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John Read Riddell

John Read Riddell, one of 200 convicts transported on the Guilford [Guildford], August 1811

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Read Riddell
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: -
Occupation: Carpenter
Date of Death: 31st August, 1825
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 57 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Uttering forged notes
Convicted at: Dorset Assizes
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Guildford
Departure date: August, 1811
Arrival date*: 31st March, 1812
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 195 other convicts
* Arrival date is estimated


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 46. Tasmanian Archives.
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

Nell Murphy on 25th January, 2016 wrote:

Tried at Dorchester 13 Mar 1811. Life Sentence.
Transported to New South Wales, Australia on the ‘Guildford’.

John Read Riddle was transferred to Van Diemen’s Land on the ‘Emu’, 1812.

1819: making threats and drunk. 50 lashes. Road gang.
1823: follow his worldly occupation on the Sabbath Day. Fined 5/-.

29/07/1825: To be executed for the murder of George Fildy. Executed - ref. 264.
Said to have confessed to killing his wife.

Maureen Withey on 17th August, 2020 wrote:

Tasmanian Record. https://stors.tas.gov.au/RGD36-1-1p44j2k
Marriages in Hobart Town District 1816.
3 June 1816, John Read Riddel, convict per Guildford, age 34, and Bridget Welch, convict, per Alexander, age 46, by Banns.
John signed his name, Bridget, her mark X. Witness was William Leach, who married the same day.
John Riddel was a witness to William Leach’s marriage to Mary Brown.

Maureen Withey on 17th August, 2020 wrote:

NOTICE.—In consequence of a mutual separation having taken place between me and my Wife BRIDGET RIDDLE, I hereby Caution all Persons from CREDITING her in any manner on my
Account; as I will not be answerable for any Debts she may hereafter Contract. JOHN RIDDLE.
Hobart Town Gazette, 5 Apr 1817.

Burials in St Davids, Hobart 1817.
Bridget Riddle, Died 26 May 1817, aged 46 years, Convict, per Alexander. Buried 29 May 1817.

John soon remarried.

Marriages in Hobart Town District 1817.
John Read Riddel (widower) Convict per Guildford, age 37 years, and Bridget Kelly, (widow), convict, per Alexander, age 50, were married by Banns, 3 September 1817.
John signed his name, Bridget her mark X.

THE Public are hereby cautioned against giving Trust or Credit to my Wife, Bridget Riddel, on
my Account, is I will not be answerable for any Debts contracted or that may be contracted by her; she having eloped from her Home without my Provocation.
Hobart Town Gazette, 8 Sept 1821.
On Monday a Coroner’s Inquest was held at the Black Swan, on view of the body of George Fildes, who met his death the preceding day under the following circumstances:-A person-named Hill (by trade a sawyer, and residing in Goulburn-street), had employed a man named John Read Riddel (a very industrious carpenter) to stick a pig ; and the deceased was afterwards engaged to cut it up ; but his mode of performing the task was not satisfactory to Riddel, who in consequence had a quarrel with him, and during which, after many blows had been struck by both parties, the deceased received a wound from a knife, which had just before been weilded by Riddel – against whom, after a most patient examination of several witnesses, the Jury delivered a verdict of wilful murder, pursuant to which he stands of course fully committed for trial at the next Session of Oyer and Terminer,
Hobart Town Gazette, 10 June 1825.

George Riddel was yesterday found guilty, in the Supreme Court, of the murder of George Fildes.
Hobart Town Gazette, 30 July 1825.

The Execution (part of the report)
…  While the Executioner was affixing the ropes to Riddle and Peacock, the Rev. Mr. Knopwood, who remained at the foot of the scaffold with the other unhappy sufferers, read the Litany to them, in the most emphatic manner, and afforded them every consolation, which the influence of religion could bestow. As soon as the whole melancholy ceremony of adjusting the rope had been gone through, Mr. Bedford turned to the people; and in an address, which must have been heard to be described, communicated to them; that the dying men before them, wished him to state, their full acknowledgment of the justice of the sentence under which they suffered, arid their heartfelt penitence for their offences. The Reverend Gentleman then proceeded to make the dreadful confession of Riddle, that, besides the murder for which he was then about to undergo, the last awful punishment in this world, he had murdered his two wives, by suffocating them with a pillow, while they were in a state of intoxication. (Riddle had also confessed other offences, and that he had waylaid Captain Nairne, of the 46th Regiment, formerly the Engineer Officer here, with intention to destroy him, but happily failed of his horrid purpose.) The Reverend Gentleman, in the most solemn manner, then invoked the multitude to take warning by the wretched fate of the miserable men before them, and to avoid the heinous sins of drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, and other vices, which, although trifling in the commencement, proceed by slow, but sure degrees,‘until the most dreadful crimes are the result. The address of the Reverend Gentleman was attended to with the most respectful silence; and we hope and trust will not be without the desired effect. When he had concluded, he again offered farther consolation tothe unhappy sufferers, who all wept aloud, and seemed deeply agitated and horror struck.  The scene at this moment was awful beyond description. The five men had got close together, and while they were uttering loud and fervent exclamations for the Divine Mercy, the drop fell, and they were launched into eternity.
Colonial Times, 2 Sep 1825.


Burial records , Hobart Town district 1825.
John Read Riddle, Died 31 August 1825. Buried 31 August. Executed for Murder. He confessed to the murder of two of his wives in this colony and that he had a wife living in England. Ceremony by Wm. Bedford.


At Dorchester, John Read Riddle was capitally convicted of uttering a forged Christchurch and Wimborne 10£. note. The forgery was committed altering a one pound note into a ten pound note, but the erasure was so ill done, that the forgery was instantly detected on on presenting the note.
Hampshire Chronicle, 25 March 1811.

Maureen Withey on 17th August, 2020 wrote:

A postscript perhaps?

We would direct the attention of such of our Readers in Town as are desirous of improving the value and beauty of their gardens and farms, to a hedge of the prickly Mimosa, now growing near the Wellington public-house in Goulburn-street, it fully confirms all that we have said respecting the utility of native shrubs for hedges. it was planted between two and three years ago by John Riddel, who was lately executed, and forms a compact and substantial fence, equal in evergreen beauty to the yew tree, and in strength to the hawthorn. We are happy to leam that this last most valuable plant is becoming general in the Colony,
Hobart Town Gazette, 17 June 1826.

Convict Changes History

Nell Murphy on 25th January, 2016 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 46. Tasmanian Archives. (prev. Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 46), date of death: 31s

Maureen Withey on 17th August, 2020 made the following changes:


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