Chapter 1 of The Family of Thomas and Mary Beswick, 1992, revised 1998.
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[Note: We now have information on the period 1823 to 1832. A NEW ARTICLE on Anthony Cottrell and the period when Thomas was assigned to him as a convict servant after his arrival in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) has now been added from information gathered since the 1992 report was written when we did not know what had happened to him for about the first ten years after his arrival in Tasmania.
There is a new report from research in 2004 on the burial and possible birth of Thomas Beswick the London publican father of Thomas the convict]
Thomas the Convict
GUILTY - DEATH - AGED 15
It was Christmas Eve, 1822. The watchmaker Thomas Walker in Eastcastle Street near Oxford Street, London, had been having tea when the clocks struck six o'clock. It was now quite dark. He had just set a watch and was in his shop talking with a customer named Brown when he heard a loud crash as the front window was dashed in - `with great violence', as he said later in court. There was the sound of running in the street and shouts of `Stop thief!' as Brown went out and raised the alarm. Walker, who noticed that a watch case was missing from the rack in the window stayed in the shop fearing a further attempt might be made. A boy ran round the corner into Wells Street, clutching a handkerchief rolled up in his hand. In Wells Street, opposite Margaret Street, William Zietter heard the cry of `Stop Thief', looked up, and saw the boy running as hard as he could towards him. He seized him and noticing that the boy had something in his hand wrapped up he took hold of the handkerchief, but the boy slipped out of his grasp. He took hold of him again; Brown came up and said `He is the man'. They took him back to Walker's shop and found the watch case wrapped in the handkerchief. Walker identified it as the outer casing of a watch missing from his window. He had the inside workings which fitted it. The boy pleaded to be let go, saying it was his first offense.(1)
The boy's name was Thomas Beswick. He lived with his father also named Thomas, a publican, and his mother Margaret, at `The Exeter Arms' in Burleigh Street off the Strand.(2) He was tried at the Old Bailey on 16 January 1823 charged with `burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Thomas Walker, about the hour of six, in the night of the 24th of December, at St. Mary-le-bone, with intent to steal, and stealing therein one watch-case, value 5s., and one watch hook, value 2d., his property'. His defense was that he was going down the street and saw some boys running and ran with them, heard the cry of `Stop Thief' and picked up the watch case he saw one of them throw down. He said that he had said it was his first offense `because he said, if I owned it, he would let me go'. The record of his trial ends: `Five witnesses gave the prisoner a good character. GUILTY - DEATH - Aged 15. Recommended to mercy on account of his character'.(3) He was later reprieved, and after a period of some months imprisonment on a hulk in the river he was transported for life to Van Diemen's Land. He arrived on the `Sir Godfrey Webster'(4) on 27 December 1823. So one branch of the Beswick family was established in Tasmania.
There is no reason to doubt that he was guilty as charged. The defence he gave was similar to that recorded for a number of other prisoners tried at about the same time, and appears unconvincing even when one is kindly disposed towards him. When he arrived in Hobart he said that his crime was that he had broken a window and taken a watch.(5) Apart from removing the indignity of only managing to steal the case of a watch this appears to be a fairly straight forward statement of the facts. Another untruth was the deception about his age. We know from the registration of his baptism at St. Giles that he was in fact 17 years old. It seems likely that his age was given as only fifteen in the hope of his avoiding the death sentence. The prosecution made a point of establishing that the burglary took place at night, probably to increase the seriousness of the offense and the likelihood of a severe sentence by linking him with the gangs that roamed the areas of London where he had grown up and which represented a section of the population that was largely out of control.
The area of London that young Thomas came from was one those from which the greatest number of convicts was transported.(6) His background, being born in the district of Seven Dials(7) and having lived in those parts of London that were notorious for their resistance to authority and hostility to lawful society, if they were known, would add to the picture that was no doubt commonly in the minds of prosecutors and judges.
Yet in spite of this background, he appears not to have been what people normally think of as a criminal character. Thomas the convict was unusual in not having any further convictions after being transported. Nine out of ten convicts had other offenses on their records, with an average of five further entries for charges against them, but he had none. (We know that the other three of the four convicts in the Derby branch of the family had later convictions.) His conduct in gaol was described as `indifferent' and the hulk report was `orderly'(8). All the evidence from his life in Tasmania is of a hard working, law abiding, responsible and in many ways successful citizen. His crime seems out of character and one is inclined to wonder why he did it, and whether it was really, as it seemed at the time, an act of common delinquency that belonged to the sub-culture in which he might have been expected to have moved. Indeed at that time his family was better off than many others and they had moved to a better part of town. It was not far away from Seven Dials however and he could well have maintained connections there. Burleigh Street, off the Strand, is within easy walking distance of Seven Dials and Oxford Street.
Was it a Christmas Eve lark? The risk of a death sentence is a bit high for fun, even if by that time such sentences for crimes against property were seldom carried out. It was common enough in London at that time for youngsters to take the risk and they usually got away with it. We have no evidence in Tasmania of his being an especially high spirited lad, but we do have plenty of evidence of his son Thomas II skylarking and behaving in a very adventurous and risky manner. Indeed there is objective evidence of some similarity between Thomas II and his father Thomas the convict in their somewhat adventurous business dealings, so perhaps there is something in the idea that the lad in London was having fun, probably in a group activity. The fact that his defence including running with a group of boys may tell us a good deal: it is likely that he was in fact not alone and was acting with and perhaps for the approval of what we would now call a teenage peer group. The present day equivalent would be a group of teenage delinquents illegally using or stealing a motor vehicle.
Was it even possible that he was one of those who stole deliberately in order to be transported, as some members of Parliament said was happening at that time because news of a good life for convicts in the colonies had reached their friends in England(9)? As we see it today, he almost certainly had a much better life in Tasmania than he could have expected in England. We can speculate on such possibilities, but given his age and circumstances it seems unlikely to have been anything more than it appeared to be in the evidence given at his trial.
There is, of course, the strange business of later generations being told that he was a `remittance man', sent out and supported by his family to avoid disgrace for some misdemeanour, variously described as having been involved in fixing a boxing match, stealing money collected for a good cause or rick burning(10). Perhaps the idea that he was a remittance man represents a reality that he was not as bad a character as convicts commonly were; but, even if the witnesses at his trial who `gave him a good character' were correct, there was clearly also an attempt to suppress our convict origins. He did commit a crime, however petty, and he was transported.
Imagine the sleek prow of a Viking ship gliding quietly between reed covered banks along a creek across the marshes from the river Hull to a crude farm settlement in Yorkshire on the western edge of the wetlands which then, in the ninth century, extended some dozen or so miles from the Humber estuary. It was at about the time when King Alfred (with whom some of us have a distant connection through Rob Roy and the Scottish kings) was mounting a defence in the South against the invasion of the Danes. It seems likely that one such settlement was named after a warrior-farmer with an old Scandinavian name Bessi who founded it shortly after the time when the Grand Army of the Danes landed in East Anglia in 865 and captured York (then an Anglian town named Eoforwic, and formerly the Roman Eboracum). In 876 part of the Grand Army decided to settle permanently in and around York, which they called Jorvik. A good idea of what life was like in the Viking settlements can be obtained today by visiting the underground Jorvik exhibition on the site of recent archeological excavations at York.(11) The invaders mixed with the local Angles, became Christians, and adopted much of their language.
The word 'wick' or some variation of it means house or homestead in many European languages. In England it came to apply to a settlement, town or farmstead in general, so that `wick' meant `place'. A `wick' or `vik' was also a bay or inlet, as still today in Scandinavian countries. Indeed the Vikings went viking or raiding along the coasts and up the rivers. The ending `wick' was then added to the name of Danish or Norse settlement that could be reached from the sea by going up that inlet, as for example the present Norwegian city of Narvik. So whether from the Angle or the Danish usage, Bessi's place was called Beswick, and Bessi was almost certainly a Dane.(12) However, the wick ending could equally have come from Anglo-Saxon origins, and the difference might not have been noticed at the time.
The village of Beswick in the East Riding of Yorkshire (now Humberside) was listed in the Doomsday Book in 1086, as was another village of the same name in Lancashire on the River Medlock just to the east of Manchester. The Lancashire Beswick was apparently founded a generation (about 30 years) later than the original one in Yorkshire by Danish settlers who moved over from Yorkshire and settled in the Manchester district at the end of the ninth century.(13) We can only guess whether some of them named their new village after the one they had left or it has a separate derivation from a similar origin. The old Yorkshire village of Beswick remains a small village today, and is easily found five miles north of Beverley on route A164. Beswick in Lancashire appears as a small cluster of houses on Yates map of Lancashire in 1787 and was a village of about 200 people in the early part of the 19th century, but was it swallowed up by the urban expansion of Manchester and became a depressed inner suburb of the industrial city in the later part of 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1980s parts of it were open park land as a result of the clearance of derelict terrace houses which was then in progress.
The family name of Beswick was taken from the place name. There were, and still are, some Beswick families in Yorkshire, but by far the greatest number in church records from 1600 onwards is found in a widening area centred on Manchester and the old village to the east of it. Dispersal of families from the village and their being known by that surname would date from the Middle Ages. By 1800 they were scattered all over South East Lancashire and into neighbouring counties, especially Cheshire. They were quite numerous, and Thomas was a common name among them: no fewer than 23 Thomas Beswicks were married at Manchester Cathedral between 1820 and 1875.
There were already some Beswicks in London from the time of Elizabeth I. It is likely that most we know of came to London later and especially as the industrial revolution changed the society to which they had belonged. Parish records from the industrial towns around Manchester(14) for the 1700s show that many of the Beswicks had been weavers although there were some in other trades or professions; at Oldham, for example, in the 1770s and 80s there was a schoolmaster named Beswick and several weavers and joiners. We can expect that a move into business at a new location such as keeping a public house in London might well have taken place when the cottage industries became depressed with the growth of factories, which of course began for the whole world with the textile industry in Lancashire. It might have been in this way that our ancestors came to London where the father of young Thomas was one of several Beswick publicans in the first half of the 19th century.(15) On the other hand it is possible that their family had been in London since the mid 1500s. (See Thomas the publican and his possible family of origin.)
In telephone books of the principal cities in the English speaking world (in Britain, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) today, the greatest number of Beswicks still are found in Manchester, and the next highest numbers are in London and Melbourne, while Tasmania has a very high number in proportion to its population. In moving from the North of England to London and then to South Eastern Australia our ancestors, whether by choice or otherwise, were fairly typical of Beswicks in general. Our family, which we know from London, almost certainly started from a village of Viking origins named Beswick in Lancashire or Yorkshire, and most probably from the one that became an inner suburb of Manchester.
LIFE IN LONDON
Among the Beswick families living in London around 1800 was one in Great Earl Street (now Earlham St.), Seven Dials, in the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. Thomas Beswick was the keeper of a public house `The Royal Oak'.(16) It was there that Thomas and his wife Margaret had a son Thomas, born 20 June 1805. A girl was born two years later, and was baptized with three older sisters(17) all on the same day, 25 October 1807. They had been born on various dates over the previous ten years: Mary Ann, 30 July 1797; Jane, 22 October 1798; Margaret, 27 May 1801; and Martha, 30 July 1807. Another girl, Eliza b. 10 July 1809 was baptized at St. Giles 15 October 1809. Samuel and a twin brother Henry were born 15 February 1812 and baptized 14 June 1812.(18) Samuel is the only one of whom we know anything later. He came to Tasmania as a free settler more than thirty years after Thomas was transported. The names of his sisters Margaret (also his mother's name) and Jane (which could have been his grandmother's name(19) or his great aunt's name), are the names of the first two daughters of Thomas the convict.
[New evidence suggests that the mother of Thomas the convict was Margaret Hopperton (see linked page) who married Thomas Beswick at St George, Hanover Square, 30 November 1803]
We know a good deal about the general conditions of living in the area around St. Giles and Seven Dials at the time our family was there, but we have little direct evidence of their own circumstances other than the occupation of the publican and his move to a better location near the Strand. There might have been some family connection with the new location, indicating a related group of people engaged in business: quite near to `The Exeter Arms' in Burleigh St. was a butcher named Samuel Beswick(20) at 11 James St. We have tended to think of Samuel the butcher as the brother of Thomas the publican, just as in the next generation there was Samuel the tailor, brother of the convict; and then in Tasmania, `Samuel II' the coach proprietor of Scottsdale who was the brother of `Thomas II' who, amongst other ventures, started the first hotel in Scottsdale - but that is all well in the future. We know there was a tradition of naming boys Samuel and Thomas, but we do not know whether Samuel the butcher was really the brother of Thomas the publican. [There is a new report on the burial and possible birth of Thomas Beswick the London publican.]
Besides being the address of `The Exeter Arms' (from the Burleigh family who held noble titles of Exeter), Burleigh Street was the site of a building complex of considerable interest at the time when Thomas lived there with his family, the Exeter Exchange, known as "the Change" on the Strand. It is featured in Jane Austin's novel Sense and Sensibility as the place where a kind of indoor zoo was kept, so young Thomas would have known the roar of lions at night. The address of the Exeter Arms was 1 Burleigh St., just around the corner, more or less at the back of the Change. [See picture]
The information we have on Thomas the convict's younger brother Samuel in London helps indirectly to round out the picture of the family there. He was a tailor at 2 Old North St., Red Lion Square, Holborn, in 1838. By the time of the census in 1851 he was living at 23 Bernard St., near Russell Square.(21) Indeed the address, and the same solid brick building, can still be seen today just opposite the Bernard St. entrance to the Brunswick Shopping Centre, and quite near the entrance to the Russell Square underground station. Samuel, was listed as head of household, aged 38, and described as a `tailor out of business', born in the city of Westminster; his wife Charlotte, 41, was there too, and his daughter Charlotte who was 14, born in St Pancras Parish, Middlesex; and there were several lodgers: a solicitor and his brother, a parson and his wife, and a solicitors' clerk.
Samuel was living in what Richard Gandy described as `a new and salubrious neighborhood'. Samuel might have inherited some capital from his father Thomas the publican, and could perhaps have brought it to Tasmania a few years later. It is even possible that Thomas the convict had some share in it. Thomas made Samuel a trustee of his property at Patterson Plains near Launceston in 1854, only a year or so before Samuel and his family emigrated. It is certainly interesting that Thomas and Samuel kept in touch and maintained such a relationship over a period of 30 years, especially considering that Samuel was only 11 years old when Thomas left England. What we would give for some letters! Samuel (I) set up business as a shop keeper at Cressy a few years after arriving in Tasmania, and lived at Cressy until he died in 1891. As we see later, he was last described as a farmer. In any case he did fairly well in later life, but Seven Dials was notorious for its poverty and crime.
The reaction of Richard Gandy in London to the news that the `native place' of Thomas in the convict records was Seven Dials, gives a feel for its reputation:
Seven Dials! The worst slum in London for well over a century, immortalised by Dickens as "Tom-all-alone's" in "Bleak House" and more than a century earlier the scene of Hogarth's "Gin Lane", "The Idle Apprentice" and "The Harlot's Progress".(22)
St Giles stands on the edge of this area. Robson in his book on the background of the convicts(23) concluded from a statistical study that `the locality of St Giles's, north of the Strand and centered upon Seven Dials' was one of two or three from which London convicts were most heavily drawn.
The "Rookery of St Giles's", home of thieves, prostitutes and "cadgers" at the height of the transportation era, was an endless and teaming intricacy of squalid courts and yards, and was matched in notoriety by another prominent landmark, the large and dirty building called "Rat's Castle", which also housed thieves, prostitutes and boys who lived by plunder. Cheap lodging-houses and thieves kitchens abounded, and even after the Rookery was broken up to make way for New Oxford Street, twelve to thirty people lived in one room. Thirty-eight men, women and children were found living on the floor of one apartment in 1851.
And so powerless were the authorities in the unsavoury parish of St Giles that, in 1817, when on one occasion a malefactor was chased there, the pursuers were obliged to go away and leave the thief because his companions appeared, and "they set us at defiance".
According to Robson the typical convict transported from England was a young male thief, from an urban area, a labourer or from one of the less skilled trades, who was likely to have been convicted of previous crimes. Thomas Beswick was typical in respect of his age, crime and place of origin, but he claimed, according to evidence at his trial, that it was his first offence, and his trade (perhaps apprenticeship) was given as `brass turner' (he was later a shoemaker and farmer in Tasmania), whereas Robson says `relatively few metal and textile workers' were among London-tried men. Furthermore, he was literate when the majority of his fellow prisoners could not read or write. As we have already noted Thomas was unusual too in his future good behaviour. Nevertheless, it was a powerfully influential environment: Robson concluded
that the areas around the City of London such as St Giles's and Spitalfields were the places where lived the class dangereuse, and where Hogarth's "Gin Lane" appears a true picture of the background of a sizeable number of Australia's early settlers. There is, furthermore, reason to believe from the evidence of those competent to judge that the youthful convicts were persistent criminals, if not habitual ones, and that they lived a hand-to-mouth street-Arab existence.
Perhaps young Thomas meant to deny this for himself when he made a point of saying during his interrogation on arrival in VDL that he had lived with his father and mother. Just the same he would have been familiar with the scene described in a street ballad of the time:
In St James's they keep up their spirits with wine,
In St Giles they're drunk on `blue ruin' by nine.
In St James's fraternity goeth ahead,
In St Giles they fraternize ten in a bed. ....
In St James's they sleep on down pillow and snore,
In St Giles's the same, but its down on the floor.
Not that all was sweetness and light at either end of the social spectrum. The court of George IV and the society he kept as Prince Regent was one of the most decadent ever to surround the throne of England. There is a nice illustration relevant to our story in Philip Ziegler's biography of Lord Melbourne, William Lamb, who was one of the more upright associates of the Prince at the time when young Thomas was growing up. Caroline Lamb, wife of the future Prime Minister, was a wild sort of creature who had attracted attention in London Society, and was known especially for the passionate abandonment of her affair with Lord Byron. Her first such adventure after her marriage to William Lamb was with Sir Godfrey Webster,
son by the first marriage of the great Whig hostess, Lady Holland. Webster was a debauched rake, a former soldier of courage but no other noticeable quality who had established himself as a leading figure in London society ... For a few months their liaison was notorious, then Sir Godfrey lost his appetite for emotional explosions, Caroline sickened of his earthy sensuality, and the affair withered and died.(24)
Had it not been for Caroline Lamb and Lord Melbourne we might never have heard of the man after whom the ship on which young Thomas was transported was named. So, it seems, the young delinquents of St Giles were sent to Van Diemen's Land on ships named after those of St James.
POOR WRETCHES AND PURITANS
A small digression of a personal kind will help us to pick up some of the more divergent roots of our family. There are two little side lights which can be brought together at a later stage. One comes from an ancestor of a family which would be connected by marriage in the fifth generation of the Beswick family in Tasmania.(25) It is the personal record of the experience of seeing convicts at the hulks in the river Thames recorded by my late wife's great grandmother's great grandfather. The other little picture is the arrest and transportation at about the same time of the mother of Richard Jordan, the man after whom my grandfather Richard Thomas Beswick was named, and from whom my father Richard David, brother Richard John (known as John) and cousin Richard have their names. He was not a blood relation, but a close friend whose family had a strong influence on ours; and hence his background is part of our cultural heritage.
First, the tradition of moral commitment of puritan origins that gave us both the convict stain and the politics of freedom. It was in the summer of 1786 that the British Government decided to establish a penal colony in New South Wales. On the Monday nearest midsummer's day that year, 26 June 1786, another Thomas, Thomas Marsom, went on an excursion as he and his friends did on that day each year. They set out from the City of London by boat and then walked from Greenwich to Woolwich before going on to Shooters Hill. At Woolwich they visited the naval dock yards and then saw the convicts from the hulks at work nearby. It was to one such hulk that Thomas Beswick was taken before he was transported. Robert Hughes describes the famous scene:
The sight of the hulks at Portsmouth, Deptford or Woolwich was deservedly famous. They lay anchored in files on the grey heaving water, bow to stern, a rookery of sea-isolated crime. As the long boat bearing its prisoners drew near, the bulbous oak wall of these pensioned-off warships rose sheer out of the sea, patched and queered with excrescences, deckhouses, platforms, lean-tos sticking out at all angles from the original hull. They had the look of slums of tenements, with lines of bedding strung out to air between the stumps of the masts, and the gunports barred with iron lattices. They wallowed to the slap of the waves, dark fleeces of weed stream in the current from the rotting waterlines .... cramped and wet inside, dark and vile smelling.(26)
Thomas Marsom, from a Baptist family of note, and `a select party of friends', looked out over the dockyards at Woolwich and contemplated the `poor wretches' who were working at levelling ground on the shore with ballast from a lighter in the river. There were four hulks moored nearby where the convicts went for meals and to sleep at nights, and he imagined how they must be guarded until the completion of the time for which they had been sentenced, `for guilt this infamy to bear'. That he could accept. They were proof to him of the depravity of the human race of which he had just been reminded by the weapons of war in the great naval establishment they had just passed through:
But one thing grating to the ear,
And shocking did to me appear,
The rattling of their chains I mean
As they by us were passing seen.
From these poor wretches case may we
This lesson learn, forever flee
The company of such ....
When this other Thomas looked on the convicts he could not have known that the die was already cast for the company of such as them to be mixed with his in a far away land. Among the many roots that make up our families, the mixing of the company of the convicts with the descendants of the puritans was one of the most potent sources of the Australian culture. Some of my wife's ancestors and some of mine are represented by those two groups who looked at each other at Woolwich that warm summer day, before those with liberty `did retire':
To quench our thirst was our desire;
We to the Royal Mortar went.
Those puritans did enjoy some of the pleasures which others later rejected, sometimes with good reason in the nineteenth century. We know his thoughts on this and other subjects because books of his poems have been handed down to us.(27) Each year for several years on the day following their annual excursion Thomas Marsom wrote, in halting verse, a detailed account of their long day's walk which he called `an apology'. We tend to think of puritans as concerned with restrictions, but liberty was one of their primary concerns as when he wrote on New Year's Day 1794 in support of the French Revolution:
The potsherds of the earth together strive
Against a nation, and they would deprive
Them of that form of government they choose,
Which Government say they - we do refuse,
We will appoint a Government for you,
And your Equality we will subdue.
Thus all together join to arms they fly
To raise the drooping head of monarchy.(28)
Our story leads to others engaged in politics and much later, whose heritage includes as well the culture of the other group at Woolwich, but the cause of liberty remains a primary commitment. It is also represented in another quite different convict experience of which I am reminded by my father's name.
This is how Mary Butler was transported. It begins with the evidence of Joseph Clark in court before a Middlesex jury and Mr. Justice Heath, 12 December 1787.(29) He said that he was robbed on 10th November last at 45 Cable Street, `a house of bad repute'.
`I was in Cable Street when I was first assaulted; that was on my way home from the Bank; I had half a cheese on my head; I was looking in at the window of number 45; I had no particular reason for looking in, and the prisoners Ann Clark(30) and Mary Reading came first to the door; I never saw them before in my life, to my knowledge; they came behind me and took hold of my hand on the cheese and forced me into the house, number 45; they seized me and forced me in; they said I should go in; I said I would not go in, by any means; I said I wanted to go home.'
`Could you not have disengaged yourself if you had a mind?'
`I had property about me and a cheese upon my head.'
`What! They forced you in against your will?
`You absolutely refused to go? - `I did'. And so the questioning went on for some time - `Did you struggle as hard as you could struggle?' - `Yes, I did and they forced me against my will into the front room .... Ann Clark took the cheese off my head; she came behind me, and pushed it into a chest by the bedside; says she, "You shall stay all night"; "No", says I, "I will not"; then she shoved me to Mary Butler who was sitting by the fire, and said I should send for something to drink; and I gave her a shilling, and she brought me half a pint of gin.'
After sharing the gin and a game of cards and more gin, `I fell very sick'. He yielded to their demands for him to send for more drink and some supper .... `she said I should go upstairs before I had my supper; I told her I would not; says she, you must go upstairs; then Mary Butler took hold of my hand and Mary Randall shoved me behind, up two pair of stairs.' So the sorry tale goes on - `let me undress you and you shall have your supper in bed; .... She took and forced off my coat, my hat, my shoes, .... she threw me on the bed.' More drink and talk of the money; he had a twenty pound note and a fifteen pound note. `Then Mary Butler took my hands and put them behind me.' They took his money and he chased Mary Randall, with his coat in his hand, down the stairs and along the street to `the Green Man', where he went inside and landlord said, `You dog, what do you want?' `I told him.' Says he, `You dog, you don't look to be worth forty farthings, instead of forty pounds; and immediately he shoved me into the kennel.' [A kennel was a kind of large drain or culvert.]
His account of the robbery was supported by a witness who said he watched the events in the upstairs room through a keyhole. Prisoner Randall: `Why did he not come to his assistance?' - `I should have got knocked on the head if I had gone in.' Mary Butler, `aged 15', and Mary Randall were found guilty of stealing money and sentenced to be transported for seven years.
At the time of the sentence the first fleet was about to arrive at Botany Bay, and there was a long delay before the second fleet departed. Mary Butler was transported on `Lady Juliana' on the notorious voyage which took 309 days after the ship had already lain in the Thames for six months before sailing. She carried 226 female convicts of whom the majority were London prostitutes, but note that prostitution itself was not a crime and most would have been guilty of theft. The first officer was Thomas Edgar, who had been master of the `Discovery' on Captain Cook's last voyage. He was a `kind, humane man', very good to the women convicts. The `Lady Juliana' travelled by way of Tenerife, St. Jogo, Rio de Janeiro and the Cape, with lengthy stays in port. She was said to be nothing but a floating brothel. `When we were fairly out at sea', recalled one of the crew, Nicol, `every man on board took a wife from among the convicts, they nothing loath.' At the various ports seamen from every vessel in the harbour were freely entertained, and there seemed no lack of either gaiety or liquor.(31)
Two months after Mary Butler arrived at Sydney in June 1790 she was sent to Norfolk Island. On the way she met William Saltmarsh. Their child William, who comes into our story again much later at Longford Tasmania, was born in 1792. Afterwards she formed a relationship with an Irish convict, James Jordan (Sheridan) from which she was known later known as Mrs. Jordan. Their eldest son Richard, whose name is still with us, was born in December 1794. James looked after Government boats and had a farm of his own on which they had other children and lived a normal family life with apparent prosperity for about 20 years. Norfolk Island was not then the horror place of secondary punishment it became in its next period of settlement. Many people in the communities near Launceston with whom our family were associated later looked back to happy times on the island. It was on the island that enduring links were forged between those who later supported our people. Sadly, Mary died shortly before the people of Norfolk Island were evacuated in 1813 as the result of an unpopular government policy decision to resettle them at what was called Norfolk Plains (later Longford), Tasmania.(32)
How the connection with the Beswick family was formed is part of the story of the women Thomas the convict and his son Thomas II married, which we will be taking up later. Briefly, the mother of Mary Mackenzie, the wife of Thomas I, later married a Irishman named Brennan who had been a convict on Norfolk Island. Richard Jordan was a friend of the family, and Catherine, wife of the Thomas II, who seems to have lived with the Jordans and to have been brought up by her father with their help, was proud of some Irish connection, which we now know to have been from her mother as well as the Jordan and Brennan relationships.(33) Their contribution(34) is likely to have been significant in the attitudes they shared with others in the convict community around Launceston, and in the specific influence of Richard Jordan's family on the future mistress of 'Florence Vale' at Derby about 100 years after Mary Bulter's escapade at the house in Cable St. First we must see Thomas settled in Tasmania.
THE BREAD OF BANISHMENT
Thomas Beswick was transported on `The Sir Godfrey Webster', which left Gravesend, not far downstream from the hulks at Woolwich, on 21 July 1823, first moving to Sheerness at the mouth of the river, leaving there on 8 August, and finally after sailing Westward in the English Channel departing England from Falmouth on 4 September. There were 180 male convicts on board. They called at the Canary Islands for supplies, left Tenneriffe on 28 September(35) and sailed for three months around the Cape and direct to Hobart, arriving there on 27 December 1823, just a year after he was arrested in Wells Street, London.
On arrival he was described in the convict records as being 5 feet 3 inches tall, having brown hair and light grey eyes, aged 18, a brass turner by trade and having been born at Seven Dials, his `native place'.
Those convicts destined for Port Dalrymple (River Tamar and Launceston district) were marched overland to the Northern settlement. Thomas was one of sixty who made the trip north. On the way he would have passed through only scattered farming settlements, along a track that had only been in use for a few years, until approaching Port Dalrymple, after crossing the South Esk River, `on the banks of which are many cultivators', he would have come to the `Breadalbane Plains'. As the surveyor Evans saw it around 1820:
the country is superior in richness and beauty ... among the most verdant districts on the island: it continues northward to the end of a spacious valley, well watered by a chain of ponds falling into the North Esk. The settlers here have bred immense herds of cattle and sheep .... A little to the east of its boundary is the remarkable spot ... Corra Lin. The North Esk, flowing from its source, falls violently over fifteen or twenty ranges of large rocks, rising nearly as many feet in height from their base. Through the reach, which is nearly a mile in length, the water rushes rapidly, and with such noise, that it is impossible, while standing near it to hold a conversation. The overhanging rocks, and the apparently pendant trees nodding over the passage, fill the mind of the traveller with sentiments of awe and admiration. From this place to Launceston, a distance of about nine miles, a tolerable road leads through some cultivated land, particularly that situated on Paterson's Plains.(36)
It was there at Patterson Plains just below the cataract at Corra Linn that young Thomas would eventually make his home and two more generations of Beswicks would be born. His future wife was already living in that district with her mother and step father. He was assigned as a convict servant in a neighbouring district and would also get to know Launceston, which was described by Evans as having `recently fallen into decay, in consequence of Government having deemed it advisable to form another settlement nearer to the mouth of the Tamar.' In 1819, Governor Macquarie, on his tour of inspection
found the original public buildings at Launceston in such a state of dilapidation and decay, as to be altogether incapable of being repaired, while, at the same time such buildings were indispensable, [he gave] orders for the following to be forthwith erected; namely:- A gaol; a Military Barrack; an Hospital; a Commissariat Store and Granary; a Barrack for one Military Officer; and a Barrack for an Assistant Surgeon ...(37)
The new gaol was probably Thomas's first abode in his new land, for a short time before he was given the relative freedom of an assigned servant. He was assigned to work in the Morven district(38) as a servant of Anthony Cottrell a young landholder on Nile River and pound keeper at Gordon Plains, a few miles South of the present day village of Evandale. While it would be some ten or so years before it would become clear what kind of life the trauma of his transportation would lead to, he was fortunate in having Cottrell as his master, apparently for the whole of his servitude before he was granted a ticket of leave in 1832 or a little earlier [see new article Anthony Cottrell, to which is appended additional information on sources in a note on Cottrell ].
The first novel published in Australia was `The Bitter Bread of Banishment' by Henry Savery(39). It is hard for us to imagine how bitter it was or how young Thomas must have felt so far from his home in crowded London. A good feel for the plight of convicts during their early months of separation from home and family can by obtained by reading an excellent description by Hughes in his book `The Fatal Shore'(40). He gives a fascinating account with heartrending examples, especially of those who left wife and family behind. The initial shock must have been great also for the unmarried young people, knowing with virtual certainly that they would never see their homes again.
Today immigrants can easily keep in touch with their families on the other side of the world. It is as easy to telephone London as the next suburb, and the cost of travel is within the means of most people. But then it must have been like a one way trip to another planet. It was several generations before any of our family returned to the old country and by that time all contact with the original Beswick family had been lost, although it must have been maintained for many years as we know that his brother Samuel and family followed Thomas thirty years later. That was still within reach of our collective memory in recent times: one of the few reliable facts that was passed on to the present generation was that the first Thomas had a brother who was a tailor in London, and there was still some memory of their renewed relationship amongst our oldest informants in recent times(41), but we have no documents or other information to tell us who they were in correspondence with at that time.
Thomas learned the trade of shoemaker. After being assigned to work for others for some years(42), he obtained a ticket of leave and worked on his own account in Launceston. He was still a convict on `ticket of leave' living in Launceston when `with the consent of government' he married a young widow, Mary Peck (nee Mackenzie) at St. Johns Church, Launceston, on 6 May 1834.(43) By that time he had property in Bathurst St., Launceston, and 44 acres on the South Esk in the Breadalbane district.(44) With his marriage he acquired an interest in the land Mary had inherited from her father, a farm at Patterson Plains, near Corra Linn and White Hills, where they lived.(45) He received a conditional pardon on 22 August 1836. A free pardon was granted on 2 February 1842,(46) when he would have been entitled to return to England, but by that time he was well established with a family in a new way of life and the bread of banishment must long since have ceased to be bitter.
Thomas the convict had now become Thomas I of our Beswick family in Tasmania. The next stage of his life belongs equally to his wife Mary, and to understand something of their life together we need first to know the strange and sometimes moving story of Mary's parents, Ann Clarke and Alexander Mackenzie, who were the first of our ancestors to come to Australia.
[For new information on the period of ten years after arrival of Thomas in Tasmania up to the time of his marriage to Mary, see the article on Anthony Cottrell the man to whom he was assigned as a convict servant. This material will form the basis of another chapter between 1 and 2 in this revision.]
NOTES ON CHAPTER 1
The purpose of these notes is to give the sources of information, and at some points additional information and explanation that may of interest to others who have been engaged in researching the history of this family or related families. Family members with a special interest in some particular part of the story could also find them useful.
At some points the notes explain how conclusions have been reached where the evidence is conflicting or difficult to interpret. Uncertainties were avoided to a large extent within the chapters although some are acknowledged. The notes are in this respect an essential part of the whole work.
The first three chapters and most of Chapter 4 have been carefully documented, but as we move into the later period greater reliance has been placed on living witnesses.
1. Old Bailey Session Papers, Gaol Delivery for the City of London and also Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex, held at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey, Second Session 1823, p. 74, Thursday January 16, Middlesex Cases, Second Jury, before Lord Chief Baron Richards.
2. Residence and father's name: The convict record of Thomas Beswick, Tasmanian Archives, Hobart, gives the information that he had last lived with his parents at a public house named the `Exeter Arms', but gives the address as Berwick St., which interestingly is in Soho just across Oxford St. from Wells St., but Robson's Trade Directory for 1822-23 and the licensed victuallers' recognizances for St. Martin-in -the-Fields have the correct location with the name of the proprietor as Thomas Beswick, who was also listed as licensee in 1817. Mother's name: Record of the baptism of Thomas Beswick at St. Giles Church, 14 July 1805, with his birth on 20 June 1805.
3. See note 1.
4. Registration of the marriage of Thomas Beswick and Mary Peck (nee Mackenzie) at St. John's Church, Launceston [date], gives the name of the ship thus identifying as a convict the Thomas Beswick who is an ancestor of the Beswicks who can trace their descent from that couple. There were several convicts named Beswick and Thomas was a common Beswick name so this identification is important, establishing the link with his origins in London. See also note 1 and note 43 regarding marriage.
5. Convict record, 31/1, Tasmanian Archives
6. L. L. Robson, The Convict Settlers of Australia. University of Melbourne Press, 1965.
7. The convict records in the Tasmanian Archives give his `native place' as `Seven Dials', thus leading to the record of his baptism at the parish church, St. Giles, a few streets away.
8. Convict record State Archives, Hobart.
9. The Biggs Report. See Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore. London: Collins-Harvill, 1987
10. Dorothy Russell and others believed such stories and passed them on until we discovered in 1981 that Thomas was a convict. However, some members of the family, in the male line, had apparently been told the truth.
11. Richard Hall, The Viking Dig, the Excavations at York. London: The Bodley Head, 1984. 2000 Years of York - the Archaeological Story. York Archeological Trust, 1978.
12 A .H .Smith, The Place-Names of the East Riding of Yorkshire. Cambridge University Press, 1937. [English Place-Name Society. Vol. XIV] See also A Genealogical Gazetteer of England by Frank Smith, Genealogical Pub. Co. 1968, and the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Place Names.
13. J .J .Bagley A History of Lancashire. Chichester, Phillimore and Co. 1976.
14. County archives now in the city library, Manchester.
15. Attempts to find the birth the Thomas the Publican, father of Thomas the convict, and thus to trace the family further back to their arrival in London from the North, have failed so far. We do not have enough information to locate him among several fairly unlikely possibilities in the North. In any case it seems more likely that he was born in London, possibly the son of Thomas and Jane Beswick who had children named Samuel (b. 14 May 1773) and Thomas (b. 22 March 1775) baptized at St. Katherine's Cree. We know there was a family tradition of naming boys Thomas and Samuel which continued in Tasmania until young Catherine named my grandfather Richard after the family friend Richard Jordan, and was noted for breaking the tradition. The name Jane appears in the next two generations among the daughters of both Thomas the publican and Thomas the convict, just as the convict's mother Margaret's name recurs as the name of his eldest daughter. So the pattern is consistent with this being our family although there were several other Beswick families in London with children named Thomas or Samuel at about the same time, and there was also another Jane. Unfortunately those children at St. Katherine's Cree cannot be in our direct line because they both died when a few months old (the burials are listed for 22 October 1773 and 27 August 1775 in the parish register of 1764-98 which is at the Guild Hall in London). Their parents could have given the same names to later children, but if so they had moved to another parish because no more Beswick baptisms were registered in that parish up to 1798. There is evidence of Thomas and Jane having later children baptized at St. Andrew's, Holborn (Benjamin 1 Sept. 1776 and Ann Martha 18 November 1777.)
We have conflicting and uncertain possible dates of death and age at death for Thomas the publican, indicating birth as early as 1765 or as late as 1787. The burial of one Thomas Beswick aged 73 years was registered at St. Pancras 23 September 1838, but he is probably too old. The only other Thomas Beswick whose death is registered in the London area in the early years after central records began was a publican who had the `Green Dragon', Spring Gardens Place, Stepney in 1841, the year in which he died, aged 54. He was probably too young to have been the father of the convict, and if his marital status of bachelor on the certificate of his marriage to Parthenia Wrainch at St. Magnus the Martyr in 1834 is correct he could not have been previously married to Margaret the mother of Thomas in 1805, nor would he be the father of her older children beginning from 1797 if he was born as late as 1787.
There was also another Beswick publican in London (at the `White Hart', corner of Gt. Turner St. and Commercial Rd. in 1838) named Jonathan Beswick, which perhaps indicates a wider family connection with hotels, and is also interesting for two other reasons: (1) Thomas and Jane of St. Katherine's Cree had a son Jonathan b. 8 Feb 1771 and (2) because there was a Jonathan Beswick in Tasmania from whom some of the Beswicks of the North West Coast of Tasmania are descended, and who died in the Port Sorrell district in 1863 where Thomas died in 1877. The suggestion is that there was an extended family of Beswicks who were associated with hotels and who were in London for a generation or so before our Thomas the convict was born. The same family might be a link between at least one branch of the Beswicks of the Northwest Coast of Tasmania and our family of the North and North East, but the search for earlier generations while suggestive of possible solutions awaits new evidence.
The best guess is that they came from the North before Thomas the publican was born. A clue to where in the North they might have been immediately before coming to London might be to find where the names the Thomas and Samuel were used together. Both were fairly common names for Beswick boys in the nineteenth century, but seldom used for brothers, so it might be of some help if we could find a place where the names Thomas and Samuel were both used. A search of deaths registered after central reocrds began in 1837 suggests that one such possibility is Macclesfield, with Salford being a less likely alternative where both names appeared together at a later date. On other hand the names Thomas and Samuel Beswick appeared in London too from an earlier period.
16. Trade magazines and licensing records show Thomas Beswick at `The Royal Oak', Great Earl St., Seven Dials, at least from the year following 1 September 1804 until that following 1 September 1809; he was at `The Exeter Arms', Burleigh St., Strand, as early as 1817 and perhaps earlier. Information from R. Gandy.
17. There has been some doubt about the older sisters being full sisters due to the age of the Thomas Beswick who died 26 January 1841, a Victualler of Spring Gardens Place, Stepney. He died of a diseased liver and dropsy, aged 54. He was could only have been 19 when Thomas the convict was born if he is the same man as the publican at `The Royal Oak' in 1805 and at 'The Exeter Arms' in 1822. If so, three of the four girls baptized in 1807 were probably children of Margaret from a previous marriage, but that seems unlikely if the use of names is a guide and we can hardly ignore the status of bachelor given for the Stepney man at his marriage in 1834: see note 16 [Check n.]
18. Information supplied by R. Gandy from the Bishop's Transcripts of baptisms at St. Giles in the London Record Office.
19. See note 16 [check] regarding Thomas and Jane Beswick whose children Thomas and Samuel were baptized at St. Katherine's Cree. (There were actually two Margarets, the first died at the age of four, and of course the name Mary Ann could not have been used because it was already the name of his step daughter Mary Ann Peck.)
20. Trade directories 1817-19 and 1822-23-24 list Samuel Beswick as a butcher at this address. The burial of his son aged nine months was registered at St. Paul's, Covent Garden, 24 July 1818.
21. His address at 23 Bernard St. was obtained from the land deed in Hobart for the record of his trusteeship of one of Thomas Beswick's properties near Launceston in 1854. See below. The information on his being a tailor at Red Lion Square is from trade directories of the period: the last mention in Robson's directory is in 1838; and this confirms a family tradition that Thomas had a brother who was a tailor in London. His marriage to Charlotte Hallam is registered in St. Pancras parish, 7 September 1835, when he was described as resident of that parish. According to the registration of her own marriage to Charles Robertson their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth was born 17 June 1836.
22. R. Gandy, letter to DB, 29 November 1985
23. The Convict Settlers of Australia (a better book than his later History of Tasmania) See also Hughes The Fatal Shore.
24. Philip Ziegler, Melbourne: a Biography of William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. New York: Knopf, 1976
25. Fifth generation counting Thomas the convict as the first and the author's generation as the fifth. It could be taken as the sixth generation if we count from the arrival of Mary Mackenzie's parents. There are now two later generations in several lines and even one more at one point, making nine generations in all from Alexander Mackenzie and Ann Clarke to .....
26. Hughes, The Fatal Shore. p.138
27. We know what he thought on many subjects and have much detail of the life he and his people led, because with many hymns and poems on various subjects these accounts have come to us in two leather bound hand written volumes which were brought to Australia by his great granddaughter in 1848 and have been passed down through the female line of my wife's family. Thus we inherited in this line as in others a puritan heritage dating from the time of the English Civil War when an earlier Thomas Marsom, his great grandfather, had founded the first Baptist church at Luton and suffered persecution under Charles II. In the cause of religious freedom, 100 years before his later namesake was shocked by the sight of the convicts, the earlier Marsom was in gaol with John Bunyan when he wrote `The Pilgrim's Progress', and was the first person to read that foundational work of English fiction and to advise him to publish it.
28. Thomas Marsom. Unpublished manuscript, volume II. It was no accident then that when Rebecca Heales arrived at Melbourne with Thomas Marsom's books, when that settlement was only 13 years old, she and her husband were met by a man who was one of the first to take up the cause of the common man in the politics of this part of the world. Rebecca's brother-in-law was Richard Heales, a relatively well to do tradesman, who as a member of the first Parliament of Victoria introduced a bill to provide for the payment of members of Parliament arguing that unless they were paid it would not be possible for ordinary workers to serve as members. It was ten years before his bill was passed. He was then Premier for a brief time in the 1860s, and the town of Healesville is named after him. That was a generation before the Australian Labor Party was formed. It illustrates the free church origins of key elements in our democracy. They had listed themselves as Baptist on arrival. The descendants we know of since were largely Methodists, and no longer comfortable with the left of politics for the most part.
29. This account of the trial is taken from one prepared by Geoffery Squires for his Butler (Saltmarsh and Jordan genealogies) and supplied by Jan Standaloft.
30. The name is a coincidence. There is no connection with Ann Clarke, the convict from Liverpool, who was the mother of Mary Mackenzie who married Thomas I, or with Mary Ann Clark, mother of Catherine Peever, who married Thomas II.
31. Charles Bateson, The Convict Ships 1787-1868. A. H. & A. W. Reed, pp 120-123.
32. Mary Butler arrived at Port Jackson on the `Lady Juliana' on 3 June 1790 after leaving Plymouth in 29 July 1789. Two months later, 1 August 1790, she was taken to Norfolk Island on the `Surprise'. Also on board was William Saltmarsh who had arrived with the First Fleet on the `Alexander'. Their son William was born on Norfolk Island on 13 August 1792. At about the same time James Jordan arrived at Norfolk Island - 26 August 1792. He has been tried at Dublin City in March 1789 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. He arrived at Sydney on the `Queen' in September 1791 and went to the Island on the `Atlantic'. He had an alias, Sheridan. Richard Jordan was born on Norfolk Island in December 1794, the child of Mary Butler and James Jordan. There were other children. Mary died sometime between September 1812 and February 1813 when the family was evacuated to VDL to live at Norfolk Plains, later known as Longford, Tasmania. Richard Jordan and William Saltmarsh were granted land near that of James Jordan. Other children of James and Mary were Catherine b.1801, d.1839, m. James Davey 1819; James b.1804, d.1888, m. Ann Eagan 1822; Thomas b. 1807, d. 1887 m. Abigail Hanlon 1839; and John b. 1809, d. 1883, m. Frances Quinn. James was listed as coxswain of the government boats and assistant pilot in 1812. In the Norfolk Is. muster of the year he is listed as occupying land `by permission' - 14 acres of wheat, 8 in maize, horned cattle of 1 male and 3 females, sheep of 20 males and 25 females, swine 10 males and 14 females, goats 1 male and 2 females, 30 bushels of wheat and 70 bushels of maize in hand. Various sources of information on Jordan history from Jan Standaloft, Alma Ranson, June Parrott and others. The Jordan history co-ordinated by Alma Ranson of Paper Beach, Tas., was put in order for the 200th anniversary of James Jordan's arrival which was celebrated at a family reunion in 1991.
33. Family tradition from Dorothy Russell was that `Grandma', Catherine Beswick, nee Clarke/Peever would say she was `getting her Irish blood up'. Thora Burton who remembered her grandmother Catherine quite well said that Catherine's mother was Irish - in a tape recorded interview by D. Hooper. We have now an Irish ancestry for her. See "Mary Ann's Tattoo".
34. Sheridan was the Irish form of the name Jordan. In passing, it is an agreeable thought that had James Jordan retained his alias Sheridan his eldest son would have been Richard Sheridan: and I wonder whether there could have been any conscious association of the name with Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the British dramatist who was born in Ireland in 1751, who made fun of the English social scene in plays like 'The Rivals' and 'The School for Scandal', and as a member of Parliament strongly opposed the Government in its handling of the American colonies at the time of the War of Independence, and who sympathized with the French republic in 1794 and later defended Irish interests in opposition to the proposed Union in 1799. But I should add that like many other liberals Sheridan had second thoughts about the French Revolution when like Coleridge he saw the Revolutionaries become unfaithful to their principles. As Coleridge concluded his poem `Recantation' in 1798, defending the runaway `Mad Ox':
`A lying dog! just now he said
The Ox was only glad -
Let's break his Presbyterian head!'
`Hush! quoth the sage, `you`ve been misled;
No quarrels now! let's all make head,
YOU DROVE THE POOR OX MAD.'
And so my Muse perforce drew bit;
And in he rush'd and panted!
`Well, have you heard? No, not a whit.
`What, ha'nt you heard? Come, out with it!
`That Tierney votes for Mister PITT,
And Sheridan's recanted!'
35. Shipping details from I. H. Nicholson, Shipping Arrivals and Departures in Tasmania to 1833.
36. George William Evans, A Geographical, Historical, and Topographical Description of Van Diemen's Land. London: John Souter, 1822. Facsimile edition by William Heinemann 1967.
37. Governor Macquarie's report quoted by Evans.
38. Convict musters AJCP PRO 78-79 Searched in Sydney by Joan Bessell:-
Thomas Beswick: 1826 assigned to Mr. Cottrell; 1830 assigned to Mr. A. Cottrell; 1832 ticket of leave; 1833 ticket of leave
The place where convicts were assigned to work for a landholder or other employer was also written on their convict records which are in the Tasmanian Archives, but it is difficult to read what is written on Thomas Beswick's record: it appears to be 'Cottrell, Morven' and we now know from the muster records in Sydney that it was. There is no other information on hi record as there would have been had any further charges been brought against him.
39. Henry Savery, The Bitter Bread of Banishment, formerly Quintus Serverton. A Tale founded upon Incidents of Real Occurrence. Ed. by Cecil Hadgraft. Brisbane: Jacaranda Press, 1962
40. Chapter 5, `The voyage', in Hughes, The Fatal Shore.
41. Dorothy Russell is one such informant and Richard Gandy has information from Thora Bottcher and others whom he interviewed some years before our investigations began around 1980. For example, it was said that young Thomas II, son of the first Thomas, was keen on his cousin Charlotte, daughter of Samuel, who nevertheless married someone else, Charles Robertson. We can contrast the loss of contact in this line with the tenuous relationship that was maintained in the Dick family, the last of the ancestors of the `Claremont' Derby Beswicks to arrive in Australia. In that case the young couple, David and Helen Dick, who came out in 1862 were still alive at the time of the First World War and contact with relatives was made by a soldier visiting Scotland on leave; another descendent kept up the correspondence and one of the present generation, Dick Gandy, was able visit one of them in the late 1930s as others have since. Even if little is now known of them after more than 100 years there was still some contact, but there was nothing parallel for the Beswicks dating from a generation earlier.
42. For a good discussion of the assignment from the perspective of a campaigner against transportation and see local historian John West, The History of Tasmania, first published 1852, and in Angus and Robertson Australian Classics edition 1981. See also Hughes. The assignment of convicts differed from the relationship of slavery principally in that the master of the assigned servant did not have the legal right to sell his right in the prisoner's labour. The legal basis of slavery in America was founded on an earlier transportation practice in which the right of sale was in the contract of private entrepreneurs who undertook to transport convicts to the colonies and there to sell their labour, and so that right was transferred to others with the right of resale. Such a possibility was tested in the courts in Tasmania and denied, when the government removed a convict servant from a master and reassigned him without compensation and the master took the matter to court. And, of course, the children of convicts were born free.
43. St. Johns Marriages No. 340 Thomas Beswick, Ticket of Leave, of the Parish of St. John Launceston, and Mary Peck, Free (widow) of Pattersons Plains, were married in this Church by Banns with the consent of Government the Sixth day of May in the year 1834, By me W.H.Browne, LLD, chaplain. This marriage was solemnized between us: Thomas Beswick (Sir Godfrey Webster), Mary Peck; in the presence of Samuel Yates of Launceston, his X mark, William Jones of Launceston. [Note: the former marriage of Mary Mackenzie to Jeremiah Peck is No. 119 in the same church 6 November 1829.]
44. Land transactions deeds in Lands Department, Hobart. For example index 1/2878 mortgage to J. Henty on 11.11. 1833 of 44 acres at Breadalbane, in which Thomas Beswick of Launceston is described as a cordwainer (ie. shoemaker); and index 1/4151 to mortgage of land in Bathurst St. to T. Glass. Records for the acquisition of these properties do not exit. They appear to have been owned by Thomas from a time before the surviving collection deeds began about 1832. There are many other transactions in these and other properties of Thomas Beswick, of which more detail is given when later developments are discussed.
45. Evidence of ownership of this property by Alexander Mackenzie and acquisition by Mary and Thomas is contained in the trust deed of 1 September 1854 (Lands Department, Hobart, index 4/384) when it was conveyed for a consideration of `natural love and affection' to Samuel Beswick of Bernard St. Russell Square in the County of Middlesex in England, Tailor, and William Hill of the District of Morven in VDL, as trustees for the benefit of Thomas and Mary Beswick and Mary's daughter from her first marriage Mary Ann Peck; the reasons for which are considered at a later point.
46. Convict record, Archives, Hobart.
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