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.