Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trove Tuesday: In which Thomas Stone is assigned a convict

In my blog last week (Horfield Creek) I was chatting about the area near Bagdad in Tasmania where Thomas and Ann Stone had their property 'Horfield'. As usual I was checking the resources at Trove as part of my research and found a little snippet that adds another little piece of the jigsaw.

In 1969 Richard T Stone and Margaret M Stone published a little booklet called Early Pioneers of Tasmania: A History of Thomas and Ann Stone. They did a great job compiling information about the family and relied a lot on family letters and memorabilia as well as some information provided by the State Archives of Tasmania. There has been a lot of further research done since then by various members of the family but, as far as I know, no further publications have been published. I have a copy of some unpublished material distributed by Alex H Stone and Nancy Stone in 1992.

There is a paragraph in Early Pioneers that describes 'Horfield in 1842 when a Census was taken.
...there were three sons between seven and fourteen years living in the house, two sons between fourteen and twenty-one years, and two daughters between two and seven years. Also living in the house were three single men between the ages of forty-five and sixty years, one of these being a ticket-of-leave holder. The other two men were in private assignment. There was also a girl between fourteen and twenty-one years of age.
Do you know what a 'ticket-of-leave holder' is? This is one definition: A Ticket of Leave (TOL) was a document given to convicts when granting them freedom to work and live within a given district of the colony before their sentence expired or they were pardoned. TOL convicts could hire themselves out or be self-employed. They could also acquire property. Church attendance was compulsory, as was appearing before a Magistrate when required. Permission was needed before moving to another district and 'passports' were issued to those convicts whose work required regular travel between districts. Convicts applied through their masters to the Bench Magistrates for a TOL and needed to have served a stipulated portion of their sentence.  Convicts to Australia

So in 1842 Thomas Stone was employing a convict holding a Ticket of Leave. But on Trove I found this newspaper item from 1838 in which Thomas Stone of Constitution Hill is recorded as employing a convict, No. 1693 W Walton who arrived on the ship John 2, who had been previously assigned to J Hayes in Bagdad.

Hobart Town Courier, 30 March 1838
Transcription of the above newspaper item.
I checked the website Founders and Survivors for W Walton without success and then checked again using the convict's number 1693 and found a William Watson who arrived on the John 2 in 1833 so I'm assuming the newspaper spelling was wrong. On this website you can click on the images on the right hand side - this will take you directly to a scanned image of the original documents. Here I found that William Watson was convicted for stealing 27 shillings from his employer in London and was in trouble several times while serving his time in Tasmania before receiving his Conditional Pardon in 1842. One of the offences occurred while he was assigned to Thomas Stone -  he was convicted of misconduct because he put a beef steak in a bed and was sentenced to one month hard labour. What on earth??? Does that mean he stole the steak and hid it in his own bed, or did he put the steak in someone else's bed for revenge (as in The Godfather)?

William Watson's record recording a misconduct incident whilst assigned to Thomas Stone in July 1838.
Source: Founders and Survivors
There is also a record of Thomas Stone being fined ten pounds in 1833. Alex Stone's notes (mentioned above) state that it appears that on occasions when Thomas sent a convict employee [John Day] of the school [the Male Orphans' School where he was a teacher] in a cart to Hobart Town for stores, he got the man to drop off a load of manure or wood at his farm in Elphinstone Road just off the Main Road. Thomas petitioned the Lieutenant Governor in an attempt to have to fine remitted, arguing that he wasn't harbouring a convict. The petition was rejected because the activity hadn't been authorised by the school's committee. Ten pounds was a lot of money in 1833 so it must have had quite an impact on the family's resources.

It is said that if you have any ancestors connected with Tasmania in the 1800s you can't avoid the possibility that they were either convicts or employed convicts. It seems that Thomas and Ann Stone were definitely in the latter camp, but all is not as it seems. One day I'll write a blog about their son who married the grandaughter of a convict.


  1. Hi Lorraine, that's fascinating, and as you say, the mind boggles about what the reason could have been for putting a piece of steak in a bed!

  2. Hi Lorraine,
    My 2 x great grandmother was Ann Honeyman, sister of Margaret Honeyman, Alexander Honeyman & William Honeyman .. we are related through Margaret Stone, daughter of Margaret (Honeyman) & James Foster .. I'm friends with Karen Higgins & Karen Tomason .. I come down Campbell Roy & Ann Honeyman's line
    Irene Roy :) X


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