The Early Years of Adams
Somewhere in his youth, he might have become an apprentice carpenter and thereafter a journeyman but it is not clear as to why he never pursued that trade in South Australia. On his Marriage Certificate, Adams describes his occupation as that of carpenter. It is unknown as to whether he actually undertook any work as a carpenter. One suspects that he never completed his apprenticeship in carpentry which would allow him to practice his trade. The name of Adams does not appear on the Register of Apprentices.
However, there seems to be a fall off of the number of apprentices in Leicester. This decline in apprenticeships was a cause of concern and note by the local authorities. In the period from 1720 to 1835, it was recorded that there was little variation in the number of registered apprentices in each decade. Compared to this, the population increased dramatically indicating that the value placed upon apprenticeships declined. Contemporaneously, the reduction in the overall numbers of apprentices was linked to failure of artisans and traders to make possession of the Borough freedom which was compulsory. This reduced the power of the city corporation to control the town's economic affairs. 
There is also a suspicion that the profession stated upon the marriage certificate may have been only been a statement to cover a lack of trade. The reason is to give some semblance of pride or false status when undertaking the wedding ceremony. The false information given to the Deputy Registrar by Adams was not unique. He misled the Deputy Registrar about his age by claiming it to be 35 years whereas it was in reality 37. Furthermore, he lied about his marital status and so it cannot be of any surprise that he too would give false information about his profession.
During his life, misleading people about himself presented no real problems to Adams. One item of his life, his date of birth seems to have been an inconvenience. Over time he persistently gave varying dates to various authorities. There are on record six public statements of his age at different times while living in South Australia. The following table illustrates the problem with giving credibility to Adams' testimony. The table states the public source where he was asked to quote his age. This age is then subtracted from the date when the record was made to arrive at an estimated date of birth. Out of the six known entries in South Australia, three are accurate while three entries are off the mark. The best that can be said is that he believes he was born sometime between 1809 and 1814. Adams would not have been directly affected by his lack of accuracy, it is only to the surviving family that this causes trouble. The comparisons of dates of birth are shown in Table 6.
Sloth and lack of initiative characterised Adams. He seemed not to be able to come to terms with working for himself. This latter characteristic will be amply demonstrated later on. He seemed to need someone to direct his activities. His employment as shepherd and the later reluctance to perform anything but the most menial of tasks seems to indicate that his skill at his chosen profession as carpenter was not highly regarded by potential employers or clients. Thus the only work available for him would have been that of shepherd which was not excessively demanding nor did it require a great level of skill.
Van Dieman's Land
Moving to Australia would have proved a wonderful boon to escape the grinding poverty of England. Possibly it was this move to Australia that caused him to give up being a carpenter. At this time, fares from England to all parts of Australia were very attractive since they were subsidised by land sales. In colonies other than South Australia, this was done to attract non convict labour.
Prior to coming to South Australia, Adams was attracted to Van Dieman's Land.  He travelled to Van Dieman's land on the 366 ton barque Ann. It departed from London and arrived Hobart town on 30 September 1833. The passage to Australia would have been very uncomfortable. The voyage by sailing ship for a poor migrant was hard. The sleeping accommodation consisted of rows of bunks with no privacy and little ventilation. Rations were poor and cooking generally bad. Going steerage in a migrant ship was an experience very few people want to endure any more than once in a life time.  However, arrive there he did. He listed his trade as shepherd and sought out work.
South Australia held a magnetic lure to all. As advocated by Wakefield, the prime philosopher of South Australian systematic colonisation, south Australia was the place where a scientific experiment in the creation of the perfect society was being constructed. The idea of Wakefield was to use land to set the equilibrium between capital and labour. Wakefield states:
At the same time as South Australia was becoming very successful in attracting the attention of both British and German colonists, it also attracted the attention of social commentators. One of the most influential commentators, Karl Marx took a different approach to this notion of systematic colonisation. Far from being a new style of society, Marx believed that it was a more efficient way of bringing the proletariat under the strict control of the capitalists. In his description of the new society, he unflatteringly compares it to the pea and thimble trick. it looks alluringly like the eldorado but the reality was a new method of enslavement and exploitation. He summarised his analysis of Wakefield's scheme in his seminal work, Capital when he wrote:
So even Marx, the great commentator forgot that the people most exploited were not the European proletariat but the Aboriginal people. Even the great Marx could not conceive that the Aboriginal people could suffer in ways that were unimaginable to him. Perhaps Marx didn't even know that there were even any Aboriginal people living in Australia because of the fiction of terra nullius.
However, as with his contemporaries, Adams, being a 'European have-nothing', would have been only too willing to swap the sordid squalor of his poverty in England for the vast new opportunities that presented themselves in Australia. The virtues of life in South Australia were well sold in England. The census of 1844 shows an expanding colony with a vigorous growth in white population as it reached in excess of 17,000 people. This population level was reached within the first eight years of colonisation.
Adams left Van Dieman's Landarrived in South Australia on Thursday, 1 August 1844 at Port Adelaide.  He was one of many landless labourers drifting around Australia seeking work. Since Van Dieman's Land was in recession and presented no real opportunities to an unskilled person, maybe he felt the need to leave his home and seek work elsewhere. Maybe he informed his wife that he would find work and call for her after he was settled down. He used his money to purchase the cheapest fare, steerage, to travel to Port Phillip Bay. Then he took the 115 ton coastal schooner, the Hawk to Port Adelaide. 
On his arrival at Port Adelaide, he would have been met by the Emigration Agent. The role of the Emigration Agent was defined in the Regulations for Selection by the Colonisation Commissioners  where it states:
The payment system for the Emigration Agent ensured that they would take a keen role in ensuring that their clients were placed in suitable, long terms positions. To a new arrival from a distant shore, such a service was very welcome. It was even more welcome when a person who travelled steerage and subsequently arrived with very little money and desperately needed employment.
The conditions that prevailed in the young colony were such that it was seen the as the land of opportunity. Sheep were seen to be the agricultural business that would produce the greatest profits. Entrepreneurs emerged to satisfy the demand for people to establish sheep stations. One man in the business, C.W. Stuart of 316 Grote Street imported 10,000 sheep from Van Dieman's land in 1839. To the prospective sheep station owner he was prepared to deliver the sheep to the station as part of the sale. In so doing, he would provide the shepherds, dogs, netting, tarpaulin and any other item necessary to move the flock. Payment for this stock was geared towards the potential earnings of the flock where 50% of the purchase was paid on purchase and the balance was paid within 6 or 12 months secured by a bill of sale with an interest rate of 10%.  This allowed the sheep station owner the ability to shear at least once, thus giving the pastrolists a chance to generate some cash flow.
By 1842, it was firmly established that sheep was to be the key to economic development in South Australia. In a letter from Howard to G.F. Angus on 25 January 1842,  Howard details his opinions based upon practical experience. He writes:
The conditions under which labourers were employed were considered to be extremely good and healthy. In the self congratulatory report from the Select Committee on South Australia, the committee members elicited answers that would reflect favourably upon the colonial experiment. Even though the information sought was prompted in a particular mode, the evidence given does allow a glimpse at conditions. The evidence of A. McShane, a surgeon,  is very revealing. When cross examined over his impression of conditions, the following interaction took place:
It was into this environment and these conditions that Adams arrived and sought work. It is evident that Adams found suitable employment as a shepherd around the Crystal Brook area with Peter Ferguson. The first time Adams appears in any surviving official record was three years after his arrival. When he comes to the attention of the government, he is still working as a shepherd working for a Mr Peter Ferguson at Crystal Brook in 1847.  The Protector of Aborigines, Matthew Moorhouse gives details about him to the Colonial Secretary while speaking about Kudnarto's situation.  At this time, he had been living with Kudnarto since 1846 which was estimated to be a cohabitation for over 18 months. It is reasonable to believe that this was the first job that Adams undertook in 1844 and he remained at this location for many years. Kudnarto at this time was also helping at Ferguson's sheep station  which made it easier for the two to meet.
In a letter from Moorhouse dated 17 June 1847,  he states that Mary Ann had lived with Thomas Adams for 18 months. A letter of 1855 actually states the year when Adams commenced living with Kudnarto when he says: "Having fell in with on the aboriginal natives of this colony in one thousand eight hundred and forty six and through her goodness I married her" which tends to confirm the date of 1846.  The actual month when they commenced cohabitation would have been in either January or February of 1846.
After the two commenced living together, Adams was now firmly ensconced with his new lover. His passion for her and also the potential land grant gave him a strong incentive to further cement this relationship. Marriage and all its consequences was seen to be a handy way of increasing his affluence. The true thoughts of an ignorant shepherd.
1. Victoria County History of Leicester, Volume IV, The City of Leicester, pp. 166 - 168. Return to text
2. Destitute Asylum, Admission. No. 173, 1811, 15 May 1881, GRG 78/49. Return to text
3. Clark, C.M.H., (1973), A History of Australia, Vol. 3, Melbourne University Press, pp. 228 - 230. Return to text
4. Wakefield, E.G., (1929), A Letter From Sydney and Other Writings, Everyman Edition, J.M. Dent, London, pp. 77 - 78. Return to text
5. Marx, K., (1890), Capital, Vol. 1, Progress Publishers, Moscow, pp. 722 - 723. Return to text
6. The South Australian Resgister, 3 August 1844. Return to text
7. The South Australian Resgister, 3 August 1844. Return to text
8. Third Report of Colonization Commissioners for South Australia, Parliamentary Papers, (1839) Volume XVII, Paper Number 255, Appendix Number 11, p. 255. Return to text
9. The South Australian Resgister, December 1839. Return to text
10. Letter dated 25 January 1842, Angus Papers, Mortlock Library. Return to text
11. Select Committee on South Australia, Parliamentary Papers, (1841) Volume IV, Paper Number 394, pp. 138 - 141. Return to text
12. The South Australian Resgister, 23 June 1847. Return to text
13. Letter dated 17 June 1847, GRG 52/7/1, pp. 196 - 197. Return to text
14. Hale, M.B., (1889), The Aborigines of Australia: Being an Account of the Institution for their Education at Poonindie in South Australia, London, SPCK., p. 76. Return to text
15. Letter dated 17 June 1847, GRG 52/7/1, pp. 196 - 197. Return to text
16. Letter to the Governor's Private Secretary dated 16 December 1855, GRG 3/38, RSO No. 219 (1855). Return to text
For comments, bick bats and bouquets
256 colours, 800x600