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ex-burglar/convict, now stockman, Thomas Johnson. In 1831 aborigines attacked the hut where they lived. With her two young daughters to protect, “Armed with a musket, she held off the attack for six hours until help arrived. As a reward, the government granted Dolly twenty acres of land where Johnson erected a dwelling.” They eventually married, had thirteen children, and moved to Latrobe where Johnson leased a large estate, bought 500 acres and built a house, Sherwood Hall. He also bought two hotels, a coalmine and exported timber, becoming one of the district’s biggest landholders. John Jones, 19 years old, was transported in 1800 for helping four men escape from Bedford’s County Gaol. In 1808, in Tasmania, his sentence served, with “bad eyes, needing special care” he helped bring in mass murderers, Richard Lemon and John Brown, from the bush - specifically, “the head of Lemon” - his record stating, “likely returned to England that year.” Bedfordshire Archives researcher, Colin Davison, tracked down farm labourer William Garratt. Baptised at Roxton in 1803, he married Mary Jarvis at Roxton Church in 1821 and they had nine children before being transported to Tasmania on the Asia in 1840 for “stealing wool, a wooden post and wheat!” Conditionally pardoned in 1849, he petitioned for his family to join him. Red tape ensued, Davison finding a burial entry for William Garratt, at Roxton in 1879, so perhaps William did return to be reunited with his family.

Bedfordshire Archives says Lydia Sanders, a 19

year old from Eversholt “was accused with two young men of stealing a lamb,” sailing for Australia on the Eliza in 1829. For the journey, she was bought two pairs of shoes and clothing, costing £3 (the price of several lamb carcasses). The Cambridge Chronicle in 1824 reported Thomas Dilley and, Langford-born, James Ashwell stealing “pickled pork”, value £9, from a house in Biggleswade, both were transported via Bedford County Gaol. Considered royalty today are First Fleet

descendants, Hertfordshire’s founders including miller John Allen (stole bedding); James Brown (animal larceny) who farmed in NSW; Edward Cormick (larceny), hanged for theft and escaping custody; James Freeman, highway robber, who escaped the noose before becoming public hangman and the hapless John Everett (animal larceny) who died before his boat sailed. Hertfordshire Family History Society’s Transported Beyond the Seas by Ken Griffin lists 1,915 male and female transportees, including Berkhamsted’s James Wright, aged 23, for stealing breeches and great coat in 1801, his 1820 inquest stating, “fallen off pathway into stone quarry in ‘a state of inebriation’.” Thomas Omant, born in 1817 in Ickleford, married Martha who gave birth after he left in 1837 for stealing iron with cousin Daniel Newberry. Arriving in Hobart, Tasmania on the Blenheim, Omant was eventually pardoned in 1847, his record stating, “assistance having been rendered by him in the capture of absconders”. Omant married convict Jane Eyles in 1851 and, together, had nine children. Ormant died in 1899 at the age of 82 years. In 1838, 12-year-old, William Pearson, from

Hertford, was transported to Tasmania for stealing razors. He told Port Arthur Penitentiary that he had been arrested 30 times for offences including running away from home; vagrancy; stealing money, eggs, bread, knives, a gun, rabbits, apples, chickens, clothes and jewellery. Sent to Point Puer children’s gaol, he was charged ninety-four times for things like “talking at muster, tearing his blanket and having buttons in his possession”! The fun was, however, soon over when, at the age of 22 years, he stabbed Joseph Bennett and, for his crime, was sent to Norfolk Island where he arrived during a riot and was hanged together with the ringleaders of the riot. Transportation to penal colonies had provided the

government, and those criminals, with an alternative to hanging. But the penal servitude act of 1857, was to see the demise of long term transportation and by 1868 transportation ended.

County Life 25

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