March 10, 2017

Last ever Friday seminar (apart from revision)!

Please could you read the following:

James & Anna B - Transportation databases (Queensland and Ireland-Australia)

Rachel, Robin & Lewis - Old Bailey

Dan & Ellie - James Vaux

Alice & Helen - George Barrington

Ella & Victoria - Molesworth

Kieran & Anna S - Parliamentary Papers


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  1. Anna Soppelsa

    Report of Commissioners on Transportation and Penal Servitude

    This week, I have looked at the minutes of evidence taken before the commissioners appointed to inquire into the operation of the acts relating to transportation and penal servitude. I will be looking at the evidence provided by two men: George Everest and Dean Powell.

    George Everest:
    Everest has been employed for fifteen years as the Principal Clerk in the Criminal Department of the Home Office, thus is an expert in the changes in the laws relating to transportation and penal servitude. He details figures of those who have been transported, which reach a huge total of 31,415 people. The numbers of people sentenced but not actually transported, however, are also high. In 1852, for example, there were 9,000 sentenced to transportation who remained in Government prisons.

    The commissioners next concentrate on the system of ‘tickets of leave’, which were introduced by the Act of 1853. These tickets applied solely to men who had sentences of transportation and allowed their periods of sentence to be reduced. For example, a man with a sentence of ten years would be reduced to four years after being granted a ticket of leave.

    He goes on to state that by 1857, transportation was abolished altogether. However, the commissioners appear to keep asking about the opportunities of sending more convicts to Western Australia. They state ‘there is a considerable demand for convicts for West Australia’ with an intimation that about ‘1,000 a year could be received conveniently’. However, if the present short sentences which are often handed out continue, this will not be achievable. Twinned with this, prisoners were only allowed to be sent if they were ‘in a condition to labour’. However, many were unfit for this due to ‘age and ill-health’. Additionally, women were not allowed to be transported.

    Dean Powell:

    Dean Powell was the Dean of Perth, in Western Australia. When asked about the quality of the convicts sent over to his city, he claims they are ‘very superior to anything which could have been expected’ with most men having ‘outward moral conduct’. Whether they have been ‘changed in the heart’, however, Powell does not wish to comment. He does believe, on the other hand, that the ‘tone of society’ has not been demoralized through the arrival of convicts. He gives the example of a woman who has many convicts who worked on her large estate, yet felt so safe she chose not to install a lock on her door.

    Powell suggests two ways in which the conduct of the men could be improved. Firstly, if a limit was put on the sale of liquors, for drink is their ‘great temptation’. Also, savings banks were opened, as it would allow the men to ‘accumulate capital and establish themselves in a higher position in life’. Powell clearly believes there is hope for these convicts.

    Powell also suggests there are three factors about Western Australia which help to reform the men. The first is the absence of temptation, for there is so little to take from their houses that the men do not even consider doing so. Next, is the ‘wide dispersion of men’ for they cannot congregate and corrupt each other. Lastly, a slightly odd reason – the weather. Powell believes the Australian climate takes the ‘fierceness and pugnacity’ out of the men’s characters. There is ‘less readiness to attack’ than you would find in England, he claims.

    14 Mar 2017, 12:51

  2. Helen Oakes

    George Barrington, ‘A Voyage to New South Wales’ (1796)

    Barrington was born in 1755, and is described as a boy who was more intelligent than his status. His family could not afford to send him to school, but neighbours taught him to read/write. He was placed in a school by a patron, but after stabbing an older boy, he lost the support of his patron. He fled the school having stolen money and a watch. He moved to a city in Ireland and lived as a pickpocket, but was sentenced to transportation after pickpocketing, and fled to London to escape his punishment.

    He lived in London as a wealthy individual, sometimes getting caught for crimes, but often living in high society. He spent some time in a hulk, where he tried to stab himself for the appalling conditions.

    In 1790, he was sentenced to seven years in Botany Bay. The book describes his life on the boat and in Paramatta. Around 200 prisoners were placed in the hold, and sometimes permitted to walk the deck. Women were separated from men. At one point, some convicts tried to start a mutiny on the ship, but the two ringleaders were hung. Barrington was praised for his help stopping the mutiny, and consequently got special treatment from the capitain. He was allowed to get off the ship at Santa Cruz to see the town.

    Convicts arrived on shore with ‘deplorable’ appearances, emaciated by disease. There were 250 men and 6 women, as well as 1 convict’s wife/child. 32 men died during the voyage. Convicts were clothed and old things were burnt. Barrington became the Superintendent of the convicts at Paramatta, and was given a 4 bedroom cottage, where he was in charge of 400 convicts. He often visited the farms of settlers (convicts who had served their terms) and described what they were entitled to: 30 acres of land for single men, 50 for married ones, 10 more per child. They received provisions and clothing from the public store for the first 18 months, tools and grain for the 1st year, and 2 sow pigs.

    On the whole, Barrington’s account shows that life as a transported convict could be good if you could work your way up the hierarchy. However, for most convicts, the voyage was potentially deadly, and life was hard.

    16 Mar 2017, 12:59

  3. Dan Ewers

    Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux (1819)

    James Hardy Vaux was arrested for stealing a handkerchief aged 16 and tried at the Old Bailey on the 17 September 1800. Vaux was sentenced to seven years transportation and sailed from Spithead on 21 June. During the voyage, Vaux reached Sydney in December 1801 and worked as a clerk before spending a term in a road-gang. Vaux was taken home by boat in 1807, on which he worked writing logs and teaching. In London, Vaux married Mary Ann Thomas, a prostitute, and later narrowly escaped a conviction for stealing a snuffbox. In February 1809, Vaux was sentenced to death for stealing from a jewellers shop (commuted to transportation for life). Vaux reached Sydney in December 1810, was sentenced to twelve months of hard labour for receiving stolen goods, and was moved to the Newcastle penal settlement. Vaux was caught whilst trying to escape in 1814 and flogged.

    Vaux compiled a slang dictionary for use by magistrates and wrote his “Memoirs of the First Thirty-Two Years…” which was published in both Britain and Australia, and was the first full-length autobiography written in Australia. Vaux married two women, Frances Sharkey in 1818 and Eleanor Bateman in 1827 (even though Frances was still alive), in April 1829 he absconded and broke terms of his pardon, fleeing to Ireland. Vaux was convicted in Dublin for passing forged bank notes and transported to Sydney’s Port Macquarie Penal Settlement. In May 1839, Vaux was charged with criminal assault of an eight-year-old girl and sentenced to two years imprisonment. No reliable record of his further life has been traced and Vaux is the only known convict to have been transported three times.

    Vaux described the conditions in which he was transported, amongst a number of other autobiographical aspects of his life, within his memoirs, describing the clothes he was made to wear, the work he did for the captains of his various voyages, and discusses the identities of those he encounters at length. Transcriptions of conversations between Vaux and those around him, as highlighted in his transcription of a conversation between Vaux and Governor King, Governor of New South Wales, provides a useful source for historians interrogating the conditions and lives of those transported to the Australian continent during this period.

    16 Mar 2017, 14:03

  4. Victoria Rowedder

    Sir William Molesworth, ‘Speech on Transportation…’
    What the Molesworth’s speech does well in highlighting is the disproportionate punishment that was directed at criminals that varied only out of the character of their ‘master’. He is aggrieved with many other aspects of transportation but the unequal treatment runs throughout.
    Molesworth himself was a radical politician, who despite proving somewhat unsuccessful in his attempts to change transportation, he continued the efforts. This speech was given in 1840 which is only 28 years before transportation was eventually disbanded.
    Transportation he said was in three main stages:
    - Banishment from this country
    - Compulsory labour in a penal colony
    - Various punishments by which labour is enforced
    It was the third part that Molesworth has particular issue with because it was up to the master to determine the nature of the punishments. This created very contrasting experiences, for example, some actually earnt a wage, whereas others were frequently whipped and forced to work long hours.
    He uses various witnesses who bring up different issues: The misconduct of the criminals disrupting the inhabitants daily lives (drunkenness in particular), another speaks of the inequality of treatment, and that many masters are cruel and administer punishment with ‘disproportionate severity.’
    Convicts under the superintendence were treated much better, they performed little labour and they were under very lax supervision. Proposals had been suggested that the solutions to the problems of transportation were simply making every convict under the superintendence of the colonial government. Molesworth however, thinks this solution is misleading, it would be completely economically ineffective and you may as well just punish criminals in England if you were to do that.

    16 Mar 2017, 16:18

  5. Kieran Sargent

    Parliamentary Report on Transportation and Penal Servitude

    George Everest, Principal Clerk in the Department of the Home Office.
    Mr Everest had a wealth of experience in the home office, serving over 42 years. He is arguably, best placed to comment on the changes in transportation and penal servitude. Firstly, the reader gains a sense of the degree of rationalisation in the British penal system at the time.
    1842 – 1862: 65,337 sentenced and 31,415 transported. Indeed, there was also a free pardon when a sentence had been deemed completed.
    Free pardon after sentence. Behaviour of the convict was an important motivational factor in this regard, harking back to the classic ‘carrot and the stick’ approach. The Act of 1853 meant that a new form of penal servitude was added and all sentences under 14 years were abolished. Yet, some still continued however to Australia. What strikes me here is the apparent cost-saving exercise at work, as a proportion of those due to be transported were instead put under penal servitude. Tickets of leave helped mobilise this. In 1857, transportation was abolished altogether and Penal servitude extended. This was largely in line with industrialisation and Victorian emphasis on productivity, especially if it was free. The penal system was in tandem with this train of thought.

    Dean Powell, formerly Dean of Perth, Western Australia.
    In the colony for 10 and a half years, he speaks of the general reformation of the men that carry out transportation sentences. Indeed, as we have seen with sexual crime, a middle-class standard is apparent. Yet, this is not only entrenched, but also exported. Again, there seems to be an emphasis on religiosity and the need for treatment of morals. In this regard, the Dean sees drink as a temptation due to its corrupting effect. he suggests that the idea of creating a loose banking system, accumulating money, may be a way to escape crime. What is interesting here is the fact that this is considered a punishment, yet these convicts unlike their counterparts in England, are free to earn money and make a living. Interestingly, the Dean also points to the hot weather as being of relaxing attributes.

    16 Mar 2017, 16:25

  6. Anna Blackbourn

    Transportation databases (Queensland and Ireland-Australia)
    I looked at the sources that contained petitions and tried to identify trends amongst the sources
    All fairly young commonly ranging from 17-25, oldest is 53-
    Majority male cases- does this represent general trend of crime committal or is transportation more of a male punishment?
    Transportation sentence most common is 7 years
    Crimes include- larceny of letters, assault, lots of theft- so transportation seems a harsh sentence
    Petitioned with wife
    All the men seemed to have occupations so it not as though they were vagrants off the street- is transportation only used for men with an occupation?
    Mary Anne Bennett- female, only 18 years old, crime felony wearing apparel, her petitioner was her mother but she is stated to have a husband so it is unusual that is her mother doing the petitioning and not he. Case of Anne Brady also had her mother petition on her behalf- responsibility of parents linking to juvenile crime
    Daniel Brien had a successful petition as his comments state that he was discharged only 7 years into his 15-year transportation sentence, unusual case though
    James Broderick’s petition case was based upon the fact he claimed he was 13 years old but he is listed as 20, showing the ineffectiveness of the judicial system and sheds light on the treatment of juvenile criminals
    Patrick Bryne- unusual because he was sentenced to transportation to life rather than 7 years like the majority of others, crime was manslaughter, the petition came from his brother but it sounds as though the petition was enacted after Patrick had already been transported
    Jane Carland- tried to petition on medical grounds- interesting
    James Carroll appealed on the basis that he had a wife and 6 children to support, have to consider what would happen to these families if the main breadwinners were sent away

    16 Mar 2017, 21:03


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  • Transportation databases (Queensland and Ireland–Australia) I looked at the sources that contained p… by Anna Blackbourn on this entry
  • Parliamentary Report on Transportation and Penal Servitude George Everest, Principal Clerk in the De… by Kieran Sargent on this entry
  • Sir William Molesworth, 'Speech on Transportation…' What the Molesworth's speech does well in high… by Victoria Rowedder on this entry
  • Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux (1819) James Hardy Vaux was arrested for stealing a handkerchief aged 16… by Dan Ewers on this entry
  • George Barrington, 'A Voyage to New South Wales' (1796) Barrington was born in 1755, and is describe… by Helen Oakes on this entry

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