Taylor's Convict Register

By Taylor

John Merritt

John Merritt was convicted as John Marrott, but was also recorded as Marriot and Merriot. He appeared at the Gloucester Lent Assizes on 24 March 1784, charged with breaking and entering and stealing four pieces of printed cotton to the value of five pounds, two pieces of printed linen to the value of 40 shillings and one cotton handkerchief to the value of two shillings. For this offence he was sentenced to be hanged, but was reprieved and given seven years transportation. He came to Australia on Alexander.

On 31 March 1791, he was sentenced to receive 25 lashes for selling a pair of shoes to Anthony Rope, alleged to have been stolen from John Beasley. The theft was never proven.

On 23 December 1792, he married Ann Taylor of Middlesex, who had been sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing and had arrived on Mary Ann in July 1791.

On 8 January 1794, he was granted 50 acres in the district of Prospect. From this time he prospered, becoming one of the Colony's more successful emancipist farmers. He acquired more land, and with hired help and convicts to assist in cultivation, built up his livestock, owning horses, pigs, cattle and a flock of 230 sheep. In 1806, he and his wife were living on 105 acres at Caddai on the Hawkesbury. They had no children.
John Merritt died on 7 May 1812, aged 69 years, and was buried at St Matthew's, Windsor.

Robert Nettleton

Robert Nettleton was charged with his wife Elizabeth on two counts at Kingston upon Hull, Yorks, on 12 October 1784: theft of five silk handkerchiefs and theft of “Twelve pair of scissors and six pair of Candle Snuffers”.

He was sentenced to be transported beyond the seas for seven years and at the age of 27 was ordered to the Ceres hulk on 15 April 1785.

Robert was delivered to Alexander on 6 January 1787.

He died and was buried at Port Jackson (Sydney Cove) on 23 May 1788.

Alexander McDonald

Alexander McDonald stole some silver shoe buckles, five linen shirts, and two pairs of cotton drawers from the house where he was probably a servant. He was sentenced to be transported for seven years (later designated Africa) at the Old Bailey on 8 December 1784, and sent to the Ceres (“Caesar”) hulk on 23 May 1785, aged 27. Transferred to the Justitia hulk on 16 May 1786, he was delivered to Alexander on 6 April 1787.

McDonald was mustered on board by Major Robert Ross on 13 March and by the contractor William Richards on the 31st. No death on the voyage is recorded, but he does not appear in colonial records at Port Jackson except for a rumour by Arthur Bowes (qv) that he had been killed by Aborigines, with William Allen (qv) on 8 March 1788, which was probably true. He was not included in the 1788 victualling list, nor was Allen.

John Berry

John Berry (indicated thus but appearing as Barry in some records), aged 19, was sentenced to seven years transportation at Bristol Quarter Sessions on 23 November 1785

for theft of stockings.

Ordered to the Dunkirk hulk at Plymouth on 12 May 1786, he was “tolerably decent and orderly” there until discharged to Friendship on 11 March 1787.

John Berry was buried at Sydney Cove on 3 March 1788.

Margret Fowns

Margaret Fowns, “late of the parish of Quatt (Salop) Widow”, sentenced to death at Shrewsbury on 4 August 1784 for assault and the theft of a canister, linen cloth and money.

Margaret was reprieved to transportation for seven years.

She was aged 43 when the gaoler asked for her removal, with other prisoners, from his custody.

On 23 November 1786 she was ordered to the New Gaol, Southwark and thence by wagon to Gravesend for embarkation on

Lady Penrhyn on 31 January 1787.

On 18 June 1788 she was buried at Sydney Cove.

Elizabeth Thackery

Elizabeth Thackery was a married woman of about 22 years when she was convicted on 4 May 1786 for stealing "two black silk handkerchiefs and three others, total one shilling." She was tried at Manchester Quarter Sessions, found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation. She was received onto hulk Dunkirk at Plymouth on 1 November. When she sailed on Friendship for Botany Bay, she left behind her husband Thomas Thackery who was recorded as a soldier.

Redmund McGrah

Redmund McGrah (so indicted) was sentenced to seven years transportation at the Old Bailey on 29 October 1783. He had been tried and sentenced to a whipping a month earlier, and had given a plausible story for trying to sell some stolen sheets, promising never to do it again if let him go.

In court again for the trial that earned him transportation. McGrah gave another plausible story about having been offered a shilling to carry the bag containing the stolen goods. He was found to have forced the door of a shop with a “chisel” and taken everything he could lay his hands on: tea, sugar, soap, Spanish liquorice, 24 yards of tape, half a pound of thread, six pounds of tallow, candles, an apron, six books, one pound of pearl barley and three linen towels. He had come lately from the sea, “I have been abroad most of this war…I had been three months in London.” A witness said he had “rehearsed” exactly the contents of the bag. “We went along [to the watch house] very jocose”.

On 30 March 1784 McGrah was delivered to the Mercury transport from Newgate, and was among those recaptured by the Helena at Torbay after the convicts had taken control of the ship. To Exeter via Topsham on the River Exe and committed to gaol on 16 April. McGrah was remanded to his former orders without trial by the Special Commission presiding at Exeter on 24 May. Sent to the Dunkirk hulk, aged 27, he was “troublesome at times”. On 11 March 1787 he was embarked on Friendship for the journey to NSW; Ralph Clark recorded him as aged 28 with no trade.

McGrah died and was buried at Sydney Cove on

29 July 1788 as “Edmund McGrass, papist”

Elizabeth Hearvey

Elizabeth Hearvey may have been the daughter of Samuel Hervey and Ann Plum baptized at Buxhall, Sulffolk, on 27 February 1757. She was charged at Bury St. Edmunds on 23 March 1784 with breaking into a house and theft of clothing, for which she was sentenced to death. Reprieved to transportation

for 14 years, she was still in Ipswich Gaol, age given as 27 (perhaps age at entry of the gaol), at 14 October 1786. Ordered to the Dunkirk hulk on the 18th, she was received there on the 24th (age given as 25), and on 11 March 1787 she was discharged to Friendship, thence to Charlotte on 11 August at Rio. Ralph Clark had recorded her Friendship as age 23. She was buried at Sydney Cove on 8 June 1788.

John Bennett

John Bennett was convicted at Shrewsbury, Salop, for highway robbery (“stealing goods”) on 18 March 1786 and sentenced to transportation for seven years. His name appears on official records, but the contractor’s failure to include it in what was actually a very deficient list both in spelling of names and of people listed who did not embark has caused much unnecessary conjecture among historians. Aged 17, he was sent to the Dunkirk hulk, where he behaved “remarkably well”, before discharged to “Friendship” on 11 March 1787; Ralph Clark said he was aged 19 with no trade.

Bennett’s behavior deteriorated on the voyage. On 28 May, Ralph Clark recorded “flog this day” John Bennett, a convict, with 37 lashes for breaking out of irons, a young man but an old rogue. In mid November, Clark was again pessimistic about Bennett after he had been found asleep in the longboat, having stolen some of the other convicts’ provisions. “Mark my words that we will not have been at Botany above six months before this young Villain…comes to the Gallows”.

At Sydney Cove, Bennett was flogged for theft on 15 February 1788, and on 2 May he justified Clark’s comment. John Bennett was hanged for another theft, admitting that young as he was, he had been an old offender.

The life of John Bennett ended 2 May 1788.