George Reeks was born in 1798 in Woolaston where he worked as a labourer. On 13 August 1828, at the age of 30, he was sentenced to death commuted to life for the theft of one sheep from John Gwatkin Powles. The Morning Chronicle 16 August 1828 reported the case:
“CHARLES WILLIAMS and GEORGE REEKS were indicted for stealing, at Woolastone, in this county, a wether sheep, value two guineas, the property of John Gwatkin Powles. Mr RICHARDS was for the prosecution and Mr JUSTICE for the defence.
From the evidence, it appeared that the prisoners were traced to their cottage, which is upwards of two miles from the field in which the sheep were penned, by the peculiar manner in which the nails were fixed in their shoes. The carcase of the sheep was found in the bedroom, the only one in the cottages and in which the prisoners slept with their wives and families. The skin of the sheep had been left in the field, but on comparing certain marks of awkward butchering exhibited on the mutton with certain other awkward marks upon the skin, there could be no doubt that the skin belonged to the carcase found in the prisoners’ house. This fact, together with the marks made by the shoes, also found in the house, satisfied the Jury that the prisoners were guilty, and The LEARNED JUDGE, although he permitted sentence of Death to be recorded, gave the prisoners hope of having their lives spared, but they should quit the country forever. Sheep-stealing was, he observed, a very bad offence, of very frequent occurrence, and the prisoners might consider their lives to have been spared, merely because they were not known as old offenders.”
After a spell on a hulk, the Justitia, he was transferred to the America which set sail for New South Wales on 8 April 1829 and arrived 18 August 1829. In 1846 he was recommended for a conditional pardon which was granted on 30 July 1847.
George Reeks died in Balmain, New South Wales in 1869