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Sailing ship  William ROBERTS arr Hobart 1824
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The Tasmanian Gaol Book shows that William ROBERTS was tried at Bedford on 8 March 1823, sentenced to Life and transported to Van Diemen's Land. His native place was Marston, Bedfordshire, Ploughman aged 28, 5ft 7 1/2ins, red brown hair, red whiskers, dark grey eyes. [Tasmanian Archives CSO 1/217/5237 p215/216]

In the convict record of William ROBERTS he stated a previous conviction for stealing a turkey, sentence 7 years. He worked last for Mr Green at Bedford. He was single. His mother, brothers and sisters were at his Native Place Marston, Bedfordshire. He had a brother George ROBERTS.

William ROBERTS was named in four separate indictments for Bedford Lent Assizes, 1823 [ASSI 35/263]

James WHITBREAD, late of the parish of Kempstone in the county of Bedford, labourer, and William ROBERTS, late of the same place, labourer, on 25 May 1822 (did steal) one cart of the value of 5, one horse collar 3s, one halter 2s, one pair of reins 5s, one pair of traces 5s, and one saddle 3s, of the goods and chattels of William ROBINSON. This case was not tried.

James WHITBREAD, late of the parish of Kempstone in the county of Bedford, labourer, and William ROBERTS, late of the same place, labourer, on 25 May 1822 (did steal) one Mare of the price of 5, of the goods and chattels of William ROBINSON.
James WHITBREAD was found guilty but William ROBERTS was acquitted.

James TANSLEY, late of the parish of Wootton in the county of Bedford, labourer, and William ROBERTS, ditto, did on 25 Oct 1822, in the parish aforesaid, about the hour of two in the night, (at) the dwelling house of John DAVIS, burglariously break and enter (and did take) one set of Single Horse Chaise Harness of the value of 50s, three saddles 3, and two Hair Bags 2s, of the goods and chattels of Edward LANCASTER. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to death.

James TANSLEY, late of the parish of Hawnes in the county of Bedford, and William ROBERTS, ditto, on 25 Oct 1822 (did steal) one Gelding of the price of 5 of the good and chattels of Edward LANCASTER. As both men had already been sentenced to death, this charge of horse stealing was not tried.

The parishes shown as the place of origin of the indicted men, due to the form of the words used, only relate to where the crime was committed.
The calendar of gaol delivery on the indictment file show that James WHITBREAD and James TANSLEY were both aged 20. Unfortunately William ROBERTS does not appear on the calendar.

The Bedford Gaol Register shows that William ROBERTS was committed on two previous occasions. The first was on 26 February 1821 when he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment at Hertford Gaol for stealing fowls. He was discharged on 13 March 1822 but was again imprisoned on 29 March on a charge of stealing pigeons for which he was acquitted at the Easter Sessions in 1822. [ASSI 33/10 003064]

Details from the Bedford Gaol Book at the time of the final commital of William ROBERTS in March 1823 show that he was aged 28, was 5ft 8ins tall, had dark brown hair and a dark complexion.
Last place of abode: Hertford Gaol (previous entries give Kemptson)
By whom and when committed: Bench warrant, 7 Mar 1823
Offence: Burglary
Sentence: Death, Lent Assizes 1823
Discharge: Transportation for life. Put on board the Justitia Hulk at Woolwich 14 April 1823.

Justica Hulk    Justica Hulk

At left: Death of a Convict on the Hulk Justica by G Cruikshank, 1830s. Reproduction of a hand coloured engraving on display in the Convict Museum at Hyde Park Barracks, Macquarie Place, Sydney. Original from the Rex Nan Kivell Collection, National Library of Australia, Canberra.
At right: View of the Justica Hulk at Woolwich c1777. To see the full picture with convicts at work go to National Maritime Museum, London. (Brought to my attention by Meg Bate)

William ROBERTS, James TANSLEY and James WHITBREAD were all aboard the convict transport Asia which departed London and Portsmouth, England on 19-28 Aug 1823. This was the first voyage of Asia (1) which arrived at Hobart in Van Diemen's Land on 18-19 January 1824. Another convict named William ROBERTS died on the voyage.

For a list of the 154 convicts aboard the Asia see www.rootsweb.com/~austas/asia2.htm
The list includes three other men who were convicted at the Bedford Lent Assizes which began on 5 Mar 1823. These were Joseph BILLING, Robert HOLDING and Richard NORMAN. Also aboard were two men convicted at the earlier Bedford Quarter Sessions on 15 Jan 1823; Stephen BRITTAIN and James CHERRY.

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© Created : 8 May 2004
© Last Modified : 29 June 2011
Email : jburrell@ncable.net.au
URL : http://users.ncable.net.au/~jburrell/gen/newport/rob_wm.html