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Forum Home > Transported Criminals. > Transported to America. 1718 - 1776.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Colonial expansion, or how to quickly empty a few English Prisons.


Since the early days of Colonisation, a great many commodities have crossed, and double crossed, the Atlantic Ocean. Men, Women, Tools, Tobacco, Timber, Slaves, the list is a long one, and from 1718, an increasing number of men and women, found guilty of crimes in England, who would normally, under the Law at the time, have been hanged. Before 1717, there was a system in place that many today would favour, that is, if we still had the means to enact it. In order to escape a possible Death Sentence, or be left to rot in a dingy cell in a common prison, a convicted man or women, could plead to be Transported. Provided of course, that they, or their family, could afford to pay the one-way fare. The Law also allowed the agrieved party to apply for transportation as well, with the same rule on the payment of the fare. A fine chance then, for a Merchant who had been robbed, to wreak his vengence of the convicted. During the early part of the 18th century, many began to realise, that far too many of the population were getting free beautry treatment, by having their necks elongated, like some tribes in Africa. In 1717, a proposel was placed before Parliament, which allowed the Countries Assize Courts, to reduce the entertaiment of the general public, with far less hangings. The Act was passed and signed in 1718, which placed the burden of the passage fare to the Government, and also included another little item. The return by anyone, before the term of transportation had been served, would be punished with Death by Hanging. The standard period of time involved was 7 years, although it could be longer if the original crime had been murder. As they were not imprisoned the other end, merely bonded to work on a Plantation or in a Timber yard, they were free to roam as they pleased. Some of them managed to roam back to England, which was a mistake, and most ended up dead, swinging on a rope to the delight of a mob. So, I have been asked, what kind of crime would warrant the Transportation of someone to Virginia or Carolina.


One year into the new Act, and from around the Country, the Courts began to use the system instead of Judicial Hangings, for the rather long list of Capital Crimes then in effect. Lets have a look at a few. John Green, a notorious but not very adept pick-pocket, stole a Silk Handkerchief, value 1s and 6d. and got 7 years, as most that followed also did. A popular item to steal was clothing, it was relative easy to sell, and almost unidentifiable when found. Thomas Smith stole three Gowns and several Petticoats, as did William Evens and Elizabeth Jakes, the total value of their combined haul, £28, for which 7 years in America was the prize. Robert Broomfield stole an apparently very expensive Night Gown, valued at £20, and John Miller,  whose aim was a bit lower, with just two Cushions at 8 shillings, both getting 7 years. Henry Davis, no doubt finding the nights drawing in, and needing a light to find his way, stole 4 Brass Candlesticks worth 8 shillings, Richard Hull, feeling a sharp wind about his nether regions, stole a Perriwig, worth about 10 shillings, and Samuel Yeo, obviously planning to cut up a bit of firewood to keep himself warm, stole a Long Saw, value 20 shillings. They all got the standard sentence. Stealing money was always near the top of the list, although Mary Wood only managed to knick 10 shillings, Mary Dowlas a paltry 20 shillings, and Sarah Ward, Ann Dutton, and Ann Robbins between them, just £4.10 shillings. Just fancy, 7 years transportation for that. Finding reliable servants was a nightmare as well, for get it wrong, and the family Silver was at stake. Mary Francis stole Gold rings, Lockets, Gold Buttons, and Silver from her mistress, and her mother, who handled them, only missed being transported for 14 years by a whisker. Margaret Williams was obviously a bit of an expert on Silverware, for she stole 2 Silver Salt Pots, 5 Silver Spoons, and various other family nic-nacks. to earn her 7 year holiday over the big pond. Margaret Davis, although it was only September when she stole 5 Gold rings, obviously couldn't wait for the fifth day of Christmas, which in any case she spent far away these shores. The last two, Henry Bourn and John Green, ( yes, another one, it's a very common name ) both stole items of clothing. The former, a piar of Shag Breeches, and the latter, 10 pairs of Gloves and 3 pairs of Shoes. Both, when arrested, were found to be wearing the stolen items, although Green wasn't obviously wearing all the items. Both of these desperate criminals got 7 years as well. By way of a comparision, William Ursly, a Coachman who liked a drink, ran down a pedestrian, Robert Howell, and killed him stone dead. Facing a Manslaughter charge, it became clear that Howell also liked a drink, and according to a witness, was as nissed as a pewt when crossing the road. Ursly didn't get away scot free though, found guilty of being reckless in charge of a coach, he was branded in the hand like other criminals.


Transportation of our less favourite inhabitants, continued for the next 58 years, until  the War of Indepence, in 1776 put a stop to it. Perhaps, as well as the taxes they were expected to pay, they had also had enough of the riff-raff we were sending over. It would be another 12 years before any more transported criminals left these shores, this time to the better organised Penal Colonies of Australia, in 1787.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 3, 2013 at 3:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

And it wasn't always a pleasent experience in the Colonies either. The Governor of Boston and surrounding districts, Cornwallis by name, ( a bit more famous later on ) had a rather pressing problem on his hands in 1750. On the 2nd July, his gardener, Mr Brown, with his son, and accompanied by four other workers, set off from the town to what I take to be his plantation. They hadn't got barely three miles before the party was attacked by Indians. Mr Browns body, and that of his son, were discovered sometime later, badly mutilated. The Indians must have been suffering from a lack of wigs, for both of them had been Scalped. The other four, obviously indentured " servants ", weren't named, but it was reported that they may have undergone a similar experience, and all hope for their survival had been abandoned. On the other side of the Bay, at the little village of Hallifax, and two days before, the Indians had managed to Scalp a further seven men, while working in the fields. Obviously, bad news had failed to travel fast. So what did Governor Cornwallis do, well the first thing was to pen a letter back home to London, and request more gardeners, otherwise his crop would never get gathered in.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

November 8, 2013 at 10:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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