Sunday, 2 November 2008

Ann Fitzhenry - convicted at the Old Bailey and transported to Australia

So far all the Australian Fitzhenrys I've met have been descendants of British or Irish emigrants who went to Australia of their own free will.
I've now also found Ann Fitzhenry who was transported to Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) in 1826 at the direction of Her Majesty.
Ann was convicted
of being a pickpocket at the Old Bailey (officially called the Central Criminal Court) in London. The Old Bailey website has a great searchable index and the information about her case is here.

On 6th April 1826, she stole:
1 half-crown, 13 shillings, and 6 sixpences, the goods of Thomas Ashton , from his person.

At her trial on 26th April, she said in her defence that her husband gave her the money (but no husband is recorded as speaking up for her) and her age is given as 40 years. She was sentenced to seven years transportation.
Ann had previous "form" - she was up before the judge on the same charge in 1809, but was acquitted at this trial.
She was transported on the
ship "Sir Charles Forbes" which sailed on 31st August 1826, and until then was held in Middlesex Gaol. Some of the women transported with her had been waiting almost a year in prison before transportation.
Her fate is recorded in the "Nominal Return for Female Convicts shewing how each is appropriated for the year ending 31st December 1832" and similarly for 1833.
Ann Fitzhenry is convict number 53, and in the "How appropriated" column is written "Married to Joseph Burns". Married seems to have been a fairly common fate awaiting these women. The other options listed are died, freed (rare!), missing, "House of Correction" and the most common "assigned to (insert man's name here)" presumably as a servant.
I've not found the record of Ann's marriage to Mr Burns yet, nor her death. Can anyone help out with this?

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  1. According to the Convicts Permission To Marry Index, there is an entry for Ann FITZHENRY per the Ship Sir Charles Forbes and a Joseph BURNS per the Ship Princess Charlotte (so another convict!)dated Nov 1830. From an entry on another site, it appears children from this marriage (unnamed) were being christened from 1831/32, so clearly there was issue from the relationship. I will try to visit the state library tomorrow for the children's names and a death entry.
    Fun !

  2. The plot thickens!!
    According to the "Conduct Registers Of Female Convicts Arriving In The Period Of The Assignment System' (Tasmanian Archives Con40/1/3)Ann states that this was her first offence, & that although she stated she was married at her trial, she was actually a widow, her husband having died 9 years earlier 'at the East Indies'. Hmmm? Well she arrived in Tasmania on the 3rd January 1827, and though she wasn't a saint in the first 6 years of her stay in Tassie, she wasn't so very bad....
    Her records show that on the 13 Dec 1827 Mrs Patterson reported Ann for being drunk & insolent. Nearly 12 months later on Jan 26 1829 she was reported absent without leave and refusing to do her work,& as punishment she was to be sent to the Female Hose of Correction. However, Ann took issue with this, stating that she was unable to do the work due to illhealth, which was corroborated by the District Surgeon. On 10 1830 she was guilty of disorderly conduct and confined in a cell for 7 days on bread and water. On March 18 1831, [Something - might be Mrs or Mr} Burns, cited for drunkedness and striking constables, brought her 7 days solitary confinement on bread and water.Feb 22 1833, [same as above] Burns, noted as threatening Charl'e Newland Mich'l (though no punishment is recorded).

    I was unable to locate a Joseph Burns on the Princess Charlotte, although there was a John Burns on that ship, who arrived 1823. Details pending!


  3. How interesting! Especially since we have the same name. :-)

  4. I have located the marriage entry for Ann Fitzhenry in the Tasmanian records. 27 December 1830, at St Johns Launceston.
    Entry number 167 in the register, "Joseph BURNS (free) of the parish of St John's Launceston and Ann Fitzhenry (Convict) Widow, of the parish of St John's Launceston were married in this church by Banns with the consent of the Government this 27 day of December in the year 1830. Signed W H Browne LLD Chaplain." Neither Joseph nor Ann could sign their names, and their marks were entered. The witnesses were James Donnelly and William Jones, both of whom signed with their marks.
    Although I looked, I could see no children registered as being born of the marriage, nor a death that immediately stood out as Ann.

    Given that Ann has styled herself as Widow, I wonder whether Fitzhenry was her name at birth, or if it was her husband's name....and if so, who was the mysterious Mr Fitzhenry?? Did he really die in the East Indies around 1818?? We were taught at school that the (Dutch) East Indies was what is currently known as Indonesia. Is it possible that there was a Mr Fitzhenry there at that time??

    And who was the John Fitzhenry who died in Tasmania in 1860? (The only other Fitzhenry noted in the Tasmanian Pioneer Register CD)

  5. Perhaps the "East Indies" that Ann referred to is actually India and her husband worked for the East India Company.
    As she was illiterate, she may not have had a grasp of the difference between the two.

  6. Brilliant thought Jo !. Not alot of records available online re: East India Company that I could find...maybe someone else might have more luck !?