Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Stain (3) - Oh dear, more convicts

Last night Dad and I had a look through the family tree and found two more convicts- Dad's great-grandfather David Rees, and David's father-in-law George Oliver. To recap - one of Dad's ancestors on his mum's side, Beni Griffiths, was transported for murder in 1841.

Today I found the transcript of George's court case. In 1824 he was 13 years old, and working for a mangle-maker in London, when he stole a £5 note from the cashbox. He took it to the pub to get change, then bought himself an ass. An officer found him nonchalantly riding his ass through Smithfield, and took him to the watch-house. He asked George what had happened to the rest of the £5. "He said he had bought a saddle and bridle for 16s. 6d.; also six trusses of hay, and had paid a month's rent for a stable for the ass". Thorough.

He was sentenced to death, but the prosecutor recommended mercy. It seems he remained in jail for four years, then was transported to Van Diemen's Land (now called Tasmania) in 1828. George was assigned to a landowner in the Fingal Valley. He married a free emigrant, Eliza Southwell, while still a convict. He was pardoned in 1840, and stayed in the area until he died. George and Eliza had ten children, and their eldest, Ann, married David Rees.

My dad had heard that his dad's grandfather was another convict from Wales, and last night we found his record.


 David Rees' trade is listed as "puddler", a skilled craftsman who manipulated pig iron in a furnace to create wrought iron or steel. In 1843 he was transported for "manslaughter of John Bolan in a row in Swansea". That's about all his record has to say about it. Like all the convict records, it is particularly detailed in describing his tattoos. One said "David Rees Sarah Gill". He was listed as single.

Once in Van Diemens Land, David was also assigned on the East Coast, first at Steiglitz then in the Fingal Valley in 1850. In 1854 he married Ann Oliver. William, the first of their twelve children, was born on the first day of 1856. David's record shows he was granted a conditional pardon two weeks later.

William Rees married Martha Tapp in 1878. They also had a neat dozen children, and the youngest was my dad's father Elliott (known as Didds), born in 1902. I don't remember Didds, as he died when I was a baby. I know he started his working life as a clerk at the Cornwall Coal Company in the Fingal Valley, and ended up as a successful accountant for a large woollen mill in Launceston. 

In 1934 Didds married my grandmother Ivy Enid Stubbings. Ivy's grandfather John Griffiths was born aboard the Ocean Child in 1855 as his father David and family sailed out to join his father, the bloke we started with - Benni Griffiths.

So to sum up; that's a manslaughtering puddler on Dad's father's side, and a murdering poacher on Dad's mother's side, with an additional ass-riding thief contributing to the gene pool. There'll be more criminal family revelations as they come to hand. So far Mum's side of the family are looking pretty pristine.

3 comments:

Nobody said...

Can you imagine George's trial:

Judge - Can the defendant please describe his actions on the night in question?
George - Well M'Lud, first I went to the pub looking for some ass...

chris.dadness said...

Boom-TISH. I don't have to imagine his trial, as the whole thing is there on the Old Bailey transcripts site. I think I saw a Nobbodee, an O'Nobdy and several McNaboddys - could be your kin?

Anonymous said...

Benji Griffiths was transhipped due to removing the roof of a house near Boncath Pembrokeshire of a Mr Shadrach Colby in apparent retaliation for SC telling the authorities about BG's possible poaching. gldqwe@icloud.com