was born in Dumfries. He was a merchant at the Cape of Good
Hope before coming to Australia and prior to that he had reportedly been in
the service of the East India company and also a surgeon in the Royal Navy.
He departed the Cape on the
brig Ann on 2nd July 1821 and arrived in
September 1822. Other passengers on the Ann included Mr. Dealman, Mr. Mackay
and Mr. Langford. (2)
In October and November he applied for a land grant at
Hunter River on which he proposed to build a saw mill. After his death the
was described as valuable grazing land comprising two thousand acres
situated on the right bank of Hunter's River immediately fronting the
government reserve at Nelson's plains and twelve miles by land from
In 1823 Francis Shortt also applied for an allotment
in Newcastle and Port Stephens on which he also intended to build saw mills.
It seems that these did not eventuate.
When he arrived in the colony, he was already in conflict
with Alexander Berry. Find out more at
Aspects of the Career of Alexander Berry 1781- 1873 by Barry John
In 1822 Shortt placed the following Notice in the
I, as Head of the firm of Shortt and Berry, Merchants and
Ship Owners at the Cape of Good Hope, which Firm has never yet been
dissolved, and shall not be dissolved, until Alexander Berry the junior
partner, has accounted to me for the Proceeds of the Cargo sent here on our
Ship City of Edinburgh, and for many other transactions, which he has
not yet done; hereby warn all Persons, indebted for any part of said Cargo,
from paying or suffering to be paid to said Berry (now connected with Mr.
Wollstonecraft,) without my permission.
A Court case later ensued and the following verdict was
returned : The Jury found that the plaintiff (Shortt) and defendant (Berry)
engaged as partners in the purchase and lading of a ship called the City
of Edinburgh, at the Cape of Good Hope, somewhere in, or about the month
of May 1807, under the firm of Shortt and Berry, and continued as partners
in such ship and cargo, and the proceed thereof, until the 6th day of April
1812 at which time the ship founded at sea, and the said partnership
terminated. And the Jury further found that no general or other partnership
(other than that of the City of Edinburgh) had been proved to have
been entered into, or existed between the said parties".
In February 1823 in Sydney Francis Shortt married Laura
Anne, the daughter of
Laurence Halloran who had arrived on the convict ship
Baring in 1819
and was Master of Sydney Grammar School. Laura Ann had
arrived with her mother, both as free passengers, on the convict ship
Providence in January 1822. Others arriving on the
Lieutenant John Laurio Platt
and his family.
On 8th December 1824, Laura Anne gave birth to a daughter
which they named Laura Frances Shortt. Just thirteen months later in January
1826 Laura Anne was arrested for theft.
On 29 May 1826 she was found guilty of stealing a brooch
and ring belonging to Mrs. Anne Whitehead. She was remanded for
sentence and spent the next five months in Sydney Gaol awaiting her fate.
Read the Court case here. She was given a Conditional Pardon with
the proviso that she leave the Cumberland district for seven years.
The Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser 26
January 1827, reported: A female named Laura Shortt, who had the misfortune
to be found guilty some time ago by the Criminal Court, on a charge of grand
larceny, and who has been many months confined in Sydney gaol, has received
a conditional pardon before sentence. The condition of the pardon is, that
she gratuitously transports herself for the space of seven years out of the
county of Cumberland. It does sometimes occur, but very seldom indeed, that
"an offender of respectable rank, whose punishment would be imprisonment, if
sentence were passed, to avoid the ignominy or inconvenience of
imprisonment, solicits permission after conviction, but before sentence to
exchange imprisonment by sentence for a voluntary transportation".....
On 27 December 1826 the Australian reported that Mrs. Laura Shortt,
in pursuance of the conditions in which she obtained a conditional pardon,
has taken up her residence at Newcastle. In an advertisement and letter
to James Horton taken out by her father
in the Sydney Gazette in February 1827 it is revealed
that Laura and her husband were given accommodation in
the Government Cottage at Newcastle. (This may have
been the Cottage situated to the west of Newcastle in
the are that became known as
When my daughter removed to Newcastle in obedience
to the wish of Government (for I deny any obligatory
or compulsory rustication), I wrote on her behalf to
Captain Allman the Commandant at that settlement; a
gentleman, to whose public character, my humble fiat
cannot add an iota of celebrity; with whose name the
virtues of humanity and benevolence have become
identified. He with that considerate compassion which
has marked every act of his Commandantcy kindly
allowed my daughter and her husband to occupy
apartments in a Government cottage kept by a constable
and his wife. Had he not done so, they must have
remained from the impracticability of obtaining
lodgings "sub dio aperte"
The notice Francis Shortt
placed in the Sydney Gazette two years later revealed
the breakdown of their marriage........
The Sydney Gazette on 5th November 1828: The
Public is hereby cautioned to give no Credit or trust to Laura Ann Shortt,
wife of the Francis Shortt, as he will not be answerable for any debt or
debts she may contract from and after the date hereof, she having left her
home, and his protection, without any just or reasonable cause.
Francis Shortt died on 31st December 1828 at the
residence of Simeon Lord, Macquarie Place Sydney. He was 49 years old.
Simeon Lord was granted administration of the estate.
On 9th November 1829 Laura married William Murphy in
Sydney. It may have been Laura Ann who died in 1831 aged 27.
William Bucknell were
residing on this estate in 1829. In November 1831 the following notice was
placed in the Sydney Gazette on 17 November 1831:
In the Supreme Court. Sherifff's Office -
Laidley v. Bodenham and Bucknell, Bax v. Bucknell.
On Thursday the 24th Instant at 1 o'clock in George
Street, Sydney the Sheriff will cause to be sold all
the Right, Title, Interest, and Estate of Defendant,
Bucknell in and to all that Piece or Parcel of land
containing 2500 acres more or less situated on the
River Paterson known by the name of Elmshall, situated
in the County of Durham bounded by the River aforesaid
and the Lands of Messrs George Adair and Townshend.
After which will be sold Defendant's unexpired Lease
of a Farm known as Short's Farm on Hunter's River.
Notes & Links:
Colonial Secretary's Index
8 February 1827
(2) Sydney Gazette 6 September 1822