Tuesday, 28 May 2013


I made an exciting discovery about Joseph Dickinson (who I have written about before) on Ancestry, way back on Australia Day. Thanks to the banner on Ancestry for prompting me to search the convict records again that day. I don't even know what made me put his name in to search, as I had seen nothing in my 20+ years research to suggest he might have been a convict. But search I did - and results I found ! 

I haven't been able to find much about his trial or the crime. On his certificate of freedom (27 September 1841) along with the description of his numerous tattoos and the revelation that he had red hair and bluish eyes are the words "stealing a box". What sort of box ? what was in the box ? Or what was the box made out of ? There must have been something surely to make this a crime worthy of transportation. Perhaps it was nothing at all - just a way to send tradespeople to the new country - using any minor misdemeanour as an excuse. Joseph was a plasterer and so was his father before him. I would imagine plasterers would have been quite sort after in the burgeoning building trade.

We have all heard about people transported for crimes such as taking a loaf of bread, stealing blankets - objects which in reality are simply necessities of life. My other convict Mary Brown stole a couple of pairs of shoes with her friend Mary Cannon. (Actually I think my Mary was the accomplice not the mastermind). But a box ? It must have had some value - to Joseph to entice him to steal it, and to the owner who felt wronged by its loss and their desire to have it returned and the thief bought to justice. I will find out more, eventually.

Anyway, Joseph was sentenced at Westminster 30 January 1834, and sailed 11 April 1834 from London arriving in Sydney on the "Surry", one of 260 convicts on 17 August, 

 The Sydney Monitor (NSW 1828 - 1838) Wednesday 20 August 1834 page 2 article32146993-3-001

but still lying in stream on 23 August. The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), Saturday 23 August 1834, page 2 article/32147026 .

On the 1837 muster Joseph is assigned to T A Murray and located in the Goulburn district. He was granted a ticket of leave in 1838, and his certificate of freedom 27 September 1841. I haven't found an application to marry, although he must have married Ann Blackman about this time. He appears in the New South Wales, Gaol Description & Entrance Books 1818-1930 for Goulburn Gaol. He served two months imprisonment from 31 March to 28 May 1850, though I'm not sure what for. 

From reading copies of The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser (NSW : 1848 - 1859) on Trove, to try and discover his crime, I discovered that T A Murray had property in the Lake George area. This all ties in with Joseph's other records and backs up the birthplace of his daughter Sarah, which is written on her marriage certificate (although no record of that birth seems to exist anywhere else). Apart from this scrape with the law, Joseph's only other appearances in court in Australia were where he was a witness rather than an offender. Some of these are mentioned here .

Perhaps I should try the convict records with all my hard to find people, in case they too are hiding a secret.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen .

1 comment:

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