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The Indenture

INDENTURED APPRENTICE.jpgcopy-of-dsc00164.jpg

Poverty made an orphan out of Hannah, when her parents handed her over to the church poorhouse because they were unable to maintain her to the age of 10. An ‘Indenture’ was made, on 15 March 1825, between the Churchwardens and the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Prees in the county of Salop (Shropshire). The Indenture apprenticed Hannah, in the ‘craft, mystery and occupation of Housewifery’, to a nearby farmer, John Forgham of Whixall.

The Indenture agreement binded her to farmer ; Forgham until she turned 21 or got married; whichever came first. But a few months after her 16th birthday, Hannah was accused of setting fire to the grain storage barn and was taken away to the county prison. She was tried and convicted of Arson, at the Shropshire Lent Assizes, on 23 March 1832. A judgment of death was recorded against her, but was commuted to life, and transportation to the colony of New South Wales, Australia, for the term of her natural life.

This is a compelling story that isn’t quite what it seems. A little digging into the newspaper reports of Hannah’s trial, uncover an ugly story of child exploitation and abuse and the bitter jealousies of a forsaken wife. The servants’ witness testimonies told a shocking story of a deviant ‘master’, a jealous ‘mistress’ and a daring plot to escape the master’s clutches. Was Hannah a villain or a victim? Was she plotting to escape, or was someone else plotting to get rid of her? What really happened may have gone to the grave, but what is clear is Hannah’s resiliance. For what she endured in her tiny life, most will never face in a lifetime. She overcame and endured so much! She is the very definition of overcomer; survivor; strong minded and resourceful, youthful and resilient. She had to be to survive a wretched childhood of abandonment, betrayal, and a cruel injustice that altered her destiny forever.

Surviving an abusive master and escaping a death sentence, Hannah’s destiny lead her to the pioneering settlements of Windsor and Castlereagh (Penrith), New South Wales, Australia, where she spent the rest of her life.

In stark contrast to the lush green hills of Shropshire, Windsor and Castlereagh are situated at the outer edges of the budding colony, nestled beneath the foothills of the Blue Mountains, along the Nepean River, which winds its way into the Hawkesbury, then into the Pittwater, which flows out into the Pacific Ocean separating Palm Beach, the most northerly point of Sydney, from the Central Coast.

Married at 20, Hannah lived the rest of her life within the confines of marriage, raised seven children and died in 1891, at the age of 76, outliving her husband Joseph by 15 years.

Hannah’s family portraits – family albums

Home is where the heart is, and life was in the valley of happiness. Hannah birthed and raised seven children in a small house in Castlereagh, just outside of Penrith along the Nepean River. Her children’s children were born there too. Some left, some stayed. Some died.

Hannah outlived her husband Joseph Stanton by 15 years and died in Castlereagh in 1891, at 76 years of age. They were buried beside each other in the consecrated church grounds of the church at Castlereagh where they married 56 years earlier.

Wedding at Castlereagh Methodist church: Sourced Penrith City Library online website, accessed 20 June 2016.Hannah’s granddaughter Stella (below) in her bonnet and bow. The symbolim is significant here. Holding the paper implies she can read.

Hannah’s granddaughter Stella Eunita age 21

Stella married a Norwegian sailor named Claus Clausen, who jumped ship off a Windjammer in Newcastle in 1901. Within five years he and Stella were married and expecting their first baby, my nana Edna.

Here is Claus mending the tin roof from the house at Penrith in the early 1900s. Claus came from a long line of excellent carpenters, who’s wooden houses still proudly stand on the old family farm land. Its uncertain whether this was once the home of Hannah. But for the sake of a good story, let’s say it is.

The Stanton house at Castlereagh near Penrith along the Nepean River, from the family vault.

Stella’s stitching on Irish linen. A beautiful hand embroidered tablecloth heirloom handed down from mother to daughter, from generation to generation from Hannah to me.

Stella’s Tablecloth of hand embroidered native flowers on Irish Linen – from the family vaultGo back to Main Page

Images

(1) The Indenture – Shropshire local history.co.uk – purchased July 2016.

(2) A convict girl – Source UTAS Convict Faces, retrieved 22 June 2016

(3) A Sherringham in-law from the Sherringham family vault.

(4) Happy Valley from the Sherringham family vault

(5) Wedding at Castlereagh Methodist church: Sourced Penrith City Library online website, accessed 20 June 2016.

(6) Hannah’s granddaughter Stella Stanton (my great grandmother), age 19 or 20 from the family vault

(7) The Stanton house at Castlereagh near Penrith along the Nepean River, from the family vault.

(8) Stella’s stitching – Irish linen tablecloth of hand embroidered native flowers.

Return to MAIN story

MAIN STORY

In 1823, an outbreak of Smallpox or Measles, (link is external) left the parish in tatters. The hardest hit, of course, were the most vulnerable: the poor. In one six month period, from January to June of 1823, 133 people at St Chad’s parish were buried. That was almost 40% of the town’s population, as shown below in Henry Pidgeon’s Diaries (link is external) [1]. By 1825 Hannah’s parents were no longer able to care for her so she was indentured as an apprentice in Housewifery to John Forgham, Farmer of Whixall. This transaction was to forever change her life.

Indentured to service 15 March 1825

Indentured to service 15 March 1825
Hannah was indentured to service in housewifery to a farmer named John Forgham, of Whixall, a short distance from Prees Green. Her parents were no longer able to care for her and she was essentially in the poor house under the church’s care until the indenture essentially put her in the care of Mr Forgham as an apprentice to learn the skills of housewifery until the age of 21 or until she married, whichever came first. The distance from the village at Prees Green, to the church, to the farm and back again was a good three hour walk, or 14 km. This was the distance of her life.

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The Distance of her life – a three hour walk (14 km) – from the village to the church, to the farm and back. again: Sourced Google Maps accessed 15 June 2016

The Distance of her life – a three hour walk (14 km) – from the village to the church, to the farm and back. again: Sourced Google Maps accessed 15 June 2016
George Forgham, was described in the Shrewsbury Chronicle as a respectable farmer. Although his respectability came into question as each of the witnesses were questioned and cross-examined, as Hannah’s courtroom drama unfurled. Depending on which paper you read, gave you conflicting stories of what happened and the motive behind what happened, and the respectability of the master.
Hannah was accused of setting fire to the barn when she was 16 years old. She denied it at first, then confessed but said she only did so to get away from this place, for her master was ‘ill-treating’ her. And taken away she was. She was questioned and taken away to the county jail where she there she stayed four months to await her fate.

Hannah’s trial was heard at the Shropshire (Salop) Lent Assizes (link is external) on 15 March 1832 [3] and created much interest and excitement as it played out before the court. The story spread across the land as it made its way into five newspapers with a differing version of events. Very much a case of ‘he said, she said’.

(Go to Hannah’s Trial by media).

 

An unknown pretty innocent-looking colonial girl (as Hannah was described in the newspapers at her trial) : Source: Pinterest.

 

Hannah Simmons Orphan fire at Whixall Staffordshire Advertiser 24 March 1832 p1

 

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Arson by female servant Master John Forgham vs Hannah Simmons
Against a backdrop of all this ugliness, this orphaned child, with innocent looks, good character and conduct, was found guilty of Arson and sentenced to death. However, the Judge spared her life and instead, gave her Transportation for Life in New South Wales. She was taken back the Shropshire gaol (link is external) until she was transferred to the convict hulk Fanny in London (link is external).

Image (3) Beer Street and Gin Lane by Hogarth: source state library NSW, accessed 14 June 2016.

Image (3) Beer Street and Gin Lane by Hogarth: source state library NSW, accessed 14 June 2016.
Hannah could have been on the Fanny as early as 2 June 1832, for this was when the Surgeon Superintendent, commenced his Surgeon’s Journal (link is external). It reads:

Surgeon Superintendent’s Journal 2 June 1832-19 Feb 1833

Surgeon Superintendent’s Journal 2 June 1832-19 Feb 1833
Here the hulks were moved along the Thames (link is external)to deal with sickness and bury the dead.

Map of the Thames where the Convict ships were docked with the sick : Source, Google Maps, accessed 20 June 2016

Map of the Thames where the Convict ships were docked with the sick : Source, Google Maps, accessed 20 June 2016
Life on board the prison hulks were a cesspit of illness and disease (link is external).
Death on board the convict hulk Justitia, London docks c1830s : source NLA, accessed 23 June 2016

Death on board the convict hulk Justitia, London docks c1830s : source NLA, accessed 23 June 2016
The ship left England from The Downs east of Kent, on 29 July 1832, bound for New South Wales on the 188 day voyage. Hannah caugh a fever and got sick and was put on the sick list on 26 January 1833. She was cured and discharged two days later, as recorded in the surgeon’s journal [3]. She must have been terrified watching the women around her die. Once again, surrounded by sickness and loss; once again escaping death. I’m sure she wondered when she’d be next. Three times lucky.

More can be read about the journey in the Surgeon’s Journal (link is external).

Female convict sewing supplies during their voyage, Source: Google books

Female convict sewing supplies during their voyage, Source: Google books
Each female convict was given a small bag containing articles of haberdashery for work on the voyage, which included needles and pins which were probably used on the 10% of convict women who wore a tattoo. Hannah was one of the 10%. It was either in the prison or on the ship, where they had access to needles and ink, that came from black sediment from lamps. Hannah’s tattoo was probably a memorial to loved ones (link is external), kind of like like a ‘forget-me-not’ or a chain of letters, that wrapped around both arms, with the initials of loved ones she wanted to take with her [4]. Or it could have been a special verse that only she knew. It must have meant a lot to her.

HANNAHS TATTOOHannah’s Tattoo of forget-me-nots, recorded on the List of Female Convicts by the Ship FANNY on Convict Indents.

hannah simmons tattoosHannah’s Tattoo of forget-me-nots, recorded on the List of Female Convicts by the Ship FANNY on Convict Indents.

Hannah Simmons convict indents List of female convicts by ship 1833Hannah’s appearance from the List of Female Convicts by the ship FANNY Henry Sherwood Master : source Ancestry.com
The Fanny arrived in Port Jackson harbour on time and the women were reported to be in good health [5,6]. The women were assigned to the applicants, who applied a month earlier in response to the ad placed in the paper. Though demand far exceeded supply, by 200.

Image (8) Notice in the newspaper, Sydney Gazette, 5 Feb 1833

Image (8) Notice in the newspaper, Sydney Gazette, 5 Feb 1833

Hannah was assigned to George Loder at Windsor (link is external)[7]. He was a prison administrator and defense force personnel. He had great success in the colony and is considered one of the pioneers of Windsor and beyond the Hawkesbury. He and much of his family are buried in the Windsor cemetery. Its possible, at least at this point, I’d like to think so, his good standing and influence in the colony helped Hannah to fast track the system and find a man and settle down and raise a family, which she did. It would be nice to think that at last, Hannah was catching a lucky break. More can be read about the Loders and Windsor House here (link is external).

Loder House built in 1834, 126 George Street, Windsor

Loder House built in 1834, 126 George Street, Windsor

Back yard of Loder House built in 1834, 126 George Street, Windsor

Back yard of Loder House built in 1834, 126 George Street, Windsor
The next time Hannah shows up in records is for an application for permission to marry on 12 October 1835 [8] until an application for permission to marry appears. Joseph Stanton was nine years older, with black hair and eyes and half a foot taller than her. He arrived on the Vittoria in 1829, from Herefordshire, for the stealing a fence and some potatoes [9]. He was granted a Ticket of Leave on 1 October 1835 [10] and were married on the 15th at Castlereagh, by the Rev Henry Fulton (link is external) [11], a former convict himself, transported for life for taking part in the ‘white shirts’ Irish Rebellion. And there they stayed in the Castlereagh area by the Nepean River for the rest of their lives.From Windsor to Castlereagh, from Convict to Wife, this was the distance of her life
From Windsor to Castlereagh, from Convict to Wife, this was the distance of her life
They had seven children from 1837 – 1854. By this time Hannah was 39 years old. Hannah outlived her husband by 15 years and two of her children: Sarah by five years and Joseph Jnr by four. She was buried in the Castlereagh cemetery (link is external), in 1891 [12], reunited with Joseph and freed from the shackles of this life.

With 20/20 vision, we can look back at Hannah’s life and see it does not reflect the ‘felonious’ ‘wicked’ and ‘malicious’ character of an criminal, as portrayed by the newspapers. Hannah was condemned to her fate by a flawed justice system that was trying to cope with a radically changing world while holding on to its bygone ways. Powerless and without redress, Hannah’s real crime was that she was a poor, pretty girl with no one to defend her. She was vulnerable and powerless, and was much better off leaving England. Death waited around every corner and she side-stepped it thrice by the time she was 18. Her life was tragic, yet heroic. She was a survivor and that requires strength and courage. Hannah endured, like this Irish linen tablecloth has. Embroidered by Hannah’s granddaughter Stella, almost 100 years ago, it is an heirloom handed down from mother to daughter. It represents the women of my family, who, like the native flora, linked together, yet stand alone, enduring the struggle to rise above the hardened dirt, to bloom where they grow.

Stella’s Tablecloth of hand embroidered native flowers on Irish Linen

Stella’s Tablecloth of hand embroidered native flowers on Irish Linen
One of the legacies of the colony’s convict women is needlework. Embroidery was an important skill for convict womens’ economy [13]. Hannah probaby learnt to embroider on the ship, or in the prison as she waited.

And it gave her more than pretty things and patience; it gave her independence too. For she could have supported her family with this skill if she needed to. She would have taught her daughters too; even her granddaughters too. The design is interesting to me because it looks like links of a chain that might be telling Hannah’s story. And the links go around like the tattoo of letters wrapped around Hannah’s arms, as described in the Convict Indent. We’ll never know what those letters meant to Hannah, nor the meaning, if any, behind the design on this tablecoth. What we do know, is that somehow Hannah’s story is linked to it and is therefore a relic from our convict ancestors and the legacy they left us.

Stella’s Tablecloth of hand embroidered native flowers on Irish Linen

Stella’s Tablecloth of hand embroidered native flowers on Irish Linen
Go to Intro Hannah’s Legacy Go to Breakout 1: Hannah’s Origins Go to Breakout 2: Hannah’s Trial

Images

(1) St Chad’s Anglican Church, (14th Century), Prees Parish, c1800,Google Maps, accessed 11 June 2016

(2) Indenture between Hannah Simmons and Mr John Forgham of Whixall dated 15 March 1825, obtained from Shropshire Archives Image Services @ (shropshire.gov.uk), accessed 10 July 2016

(3) The Distance of her life 14 square km – from Prees Green, to Prees Church to Whixall Farm and back: Sourced Google Maps accessed 15 June 2016

(4) An unknown pretty and innocent-looking colonial girl (as Hannah was described in the newspapers at her trial) : Source Pinterest, accessed 22 June 2016

(5) “Beer Street and Gin Lane” by Hogarth, Source: Fellowship of the First Fleeters Arthur Phillip Chapter, (link is external)
http://arthurphillipchapter.weebly.com/health-of-the-first-fleet.html, accessed 20 June 2016.

(6) Surgeon Superintendent’s Journal 2 June 1832 – 19 Feb 1833 : accessed 20 June 2016

(7) Map of the Thames where the Convict ships were docked with the sick : Source, Google Maps,
accessed 20 June 2016

(8) Death on board the convict hulk Justitia, London docks c1830s : source NLA, accessed 23 June 2016

(9) Female convict sewing supplies during their voyage, Source: Google books accessed 23 June 2016.

(10) Hannah’s Tattoo of forget-me-nots, recorded on the List of Female Convicts by the Ship FANNY,
Convict Indents [3]

(11) Ancestry.com : NSW Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842 :List of Female Convicts, by the Ship FANNY, Henry Sherwood Master, New South Wales, 1833, T.Logan Surgeon Superintendent, arrived from England,
2d February, 1833. accessed 2 June 2016.

(12) Trove online, Sydney Gazette, Notice of female convict arrivals, 5 Feb 1833: Source Trove on line, accessed 15 June 2016.

(13,14) Historic Windsor House, aka Loder House, 126 George Street, Windsor, built in 1834: Source http://www.kyliepurtell.com/2009/11/old-loder-house.html, accessed 25 June 2016.

(15) From her convict assignment at George Loder’s at Windsor, to her married life in Castlegreath 14km away, this was the distance of her life: Source Google Maps, accessed 25 June 2016

(16,17) Hand embroidered, Irish linen tablecloth, heirloom from my great grandmother Stella, the granddaughter of Hannah.

BREAKOUT 1

The story begins in a small rural village in the heart of Prees Parish in Shropshire, where Hannah’s parents, Charles Symmons (sic) and Elizabeth nee Thomas, married by Bann (link is external) in the Anglican church, on 1 December, 1806 [1].
Hannah’s Parents Marriage by Banns 1806, Prees Parish, Charles Symmons (sic) and Elizabeth nee Thomas

Hannah’s Parents Marriage by Banns 1806, Prees Parish, Charles Symmons (sic) and Elizabeth nee Thomas

The original records are barely legible but it can be seen that Elizabeth signed her name with a mark (X marks the spot), while Charles signed his name suggesting he could read and write but Elizabeth could not. Charles and Elizabeth had two daughters, Catharine, born in 1813 [2] and Hannah born in 1815. Hannah was baptised in the Prees Parish church on 30 July 1815 [3].
Hannahs Baptism record Prees Parish, Shropshire 30 July 1815

Hannahs Baptism record Prees Parish, Shropshire 30 July 1815
Latest research has uncovered an indentured apprenticeship for Hannah to Mr John Forgham, farmer of Whixall dated 15 March 1825. Hannah was nine turning ten that coming July. It appears her parents were no longer able to care for her so she was placed as a pauper to the church who then indentured her to Forgham’s care til she turned 21 or got married, whichever came first.

Indentured to service 15 March 1825

Indentured to service 15 March 1825

Prees Green, Shropshire aerial view: source Google maps accessed 11 June 2016

Prees Green, Shropshire aerial view: source Google maps accessed 11 June 2016
Aerial view of Prees Green Village, Prees Parish, Shropshire. Source Google maps accessed 20 June 2016.

Farm at Whixall : Source google maps, accessed 14 June 2016

Farm at Whixall : Source google maps, accessed 14 June 2016
By the age of ten, Hannah was indentured to service with Mr John Forgham, Farmer of Whixall, as an apprentice in housewifery to the age of 21 or marriage.
The world that Hannah had known before the crime was within the confines of roughly 15 km, from where she was born, baptised and apprentice. This was the distance of her life.

Go back to Main Page

Images

(1) Hannah’s Parents Marriage by Banns, Prees Parish, Charles Symmons (sic) and Elizabeth nee Thomas: 1 December, 1806. Source Find My Past, accessed 4 June 2016

(2) Hannahs Baptism record Prees Parish, Shropshire 30 July 1815 : Source Find My Past, accessed 4 June 2016

(3) Hannah’s Indenture certificate dated 15 March 1825, sourced from Shropshire Archives online.

(4) Aerial view of Prees Green Village, Prees Parish, Shropshire. Source Google maps accessed 20 June 2016

(5) Farm at Whixall, Prees Parish, Shropshire : Source Google maps accessed 20 June 2016

BREAKOUT 2 : Hannah’s trial by media
The trial of Hannah Simmons aroused such public interest as it played out before the court, that it was reported in five newspapers throughout the surrounding counties and beyond. Barely 16, she was accused of setting fire to one of the barns at Whixall farm where she lived, on the morning of Friday, 11 November 1831. She was questioned by several people to determine how the fire started and was under suspicion from the start so the following Thursday she was taken away to the Shropshire gaol, some 25 km away (link is external), to await trial [1]. There she stayed for the next four months, until her trial which took place at the Shropshire (Salop) Lent Assizes on 15 March 1832 (link is external)[2].

The news first appears in The Salopian Journal (Salop old word for Shropshire), on 16 November 1831, five days after the event, on 11 November 1831 at Whixall, whereby they state that the fire started as a result of carelessness of some of the servants. Though brief, it provides a great resource for tracking Hannah’s whereabouts over the coming months between the crime and the trial [2].

The Salopian Journal, 16 November 1831, accessed 11 June 2016 Find my Past

The Salopian Journal, 16 November 1831, accessed 11 June 2016 Find my Past
It then reappears a week later with an update on 23 November, stating it was not negligence but the “wilful and wicked act of a female servant, who has been committed to the county gaol (link is external)to take her trial for the offense”.
It is brief but packs a punch with its sensationalistic and inflammatory words describing Hannah as wilful, malicious, felonious and wicked, but it’s usefulness in tracking Hannah’s journey from farm to prison to trial back to the Shropshire gaol (link is external), is noted. Though still trying to find how she got from the gaol, after the trial, to the hulk FANNY by June or July 1832. (link is external)

The Salopian Journal, 23 November 1831 Find My Past: accessed 11 June 2016

The Salopian Journal, 23 November 1831 Find My Past: accessed 11 June 2016

The Salopian Journal and Shrewsbury Chronicle’s report (below) appeared to sympathetic to the farmer and accusatory towards Hannah, casting a stain upon her character, whereas in The Staffordshire Advertiser, the truth was less sensational [4].

As an orphan, Hannah was apprenticed Mr George Forgham, farmer of Whixall, Prees, just seven km from where Hannah was born; a 1.5 hour walk away. Forgham states in his testimony that Hannah had been in his care for nearly seven years, from the age of nine or ten.

There was uncertainty as to who really lit the match and set fire to the barn and more sinisterly why. Defending her, Mr Justice argued that she only said she was the one to light the fire as she thought in doing so, she would be removed from her place, away from her master who’d been ill-treating her and therefore should be acquitted. While witnesses for the prosecution said, she told them she did it. Furthermore, two servant boys said they’d overheard the master’s wife calling the master a ‘dirty villain for taking liberties with the prisoner’. But it all fell on deaf ears and hard hearts and she was condemned for it anyway and sentenced to death.

However the judge showed mercy and gave her Life in the colonies for life. And so it was on the 15 March 1832, Hannah Simmons still 16, was convicted of Arson and sentenced to Transportation for life to New South Wales [5].

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.
Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.
Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.
Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.
Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.
The closing lines in the above article are very important. ‘Williams and Crewe were called who proved that the candle was never taken out of the lantern’. ‘The prisoner when called upon for her defense said, ‘I told them so that I might get away from my place, my master so il’-used me.” And ‘His Lordship summed up, and said, the case chiefly depended upon the prisoner’s confession; if they believed it true, they would find her guilty, but, if they thought she had said so on purpose to get away, they would acquit her.’

What is startling and rather telling most of all is that the jury (of 12 judges), with such a complicated situation to consider, returned a verdict of guilty after only a few minutes, but recommending her to mercy (thank God for that!) At least they had some conscience. Although more than likely they were thinking more of the need for females for the colony than justice.

On the other hand, the Staffordshire Advertiser’s report, was written in a much different light, with a more sympathetic understanding towards Hannah, going more into details of the conflicting testimonies that question the farmer’s respectability, and brings into light Hannah’s intention not of malicious, felonious and wicked as the Salopian Journal reported, but to confess as a means of escaping the clutches of her master who she said ‘ill-treated her so’ and who’s wife was heard to have called him a’dirty-villain’ for the liberties he’d taken upon Hannah.

Hannah’s defense was that she didn’t really do it but said she did so she’d be free as being apprenticed to him, she could not leave. It was a cry for help! The prosecutor, that is farmer Forgham himself, recommended her to mercy on account of her previous good character and behaviour while in his service.

“The youth and innocent appearance of the prisoner, who is an orphan, and perfectly destitute of relations, excited the greatest compassion”. Alas, sentence of death was recorded against the prisoner. Though the judge commuted her to Transportation for Life (alas another female of child bearing age for the colony! hurra!).

It was very much a case of he said she said in many ways, and it took some guts for the two servant boys to go against their master and admit they’d heard the mistress of the house calling her husband a monster for the treatment of Hannah. Its hard to believe that would risk all for Hannah if she was guilty and up to no good. It sounds like a case of gross injustice and everybody knew it and those boys felt compelled to defend her. From witness accounts it is made clear that farmer was not a very nice man, admitting beatings, and accused by the witnesses of abusing Hannah, that his own wife is overheard to have called him evil. The farmer was condemned by not only his wife’s words, though heresay, but by his own, admitting to beatings, in the closing statement acknowledging her good character and behaviour.

References

[1] Find My Past: The British Newspapers Archives: The Salopian Journal, 23 November 1831 Find My Past: accessed 11 June 2016

[2] Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. Original data: Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office, Criminal Registers, England & Wales; Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, Series HO 26 and HO 27; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England : Piece 44; Shropshire (Salop) County, England, Page 119, retrieved 31 May 2016.

[3] Find my past: The British Newspapers Archives: Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

[4] Find my past: The British Newspapers Archives: Staffordshire Advertiser, “Fire at Whixall”, 23 March, 1832: Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

[5] Find My Past.com England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935 Transcription: Series HO13, piece no.59, Pp380-384, Record set England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935, Sub Category:Prison Registers, Collection from: UK, accessed 31 May 2016.

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References

[1] Find My Past.com, Shropshire Marriages (1803-1812), Prees Parish, Shropshire, UK, Parish Registers, Anglican Church Parish Register P.16, P221/A/3/3, 1 December 1806 : Charles Symmons and Elizabeth Thomas: Source Find My Past, accessed 6 June 2016.

[2] Find My Past.com, Shropshire Baptisms (1813-1837), Prees Parish, Shropshire, UK, Parish Register P.9, P221/A/2/4, 17 October 1813 : Catharine Simmons, accessed 6 June 2016.

[3] Find My Past.com, Shropshire Baptisms (1813-1837), Prees Parish, Shropshire,UK, Parish Register P.19, P221/A/2/4, 30 July 1815 : Hannah Simmons, accessed 6 June 2016.

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References

[1] Shrewsbury Local History.org.uk Health, Henry Pidgeon’s Diary, from the website Shrewsbury Local History, http://shrewsburylocalhistory.org.uk/health.htm, accessed 20 June 2016

[2] Find My Past.com, England and Wales, Shropshire Burials, Prees Parish 1824-26, Symmons/Simmons,

[3] Free Settler or Felon? Convict Ship Fanny, 1833, From the website Jenwillets.com:
http/: http://www.jenwilletts.com/convict_ship_fanny_1833.htm), accessed 31 May 2016.

[4] Maxwell L Howell; Lingyu Xie, Convicts and the Arts, North Charlston, SC : CreateSpace, [2013] Source: Google books accessed 23 June 2016, and website ‘Convicts to Australia – http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/res-14.html

[5] Ancestry.com UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, surrey. Ref ADM 101/27/3/6 Accessed 28 May 2016.

[6] Ancestry.com, NSW, Austalia, Convicts Indents, 1788-1842, Archives NSW; Series NRS 12189; Item: [X635]; Microfiche: 706: [database online]. Provo, UT.USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.,2011. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: NSW Govt. Annotated printed indents (ie office copies) NRS 12189, microiche 696-730, 732-744. State Records Authority of NSW, Kingswood, NSW, Australia, accessed 31 May 2016.

[7] Trove.com.au,The Sydney Gazette, Notice: Colonial Secretarial Office, 5 Feb 1833, accessed 15 May 2016.

[8] Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Settlers and Convicts List 1787-1834 [database on line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 1-4,6-18, 28-30); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England. HO 10/30), accessed 31 May 2016.

[9] Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: New South Wales Government. Indents First Fleet, Second Fleet and Ships. NRS 1150, microfiche 620–624. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. New South Wales Government.

[10] Ancestry.com, Archive Authority of NSW, Ticket of Leave 33/730, 1 October 1833, Joseph Stanton, Dated 30 November 1832.

[11] Ancestry.com, NSW Australia, Registers of Convicts’ Application to Marry Granted (1826-1851) [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. Original data: Registers of convicts’ application to marry. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia: State Records Authority of New South Wales. State Archives NSW, Series 12212; Item: 4/4509; Page:205, accessed 27 May 2016.

[12] NSWBDM Death Certificates : 1891/12517 Penrith : Ann Stanton,
Website: http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/Pages/family-history/family-history.aspx, accessed 5 June 2016.

[13] Richardson, J, ‘Convict Women and their Needle in Moreton Bay’, ‘What the Convict Women Brought with them – and what they left behind’, Femal Convict Research Centre Seminar, Hobart, November 2015. Source: Mylo.utas.edu.au/contents/enforced/141283-AW.FSW_1651, accessed 31 May 2016.

Copyright The British Library : The Staffordshire Advertiser, 24 March 1832, Page 2 of 4 Article, Shropshire Lent Assizes, “Fire at Whixall”, Find My Past: accessed 14 June 2016.

Copyright The British Library : The Staffordshire Advertiser, 24 March 1832, Page 2 of 4 Article, Shropshire Lent Assizes, “Fire at Whixall”, Find My Past: accessed 14 June 2016.
The prosecutor’s witness said “he did not know that his master’s wife had called his master a dirty villain for taking liberties with the prisoner. He did hear something of the sort said by his mistress. It was one night when he was in bed. James Nevill, waggoner to the prosecutor, corroborated the last witness”.

Copyright The British Library : The Staffordshire Advertiser, 24 March 1832, Page 2 of 4 Article, Shropshire Lent Assizes, “Fire at Whixall”, Find My Past: accessed 14 June 2016.

Copyright The British Library : The Staffordshire Advertiser, 24 March 1832, Page 2 of 4 Article, Shropshire Lent Assizes, “Fire at Whixall”, Find My Past: accessed 14 June 2016.
Her signature marked with a X showing revealing her iliteracy. Poor Hannah was powerless against the system but it is incredible to at least see some of her own words on display, standing up for herself. I feel her pulsing through my veins and understand myself a little better for it.

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Images

(1) The Salopian Journal, 16 Nov 1831: Sourced from Find My Past, accessed 12 June 2016.

(2) The Salopian Journal, 23 Nov 1831: Sourced from Find My Past, accessed 12 June 2016.

(3-8) Shrewsbury Chronicles, “Arson by a Female Servant”, 23 March, 1832 : Source Find My Past, accessed 11 June 2016.

(9-10) Copyright The British Library : The Staffordshire Advertiser, 24 March 1832, Page 2 of 4 Article, Shropshire Lent Assizes, “Fire at Whixall”, Find My Past: accessed 14 June 2016.

 

Published by lostmanlylisa

Social Scientist and Local Historian in training with a life long passion for history, culture, communication and the arts, and most of all the study of the human species in all its glory. My life now, after walking many roads that lead me to where I'm at, is turning dreams into realities for myself and others, whatever that looks like, along the way. Won't you join me?

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