Hi. My name is Mark Pallis.

I am a former barrister and I work as a writer and creative in tv, film and adverts (some of my work is online at http://www.markpallis.wordpress.com) Also, I am the author of cookbook called Lipsmacking Backpacking, a gap year culinary bible!

I first became involved with this project back in 2008.  TwentyTwenty television (www.twentytwenty.tv) had the idea of making a drama inspired by real cases from the Old Bailey archive.  The only problem was that the archive covered cases from 1674 to 1913 – almost 200,000 criminal trials!  My job was to propose a specific period and person.

I had a special interest in human rights and due process. I honed in on a barrister called William Garrow.  Both Garrow, and the time at which he practiced – the late 1700s, between the American and the French Revolution and beyond – were totally fascinating to me and I thought he’d be just right.  A treatment was submitted and got a green light from the BBC.

Then came the magic ingredient: Tony Marchant!

As Tony explains:

“Twenty Twenty approached me because they had, rarely, been given a green light on the back of a treatment about a maverick barrister called William Garrow and the Old Bailey online archive – verbatim accounts of trials.  What I was looking for, beyond dramatising the development of the law, was the main character’s journey and his relationships with key individuals like his former mentor / father figure and attorney, John Southouse.”

( http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/insight/tony_marchant.shtml )

From there we went on to make the show, win an RTS award for History and do a second series! This time around I was the Legal & Historical Consultant, and also the Story Editor.

Garrow’s law is inspired by real cases and real events and aims to give viewers a real sense of legal london in the late 1700s.  I want this blog to be a place where people who are interested  can come to find out more about some of the stuff that helped inspire the show, and also learn about how the changes Garrow fought for are still affecting us today.

I will post facts and details from time to time and I hope you find them interesting. The work that I carried out for Garrow’s Law drew on a range of information, including books, case reports and primary materials held by Lincoln’s Inn Library London, and by the British Library.  I plan to put references to some of these books as I go along.

I was also greatly inspired by conversations with a number of helpful experts, who I thank heartily. Also,  my research was greatly facilitated by the excellent http://www.oldbaileyonline.org , the Old Bailey Proceedings Online.  This fantastic resource was created by a joint project between the Universities of Sheffield, Hertfordshire and the Open University. It was directed by Professors Robert Shoemaker, Tim Hitchcock and Clive Emsley.  I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to make that website their first port of call.

NB:  This blog is not official and does not represent the views of TwentyTwenty Television, the BBC, or any of the writers involved.  If you would like to go to the official pages then please click on the links which I have provided. They will take you to the BBC pages and the TwentyTwenty pages.

68 Responses to About

  1. […] Mark Pallis, legal and historical consultant of the series, has set up his tent on WordPress: […]

    • Sallie Johnston says:

      Paul, I am related to the Johnston family in Sydney. Esther Abrahams (convict) married George Johnston (officer) – they travelled on the Lady Penrhyn as part of the first fleet voyage. There is much documented especially in Sydney about Esther at the Historical Society and the Australian Jewish Museum. If you need any help please contact me. Sallie Johnston

  2. paul taylor says:

    Hi Mark, Iam writing a true story re Esther Abrahams, a trail which took place at the Old Bailey 30th August 1786 , she was represented by a Mr Garrow,I wonder if this is your Mr Garrow.Old Bailey Ref No t17860830-4 Also will this story be featured in your program. Also Mark do you know if there was an under ground passage from the bailey which lead to newgate prison or did they walk there by road.?
    Look forward to hearing from you. paul taylor.

  3. garrowslaw says:

    Hi Paul,

    I hope you don’t mind, but I don’t want to give away the story, so I’ll keep under my hat the cases that served as the inspiration until after the episodes come out.

    As to whether there was an underground passage, it’s my understanding that, in this period, the Old Bailey was literally right next to Newgate. In fact, it was so close that they used to have to fumigate the court because the smell was so bad. Also, in 1750, the Lord Mayor, two judges, an alderman and 50 others at the Sessions House died from typhus, contracted from a prisoner brought before them from Newgate. (Source, Mark Herber, Criminal London, p49.)

    So, as far as I can tell, there was some kind of connection between the Bailey and the cells. I can’t say what it was like – passage, hall, tunnel, or whatever.

    On Newgate and the smell, a really good book is “The Gaol” by Kelly Gravier. In addition to showing a giant fan device to waft the air, it mentions that amateur herbalists concocted a repellent salve that could be rubbed into the walls of Sessions House. It’s also said that to make the sessions house proof against infection, a fragrant fumigation of tobacco stalks and dried aromatic herbs, mint, rosemary and southern wood and brazed juniper berries were to be burned by means of large braziers, pans or coppers’ before the court came into session.

    Hope this helps. best of luck with your book and let me know how it goes!


  4. paul taylor says:

    HI Mark, Thanks very much for your reply, I am sorry to bother you but wanted advice re Esther abrahams.
    We found this story by do our family tree and having found that we were related to the Abrahams we have tried to find out weather the Esther Abrahams from the 1783 trail at the Old Bailey was in fact our relaition.We are trying to find out where she was born in london and the name of her parents,these are in church records some where but what area and where do you start.Do you think that this information could be in her trail records at Lincon Inn Libery or at Old Bailey proceedings online ps GREAT PROGRAM

    Kind regards, paul taylor.

  5. Doug. Monk says:

    A job well done – thank you.
    I am a direct descendent of William Garrow’s sister Jane who married William Monk.I am in touch with the descendents of William Garrow, Sarah Dore, Joseph Garrow and Edward Garrow.
    Together we have have researched over many years much of his private life and from the BBC message board you will be aware that there have been some errors and from what I have read there are more to come ….assuming the series continues.

    The book Sir William Garrow. His Life, Eimes & Fight for justice is due for release at the end of November.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Doug. Monk

  6. Sandylands Primary School says:

    Dear Garrow’s Law,

    We are children from Sandylands Community Primary School in Morecambe.

    Next year we are making a film about two local children who were sentenced to hang at Lancaster Castle for a theft in the 1700s. Their sentence was changed to ‘transportation to Australia’! We are going to build a full size replica of the boat that carried them to Australia and re-enact the trial in the courtroom at the castle. Our teacher said you have made a film on the same subject, and you would be a good person to ask for advice on making our film. We would like to ask you some questions for our research or even come to London to see you and include you in our film!!!

    From the children of Sandylands Community Primary School, thank you and we hope you shall write back soon!

    This is the background to the case:

    At three in the morning on September 16th 1786 Elizabeth Youngson (thirteen), and her brother George (twelve), were apprehended leaving a silk warehouse in Moor Lane, Lancaster, with two pound nine shillings and seven pence and a half penny. The following day the two were separately interviewed by the Mayor and signed their confessions with a mark. The two were kept in Lancaster Castle until the next assizes on Monday 26th March 1787 when they were tried by William Earl of Mansfield (then Lord Chief of Justice) or Sir Richard Perry. They were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Nine days later they were recommended for mercy and their sentence was commuted to seven years transportation. They were taken by the Lancaster gaoler to Portsmouth harbour. They were joined by the famous ‘first fleet’ of convict ships setting sale for Australia on thirteenth of May 1787. Unlike forty of the fellow convicts, they survived the journey, arriving near Sydney on the 20th January 1788.Though there is no record of what happened to George after landing, Elizabeth stayed on in Australia after completing her seven year sentence and her descendents are among the proud Australians who can trace their ancestry to the ‘first fleets’.

  7. […] a BBC blog, Mark Pallis argues that without Garrow “there would be no such thing as a courtroom drama” because […]

  8. Alma Longman says:

    Dear Mark
    I am a decendant of Jane Ison she was convicted of stealing from a mans purse on 15th December 1792 and sentenced to be hung. I have watched with much interest Garrows Law as the case against my ancestor was opened by Mr Garrow. And then on the 20th Feb 1793
    she recived a pardoned on condition of transportation for her natural life. I would dearly love to know if Mr Garrow really did save her life. I would not be here if it were not for him as would many others.
    A great glimpse into our past.
    Alma Longman

  9. Mark Pallis says:

    Dear Alma,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I have had a look at the case involving your ancestor. I hate to be the one to say this, but Garrow was prosecuting her, and not defending. As was very common in those times, there was no defence Council, and that is why you see the Prisoners asking questions.

    I am glad that she was pardoned!

    Thanks for watching the show, I’m delighted you’re enjoying it.

    with best wishes


  10. Doug. Monk says:

    The series is spoiled for me (as a Garrow descendent) by the unnecessary errors concerning his private life which in itself was colouful. The recent illegitimate baby (there is no evidence that Sarah DORE and Arthur HILL were married) is named William Arthur DOREHILL who never inherited the family titles If the facts interest you then I recommend you click on ‘BBC/Garrow’sLaw/Blog’. Can anybody help us to find our more about Sarah DORE? She was described at the time as ‘an Irish lady of high birth who moved from cook or maid to mistress to wife’ she has two illegitimate children with William Garrow and when they were teenagers they did get married.
    As I said above he led a newsworthy life and the present day media would be in their element!!

    Doug. Monk

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Dear Doug,

      Thanks for writing. I have also read your posts on Tony Marchant’s blog.

      I regret that you feel the show is spoiled by unnecessary errors. I will have to disagree with your assertion that the facts are not of interest to me. I am aware that the child was called William, as are the writers. We took an active decision to change the name of the baby to Samuel.

      We have made it clear that we are not making a biographical documentary about Garrow, but rather a drama inspired by his life and court cases of the time.

      I hope this is helpful.

      with best wishes


  11. Ana Lyon says:

    I love the series of Garrow Law. I am studying Criminology in College and find it very interesting how the law was and how it has changed. Through my family tree we have found out we are related to a John Fawcett who was infact a lawyer who changed the law that petty criminals would not stand trail by jury but my magistrates court. I watch to see if another series of Garrows Law will be done and if the paths of William Garrrow and my acessetor ever crossed.

  12. Tobias Haynes says:

    Dear Sir,

    I write to express my particular enjoyment of the show and as a law student the series is a refreshing and enjoyable experience to all of us within the legal world- something quite new, different and exciting (compared to all those boring soaps!).

    It is saddening that Season 2 has ended, however one would hope that a third series is being considered due to the cliff-hanging nature of the end of season 2… the countless untold tales of William Garrow (perhaps including the tales where Parliament recruited him as prosecutor to stop his fierce winning streaks and also his ultimate accomplishments of becoming a KC and then Judge?).

    I sincerely hope this isn’t the last time that Garrow will grace our television screens?



    • Mark Pallis says:

      Dear Tobias,

      I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the series. I hope that there will be a third series too. There are many more cases to do. If you’re interested, do have a look at the Old Bailey Online. If you search by “Garrow” you can see all the transcripts of his cases.

      Thanks for watching!

      with best wishes


  13. Gaby says:

    We got the first series on DVD and just finished watching it today. To say that it was powerful, is to put it mildly. Episode 4 left me almost in tears. That case of high treason made me reflect how much is at stake if people give away their rights in times of fear. They might never be able to get them back. Looking forward for the DVD release of series two.

    Warm greetings from France,


    • Mark Pallis says:

      I’m really pleased that you enjoyed it. There is information about the cases of the first series on this blog too. You just need to scroll all the way back to the beginning.

      with best wishes


  14. steve poole says:

    What Gaby says is certainly true, but unfortunately the defence of civil liberties in this case owes absolutely nothing to William Garrow. The episode is based on the prosecution for High Treason of the most prominent members of the London Corresponding Society in 1794, and particularly the trial of Thomas Hardy. Garrow was there all right – but he was one of six barristers retained by the Crown for the prosecution. Suggesting that he acted for the defence (which was actually handled by a much greater advocate, Thomas Erskine), creates an unnecessarily flattering picture. Garrow was not a principled defender of the nations civil liberties and to suggest that he was is not very helpful.

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Steve is right that the case was Erskine, and that Garrow was in fact on the other side. As I mentioned, the notes on the inspirations for the case are in this blog. Erskine was certainly a great advocate, and made some very eloquent speeches. I don’t want to underestimate Garrow’s contribution though, which I see as different, but equal if not greater than Erskine’s.

      As I’ve said elsewhere, the aim of the series isn’t to be a biographical documentary but to give people a sense of the cases and issues of the time. That’s why we sometimes ‘give other people’s cases’ to Garrow.

      with best wishes


      • Alan Glass says:

        Steve Poole is spot-on. Erskine and Gibbs were the heros. Garrow was one of the villains. The episode is a complete misrepresentation of the truth.

  15. Antoinette Jones says:

    I am extremely disappointed at your series on Garrow. As a historian at present writing a book on women’s trials/crimes of the late `18th century I have knowledge of trials of Garrow, where he sometimes prosecuted, often defended clients. He was involved in enough interesting cases for you to have based the series on his cases, rather than using other barristers’ cases, pretending they had something to do with Garrow. The program is spurious, the equivalent of writing a program about the music of Mozart, and illustrating it with the music of other composers. If you wanted to write something about legal history of the late 18th century then other successful barristers such as Thomas Erskine (who defended Lord George Gordon) should have been included
    but if you wanted to write a program about Garrow then it should be as accurate as possible as far as his cases go. After all, the trials are all now up on a website and you do not even have to go to a library to research them . Your series is misusing Garrow’s name – you may just as well made up the cases and the lawyers to provide a interesting program which would not have offended those of the public who have an interest in the legal history of the time.
    Sincerely, Antoinette Jones

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Dear Ms Jones,

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know your views.

      Garrow’s Law isn’t a biographical documentary about Garrow’s life, it’s a drama. One of the broader aims of the show is to give people a window on legal london in the late eighteenth century. I discuss this in a piece I wrote for the Guardian and Tony Marchant makes a similar point in his BBC blog.

      Had we kept to just Garrow’s cases, we would have missed out on the unique opportunity of shedding light on some really seminal cases from the time, such as the Zong. I stick by this decision and feel that it was definitely the right choice. However, I do regret that you feel people have been offended and feel that the show is misusing Garrow’s name. I hope that this blog, and my BBC blog, have been helpful in directing you to the real cases that inspired the series.

      with best wishes

      Mark Pallis

      with best wishes


  16. Keira says:

    Hi Mark,

    I watched all eight episodes of the series on the weekend, and just wanted to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed them! I truly hope there is a third season, and that William and Sarah will get their happy ending. Such a captivating romance!

    In regards to historical accuracy, I think I speak for the vast majority of viewers who couldn’t care less if the events and characters on the show are fictionalized. To me it’s akin to transforming a book into a movie — even if details are changed or omitted, the goal is to maintain the spirit of the work. I think Garrow’s Law succeeds admirably in capturing the time, and in creating compelling characters and drama. Hope to see more!

  17. marcy toms says:

    Dear Mark

    I am a Canadian viewer (with an academic background in history, albeit Canadian, not British) who has just finished the first four episodes broadcast on our BC Knowledge (network). I find it fascinating and am glad I read this blog, as it cleared up the nature of the series as dramatic, not biographical and not historically accurate. I was beginning to think your Garrow was a bit too saintly for both the period and the class and am glad that, in real life, he, too, had warts. I look forward to the second series. Perhaps you should do a programme on Lord Byron, trial and otherwise, especially if you could work in his explosive relationship with Lady Caroline Lamb whose antics, when relayed to present-day students, always trump any of their attempts to claim ‘avant-garde/ness’!

    Yours truly

    Marcy Toms

    • Mark Pallis says:


      Thanks for writing. This was an aim of the site, so I’m glad it’s been interesting. I’m really pleased you enjoyed series one. Byron is definitely interesting, I just read a good biography about him recently in fact! I hope you enjoy series two.

      with best wishes


  18. rick & Lisa Burns says:

    Will there be a series 3? we hope so

  19. rick & Lisa Burns says:

    will there be a series 3?

  20. Richard Meredith says:

    Dear Mark Pallis,

    Loved the episodes of Garrows law I have seen. I got interested when I researched the ‘Trial of Josuah Slade for the murder of the Revd. Josiah Waterhouse, vicar of Little Stukeley, Hunts.’ (the whole story is on google books. It was heard before Baron Garrow at Huntingdon in 1827. The actual court room is now vacant and is now in the possession of the Town Council. It is possible to sit when Garrow sat. Creepy eh?

    Richard Meredith
    Chair, The Huntingdon & Godmanchester Civic Society.

  21. Dick Weindling says:

    Hi Mark,

    With a colleague I have researched and published an article which centered on a Garrow trial.
    I do know if the planned Series 3 has already chosen the stories but this would make a very interesting episode.
    I have contacted Twenty Twenty TV but not had a reply.
    If you are interested please contact me.

    Dick Weindling

    • Mark Pallis says:

      HI Dick,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Series 3 is all sorted and there is already a stack of potential cases for series 4 – if there is one of course!!

      However, I’d be delighted to put a link up here to your article so that people can click through and learn more about Garrow. If it’s in a journal perhaps we could put up the abstract or something.

      with best wishes


  22. Cheers for publishing this. This clarified an awful lot of concerns that I had.

  23. Jan Kelley says:

    Dear Mark,

    This blog is very interesting, and I am of the view that Garrow’s Law is one of the most atmospheric pieces on the 18th century that I have possibly ever seen. And I can speak with some knowledge, since I am about to publish a guide to Paris during the French Revolution, so the atmosphere of that time is something I feel I have almost lived through! It is so fascinating to juxtapose the fight for legal rights that is so wonderfully waged by your William Garrow, with the shocking travesties of justice that took place, during Garrow’s lifetime, in the Revolutionary Tribunal in Paris. One of your bloggers talked about being able to sit where Garrow once sat, and the same is true of this famous Tribunal, where you can go in to the former Tribunal chamber, and see where Marie-Antoinette sat, where she was condemned to death at 4 in the morning. The 18th century was a volatile time, but such an inspiring one, when the fight for human rights could at last be based on an enlightened ideology. Keep up this wonderful series – I will be watching it to the end!

    Best wishes,

    Jan Kelley

  24. Hi,
    GL is a fascinating drama and compelling viewing. However a question arose during the last episode and having found this blog, you might well be just the person to ask ….

    In the late 17thC in London, would voters really be turning up to vote in Convent Garden, to elect the MP for Westminster? Certainly today CG is considered to be within Westminster, but I’m not sure that that was the case then?

    And please tell us we’re getting another series soon.


  25. Richard Meredith says:

    Yes, before the Reform Act hustings for Westminster elections were held under the Porch of Covent Garden Church. The area itself was the property of Westminster Abbey before the reformation so it was part and parcel of Westminster in later centuries.

    British History Online can confirm this. Click on London and go to the history of Covert Garden.

    Richard Meredith

  26. Phil Manning says:

    Dear Mark
    Thank you so much for Garrow’s Law, which has pretty much single-handedly restored my faith in the ability of British TV to produce outstandingly well-scripted, well-acted, literate and engaging drama. Excellent work and I hope that there will be more.
    Kind regards,

  27. Gray Dourman says:

    I have to agree. Very crafted. Interesting. Entertaining. Anyone interested in Americans in London and Bow Street Runners might find http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-CASE-IN-POINT-ebook/dp/B006BYDLYG/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322056364&sr=1-5 interesting

    Kind regards
    Gray Dourman

  28. Robert Heron says:

    I am a former archivist to The Press Club in London and consultant in early English newspapers to the Newseum in Washington D.C.
    I have extensive collections of early English, Scottish, Irish, European and American newspapers and their antecedents the newsbooks and news-sheets of the 17th and ealy 18th centuries.
    Among these is a July 1791 case at the Old Bailey where a Mr Garrow defended Ann Cane against a charge of stealing 20 yards of Muslin – VERDICT guilty – SENTENCE death.
    I found this while researching, cricket, boxing, ballooning and horse racing for various customers and wondered if you would like to buy the paper. I probably have other reports of Garrow in this period.

    Kind regards,

    Robert Heron

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Dear Robert,
      Many thanks for letting me know about this – sounds like a fun case. I have quite a bit of Garrow memorabilia already so I won’t take you up on the offer to buy it, but many thanks for thinking of me.

      Best of luck with your other research.


  29. Jan Kelley says:

    I doubt it was much fun for Ann Cane!
    Jan Kelley

  30. Mark Pallis says:

    Thanks Jan – you are right. I’ve just looked the case up online and, drum roll, she was pardoned! Happy ending! http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=o17910914-1-defend748&div=o17910914-1#highlight

  31. Jan Kelley says:

    Oh I’m so glad to hear that – it would be so sad to think she died because she wanted to make a nice muslin dress and couldn’t afford it! By the way, being interested in 18th century history, you might like to take a look at the website for the book I’ve just published – all about revolutionary Paris.
    Best wishes,

  32. Randall says:

    Very disappointing that Garrow will not be back after season 3. Quality dies while mediocrity lives on. Thanks

  33. Robert Heron says:

    Mark, since you already have enough Garrow memorabilia, would you mind if I use this blog to let other Garrow’s Law fans know that they can buy original 18th century newspapers with accounts of Garrow’s many cases from my company Arqive Ltd by emailing sales@arqive.com.

  34. Lauren Griffin says:

    I realize it may be too late, but wanted to share the email I am firing off to the BBC pov@bbc.co.uk in support of the show. Hope you can find some way to continue it, its been a magnificent watch – thank you for making it!

    Garrow’s Law – Please Continue The Show!!

    Dear Television Powers That Be,

    I have been anxiously awaiting the return of Garrow’s Law for its third series here in the states, and am thrilled to see they will be airing this month on PBS. The show has captivated and facinated me with its intelligent writing, wonderful costumes, romance and cinemetography, and I have enjoyed it so much. The characters and actors are superb. I imagine it must take a lot to produce a show of such amazing quality, but I am dismayed to learn of the intention to cancel it. I really hope you will reconsider. The show is truly something special in todays landscape, a quality piece of art with magnificent attention to detail. It really feels like a premature cutoff to storytelling with such a rich source of material to draw from for unique ideas. I sincerely hope there is a chance to resurrect this fine program if economies improve, even if it requires a bit of a delay. I like to joke its like Law & Order in the 17th century to folks that have not heard of it. That show and others like it have survived for 10+ years at a time, so I think the potential for this to continue should be positive. Please do not cancel this great show, you have an intelligent audience that loves, appreciates, and will greatly miss it!

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Lauren Griffin

    Enthusiastic Viewer and Fan

  35. Gollisa Thomson says:

    I live in Australia and we have just been treated to Series 1 of Garrow’s Law, which left me wanting to see more of this amazing show. I have just finished watching every episode, except the final, episode, #12. How refreshing to see such a quality production with brilliant acting. Congratulations to everyone involved. Let’s hope the BBC will reconsider. Season 4 would definitely be worth waiting for!!

  36. I’ve completed several several studies of deaf people involved as witnesses, defendants, etc. at the Old Bailey in the 18th and 19th century. One of the most interesting cases involved Garrow, who took a surprisingly negative view of the abilities of deaf people and sign language interpreters. The judge’s ruling in this case (against Garrow’s arguments) forms the basis of subsequent access to interpreters in legal settings to the present (Current Legal Issues: Law & Language, in press). With the current interest in disability and law, and the 10th anniversary of recognition by the UK government of British Sign Language in 2013, have you thought of making a programme in the Garrow series on this topic?

  37. ESTHER KAHN says:

    Hello to all who have followed this blog. I am an Australian , but it looks like I was in London for the Olympics and Paralympics when Garrow’s Law was shown in Aus.
    I am doing some private research re Esther Abrahams.
    I do note her family connectons are lawyers. This is from information about a Michael Abrahams who came here a free settler, but then in 1835 was convicted and sent to Tasmania.
    I am wondering whether anyone has researched this area? It appears his brothers and father were attorneys, and lived in the St Pancras area at the time.
    I am also a guide at the Jewish Museum here in Melbourne.
    If anyone is interested in corresponding, please reply.

    Thanks Esther Melbourne Australia

  38. Sallie Johnston says:

    Esther, about Esther Abrahams – she was a convict who sailed on the Lady Penrhyn of the First Fleet. She later married George Johnston, a Marine. All information is at the Sydney Jewish Museum. Cheers Sallie Johnston

  39. esther kahn says:

    Hi Sallie,

    We also have info at our museum, however my research is a bit more involved, namely, about her family and parentage in London. As you are a Johnston descendant, any clues?
    thanks keep well Esther

  40. Sallie Johnston says:

    In 1788, Esther Abrahams stole a piece of lace in London – you can read the transcript online as to her transportation. I do not know about her UK family origins. I was married to a descendent of George Johnston so have some knowledge of the First Fleet family history.

  41. esther kahn says:

    Hi Sallie,

    Yes, I have read it, but it gives no clues. I do think she is connected with a family who were solicitors. I have traced some details as to the likely father of Rosanna..the Julian Henriques Spanish-Portuguese family .They are connected with Ann Julian who was married to convict Ikey Solomon.
    I am in contact with a descendant of the Abrahams family in London who were the solicitors . Seems Esther covered her past very well!!!
    I doubt she was from sephardic background as there is no record in the Bevis Marks synagogue registers.
    I will let you know if I find anything else. Must go, getting warmer here !!

  42. Sallie Johnston says:

    Esther, one last thought – I was researching my mother’s birth family as she was adopted. There was no record so I eventually engaged the services of a genealogist in Sydney and with some slèuthing, her access to records and DNA tests we found the answer. On my mother’s side I now know I have Danish and English ancestry via NZ and Tasmania. Cheers Sallie

  43. esther kahn says:

    Hi again Sallie,
    DNA for the men has crossed my mind, but they would have to agree and it is not con clusive. There would have been name changes and so on. Records for the 1700’s are few and direct family are the only ones who may know. I think something will eventually come up in England. I do this as an interest, and I was interested when we had a display at our museum. Many had only knowledge from what has been written, and there are volumes literally!
    It would seem that Esther came from a better background than you would think, but the times and the shame seem to be what silenced it all.As I have a good knowledge of jewish things, being jewish and part English, then I know the sources to go to.
    I will let you know if anything of interest comes up.
    It is sad that her later life was one of depression and drink .

    keep well,

    Esther Melbourne

    • Malcolm Ross says:

      Esther, I have been reading your correspondence here with Sallie – I am an Australian and I too am descended from Esther Abrahams and George Johnston. I have known this family history all my life (I am now 68) but until now most of the info I have accumulated was either related to George, or to Esther’s life in the colony of NSW, because both those things are so well-documented. I am trying to find out more about Esther’s life in England.
      I had thought that she was of Sephardic origin – apparently that is not so? – the reason being her adoption of the surname Julien (or Julian), which was a name the Sephardim used. How would it be possible to check this?

      • ESTHER KAHN says:

        Hello Maalcolm,
        Nice to hear from you.Amazing how the Esther Abrahams story still gets people interested.
        How are you descended?
        I will give a brief answer to you online, and ask that we perhaps correspond privately. I will put my email at the end of this response.
        I became interested in this story in my role as a guide at Melbourne’s Jewish museum where I am a guide.
        I do think a lot of time in the past has been devoted to many authors and researchers writing romaticised versions, and this has become more ‘fact’ to many. Not all sources were researched earlier and there are other areas that can be followed.
        Julian comes form the well known Sephardic family , Henriques Juliao or Julian.
        You can see quite a lot of information on records of this family in the Jewish community at the time in the Records of the Bevis Marks synagogue. There are a number of registers that are
        available that can be searched. They would be available at the Jewish Genealogy Society in Sydney, and at some major libraries.
        The Bevis Marks synagogue is still operating and was the first Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in London, bieng built in about 1 1703. You find families then went to the synagogue to record details of family events.
        It is highly likely that Rosanna’s father was from this family, hence ‘Mrs Esther Julian’.

        Please contact me offline .


        best wishes,

        Esther Kahn Melbourne

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