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Is John Smith John Spurway?

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Is John Smith John Spurway?

Postby Allison Smith » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:57 am

My Great x2 Grandfather was John Smith a convict transported to Van Diemens Land in 1833. He had been convicted for breaking and entering the dwelling house of John Rock of Combe Raleigh, Devon in Dec 1831. He was sentenced to death at the Devon Assizes in March 1832, however this was commuted to transportation for Life. His convict record states his native place as Honyton and his age as 25, making his birth around 1808. Other records have his birth varying between 1809 & 1812 with the Convict record being the earliest record of his age. He was granted a Ticket of Leave in 1841 and recommended for a Conditional Pardon in 1844, this was granted in Feb 1846.

He married in August 1842 and went on to have 17 children, most of whom were given Spurway as a second name. Spurway continues as a family name in many branches of the family. Family stories have come down the generations, in more than one branch, that John Smith's actual surname is Spurway.

John died in 1875 and his headstone has him as a 'Native of Dunkerswell'. I think this may actually be Dunkswell, Devon.

I have checked births in Dunkswell for a likely candidate and have found a John Spurway baptised 2nd October 1808 aged 3 weeks the son of John and Thomasin Spurway. John Spurway married Thomasin Smith on 27 Feb 1804 also in Dunkswell. I also looked for options with the surname Smith but nothing seemed to fit him. Hopefully I haven't discounted likely prospects for John Smith as I really want him to have the surname Spurway to fit my family's story.

Does anybody have any thoughts on my research to date or insight into my thoughts on John Smith being the John Spurway born in 1808.

Thanks
Allison Smith
 
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Re: Is John Smith John Spurway?

Postby junkers » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:02 pm

It looks like he came from Dunkeswell which is five miles from Honiton in east Devon. The name John Smith is a nightmare to search, what does his marriage certificate say as regards his father. Of course not everyone got baptised, have you trace his actual court records at The National Archives, i.e. the depositions and Minute Books of the Circuit, they are not indexed to a name level but are in the ASSI (Assizes) series.
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Re: Is John Smith John Spurway?

Postby Allison Smith » Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:13 pm

Thanks Junkers for your reply. I really appreciate your thoughts.
Early VDL/Tasmanian marriage do not go into much detail apart from name, age & occupation of the bride & groom. Although it was this source that enabled me to pin down exactly which John Smith he is. The marriage certificate has his occupation as "TL LABOURER" with the TL meaning Ticket of Leave, very few actually have this annotation. I then searched for his Permission to Marry record and from there found his convict number. This enabled me to find exactly which John Smith the convict he is. This then opened up all the correct convict records for me which give me details of the crime, native place etc.
None of the VDL/Tasmanian records have an alias recorded nor do any of the British records from Ancestry.
I have not researched any of the assize records from the National Archives (due to distance) but I have seen the various newspaper reports from the time and none of these have a mention of an alias either. Do you know what further information may be available from the assize records?
And yes John Smith is a nightmare to research but I consider myself very lucky with my particular John Smith. I have not only got his life after marriage but have been able to find out why, how and where he came from.
Allison Smith
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:16 am

Re: Is John Smith John Spurway?

Postby junkers » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:18 pm

The Assizes records give details of the case with the Minute Books giving the decision, but you need to know which 'Circuit' the case was heard in. Have you looked on ancestry for the case as there are a number of convict books with dates and sentences that have images of.
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Re: Is John Smith John Spurway?

Postby Allison Smith » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:56 am

Thanks. Seems like the information available in the assize records I have been able to find from the convict system records in VDL/ Tasmania, newspapers and the returns sent to England that are available on Ancestry. Although maybe the actual assize records have some more detailed information. It doesn't seem that they would help with my quest to resolve the John Smith/John Spurway question.
Allison Smith
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:16 am


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