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Pierre Charles Flaherte

Pierre Charles Flaherte, one of 327 convicts transported on the Indefatigable and Minstrel, 09 May 1812

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Pierre Charles Flaherte
Aliases: Francis Ince, Chares Fluerty, Flahute, Pierre-charles Flahute
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 15th August, 1786
Occupation: Mariner
Date of Death: 14th April, 1842
Age: 55 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Political prisoner
Convicted at: Monmouth Court Martial
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Indefatigable and Minstrel
Departure date: 9th May, 1812
Arrival date: 19th October, 1812
Place of arrival New South Wales [Minstrel] and Van Diemen's Land [Indefatigable]
Passenger manifest Travelled with 329 other convicts

References

Primary source: Court martial record of Francis Ince (Pierre Charles Flaherte, Admiralty Records, National Archives, Kew, England.
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

Lesley Parry on 28th June, 2015 wrote:

Wife 1:  Mary Griggs - born in Sydney (20/03/1798) died (01/10/1839)No:  89
Wife 2:  Catherine Martin - married 23/02/1841 in Hobart -
No:  1320

D Wong on 29th June, 2015 wrote:

This is taken in part from the research of Kathy Evan, historian.

Charles Fleurty was a convict sawyer who arrived in Tasmania in the early years of British settlement. He was associated with the Government sawing establishment that operated at Birch’s Bay in the 1820s. A number of local features have been named after him, including Fleurty’s Point and Fleurty’s Creek.

Charles Fleurty is an elusive character – little is known about his life, his exploits at Birch’s Bay and his many misdemeanours. We are not even sure of his real name. When Fleurty arrived in the colony in 1812 he had several aliases, including Pierre Charles Flaherte and Francis Quce or Quec.
Occasionally we catch glimpses into the life of Charles Fleurty from the official records, usually at times when he has fallen on the wrong side of the law.

Charles Fleurty was a native of Bologna, Italy, and was tried in County Down, Northern Ireland at the age of 45. He was transported to Van Diemens for 7 years. The crime for which he was banished remains a mystery, as it is not stated on his official papers.

Fleurty arrived in Hobart Town in October 1812 aboard the Indefatigable
In 1817 it appears that Fleurty was living in the Tea Tree area (near Richmond). In July of that year he aided Serjeant McCarthy and the local constable, Mr Staples, in capturing a party of bushrangers. The Lieutenant Governor applauded his actions, upholding him as an ‘excellent example to settlers’. Such praise was not to last long– by the 1820s he was constantly getting himself into trouble with the law.
By 1822 Charles Fleurty was living in Hobart with his wife, Mary. Altogether they had 5 children (one of whom died in infancy). The surviving children were named Charles, Edelina, John and Joseph.

By 1821 he had gained a conditional pardon – a status that gave him greater freedoms and privileges, including the right to work in the colony for wages. Despite this new freedom, he had several run-ins with the law in the early 1820s, including charges of selling liquor without a licence and being drunk and disorderly.

Being a sawyer,Fleurty was offered employment at the Government Birch’s Bay sawing establishment, which began operations in 1824. We know that he was working in the area in 1829.
During 1829 and 1830 it was found that timber was being stolen or illegally sold by the men at Birch’s Bay and the convict shingle-splitters based at nearby Peppermint Hill. The timber was generally stacked on beaches before shipping, and a number of small schooners were seen illegally plundering the timber supplies. Charles Fleurty, by now a free man, was implicated in this racket. In July 1829 he was held on suspicion of stealing the government timber. Whilst on this occasion Fleurty seems to have escaped further punishment, the following decade was a tumultuous one in which he repeatedly finds himself appearing before the police magistrates.

From 1830 to 1832 Fleurty committed numerous offences, including fighting on the public wharf in Hobart, drunkenness and repeatedly assaulting his wife. In 1832 – 1833 Charles Fleurty was employed as a crew member on the ship Hetty (owned by whaling captains James Kelly and Thomas Lucas). His voyages included trips to the whaling grounds and Sydney.
In October 1833 Charles Fleurty, in company with two others, James Batten and John Turner, was discovered stealing salt from casks laying at Sandy Bay Beach, the property of James Kelly. They were first noticed at three o’clock in the morning by the night watchman who followed their boat to the old jetty in Hobart. Charles Fleurty was committed to face trial in the Supreme Court in November 1833 and was subsequently sentenced to a further 7 years. It was also directed that he be sent to hard labour in chains at the Bridgewater chain gang.

After serving some months at Bridgewater chain gang, Fleurty was transferred to a government party working at New Norfolk. He was soon in trouble again - for neglect of duty, repeated drunkenness and improper conduct. In November 1836 he was sent to hard labour (this time out of chains) for three months at a party working on the road at Constitution Hill on the main line of road between Hobart and Launceston. The following year, whilst being employed by a Mr Murdoch, Fleurty continued to misbehave. He was charged with disobeying orders, being out after hours and representing himself to be free. In June 1837 he was charged with absconding and losing or making away with 17 shillings of his masters property. For these offences, he mostly ended up with a few days in the solitary cells on bread and water. For the petty stealing offence, however, Fleurty was sentenced to a further 9 months hard labour in chains, this time at the Grass Tree Hill Chain Gang, which was employed building the road to Richmond. 15

After his stint in the Grass Tree Hill Chain Gang, Fleurty was sent to work at a party of assignable convicts at New Norfolk, before being removed to the Marine Department. Here his misdemeanours continued, with drunkenness and being absent from duty being the most common charges. For his offences he received 6 days working on the treadwheel at the Hobart Penitentiary, a few periods of solitary confinement and a further three months of hard labour at the Spring Hill road party.

Finally, in 1840 (and aged 73!) Charles Fleurty received a conditional pardon.  His wife, Mary, who had resided in Brisbane Street with their children during his absence, had died the previous year. She was buried on the 1st of October 1839 in the parish of Trinity, Hobart.

Fleurty, however, was not going to let his age be a barrier to finding a new wife. In January 1841 he applied to the government for permission to marry the convict, Catherine Martin, a widow in her 40s.They were married the following month at the Catholic Chapel in Hobart.
In 1841 a Charles Fluerty is listed as being employed as a coxswain in the Commandant’s Department, Port Arthur. It is most likely however, that this relates to Charles’ eldest son of the same name. Another of his son’s, Joseph, became a ship’s captain. The Creole, under his command, was shipwrecked in 1863 whilst enroute from Launceston to New Zealand.

Charles Fleurty’s newfound love and liberty were only to be enjoyed for a short time. He died in April 1842 at the Colonial Hospital in Hobart, aged 74. The official cause of death is listed as ‘decay’, perhaps another term for old age.  He was buried on the 16th April 1842 in the parish of Trinity, Hobart.

Renata Silbery on 18th May, 2016 wrote:

The information I have on Charles Fluerty is as follows;
He was born Pierre Charles Flahute in 1783. He was the first child of Jean Pierre and Magdelena Flahutte who resided at
Boulogne Sur la Mer, a seaport in Northern France. Jean was a seaman in the
French navy.
Charles was the first of three brother, these being Jean Baptiste and
Jacques.

Like their father, all three brothers become seaman.

In 1805 Charles married Madelaine Mahe, they went on to have three children.

By regulation of the French Service, it was the law that every seaman living
in Boulogne was required to either serve in the French Navy or become a
privateer.

Charles chose to become a privateer. In this role, Charles was captured by
the British, upon being captured he assumed the name of Frances Ince.

For some reason, Charles (Frances) commenced service with the British
Marines on the Royal Navy Ship Leopard.

Whilst on the Danish coast, Charles went missing from the Leopard, it was
assumed he has deserted.

Charles was later recaptured by the British and subsequently charged by the
British for desertion. Following a Court Martial on board the Royal Navy
ship Monmouth, Charles was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Following his sentencing, Charles sought clemency from the King, King
George. This was granted and the death sentence was commuted to
transportation for life to New South Wales.

Much of the above was taken from the direct testimony of Charles, his father
Jean Pierre, and his two brothers Jean and Jacques during his Court Martial.

THOMAS Glynn on 12th December, 2016 wrote:

Pierre Charles FLAHUTE born in Boulogne-sur-mer (France) 24th august, 1786
married with Madeleine MAHE 30th october 1805 in Boulogne-sur-mer

Jane on 18th January, 2017 wrote:

Whilst much has been written on Charles Fluerty, it has been a combination of both his activities in the colony and assumption of who he was before he arrived.  The following information has been taken from the 60 page court martial document of Pierre Charles Flaherte, dated 30 January 1812. The document was obtained under FOI from the National Archives in England.

Essentially Charles was a French corsair who became a POW. It is a remarkable tale of resilience and family tragedy.

Some additional information is based on research of some of the ships named and a French family believed to be the one Charles was related to. There are French “acts” (BDM records) to support the family details. 

There are multiple names in the court martial record, all acknowledged by the court to be the one man: Pierre Charles.  Thus Pierre Charles Flaherte was Pierre Charles Flahute (or Flahutel) and Francis Ince (or Quce).  More explanation on the name issue is in subsequent paragraphs. He became Charles Fluerty in Australia. 

Born 1786, Boulogne sur la mer, Charles claimed his parents had always ‘domiciled’. 

Married in 1805 (to Madeleine Mahe), after his marriage he embarked on a flotilla, as French law required he serve in either the navy or as a privateer.  He used this legal requirement in his later defence during court martial.  He got permission to leave the flotilla and join a privateer named the ‘Three Brothers’.  The court martial record is at times hard to read (I think the ship should have been “Le Deux Freres”). 

He was captured in 1805 (presumably in November or December as he was married end of October) and was sent to “The Downs” (an area of sea in the Southern North Sea near the English Channel off the East Kent coast).  The Downs was home to the Royal Navy and Marines.  From there he was transferred via the “HMS Leopard” to Sharneefs and then onto Chatham division of the Royal Marines, before being sent as a Prisoner of War (POW) onto the “HMS Sandwich” prison ship.  This ship had been in the Downs since the 1780’s.

He was enlisted into the British Royal Marines despite insisting he was a Frenchman living in Boulogne with a wife there.  He states in his court martial he understood no English on his original enlistment and a stranger interpreted for him.  He claims the stranger did not understand French and did not consult him on where he lived.  This meant he was enlisted as living in Geneva, Switzerland which is where the other privateers he was captured with claimed they were from.  It is possible the interpreter spoke Parisian French and did not understand rural and coastal accents.  This might explain how Flahute became Flaherte.  Either way, he did not realise he was enlisting for unlimited service into the British armed forces.
 
Consequently Charles was enlisted in the Royal Marines on 11 Feb 1806 at the age of 19 years, for unlimited service. He was described as 5 feet, 6 and ¾ inches in height, with dark complexion, black hair and grey eyes.  He was subsequently sent from “HMS Sandwich” prison ship, moored at Woolich, to serve on “HMS Leopard” on 1 March 1806.  He served on “HMS Leopard” for 4 years, which would mean he participated in the Chesapeake affair in the US, and the battles over the Mauritian islands, before disembarking from “HMS Leopard” on 22 September 1810.  He was promoted to Corporal for his good service on the Leopard.  He then went back to Chatham Marine base, before being sent to Woolich base on 26 September 1810.

At some stage his name was changed to Francis Ince (or Quce or Que).  In old copperplate writing which is quite floral, I and Q can appear similar.  Even the Royal Marines were not sure, as a letter from an Admiral identified Charles as either Francis Ince or Quce. I suspect they changed his name for him, as he spoke almost no English at the time of enlistment and was known during his service as Francis.  He may have changed it himself to protect his family, although the record already showed him as Pierre – Charles Flaherte.  Francis Ince is the name under which his court martial record is held by the National Archives. 

On 11 Feb 1810 Charles was sent from Chatham division to serve with the marines aboard “HMS Forward”, a Royal Marine gun Brig.  There is a long story as to what happened off the coast of Norway and as indicated below a few paragraphs down and Charles himself, it is likely he was simply left behind on a small Norwegian island.  He subsequently made it to Stavanger, Norway where he went to the French consul.  They gave him money to go home to France via Etaples.  He made it back to Boulogne, but was ordered straight back out to sea under the Napoleonic law of the time.  One presumes he saw his family first, as he was listed by his family as a prisoner of the English at the birth of his wife’s second child (to Nicholas Delamer).
Charles was charged (in absentia) on 13 June 1811, with deserting to the enemy. Ironically he really went home and the British were technically his enemy.

On 6 October 1811 he was captured from “Le Milan”, a French privateer lugger, by “HMS Naiad”, just of Boulogne.  The Royal Marines had been directed to board and search all privateers to identify the pilots of these ships and forward this information to the admiralty.  In the process of boarding “Le Milan”, Charles was recognised by two marine privates as someone who had served in the Royal Marines with them on the Leopard.  Subsequently Charles was sent to the Downs whilst an enquiry was conducted to ascertain his identity.

From 14 October 1811 through to 31 October 1811, the Royal Marines spent time confirming Charles identity as they wanted to be sure he was an ex serving British marine, despite being apparently French.  A number of letters passed between various Generals of the Royal Marines.  Charles was also sent to Chatham for a physical assessment to see if he was the man they knew as Francis Ince/ Quce.  This was confirmed by a letter from Major General Henry Bell.

After this assessment Charles was sent to the “Fyer” prison ship in later October 1811.  It seems that during his incarceration whilst they investigated, and before he went to court martial, he was held in confinement for 3 months and in irons at night.  Eventually he was transferred to “HMS Monmouth” where he was formally court martialled in late January 1812.

During his court martial Charles spoke in French (he also wrote a defence in French), but demonstrated a good command of language and of the British way of doing things in the military.  He testified that he had always been of ‘irreproachable’ character, having always done what was asked of him and was promoted for his good conduct.  This was confirmed by a letter from Major General Burn.  Charles claimed he never thought of desertion although the opportunity arose many times to leave, such as when he went fishing with a friend off the coast of America. He gave a good explanation as to what happened that ultimately left him alone on an island off Norway.  It seems likely that they did not wait for him at the designated rendezvous site and then the British automatically assumed he had deserted, rather than been unable to make it back in time. 

At his court martial the following people appeared:
• Jean – Pierre Flahute – a second officer on a French privateer, who claimed to be Charles father.  There is also reference to a letter from Charles father, via Admiral Foley, from a prison ship (name of the ship indecipherable).  From family records the father was captured about 1811 and died in prison as a POW. This man mentioned Charles had 3 children, however subsequent investigation of the family in France indicates Charles did not have any children to his wife, from whom he was separated by war not long after their marriage.  His wife did however ‘follow’ another sailor to Cherbourg where she had children to him.  As she was married under French Catholic law to Charles, her relationship to Nicholas Delamer could never be formalised.  There were young children back in Boulogne, but they may have belonged to anyone in the Flahute family.
• Jean – Baptiste Patin – an officer of a French privateer, who claimed he knew Charles well, that Charles was about 28 years and lived in Boulogne with his wife.  Patin did not mention Charles had any children. 
• Jean – Pierre a younger brother was captured 8 Dec 1809 off “Le Marauder”, by “HMS Rinaldo”.  He was a POW until release during a short amnesty in 1814. 
• Jean – Baptiste and Jacques Flahutel (two other younger brothers).  Although they did not end up giving evidence as the committee felt Charles had proven his French nationality from his father and Patin.  Jacques had been captured earlier in the month on 2 Jan 1812 from “Le Grand Genie”, by “HMS Decoy”, whilst sailing off Dover. He was released in 1814. Jean – Baptiste would have been 15 years old and not old enough to serve at sea.
As Charles had technically ‘deserted’ as a member of the British armed forces, he was found guilty and given the mandatory sentence.  He was sentenced to be hanged at the yard arm of one of Her Majesty’s ships.  However, due to the circumstances surrounding his POW status (which Charles made mention of in his defence), enlistment and nationality the committee also recommended consideration for clemency. Subsequently Charles was granted clemency by King George, with his death sentence transmuted to transportation for life. 

On 21 March 1812 Charles was sent to “HMS Zealand” hulk in Woolich, before departing on “HMS Minstrel” for Australia.  Ironically he made the trip from NSW to Van Dieman’s Land on “HMS Indefatigable”, an ex-French Privateer captured early in the Napoleonic wars.

Convict Changes History

Lesley Parry on 28th June, 2015 made the following changes:

alias1: Quce (alias) (prev. Quce (Alias)), alias2: Quce, Francis (alias) (prev. Quce, Francis (Alias)), date of birth: 15th April, 1768 (prev. 0000), date of death: 14th April, 1842 (prev. 0000), gender: m, occupation, crime

Renata Silbery on 18th May, 2016 made the following changes:

alias1: Francis Ince (prev. Quce (alias)), alias2: Chares Fluerty (prev. Quce, Francis (alias)), alias3: Flahute

Jane on 18th January, 2017 made the following changes:

source: Court martial record of Francis Ince (Pierre Charles Flaherte, Admiralty Records, National Archives, Kew, England. (prev. Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 73 (38)), alias4: Pierre-char

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