back—there had been no one else in the room that day but
the prisoner—I am quite sure of that—the prisoner is a tailor—I called him the tailor.
Cross-examined. Q. How long have you been in the house? A. Four months—a good
many persons visit the prosecutor at different times—I have seen women visit him—
they were respectable—men came to see him—I have no doubt that I made use of the
expression "tailor" when I spoke of the prisoner to the prosecutor—I said, Mr. Cole, the
JOHN HARRISON (police-constable K 257.) I went to the prisoner's lodging, in Gill-
street—the prosecutor handed me a key—I fitted it to the prosecutor's door, and it
fitted exactly—it opened it and locked it.
Cross-examined. Q. Do you not know that it was the key of the prisoner's room? A. I
cannot say, but I believe it to be—he did not desire that I should try it.
JOHN THOMAS re-examined. I got this key from the prisoner's wife.
Cross-examined. Q. It was the key of her own parlour door? A. I asked her for the loan
of it, and it opened my door as well as her own—I live about five minutes' walk from
HENRY WOOD (police-constable K 44.) I went to the prisoner's lodging on the 15th of
April, and searched the place—I found two sovereigns between the bed and the
sacking—I told him of it—he said; "Yes; they were part of a 5 pound note I received
from Mr. Thompson"—I told him his wife knew nothing about them—he said, "No; they
are part of some more money I received from Mr. Thompson.
ROBERT THOMPSON. I am a mariner, and live in Arbour-square, Stepney. My father
paid the prisoner a 5 pound note on 3rd of April.
Witness for the Defence.
JANE JAMESON . I am a single person, and live in the same house as the prisoner—I
occupied the room during the day—I was there at breakfast on the morning of the
13th, when the prosecutor came for the prisoner—I saw him go out—it wanted three
minutes to nine o'clock—after they had left I looked at the clock—I had occasion to go
in and out, and saw that the key was in the door—I pulled open the door with it—it
was inside the room—I was not away from the room at any time above ten minutes—I
was there the whole day from nine till eleven—the key was not out of the door—I never
saw the prisoner return—he could not get the key from the door without coming into
the room—there was a handle to the door—I was cleaning the room, and my hand
being wet, it slipt[sic] and I pulled the key with the other hand, and opened it.
Verdict: NOT GUILTY .
Marriage: John and Jane were married by Banns on 2nd June 1847 at St Mary, Stratford,
Middlesex [Ref June Quarter of 1847 at Poplar District vol 2 page 308] Both John and Jane
were of 'full age' The Officiating Minister was G H Driffields[?] - Rector. Jane's father is
recorded as James Gregory, butcher. John's father is John Thomas, mariner. John signed
his name with an X indicating he couldn't write. The witnesses were James Alexander
Gregory [Jane's brother] and Caroline Ditcham [probably the woman who later married
George Robert Godsiff, mariner of Bow in the same church in 1849]
Their Children were:
Elizabeth Jane Thomas born 31st March 1848, Poplar, baptised 14th June 1848, All Saints
Poplar. Father a mariner of Poplar. Elizabeth appears to have died Sept Q 1850. [District
Poplar Vol 2 page 224 ] Possible burial is Elizabeth Jane Thomas aged 2 on 11 August 1850,
All Saints Poplar [Ancestry - Burial register viewed] She does not appear in the 1851 census
with mother Jane and brother John.
John Alexander Thomas born 14th March 1850 [ref June Q vol 2 page 355], Poplar London,
baptised 5th May 1850 at All Saints Poplar. Father a mariner of Poplar.
Emily Jane Thomas born 14th February 1855, baptised 11th March 1855, St Phillips,
Church of England Sydney. Father John a mariner of King Street. [Transcript held] Died
before 1895 as per Jane's death certificate. [Note: Not the death recorded under Jane in 1868
Sydney ref 1204/1868 - transcription held].
Known Addresses in England: John and Jane give Poplar as their residence at the baptism
of their children in England.
1851 Census: A probable sighting of Jane and baby John in the 1851 census is at 3 Alpha
Place Poplar where they are lodging. Jane is married aged 30, born Poplar. A possible
sighting of John is at the Kings Arms Public House, Lower Batter Street, St Andrew
Plymouth. John, a lodger, is a 27 year old married seaman.
Immigration: From their death certificates we know that Jane arrived in NSW about 1854
with son John. A probable record is Mr and Mrs 'Triggs' and child, saloon deck passengers
aboard the Queen of the South [ship no. 25121] leaving Southampton and arriving Sydney
4th July 1854. [Pro Vic, The Ships List]-This would also fit with the death of John Triggs
Known Addresses in Sydney:
1855: King Street, Sydney as per daughter Emily Jane's Baptism.
Sydney Post Office Directory of 1857 [Cox & Co] lists John Thomas, ships steward residing at
2 Union Street [Lane?] [off George Street] Sydney
Sands Directory 1863 lists 2 John Thomas' both mariners; Clarence Street and Fawcett
Sands Directory Sydney 1865 lists 2 John Thomas' both mariners at Clarence Lane and at
92 Elizabeth Street.
Sands Sydney Directory 1875 lists John Thomas, steward, at 478 Crown Street, Sydney.
There are several mentions of John Thomas, steward or fore cabin steward aboard ships of
the Australasian Steam and Navigation Company:
'London' May 1856 John Thomas aged 33, Plymouth, Steward
'Waratah' 1860, 1861 John Thomas aged 36 Steward
'Telegraph' August 1863 John Thomas aged 38 FCS
'City of Brisbane' multiple entries from about August 1864 [aged 39] until March 1875
[aged 49] John Thomas; Fore Cabin Steward.
'Egmont' August 1875 FCS, Sept Chief Steward, Oct FCS
The Brisbane Courier dated Tuesday 19th March 1864 reports that John Thomas, fore cabin
steward aboard the City of Brisbane pleaded guilty to smuggling tobacco and was fined 10
pounds, the lowest penalty for that offence.
Liverpool Asylum for the Infirm and Destitute: John Thomas aged 50, English C of E, was
admitted to the asylum at Liverpool,on 13th March 1877. He died on 21st April 1877.
Remarks state he arrived in 1854 on Queen of the South and was a sailor.
John Triggs Thomas: Death recorded under John THOMAS aged 50, labourer, who died
21st April 1877 at the Liverpool Asylum. Cause of death was general cachexia [ie:
malnutrition or wasting] and gangrene of the foot. No details of parents, marriage status or
children are given by the Clerk who provided the information, however it does state that
John arrived on the 'Queen of the South' in 1854. He was buried in Liverpool on 23rd April
1877 by a Church of England minister.
Jane Ann Gregory Thomas died 29th December 1895 at 16 Dawson Street, [Surrey Hill] the
home of son John Alexander Thomas [City of Sydney rates assessment books] Cause of
death was stoppage of the bowels, syncope. Duration of the illness was three days. Jane was
buried in the Rookwood cemetery, Presbyterian Cemetery Necropolis. [b&f]
The following notice appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 6th Jan 1896 :
THOMAS December 29, 1895, at the residence of her son, 16 Dawson Street, Strawberry Hills,
Jane Ann Thomas, relict of the late John Triggs Thomas, for many years steward in the A.S.N.
Company's service, aged 75 years. NOTE: Strawberry Hills is a locality within the suburbs of
Surry Hills and Redfern.
a] Marriage Certificate John Triggs Thomas and Jane Ann Gregory
[b] Death Cert Jane Ann Thomas
[c] Parish Records - All Saints Poplar, St Andrews Plymouth
[d] Free BMD online index
[e] NSW BDM Online Index
[f] Rookwood Cemetery Index
[g] Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters website
[h] Baptism Certificate Transcription Emily Jane Thomas
Last Update 6th June 2015