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Henry Birch

Henry Birch, one of 280 convicts transported on the Hougoumont, 10 October 1867

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Henry Birch
Aliases: Henry Beach, George Wilson
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1827
Occupation: Hawker
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 51 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 12 years

Crime: Warehouse breaking
Convicted at: Warwickshire, Birmingham Sessions
Sentence term: 12 years
Ship: Hougoumont
Departure date: 10th October, 1867
Arrival date: 9th January, 1868
Place of arrival Western Australia
Passenger manifest Travelled with 280 other convicts

References

Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/19, Page Number 252. --0-- Edgar, W. (Bill) (2018), “The precarious voyage of her majesty’s convict ship ‘Nile’ to the Swan River colony, late 1857 – and the unexpected aftermath.” The Great Circle, 40(1), 20–43.
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

Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

TRIAL:

11 October, 1865: Henry Birch was tried at the Birmingham Quarter Sessions, convicted and sentenced to 12 years’ penal servitude for warehousebreaking, with a previous conviction for felony taken into account (England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 for Henry Birch; England; Warwickshire; 1865).

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Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

Newspaper report of his trial:

From the Birmingham Daily Post, 12 October, 1865, p7:

“Stealing Cigars. — Henry Birch (35), hawker, was charged with breaking into the warehouse of Mr. S. A. Goddard, merchant, Friday Bridge, and stealing 401bs. weight of cigars; and James Spratt (37), retail brewer, and Benjamin Broadfield (44), snuffer maker, were charged with feloniously receiving the same, knowing them to have been stolen…”

Benjamin Broadfield was convicted of receiving and sentenced to 18 calendar months’ jail, while James Spratt was sentenced to the same jail term for warehousebreaking (England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 for Henry Birch; England; Warwickshire; 1865).

A snuffer maker produced candle snuffers, according to the Dictionary of Old Occupations. “These may have been the small metal cup variety used to smother the flame, or a scissor-like tool which was used to trim candle wicks” (https://www.familyresearcher.co.uk/).

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Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

JAILS:

1865-1866: Held at WAKEFIELD prison, also called West Riding House of Correction, Love Lane, Wakefield.

“After a sentence of transportation [or penal servitude] was handed down, the prisoner entered into a separate stage where he was placed into an individual cell, isolated from others, apart from brief periods of exercise and attendance at chapel. However, no communication of any kind with other prisoners was permitted at any time. The philosophy behind this penal methodology had its provenances in the religious, monastic traditions; i.e., that in the isolation of his cell the malefactor would be able to contemplate the errors of his way, unadulterated by the negative influences of former contemporaries, and be reformed.” (Edgar, 2018, pp39-40)

When first put into practice, the mandated period of separate confinement was 18 months. By the late 1840s, authorities had conceded that such conditions of imprisonment were “injurious to many prisoners’ mental health” and the stint was reduced to 12 months. Periods of separate confinement were reduced further “as a prisoner displayed good behaviour tendencies” (Edgar, p40).

Wakefield, Millbank, Pentonville and Mountjoy in Ireland were the “Probation” or “Separate” prisons, as were some local jails.

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Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

31 October, 1866: Admitted to WOKING prison, Knaphill, Woking, Surrey—inmate #2921; a hawker, 35 years old when convicted; minimum period to be served 16 December, 1874 (UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951 for Henry Birch; Woking Prison; Register of Prisoners; 1854-1878).

Woking was opened in April 1859, “primarily for invalided male convicts, and by March 1860 had taken over entirely from the temporary invalid prison at Lewes. Between 1862 and 1867, Woking was responsible for the working party sent to labour for the construction of Broadmoor Criminal Asylum”(https://www.prisonhistory.org/).

His WA Convict record sheds some light on his admission to an invalid prison. It states he suffers from “bronchitis and tubercle”, the latter being “a small nodular lesion in the lungs or other tissues, characteristic of tuberculosis”(Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930; Convict Department, Registers; General Register for Nos 9059-9598 cont., 9599-10128 (R15-R16)).

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Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

27 September, 1867: Admitted to PORTSMOUTH prison, Cumberland Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire—inmate 1231. Listed as Henry Birch, also called Henry Beach, also called George Wilson (UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951 for Henry Birch; Portsmouth Prison; Registers of Prisoners; 1866-1868).

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Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

5 October, 1867: He was sent to board the Hougoumont for transportation to WA (UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951 for Henry Birch; Portsmouth Prison; Registers of Prisoners; 1866-1868).

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Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

IN WA:

10 January, 1868: On arrival, he was listed as #9667, with no trade, aged 37, single, able to read and write a little, no friends/relatives; he arrived with a “very good” rating for behaviour.

This records also details two previous convictions:

April 1852—stealing 90 shawls (10 years’ transportation); and
June 1858—stealing a leg of mutton (6 years’ penal servitude) (Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930; Convict Department, Registers; General Register for Nos 9059-9598 cont., 9599-10128 (R15-R16)).

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Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 wrote:

From his FREMANTLE jail record:

BIRCH, Henry; inmate #9667, arrived 10 Jan 1868 per Hougoumont

Date of Birth: 1827
Marital Status: Unmarried
Literacy: Semiliterate
Sentence Place: Birmingham
Crime: Felony
Sentence Period: 12 years
Previous Convictions: Yes

Ticket of Leave Date: 20 Mar 1872
Comments: Conditional Release 22 Dec 1874, Champion Bay. Quarrier, wood cutter, labourer, general servant, hutkeeper (https://fremantleprison.com.au/).

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Convict Changes History

Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 made the following changes:

gender: m

Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 made the following changes:

occupation

Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 made the following changes:

crime

Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1827 (prev. 0000)

Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/19, Page Number 252. --0-- Edgar, W. (Bill) (2018), “The precarious voyage of her majesty’s convict ship ‘Nile’ to the Swan River colony, late 1857 – and the unexpect

Dianne Jones on 13th April, 2022 made the following changes:

alias1: Henry Beach, alias2: George Wilson

This record was discovered and printed on ConvictRecords.com.au