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Miss Elizabeth Roberts
, 1830

by Richard Read junior

watercolour on ivory (case: 8.1 cm x 7.0 cm depth 1.5 cm, oval: 5.2 cm x 4.5 cm)

Elizabeth Roberts (1812–?) was the daughter of Warwickshire-born William Roberts, (1754–1819) and his wife, Jane (née Longhurst, c.1785–1836). Both William and Jane had arrived in the colony as convicts: William on the Second Fleet in 1790 under sentence of seven years for horse theft, and Jane, also sentenced to seven years, in 1803. They were married at St. Phillip’s Church in Sydney in 1810, by which time they’d had at least two children together. William had earned his freedom by this time and, favoured by Governor Macquarie, had won the first of a number of lucrative government contracts for the construction of bridges and roads in Sydney and districts including Liverpool, Appin, and Camden. In addition, Roberts ran a pub on Hunter Street and was involved in farming and various other ventures. Elizabeth, one of eight children, was born in Sydney in 1812. In March 1831, at St. James’ Church, she married John Farmer, a soldier in the 39th Regiment of Foot. Elizabeth accompanied her husband to India when the regiment was ordered there in July 1832; the subsequent details of her life remain unknown.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2013
Accession number: 2013.26