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Benjamin Backstay

Benjamin Backstay, one of 100 convicts transported on the Asia, 19 November 1827

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Benjamin Backstay
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: -
Occupation: Labourer
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 54 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Burglary
Convicted at: Middlesex Gaol Delivery
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Asia 1
Departure date: 19th November, 1827
Arrival date: 13th March, 1828
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 101 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 89, Class and Piece Number HO11/6, Page Number 306
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

Anonymous on 2nd August, 2012 wrote:

Benjamin was 20 years old when indicted for breaking and enterin the dwelling-house of John Prince who was a watchmaker, and stealing many small jewellery items, valued approsimately £10.

March 1828: 22, Labourer, assigned to William Cape - settler at Brisbane Water.
31/3/1832: Labourer to John Jones - Bathurst.

11/10/1834: COF - Cancelled~prepared in error.
18/11/1837: TOL Casillis

1840: Application to marry Alice Carr 29 (Henery Wellesley) at Patrick Plains.

1841: Married Alice at C of E Merriwa, Patrick Plains.

1846: Alice died at the age of(28? it says in the BDM) although by her birth year she was 35.
They perhaps had a son Thomas Backstay who married Catherine LLoyd.

1/3/1847: Mentioned in the trial of James Target -Bathurst Circuit Court.’

No date of death for Thomas.

Maureen Withey on 11th November, 2019 wrote:

Benjamin was tried at the Old Bailey. (online)

JOHN HAINES, BENJAMIN BACKSTAY, Theft > burglary, 31st May 1827.

Before Mr. Justice Holroyd.

1081. JOHN HAINES, alias MACKEWEN , and BENJAMIN BACKSTAY were indicted for burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of John Prince , about twelve o’clock in the night of the 5th of May , at Fulham, with intent to steal, and stealing 1 cornelian stone, value 2s.; 1 coral, value 1l.; 1 watch, value 7s.; 1 pair of metal cases, value 2s.; 12 tea-spoons, value 5s.; 1 pair of sugar-tongs, value 2s.; 3 necklaces, value 16s.; 27 rows of heads, value 15s.; 24 seals, value 5s.; 14 necklaces, value 14s.; 2 pairs of steel clasps, value 2s.; 3 pencil-cases, value 18d.; 10 chains, value 12s.; 3 penknives, value 1s. 6d.; 10 pairs of scissars, value 8s.; 19 brooches, value 2l.; 3 buckles, value 5s.; 12 pairs of snaps, value 1s.; 2 pairs of drops, value 1s.; 2 pairs of tweezers, value 1s.; 1 portrait, value 7s., and 1 gold pin, value 1s. , his property.

MR. ADOLPHUS conducted the prosecution.

JOHN PRINCE. I am a watchmaker , and live at No. 20, Dorvill’s-row, Hammersmith, in the parish of Fulham, Middlesex - I live in that house with my family, and have no partner. On Saturday, the 5th of May, about twelveo’clock at night, I fastened my house up myself, and am sure it was quite safe - no door or window whatever were left open - I was alarmed at four o’clock next morning - it was then daylight - I got up, opened my window, and discovered that some trays, which had contained goods the night before, were laying in the kennel - I immediately came down-stairs, and discovered that the shutters of the shop had been forced open; they had been hored by a centre-bit - the bottom rail of a shutter was broken off, and two squares of glass broken out of the window - the window does not lift up - a person could not get through that hole, but could reach the goods through with their hands - I examined my stock, and missed the articles stated in the indictment; and on the Monday saw the property at Queen-square - I know it to be mine - I know nothing of the prisoners. The shop is part of the dwelling house - you must go through it to get to the house; it is a room in the house.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. How far do you live from Hyde-park-corner? A. About four miles I have no other Christian name, nor any partner.

JOHN WARREN . I am a Bow-street patrol. On the night of the 5th of May I was on duty near Kensington church; Young was on the opposite side of the way, and about half-past three o’clock in the morning, I saw the two prisoners in company with another; it had then been day-light above an hour; they were coming towards Kensington, in a direction from Hammersmith - the two prisoners had nothing that I knew of at the time; the other man, who has escaped, was carrying a bundle under his left arm; they were all three in a line together, in conversation - I saw them a great distance before I came up to them; I did not know them before; when I saw them there was a watchman named Wilkinson on the side of them - I told him something; he is not here - I called to Young, with a low whistle, but before he came to me the prisoners and the other man came up to me; all three were together; the man who carried the bundle was on the left, Backstay in the middle, and Hayes outside - I saw them all three look down, as if they had done something - I collared the man who had the bundle, and said, “What have you got here?” I said this in the prisoners’ hearing - I was answered by Haines, “Grub,” which means victuals; the man said, “Bread and cheese;” I said, “That be d - d,” and threw the bundle down on the ground - I felt what was in it - I immediately collared Backstay with my left hand, and the man who had the bundle with my right; the handkerchief came off that man’s neck - I immediately laid hold of his coat; he got away, but before that Haines ran away; my partner and a watchman who is not here, ran after him, - I was left with Backstay, and the one who is absent - Backstay said, “What do you collar me for? I have got nothing;” he shook about a good deal, and up with his fist and struck me on my left side; he ran away, and made his escape - I turned round to see that he did not take the bundle which laid on the ground - I cried loudly for help - I turned my face to the man who had the bundle as quick as I could, to hold him, and thought I would draw my cutlass, but could not get it out, before I received a slap in the face; he knocked me down on the ground, then put his foot on my breast, and kept kicking me - I held his coat fight, till he slipped it off - I was then left with hat, handkerchief, dark lantern, and coat, and the bundle which contained Mr. Prince’s property, all of which came from the man who escaped; my partner returned with Haines, who they had taken - I stood by while he was secured, and then went in search of the other two men, taking the bundle with me - I produced the same bundle afterwards before the Justice at Queen-square; it contained the same things - I am quite sure of both the prisoners’ persons; they were full ten minutes in my presence during the scuffle; I saw Haines again the same night; he was taken and brought back - I saw Backstay again on the 14th; I have never had a doubt of his identity - I did not know the officer who apprehended him, and never saw him before in my life - I went in before the Magistrate and said, another man was taken; the officer came up, and said, “Is your name Warren?” I said Yes; he said, “Is this the man?” I said it was - I knew him immediately.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. The scuffle lasted altogether ten minutes? A. From the first of my seeing them, till they got away - it was after Haines got away, that the man who escaped, put his foot on my breast and treated me as I have described; I should think that lasted five or six minutes; Haines ran away almost directly - I looked at the two men who were loose from me; I never saw either of them before to my knowledge; I am a patrol on the Hammersmith-road - I saw them two miles and a half, or rather better, from Mr. Prince’s house.

Cross-examined by MR. CRESWELL. Q. You state you were about six minutes on the ground, being kicked by the man who got away? A. Not kicked all that time - I was holding him and scuffling - Backstay had escaped about two minutes before that; he struck me the first blow, but did not knock me down - I was not on the ground six minutes, but was scuffling; I swear Backstay is the man.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. I think you stated that the place you met them was in the direct road from Hammersmith to London? A. It was. I took Wilkinson to Queen-square, but he was not bound over.

MICHAEL HALL . I am a watchman of Camden-hill, Kensington. On Sunday morning, the 6th of May, near four o’clock, I heard a watchman’s rattle spring, and saw a man come running up the New-road, Camden-hill, towards me, in a direction from Kensington church, towards the Uxbridge-road - I saw a watchman and patrol in pursuit of him; there was nobody else near the place; the watchman sprung his rattle, and the patrol hallooed Stop thief! the prisoner Hames came up to me - I told him he must stop; I took him by the collar, and held him till Young, the patrol, came up - I delivered him to him; the spot where something has been found, was pointed out to me, by two boys, Boult and Leeson, about a week after; I took him about forty yards farther, but he would have passed that spot, and I saw him make a stop - it was some time before I heard of any thing having been found; I then got them, and they both pointed out the spot to me.

Cross-examined. Q. I suppose they are here? A. Yes - I think it was a full week afterwards that they pointed it out; it was in the exact road the prisoner had run - it is afoot-path leading from Kensington-road to Uxbridge-road; it is a public-road. I had been told they had found something.

WILLIAM YOUNG . I am a Bow-street patrol. On Sunday morning, the 6th of May, I was in Kensington, and heard a whistle from Warren, which first called my attention - I turned round, and saw three men coming in a direction from Hammersmith, towards London; one of the three had a bundle on his left arm - I have heard part of Warren’s evidence - I came up, and saw him collar two of them, which was the one who had the bundle, and the other was Backstay; I am quite sure of his person; my attention was particularly attracted to him; when I came up I looked him in the face some time - he stood nearest to me - the third man, which was Haines, ran away; I followed him - he ran towards Hammersmith, and turned up a lane called Camden-hill, and about twenty or thirty yards after he entered the lane he made a stop - I observed him put his hand under his coat, as though he was feeling for something - he started and ran again; I saw Hall, the watchman, coming down the lane, and called to him to stop him - he did so; when I came up he gave him up to me; I took him back to the place where I had left Warren, and found the two prisoners, whom I had left him with had escaped. I then handcuffed Haines; I had not lost sight of him at all, and am sure he is the man - nobody was running before me, in the same direction; the other watchman followed me in the pursuit; Boult and another boy pointed out a spot to me - it is the same spot as where Haines stopped and did something under his clothes.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. You say you did not lose sight of Haines till he was taken; how was it that you before said your attention was principally directed to Backstay? A. After he ran away, I said I did not lose sight of him.

Cross-examined by MR. CRESWELL. Q. How long were you with Backstay? A. I might be looking at him for about a minute and a half or so; I saw him again on the 17th of May.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. When you saw him on the 17th of May, or to this moment, had you any doubt of his identity? A. Not the least.

JOHN BOULT. I live at Thornton-street, Kensington. On Tuesday, the 8th of May, I was on Camden-hill with Leeson, and found a crow-bar, and Leeson found a cornelian stone - we found them both in the ditch, by mere accident; I gave them to Warren afterwards; we were playing, lost our ball, and went into the ditch to look for it; I pointed out the place to Hall first, and then to Young; it was about a day or two after, I cannot exactly say; I showed them the very same place, as near as I can tell - it might differ a yard or a foot.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Is this a public place? A. No, Sir; it is a footpath, but no thoroughfare for carriages; a good many people may pass there - it leads to Camden-hill, from the New-road - it is a short cut- I did not put any mark on the spot, but knew it by the stump of a tree; it was about a yard from the stump.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Is the place much frequented, compared to the many people who go on the highway? A. Very few people go that way.

ROBERT LEESON . I live at Thornton-mews, Kensington. I was at play with Boult on the 8th of May, in the fields adjoining the New-road, Kensington. Boult found a crow-bar, and I found a cornelian stone in the lane, in a ditch, by the footpath - Boult pointed the place out aftwerwards. I was not present then; he went with me, and pointed it out to Hall, the watchman; we showed him the place as near as we could judge; it was within three or four feet of it.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Did you make a mark on the spot? A. No - it was guess work; I pointed it out to Hall the same afternoon, and so did Boult.

COURT. Q. Why, you was not with him? A. Yes, when he pointed it out to Hall - it was the same afternoon as we found the things.

MR. PHILLIPS. Q. It was not two or three days after? A. No; I am not quite certain that it was the same afternoon, but think so - I think I pointed it out on the Saturday too, we pointed it out to Hall twice; he was at work on the road on Saturday, and we were there; it was on Tuesday we found the things, and I am not certain whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday that we pointed it out to him first; I showed it him again about three days after - it is a public thoroughfare for foot-passengers - a great many people come down that way from Kensington gravel-pits, but not so many as go along the carriage-road.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Are you sure you pointed out the same place to Hall? A. Yes; There is a bit of wood put up there to keep the bank up, close to where the crow-bar was, and some lilac there.

MR. CRESWELL here stated he had received information that Warren, the officer, had been talking with the witnesses.

Q. Has any body been speaking to you about any thing? A. An elderly man asked me if I picked up any thing; he said nothing about what I was to say.

JOHN WARREN . As I went down the steps of the Court after I was examined (having been desired to leave the Court) Grossmith stood there; I said to him, “I don’t think Young has got the things;” that is every word I said. I solemnly declare I have not at any time suggested a word to the witnesses.

FREDERICK GROSSMITH . I am a Bow-street patrol. On Sunday, the 13th of May, I took Backstay into custody on this charge, in the Broadway, Deptford, Kent, sitting on the step of a door; I had been in search of him for a week; I asked if his name was not Benjamin Backstay; he said it was not; he was sitting leaning his head towards the pavement; I moved the brim of his hat, looked at his face, as I knew him well before - I then told him I wanted him for something done, but whether I at that time said at Hammersmith, I will not be certain; he then directly ran away - I ran after him, and took him into custody - I left him in Deptford watch-house, and afterwards brought him to town - I told him when I handcuffed him in the Broadway, where I took him, that it was for a burglary done at Hammersmith - I took him to Queen-square the next day.

JOHN WARREN . I produced the bundle containing the property - I have had it ever since - I have also the cornelian stone and the crow-bar - they have been in my custody ever since I received them from the boys - here is the coat which came off the man who escaped.

MR. PRINCE. The property in this bundle is mine - andwas stolen that night - I know them again - they were in the trays which I found in the kennel - the value of the property here is about 7l. or 8l. at the lowest - I should give 7l. to buy them - this cornelian stone is mine, and part of the property stolen that night.

MR. PHILLIPS. Q. They seem small articles? A. Yes; I do not over value them; I have a clock in my house, which I looked at when I was awoke - it was exactly four.

PRISONER HAINES. I leave my defence to my counsel.

Four witnesses gave Haines a good character.

ELIZABETH WALTER . I am married, and live at No. 10, Little Falcon-court, Borough - I go out to washing and charing - Backstay lodged with me for seven months; I recollect Saturday, the 5th of May - he lodged with me then - he came home on that Saturday, about twenty minutes before twelve o’clock at night, and went to bed at a quarter-past twelve - he supped at home - it is my custom to take away his candle - I did so that night, at one o’clock - he was then in bed - I sat up that night to finish my ironing, till about twenty minutes past four in the morning - he could not have gone out without coming through my apartment - he never went out till I called him up in the morning at half-past eight o’clock - he was in bed when I called him - he was very well in health; he breakfasted and dined at my house, and went out at nine in the evening - he did not go out before, because it rained, or he was going to his father’s; he was very regular in his habits, and never out after ten o’clock - he often went to his father’s, sometimes for three days at a stretch, when he had no work; he did not go to see his father that night because it rained so hard - he was only out from nine to ten - he bore a very honest character, and worked hard.

Q. What impresses it on your mind that it was the 5th of May that he came home before twelve o’clock? A. Why, I left him to keep my place while I went home with my work, which I frequently did - I have no other reason for remembering it, only he came home late; I asked where he had been; he said he had just left a friend twenty minutes before.

Q. What reason have you for knowing it was the 5th of May? A. I read in the newspaper, when I had it with a pint of beer, what a burglary had been done on the 6th, and I was certain the young man was at home.

COURT. Q. When did you read it in the paper? A. On the Wednesday; I have said all I know, and can say no more.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Look at that person (Warren), and tell me if you ever saw him before? A. No, sir, I do not know that I ever saw him in my life, till I saw him here - I swear I never spoke to him - I know Grossmith by seeing him about, but he never had me in any trouble; Falcon-court is close to what is called the Mint, but it is not in it. My husband’s name is Samuel - he lives with me, and was at home on this night in bed and asleep by ten o’clock; he slept in the same room as the prisoner, up one pair of stairs.

Q. You remember the 5th of May particularly well? A. I do not remember it particularly, no more than when Grossmith and them came - I do not remember any thing more; I did not read any thing about Backstay in the papers - I read that a burglary had been done.

Q. Well, but you said you recollected Backstay was at home on that day? A. No, nothing particular about that day - I heard him say his father lived at Greenwich - I was never at the house - I cannot say where he was on the following Saturday - I know he was at home at ten o’clock.

Q. What day of the month was the Saturday following? A. I do not pay attention to the day of the month - I know it is June, but cannot say what day.

Q. You cannot swear where he was on Saturday, the 12th? A. No, I cannot indeed - I will not swear he was at home at ten o’clock - he was not at home all - I thought he was gone to his parents - I did not know he was going - he was not at home on the Friday - I do not think he was at home on Thursday - he left me on Wednesday I think; it was Wednesday evening when I came home from work, that I read the paper - he went away that day - I had been out to work at five o’clock that morning, and did not see him after that - Grossmith only called at my house once - he did not inquire about Backstay - he said nothing - he walked in and walked out - that was on Thursday; I have another lodger, who has been ten years with me, and an old gentleman - nobody else, except my family - I left my husband at home this morning - he is very well - there is nobody here but me.

Q. When you heard of Backstay being in custody, did you go to Queen-square? A. I was sent for and went. but was not called upon - some young man came, and said Backstay wanted me; I do not recollect when that was - I did not want to go - I am no relation of his.

Q. Now, recollect what you are saying; on your oath, did you or not, when at Queen-square Office, talk to Warren? A. No, I do not know that I spoke to him, on my oath, if I was to die this minute, I do not know that I ever saw the man before to-day with my eyes. I will not swear that I did not talk to him.

Q. Did you tell him you was Backstay’s mother? A. No, I never did; I never owned that I was Backstay’s mother.

Q. You never owned it; is it true then? A. No; my name is Walter; I am sure I did not say so - his mother was there.

Q. Did you ever ask him if he was a father himself; if he was a parent of children? A. No, I did not - I never said such a word, I will take my oath; nor did I say, “If you are a father, be lenient with this young man;” or any thing of the sort - I never spoke to him; he said the other day, “D - n the woman, what business has she here at all?” he sai

Convict Changes History

Anonymous on 2nd August, 2012 made the following changes:

gender m

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