Since I have moved to Australia I have taken a great interest in the country’s history. One of the most interesting events from the past was the decision to send convicts from the UK to Australia.
Britain in the late 18th Century was experiencing a great rise in crime, huge population growth due to the industrial revolutiuon and the prisons were hugely overcrowded. The result being that great ‘hulks’ or ships were turned into floating prisons. This didn’t solve the problem. The hulks became overcrowded too and an alternative solution had to be found.
This got me to thinking about whether or not there were people from Jersey that were sent out to Australia as convicts. I hadn’t as of yet heard of any Jersey history connected to this topic. So I decided to search the web and came across a few interesting sites:
Convicts to Australia – a guide to researching your convict ancestors.
This website contains a list of convicts transported to Western Australia, including 4 men who were trialed and convicted in Jersey:
Samuel Bryant – age 22 – sentence: 10yrs – crime: burglary – date: 7 Nov 1864
John Connolly – age 26 – sentence: 10yrs – crime: assault & highway robbery – date: 21 Sept 1866
Peter Connolly – age 22 – sentence: 10 yrs – crime: assault & highway robbery – date: 21 Sept 1866
Henry Gordon – age 23 – sentence: 10yrs – crime: burglary – date: 7 Nov 1864
It would be interesting to find out what happened to them and if they ever returned to Jersey once they were free men.
This web page displays a list of female convicts aboard the ship ‘Harmony’ that arrived in Hobart, Tasmania on the 14th January 1829. On this list is a female native of Jersey:
Harriet Williams – age 24 (born 1805) – crime: unknown
Harriet was ‘Free by servitude’ by the 29th May 1835. I wonder what happened to her too? Did she stay and marry a fellow convict or a free man? Did she return to Jersey to family she had left behind?
I am sure there are many more out there, but these are the few I have found recently. It’s a fascinating subject and I would love to hear anyone’s stories of their Jersey relations sent to Australia’s penal colony.
NOTE: A new prison was badly needed in Jersey at the turn of the 19th century and in 1812 one was built and referred to as Newgate Prison. This may have been where these Jersey criminals of the time were kept while awaitng trial and then starting their long and difficult 8 month journey to England and onto Australia. Click on the following link if you are interested in a little history about Jersey and it’s Prisons.
I hope you have found this as interesting as I did!