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James Cannon

James Cannon, one of 260 convicts transported on the Adelaide, 16 April 1855

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: James Cannon
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 9th August, 1821
Occupation: Chimney sweep
Date of Death: 2nd May, 1866
Age: 44 years

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: Assault
Convicted at: Central Criminal Court
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Adelaide
Departure date: 16th April, 1855
Arrival date: 18th July, 1855
Place of arrival Western Australia
Passenger manifest Travelled with 260 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/18, Page Number 127 (65)
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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D Wong on 30th January, 2021 wrote:

Old Bailey:

Breaking Peace: wounding.
25th October 1852
Verdict Guilty > unknown
Sentence Death

JAMES CANNON , feloniously assaulting Michael Dwyer, and causing him a bodily injury dangerous to life, with intent to murder him.

MESSRS. BODKIN and CLERK conducted the Prosecution.

MICHAEL DWYER (policeman, P 135). On 13th September last I was on duty at Camberwell station—about 7 o’clock in the evening, I was sent for to the house of Mr. Stevens, a victualler, who keeps the Bricklayers’ Arms, Camberwell—when I got there, I saw the prisoner outside the house—there were about one hundred and fifty people collected about the house—my attention was drawn to a cut on the back part of the prisoner’s head, and the clothes he had on seemed to be bathed in his blood—I spoke to him, and asked him to accompany me to a doctor, to have his wound dressed—he consented, and walked along with me about a dozen yards—when he had got that distance, he stooped down and caught hold of me my the small of my legs, and threw me on my back—he then jumped on my chest and bowels three different times—he then threw himself down on my body, put his hand in between my neck and my stock, and would have choked me if it had not been for the clasp of my stock giving way—he then said, “You b—b—, I shall do for you now”—I struggled with him, and got on the top of him—I caught hold of his hands, and he made an effort to bite me—he tried to bite me more than once—I was not able to keep hold of him—I was obliged to let his hands go in consequence, and let him get up; and I got up on my legs—the prisoner was then about four yards from me—he had his hands clenched, and I thought he was coming towards me to strike me in the face or body with his hands—I prepared to defend myself from his blows, when he ran at me with his head—his head was lowered quite low, and he ran his head right in against my privates—he then caught hold of my legs, and pitched me on my back—I fell to the ground, three yards or more from him—when he got hold of me, he rose me right up, and I fell on my back three yards from the place where he stood—while I was upon my back he came towards me, and kicked me in the privates, and in the body; he said, at the same time, “You b—b—, I will do for you now”—I was lying on the ground for several moments before I was able to get up; the prisoner stood just over me while I was lying there—I got on my legs again, and the prisoner knocked me down again with his head, in the same manner as before, but he did not pitch me right away from him as he did before—he struck me again in the same part with his head; and while I was on the ground he kicked me on the right hip—I had a watch in my pocket, and the next kick he gave me (he meant to kick me in the privates, I have no doubt) broke the watch that was in my pocket—at the time he was kicking me he said, “You b—b—, I shall give you another downer, and you will never rise”—I got on my legs again after some moments—I then drew my truncheon—I heard some party in the crowd say, “Well done, Cannon, give it the b—”—the prisoner on that, strove to get my truncheon away from me several times—I was able to defend myself with my truncheon until other assistance came—another constable, named Thorn, soon afterwards came up the prisoner knocked Thorn down directly—Thorn managed to get on the top of him, and I also got on the top of him, thinking to keep him down, and he kicked me off, and kicked me in the body, and on the right shin—several other constables soon after came up to my assistance—it required six constables and three civilians to hold him, and convey him to the station house—directly I got to the station house I was taken to Mr. Flower, the surgeon of the division—I was confined to my bed for three weeks; I am still under his care; I am suffering pain now—none of the persons who were standing round the public house offered me the least assistance—I asked several of them to do so, but none of them would.

Prisoner. Q. When you first came up to me, was I not standing outside the Bricklayers’ Arm, and did not you say to me, “Go on?” A. No.

Prisoner. That was before there was any blood at all; I turned round to go away, and you put your hand into your pocket, took your truncheon out and knocked me down, and there was then about four feet of blood went out of the back of my neck; you then went away, and came back to me about 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour afterwards, and said, “Will you come to the doctor’s with me?” and I said, “certainly.” Witness. I never struck him; I was not the cause of the wound he had on his head; I know nothing at all about it.

Prisoner. I never said I would do for him; I do not deny kicking him, and I certainly did throw him, I daresay three yards away from me once, but I never did no more to him, nor did I use any threatening words.

MR. BODKIN. Q. He has asked you about striking him before this; were you at the station house off duty, on what is called reserve? A. Yes; all the afternoon, till the acting inspector sent me with a man that came from the public house—I had been at the station house on reserve duty from 2 o’clock that afternoon—I had not been near the Bricklayers’ Arms that day, before this.

COURT. Q. I want to know whether the effect of your answer is this, not only that you did not give him that wound, or interfere before, but that you were not on duty, so that you could not have done it; is that what I am to understand? A. Yes; I was not near the place at all.

JURY. Q. What time did this happen? A. At 7 o’clock in the evening; I had never left the station till I was sent for.

Prisoner. If you will call on the other policeman, you will find he will deny what the Counsel says about his being at the station house at 7 o’clock; in the depositions, where I was tried before, it states that he came after the row had been up for half an hour or three quarters of an hour. Witness. It was about 7 when I got to the Bricklayers’ Arms, as near as I can possibly say.

CHARLES STEVENS . I keep the Bricklayers Arms, at Camberwell. On the evening in question, in consequence of a disturbance at my house, I had occasion to send to the police station for assistance—it was in the dusk of the evening—I cannot exactly say what time it was; it may have been a quarter or 20 minutes-past 6 o’clock—there was a very great crowd outside my house—when I first saw the prisoner he was standing by my door—I went and wished him to move on, and no sooner did I say that than he struck at me, but did not strike me—I was then very unwell, and under medical treatment, and I went indoors and sent for the police—I noticed that the prisoner had a wound on his head at that time, from which blood had been flowing.

JOHN COLLINS . I am a painter, living in Stafford-place, Camberwell. On the evening of 13th Sept. I was near the Bricklayers’ Arms, Camberwell—I saw the prisoner there—I did not see Dwyer come up—I was there before he came up, and saw the prisoner in a very turbulent way; no one dare pass on the path—he was drunk—I saw a wound on his head, and blood about his person—I did not hear Dwyer say anything to the prisoner when he first came up—he wished him to allow him to take him to the doctor—the prisoner went with him about two or three yards, so that I thought he would have gone—he then turned round in a fighting attitude, and then stooping suddenly down; he caught Dwyer by the legs, and threw him, I may say, a couple of yards, or probably more, right on his back, and then immediately fell on him with his knees—I did not see him fall with his knees more than once, but I saw him at the same time up with his foot and kick Dwyer in his private parts—the crowd closed in round Dwyer and the prisoner, and many of them called out and taxed Dwyer with having struck the prisoner with his staff—I had enough to do to persuade the mob that he had never lifted his staff at all.

Prisoner. Q. When you first came up, do you think you were sober enough to hear and see what was done, when the boys were taking your cap off and making game of you, because you were drunk, and said it was you that ought to be locked up, and not me? A. For twenty years, it is well known among the inhabitants of Camberwell that I never have known what excitement from drink is; I am no teetotaller, but I was never drunk—I was not drunk on this occasion—I solemnly swear I had not taken a drop of beer or anything that day.

Prisoner. He was quite drunk; he comes here to-day, because he is getting me out of 8s. a week.

JOSEPH THORN (policeman, P 136). I came up during the struggle between the prisoner and Dwyer, Dwyer looked very pale and ill—I took hold of Cannon’s arm, and asked him to go away to a doctor, he struck me back with his arm—I then had a struggle with him—I did not see him inflict any injury on Dwyer—some other policemen came, and he was taken away; it took a good many of us to do so—I did not notice Collins there, I saw him afterwards at the station, he appeared perfectly sober—I knew Dwyer intimately, he was in perfect health at this period.

JOSEPH PEEKE . I am a shoemaker, of Camberwell.

Prisoner. Q. You saw the first of this; did you see me kick the police-man? A. No; nor did I see the first of it—I did not see you fall down—I was there when Dwyer came; I saw you throw him off you as he was holding you to keep you down—you asked him to get off you, and told him if he did not get off you would throw him off, but he said he would not allow you to get up again—I saw you jump up directly and run first on one side of the road, and then on the other; you then ran at him—I do not know whether it was your head or your shoulder catched him by the privates; you threw him about three yards, and he fell on his back—I followed you right to the station house and went inside—I only saw you push Dwyer and Thorn against the fence to make way—I heard some one in the mob call out, “Kill the b—, give it him!”—I do not know who it was said that—when Dwyer came up first you were bleeding very much—I did not hear him ask you to go to the doctor’s; he said, “My good man you must go from here, you are kicking up a great disturbance”—I did not see you fall down and receive your wound.

JOHN SWAN FLOWER . I am surgeon to the Camberwell division of police. On 13th Sept. I was sent for to the Camberwell station house to attend the prisoner, who had a wound on his head—about half an hour afterwards Dwyer was brought to my surgery by sergeant Hay, in a very faint exhausted condition—he complained of great difficulty of breathing, and great pain in the abdomen, and about the private parts—I examined him and found the right testicle very much enlarged, an extensive bruise on the inner side of the right thigh, and excessive tenderness on touching the abdomen; a large bruise on the outside of the right hip, and a smaller one on the right shin bone—he passed blood upwards, both my vomiting and spitting, and continues to do so up to the present time, more or less, which indicates serious injury internally—he has an irritable state of bladder, tenesmus; and is as if he wanted continually to go to motion, and when he goes nothing comes of it; this gives rise to great constitutional disturbance, and his life during the first ten days was in imminent danger—he is still under my care, and I do not think he will be fit for service again—I knew him before—his age is twenty-six or twenty-seven, and he was as fine healthy a young man as you would see in a day’s march.

Prisoner’s Defence. I did not know I was coming here; I was sent from Horsemonger-lane on the same case, and they passed a sentence of two years, and then they fetched me away, and try to try me here.

GUILTY . Aged 31.— Death recorded.

James Cannon was illiterate, a widower with 1 child.

17/12/1858: TOL

28/10/1863 The Inquirer and Commercial News, Perth:
Nor even supposing such alarm to exist, is it justified by facts traceable solely to the presence here of a convict population.
For I know, and Colonel Henderson, B. E., will bear me out when I tell you. that many a score of men, held by the Home Authorities to be incurable desperadoes, have left the
prison, and led quiet and, for all I know, honest lives, as ticket-of-leave holders and conditional pardon men, and I can give you one notable instance in James Cannon, the
Walworth Sweep. This man, a noted desperado, was in due course let out on ticket, and I am told that he has not once even been reported by the Police, and if a man observes the Law, what
more can his fellow roan require of him.

2/5/1866: James Cannon died at Champion Bay, of natural causes.


(Listing of death).

D Wong on 30th January, 2021 wrote:

From: http://users.tpg.com.au/shammell/sweep.htm
Yet the trade certainly had a well-maintained tradition of misconduct and brutality – and not merely in the way its apprentices were treated. About the best known mid-century sweep was James Cannon, the Walworth Terror, a ruffian whose outrages led to seventeen convictions for assault in ten years and culminated in a turn-up in which a couple of policemen suffered a terrible mauling at his hands. This last feat proved a mistake. At Quarter Sessions he received the unusually heavy sentence of two years’ imprisonment for the injuries inflicted on one policeman: but higher authority was now aroused and at the instance of the Treasury Solicitor the case was transferred to the Old Bailey where, partly maybe because of the general odium attaching to his profession, a jury found Cannon guilty on the capital charge of attempting to murder the other officer. He was condemned to hang. According to an eye-witness ‘the sweep seemed astonished at the verdict’ – as well he might, considering the leniency with which such offences were often treated. In the upshot, however, the penalty was commuted to penal servitude.

Convict Changes History

D Wong on 30th January, 2021 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1815 (prev. 0000), date of death: 2nd May, 1866 (prev. 0000), gender: m, occupation, crime

Greg Warkentin on 30th January, 2021 made the following changes:

date of birth: 9th August, 1821 (prev. 1815)

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