Elizabeth was born to parents, John Emptage, an agricultural labourer age 36, and mother, Sarah (Impett) age 27, on 7 December 1802 in Margate.
Elizabeth was the third eldest of 6 children, with a brother William dying in 1806 aged just three weeks.
On the 14 April 1819, Sarah died aged 43. Married for 21 years, John was left to care for five children, the youngest of whom were aged 8 and 11.
John remained a widower for nineteen months but on 19 November 1820 aged 54, he married a widow, Martha Wales, nee Barnett, aged 55 at St John the Baptist Church in Margate.
Nearly five years later, Elizabeth a spinster age 22, married Thomas Hepburn, a ploughman and wheelwright age 25, son of Thomas Hepburn and Elizabeth Griggs, at All Saints Church in Birchington, on the 15 October 1825.
Two children soon followed with the birth of Anne in 1826 and Thomas in 1829, but their lives were about to change drastically.
In 1830, Elizabeth’s husband, Thomas was convicted along with a group of men for destroying threshing machinery during the “Swing Riots”.
Thomas was sentenced on the 26 December 1830 at Kent Assizes to transportation to Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) for seven years.
On the 6 February 1831, after spending months on the prison hulk, ‘York’, Thomas was transferred to the convict ship “Eliza” at Portsmouth and shipped to the other side of the world. The voyage took 111 days and he arrived in New Norfolk on the 29 May 1831 to start his sentence.
We hope that Thomas’ skills as a ploughman and wheelwright kept him in good stead and that he served his sentence working for free settlers on the land rather than being one of the 800 convicts working in chain gangs at the infamous Port Arthur penal colony.
Thomas, after serving five years of his seven year sentence was given a full pardon and would have been free to return to England but at his own expense.
Elizabeth, who had been left behind in Thanet in 1830 with two children and no form of income, existed on assistance provided by the parish of Acol, Kent but it would have been a very mean existence.
There must have been an exchange of letters over time and discussion of what would happen when Thomas was free and evidently they decided that there would be a better life for the family in Australia.
The British Government had introduced a scheme to send out certain wives and children of convicted men to join their husbands in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land. The parishes supported the scheme as it would mean that they would no longer need to provide financial assistance for them.
The families were sent free of charge on the female convict ships but listed separately. They were fed, clothed and, on some ships, the children received a rudimentary education.
Thomas would have made an application which was passed through the bureaucracy, arriving in the Colonial Office in London and then the Home Office.
It was a fairly complicated process, inefficiently administered by the Home Office, with a random system of selection. The selected families were told the time and place of embarkation but had to get themselves to that place at their own cost.
Fortunately, the family of Thomas Hepburn was chosen and in 1835, Elizabeth aged 33, sailed to Tasmania to join Thomas, taking her two children, Anne aged 9 and Thomas aged 6 with her.
They arrived safely in New Norfolk and she and Thomas settled down to a new life, and to raise three more children, Mary, born 1838, Harriet Elizabeth, 1840, and William born 1843.
Within a few years, Elizabeth and Thomas move from New Norfolk, Tasmania and settle in Geelong, in the state of Victoria. At that time Geelong was a growing city some fifty miles from the city of Melbourne.
Unfortunately their new life did not last long as Elizabeth passed away on 23 January 1854 in Irish Town, Geelong, age 51. Elizabeth was buried at Geelong Eastern Cemetery on 28 January and her grave can be seen to this day.
Thomas Hepburn/Hebuirn, aged 57 and a widower of three years, married an Elizabeth Boomer age 37, on the 15 September 1857.
Elizabeth Emptage nee Boomer died on the 3 April 1869 aged 49, with Thomas passing away on the 7 June 1879 aged 78. Thomas’ estate passed to his son William.
Thomas was laid to rest with his first wife, Elizabeth (Emptage) at Geelong Eastern Cemetery on the 11 June 1879.