John ENGLAND, my great great grandfather was one of my convict ancestors who I felt deserved being sent to Van Diemens Land.
Why you might ask? Let me tell you his story.
John was born at Rotherham, Yorkshire in 1828. By age 19 he was 5 feet 6 and 3/4 inches with fair complexion, oval head, sandy hair, no whiskers, brown eyebrows, hazel eyes and large nose. He was an iron moulder in the Rotherham area. His father was William and he had a brother named Thomas and sisters Elizabeth, Mary and Ann (or maybe Mary Ann)
But on 15 March 1846, his life was to take a big turn around. He was about to leave his safe home life and set off for a fresh start in another country thousands of miles away from England.
On March 19, 1846 a warrant was set out by John Fullerton Esquire (JP) to John Bland (Constable of Rotherham) or to John Timms (deputy) and to the Governor of the Castle of York to convey John England, Samuel Myers, Joseph Barras and Richard Hague to the Castle of York and to deliver them to the Governor with the warrant.
John England, a labourer, on 15 March 1846 did with force and arms upon Maria Kaufman violently and feloniously make an assault and violently and feloniously did ravish and carnally know her. The other four with force and arms were present aiding, abetting and assisting John England.
Witnesses were John Bland, Maria Kaufman, Philippina(Caroline) Kaufman, Emma Harrison and William Hudson.
Friends help before the trial
Whilst awaiting trial, friends of John England did the following.
On June 9, 1846 George Aizlewood, Joseph Hague, Michael and Hannah Bradshaw, being evil disposed persons, unlawfully and wickedly with force and arms did conspire, combine, confederate and agree together to persuade Maria and Philippina Kaufman from attending to give evidence as witnesses.
They did this by paying and defraying the fare and expenses of the journey by railroad from Rotherham to London. Hannah paid 20 shillings for steam boat for parts beyond the seas. On 20 June 1846 she purchased and paid for diverse wearing apparel for Maria and Philippina. They tried to induce Maria and Philippina severally to suppress the evidence they knew and to withdraw and conceal themselves.
Whilst travelling in England in September 2005, I visited National Archives at Kew and found the actual indictment papers. I took photos with my ipad of the document which, when unrolled, was about 10 metres long. Here is an example of one of the 15 images I have. I still have to transcribe the document.
John was tried on 9 July 1846 at the York Assizes and was transported for life. It was his first conviction and it was rape in companion with Joseph Barras, William Thompson, William Aizlewood and Samuel Myers. John and Samuel arrived on board the same boat.
John and his companions in crime were in Millbank Prison before setting sail to VDL. (PCOM2)
Public Domain, Link
Heading to Van Diemens Land
John England then embarked on the convict ship Pestonjee Bomanjee (2) from London on 25 October 1846 and arrived 17 February 1847. According to the Home Office (HO 27/80) he had no degree of instruction. He was a protestant who could read but the surgeon report said John was a negligent scholar. He had many marks on his arms – boys/men blowing horn, birds and bush, ship and 2 fishes, bust of woman, sailor with flag etc.
His conduct while under sentence
John was stationed at Darlington, Maria Island, 28 February 1847 until late 1849.
14 August 1847 insolence
5 August 1848 idleness
7 December 1848 misconduct fighting on the works – 14 days solitary
3 June 1851 Hobart – misconduct being out after hours
On 8 August 1854 he received his ticket of leave meaning he could now get a job and earn his own wages.
His marriage to Rebecca Jackson (another convict) was approved on 20 September 1854.
16 August 55 Hobart resisting a constable fined 1 pound
His final freedom, a conditional pardon, was given on 22 July 1856 just 10 years after his conviction back in England.
So did John make a fresh start once his sentence was completed?
He raised a family of 8 children, worked as a moulder with John Swaine in Collins Street, Hobart, then Crosby and Robinson in Campbell Street and again with John Swaine.
At the marriage of his eldest daughter Elizabeth, the marriage notice mentioned Sheffield papers to copy, so maybe John was still in touch with family back in Yorkshire.
John led a good life here in Van Diemens Land later known as Tasmania and died in February 1905 at the age of 77.
Readers: Which ancestor of yours had to make a fresh start or on their own decided to make a fresh start? Do you know the reason why?