The Rajah Quilt

The Rajah Quilt

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Charles earns his emancipation

"The Courier.
The sudden influx of articles at the eve of last publication, the insertion of which would admit of no delay, prevented us from drawing the attention of the reader to the government notice announcing certain rewards to the persons who had been instrumental in effecting the capture of the four desperate characters Ward, Newman, Buchan, and Dawson. The following is a copy of the notice :—
"Government Notice, No. 14, Colonial Secretary's office, Feb. 5, 1834.—In order to mark the high sense entertained by the go- vernment of the intrepidity and gallantry displayed by the individuals who recently apprehended the four desperate bushrangers, Ward, Newman, Buchan, and Dawson, and with a view to stimulate others to similar meritorious conduct his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to authorise the undermentioned rewards to all the individuals concerned in the capture of this banditti,—
Mr. Connell and his wife, 100/-.
Mr. Connell, the brother of ditto, 25/-.
Wm. Dixon, constable, 25/-, an emancipation, and his family to be brought from Eng- land at the government expense.
Thomas McGorman, S. 25/-.
William Grigg, 25/-.
Charles Dewhurst, an emancipation.
Henry Hill, David Lyon, a ticket of leave, and 5/-.
Rupen Morrell, per Strathfieldsay, a ticket of leave and 5/-.
James Carey, ditto, a ticket of leave and 5/-.
By his Excellency's command, J. Burnett."
The perusal of this notice is a double pleasure. The successful capture of the bushrangers is in itself a matter of great satisfaction, while the promptness in rewarding the exertions of individuals in such a cause, and the  
sense it implies of the anxiety of the power at the helm of affairs for the public peace and prosperity, is gratifying in the extreme. We are all indeed too much inclined to look upon our private interests as separate and opposed to those of the publie or the government, instead of regarding them as uniting in one common stream, tending to the general good. We seldom lose an opportunity of telling the authorities, and that in very plain terms, that the great secret of good government is the due promotion of the safety, the welfare, and the happiness of the people at large. But at the same time; the people ought to be reminded that although the government is appointed for their protection, they must not look upon themselves as being wholly secluded from public duty, but when opportunity offers, as in the case of Mr. Connell aad his assistants, promptly and cheerfully to step forward even at the hazard of their lives, if need be for personal courage, to arrest the arm of insubordination, to maintain social order, and by their good example and endeavour, contribute their aid with the great machine of government to put down crime, to weed out the black sheep of society, and in a word, to let honest industry enjoy in all cases its due and fair reward."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Charles' Convict Life

Charles Dewhurst arrived in Van Diemen's Land, on the Roslyn Castle, on December 16th, 1828.  Each convict had a record made on arrival.  The description list of Charles reads:-
Name, Charles Dewhurst No. 504
Trade, Blacksmith
Height 5'9"
Age, 22
Complexion, Brown
Head, Round inclined to oval
Hair, Brown
Whiskers, None
Visage, Oval
Forehead, Perpendicular
Eyebrows, Brown
Eyes, Brown
Nose, Sharp, pointed
Mouth, Narrow
Chin, Long
Remarks, Scar on back of middle finger left hand. Stout Man.

Male convicts served their sentences as assigned labour to free settlers or in gangs assigned to public works. Only the most difficult convicts (mostly re-offenders) were sent to the prison known as Port Arthur.
Charles’ eight or nine years he had spent with his father blacksmithing was of great value to him.   Records show that Charles was on loan to Mr J Walker in 1830 while being domiciled in barracks.  It seems likely it was the same Mr Walker who had been managing the government flour mill on the Hobart Rivulet near Barrack St before buying the mill and then about the time Charles was on loan to him was building another mill near the wharves.

Convicts who had served 4 years of a 7 year sentence, and had been of good behaviour, were granted a Ticket-of-Leave.  Charles was granted a ticket-of-leave in 1833.  This meant he was free to live and work in the colony, and able to earn income.  He still had to report to musters, and was not able to return to England. 

Charles eventually earned a full pardon with a brave deed.  I'll tell you about it soon,


Van Diemen's Land in 1823

More from Ross Brown's story of Charles Dewhurst.  Here is a picture of Hobart Town in 1822, the year before Charles' arrival.

Hobart Town had become quite a busy port with the export of grain, sheep to New South Wales, Mauritius and elsewhere;  and, of course, there was a steady inflow of ships bringing over a thousand convicts to the island each year.

Thinly scattered around the cove and up the foothills of Mt Wellington was a small settlement.  Standing out above the other buildings was St Davids Church, started in 1817 with its spire;  a little nearer and to the right was Government House a two-storey building located across what is now Elizabeth Street between the Town Hall and Franklin Square.  It stood in a large park of well-tended trees and shrubs running down to the water’s edge.  Further to the right near the waterfront stood the Commissariats Store built to house 4500 bushels of wheat and remains of which are still visible as part of the present Customs House.  Many of the warehouses were two and three storied.  To the north further, were the warehouses on Hunter Island in what became known as the Old Wharf area.  The New Wharf along the south side of the bay was under construction.  This is the present Salamanca Place area.

Dwellings were timber mostly with rather untidy gardens in front and few fences.  All roofs were shingled.  The stone buildings were typical Georgian style with regularly spaced doors and windows.

Many of the roads were macadamised but not cobbled.  Over the next few years the colony was to see a great improvement in the condition of the roads.

Hobart Town 1821
The population of the whole colony at the time was about 19000 and predominantly male.  In Hobart Town there were about 7000 people and perhaps 1000 houses as well as the barracks, stores, inns and other buildings.  Paintings of the place done at the time give the impression of far fewer buildings but there were 430 houses in a survey done in 1821.

Emancipated convicts, that is those whose time had expired or had been granted full pardons, and convicts made up about 45% of the population.

There were several thousand free settlers who had come to make their fortune.  In the early twenties private settlers encouraged with grants of land and the enticement of cheap convict labour.


Friday, January 28, 2011

My family tree

Charles Dewhurst, my great, great, great Grandfather, was born to Thomas and Hannah in 1805.
The earliest record I can make my way back to is Thomas Dewhurst born in 1600.  Thomas Dewhurst was born on 30 May 1600 in Whalley, Yks, Eng.  I have deleted all the brothers and sisters in this list so that the direct line from Father to Son is shown down to Charles:

Christening Notes:St Mary's and All Saints Whalley.

Marriage Notes:Married at St Mary's and All Saints Whalley.

  +      5   M    iv.  Richard Dewhurst was christened on 11 Oct 1646 in Whalley, Yks, Eng. 

Richard married Jenet Coubrand on 9 Nov 1679 in Blackburn, Lan, Eng. 

        Marriage Notes:Married at St Mary's Blackburn.

  Children from this marriage were:

  +      8   M     ii.  Thomas Dewhurst was christened on 17 Dec 1682 in Whalley, Yks, Eng, died on 24 Nov 1754 in Bradford, Yks, Eng, at age 71, and was buried in Bradford, Yks, Eng. 

Christening Notes:St Mary's & All Saints, Whalley.

Burial Notes:Bradford Quaker Cemetery.

Thomas married Mary Yewdall, daughter of Thomas Yewdall and Grace Parker, on 9 Feb 1723/24 in Bradford, Yks, Eng. 

Marriage Notes:Married at Bradford Quaker Meeting.

  +  11.  Thomas Dewhirst (Thomas 8, Richard 5, Thomas 1) was christened on 30 Jan 1728/29 in Thornton, Yks, Eng, died on 28 Oct 1768 in Great Horton, Yks, Eng, at age 39, and was buried on 30 Oct 1768 in Great Horton, Yks, Eng. 

Birth Notes:Believe born Allerton.

Christening Notes:Bradford Quaker Meeting

General Notes:Quaker

Noted events in his life were:

  He was employed. Clother

Thomas married Sarah Holdsworth, daughter of John Holdsworth and Sarah Swaine, on 20 Jan 1745/46 in Bradford, Yks, Eng. 

Marriage Notes:Married St Peter's,  Bradford.

  Children from this marriage were:

  +    22   M     i.  Thomas Dewhirst was born in 1746, was christened on 22 Jun 1746 in Great Horton, Yks, Eng, died on 8 Nov 1811 in Bradford, Yks, Eng, at age 65, and was buried on 10 Nov 1811 in Bradford, Yks, Eng. 

Thomas married Martha Broadbent, daughter of George Broadbent and Unknown (Broadbent 113), on 14 Nov 1773 in Bradford, Yks, Eng. 

  Children from this marriage were:

 40.  Thomas Dewhirst (Thomas 22, Thomas 11, Thomas 8, Richard 5, Thomas 1) was born in 1780 in Bradford, Yks, Eng, was christened on 1 Oct 1780 in Bradford, Yks, Eng, and died on 6 Feb 1840 in Bradford, Yks, Eng, at age 60.  The cause of his death was consumption. 

General Notes:Christened Bradford Parish Church. Lived Little Horton . died of consumption age 61.  Left a Will 5 Pounds.

Noted events in his life were:

  He signed a will in Yorkshire, Eng.
  He was employed. Blacksmith.

Thomas married Hannah WILKINSON, daughter of Thomas WILKINSON and Hannah JACKSON, on 19 Jun 1800 in Bradford, Yks, Eng. 

Marriage Notes:Surety:3

  +    92   M    v.  Charles Dewhurst was born in 1805 in Horton, Yks, Eng, was christened on 14 Jul 1805 in Bradford, Yks, Eng, died on 11 May 1887 in Port Sorell, Tas, Aus, at age 82, and was buried in 1887 in Latrobe, Tas, Aus. 

In 2009 I was lucky enough to visit St Mary's and All Saints, Whalley.  When I come back we can look at
Charles' life in Tasmania.


Charles Dewhurst.

Charles Dewhurst was christened in 1805, in Bradford, Yorkshire.  Charles' parents, Thomas and Hannah, lived in Horton, near Bradford.  Charles had some schooling until the age of 13, and then joined his father as an apprentice blacksmith.  This skill was to be of immense value to him later on.
Charles had several brushes with the law.  Early in 1828 he had been living in Wakefield south east of Bradford and described himself as a labourer.  He was arrested and charged at the Summer Assizes of Yorkshire before Sir John Hullock on 17th July 1828,. three days after his 23rd birthday, with stealing, on 23rd February 1828, 20 pounds of beer worth six shillings, two shillings and sixpence in coins and two silver watches worth one pound belonging to John Rhodes.  With him Abraham Shepherd was also charged.  They were acquitted.

But at the same Sessions Charles along with Abraham Shepherd again and with John Padgett and George Riley were charged with stealing, on 7th March from Samuel Cannon, three pounds in silver, a gun valued at one pound and a ball of twine worth two shillings.

Not many years before this, stealing more than 40 shillings worth was a capital offence punishable by death.  However on this occasion the four were acquitted.  The jury was asked to note though that John Padgett had been previously convicted in January of felony.
That was not the end of proceedings for Charles and his friends, because they were again brought before Sir John and charged with by force and arms stealing 20 yards of linen check valued at 10 shillings, 20 yards of flannel valued at 10 shillings, 15 pounds of sugar valued at five shillings, 40 copper pennies and 24 halfpennies from the store of John Clough back in Bradford a month after the previous alleged offence.
Hannah Parker, wife of John Parker, who apparently kept a fairly open house where Charles and his friends gathered, said in evidence, that on Friday 7th April 1828 Dewhurst and Shepherd came to her house and stopped all day.  Riley and Padgett came about six in the evening.  Not long after they went out again and came back with a crowbar.  The four of them discussed going to break Mr W Canon’s mill and then Clough’s and they went out about half past 12 returning about 3 am with the goods they were charged with stealing.

Interestingly they divided the copper in five, she said.  Who was the fifth portion for?  Mr and Mrs Parker were apparently the only others present.  The flannel check and blue linen and sugar they took with them.  They left behind a gun but Parker said he would take it out to them.

In his evidence, John Clough identified his goods and said he recognised two halfpennies found by the constables at John Parker’s house because they had been damaged in particular ways.  It looks as if they left some of the copper with Parker.

Witnesses gave evidence that a gun belonging to Riley was later found in a field about 100 yards from Riley and Padgett’s house.

So, essentially on the evidence of Hannah Parker, the four were guilty and sentenced to transportation for seven years.

This appears to have been the only crime of which Charles was found guilty.
He did not wait long before being embarked for Van Diemen Land, although he was probably in prison a month or two before being tried.  He had a period on a bulk, probably one of the old warships from the war against France and moored in the Thames, where he behaved well.  From the bulk he embarked along with 176 other men on ‘Roslyn Castle’, a ship of 450 tons, built in 1819 in Bristol and specially fitted out for carrying convicts.  This was to be her first trip as a transport.  Her master was John T Duff and the authorities insisted he carried a surgeon to look after the health of the convicts.  On this trip that was James A Anderson.  Apart from seeing the convicts were fed and housed properly he had a great deal of say about the infliction of punishment, particularly flogging, on the trip. 
‘Roslyn Castle’ set sail from the Downs near the mouth of the Thames on 19th August 1828 and after a trip on which only two died and taking 119 days she anchored in Sullivans Cove off Hobart Town, Van Diemens Land on 16th December 1828.

Thanks to Ross Brown, a cousin, for his story on Charles.


More about Grace.

My great, great great grandmother Grace was a Rajah convict.

Grace Stephens lived in Cornwall.  The crime that earned her transportation was 'stealing a gown print'.  It was the second time she had been caught for this offence.  She was born around 1824.  Grace was tried at the Penzance Quarter Sessions on 13h July 1840.  She was only 16 years of age.  Upon arrival in Van Diemen's Land she was immediately assigned to the property of Mr J Archer, Launceston.  From what I can discover, this means she was in service at the property called Panshanger.
Panshanger, Propery of Joseph Archer

Panshanger Property
Grace married Charles Blight, a convict holding a ticket-of-leave, on the 5th February 1844.  A son, John Lachlan Blight, was born in 1845.  Grace was granted a ticket-of-leave in November 1845.  In 1847 another son, Robert was born.   Three girls followed, Martha in 1849, Sarah in 1851 and Emma in 1853.  At some time between Emma's birth in 1853 and 1855, Charles Blight disappears with no trace.  Maybe he went to the gold fields in Victoria, along with hundreds of others, or maybe he died and we haven't discovered the record of this.
Grace remarried on 15th February, 1855 to Charles Dewhurst, where Grace is recorded as a widow, and Charles as a widower.  Charles is my great, great, great Grandfather.  Grace was his second wife.  Charles and Grace went on to have another five children, Grace, Alice, Thomas, Joshua, and William.

There is more to this intriguing story, I'll tell you more about it later,


Elizabeth Fry

The story of the Rajah Quilt would not be possible without Elizabeth Fry.  Elizabeth was born in 1780 to a Quaker family.  Elizabeth took a great interest in the welfare of others, and after visitng Newgate Prison encouraged others to join her in helping to reform the women in gaols. She began a system of supervision and required the women to sew and to read the Bible. In 1817 she helped found the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate. This led to the eventual creation of the British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, widely described by biographers and historians as constituting the first "nationwide" women's organization in Britain.

The sewing supplies that the women on the Rajah were given, came from Elizabeth Fry's association.  From these supplies they made a quilt, during their voyage, and embroidered it with a message.  The inscription reads: TO THE LADIES of the Convict ship committee. This quilt worked by the Convicts of the ship Rajah during their voyage to van Diemans Land is presented as a testimony to the gratitude with which they remember their exertions for their welfare while in England and during their passage and also as proof that they have not neglected the Ladies kind admonition of being industrious. June 1841.

Grace was one of these convicts.  I have no way of knowing if she worked on the quilt, but I like to think she did.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hello and Welcome

I am not sure what to do here, but I want to share some of my family history, and the links it has to some of my special interests now in the 21st Century.

I am a 6th generation Tasmanian and very proud of my convict heritage.  I have called this 'Rajah's Granddaughter' because my great, great, great grandmother Grace was a Rajah convict.  The 'Rajah' made one voyage to Tasmania, from England, in 1841.  On board this ship were 180 female convicts.  They had with them materials to keep them meaningfully occupied - including 10 yards of fabric, four balls of white cotton sewing thread, a ball each of black, red and blue thread, black wool, 24 hanks of coloured thread, a thimble, 100 needles, threads, pins, scissors and two pounds of patchwork pieces.  The result of their work is the Rajah Quilt, now a famous historical textile kept in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

I'll tell you more about this next time,