Robyn Stanford of the South Coast Chapter of the Fellowship of First Fleeters (SCCFFF), Peter Hibbs descendant via his grandson Andrew Byrne, and one of my Mother’s Thirroul Tennis Ladies, had kicked off planning a Hibbs reunion tour to Norfolk Island in late 2013. A year later she had over 40 people booked and paid for the 225th Anniversary trip in March 2015.
About a third were from the Illawarra – seven were Hibbs descendants – Robyn, Joan Dent (descendant of Francis Byrne), David Christian (descendant of Richard Byrne) as well as Eileen Rule with her daughter and two grandchildren – Robyn, David, Joan and Eileen are all members of the SCCFFF.
Robyn was accompanied by husband Ken and David by wife Kerrie Anne (SCCFFF President). Another Illawarra attendee, Anne Marie Sneddon Mobbs, also of the SCCFFF and Illawarra Family History Group, was not related to the Hibbs, but had an ongoing interest in convict history – currently undertaking a PhD in that field at the University of Wollongong. And there was another of Mum’s Thirroul Tennis Ladies, Robyn McLean. Most of us in the Hibbs family had a copy of Allen Maunder’s epic “Sailing on the Hibbs Line”.
We knew of Peter Hibbs being an Able Seaman, and First Fleeter, on the HMS Sirius, Flag Ship of the First Fleet in 1788. And that his wife, Mary Pardoe, had been a convict on the Second Fleet Ship, Lady Juliana, aka the Floating Brothel. In fact the Lady Juliana had not been an official part of the Second Fleet, but had merely arrived around the same time.
Not long before we departed, Dr Joseph “Joe” Davis, also a Hibbs descendant, had shared salacious details with his Hibbs cousin David Christian at a Thirroul Railway Institute Preservation Society function.
We understood that Mary Pardoe arrived on Norfolk Island on the Surprize with her child Ann Scott later in 1790 after the shipwrecking of the Sirius off Norfolk Island, and that Mary and Peter had met on NI, subsequently being married in a bulk wedding ceremony in 1791.
Then, that a fairly tiny ship, the Norfolk, had been built on NI, with Peter Hibbs as the Master, surprising given that he was illiterate. The Norfolk had been used for an amazing journey from NI down to the mainland and circumnavigating Van Diemen’s Land as supply ship for the Epic Journey by Bass and Flinders – with Peter Hibbs as Master. The Norfolk would meet its end at Stockton near Newcastle after being taken over by 15 convicts.
Shortly before we left for NI we had cruised with the Wollongong U3A on the Hawkesbury, near to where the Hibbs had lived after leaving NI in the early 19th Century Years.
But now from across Australia, finally on March 13th 2015, we were headed for Norfolk Island, slightly South and East of Brisbane Australia. We were all hoping to learn more of the stories of our wider Hibbs family and meet other Hibbs descendants.