John is an ancestor I feel was sent out to Van Diemens Land for a deserving reason. He didn’t just try to help feed or clothe his family in these trying times in England, but he and his friends decided to carnally assault a young woman – known as rape both then and now. He and two of his friends Joseph BARRAS and Samuel MYERS were given life for their crime even though it was John’s first conviction. They were tried at the York Assizes on 9 July 1846 and embarked on the ship Pestonjee Bomanjee (2) on 25 October 1846.
Whilst I was at the Public Record Office (PRO) in London during a vacation, I looked up the trial records of John and found some of his other friends had tried to help him before his trial date. A summary of what I found is here.
John was an iron moulder, 5 feet 6 and three-quarters, aged 19 with a fair complexion, oval head and visage, sandy hair but no whiskers, medium height forehead, brown eyebrows but hazel eyes and a large nose, mouth and chin. He had many marks on himself: boys/men blowing horn, birds and bush, ship and 2 fishes, bust of woman, sailor with flag etc.
When he arrived in VDL on 17 February 1847, he was sent to Darlington which is on Maria Island. He was based here for two years, then six months with the Public Works Department and finally 12 months at the prisoner barracks. Whilst at Darlington he was insolent and given 10 days solitary confinement, was admonished for being idle and when he was caught fighting on the works he was given 14 days solitary. Remittance could be gained by doing extra work, so John was employed by John Swaine in Collins Street, Hobart, then Crosby and Robinson in Campbell Street and again with John Swaine. On 3 June 1851, he was admonished for being out after hours. He was given his ticket of leave on 8 August 1854, his marriage to Rebecca Jackson was approved on 20 September 1854 and on 16 August in 1855 he resisted a constable and was fined one pound. He was recommended for his conditional pardon on 11 September 1855 and given it on 22 July 1856.