Convict Passport of George Haskell
The document captured here is a passport for George Haskell, a prisoner servant to William Bonnelly, to move from Launceston to his master's house in the district of Campbell Town dated September 11, 1838. It was discovered, to the delight of staff in Community History, when clearing out and tidying drawers in the department.
Research discovered he was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England in 1812. He was court martialled in Barbados on 18 July 1836 for striking an officer. Along with the court martial, he was sentenced to the colony in Van Diemen's Land for a period of fourteen years. His excuse for the offence was that he was drunk at the time. George sailed from Spithead on December 22, 1836 the vessel, Sarah, along with 255 other convicts. He arrived in Hobart Town on March 29 1837 and sent to Launceston for assignment in 1838.
George received a conditional pardon around 1845, after serving eight years and five months of his sentence. Records show that he also received a free certificate on December 12, 1857. No definitive vital records have been discovered at this time. George may have received land in Victoria, tried his luck on the goldfields in New South Wales, made his way back to England or perhaps found his way onto a ship bound for foreign shores.
Passes were documents which authorised and regulated the movement of convicts throughout the colony. They were issued by an employer, overseer or magistrate to allow the holder, convicts and ticket of leave holders, to move from one place to another in order that they would be able to work in another settlement or area or be out after dark. Without one, convicts and ticket of leave holders were susceptible to being arrested by local constables.
In 1810 Governor Macquarie decreed that anyone other than officers, gentlemen and free settlers must be furnished with a regular written Passport from a Magistrate, or Master of an indented servant, if free by servitude or emancipation to produce his certificate, and if permitted to be off the stores to work on his own account, to produce his ticket of leave.
Sydney Gazette, 18th August 1810 p.1
HM Convict Ship Sarah
The 488 ton ship Sarah, a former commercial vessel was built in London, was converted for convict transportation. The shipmaster sailing on the 1836-7 voyage, her second to the colony, was J. T. Whiteside and the surgeon was James McTernan, a royal naval surgeon. It was the surgeon's responsibility to ensure convicts arrived safely and in good health. The ninety-seven day journey began on December 22 1836 in inclement weather from Spithead, Portsmouth. As the journey progressed south, the weather improved along with the conditions on the ship and the health of the convicts. Two hundred and fifty five male convicts embarked with nine dying during the voyage. On March 28 1837, the Sarah arrived in the colony of Van Diemen's Land at Hobart Town.
Colony of Van Diemen's Land
The first European settlement of Tasmania began in1803 when Lieutenant John Bowen led a 49-member party to Risdon Cove. Another settlement was established a year later on the western side of the Derwent by Capt. David Collins 5 km to the south. Fresh water was more plentiful and this town, rather than the one at Risdon Cove flourished. It was named after the British Colonial Secretary of the time, Lord Hobart. The first emigrant ship arrived with free settlers from England in1816. Van Diemen's Land served two purposes; it was both a free colony and a gaol. There was a conflict of imperial and colonial interests. Free colonists benefited by convict establishment. It provided them with a cheap labour force as well as a market for their products. However, the way in which the colony was governed (a lieutenant-governor and a Legislative Council of his chief officials and some government nominees) caused some resentment amongst the free settlers.
Convict transportation direct from England to Van Diemen's Land commenced in 1818. The Lieutenant Governor was William Sorell, who replaced Thomas Davey on April 3, 1816. Sorell was well liked among the colonists, though not so with some of his contemporaries. His term ended in May 1824 when he then returned to England. He died at Marylebone, London, on 4 June 1848.
Sir John Franklin, was the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land at the time when George Haskell arrived. His appointment spanned from 5 Jan 1837 to -21 Aug 1843 and were challenging years. He came to the colony with high hopes that the colony would soon become a free and independent settlement. However, he had no power to implement changes its Constitution and soon lost support from the free colonists. The abolishment of transportation to New South Wales in 1840 resulted in increased shipments of convicts to Van Diemen's Land. As the proportion of convicts in the colony increased, the hopes of self-government in Van Diemen's Land faded. Franklin returned to England in August 1843 under a cloud of dishonour, unjustly brought against him by his former officers, John Montagu.
August 10 1853 saw the end of transportation to Van Diemen's Land with the last convict ship, St. Vincent, having arrived earlier in that year.
Bateson, Charles & Library of Australian History 2004,The convict ships, 1787-1868, Library of Australian History, Sydney
Evans, Lloyd & Nicholls, Paul, 1941- 1984, Convicts and colonial society 1788-1868, 2nd ed, Macmillan, South Melbourne
Shaw, A. G. L. (Alan George Lewers) 1977, Convicts and the colonies : a study of penal transportation from Great Britain and Ireland to Australia and other parts of the British Empire, Melbourne University Press ed, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic
Source Citation - Class: HO 11; Piece: 10 Source Information - Ancestry.com. Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Convict Transportation Registers; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO11); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
Source Citation - Class: HO 10; Piece: 38 Source Information - Ancestry.com. New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 5, 19-20, 32-51); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
Source Citation- Class: HO 10; Piece: 40. Source Information - Ancestry.com. New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 5, 19-20, 32-51); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
Source Information - Ancestry.com. Tasmania, Australia, Convict Court and Selected Records, 1800-1899 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Tasmanian Colonial Convict, Passenger and Land Records. Various collections (30 series). Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, Hobart, Tasmania.
Source Citation - Class: HO 10; Piece: 59 Source Information - Ancestry.com. New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave, 1834-1859 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 31, 52-64); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
1810 'GOVERNMENT and GENERAL ORDERS.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 25 August, p. 1. , viewed 20 Sep 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article628054
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