Martha Virco – main story

This story has been created by Wendy Westgate as part of the University of Tasmania’s HAA007 Convict Ancestors unit

Martha VICO was a housemaid; she was 5 feet 1 inch tall, and had a broad head and oval ‘visage’ with a high forehead and long chin. Her hair was brown, her eyes hazel and she had a ruddy complexion. [1]

vico14

Description, Martha VICO; TAHO, CON19-1-13, pg. 318

 

On 8th December 1833, Martha, nee HEARNE, married William VERCOE at the Parish church of Little Stanmore, Harrow[2];  she would have been 16 or 17 years of age.

MV, marriage cert_0

Entry of marriage of William VERCOE and Martha HEARNE; Ancestry.com. London, England,

Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921  

According to her Indent record, she had two brothers, Thomas and Henry, and a sister, Elizabeth, who lived in St Albans, Hertfordshire; the record also states that William was a blacksmith.[3] In addition, it notes that William is in Newgate Prison, and that Martha had spent ‘12 months on the Town’. This would suggest that, due to William’s imprisonment, Martha had nowhere to live and was finding it difficult to survive without his income… which was perhaps what led to her offence.

vico16

Entry for Martha VICO; TAHO, CON15-1-9, pg. 10, Hindostan 12 Sep 1839

Martha was found guilty of her crime at the Old Bailey on 31st December 1838; her sentence was transportation for ten years.[4]

MV, verdict

Entry for Martha VICO; findmypast.co.uk; England & Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment, 1770-1935, Institutions & organisations, Prison registers

After sentencing, due to overcrowding in Newgate Prison, Martha was moved to Millbank[5], and then to the Hindostan; this ship left London on 6th May 1839.

MV, newspaper

Morning Advertiser, London, England, 05 February 1839

On 12th September 1839, the ship arrived at Van Diemen’s Land; the Surgeon reported that during the voyage Martha had been ‘extremely insolent’. On arrival, Martha was sent into the employ of Mr W Learmouth of Ross[6].

However, the first years that Martha was in Van Diemen’s Land did not run smoothly for her; just two weeks after her arrival, Martha was found guilty of Gross Misconduct after going into the men’s’ berths on the Government brig Tamar whilst on her way to Launceston, for which she received the sentence of 14 days Solitary Confinement on bread and water at Launceston Female Factory. [7]

In 26 December 1839, now in the employment of Mr Atkinson, Martha sentenced to two months’ hard labour in the Launceston Female Factory (having been found guilty of being ‘drunk and disorderly and in the company of a man in the back of a house in York Street’), and was back in the Female Factory again in April 1840 after being Absent without leave from her master – this time for 14 days, on bread and water.

December 1840 saw Martha with another ‘Master’ – Mr Rodgers. On the 31st, she was found guilty of Gross insolence to the Chief District Constable, and sentenced to a year’s Hard labour, again in Launceston Female Factory.

Perhaps this term of Hard labour was her ‘turning point’ which finally made Martha settle down and ‘toe the line’, as there are no further records of misdemeanours. In fact, the 1842, she applied for permission to marry John BOYD[8], with the clergyman being satisfied with the evidence:

 

vico5

Entry for John BOYD and Martha VICO; TAHO, CON52/1/2 Page 016; NAME_INDEXES:1267689; June 1842, RGD37/2: 1842/1739

They were married on 8th September of that year, in Ross, Avoca[9]. Obviously the fact that Martha had been married in England was ‘overlooked’, as to Martha it would have been obvious that she was never going to see William, or return to England, ever again, and she would have had to have made the best she could of her new life.

John and Martha went on to have at least seven children, born between 1842 and 1858:

Anne, born on 19th October 1842 in Evandale[10]

Susan, born on 29th May 1844 in Launceston[11]

Catherine, born on 13th September 1846 in Rogan Falls[12]

Robert, born 1st July 1848 in Mary Vale, Morven[13]

Martha, born on 18th November 1850 in Mary Vale, Morven [14]

Frederick, born on 16th December 1855 in Evandale[15]

Harriet, born on 21st June 1858 in Evandale[16]

During this time, Martha’s Ticket of Leave was granted in November 1845, and her Certificate of Freedom was issued in February 1849.[17]

John died on 9th October 1862 in the Morven district[18]; Martha died on 25th January 1880[19], again, in the Morven district.

Martha Virco references

[1] TAHO, CON19-1-13, pg. 318, Martha VICO. Retrieved on 4 June 2016

[2]Ancestry.com. London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Original data: Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1921. London Metropolitan Archives, London. Retrieved on 11 June 2016

[3] TAHO, CON15-1-9, pg. 10, Hindostan 12 Sep 1839, Martha VICO

[4] findmypast.co.uk; England & Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment, 1770-1935, Institutions & organisations, Prison registers. Retrieved on 4 June 2016

[5] findmypast.co.uk; British Newspapers; Morning Advertiser, London, England, 05 February 1839. Retrieved on 4 June 2016

[6] Ancestry.com. New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 5, 19-20, 32-51); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England. Retrieved on 4 June 2016

[7] TAHO, CON40-1-10, pg. 149, Martha VICO

[8] TAHO, CON52/1/2 Page 016; NAME_INDEXES:1267689; June 1842, RGD37/2: 1842/1739, John BOYD and Martha VICO

[9] Ancestry.com. Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Compiled from publicly available sources; John BOYD and Martha VICO

[10]  TAHO, RGD32/1/3/ Evandale 1852/1954 Anne BOYD

[11] TAHO, RGD 33/1/23 Launceston 1844/242 Susan BOYD

[12] TAHO, RGD32/1/3/ Evandale 1846/2986 Catherine BOYD

[13] TAHO, RGD33/1/27/ Morven 1848/1203 Robert Boyd

[14] TAHO, RGD33/1/27/ Morven 1850/1330 Martha BOYD

[15] TAHO, RGD33/1/33 Morven 1855/1152 Frederick BOYD

[16] TAHO, RGD33/1/36 Morven 1858/1505 Harriet BOYD

[17] TAHO, CON40-1-10, pg. 149, Martha VICO

[18] Ancestry.com. Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Compiled from publicly available sources; John BOYD

[19] Ancestry.com. Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Compiled from publicly available sources; Martha BOYD

2 thoughts on “Martha Virco – main story

  1. A great convict story. Really interesting. Amazing how our convict ancestors got into so much trouble merely for standing up for themselves. The females were always at the mercy of a man! Master, clergy, Husband!

  2. I want to thank you for this great blog. So much work, so much valuable history. I’m sure there are many who have gained from this information as I have.

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