siddington village - gloucestershire

transported convicts of siddington

Between 1787 – 1868, over 160,000 convicts were transported in hulks to Australia, therefore it is not surprising that three malefactors, namely James Maisey, William Johnson and Stephen Newcomb were residents of Siddington.

James Maisey was the first to be deported. Arrested on 1st March 1827, his charge of stealing two deal boards from Mr E. Brown of Cirencester was heard at the Gloucester Lent Assizes in April of the same year. Being 44 years of age Maisey was
no stranger to the courtroom, previously appearing in 1806, 1807 and 1810. The judge passed a sentence of 7 years transportation.

Sailing on 11th June 1827 to New South Wales aboard the ship Prince Regent, which picked up supplies at Tenerife on route, Maisey arrived in Australia on 27th September 1827 along with 181 other convicts. The doctor’s log on board mentions
that Maisey was taken ill on the voyage.

In Australia Maisey was given the task of being a poundsman. His release was issued
on 3rd June 1834 in Sydney but no further record of his life is known.

Stephen Newcomb aged 24, a labourer, was arrested on 26th October 1833, but had to wait till his case was heard by the Gloucester Lent Assizes on 29th March 1834. Newcomb was found guilty of having assaulted Robert Carpenter in Cirencester and having taken from his person a pair of breaches and other possession. “Mr Carpenter deposed that Newcomb and William Moss, who has yet to be apprehended, threw him down and robbed him, threatening to cut his throat if he resisted. Sentence of death recorded.” Mercy was later shown and Newcomb was sentenced to deportation for life.

Newcomb departed from Woolwich on 12th December 1834 on the George the Third, bound for Van Diemen’s Land. It was not a good voyage as a large fire took hold on the vessel and much of the supplies were destroyed. Living on limited rations, scurvy was rife amongst the convicts, 16 already having died and 60 more affected.

Only one day from their destination the ship captain took the vessel through the D’Entrecasteaux Channel instead of through Storm Bay to save several hours. His decision was disastrous, as the 394 ton, 114-foot ship struck a reef in the night and began to sink. On board were 310 people, made up of 220 convicts, 29 soldiers and 61 others made up of officers, crew, families and two babies born on route. As the crew and families took to the life boats soldiers kept the convicts below deck behind the hatches. As the desperate convicts tried to escape gun fire was dispatched at them. In total, 5 of the 90 crew and soldiers and 133 convicts drowned, Stephen Newcomb being one of them.

The final transportation was William Johnson, a 33 year old labourer. He had first been it trouble with the law in August of 1833, when he was convicted of stealing a bucket from the garden of Robert Wood of Siddington. He then sold the bucket for 2  shillings and a pint of beer. For this crime he was sentenced to three months imprisonment with hard labour, one week of which was solitary, and he was also whipped. Johnson’s next brush with the law was when he was arrested on the 12th June 1837, for this offence he appeared before the Gloucester Summer Assizes in August 1837, charged alongside Jacob Jefferies, aged 31.

They were both found guilty of stealing a wether sheep on 11th June, property of Charles Wood at South Cerney. Johnson was sentenced to transportation for life which was reduced to 10 years. Jefferies of Uley was sentenced to 15 years

Johnson departed for Van Diemen’s land along with 399 other convicts aboard the Moffatt from Sheerness on 9th November 1837. The ship doctor’s log mentions that the convicts were kept in a polluted atmosphere but they kept themselves active by singing and dancing. Hobart was reached on 1st April 1838. Nothing else is known of William Johnson’s new life.

Jon Hughes 2018