View Full Version : FRANCIS THOMAS - convict - transportation - marriage?
12-03-2008, 4:23 PM
My questions are:
1. In the period 1860 to 1875, could a transported convict marry during the course of his sentence? I think not but welcome advice.
2. If the answer was "Yes", who would pay for the spouces passage back to the U.K.?
3. Cannot find a second marriage in England for the person subject of this posting.
I am preparing a Work Sheet for a near future visit to TNA, Kew.
My research person, a Francis Thomas, male, born circa 1823 in the Longton area of Staffs.
On the 1861 census, he was in Portland Prison, Dorset. His wife had died in 1861, after the census.
He was transported to Western Australia for a period of ten years, arriving at Freemantle on 4 July 1866 on the Belgravia after an 88 day voyage. His details stated he was a wdr. + 3ch. (widower with 3 children). He has several jobs during this ten year period.
His date back in England was stated to be 14 Jan. 1875 - Newcastle mentioned.
He died 27 November 1877 at Longton, Staffs. and the name of the informant on the death certificate is stated as Kate Thomas, widow of deceased.
I cannot find a marriage for this Francis Thomas between 14 Jan 1875 and his death. Also, I cannot find a (suitable?) Kate Thomas on the 1881 census, but I am "in the dark" about the latter person.
Also, I cannot find a marriage from mid 1861 to 2nd.qtr. 1866. He was probably in prison for some, if not most of this time. In 1851 he had been in Stafford prison!
I own a book, Criminal Ancestors by David T. Hawkins, but cannot find answers to my questions. I am aware of some TNA leaflets and where to look for his convictions etc. at TNA.
Perhaps, when registering his death, Kate Thomas may not have been 100% truthful.
Any suggestions welcome.
13-03-2008, 4:40 AM
Yes, a convict could marry during his sentence, but he had to apply for permission to do so.
The government did not pay convicts passage back to England at the end of sentences - he would have to have saved up the fare himself.
No marriage recorded for your fellow in the Western Australia BDM index. The two entries there are both after your fellows death date.
His date back in England was stated to be 14 Jan. 1875 - Newcastle mentioned.
I am interested in this date - what document was that on?
13-03-2008, 10:54 AM
Thank your for your information re convicts and marriage, travel expenses etc.
The information you enquired about can be found at :
The name of the ship was the Belgravia and you will see that by clicking on the letter "T" - Francis Thomas is one in the alphabetical list.
Thank you for looking for his marriage in Western Australia, I appreciate your help.
I will learn more when I visit TNA at Kew - they have some disruption at present and are still advising visitors to delay for a few weeks.
Perhaps when I find the name of the ship he came back to England aboard, I might learn more. Thanks again.
14-03-2008, 2:12 AM
That link didn't get me there, but I googled and found it - a lovely lot of information.
And, as I suspected, the reference to Newcastle is where he was when he got his Ticket of Leave - this is in Western Australia.
If he had married or partnered with someone I think that you would have found it recorded in the notes. Kate may be found on the same ship home.
14-03-2008, 9:46 PM
Thank you for your response.
It was my spelling of Fremantle that misled you, I typed two letter "ee's"
I've spent quite a time today on the internet trying to find the actual location of Newcastle, Western Australia. It comes up immediately when I "google" for it, but then I have difficulty having little knowledge of Australia. It is such a huge country. I can find one that looks as if it is in New South Wales - to me it looks as if it is "up the right hand side" as I look at the country as a whole. The writing that goes with it states it was a former prison colony or words to that effect. Have I got the correct one? I had wrongly assumed that it was one of the two Newcastles in England.
I doubt if I will find his ship back to England until I have visited TNA, Kew.
You stated an interest in the date 14 January 1875. Is your interest of a similar nature, albeit with another person?
Please will you be so kind as to bear my interest in Francis Thomas to mind, as you progrees your own research.
15-03-2008, 1:53 AM
I was just interested in where you got the date of return to England from, as I am not that familiar with convict records and I was curious to see how it was set out.
For the prison records to have the date, he must have had the prison involved somehow in the purchase of his ticket. They might have been holding his money for him perhaps. By the dates, he headed back as soon as his time was up.
I had only ever heard of Newcastle in New South Wales and England, but did think that there was one in WA as well when I did a quick google - but that quick result was deceptive, I cannot find any hint of one in WA at all. :o
But, it seems unlikely to me that he would be in NSW at the time of his Certificate of Freedom - the wording Newcastle certainly relates to that. It would have been hard for him to go interstate. It must have been a local place that no longer exists. Or it has been mistranscribed and was another locality.
15-03-2008, 6:29 PM
The original town of Toodyay was one of the earliest inland towns in the State, established in 1833 and situated 5 km downstream along the Avon River. However, the site was subject to flooding, and in 1860 a new townsite was established under the name Newcastle, in May 1910, due to confusion with the New South Wales city of Newcastle, the name of the town was changed to Toodyay the original became West Tooyday
looks like Newcastle became Toodyay!!!!
Its near Perth
15-03-2008, 10:27 PM
Absolutely brilliant. I've spent hours trying to locate Newcastle in Western Australia, even today after the last posting.
I can now look again at the modern map and hopefully pinpoint the place.
Christine was correct, it was a long, long way from the Fremantle area to the one in N.S.W.
When I was "trawling" I did notice a Newcastle Street in Perth on the modern map.
Thanks for your response.
15-03-2008, 10:36 PM
Sincerest apologies for the typo. in your name on my last posting. Sorry.
The document that is recorded states "Newcastle" and the date is 31 December 1874. The subject left Australia 14 days later.
You mention the name change in 1910 or have I misread it.
16-03-2008, 2:19 AM
Isn't it wonderful how things just fall into place :D Newcastle, WA
I have heard of Toodyay. I love it when I learn something new everyday. Well done Sandie.
Jack, another tidbit - it wasn't the distance involved in getting to the other Newcastle, it was the fact that Ticket-of-Leave men were not allowed to travel outside their designated areas, and I would have thought it unlikely to be able to get permission to travel to the other side of the continent.
The conditions were pretty tough in those days and it must of been the thought of getting home that sustained him all those years. One would like to think that his family kept in contact with him. I recently read a book that published a series of letters from a family to their father and husband in the colony, they were really just waiting for the day that he got home, but he died beforehand. The family may have even put together the money to get him home.
I hope you find his ship. I had a look on the WA Archives site, I could only see records for pardoned convicts leaving on ships that had left Albany - and in the time frame of your fellow's trip. He could have travelled to Albany if it was going to be the first ship that he could get to go back home.
The WA Archives people are happy to provide a limited research service to people outside the area - they could look up the microfilm for you, and perhaps even some other resources that they probably have. Especially since you have a specific departure date.
17-03-2008, 12:31 AM
Hi Christine (and other members of the forum viewing this thread)
I have sent a nice email to the Record Office in W.A. that you recommended
providing them with details and requesting a "minimum" look up. I will keep you and this thread informed if any progress is made.
My personal opinion is this is a useful thread for the future that may benefit members of this forum who may discover ancestor(s) who were transported to Australia.
I will also post a progress report after my visit to the TNA, Kew, London - the references may be helpful to others in the future.
Meanwhile, another thank you to you and Sandie who have provided me and this thread with valuable information.
Kindest regards Jack
17-03-2008, 11:43 PM
no worries about how you spell my name, I am not fussy!
I couldnt tie a marriage for your Francis..........I looked at BDM here but lots of Francis none whom seemed likely.............I did notice he was a bit of a naughty boy cos he was in Stafford District County Prison in the 1851 census!
the date 1910 was when they changed it from Newcastle to Toodyay.......so it would still have been called Newcastle in 1875
look forward to hearing what you find
20-03-2008, 4:14 PM
Continuing this thread - although I am researching Francis Thomas and posting info. on this thread about him, I am trying to do so in a manner whereby anyone reading the thread may glean info. they may find informative for their knowledge and/or research.
An update, I find that Francis Thomas was granted his Certifcate of Freedom whilst in Western Australia and details of his certificate was listed in the Western Australia Gazette on the 12 January 1875 page 8 with a Notice from the Comptroller General of Convicts being dated 9 January 1875.
I have good reason to believe this was the case with all convicts being granted a Certificate of Freedom.
Also, one can apply to the State Library of Western Australia for a copy of any such entry.
I believe that a person so "freed" had to make his own way back to England, there being no financial assistance provided.
It looks as if the option was either to remain in the country or work one's passage home.
20-03-2008, 4:26 PM
To update you re-your mention of Albany, the reply from Australia was as follows:
"We do have a volume listing expiree convicts who departed from the port of Albany but Thomas is not listed in it so I would agree that the Albany suggestion is not supported by evidence".
I am now working on the theory that he was one who worked his passage home on the 15 January 1875.
I have reason to believe the only "ship" leaving Fremantle on that date bound for London was the 395 ton Zephyr. Apart from a few cabin passengers, there were only 12 steerage. I will be trying tp locate a passenger list here in England.
21-03-2008, 1:41 AM
Thanks for letting us know the outcome of your query. I am glad that you have found a ship leaving at the right time.
Working his passage could certainly be an option - so you will need to consult the crew list as well as the passenger list.
I hope you find him.
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