Private John Marlow‘s first reference in the Colony is his arrival at Fremantle on the Anna Robertson, a ship that left London on 10th September 1851 with a second contingent of the 20th Company, Royal Sappers & Miners accompanied by then Lieutenants Henry Wray and Edmund Du Cane. The Muster Roll and Pay List for the voyage indicated that Marlow was a bricklayer by trade earning 1/2½ per day (1). The 65 men and two officers arrived on 20th December 1851, most were married with families. There had been a whooping cough outbreak on board and for many the first experience of life in the Colony would have been quarantine at Carnac Island for those infected, or Woodman Point for the families; single men were put ashore (2). Marlow was probably married before he arrived in Western Australia but no reliable passenger lists have survived to confirm this, and no marriage record has been found in indexes in Britain or Western Australia.
John Marlow came to the Colony as an Instructing Warder, his trade speciality bricklaying. He was one of six bricklayers on Anna Robertson; the total number of this trade in the 20th Company would ultimately amount to nine. Between 1851 and 1862 a great many bricks were to be laid in Western Australia by ticket-of-leave men, convicts and local prisoners, all supervised by the Instructing Warders of the Sappers and Miners.
When Marlow first arrived, the Muster Rolls show that he and many of his colleagues were stationed at Woodman Point, still in quarantine for whooping cough, and pending their work assignments. But by February 1852 he is shown as being at King George’s Sound (Albany) and remained stationed at this Convict Depot until August 1853 (3).
A Report on the status of men of the 20th Company RSMs generated at Woolwich in February 1855 indicates that Marlow was 27 years 8 months, his service amounted to 5 years 7 months, and that he was married with two children (4). It is to be appreciated that reports of this nature could be three months (or more) out of date; Woolwich to the Swan River Colony being a very long-distance communication process indeed.
There is a record of the birth (22nd March 1854) and burial (7th July 1854) of daughter Mary Jane. Daughter Anna was also buried in St Patrick’s area of Fremantle Cemetery on 19th July 1854 (Father Raphael Martelli officiating); no age at death was given for Anna and no birth was recorded in the Colony. So … were the two children in the Woolwich report (left) the deceased Mary Jane and Anna, or did John and his wife bring at least one child from England? Mary Jane’s birth and burial record give her mother’s name as Josephine Mccooe (5).
The Muster Rolls continue to show Marlow working at King George’s Sound (Albany) Feb 1852 to Aug 1853. However, we can perhaps assume he was re-assigned to duty in Fremantle some time in 1854 as both daughters were buried there in July that year. Two months later Marlow was docked 1d. per day from his pay after being court martialled on 30th August; this deprivation lasted six lunar months until restored on 1st March 1855 (6). A repeat of this sentence occurred on 27th August 1855 at another court martial. There is no indication of the offence which led to these trials and sentences.
Before the completion of Marlow’s August 1855 sentence, he and two officers, one sergeant and 17 other rank and file colleagues were ordered to return to England. The Army had requested some of the 20th Company to assist in the ‘Russian War’. As it turned out, the fulfilment of that order came too late – the Crimean War was already over when the group sailed out of Fremantle on Esmeralda on 25th February 1856.
I have found no further records of John Marlow in England or Ireland.
No War Office series 97 Chelsea Pension documents were issued for John Marlow thus these other sources were accessed:
(1) Pay List for Advanced Pay 1st September to 31st December 1851, WO11-126, AJCP Reel 7180.
(2) Perth Gazette, 26 Dec 1851.
(3) Muster Roll February 1852, WO11-126 & WO11-138, AJCP Reels 7180 & 7182.
(4) Men of the 20th Company, Royal Sappers & Miners serving in Western Australia, WO1-437-220, AJCP Reel 898.
(5) Family Search Index and Alma & Skinner Street Cemeteries Index.
(6) Muster Roll & Pay List 1852-1853, WO11-126 & 138, AJCP Reels 7180 & 7182.