Eleanor Register

Summary information

Name Eleanor Fraser nee Register
aka Ellen Redchester
Date of birth November 1764
Place of birth Aldborough, Yorkshire, UK
Date of death 18 November 1840
Place of death Concord, Sydney, Australia
Mother Dorothy Simpson
Father Robert Register
Siblings Mary Register
Lucy Register
Ann Register
Spouse William Frazer
Date of marriage 8 November 1873
Place of marriage St. Andrews Church, Aldborough, Yorkshire, England

with William Frazer:
William Frazier
John Frazier
Daniel Frazier

with William Morgan:
Anne Morgan
Lucy Morgan I
William Fraser Morgan
Sarah Morgan I
Richard Frazer Morgan

Occupation Farmer

Simpson-Register-Morgan-Abbott-Seitz-Springfield-Edney tree


Richard Simpson (-)

Dorothy Simpson (1733) married Robert Register (-)

Eleanor Register (1764) — William Morgan (1764)


The Simpsons had lived at Aldborough in Yorkshire for a coupe of hundred years. In 1761, most of the area was covered by farms and most of the people were farm labourers.

Eleanor was born into a protestant family, and was baptised on 16 November 1764 at St. Andrews church in Aldborough, Yorkshire, England.

Eleanor married William Fraser on 8 November 1783 (at age 18) at St Andrews church. The couple had a son, William Fraser. Shortly after, the family moved to Manchester.

The trouble began in 1787. Eleanor and William stole six pieces of fustian, one piece of yellow canvas, and half a gross of white filleting—the property of James Leigh, Robert Leigh, Thomas Leigh, and Thomas Darwell—also goods the property of Marmaduke Clarke.

Eleanor was tried at Quarter Sessions, Manchester, in January 17871. Both Eleanor and William were sentenced to 7 years transportation to New South Wales. On 2 February 1787, Eleanor and William were placed in Lancaster Prison.

It was the custom to transport husband and wife together if there was proof of marriage; however, William had been placed on the Charlotte before the necessary proof was found. On 9 April 1787, Eleanor was placed on the Prince of Wales, and recorded as a singlewoman.

The Prince of Wales was transporting convicts to New South Wales as part of the First Fleet. The First Fleet set sail from Plymouth on 13 May 1787 for an eight-month journey. On 3 June 1787, the fleet anchored off Santa Crus roads of Teneriffe.

On 13 August 1787, an unnamed woman was transferred between Charlotte and Prince of Wales while anchored at Rio de Janeiro. It is believed by some that the woman was Eleanor, as the 1828 NSW census records that she arrived in Sydney Cove on the Charlotte.

Interestingly, in one record Eleanor claims she arrived on the Lady Penrhyn. It was from this time that Eleanor established a life-long friendship with Esther Abrahams (whose yet to be born grandson eventually drew up Eleanor’s will). It is noted that Esther travelled on the Lady Penrhyn.

Over a couple of days in the third week of January 1788, the fleet arrived at Sydney. Initially, some went ashore and set up temporary accommodation in tents and caves. Livestock were disembarked on land where the Sydney Opera House stands today.

In Australia

Soon after arriving in New South Wales, Eleanor and William had two further children: John born June 1789 and Daniel born July 1791. John Fraser was the second white child born in the Colony.

Just prior to Daniel’s birth, William died from heavy drinking. After William’s death, Eleanor began co-habitating with William Morgan (of the NSW Corps, who had arrived on the Neptune with the Second Fleet).

On 20 February 1794, Eleanor (still known as Fraser) received her first land grant of twenty acres at Concord. On 22 July 1794 she received a further twenty acres.

Eleanor and William Morgan never married, and appear to have had a troubled relationship. They had a child, Ann Margaret Morgan, in 1797, but separated shortly after. On 3 November 1798, William Morgan was charged with illegally withholding some of Eleanor’s pigs, which the court made him return.

By 1800 the couple were again living together, and had a further four children: Lucy Morgan (1800), William Fraser Morgan (1802), Sarah Fraser Morgan (1804), and Richard Fraser Morgan (1806). It is understood they separated again shortly after Richard’s birth. Eleanor’s earlier son, Daniel Fraser, drowned around this time when he was 15.

In The Commonwealth of Thieves, Keneally writes:

The convict lock-wizard Frazier and his wife, Eleanor Redchester, had two sons in New South Wales before Frazier died at Concord on the Parramatta River from the effects of hard drinking in June 1791. Eleanor formed a partnership with William Morgan, a former soldier, and they had six children. But they quarrelled over land and the ownership of certain pigs. She would outlive him and prosper, dying on her land at Concord in November 1840.

By 1814, Eleanor had been allocated a convict—Thomas Humphreys. In 1822, Eleanor is recorded as the wife of T Humphries, although whether they married is unclear. Nevertheless, in her will she asks her children to take care of Humphreys (a carpenter) for the remainder of his natural life.

Interestingly, in 1826 an Eleanor Morgan was committed for trial on a charge of stealing2. It is most likely a different person.

Eleanor continued to live at Concord until she died in November 1840, aged 76. At the time of her death she was seen as being a highly regarded settler. A comment in the publication “Concord - A Centenary History” noted that:

“Eleanor Fraser was obviously a woman of remarkable resilience and fortitude who well deserves recognition as a pioneer of Concord”.

Eleanor was buried on 20 November 1840 in Pioneer Park in Liverpool (behind the Westfield Shopping Centre).

The obituary appearing in The Australian newspaper noted:

“Died at her residence at Concord on Wednesday 18 inst. Mrs Eleanor Frazer aged 83 years [sic]. Mrs Frazer was a ‘first fleeter’ having arrived on the formation of the colony. Her intellect was unimpaired to the last, she had a perfect recollection of the ‘first deed’ in New South Wales. She remembered Commodore de La Pérouse, and used to describe the dress worn by persons forming the expedition under his command. Her remains were interred with those of her eldest son John (who was the second person born in this colony) in Liverpool Church-yard, to which place the corpse was followed by a long train of children, grandchildren and great grand children belonging to the deceased.”

Eleanor bequeathed her land at Concord to her two sons William and Richard Fraser Morgan and also requested in her will that Thomas Humphreys be provided for.


Records of Eleanor’s life are complicated by the fact that her choice of names and spelling varies considerably. In various records she is referred to as Eleanor, Elleanor, Ellen, and Elinor. While married to William Fraser, she (and he) are referred to varyingly as Fraser, Frazer, Frazier, Fraiser. These variations could be due to poor literacy, individuals’ interpretations of the spelling in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and subsequent authors versions appearing in publications produced on the subject

Some records note that she was also known as Ellen Redchester (presumably a attempted transcription of an accented ‘Register’).

Although not married to William Morgan, she is recorded as Ellen Morgan in the 1828 NSW census and a number of other documents.

She is buried as Ellen Fraser.

Interestingly, the reference to Eleanor as Ellen Redchester, singlewoman, on her trial records may have been instrumental in her fate. If she had taken advantage of her real marital status, she could have claimed influence by her husband in the committing of the crime, and may have been acquitted. It was only after their request to the Gaoler Higgins, at Lancaster Castle, to be sent to the same place that Higgins on the 5 Apr 1787 sent a letter to Evan Nepean, enclosing a copy of her marriage certificate dated 8 Nov 1783 from Aldborough, and reporting their wish to be sent to the same place “as they have been married some years and have had children”. The name was spelt “Frazer” in the marriage register.


1800 Muster list 1828 Census Will (1833)
1800muster 1828census 1833will
Burial certificate Concord property
1840burialcert concord


“The Founders”
“Settlers and Convicts of the Bellona 1793”
“First Fleet Families”
"After Nell: Descendants of Ellen Register - First Fleeter" by Clare Stapleton Concord (1996).


First Fleet Online

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