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Joseph Keens

Joseph Keens, one of 220 convicts transported on the Lord Eldon, April 1817

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Joseph Keens
Aliases: none
Gender: -

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1796
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 1875
Age: 79 years

Life Span

Life span

Median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Theft
Convicted at: Bedford (Town) Quarter Sessions
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Lord Eldon
Departure date: April, 1817
Arrival date: 30th September, 1817
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 219 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 325 (164)
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

Phil Hands on 20th March, 2017 wrote:

Joseph, who’s father was a minister at a church, was listening to one particularly boring sermon when he decided to go for a walk and unfortunately grabbed the wrong coat, he was tried and convicted of stealing a gentleman’s coat at the Bedford Quarter Sessions on 15th January 1817 and sentenced to transportation for 7 years.
Left England on 9th April 1817.
Ship:- the ‘Lord Eldon’ sailed with 221 male convicts on board of which 6 died during the voyage.
Arrived on 30th September 1817.

He served his sentence and was released in 1824.
He married Sussanah Shoons in 1834 at the Scots Presbyterian Church, Sydney, the couple went on to have 12 children.

Joseph remained in NSW and died in 1875.

Phil Hands on 20th March, 2017 wrote:

Correction:- Joseph married Susannah Charlotte Shones in October 1834 at the Scots Presbyterian Church, Sydney.
She arrived on the Bounty Ship ‘Layton’ on 17th December 1833.

In 1833 when Susannah was just 15 years old she would have seen a notice in her local paper or announced by the priest at her local church, advertising the Bounty Scheme for young women wishing to immigrate to Australia. For the sum of £5.00 Susannah would be able to immigrate to Australia under the Bounty Scheme. The rest of the cost of her passage would be paid by the government of the day. At this time even this amount of money was a stretch for many of the women who were aboard the Layton. Many women took out promissory notes and borrowed money to obtain the £5.00 required. At this stage it is unknown if Susannah was able to afford this or if she was one of the many women who borrowed money.

Once Susannah decided that she wanted to immigrate to Australia she would have to go through a selection process to determine if she was a suitable candidate. The Bounty immigration scheme wanted young single women of marriageable age to immigrate to Australia. Most of these women were poor and the idea was that by marrying men in Australia they would help to address the gender imbalance and lack of female workers in Australia. One can only imagine what it must have been like for Susannah and her family for them to contemplate loosing her to a strange and remote land. When Susannah left England she must have realised that it would be unlikely for her to ever see her parents again.

The Layton was a three-masted square rigged ship that weighted 513 tons. She had a scroll head as a figure head and she had already made several trips to Australia transporting convicts.

Susannah’s voyage began at 7am on the Saturday the 13th of April. A steamer took all the women who were to board the Layton from St Katherine’s dock to Gravesend where the ship would depart from. Gravesend was at this time the biggest port in England. It was the centre of trade going up and down the river Thames and for ships both coming into, and leaving London. In the 1880’s Charles Dickens Junior described Graves end as “the narrow channel is day and night full of shipping of every class and description, from the stately ironclad, to the fussy tug, the clean-cut China clipper to the picturesque if clumsy Dutch galliot, and the graceful schooner yacht to the ungainly hay-barge.” Contemporary accounts of the women embarking aboard the bounty ships describe many of the women as bursting into tears as they were saying farewell to their families, others were happy and cheerful as they looked forward to their new life. No matter what they expressed at the time many of the women must have been both apprehensive and excited at the thought of a journey they had no doubt planned for some time finally starting.

Once the Layton arrived in Sydney the ordeal of Susannah’s journey was still not yet over. The people of Sydney were not as happy to receive the women aboard the Layton as the women had been lead to believe. Bad publicity and misunderstanding of why single women were being bought to Sydney meant that the women aboard the Layton and other ships in the Bounty scheme were thought of as prostitutes and those of low moral character. When Susannah arrived she would have been marched to the government lumber yard. The lumber yard was located on the corner of George and Bridge Streets and it was the only building in Sydney large enough to house all of the women disembarking from the Layton.

The women who arrived aboard the Layton were expected to get a job and move themselves out of the lumber yard and therefore out of government accommodation as soon as possible.

Convict Changes History

Phil Hands on 20th March, 2017 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1796 (prev. 0000), date of death: 1875 (prev. 0000), crime

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