Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

John Harris (alias Poisefoot)

“John Harris (alias Poisefoot) was born in 1771 in Monmouthshire and lived at the Lonk, Joyford where he made a living as a small farmer and as an agricultural labourer. He was married to Ann and had six children. He was convicted twice for offences resulting in prison sentences. On 6 June 1826, he was charged with beating his wife Ann and as a result was discharged on condition of keeping the peace, especially towards Ann for two years. On 10 August 1831, he was convicted of maliciously drawing a trigger of a pistol with intent to murder and sentenced to death commuted to transportation for life. The incident occurred when an attempt was made to arrest him for his involvement in the June 1931 Forest of Dean riots led by Warren James. An account of his arrest was given by a ‘Resident Forester’ in The Life of Warren James:

A warrant was issued for his apprehension; but the known desperation of his character, made this undertaking to be looked upon in no very pleasing point of view. But William Watkins, the same who apprehended Warry, and who had been sworn in a special constable, had hardihood enough in his composition for offices however difficult and perilous; and he proceeded (accompanied by a keeper, of the name of Powell), to Harris’s house. A person, named Smith, also repaired there, to assist in his apprehension.

As they approached the house, Harris was eating his dinner: Watkins said, “Harris, I have a warrant against you, for pulling down the enclosures.” Harris came toward the door, and swore he would stick the knife he held into the first that came inside the house. Watkins, who was a man of a resolute turn of mind, was not to be deterred by threats, and he entered, followed by his assistants. “Harris”, said he, “you had better be quiet, and come along with me: you may easily get out of it by doing a little work, or finding bail at sessions.” Harris replied, “Who the devil will be bail for me? Get out, I tell thee, or it will be worse for all of ye.” Watkins replied, “This is of no use; I am come here to take you, and will not quit without you; so come quietly, it is as well.”

Harris, at that moment, exchanging his knife into his left hand, and thrusting his right under his frock, pulled out a pistol, and swore he would blow out the brains of the first who came near him. He then cocked the pistol. Watkins attempted to get behind, for the purpose of securing him by the arms; but Harris at the moment turned round; exclaiming, “Keep Back!” and snapped the pistol at Watkins’s head: a spark flashed close to his eyes. Watkins immediately caught him in his arms, and threw him on the ground. A violent struggle now ensued: he was thrown down three several times, and in one of them, his face was cut against a chair; but he was busily employed, even when down, in cocking the pistol, which, alter some struggle, Powell succeeded in wresting from him; but so determined was he, that he made a desperate attempt to regain possession of it. He was then properly secured. Powell unloaded the pistol in the presence of the magistrates: there were two balls, and a great deal of powder in the barrel. Harris complained that ill language had been made use of to provoke him; but this charge is without foundation. He was immediately committed to prison.”

After a spell on the hulk, the Justitia, Harris was transferred to the Elizabeth III which set sail for Van Diemen’s Land on 7 October 1931 and arrived on 14 February 1832. He was initially detailed to public works and then assigned to various settlers. He obtained his ticket of leave on 13 July 1840 and conditional pardons on 15 September 1842, 9 May 1844 and 26 July 1845 with the condition that he did not return to Europe. Ralph Anstis picks up the story:

“What the old Welshman did for the next seven years is not known. He must either have saved enough money to pay for his passage back to England, or worked his way back. Back he certainly came, in spite of the terms of his pardon, because at the beginning of September 1852 he turned up in the Forest of Dean. He was now about 80 years old. He went up to the back door of the house where he had lived until his arrest over 20 years before — the very door on which Watkins had knocked when he had come to arrest him in 1831. His reception by his family was less than rapturous. On seeing him, his son, who no doubt had assumed that he had died years before, was at first surprised, then dismayed, and finally annoyed. He had taken over the house and had been living in it with his family for 20 years, and was clearly in no mood to relinquish possession of it. There was a quarrel about who was the rightful owner of the house and, within a week of Harris’s return, father and son were brought before Edward Machen as magistrate. When he was asked what he was doing in England, Harris replied that he had been given a pardon some 12 or 13 years earlier in Van Diemen’s Land but had lost it. Machen, suspicious but fair, wrote to the Home Office and asked whether Harris had, in fact, been pardoned. The Home Office said that he had, in 1845, but that the pardon was only a conditional one. Unfortunately, the remainder of the story cannot be discovered. Though he had broken the terms of his pardon by re-entering Europe, one cannot but marvel at the tenacity, courage and sheer physical strength of the old rascal who, at an advanced age and against all odds, had in seven years made his determined way home to the Forest of Dean from the other side of the earth.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

Warren James

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_James

 

https://forestofdeansocialhistory.co.uk/65-2/

 

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris (Alias Thomas Nelmes) was born in 1815 and lived in St Briavels. On 28 March 1832, at the age of 16, he was sentenced to death commuted to life for the theft of two sheep with his brothers William and James the property of Jeremiah Smith. Thomas Harris had one previous conviction for the theft of a handkerchief resulting in whippings with 12 months in prison. On 1 May 1832, he was transferred to the hulk the Cumberland at Chatham and then he was transferred to the Surrey which set sail for Van Diemen’s Land on 5 November 1832 arriving 7 April 1933.

 

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

John Boucher

John Boucher was born in Chiselborough, Somerset in 1781. He married Ann Brown on 27 January 1805 and had one child. He moved to the Forest of Dean near Newnham and worked as a shepherd and as a house servant. On 14 July 1829, he was convicted of stealing three hurdles from Thomas Tovey a solicitor and member of the gentry from Newnham. He was sentenced to seven years transportation. Boucher spent about six weeks on the convict hulk Justitia at Woolwich before being dispatched to Tasmania on the Bussorah Merchant on 6 October 1829 which arrived on 18 January 1830.

On arrival in Hobart, he was assigned to work on Public Works under Captain Robson. There are no misdemeanours listed on his record and he received his Ticket of Leave 31 Dec 1835 and Freedom Certificate 15 Jul 1836. There is no further sighting of him in records after this.

However, it is possible that he returned to England as a John Boucher (aged 60) appears in the 1841 census living in the Alms House at East Coker, near Chiselborough. In 1851 he is living in Moor Green, Corsham, Wiltshire, working as an agricultural labourer with a wife Mary. In 1861, he is still living at Moor Green and working as an agricultural labourer but his wife had died and he now has a housekeeper. He died on 17 Dec 1862 and left a will with an estate under the value of £20.

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

Charles Williams

Charles Williams was born in 1807 in Chepstow and lived in St Briavels where he worked as an agricultural labourer and ploughman. On 10 August 1833, at the age of 26, he was sentenced to be transported for life for the theft of a horse belonging to James Evans from a field belonging to Bearse farm. After a spell on the hulk, the Justitia, he was transferred to the Moffatt which set sail for Van Diemen’s Land on 7 January 1834 and arrived on 9 May 1834.

He was initially detailed to work on public works. He obtained his ticket of leave on 3 November 1842 and conditional pardon on 2 December 1845 and 23 November 1846. He died on 30 October 1884.

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

Francis Reeks

 

Francis Reeks was born in 1806 in Woolaston where he worked as a labourer. On 30 January 1831, at the age of 14, he was imprisoned for one month for misdemeanors and failure to attend his service with John Wade. On 9 April 1927, he was sentenced to one year in prison for the theft of a number of harnesses. On 28 March 1833, at the age of 27, he was sentenced to be transported for life for the theft of money. After a spell on a hulk, he was transferred to the Lloyds which set sail for New South Wales on 19 August 1833 and arrived on 18 December 1833.

He was given a ticket of leave on 14 May 1844 and a conditional pardon on 20 December 1848.

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

Thomas Prosser

Thomas Prosser was born in 1797 in Alvington where he worked as an agricultural labourer. He married Ann Powell in 1817 and had four children. Ann Powell died in 1834. On 17 October 1838, at the age of 41 and 27 months after the death of his wife, he was sentenced to be transported for ten years for stealing two sheep belonging to Mr Willett of High Wollaston. His twelve-year-old son George Prosser went to live with his grandmother. After a spell on a hulk, Thomas Prosser was transferred to the Layton which set sail for Van Diemen’s Land on 13 July 1839 arriving 7 December 1839. He received a ticket of leave on 1 January  1845 and a certificate of freedom on 4 November 1848.

 

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

Henry Price

Henry Price was born in 1804 the son of James and Elizabeth Price. James Price worked as a grazier in Wollaston and Henry worked as an agricultural labourer. Henry Price was convicted, at the age of 10, of the theft of underwood from the Duke of Beaufort, Lord of Tidenham manor. Price married Maria Croom in November 1826 and had two children. On 13 July 1830, at the age of 27, he was sentenced to be transported for 7 years for the theft of bark the value of 20 shillings from the Reddings near Woolaston. After a spell on a hulk, he was transferred to the York which set sail for New South Wales on 4 September 1830 and arrived on 7 February 1831. He was assigned to work for John Earl at Patrick Plains.

Price obtained a ticket of leave on 18 March 1835 and was given his certificate of freedom on 27 Sep 1839. He married Eliza Johnson in Singleton in 1843 and had nine children. Eliza Johnson, also a convict, was born in 1809 in Louth, Ireland and died on 24 October 1891. Maria Croom remained in Woolaston working as an agricultural labourer, bringing up her children on her own. She had three more children but kept the name Price and remained single until she died in 1869.  Henry Price died in Singleton on 25 December 1877.

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

John Parry

John Parry was born in 1801 and lived in St Briavels where he worked as a pit sawyer and ploughman. He was married with 3 children. He was convicted once for poaching rabbits and sentenced to three months in prison. On 10 August 1831, at the age of 30, he was sentenced to death commuted to life for breaking into a house belonging to John Hartland in St Briavels and stealing drapery. After a spell on the hulk, Justitia, he was transferred to the Katherine Stewart Forbes which set sail for Van Diemen’s Land on 27 February 1832 and arrived on 16 July 1832. On his arrival, he was assigned to work for G. Cawthorn and then to public works

 

Categories
Transported Convicts (1826-1831)

Richard Marston

 

Richard Marston was born in 1816 and lived Westbury-on-Severn where he worked as a lime burner. On 2 December 1833, at the age of 17, he was sentenced to transportation for life for the killing of a sheep with intent to steal a carcass. After a spell on a hulk, he was transferred to the Henry Tanner which set sail for New South Wales on 1 July 1834 and arrived on 26 October 1834. He was granted a ticket of leave on 10 November 1842 and a conditional pardon on 31 Dec 1847.