My 3xgreat grandmother Isabella Watkins

I haven’t yet written a full biography of Isabella but she certainly had an interesting life being born around 1823 in Hull, Yorkshire. She then moved to London where she was convicted about age 18 and transported to Van Diemens Land (VDL).

I have written quite a few posts about Isabella. Here are some of the more interesting ones: Post in 2014, Post in 2016 (some images not working – sorry) and Fiction based on a newspaper article.

I know virtually nothing about her life prior to being convicted on 29 March 1841 at Surrey assizes. But more is known once she arrives in Tasmania (VDL). Convicts had a lot of paperwork kept on them – conduct records, descriptions, indents (often mentioning parents and siblings), trial records, musters and of course newspaper articles.

Isabella departed London on 23 June 1841 on the ship Garland Grove. The ship arrived on 10 October 1841. She was sent to Mr Legge at Cullenwood near Fingal and in February 1842 was sentenced to time at the Female House of Correction in Launceston. On 7 October 1842, just one year after arriving in VDL, she was given permission by the government to marry Francis Colgrave (many spelling variations). Francis had also been a convict but was free by this time. They were married on 14 November 1842 at Avoca which is on the road between Fingal and Launceston.

Over the next 24 years, Francis and Isabella had 2 daughters and 7 sons including Francis John Colgrave, my great great grandfather born in 1843. Only one child Arthur died age 16. One daughter, also named Isabella was born in 1842, but I have not been able to find her marriage or death.

Isabella’s husband Francis died on 24 October 1890 and just over a week later Isabella passed on 3 November 1890. The funeral notice in the paper said she was survived by 6 married sons and one single daughter – this must be Louisa as she was mentioned as sole beneficiary in Isabella’s will.

Isabella Colgrave funeral 1890

Readers: Have you had a married couple die within a week of each other?

Where are the elusive Jackson father and son?

The last time I found William Jackson senior and junior was on the Ireland Australia Transportation database. But did they actually get sent to New South Wales or Van Diemen’s Land or Western Australia?

They were tried at Lifford Assizes in January 1847 and sentenced to seven years transportation. Also convicted at the same time for the same offence were Rebecca Jackson, daughter of William senior, and Jane Steel, another relative but not known how. Two of Jane’s children Mary Jane Gallagher and John Gallagher were also on board the convict ship Waverley when it arrived in Hobart Town with Rebecca and Jane.

Could there be reference to the Jacksons in the CSO CR 77 or 78 files or distress papers of 1847? These files include information about conveyance of prisoners to their next prison ready for embarkation on the convict ships. Where were they sent after Lifford Assizes?

From the database there is reference to them TR 6, p 48.  When I was in Ireland, I checked the files for Rebecca, but not sure if I looked at Williams’ files.

There were no other reference codes mentioned for them on the database so no good looking at Convict reference files or free settlers papers.

But there was no sign of either William arriving in either New South Wales or Van Diemens Land or Western Australia between 1847 – 1853.

According to the Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers  from the National Archives of Ireland, male Irish convicts were not sent to Australian colonies between 1846 and 1848. This was due to pressure from the Australian colonialists who wanted transportation to cease.

The new re-modelled system which was put into operation when the transporting of males was resumed in 1848, was a three stage system known as the exile system. Under the exile system each convict was to spend between 12 and 18 months in solitary confinement in prison at home, one to three years on public works in Gibraltar or Bermuda (this applied only to men), leading to the third stage which was transportation to Australia on ticket-of-leave.

It was not possible to operate this system in Ireland because lack of accommodation made it impossible to fulfil the strict 12 to 18 months of solitary confinement which constituted the first phase of the regime. Accommodation consisted of a temporary depot which had been opened at Spike Island in 1846 for men and depots at Cork and Grangegorman, Dublin, for women, both of which were overcrowded because of the increased intake due to the Famine. [1]

So did the two Williams get sent to Spike Island?

There are manuscripts held at the National Library of Ireland showing a convict register of an Irish prison giving particulars of prisoners, including those sent to Bermuda, Van Diemens Land and Gibraltar. ]2]

As William senior was in his late 50’s when convicted, maybe the time he spent in prison was more than he could cope with and he never got transported. But William junior was only 13 when convicted. Were the young convicts kept separately to the old hardened convicts?

Maybe they were kept at the Lifford gaol and according to a paper written about resources relating to the famine, there are local prison records kept. [3]

There are also convict letter books starting in 1842 relating to the convict department. Perhaps a mention there?

Where to search next?

  • TR6 p48 at the NAI – is name of ship mentioned or prison they were sent to – Just checked the AJCP and no mention of ship
  • Prison registers for Lifford Gaol in early 1847  at NAI- does it mention where they were sent to next?
  • Spike Island prison register  Ms 3016 at NLI – were they sent here?
  • Convict letter books at NAI – CON LB 1 26 May 1845-3 February 1851

My Irish readers: Any ideas of other records I could look for that might mention where these elusive Jackson father and son were sent to in January 1847 after being  tried at Lifford assizes.

  1. NAI, CSO RP/1849/G10919
  2. National Library Ireland, Ms. 3016
  3. Department of Justice, Prison Registers, and can be consulted at the National Archives Ireland.