THE HISTORY OF THE SYKES FAMILY IN AUSTRALIA

SARAH SYKES

Sarah was born in 1774 in Bedfordshire, and before she was 19 years old, married Colin Reculist (aka John Roberts), a mariner, then a forger's accomplice. He was found guilty of forging and was executed in 1796. Peter Catapodi (Katapodis?), also a forger, was an associate of Colin Reculist, and she and Peter Catapodi had a daughter Caroline, 11th March 1797. Sarah was found guilty of stealing in 1797, and arrived in Australia in 1798.

This is a summary of Sarah's trial:

Sarah, and a man Catapodi, evidently her husband, with a babe in arms, hired lodgings from a man named Finch. The understanding was that Finch should supply the blankets and the quilt and the Catapodi's linen. They stayed there from the 5th October until the 15th November. When they left, Finch couldn't find the quilt. He called in the Officers of Bow Street, who discovered it in Mr Low's pawnbroker's shop in Arkenwell. Mr Lowe had paid Sarah seven shillings for the quilt. The Middlesex Jury before Mr Baron Perryn, found Sarah guilty, as she had hired the room, and sentenced her to seven years, transported to a colony. Mr Catapodi was found NOT guilty, and so set free.

For more details, see Sarah's trial as recorded in the "Old Bailey Trials of 1796-7" (page 50, Trial No. 37, 6th December 1797).

Sarah came into the country as: "Best, Sarah, alias Catapodi, alias Brown, Catholic, age 23, Middlesex, 6th December 1797, 7 years. Britannia III, July 1798" (from Indents in the Mitchell Library). Sarah was tried at the age of 23 in Middlesex on 6th December 1797, and received the sentence of seven years, transported to a colony. She arrived on the ship Britannia III, in July 1798. (Only ten years after the colony started.) She entered the Colony as Sarah Best, but was also known as Catapodi and Brown, and she was a Catholic.

Sarah came with her daughter Caroline Best in 1798. Caroline married John Kennedy (1783 - 1843), a pastoralist, (see table below) at St. John's, Paramatta, on 30th August 1813. Both were residents of Appin and lived close to the Sykes. This John Kennedy was the son of James Rayworth Kennedy, he had a farm next to William Sykes' at Appin. Caroline died 15th April 1869 in Brighton, Victoria. John Kennedy died 19th March 1797 and was buried at Gunning, New South Wales.

For more details about Sarah's partners and marriages, see table at bottom of this page.

I cannot find to whom Sarah was allotted when she first came to Sydney, but she was soon a free settler, and on 22nd September 1799, only fourteen months after her arrival, she married Patrick Byrne in St John's Church of England, Parramatta, with witnesses Rosetta Owen and James Partridge. Patrick Byrne came from County Carlow, Ireland, and was a soldier (a private) at the Barracks in Parramatta and Sarah must have been granted her absolute pardon before she married a soldier. Sarah and Patrick had five children - see table below.

Unfortunately for Sarah, husband Patrick died on 1st April 1808 and was buried at Parramatta. Sarah evidently managed to keep the family together and she was granted a block of land by Governor Paterson on 1st January 1809. The block was two roods, thirty poles.

The description of this block was found in Land Grants Register, County of Cumberland, Volume 2, Folio 62. It was "bounded on South side by Crook's base, bearing E to S 200ft, on E or front side by a line dividing it from the Barracks, bearing N 5° E 149ft, on the N by a line W 5° N 203ft, on the W by a line S 45° W 147ft." This grant was cancelled in 1810, but was renewed by Governor Macquarie for 14 years.

Sarah then married William Sykes, on the 9th of January 1812, also at St. John's in Paramatta, and they moved to Appin.

They had three sons, George, Thomas and James. They lived at Appin with the Byrne and Sykes children until 1837, when George took his parents to Spring Valley where he had acquired a grant of land and built a residence.

Sarah then spent the rest of her life at Spring Valley and became a most popular lady there, being faithful to community and church until her death on 28th October 1853. She was buried at St Michael's cemetery Ryansvale (shown left). This cemetery fell into disrepair and so we obtained permission to remove their headstone and remains to Spring Valley Cemetery where there are six generations of Sykes buried as well as John and Ann Byrne.

George Sykes and Catherine Crowe - second generation

Sarah Best
Sarah was married three times, and had children from three of her partners, as shown here.

Partners    
John Reculist (aka John Roberts/Colin Reculist)*
(1762 – 1796)
No descendants
John Catapodi/Katapodi (aka John Brown) Children: Caroline (1797 – 1869)
m. John Kennedy (1783 – 1843)
Descendants include
Robert Henry Kennedy (1826-95)
m. Mary Hume **
Patrick Byrne*(? - 1808) Children in table below:  
  Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Matilda 21st May 1801 10th July 1803 1826 John Carey 28th August 1899 Collector, NSW
John 4th October 1802 24th October 1802 1934 Anne Healy (1819-1908) 18 October 1888, Spring Valley, NSW
Mary 31st January 1805 15th November 1805 1826 Francis Kenny 15th February 1848  
Ann 2nd December 1806 6th April 1807 1824 Thomas Henry Hammond (?-1876) 22nd August 1885, Burwood, NSW
William 14th October 1808 13th November 1808 1826 Hannah Byrne (1807-1826) 13th October 1906  

William Sykes* (1768 – 1812)

George (1810-1903) m. Catherine Crow (1816-1904).

Thomas Sykes (1812-1836)
James Sykes (1815-1836)

* marriage to Sarah

** For more information about the Kennedy descendants, contact
Prue Grieve 47 Raglan St. E.St.Kilda
3183, Vic. Australia [03]9534-7128
prugriev@chariot.com.au