Cardington, a little English village that had 260 houses in 1830, is three miles south-east of Bedford. The village stands on an affluent of the river Ouse. It is here that Joseph was born in 1800 to Thomas and Edith (nee Hillyard) Thorowgood (as it was first spelt). With the railway having a station there and the fine soil for farming it was not surprising that Joseph became a ploughman. Agricultural labourer was the main occupation in the early 1800s. Oats and wheat dominated the crops.

At the age of seventeen Joseph ‘Thurgood’ married Mary Ann Arsom at St. Paul’s Church in Bedford on 23 June 1817. Over the next thirteen years Letitia, Thomas, Edith, John and Elizabeth rounded out the family by 1830. It was at this time that agricultural workers were being displaced by new machinery that could do the work of many men. The Swing Riots directed their anger at the rich tenant farmers who had been progressively lowering workers’ wages while introducing the new machinery. There were also terrible harvests in 1828 and 1829 with families facing a bleak winter the following year.

McCormick Twine Binder 1884
McCormick Twine Binder 1884

The harsh conditions put Joseph under immense pressure. On 24 October, 1828 he was charged with stealing a sheep three days earlier from the property of John Day, Esq.  At the trial on 14 March, 1829 it was revealed that The shepherd saw the flock the preceding evening, and found them all right; the following morning he found a lambhog missing, and the skin was found in one corner of the close on the following Thursday; a warrant was obtained, and in the prisoner’s house, he, with a constable and a man named Jones, found several pieces of mutton hid under some coals. The sheep had been slaughtered in a very rough manner, and on comparing the meat, they found with some fat that was left on the skin it exactly corresponded. – Death recorded.  No doubt his previous convictions in the Bedfordshire court would have influenced the sentence. He had spent three months in jail for ‘snaring’ in 1818, then another three months for breaching ‘gaming laws’ the following year and the same offence and sentence in 1820. The Conduct Report states this was for poaching.  However, there must have been a review of his sentence as he was transported for life.

Joseph lived on the prison hulk Justitia at Woolwich prior to his embarkation from Downs, England on board the Bussorah Merchant as convict 480.  After 104 days the ship arrived at Hobart Town. Joseph was assigned to Archibald McDowall of ‘Logan’, Bothwell who had arrived in Van Diemen’s Land from Leith, Scotland in 1824 settling in Bothwell the following year.


Archibald McDowall was a well-respected member of the community who later went on to become the Stipendiary Magistrate at Bothwell. Joseph must have impressed Archibald with his work ethic and personal qualities because after twelve months Archibald wrote to Governor Arthur that he would bear any costs associated with bring Joseph’s family to the Colony and thereby supporting Joseph’s request that his wife and five children be brought to Van Diemen’s Land. On 10th January 1833 Mary Anne Thoroughgood and her children – Letitia, Thomas, Edith, John and Elizabeth arrived in Hobart Town on board Frances Charlotte.  There was an outbreak of cholera just prior to sailing from Downs on 15 September 1832. It caused 8 deaths – 4 convicts, 2 crew and 2 free passengers. On 15 August 1832 Thomas, aged 14, was put on the sick list when he came down with cholera of which he made full recovery.

Duncan, Edward & Huggins, W.J. (1830) Photo: National Library Australia

Joseph William, fourth son of Joseph and Mary Anne was born on 20 May 1834 at Bothwell, Van Diemen’s Land. He died when he was nine months old, a few days before his niece was born to his sister Letitia and William Mawson. Another son, George, was born to Joseph and Mary Anne at Bothwell in November 1835.

Joseph received his Ticket of Leave in February 1838 followed by a conditional pardon on the anniversary of her Majesty’s birthday.  His conditional pardon was extended to allow travel anywhere in Australia, but he still was not permitted to return to England.

Also granted their conditional pardons were Joseph’s sons-in-law – William Mawson, George Baker and Robert Betts. These families together with George Baker headed for the Port Phillip District. In 1850 Mawson purchased property in Geelong. Mawson and Thorogood families purchased property in Germantown. Overtime the families accumulated properties across the Barrabool, South Barwon and Winchelsea Shires.

Map: Hill, John, F. (1992)

The spelling of the surname changed once again, this time to Thurrowgood. George Thurrowgood had been purchasing property in Geelong and later in such towns as Freshwater Creek. After Mary-Annes death in 1862 Joseph sold his Grovedale property in 1867. He later moved across to the Muroon/Pennyroyal area where his son George had purchased property in 1869. Joseph died in 1885 at Murroon and is buried at the Whoorel Cemetery.



  • Hill, John, F. (1992), The Thurrowgood Story Joseph Thurrowgood Transported for Life 1800 – 1885
  • Tasmanian Name Index
  • Huntington, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette
  • Tasmanian Colonial Convict, Passenger and Land Records. Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, Hobart, Tasmania, CON31-1-42 Image 163
  • The Hobart Town Courier