SARAH SYKES, mother of the Sykes family in Australia

Sarah was born in 1794, 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 Catapode, 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 Catapode'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 Catapode 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 Catapode, alias Brown, Catholic, age 23, Middlesex, 6th December 1797, 7 years. Britannia III, July 1798" (from Indents in the Mitchell Library). This means at the age of 23 years, Sarah was tried 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 Catapode and Brown, and she was a Catholic.

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 was a soldier at the Barracks in Parramatta and Sarah must have been granted her absolute pardon before she married a soldier.

Sarah had a daughter Caroline Best who came out from England with her in 1798. She married John Kennedy at Windsor 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.

Sarah and Patrick had five children:

Matilda, born 21st May 1801, baptised 10th July 1803. She later married John Carey.
John, born 4th October 1802, baptised 24th October 1802. He later married Anne Healy.
Mary, born 31st January 1805, baptised 15th November 1805. She later married Francis Kenny.
Ann, born 2nd December 1806, baptised 6th April 1807. She later married Thomas Hammond.
William, born 14th October 1808, baptised 13th November 1808. He later married Hannah Byrne.

Unfortunately for Sarah, husband Patrick died and was buried at Parramatta on 1st April 1808. 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, 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