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William Garstin (d)

William Garstin, one of 298 convicts transported on the Hilsborough [Hillsborough], October 1798

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: William Garstin (d)
Aliases: Gascoyne, Gascoyne-garstin, Garsten
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1765
Occupation: Gentleman
Date of Death: 28th April, 1799
Age: 34 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 60 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Pocket picking
Convicted at: Somerset Assizes
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Hilsborough
Departure date: October, 1798
Arrival date: 26th July, 1799
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 298 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 252; * Hereford Journal, Wed 30 August 1797 page 2; * The Staffordshire Advertiser of Saturday 2 September 1797 p 1 * William Noah, convict on "Hillsborough" diary "A Voyage to Sydney in New South Wales in 1798 & 1799", online at State Library of NSW
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

Robin Sharkey on 5th May, 2016 wrote:

William Gascoyne, alias Garstine/garsten alias Gascoyne-Garstin, was of the gentlemen class and fell from grace by stealing a pocket book with a large sum inside, from another gentleman. His trial at the Somerset Assizes at Bridgwater, and the lead up to it, caused much excitement among all classes of Somerset society.
* Tried: 19 Aug 1797, at Bridgwater, Somerset

* William Noah, another prisoner on Hillsborough, reported in his own diary that the stealing incident had happened during a card game.

His seven years’ transportation sentence would be the death of Gascoyne, literally. After spending over a year on a Portsmouth hulk, (either La Fortuna, or Ceres) he was boarded in November 1798 on the convict ship Hillsborough.

He died in late April when the ship was at Cape Town, presumably of the typhus fever that had made dozens of them sick. William Noah referred to his burial at some length

In hindsight the first load of prisoners from Newgate brought typhus on board even before Hillsborough embarked the other half of its prisoners at Portsmouth from various hulks, more of whom were also probably already infected.

Diary of William Noah:
” Sunday 28th [April] Employed in getting ready to go on shore 20 of the seamen. Departed this life W G Gascoyne this convict was brought up a a gentleman and was an Officer on half pay and a relation to some great man of that name, was transported at Bath for a pocket book with note to a great amount being found in his possession belonging to another gentleman who was playing with him at a party of cards, he died in his 34 [sic] year of his age & was taking [sic] out to the mouth of the Harbour and there thrown over board for fear of the Captain being further interrogated about their dying & not long after, his body, with another, was thrown on shore, such is the uncertainty of our existence when doomed by offended the laws of our Mother Country. Arrived 2 English East india Men one with troops on board.”

Hereford Journal, Wed 30 August 1797 page 2
Commenced at Bridgwater on Saturday, before Judges Grose and Lawrence.

“On Wednesday morning, William Garsten-Gascoyne was put on his trial for picking the pocket of W. Lewis sq at a Subscription-house in Bath, of his pocket-book, containing bills to the amount to 3200l and upwards.
Mr Lewis proved his having lost his pocket book, as stated in the indictment, with its contents, particularly a lottery ticket, whcih was drawn a prize of 17l.

” Fugeon (an Officer from Bow Street) proved his going with Mr Claville and apprehending Gascoyne in Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, and finding upon him bent nails, better known by the name of picklocks, a paper parcel directed for Mr Smith, at the Gloucester Coffee-house,  and a watch and seal. Fugeon furterh stated, the prisoner having voluntarily confessed his taking the book, and after examining its contents and securing the Bank Notes and a lottery ticket, that he burnt the book with all the other bill.s

” Mr Claville gave a very interesting and circumstantial evidence - of his tracing Gascoyne’s route from Bath to London -  instead of Portsmouth, where he had given out he intended to go - and by means of entries at the Coach-Office and the delivery of trunks in London, the lodgings of he prisoner was found, and he apprehended.  Picklock keys, the paper with the direction to Mr Smith, his seal, having the same impression as the Letter that contained the Lottery Ticket, being found with him, and his prevaricating about the time and mode of his coming up to London, were strong and corroborating proofs of his guilt.  A CONFESSION was, however, made by the prisoner of his having had the pocket book in his possession, and of his destroying the Bills that were not negotiable.

” The prisoner made no defence, but his Counsel very ably started some objections to the proceedings and urged many points of law, several of which it was thought would have proved fatal to the indictment - in short they set aside the substance of the charges, except stealing the pocket book itself.  No legal proof of whether the Lottery Ticket, the Bills, or Bank Notes, sufficient to criminate the prisoner having been produced with specific cleanness.

” Sir G Coleboke, Bart. spoke as to the prisoner’s character, having known him many years, and his conduct was apparently so respectable and so genteel that he frequently invited him to his house and table.  To those who know the worthiness of Sir George, a stronger proof of the estimation of the prisoner was generally held in, could not be adduced.

” The learned Judge summed up the evidence in a very clear and circumstantial manner - and dwelt much upon the possibility that Mr Lewis (being in the habit of using a snuff-box) might in the course of the evening have pulled out his pocket book with his handkerchief, and that the prisoner might find it on the floor, instead of taking it from the person of the prosecutor, which constituted a capital offence.

” The Jury having consulted a short time, brought in their verdict - GUILTY, but not of privately stealing, and he was immediately sentenced to seven years transportation.

” Judge Grose in his address to the prisoner, previous to passing sentence, spoke with an energy and feeling that did him infinite credit. He told him that he had been found guilty upon the clearest evidence, and had narrowly escaped a much more capital punishment.  introduced as he had been to the company of men of the greatest respectability in society, it became his duty to have to set an example of honour and honesty to others.  Instead of which, how degraded was his present situation - a spectacle of ignominy at a criminal bar, and a just victim to the injured laws of his country, a country fro which he was shortly to be expelled as a being unworthy of enjoying its blessings!

” The trial lasted four hours. The prisoner’s behaviour was easy and collected, he wrote several notes to his counsel, particularly during Mr Claville’s examination. Nothing could exceed the avidity of the populace to get sight to a Gentleman under such unfortunate circumstances. “

The Staffordshire Advertiser of Saturday 2 September 1797 p 1, took great delight in reporting the trial of this fallen gentleman, sensationalising it to a large degree:

“The trial of Gascoyne, the celebrated delinquent of Bath, began on Wednesday last, about ten in the morning, and … this gentleman and his proceedings have for several months created a subject of general conversation, and inquiry,…

“He was indicted by the name of William Gascoyne, alias William Garstin, alias William Garstin Gascoyne, for stealing privately from the person of W. Lewis Esq bills of exchange, bank notes, ad a lottery ticket, amounting to upwards of 1,000l in value, together with a pocket book in which they were contained. And strange to say this last article - the pocket book - old and perhaps not worth a shilling, proved the whole and sole cause of his conviction.

“…. Of stealing this he was found guilty on the clearest evidence, and the verdict of the Jury was: guilty of stealing, but not privately, and not in a dwelling house, which saved the prisoner from the capital part of the indictment, as was the wish of the humane and excellent judge who presided.

“ … His Lordship … took into consideration the large value of the articles that were contained in the pocket book, and the rank which the prisoner supported through life; circumstances which, the Court justly remarked, aggravated the crime and called for exemplary punishment.

“  … There never was a trial which perhaps more signally evinced the admirable genius of the British Constitution, and the liberality with which its several laws are allowed to to be confirmed in favour of the unfortunate.

“ … The prisoner had even confessed to Mr Claville, a very respectabel evidence, and also to a Bow Street Officer , without any solicitation, promise or menace … But eventhis free and admitted confession was not allowed to operate with the Jury towards producing a capital verdict.

“ … The Court was crowded to an excess, and by numbers of the prisoner’s Bath acquaintance. Even the curiosity of the Bar was excited, and the nisi Prius side was almost deserted of Counsel who quite surrounded the great table.

“ … Gascoyne was decently dressed and had the appearance and manners of a Gentleman. He never once looked up during the whole trial, wore his gloves, held his hat in one hand, and leaned with the other on the bar.  He showed no symptoms of being affected by any one part of the evidence …but certainly felt some sensation or other if one might judge by his complexion.”

Convict Changes History

Robin Sharkey on 5th May, 2016 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 252; * Hereford Journal, Wed 30 August 1797 page 2; * The Staffordshire Advertiser of Saturday 2 September 1797 p 1 * William Noah, convict on "Hillsbo

Robin Sharkey on 5th May, 2016 made the following changes:

surname: Garstin (d) (prev. Garstin)

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