Robinson, Benjamin and Louisa
Benjamin Robinson was the older brother of fellow Berrima resident Mary Harper, born around 1800. It is tempting to think that Mary thought being a respectable citizen and inn-keeper’s wife in Berrima was a step-up from her family’s life in Birmingham and that she wrote to her brother suggesting he join her. The reality is that Benjamin had already started on the convict path. In 1823, before Mary had committed her crime, he was given eight months hard labour for theft. Six years later when he stole a coat he was given 14 years transportation and was one of 200 convicts transported on the Norfolk which departed England on 20 May 1829. He was 31 (not 23 as suggested on his ident) and had been a waterman and ostler on the Birmingham Canal.
Initially Benjamin was assigned to G Pitman in Sydney but in December 1832 his assignment was transferred to James Harper, his brother-in-law and a constable at Bong Bong. He received his ticket of leave in May 1835. By 1836 he was one of four constables to be appointed at Bong Bong and probably moved to Berrima in 1836 with the rest of the constabulary. The NSW Government Gazette of 27 September 1837 announced Robinson had been appointed poundkeeper. The pound was used to retain stray animals until their owners claimed and paid for their release and the newly erected pound in Berrima was situated opposite Harper’s Mansion at the northern end of the village. In September 1838 the police magistrate submitted a bill for £10 from Robinson for building the pound – presumably the fences and shelters – to the colonial secretary. The bill was submitted months after Robinson’s death.
In 1837 Benjamin had applied for and was given permission to marry Louisa Francis Lucas who was aged 38. Their marriage took place in September 1838 in All Saints Church, Sutton Forest. It was Louisa’s third marriage. She had been born in Sydney in 1798 to Isaac and Sarah Nelson and in 1819 had married Irish convict John Flinn and gave birth to a son. Her husband and son both died in 1821. In 1822 she married another convict Charles Lucas who died in 1835.
On New Year’s Eve 1838 Robinson, then aged 40, drowned. No further reference to Louisa has been found.
Benjamin Robinson is buried at All Saints cemetery in Sutton Forest where his gravestone is testament to the affection in which he was held by Mary. What happened to his wife is not known.
The gravestone reads:
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF BENJAMIN ROBINSON
LATE OF BERRIMA WHO
DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON
THE 31ST DAY OF DECEMBER
AD 1838 AGED 40
THIS STONE HAS BEEN
ERECTED BY HIS SISTER
MARY HARPER OF BERRIMA
OUT OF THE AFFECTION AND
RESPECT SHE HAD FOR HIM
The spacing of letters and lines is quite crude and the mason has had to correct the spelling of Benjamin’s name by crossing out a ‘G’ and replacing it with a ‘J’.
 England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. FHL Film Number: 813713. Ancestry.com.
 NSW Gazette and Sydney Advertiser, 27 December 1832
 SRNSW; Convict Register. Series: NRS 12202; Item: [4/4100] Reel 923
 Sydney Monitor, 19 March 1836 (the others were Joseph Watkins, James Cavanagh and James Wade)
 Police Office Berrima, 10 Sept 1838 to Colonial Secretary – We have the honour to submit a Bill of Benjamin Robinson, Poundkeeper, for the erection of a Pound in this township and …. To the Act ….which authorises an advance of £10/0/0 for the same, we beg to recommend …. That this sum may be granted to Benjamin Robinson.
 SRNSW, Registers of Convicts’ Applications to Marry, 1826-1851 – ancestry.com
 James Harper would seem to have given Robinson and his wife an allotment he had been granted – Section 2 Lot 6 – alongside the Market Place but as the allotment was not legally secured and was eventually granted to James Bryant.
 Ann Beaumont. A Light in the Window. National Trust of Australia, 2013.
 NSW BDM V1391273 23A
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- Read more about Berrima in Mitchell’s County Town: Berrima 1831-1841