More than two centuries after his ancestor was driven from Cornwall for theft and sent to Australia with hundreds of other convicts, Scott Morrison returned to the region on Friday as Australian Prime Minister.
“It has been a long time since a member of my family was in Cornwall,” said Mr Morrison. in a speech in Perth Wednesday before traveling to meet other world leaders at the Group of 7 conference.
While the issues of the day were at the center of his agenda as a guest at the top, it was also an unusual kind of homecoming.
The main gathering place, Carbis Bay, is about 60 miles from Launceston Market where his ancestor, William Roberts, stole “five and a half pounds of yarn” in 1786, according to the Australian Associated Press.
Mr. Morrison said Mr. Roberts was his “fifth great-grandfather”.
“He stole yarn in Cornwall, and the rest is history,” said Mr Morrison. “Over 200 years old so it will be interesting to go back.”
Mr. Roberts was one of a group of over 1,400 who boarded 11 ships from Portsmouth, England on May 13, 1787 – part of the infamous “First Fleet” – carrying military commanders, sailors and convicts around the world.
“A great variety of people made up this legendary ‘First Fleet’,” according to the National Geographic Society. “Military and government officials, along with their wives and children, led the group. Sailors, cooks, masons and other laborers hoped to establish new life in the new colony.
The First Fleet included more than 700 convicts – the start of what would be over 80 years of doomed shipping from Britain serving their sentence in New South Wales, now a state in south-eastern Australia. Britain sent over 160,000 convicts to Australia during this time, and it is estimated that around 20% of Australians today can trace their ancestors.
Mr Morrison is not the first Australian leader to trace his roots back to a convict.
Genealogists have traced the family line of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to an Englishwoman who narrowly escaped the hangman’s noose. In 1788, Mary Wade – Mr. Rudd’s fifth paternal great-grandmother – was sentenced to the Old Bailey in London for stealing an 8-year-old girl of her dress and underwear in a bathroom. bath.
Ms Wade reportedly said at her trial: “I was in a good mood to have thrown her in the toilet. “I wish I had done it.”
She was ordered “to be hung by the neck until she died”, but her sentence was commuted and she was shipped to Australia.