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A Calendar of the Prisoners in the Gaol of our Sovereign Majesty... 19th Day of August 1829

Date: 1829
Dimensions:
523mm x 417mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Calendar
Object No: 00053937
Related Place:Newcastle,

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    Description
    The Northumberland Calendar of Prisoners of the 19 August 1829 describes the crimes and sentences handed down on a group of prisoners who appeared both the King's Bench Court. Two of those sentenced, James Cumberlodge and William Hardy, were both sentenced to transportation overseas and departed England in December 1830 for the Colony of New South Wales on board the convict transport NITHSDALE.
    SignificanceConvicts James Cumberlodge and William Hardy were both given sentences of transportation to the colony of New South Wales . Whilst Cumberlodge was given a Ticket of Leave for good behaviour and took up a land grant in the Murray District, William Hardy absconded from a road gang, was shot by mounted police whilst attempting to rob a free settler and died in confinement at Port Macquarie.
    HistoryExtreme poverty was a fact of life for many people in 18th and 19th century. In desperation, many resorted to crimes such as poaching, theft, robbery with violence and forging coins as the means to survive in a society without any social welfare system. This was countered by the development of a complicated criminal and punishment code aimed at protecting private property. Punishments were harsh with even minor crimes, such as stealing goods worth more than one shilling, cutting down a tree in an orchard, stealing livestock or forming a workers union, attracting the extreme penalty of 'death by hanging'.

    Until the early 19th century, except for the King's Bench, Marshalsea, Fleet Prisons and Newgate Gaol which were all Crown prisons attached to the central courts, prisons were administered locally and were not the responsibility or property of central government. They were used for the correction of vagrants and those convicted of lesser offences, for the coercion of debtors and for the custody of those awaiting trial or the execution of sentence.

    For nearly all other crimes the punishments consisted of a fine, capital punishment or transportation overseas. Since the early 1600s European societies used the transportation of criminals overseas as a form of punishment. When in the 18th century, the death penalty came to be regarded as too severe for certain capital offences, such as theft and larceny, transportation to the British colonies in North America became a popular form of sentence.

    The loss of the American colonies during the Revolutionary War of 1776 - 1781 put an end to the mass export of British convicts to North America. Many of the convicts in England's overcrowded jails were sent instead to the hulks (de-commissioned naval ships) on the River Thames and at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Cork (Ireland) where they were employed on river cleaning, stone collecting, timber cutting and dockyard work while serving out their sentence.

    In 1784, under the Transportation and Penitentiaries Act, felons and other offenders in the hulks could be exiled to colonies overseas including Gibraltar, Bermuda and in 1787, the Colony of NSW. (Frost, 1995).

    Between 1787 and 1868 over 160,000 men, women and children were transported – by more than 1000 modified, privately owned merchant ships, to the Australian colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land and Western Australia by the British and Irish Governments as punishment for criminal acts. Although many of the convicted prisoners were habitual or professional criminals with multiple offences recorded against them, a small number were political prisoners, trade unionists, social reformers, or one-off offenders.

    The criminal offences, associated court cases and sentences of those convicted of crimes were avidly recorded in the relatively cheap and plentiful broadsheets produced at the time. Broadsheets or broadsides, as they were also known, were originally used to communicate official or royal decrees. They were printed on one side of paper and became a popular medium of communication between the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe, particularly Britain. They were able to be printed quickly and cheaply and were widely distributed in public spaces including churches, taverns and town squares. Their function expanded as they became used as a medium to galvanise political debate, hold public meetings and advertise products or cultural events.

    One such Broadsheet was the Northumberland Calender of the Prisoners authorised by Sanderson Ilderton, High Sheriff of Northumberland and printed by E. Walker of Newcastle, England which listed the prisoners being tried before Sir John Bayley and Sir Joseph Littledale both judges of the King's Bench, the superior court in the United Kingdom and Ireland, now the High Court of Justice of England and Wales - on the 19th Day of August 1829.

    Ten out of the 13 listed names have been annotated by Thomas Thorpe (recording the verdicts and sentence handed down by the two justices - they include acquittals, not guilty verdicts, one month, two monthly, six monthly and two yearly custodial sentences in a House of Correction with hard labour and in the case of James Cumberlodge who was charged upon the oath of Robert Adams of stealing on the 26 Day of April 1829 at the Parish of Alnswick one silver watch of the value of twenty shillings a sentence of transportation for 14 years. One other convict, William Hardy was found guilty of entering a dwelling house and stealing a handkerchief, a cotton purse, a snuff box, a tartan purse, a bible and fifteen shillings and sixpence from James Douglas of Longhoughton but his sentence had not been calculated prior to Thomas Thorpe posting off his copy of the Calendar to his father Robert Thorpe (17 August 1771 - 07 April 1847) Clerk of the Peace in Alnwick on the 20th August 1829 - but Hardy, like Cumberlodge, was also given a sentence of Transportation for 14 years and sailed on board the convict transport NITHSDALE along with 183 other male convicts in late December 1829 for the colony of New South Wales.

    After receiving 60 male convicts from JUSTITIA and GANYMEAD hulks at Woolwich on the 9th December, 64 male convicts from RETRIBUTION hulk at Sheerness on the 18th December and 60 from the DOLPHIN hulk at Chatham on the 19th December the wooden, three masted, 414 ton ship NITHSDALE departed Sheerness on the 1 January 1830 under the command of Captain Thomas Christian, with Robert Malcolm as surgeon and Captain Robert Moffatt and 29 officers and privates acting as guard.

    After a relatively slow but uneventful voyage of 131 days the vessel arrived at Port Jackson on the 12 May 1830 and the convicts - after a brief stay at Hyde Park Barracks - assigned out to private settlers and the Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens.

    James Cumberlodge and William Hardy - represent the two sides of convict transportation in the 19th century. Cumberlodge appears to have been a hard and willing worker who received his ticket of leave shortly before the proscribed 5 years taking up a grant of land in the Murray District whilst William Hardy is reported in the Sydney Gazette of 19 April 1832 as being a notorious runaway who had absconded from the No 41 Road Gang on a number of occasions and in December 1832, whilst still on the run, was shot three times by mounted police whilst attempting to assault and rob a free settler on the Parramatta Road. He was sentenced to an additional two years hard labour at the secondary punishment settlement at Port Macquarie and appears to have died there in early 1836.

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