Grafton alderman had convict past
CASINO’S Kay Francis had no idea just how many skeletons in the closet she would unearth when she started researching the life and descendants of her great, great, great-grandfather, Richard Payne.
As it turned out, the former alderman on the Grafton Municipal Council, who died in 1891, had a tobacco tin full of secrets he kept from his family.
Those secrets did not begin to be revealed until Mr Payne died at the age of 91 after serving 19 years on the council.
“It was only after he passed on that the family learned he had been a convict,” Mrs Francis said.
“They found his certificate of freedom under the bed in an old tobacco tin.”
However, it wasn’t until Mrs Francis, a devoted family historian, started delving into the past, that her great, great, great-grandfather’s full story, which included a stint on the notorious Norfolk Island penal colony, was uncovered.
Mr Payne, who was born in Staffordshire, England, and had spent time on the hulks on the River Thames, was transported to NSW for stealing a horse.
He was later sent to Norfolk Island on a charge of manslaughter.
Mrs Francis details Richard Payne’s early life in England, his fall from grace and transportation to NSW, and subsequent move to the Clarence after being granted a certificate of freedom in her self-published book, Convict to Alderman.
The book is the second written by Mrs Francis during the past five years.
Mrs Francis says Convict to Alderman was a labour of love and the product of years of research and countless hours spent trawling through a host of archives, registries and news-paper articles.
She said once settled on the Clarence Richard Payne, who had married Sarah Moakes in 1848, transformed himself from being a lowly convict to a highly respected gentleman who often contributed to public subscriptions for the benefit of the wider community.
While Richard and Sarah only had two children, they had 24 grandchildren.
“Interestingly, four of their grandsons served in World War I, two of whom re-enlisted for service in World War II along with 24 of Richard and Sarah’s great-grandsons,” Mrs Francis said.
Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of Convict to Alderman should contact Mrs Francis on 6662 3711 between 8.30am and 4.30pm.