My family has several convict ancestors. A century ago this was generally considered a source of shame, but attitudes have changed. Nowadays, convict ancestry is embraced as evidence of "true-blue" Australian nationality. The late Lesley Uebel even set up a website where one can "claim a convict" ancestor - click here.
Even more prized by family historians is a claim to descend from a "First Fleeter", an ancestor who arrived in Australia on the first fleet in 1788. Click here to find out more about the Fellowship of First Fleeters.
While I can't claim first fleet ancestry, I can actually go one better. My 4G-grandmother was an aboriginal woman who probably belonged to the Wiradjuri Nation. Her son William Isaac Kemp was born on Cooyal Station near Mudgee in 1826. Her name is unknown; as is her fate. Her son was raised by his father, Isaac Kemp. William Kemp and his wife Emma Elliott are my 3G-grandparents.
Isaac Kemp was just one of our thirteen convict ancestors. Note that James Grime the Younger was a son of James Grime the Older; and Martin Bohen was a son of Mary Lahy. Here is the list of convict ancestors.
In addition to those direct ancestors, we have a number of other convict relatives (i.e. brothers, uncles, cousins and brothers-in-law to my direct ancestors). Henry Entwistle was a brother of Betty Entwistle (wife of James Grime the Elder and mother of James Grime the Younger). Both James and William Entwistle were Henry's sons. William Entwistle was transported to Australia on the same ship as his first cousin, James Grime the Younger. Solomon Mather was married to Mally Grime, a sister of James Grime the Younger. George Gibson was a brother to Frances Elliott nee Gibson. Patrick and Mary Tobin were children of Mary Lahy and half-siblings of Martin Bohen.
Here is the list of our convict relatives.
I have conducted research to find whether Henry, James and William Entwistle (who came from Edgworth in Lancaster) were related to the bushranger Ralph Entwistle (from Bolton, near Edgworth) who was hanged at Bathurst for his leadership of the Ribbon Gang which staged the Bathurst rebellion of 1830. Historians have been unable to establish the identity of Ralph's parents with any certainty. While Ralph is a common name amongst the wider Entwistle clan in Lancashire, the name does not appear at all within our Entwistle family. Therefore, any relationship to Ralph Entwistle would probably be a fairly distant one.