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Laycock, Thomas (1756–1809)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Thomas Laycock (1756?-1809), quartermaster, was enrolled as a sergeant in the New South Wales Corps in 1789. He was promoted quartermaster in January 1791 and arrived in Sydney in H.M.S. Gorgon in September. Governor Arthur Phillip recommended Laycock for a vacant ensigncy in April 1792, but this was refused because he already held a commission. When Deputy-Commissary Thomas Freeman died in November 1794 Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose appointed Laycock to the vacant office. In 1796 Laycock was involved in the shooting of John Boston's pig and was ordered to pay damages along with other members of the corps charged with the offence. He resigned as deputy-commissary in December 1800 but retained his position as quartermaster. He had been granted 80 acres (32 ha) at Parsley Bay, later the site of Vaucluse House, in February 1793; 100 acres (40 ha) by the upper part of the harbour in September 1795; 160 acres (65 ha) at Liberty Plains in May 1799; and two other grants of which no record survives. By 1802 he held 448 acres (181 ha) by grant and had bought 900 (364 ha) more; by 1807 his total acreage was 1655 acres (670 ha). He was praised for his part in putting down the Castle Hill uprising in March 1804, when he led the detachment of soldiers to Major George Johnston's aid in his encounter with the rebel leaders, and was afterwards a member of the court martial which tried the rebels.

Laycock's wife, Hannah (1758-1831), who arrived in the Gorgon in September 1791, left again for England about 1805. After her departure Laycock came under severe censure for his indecent behaviour and next year was found guilty of using mutinous language. In February 1808 he was replaced as quartermaster by the War Office but not entirely disgraced. In April Lieutenant-Governor Johnston appointed him to assist in making a survey of the government store, but John Macarthur advised against appointing him a magistrate and police officer. In October 1809 members of Laycock's family made representations to a Lieutenant-Governor William Paterson that he was labouring under mental derangement and unable to manage his affairs. After a report on his health by D'Arcy Wentworth, Paterson appointed Laycock's sons William and Thomas, his son-in-law Nicholas Bayly, William Broughton and D'Arcy Wentworth to manage his estates and effects. He died on 27 December 1809.

In September 1810 Hannah Laycock returned to the colony and settled at King's Grove, the 500-acre (202 ha) grant she had received in 1804 from Governor Philip Gidley King and which she had named after him. The present suburb of Kingsgrove includes the estate. The Laycocks had three sons and three daughters, including Sarah who married Nicholas Bayly, and Elizabeth who married a pioneer of the Hawkesbury district, Thomas Matcham Pitt, a relation of the earl of Chatham and Lord Nelson. Thomas Pitt's daughter Mary married her cousin, Thomas William Eber Bunker Laycock.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 2-5
  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 1-6
  • manuscript catalogue under T. Laycock (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

'Laycock, Thomas (1756–1809)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 25 March 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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