Thomas Fletcher Verney was born in September 1819 in Wolford, Warwickshire, England. His parents were Richard and Susannah Verney (nee Fletcher). He was baptised on the 19th of September 1819 in the Church of England parish of Wolford, Warwickshire.

Source: Warwickshire County Record Office; Warwick, England; Warwickshire Anglican Registers; Roll: Engl/2/1057; Document Reference: DR 165

“Born in the year 1819. Served in the Royal Navy on board HMS Winchester, flag ship of the Honourable Sir Thomas Bladen Capal on the East Indies Station from 1834 to 1838.”

‘What I Have Seen’, from the personal notebook of Thomas Fletcher Verney. Currently held by the State Library of New South Wales

Thomas Fletcher Verney arrived in Sydney, Australia in 1840 as an apprentice on board a merchant ship. It is possible he left the Royal Navy for the merchant service because the pay and conditions on board merchant vessels tended to be better.

“…at the expiration of [their] time they almost invariably left [the Royal Navy], having become seamen, and went into the merchant service, where they got higher wages…”

Royal Commission on Manning the Navy (1859): 194

The exact date on which Captain Thomas arrived in Australia is unknown. His name does not appear on any crew lists until 1845 (when he was second officer on the Woodlark). This is likely because crew lists for ships arriving in New South Wales were not regularly kept until 1854 onwards.

On the 24th of March 1845, Thomas married Elizabeth King at St. Philips Anglican Church on York Street, Sydney. Elizabeth was the daughter of Charles King, a former convict who had been transported to Sydney on board the ship Fortune in 1812. He was allocated to Captain John Piper (of Point Piper), and worked as a waterman. He received an absolute pardon in 1818.

Thomas and Elizabeth were married for an impressive 62 years. From what little evidence is available, it appears that their marriage was a happy one. At numerous points in the logbook of the barque Meteor (1866-1868) Thomas indicates how much he misses his ‘dear wife.’

St. Philip’s Church, York Street, Sydney circa 1840.
From the collections of the State Library of New South Wales [a283013 / PXA 972, f 12]

Captain Thomas Verney lived in Newcastle in 1887, when his second daughter, Agnes Jane, married George Galton.