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Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

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Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:41 pm

I am tracing a relative who was incarcerated on a Prison Hulk in Langston Harbour, Portsmouth in the first decade of the 19th Century. He was originally sentenced to be Transported, but was apparently imprisoned on the Hulks in the UK for his 7 year sentence.

There are excellent records taken from National Archives,on both Ancestry and Findmypast, and I have found traces of him in both. He features on a Register for La Fortunee, a 'holding' hulk, soon after his sentence was passed in mid 1801. In this register and others, the prisoners are annotated with things like 'NSW 14', clearly meaning transportation to New South Wales, and a 14 year sentence, or 'NSW Life', ie a Life sentence.

However, a number of others, including my ancestor, are annotated 'B.S. 7', referring to a 7 year sentence. At the top of the page, the 'B.S' is written as what looks like 'Boy Sail' or even 'Boy @/at Sail'. I think that 'Boy' is a contraction of something obvious that I am missing!

Please can anyone decipher this hieroglyphic?

Thanks

Jane
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby ksouthall » Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:01 am

Without having looked at the records, could it stand for "British Soil"; i.e. the sentence was carried out in Britain?
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:47 pm

Thanks, both, for your replies. I searched on National Archives for an explanation, but couldn't locate one, so I am very grateful that you have found what they say.

So, if I understand this correctly, if the name was annotated 'NSW', a decision had been taken on the destination, and from the evidence of the Registers, all the longer sentences (14 years, full life terms) were to be served there.

But if the name was annotated 'B.S.', they were to be transported, but the destination was a sort of 'penitentiary pot luck'. They could be sent anywhere, depending upon where the next shipload was destined. And these tended to be the shorter, 7 year, sentences.

However, my ancestor, called George MONINGTON or MONNINGTON, who was born in Knighton in Radnorshire, and was tried before the Spring Sessions of March 1801, in Radnor, seems not to have left UK waters. I have found him on the 'La Fortunee' Holding Hulk, where he was apparently received in September 1801, and then in the Quarterly Accounts for the Hulk 'Portland' up till at least April 1804. I suppose that it is possible that he was sent off after that, or he died on the 'Portland'. I have not found any further reference.

I know there was an appeal involving a lot of local people when he was convicted, and a fascinating Judge's Letter in the HO47 series on National Archives, which suggests that George was not a good man. He came from quite a large family. There are some burials back in Knighton, which could be him returning after serving his 7 years, but unfortunately, there is nothing to properly identify him.

Thanks again for your help. Any further hints or comments about George and his fate will be gratefully received.

Jane
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:25 pm

EUREKA!!!!

I was searching for a totally different MONINGTON family member on Ancestry this morning in a database wide search, and lo and behold, a whole new set of traces of George appeared! The really significant one is transcribed as MORNINGTON, though I suspect it is actually written as MONNINGTON. And I did not find this originally, DESPITE my looking specifically in the 'Criminal' caches, using wild cards within the name and wide parameters of D/B etc. So the moral of this story is that Ancestor may well hold the information, but it may be buried almost as deep as your real-life ancestor!!! Don't give up, keep digging!

So what have the new papers told me? It shows that despite his sentence of transportation, he was held on the hulks for his whole 7 year sentence (which was also clearly true for a lot of his fellow convicts whose names are similarly annotated). His name is annotated: "Dis.d 27 March 1808 - Transportation Expired." In the 1800s, 7 years meant 7 years, and he was released (pres. 'discharged') 7 years to the day after sentence was passed back in Radnor.

I have found a death back in Knighton for a George, in July 1809. I think this might well be him.

Thanks everyone,

Jane
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:38 pm

Interesting - thanks for that - I'd never heard of a full sentence being served on a hulk...

Sent from my MotoG3 using WDYTYA Forum mobile app
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:16 pm

I have been able to track him pretty accurately now, through a combination of the original plus the 2 new items that I found on Ancestry (Prison hulk registers & letter books) and several items from FindmyPast (Convict Hulk Quarterly Accounts, and Petition Correspondence).

He was sentenced on 27 March 1801, and was possibly held in Radnor Castle initially. There was an appeal and petition. The judge wrote a very negative response, and the appeal was refused. He appears to have arrived on to the Holding Hulk 'La Fortunee' in Portsmouth Harbour, sometime in September, and then was moved to the 'Portland', still in Portsmouth, probably late in November 1801. He stayed on the 'Portland' probably until the end of 1804. He certainly features in their accounts (which I suspect may not be complete) for 1 July and 1 October 1802, January, April and October 1803 and January and April 1804. Then probably in early 1805, he was moved to the 'Laurel' in Portsmouth Harbour, a Dutch prize ship that had been converted into a Hulk. It was from the 'Laurel' that he was discharged.

As I have mentioned, I am then pretty sure that he returned home to Knighton, and died there in late June 1809.

Best wishes

Jane
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:59 am

Truth stranger than fiction!! And clearly convicts in the family are like No 73 buses, nothing for ages then 2 come along together!

As I have continued to research my MON(N)INGTON line, centred on Knighton in Powys, I have discovered a second convict.

The original, George, was the oldest brother of a paternal 3x Great Grandmother. Her 1st cousin, William, had a son born in 1819, also William. He seems to have gone walkabout in about 1837 or early 1838, and ended up being caught with some companions, breaking and entering to steal bacon and readily saleable items, near Worcester in late July 1838. He was tried and found guilty at Worcester Michaelmas Sessions in 1838, and sentenced to 7 years Transportation.

William was sent to the hulks at Chatham (useful pointer - they appear under the geographical location of Woolwich Dockyard in the 1841 Census) and served his sentence there, on the hulk 'Warrior'. I have a complete run of the quarterly returns, documenting his behaviour there. He was given a free pardon in July 1842, and a year later, married a lady called Rebecca, in Leicester. They settled in Coventry, raised children, he took up the family trade as a butcher, and he died in Coventry in 1877.

So here we have another convict who served his entire sentence (albeit slightly foreshortened) on the hulks alone.

Jane
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby Amazinggrace » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:02 pm

Well done Jane,my 5xgtgrandad wa sentenced to seven years transportation to NSW in 1791.
The offence was stealing bread in Cumberland(Cumbria).I was unable to trace him beyond leaving on the Brittania on the third fleet. The story was taken up by WDYTYA magazine and thanks to them
I was able to ascertain that he did not survive the journey. Presumably they just threw the dead
overboard.At least yours survived.Made me laugh about the buses. :lol:
Grace
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Re: Prison Hulk Registers in National Archives & Ancestry.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:13 pm

Continuing my researches into the MON(N)INGTONs, I obtained a copy of the Will of Convict George's father, also George, from Herefordshire Archives (a fantastically efficient and helpful service incidently). George Senior, a Butcher as it turns out, died in Knighton, Radnorshire in 1803. His Will was written in October 1800, BEFORE George Junior's arrest and incarceration.

But interestingly, George Senior effectively wrote his oldest son out of his Will. He left him one shilling 'in full Barr of all Claims Right and Title which he ought should or might have to any part of my Goods Chattels and Effects if I had never made and Published this my Last Will and Testament'. And later, he split the residue of his estate between all his surviving 'young or younger' children then living, but specifically reiterated the exclusion of George.

It sounds as though George's arrest and trial in 1801 was a culmination, rather than an exceptional and out-of-character event. So though his father battled to try to reduce the punishment awaiting his son, it seems that he was already aware that he was not of good character.

Jane
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