Martha Virco – breakouts

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


Martha was transported to Van Diemen’s Land on the Hindostan; the ship was carrying 179 female convicts. The ship’s Master was George LAMBE, and the Ship surgeon was Thomas W. MCDONALD.[1]

This journey was the second the Hindostan had made as a Convict ship; in July 1821, the ship sailed to New South Wales with 152 male convicts, arriving in Port Macquarie on 24th November of that year.

The Hindostan subsequently made one more trip as a Convict ship; it left London on 7th October 1840 with 209 male convicts on board, arriving in Hobart on 19th January 1841.[2]



John Boyd

When Martha married John BOYD, he is described as a Free Man[1]. I have tried to find out more information about John, but there are at least three men of that name who arrive in Van Diemen’s Land in the 1830s; with more research, I’m sure the correct one could be identified.

John was a carpenter, a valuable trade to have in those times. The children of Martha and John were born in a number of places, which suggests John moved his family around in stay in employment; many of the places are in the north of Tasmania, south of Launceston.

John died on 9th October 1862:[2]


JB, death

Entry for death of John BOYD; TAHO, RGD35/1/31, Morven, 1862/309

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

[2] TAHO, RGD35/1/31, Morven, 1862/309, John BOYD


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]


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; 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.


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;; 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:



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] London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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]; England & Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment, 1770-1935, Institutions & organisations, Prison registers. Retrieved on 4 June 2016

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

[6] New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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] Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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] Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Compiled from publicly available sources; John BOYD

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

John Boyd – breakout 2

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




While researching john I found out that when he died he was living and working in the Evandale area which he seems to have settled in once he became free. So i went looking for his grave, but because of the distance problem manly me in Sydney, NSW him in Tasmania I contacted the Evandale history society who are very help ful people, they have given me some great information .The area cemetery  have plenty of boyds to research and I am sure that a lot of them would be some of john’s and matha decendants. Please see above

John Boyd – breakout 1

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

prison hulk_0
This is the scene John would have faced when he was sent to the hulks.

Not the hulk John was on but shows the new life ahead of him.

The Prison hulks were mostly old war ships or ships that were no longer sea worthy, but could still float so were a very good way of housing the prisoners. They were often towed or moved up and down the harbour to where there was work.  A convict would get paid a small sum for doing work while waiting to be transported.

John Boyd – Main story

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

When John left his place of residence on the 5th September 1835, looking for work as he later stated in court I am sure he was not expecting to be arrested by police-constable Thomas Middleton for the theft of 1 plane, value 8s, the goods of William Heiron and 1 saw, value 3s, the goods of James Virtue. From 22 Woburn Pl, London. [1]

So on the 21st September 1835 he found himself in the central criminal court or the Old Bailey as it is more commonly known as, where he was found guilty of simple larceny (theft) and was sentenced to transportation for 7 years. [1] According to the records of prison hulk registers he arrived on the prison hulk the Hardy on the 12 Oct 1835 some 23 days after he was found guilty, where he was for that 23 days is unclear so far.  For the next 11 months John was on held on the hulk moored in Portsmouth waiting for his transportation. [2]

The Ship the Henry Porcher set sail for Van Diemens Land on the 1st August 1836 leaving from Plymouth with John Boyd and 260 other convicts on board. The ship master was John Hart with the ship surgeon John Smith looking after the crew and the convicts. They arrived at the port of Hobart Town on the 15th November 1836. The journey took a total of 108 days.[3]  According to the surgeon, whose duty it was to monitor the behaviour and welfare of the convicts on board, reported that John was of very good behaviour. [4]

It is once the convicts arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) that we really learn a great deal about their lives as convicts from the wonderful records keep by the government agents. I found John’s records to be very interesting and insightful and I have transcribed them and I will now will tell you the rest of his story.

According to his description record, he was born in Plymouth, Devon. His description says he had a swarthy complexion with a long head and visage, his hair was brown, eyebrows light brown and dark hazel eyes. His forehead was high and he had a long nose, medium width mouth and narrow chin. He was only 5 feet 5 inches tall. His trade was a carpenter and joiner, including doors and windows. [5]

He was aged around 22/25 when sentenced. Whilst serving his sentence he committed two offences, the first on the 15 December 1838. While under his master Dumaresque, he was charged with being drunk and making use of obscene language with wine and rum in his possession. For this his punishment was 24 lashes, not a light sentence by any means. The second offence took place on the 4th of June 1839 under control of a new master, Russell. He was convicted of misconduct. Luckily he received only a warning for this. [4] He managed to keep out of trouble and turn his life around. On the 1st February 1841 having served 5 years and 5 months of his sentence he received the first step to being free, his ticket of leave. Then just a year later on the 12th February 1842 he received his conditional pardon No.192. His final step to being free, his free certificate No. 700, came on 26th September 1842 having served the full length of his sentence.[4] C In June 1842 John and Martha Vico (who was also a convict, Police No. 18) applied for permission to marry, which was a requirement if convicts were not free. Permission was granted sometime in August 1842.

John and Martha married on the 6th September 1842 at St John’s Church in Ross (district of Avoca) Tasmania by the rites of the united Church of England. The minister was William Bedford Junior. John was aged 28 and Martha stated that she was 24.  The witnesses to the marriage were William Stolley and Mary-Ann Brown. [7]

After his marriage John worked as a carpenter in the Launceston area for 3-4years.  He then worked in Evandale, Tasmania until his death in October, 1862 from pneumonia.

Evandale History Society’s records indicate that John Henry Boyd, Occupation-Carpenter, was buried at Evandale Cemetery (Anglican) on 11th October, 1862.

Their records also indicate that Martha Boyd, Widow of Carpenter, was buried at Evandale Cemetery on 28th January. 1880.

Upon studying these records I discovered some discrepancy in John’s reported name and age at the time of his death. [8]

BOYD: References

[1] www.oldbailey reference Number t18350921-2048

[2] UK, prison hulk registers and letter books, 1802-1849

Source citation, Home office: convict prison hulk registers and letter books, class: HO9; Piece: 9

[3] TAHO CON27-1-2, 197, Image 154, L, 80  APPROPRIATION LISTS OF CONVICTS.

[4] TAHO CON31-1-3,400, Image 122, F, 60 CONDUCT RECORD OF CONVICTS

[5] TAHO CON18-1-9, Image 8, 7, F, 60 DESCRIPTION LIST

[6] TAHO CON 52/1/2

[7] STORS.TAS.GOV.AU/RGD37-1-2, Image394 Marriage John Boyd and Martha Varco

[8] Evandale History Society Inc. <>

John Boyd intro

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

john boyd comfit
Comfit of John Boyd

The Picture of John Boyd  I created using his description in

John was a carpenter looking for work and ended up on the other side of the wold in a place called VAN DIEMANS LAND “VDL”. Although he is not a member of my family tree I have tried to do a fair research of him and his time as a convict, I feel there is still much to do on him and hope that one of his descendants will complete his story. I hope you enjoy reading about  his story so far.

Click on the blue name to read about him


My other convicts

During the convict ancestors course, I offered some of my other convicts for people to research. Two students took up the offer and they have agreed to have their research published on my blog.

Peter Gray researched John Boyd and Wendy Westgate researched his wife Martha Virco. Here are their stories.

John Boyd – intro, main story, breakout 1, breakout 2

Martha Virco – intro, main story, breakoutstrial record

Update on Martha

So what have we learnt about Martha from using just four documents?

Permission to marry

Her husband to be was John Boyd who was free. They applied for permission about June 1842 and permission was given by the Secretary after August 1842. Martha had arrived on the ship Hindostan and was given a police number of 18.

Source: TAHO, CON52/1/2 p16 marriage permission Martha Virco

Marriage certificate

John and Martha married on 6 September 1842 at St John’s Church in Ross (District of Avoca), Tasmania by the rites of the United Church of England and Ireland. The minister was William Bedford Junior.  John was aged 28 and Martha 24. He was a bachelor and carpenter by trade while she was a spinster. The witnesses to the marriage were William Stolley and Mary Ann Brown.

Source: TAHO,  RGD37/1/2 no 1739/1842 District of Avoca, marriage Boyd, Vircoe

Description list

Some basic information was available first such as she left London, England on 9 May 1839 and arrived in Hobart on 12 September 1839. It was the first voyage of the ship Hindostan.

Martha was described as being a house maid, aged 23 and 5″1′ without shoes. She had a ruddy complexion, a round head and brown hair. Her visage was oval in shape with a high forehead. She had black eyebrows and hazel eyes. Her nose and mouth were small but her chin was long. She had no scars or tattoos.

Source: TAHO, CON19/1/13 p301 description list Martha Vircoe


Police number 18 Martha Vico – 5″1′ age 23 – a house maid also work with needle – tried at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) on 31 December 1838 – sentenced to 10 years – native place Edgeware – married but no children – was Protestant and could read – her husband William a blacksmith at Native place – 2 brothers Thomas and Henry one sister Elizabeth at St Albans – 12 months on the town – stealing a watch from a person – prosecutor at ? at Canterbury

Source: TAHO, CON15/1/9, indent list for Martha Vico

WOW! We now have information that can lead us back to her trial at the Old Bailey  and to her husband and family back in England. But that is for later. My next question is –

Did she commit any offences while a convict here in VDL?

To find out the answer to this I will need to look at her conduct record.


Is she a convict?

For this very long post I am going to you walk you through how I researched one of my convict women. I will look at certain documents and if she is a convict will write further posts about her convict records.

I am going to try finding out information about Martha VIRCOE who married John BOYD in 1842. I have already proven this in my family history research. They are my great great great grandparents.

Why do I think Martha is a convict? She has signed her marriage certificate with an x – her mark meaning she was not a very literate person and could not sign her own name.

UPDATE – Having spoken to Dianne Snowden while at the female factory Open Day last Sunday, she mentioned that many people in VDL would have been illiterate and used a mark so it is not necessarily a sign of a convict. Finding a marriage permission record definitely is though.

Source: TAHO RGD37/1/2 no 1739/1842 District of Avoca, marriage Boyd, Vircoe

boyd vico marr 1842

My next step is to use the Tasmanian names index to find out more records about Martha.

So I put in the surname only of Vircoe and up come the following possibilities



I can see the first three relate to my Martha – Virgoe for the next three – could this be a different spelling? – maybe a brother also out as a convict? Don’t check it out now but put it on the to do list for later on.

I can see she was a convict from the second result on the image. I know if a person married while still serving a sentence as a convict, they needed permission to do this. So where is the marriage permission page? Maybe it is a spelling variation – maybe look up Boyd instead and see if I can find it there.

As you can see from the image I started by using just Boyd within all the results of the Tasmanian name index, then I used the filters on the left to find just marriage permissions then I filtered again to the years 1840-1843. There she is with the surname Vico.


By clicking on the image to the left of her name, the following appears. I have used the snipping tool to make the two separate images. One is the header of the page, the other is the actual marriage permission for Martha.



So reading the information on these two snips, the marriage permission for Martha Virco (new spelling), police number 18 on the ship Hindostan was sent to the Muster Master on June 15 1842, then sent on to the Secretary on 15 August 1842. The decision made was approved provided the clergyman is satisfied with evidence added??

Her husband-to-be John Boyd was a free man with no police number. Maybe he was also a convict but had served his sentence and now considered free. But that will be something to follow up on later.

Source: TAHO, CON52/1/2 p16 marriage permission Martha Virco

So question 1 of my research plan is now answered – Yes Martha VIRCOE (VIRCO) (VICO) was a convict.

Next step to look at her convict records to fill out more information about her life as a convict.

How will I record all this information?

I have created a convict profile from looking at Susan Hood’s book about transcribing Tasmanian convict records. I will be able to use this profile for each separate convict in my tree.


Letter N challenge

Today is ANZAC Day here in Australia and New Zealand so I thought I could combine three things in one post.

Wreaths in Hall of ValourThe letter N is for

New Course

I have enrolled as a student in a new course HAA007 (part of the Diploma of Family History) at the University of Tasmania titled “Convict Ancestors” run by Hamish Maxwell-Stewart and his team. I have previously been involved with “Founders and Survivors” also organized with Hamish and a different team. They were looking at descendants of convicts and how their improvements in health evolved over time eg height , weight of sons, grandsons  etc

So this leads to the second part of this post which is looking at the descendants of my convicts who may have served in WWI. I will need to carefully look at my database and check them out – so far I know of three in the COLGRAVE side of the tree.

Finally to the third thing in this post is a link I found on another facebook group which is about a special blog post for Military Monday and relating to ANZAC Day. For those searching for information on their soldiers in WWI, check out the great links in that blog post.

So now let’s start the true part of the post.  My convicts and their descendants who served in WWI:

Francis COL(E)GRAVE:

Great grandson – Private Roy Graham COLGRAVE who I have researched carefully and already written a post about his life in WWI. His records are in the National Archives of Australia SERN 5996 – 56 pages

Grandson –  William COLGRAVE – SERN 834 – 66 pages

Grandson –  Walter COLGRAVE – SERN Depot – 20 pages

Great grandson –  Walter William COLGRAVE – SERN T9050 – 15 pages

Great grandson –  Tasman Allan COLGRAVE – SERN 1060 – 33 pages

Great grandson – Angus Colin COLGRAVE – no digitised record yet

William TEDMAN

Grandson – Edward James TEDMAN – SERN 6096 – 37 pages


Grandson? – Edward ENGLAND – is this Vivian Edward ENGLAND? – SERN 2177 – 16 pages

I haven’t researched the BOYD side of the tree enough to know the grandsons and great grandsons who might be mentioned in the Discovering ANZACs website.

Readers: Please leave a comment about my post or something beginning with N that relates to your family history or your research.

 letter N