There were four men who I believe had an influence on the life of Isabella Watkins.
The first is her father of whom I know nothing other than his daughter Isabella decided she needed to steal clothing to survive in Victorian London. This thieving led to the next man of influence.
This is the judge at her trial, Baron Parke, who decided transportation for seven years was a suitable punishment for a persistent shoplifter or thief.
James Parke was a well respected judge especially working in the Court of Exchequer and was mentioned in a Harvard Law Review in 1897:
“one of the greatest of English judges; had he comprehended the principles of equity as fully as he did the principles of the common law, he might fairly be called the greatest. His mental power, his ability to grasp difficult points, to disentangle complicated facts, and to state the law clearly, have seldom been surpassed. No judgments delivered during this period are of greater service to the student of law than his”.
He was so influential in the legal world, a rule of law was named after him.
Would the sentence and punishment he gave Isabella be a positive influence in her life and cause a change in her behaviour?
Now the third man of influence, her master Mr Legge from Cullenswood near Fingal in Van Diemen’s Land, enters her life. Robert Vincent Legge arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1827 with his brother and five sisters. He was granted 1200 acres near St Mary’s. He called the property Cullenswood after a property in Ireland. He returns to Ireland and marries in 1839. Bringing his wife back to Van Diemen’s Land, he now needs servants to help run the property and look after his house and his growing family.
Isabella is still behaving badly. But she only committed one offence while under sentence. The local magistrate decided to send her to the Launceston Female House of Correction or factory. She was sentenced to one month’s hard labour which probably meant time at the washtub. Maybe it was this final punishment that helped Isabella mend her ways.
The third man with influence would be her husband. Francis Colegrave arrived in Van Dieman’s Land on theCircassian 16 February 1833, having been tried at Huntingdon Lent Assizes 7 March 1832 on two indictments: one of stealing chests of tea valued 3 pound and the other of stealing wearing apparel. He was found guilty and sentenced to fourteen years transportation. He received a Ticket of Leave in March 1839 and a conditional pardon 28 October 1841. This meant he was a free man at the time his wife-to-be applied for permission to marry him. Francis had only two offences while under sentence and was either reprimanded or admonished.
I feel Francis was the steadying influence in Isabella’s life but if it were not for her father, Baron Parke and Robert Legge and their reactions to her behaviour, she would not have arrived in Van Diemen’s Land to eventually become my great great great grandmother.
It was at St Mary Newington in Surrey on Monday 7 December in 4th year of Queen Victoria (1840) when Isabella Watkins was convicted of a felony using the name Mary Johnson. This record was found while I was visiting the National Archives at Kew in 1990. The reference was HO 27/65. But using England and Wales Criminal register 1791-1892, I could find no reference to her name being Isabella Watkins. Instead it was Mary Johnson (16) who was given three months imprisonment for larceny on this date.
A little over three months later, Isabella Watkins of the parish of St Mary Lambeth was charged on 15 March 1841 of stealing two shawls valued one pound from Isaac Atkinson and Thomas Coates who owned a shop on Westminster Bridge Road. This road in Surrey has Newington on one side and Lambeth on the other.
Two weeks later, she was tried at the Surrey Assizes and sentenced to seven years transportation. According to her conduct record, she had been convicted before, serving three months for stealing a dress, 21 days for stealing stockings and two months for stealing dress material called Mousseline de Laine. Isabella stated ‘I lived the last two years by thieving.’  No more references to Isabella can be found in the criminal register for stealing stockings and dress material.
The newspaper report of her trial mentions she was a respectable looking young woman; maybe this was why she stole clothing, especially fancy dress material. But she was also a vocal individual. Baron Parke, the judge at her trial, was known to be a very straight speaking man and I noticed in other trials he presided over that repeat offenders were usually transported. He was looking after the tradespeople who had to be protected from others like Isabella.
Apparently Isabella and her soon to be husband Francis Colgrave were like minded in the way they treated the judge when he pronounced sentence upon them at court.
The convict transport Garland Grove had docked at the London Customs House at Woolwich in early April. Where had Isabella been held between her trial date and 12 April? The gaol report on her conduct record mentions she was bad but having searched records for many gaols in the area of London and Surrey, nothing has been found telling us where she was incarcerated. Isabella is also missing on the census taken on 6 June 1841; I now realise she would have been travelling down the Thames on the evening it was taken.
It was on 5 June 1841 when Isabella departed London, heading first to Gravesend then to the town of Deal near the area of the North Sea known as The Downs. This is where many ships would anchor until fair weather allowed them to sail out into the English Channel.
The barque Garland Grove, which was built in 1820, arrived in Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land on 10 October 1841. The master for this trip was William Forward and the surgeon superintendent was Robert Dobie. The trip took 109 days. Isabella must have had an uneventful voyage as she was not mentioned in the surgeon superintendent’s medical journal as having been in sick bay at all. But the surgeon’s report on her conduct record mentions she was bad. This must relate to her behaviour on board rather than her health. Despatches and newspapers dated up to 24 June were sent onboard from England; many related to the Corn Laws being discussed in Parliament at that time.
Upon arrival in Van Diemen’s Land, Isabella was probably one of the 80 convicts from the Garland Grove who were sent to Launceston as less than 4 months later she had committed her one and only offence noted on her conduct record below.
It was on 10 February 1842 when she was given one month hard labour at the Launceston House of Correction or Female Factory. This was for disobedience of orders and insolence while working for Mr Legge (most probably Robert Vincent Legge at Cullenswood near Fingal in north eastern Tasmania.) A decision was made by the Lieutenant Governor on 18 February 1842. The magistrate was probably William Franks who was based at Fingal and it was requested that Isabella be returned to Government service after she had finished her time in the factory.
The next piece of paper we find on her trail is that of her permission to marry. Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land had to apply to the Convict Department for permission to marry if they had not finished their sentence.
Permission to marry for Isabella Watkins, CON 52/1/2, p027 TAHO
Like many female convicts at that time, they were encouraged to marry about a year after arriving in VDL and so it was on 14 November 1842 that Isabella married Francis Coldgrave (Colgrave) from Evandale. They were married at the newly built St Thomas Anglican Church at Avoca.
Marriage certificate for Isabella Watkins, RGD 37/1/3 No 85/1842, District of Avoca, TAHO
St Thomas Anglican Church, Avoca taken by Sue Wyatt in May 2016
Over the next few years, the only times Isabella was mentioned in the newspapers was when gaining her ticket of leave in 1845, being recommended for her conditional pardon in 1846 and receiving that pardon in 1847.
In her 48 years of marriage to Francis, they raised a family of nine children (two daughters and seven sons). They remained in the district of Evandale where at one stage they ran a boarding house and mention was made in the local paper of a murder on the night of 17 February 1861.
They must have had a very loving and close relationship as Francis died on 24 October 1890 aged 85 and just over a week later Isabella died on 3 November aged 67.
But the questions still are:
Is she Isabella Watkins or Mary Johnson? Is she from Yorkshire or Surrey?
Maybe we will never know the answers but Isabella Watkins, either convict or free woman, raised a fine family, with hundreds of descendants still living in Tasmania today especially around Evandale.
 England and Wales Criminal register 1791-1892: Class: HO 27; Piece: 62; Page: 243 , 1840 Mary Johnsonviewed 17 May 2016
 The National Archives, ASSI 94/2329, Isabella Watkins, viewed June 1990
 TAHO, CON 40/1/10, p228, Conduct record Isabella Watkins
 British Newspapers 1600-1900, The Morning Post (London, England), Sunday, 31 March 1841, p 7 issue 21905, viewed 18 May 2016
 British Newspapers 1600-1900, The Lancaster Gazette and General Advertiser, for Lancashire, Westmorland, &c. (Lancaster, England), Saturday, 24 March 1832, p 1 issue 1606, viewed 18 May 2016
 British Newspapers 1600-1900, The Morning Post, Tuesday 13 April 1841, Issue 21916, viewed 18 May 2016
 British Newspapers 1600-1900, The Morning Chronicle, Saturday 5 June 1841, Issue 22317; The Morning Chronicle, Saturday 19 June 1841, Issue 22329; The Standard, Thursday 24 June 1841, Issue 5309, all viewed 18 May 2016
Francis Colgreave appears in the 1858 Assessment Roll for Morven as the owner of a house at Evandale. He is also listed in the 1867 Directory of Tasmania as a farmer at Evandale. From 1871 until 1890 Francis Colgrave Senior is listed as the owner of 12 acres and house at Evandale.
In 1881, Francis Colgrave Junior owned 90 acres at Blessington. In 1891 Francis senior disappears from the rolls due to his death and the names of Samuel, William and Henry Colgrave appear together with Francis Junior.
The 1899-1900 polling list for Evandale also has the names of:
Francis J. Colgrave – owner of land at Blessington
Samuel Colgrave of Evandale – owns land at Blessington
Henry of Evandale – owns a house in Evandale
Francis Junior of Blessington – owns land at Kings Meadows
James of Evandale was an employee of C. Harvey.
Francis Colgrave’s death was noticed in the Examiner 27 October 1890 – he died on the 25 at his residence, Evandale aged 85. His widow Isabella died on 3 November 1890 aged 67 Examiner 4 November 1890.
Francis Colegrave (labourer) late of the parish of Godmanchester in the county of Huntingdon and John Fletcher alias John Edwards on the 22 November in the 2nd year of William 4th did steal 240lb weight of tea valued at 60 pounds, 40lb weight of sugar valued at 30 shillings and 3 tea chests valued 3 shillings being the goods and chattels of John North.
Witnesses were: John North, William Reeves, William Plant, Thomas Cunnington, John Bruce, Christopher Payne, Robert James, Thomas Mayle, William Mayle, Robert Colbert and Thomas Hanger.
Previous conviction on 18 November last at Buckden for stealing one cap valued 4 shillings, one gown valued 6 shillings, one stopfrocks? valued 18 shillings, 3 towels valued 6 shillings and one apron valued 2 shillings off Godfrey Watson.
Prison Records in Bedfordshire show Francis at age 21 accused of housebreaking and assault on 3 June 1828 with two others. He was given 6 months house of correction. Discharged 28 Dec 1828 and behaviour had been very bad. At age 24, charged with want of sureties on 1 Nov 1831 and discharged on 5 Nov 1831.
His brother Samuel Colgrave had been caught 4 times:
Stealing ferrets 24 November 1827 and again 4 December 1830
Stealing geese 1 April 1828
Assault 14 November 1829
Finally he was transported for life and was on the hulk Justilia at Woolwich on 2 July 1831
Francis is one of my more interesting ancestors. The problems are ‘ Who is his mother?’ and ‘Was his father a bigamist?’ But more about his ancestors can be found here.
Francis was tried at the Huntingdon Assizes on 7 March 1832 on two indictments one of stealing chests of tea valued at 3 pound and the other of stealing wearing apparel. He was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years. He admitted having been in prison before and he had a brother who had been transported previously. Information about his previous convictions and his brother’s can be found here.
According to his description list, he was 5 feet ten and a quarter inches in height, a dark complexion with an oval head and long visage, his hair and whiskers were dark brown, his forehead was medium height and retreating, dark brown eyebrows but dark grey eyes, with a long sharp nose, long chin and a medium width mouth which was habitually open. Marks he had were an F below a C on his left arm, a star and heart on back of left hand and ?? on ring and middle finger of left hand.
According to his hulk report he was a bad and lazy fellow and also a thief, but whilst on board the convict ship Circassian, he was orderly. The ship left Plymouth on 14 October 1832 and arrived in Van Diemens Land on 16 February 1833. He was assigned to E. Bryant on the property ‘Trafalgar’ and on 1 August 1834 he was absent without leave and reprimanded. He then had five years of good behaviour and was given his Ticket of Leave on 9 March 1839. But by 31 October 1840 he was admonished, this time for misconduct in reporting himself to the Chief District Constable (C.D.C.) He was given a conditional Pardon No 3422 on 28 October 1841 and married his wife Isabella WATKINS on 7 October 1842.