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Peter King

Peter King, one of 292 convicts transported on the Pestonjee Bomanjee, 16 April 1852

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Peter King
Aliases: Peter Keenan
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: -
Occupation: Servant
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 58 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Cow stealing
Convicted at: Warwick. Birmingham Borough Quarter Sessions
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Pestonjee Bomanjee
Departure date: 16th April, 1852
Arrival date: 31st July, 1852
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land
Passenger manifest Travelled with 291 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 92, Class and Piece Number HO11/17, Page Number 420
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

Fiona Irwin on 12th May, 2020 wrote:

Peter King was born in Limerick in Ireland about 1821 and he was tried and convicted at the age of 28 years on 19 October 1849 in Warwick in England at the Birmingham Borough Quarter Sessions.  He was given a sentence of seven years for stealing a cow.  Many others were convicted that day at the Quarter Sessions mostly for theft-related offences.  These included Robert McIvor for horse stealing, John Henry Hill for stealing a coat after a prior conviction and John Johnson for stealing 14 handkerchiefs after a prior conviction. 

Peter King may have departed Ireland in the mid to late 1840s in search of better living conditions as many Irish were at risk of starving to death during the Great Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1849.

The Millbank Prison register records indicated Peter King, as prisoner number 19041, had been received from the Birmingham Prison on 8 February 1850 and the record also recorded that he had a previous conviction.  The record went on to indicate he was sent to Portland Prison on 31 December 1850 along with Robert McIvor, John Henry Hill and John Johnson who had also been received from Birmingham Prison on 8 February.
The Portland Prison quarterly muster records dated 30 September 1851, December 1851 and 31 March 1852 indicated Peter King, as prisoner numbered 1932, was in good health and his conduct whilst at the Prison was very good.  Robert McIvor, John Henry Hill and John Johnson were also noted on the Portland Prison record pages for these musters.  Furthermore, the December 1851 muster indicated King had an alias of Keenan.

All four were transported on the Pestonjee Bomanjee which was reported to have sailed from Plymouth for Van Diemen’s Land on 16 April 1852 with 288 other convicts. The intended route for the journey was captured by the South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900) in that the vessel had “left its moorings opposite the Royal Arsenal” (at Woolwich on the Thames) “with 100 convicts on board, and will take on 150 additional at Portsmouth, and 100 youths, all males, from Parkhurst Prison, Isle of Wight, and then proceed to Van Diemen’s Land”.  The article also went on to add “they will obtain tickets of leave on arrival”.

For the voyage the ship’s master was Edward Montgomery and its surgeon, Daniel Ritchie.  The 1852 muster record for the vessel indicated King’s police number was 25924, he was single, his occupation was a servant and he could read and write a little.  The record also stated he had admitted he had committed the offence of stealing a cow and his conduct whilst in gaol was noted as good.  Ritchie’s report on the muster record described King’s height as 5 foot 5 and three-quarter inches, his complexion florid, with an oval head and visage, a low forehead, dark eyes, black eyebrows, dark brown hair with red whiskers, a large nose and medium-sized mouth and chin.  The record went on to indicate that by the time he had arrived in Van Diemen’s Land he had a number of tattoos: the initials “P x R” on his right arm; a foul anchor on his back of his right hand; a ring on the middle finger of his right hand; and one that depicted crucifixion on his left arm.

When the Peter King arrived on 31 July 1852 it was during the period when the probation system operated in Van Diemen’s Land and the conduct record for King goes on to indicate on 6 August that he was to be employed Mr M Aitkin.  Mr Marcus Aitkin of Cleveland employed King just nine days after his arrival on 9 August 1852 at the rate of £10 0 shillings 0 pence for a twelve-month period.  Marcus Aitkin was an importer and breeder of horses, including racehorses, and had a large rural property known as Glen Esk which bordered the South Esk River at Cleveland.
Peter King’s ticket of leave was granted in 1853 and it was reported in the Cornwall Chronicle on 17 September of that year.  On 12 May 1854, he had sought permission to marry Mary Ann Russell who was a free inhabitant and permission was granted on 17 May.  On 13 June 1854, they were married at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Launceston.

They had a daughter, Ann, who was born on 14 March 1855 followed by another daughter, Mary, on 26 September 1857.  On Ann’s record of birth Peter King’s occupation is given as a groom and his address as Cameron Street.  Sadly, Mary passed away in 1858 at the age of 13 months due to influenza. 

In 1868 King was a witness to an accidental death in Launceston and his occupation was noted as car driver, another term for a licensed horse and cab driver.  Peter King, as a cab or car driver, had ‘brushes’ with the law. However, he incurred fines without sentences being imposed.  In 1873 it was claimed in the Launceston Police Court that Peter King had over charged Mr William Dodery, Warden of the Municipality of Longford, and King was ordered to refund 3 shillings and was fined 10 shillings and ordered to pay costs.  In 1875 he was fined 10 shillings and costs of 7 shillings and 6 pence for allowing his licenced car to remain on a stand without a competent person in charge. 
Peter King died on 16 December 1891.  His record of death noted his occupation as cab driver and his place of death as North Street (in Launceston), the cause as chronic bronchitis and his age as 76 years.  If correct, that would have made his birth year about 1815, rather than the approximate year of birth of 1821 when he indicated he was 28 years of age when convicted in 1849.

Perhaps a reasonably stable family life, better living conditions in Tasmania and his arrival during the period of the operation of the probation system all contributed to King not becoming a hardened criminal.  He was able to have continued employment for many years, to marry and whilst he was alive his daughter Ann, who lived at home until the age of 20 years, married a cab driver in 1876.  Peter King certainly fared much better than his fellow transportee, Robert McIvor, who became a recidivist and was executed on 16 February 1864.

Convict Changes History

Fiona Irwin on 12th May, 2020 made the following changes:

alias1: Peter Keenan, gender: m, occupation, crime

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