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Hugh Jelling

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Hugh Jelling
Aliases: Jellings, Jennings, Joseph Dignum
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1801
Occupation: Weaver
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 53 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Highway robbery
Convicted at: Ireland, Dublin
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Bussorah Merchant
Departure date: 16th August, 1831
Arrival date: 14th December, 1831
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 52 other convicts


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Community Contributions

D Wong on 17th September, 2020 wrote:

Hugh Jelling/Jellings alias Jennings alias Joseph Dignum was listed as 30 years old on arrival.

Native Place: Dublin.

Occupation: Weaver/in-door servant.

Hugh was illiterate, Protestant, a widower with 1 female child, 5’4½” tall, ruddy, fair, pockpitted complexion, light brown hair, grey eyes, small scar inside left arm near joint.

George Comerford was assigned to work for Ambrose Wilson of Penrith, but absconded from his service within less than six months.

He assumed the name William Cooper and claimed that he had been born in New South Wales. He was engaged as a shepherd by a Mr. Ebden, and sent him to work in the Port Phillip District, later the colony of Victoria. In May 1837, Comerford left Ebden’s station with two assigned servants, one known as Joseph Dignum and the other simply as Smith. Little is known about Smith; Dignum – whose real name was thought to be Hugh Jennings who was transported as Hugh Jelling/s on the Bussorah Merchant 1831, he was about 33 and ferocious in both nature and appearance, although he often pretended to be weak-minded. ‘Dignum’ had escaped with earlier with two other convicts from Yass in New South Wales before they were joined by Comerford and five other escaped convicts.

Comerford and Dignum picked up axes and they attempted to kill all the others with a blow to the head, four men died immediately and the others were finished off with either further blows or shot.  They then burned the bodies.

Comerford was executed and buried early on Wednesday morning, 30 May 1838, as the Chief Justice had directed. In light of his murder charge, Comerford could not, under the law at that time, give evidence against Dignum in the Port Phillip murder cases.

Without any other evidence on which to build a case against him, Dignum only faced charges for some of the robberies committed while he was at large. He was found guilty of these lesser crimes, and was sentenced to imprisonment on Norfolk Island penal settlement. Many years later, Dignum was finally hanged for the murder of a police sergeant who was killed during an attempted escape.

Hugh Jelling was tried at the Sydney S.C on 18/8/1838 - Sentenced to Life for the robberies but this was commuted to 7 years.

1838: Sent to Norfolk Island.
12/10/1845: Arrived VDL per ‘Lady Franklin’.

On arrival in VDL Hugh was described as a Book Binder, RC, can read and write, 40 years old, 5’5½” tall, ruddy complexion, brown hair, red bushy whiskers, grey eyes, stout made, small scar on right arm below elbow, scar on joint of left arm.

1 year Probation at Salt Water River.
24/5/1846: Emerged from Gang.

29/12/1846: TOL
22/5/1849: CP

Death not found.

Convict Changes History

D Wong on 17th September, 2020 made the following changes:

convicted at, term: 99 years, voyage, source: Ancestry Convict Records. http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/convicts.htm. http://foundersandsurvivors.org/pubsearch. https://libraries.tas.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx (prev. ), firstname: Hugh, surname: Jelling, al

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