Thomas O’Neil, an Irish convict and tailor, arrives in Sydney having left his two daughters on the shores of Dublin. Appointed as Governor King’s tailor, O’Neil establishes a successful business in Upper Pitts Row and soon finds a wife, Anne Kennedy. They are to be among the first settlers of Mosman, along with their daughter.
Two years later, 12-year-old William Foster disembarks from an eight-month journey from Portsmouth after avoiding his death sentence. Governor King, horrified that young boys are being transported, offers William the position of shipwright apprentice. He quickly moves up the ranks and starts a successful business in The Rocks. Eventually, William falls for O’Neil’s young daughter, Anastasia and the two begin a life together.
Inspired by extensive research into his own ancestry of the O’Neil and Foster families, Robert Westphal gives a unique historical account of convict history and early Sydney. The Tailor and the Shipwright is a compelling read of resilience that depicts the strength of generational ties.