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  1. #11
    Starting to feel at home.
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    If you check the online newspapers in the UK and overseas you will find reports quite often on prisoners where they were sent what area of the country and to whom.(Although I have not as yet unfortunately found a criminal in my personal ancestry,being Border Reivers I suppose they all were.) I have noticed in other family members plenty of all ages and sex. No doubt your ancestors,if they wanted to maintain contact with a family member they just wrote c/o of the Post Office of the capital city in that area. Up until 1960 a letter would reach our family with just my grandmothers name and New Zealand (she was an avid letter writer) . I recall one letter that the person had just put her name and Levin and no country one that I suspected must have traveled the globe as two years later it came back to us,with try Ireland written on it, then another note send to New Zealand.
    It appears in those days rather than just sending mail back to where it came from if you are lucky, the post office tried to get it to its destination. Unlike these days when if you put an address on the back and it doesn't get delivered, only because the stamp forgotten,has fallen off or is insufficient postage, size,shape, weight wrong, you have to make a trip to the post office to discover why and pay again of course. Undelivered Christmas cards are not returned, so unless you follow up with a letter to a card someone could be dead and you wouldn't even know.

  2. #12
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    Hi there Megan
    Just thought of an even more likely way your ancestors would have kept in touch or known about what was happening to their errant son or brother. Word of mouth, probably a lot more efficient than emails or cellphones. When I traveled as a child with my grandmother, she would tell friends and relations that she was planning a trip overseas, home (everyone reffered to the UK as home) and people would send messages for us to call and see them, stop us on the street, phone us and give us addresses to call in and see their relatives, or visit a grave take some photo's and pop some flowers on. Business people bought and sold stock overseas (direct importers) for their shops. A station owner would possibly take a trip overseas, some children of well off families were educated out of the country. I was amazed when looking back at old local newspapers that one of my great aunts an only child seemed to spend more time, traveling around the world than she did at home. Of course poorer families, would never get a chance, goodbye was forever. But because people emigrated to areas where family had come to in the past they also brought news from home and letters of introduction. People interacted a lot more in the past than they do now.

  3. #13
    Has a well deserved spectacular aura Sandra Parker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Roberts View Post

    .... through Trove that I found the record of his departure to San Francisco.

    Megan
    In order to return to England, it would be necessary to use whatever transport was available. There were regular ships to San Francisco, and from America to get another ship to England, so it is possible that for some, the trip to America was a way of getting home to England.

    Sandra, whose spectacled aura is having a holiday

  4. #14
    Brick wall demolition expert!
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    Thanks to Sandra and Heather.

    My ancestor was transported for life and so could not return to the UK, as they would have hanged him - conditional pardons were very clear on where they could go or not go.

    From what everyone has said it is obviously possible that he might have written to his family, but we will never know for sure.

  5. #15
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    Since I first started this thread, Ancestry have released some new convict records, including Convict Indents which are very detailed in the amount of information that they give. So I now have a physical description of my man, I know what he was doing before being convicted, that he was protestant, single and able to read and write.

    So no closer to knowing if he actually did not or, but at least I now know that he could have.

    The records themselves are fascinating in terms of showing the things like how common tattoos were; another chap had a false tooth, and another was described as being of "Genteel appearance".

  6. #16
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    Well in an ideal world which Australia was not always for some, it could be seen easy to join your family.
    In the early days unless you came from a wealthy or middleclass family. One sure way of travelling to spend time in the colonies with family would be to commit a crime, hoping you didn't get an alternative sentence that was quite often having your neck stretched for what we would consider now almost a small misdemeanor.
    In the 1800's because of the large populations in cities in the UK and to provide a labour source to Australia, because in all areas of the the Australian states and city help was needed, immigrants of the right kind were needed.
    However they didn't take just anyone they were pretty specific in the type of person they needed, agricultural labour, shepherding, blacksmithing, domestic service, financial, trade and office workers. Depending on your degree of skill and who was backing you the cost was two to six pound per person charges for a trip that took 3 months. As this fare hab been subsidized by the government, your background was thoroughly researched, you needed references and people willing to garantee your good character and pick up the tab if you turned out to be unreliable or cause trouble. They didn't take people who were habitually poor or had a crime record. So unfortunatly a lot of people who were sent to serve out a prison sentence even in the 1800's would be very unlikely to be able to be reunited with family in the colonies, unless their family were squeaky clean. As by that time the locals, had enough problems visited upon them by a lot of the early settlers without importing more.

    This information is available from police reports to parliment and discussion in the early colony newspapers of the day. The subject was a pretty hot potato or what we would call these days a political football of its day.

  7. #17
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    Hello

    In the thread above Coromandel posted a link to rootsweb regarding a letter sent to JOHN WESTERN in 1852. He was a convict sent to Tasmania in 1842. The rootsweb link is dead or times out unfortunately.

    Does anyone have the text of the letter, or can direct me to it?

    Thanks!

    ps. Coromandel's post below:


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    John Western was transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1842. It seems that for a decade his parents in Exeter heard nothing from him. By October 1852 his mother must have heard from him, as she wrote back, overjoyed to discover that he was still alive. You can read her letter here:

    http://
    listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/DEVON/2006-02/1140139387

    John had been sentenced to 7 years' transportation so his first letter home was probably written after his release. This doesn't really count as a convict's letter, then, but I thought it was a nice little bit of social history all the same.

  8. #18
    Brick wall demolition expert!
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    All the Rootsweb lists have been 'down for weeks, but in the last couple of days some seem to be back on line, but I don't know if that means that all the old links will be restored.

    Why not leave it a week or so and try again, and failing that join the Devon list and ask if they can help?

  9. #19
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    I have found the letter attached to someone's family tree.

    https://postimg.org/gallery/ygatszx2/

  10. #20
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    Thumbs up

    Thank You Dundee10 for finding the letter and responding so quickly.

    Very much appreciated.

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