View Full Version : Stafford County Gaol
04-08-2008, 4:46 PM
Oh the shame of it all! |blush|
I have a possible transported convict in my tree which I can't quite pin down.
I have a birth certificate of John Pilsbury born May 1840 which states place of birth as the County Gaol, Stafford, father's name John Pilsbury and mother's name Elizabeth Pilsbury formerly Myatt. Baby John, their second child, was christened at Saint Mary's in Stafford and died next day in the County Gaol Stafford. I cannot find any mention of parents John (a cordwainer) and Elizabeth in subsequent census records including the 1841 CD of Stafford County Gaol.
Further research by Stafford Record Office found no record in the local papers of Elizabeth being convicted of anything.
I now find a record from the NSW Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Australian Convict Index of a John Spilsbury (the name varies from Pilsbury to Spilsbury on many census records) being convicted on 10 March 1840 and transported to NSW on the good ship Eden, which sailed from Sheerness on November 1840 arriving in NSW 10 July 1840. His age, marital status, county of birth and occupation all match up.
There is no sign of Elizabeth enjoying the same cruise.
Could it be possible that John and not Elizabeth is the prisoner in Stafford Gaol and that Elizabeth happened to give birth in the gaol but not as a prisoner as I originally summized?
Is anybody well up on the state of Stafford Gaol back in 1840?
04-08-2008, 5:59 PM
Just for some background, Staffordshire Council has a webpage (http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/cgi-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=482&page_id=9445632&query=gaol&hiword=gaol+) about the gaol. I hope that you find it interesting.
04-08-2008, 6:04 PM
Reference your research concerning an inmate of Stafford gaol and reference to the County Record Office at Stafford.
Within the last few months, my wife and I, have done research relating to both places as well as a prisoner - on my wifes side not mine, my lot are all of impeccable character (I tell lies).
The staff at the County Record office at Stafford are excellent, nay they are better than that, they are so helpful and understanding. Their records relating to prisoners and Stafford gaol are equally excellent.
As to your ancestor being transported, I stand corrected, but I am 99.99% certain, nay 100%, he was not transported direct from Stafford gaol, he would have been transferred elsewhere to be transported.
As to the prison from whence he was transported and his record of all that has taken place, will be found at the TNA, Kew. Actually, being convicted in Staffs. hence Stafford gaol, there will be info. in the records at Stafford R.O. giving details of his crime etc.
Once you have ALL his convictions and date(s), a 5 minute walk next door to The William Salt Library, Stafford and I am certain, you will find the newspaper report in the local Staffordshire Advertiser. They too are A1+.
As to the records at TNA, Kew, simply go to their web site, do some searching / research and you can do a worksheet - you will find so much detail. If you do visit the TNA, they too are excellent and I am absolutely certain, if you do the preparatory work, you will be well rewarded.
Hope this helps.
05-08-2008, 1:48 PM
Thanks Jan and Jack for your replies.
Jack - I had a researcher at Stafford Record Office looking through the Staffordshire Advertiser for Elizabeth Pilsbury/Myatt but they came up with nothing so I guess I'll have to go through the whole application again for John (S)Pilsbury this time. I now have his conviction date which should narrow things down a bit.
Looking forward to my retirement next year when I can get the time to visit all these record offices myself instead of paying a researcher. :D
05-08-2008, 9:00 PM
From my recent knowledge bearing in mind my memory nowadays is poor, most certainly I viewed the Staffordshire Advertiser, that is the actual newspaper, not a copy on film, next door at the William Salt Library.
You know the date of the conviction, so it will be easy to look at the edition covering that date and the one after that.
Please bear in mind what I said in my first response and especially the TNA Kew.
06-08-2008, 11:42 PM
The Convict transportation registers database (http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/info/fh/convicts) reports that John SPILSBURY
left the UK 08 July 1840 and was one of 270 convicts transported on the Eden.
07-08-2008, 12:03 PM
Thats right, he was given a life sentence for burglary, sailed on the Eden along with 269 other convicts and arrived November 1840 in NSW.
We think the wife he left behind reverted to her maiden name (not 100% sure) and we know his only surviving son was brought up by his grandparents, married and moved between Stafford, south Manchester and Salford areas until his death in 1901 at Withington workhouse. Hard times methinks.
Waiting for a response from Stafford Record Office regarding his actual crime and then will pursue his fate in Australia.
Does anyone have a picture of the convict ship Eden? Have had no luck so far.
Thanks to all again
08-10-2008, 4:34 PM
Thanks to all who assisted in this 'cloudy' period of my past.
John (S)Pilsbury, by all accounts a thoroughly bad character, had three court appearances. Found not guilty in 1837, given six months for felony about 1838/9 and finally a life sentence in 1840 for breaking into a warehouse. His partner in crime, Richard Dale was released due to lack of evidence. Richard is recorded on the 1841 census and is resident at the home of John's parents. John is transported from the Warrior Hulk at Woolwich to NSW and ... disappears.
His wife Elizabeth (Myatt) gives birth to second son John in May 1840 whilst in Stafford Gaol for receiving stolen goods and in July 1840 is given a three months sentence. She also seems to disappear from officialdom.
Have amassed a wonderful collection of records which helps paint a proper picture of criminal activity in 1840 Stafford.
Thanks to all once again. :) and of course if anyone has anything to add....|idea|
08-10-2008, 4:51 PM
"Bad" No! Unfortunate yes.
They were transported for next to nothing in those days, little children too.Scarcely any of them were hardened criminals as fill our prisons today.
The British government of the time wanted to fill it's newly acquired South land with people as quickly as possible. It also wanted somewhere to dump it's unwanted. Prisons were overflowing then. He would have gone to the hulks at Gravesend or somewhere and languished there until transported. M
28-10-2009, 2:50 PM
Have filled in lots of gaps on this one since I first posted it.
John was on his third court appearance, being found not guilty, given 6 months then a life sentence.
His accomplice on the third charge was a Richard Dale who was found not guilty and to rub salt in the wounds is listed on the 1841 census living at the home of John's parents, William and Mary Spilsbury in Stafford.
John's wife Elizabeth also served time for receiving stolen goods but what became of her on her release is a blank.
Their first born James was brought up by his grandparents and went on to marry and move between Stafford and the Manchester area, where he died. Their second son John was born and died in Stafford gaol.
John arrived in NSW Australia 18 November 1840 in one piece but have been unsuccessful in tracing him any further.
Been an interesting chapter in the family history so thanks to all helpers especially my 'mole' for her TNA visits |hug|
27-04-2010, 5:49 AM
Have you checked for a remarriage for Elizabeth? I see there is one in 1843 Stafford,,another few a bit later.
I tried checking for info on John after arriving in NSW but cannot find anything in the convict stuff (more than likely due to the records not being kept uptodate with the official end of transportation or just another name variation)
There are possibles on NSW BDM but you would need to check for deaths with matching parents or age.
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