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George Cribb

George Cribb arrived in Sydney as a convict aboard the Admiral Gambier in 1808. He had been sentenced to 14 years for being in possession of forged banknotes. He was a butcher by trade and initially prospered. In 1811 at St Philips Church he married Fanny Barnett, a convict who had arrived on the Speke in 1808. When he heard that his wife Martha was coming out from England to join him he paid Fanny three hundred pounds (about $150,000 in 2007) and she returned to England. In 1812 he was arrested and accused of attempting to smuggle rum. The charges were unproven but the rum, his cart and his horse were confiscated by the Crown. By 1813 he had purchased a house and several allotments from their de facto owners. Together they covered over half the Big Dig site and he built a slaughter yard, a butcher's shop and a 2 storey house for his family on the corner of Gloucester Street and Cribbs Lane. In 1814 Fanny left the Colony to return to England. In 1817 he built a shop on the site and he had another in Pitt Street.

In 1818 Martha died and he married Sophia Lett, a widow with 5 children. She had run the Punch Bowl hotel further up Gloucester Street with her late husband Stafford. Cribb built a smart two storey hotel next to his shop. It was possibly called the Turk's Head but later came to be known as the Bird In Hand. He also had land on the Cumberland plain in the Minto district and supplied meat and wheat to the government stores and meat and vegetables to ships. In 1819 he was fined for illegally selling meat. In 1823 he was accused of stealing cattle and bribing a witness and in 1827 he was again suspected of cattle theft and raided. Each time he managed to avoid being convicted but after 1821 he lost a number of civil suits and had to remortgage his properties and by 1824 had lost them all except for the corner house. Sophia Lett left him in 1823 for his nephew and she died in 1827, aged 43. George sold the house in the same year and the last record of him was a court appearence for cattle theft in Parramatta in 1830.

Big Dig properties owned by George Cribb
Cribb's Slaughter Yard, 95, 97 and 99 Gloucester Street.

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