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Henry Cable

Henry Cable was tried at Thetford, Norfolk on 14 March 1783 for burglary with a value of 450 shillings. He was sentenced to transportation for 7 years having been originally sentenced to death, and left England on the Friendship aged about 20 at that time (May 1787). His occupation was listed as labourer. He died in 1846. Married Susannah Holmes whom he had met on Dunkirk. An early entrepeneur. Night watch member.



Henry Cable was tried at Thetford, Norfolk on 14 March 1783 for burglary with a value of 450 shillings. He was sentenced to transportation for 7 years having been originally sentenced to death, and left England on the Friendship aged about 20 at that time (May 1787). His occupation was listed as labourer. He died in 1846. Married Susannah Holmes whom he had met on Dunkirk. An early entrepeneur. Night watch member.

Phil Hands on 18th March, 2017 wrote:

Henry Kable was born in Laxfield, Suffolk, England. he was tried and convicted of burglary at Thetford, Norfolk, England, on 1st February 1783 and sentenced to death. This was commuted to transportation for 14 years to America, but the American Revolution meant that transportation to America was no longer possible. Henry was returned to the Norwich Castle gaol where he met Susannah Holmes, she later gave birth to a son, whom she called Henry, they were then moved to the transport vessel in which they sailed in the First Fleet to New South Wales.
Left England on 13th May 1877.
Ship:- the ‘Friendship’ sailed with 76 male and 21 female convicts on board of which 1 male died during the voyage.
Arrived on 26th January 1788.

On 10th February 1788 Kable married Susannah in Sydney in a group wedding, the first European wedding ceremony in the new colony.

Before the young couple left England, they attracted the attention of Lady Cadogan, wife of Charles,1st Earl Cadogan who organised a public subscription which yielded the substantial sum of £20 to buy them a parcel of goods which Rev. Richard Johnson was to give them on their arrival in the penal colony. The gift was plundered on the voyage, but Kable won damages of £15 against the captain (Duncan Sinclair) of the Alexander (1783), in the first civil suit heard in New South Wales. Convicts in Britain who had been sentenced to death were regarded as dead in law, and thus had no right to sue, and Sinclair had boasted that he could not be sued by them. Probably from advice the place where a writ would usually describe the plaintiffs’ occupation, the words, “New Settlers of this place” had been crossed out and nothing had been substituted. To have described them as convicts would have been fatal to their case. The fact that Henry and Susannah were convicts and the legal consequences of that fact would have been obvious to all of those concerned; maybe the description “New Settlers” was too close to a fabrication, and hence this part of the writ was altered in order to maintain a discreet silence. When the court met and Sinclair challenged the prosecution on the ground that the Kable’s were felons, the court required him to prove it. As all the convict records had been left behind in England, he could not do so, and the court ordered the captain to make restitution.

In 1798 Kable opened a hotel called the Ramping Horse, from which he ran the first stage coach in Australia, and he also owned a retail store.

Henry became a constable of police, and later chief constable in the new colony and was involved on the prosecution side in criminal cases. Kable was dismissed 25th May 1802 for misbehaviour, after being convicted for breaches of the port regulations and illegally buying and importing pigs from a visiting ship. After this, he became merchant and ship owner. Like others in the colony, and perhaps because of his early success, Henry used the courts to argue cases against his opponents. He seems to have prospered; in 1808 shipping records show Kable and two partners, boat builder James Underwood (Convict) and the other Simeon Lord, as principal ship owners in the expanding commerce of acquiring and exporting sealskins to the colony. Kable was one of 70 signatories to a petition to Governor Hunter from creditors who were anxious to prevent debtors from frustrating their demands by legal delays. The partnership dissolved in some bitterness shortly afterwards but not before Henry had managed to divest himself of a good deal of his property to his son, in order to avoid the consequences of any court order. Kable did much to pioneer sealing and shipbuilding in New South Wales, but it was Simeon Lord who marketed the skins and James Underwood who built the ships; yet Kable’s achievements were remarkable for a man who could barely sign his name and had no other claim to literacy than his ability to add a column of figures.

Like Lord and other early Sydney entrepreneurs, Kable always had a substantial landholding as a kind of ‘sheet anchor’. He had been granted farms at Petersham Hill in 1794 and 1795, and in the latter year bought out four near-by grantees within a week of their grants being signed. In 1807 he owned at least four farms of about 170 acres (69 ha); in 1809 in addition he held five farms at the Hawkesbury and 300 acres (121 ha) at the Cowpastures, with a variety of real estate in Sydney itself including his comfortable house and extensive stores. He also had 40 horned cattle, 9 horses and 40 pigs. His business reputation seems to have beendubious, for he was regarded with distrust by Governor King and with active hostility by Governor Bligh who thought him and his partners fraudulent and had them imprisoned for a month and fined each £100 for sending him a letter couched in improper terms. It is certain that Kable played no part in public life comparable with Simeon Lord’s multifarious activities. His commercial career in Sydney seems to have ended soon after Lord & Co. broke up, for as early as February 1810 he announced that his son Henry Junior had taken over the entire management of his Sydney affairs. In 1811 Kable moved to Windsor where he operated a store and brewery, the latter in association with a partner, Richard Woodbury and his Sydney warehouse was let to Michael Hayes.
Henry died on 16th April 1846, at Pitt Town near Windsor, New South Wales and was buried on 18 April 1846, at St. Matthew’s Church of England, Windsor.

Hawkesbury Courier (Windsor, NSW), 19 March 1846, p 2

On Monday last, rather suddenly, aged 84 years, Mr. Henry Kable, one of the first settlers in the Colony, who has seen his children and grand children grow up about him in comfort and respectability. His remains were followed to the grave yesterday afternoon, by a great many friends and neighbours.
Convict Changes History





File nameEric Harry Daly on 12th January, 2013 wrote:
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