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Sophia Russell

Sophia Russell, one of 171 convicts transported on the Planter, 29 October 1838

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Sophia Russell
Aliases: none
Gender: -

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 30th October, 1818
Occupation: Housemaid
Date of Death: 10th January, 1894
Age: 75 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: Larceny
Convicted at: Central Criminal Court
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Planter
Departure date: 29th October, 1838
Arrival date: 9th March, 1839
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 169 other convicts

References

Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 90, Class and Piece Number HO11/11, Page Number 366
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

Diane Archer on 17th November, 2014 wrote:

Sophia Russell was the daughter of William Russell and Sophia Hares. 

Little is known of her younger life until she came to live with her uncle, John Hand, on the 19th June 1838 where she worked as a house maid.  Apparently life with her uncle was not what Sophia enjoyed and so, just on four weeks later, she absconded taking with her a coat (valued at ten shillings),and a pair of trousers (value 5s) all of which belonged to Ambrose Lettes.  In addition Sophia took with her two blankets which belonged to her uncle.  She was subsequently arrested after selling the items to David Nunn, the assistant to Mr. Russell of Fore-street, Cripplegate (London, England) who was a pawnbroker.

Tried at the Central Criminal Court in London on the 20th August 1838, it seems that Sophia’s trial lasted a relatively short time with only three witnesses being called:  John Henry Hand (her uncle), David Nunn (pawnbroker’s assistant) and Ambrose Lettes (owner of some of the stolen items).  It also came to the attention of the Court that Sophia had a former conviction prior to her appearance in Court at this point in time with such former conviction seeing her sentenced to one months gaol.  The crime of which she was convicted at that time is unknown at present.  At the conclusion of the her trial in August 1838, Sophia was found guilty and sentenced to ‘Transportation to the Colony of New South Wales for a period of seven years’.

The following is a transcript of Sophia Russell’s trial:

Old Bailey Proceedings, August 1838,
1798. SOPHIA RUSSELL was indicted for stealing, on the 11th of July, 1 coat, value 10s.; 1 pair of trowsers, value 5s.; the goods of Ambrose Lettes; 2 blankets, value 6s., and 1 pair of trowsers, value 4s.; the goods of John Henry Hand, her master.

JOHN HENRY HAND . The prisoner is my niece. On the 19th of June, she came to live with me: on the 13th of July she went away.  I missed a coat, a pair of trowsers, and 2 blankets, part of them were mine, and part Mr. Lettes’s, a lodger.

DAVID NUNN . I am assistant to Mr. Russell, of Fore-street, Cripplegate, a pawnbroker. I have 2 blankets, a coat, and pair of trowsers, pawned by the prisoner.

AMBROSE LETTES . This coat and trowsers are mine: I lodged with the prosecutor.

GUILTY:  Aged 20.  Transported for Seven Years.
[Source:  http://www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 17 July 2011]

Sophia was transported to Australia on board the ‘Planter’ which arrived in Sydney on the 9th March 1839.  This vessel had been built in 1829 and was a barque of 367 tons, of Class AE1 and the Master of the vessel at that time was F.B. Manning.  The health of the 171 female convicts onboard was the responsibility of Thomas Robertson who fulfilled his duties excellently when one considers that during the journey, no convicts had died. 

Sophia Russell’s convict records provide the following physical description:

Name:  Sophia Russell
Age:  20 years
Religion: Protestant
Education: Could read and write
Native Place: London
Occupation: Housemaid
Crime:  Stealing wearing apparel
Tried:  Central CriminalCourt
When:  20th August 1838
Index No: 38
Sentence: 7 years
Former conviction: One month
Height:  Four feet ten and a quarter inch
Complexion:  Sallow
Colour of Hair: Light Brown
Colour of eyes: Grey
Particular marks: Nose short and thick.  Small pockpit between the eyebrows. 
  Father William Russell transported 12 years ago per ‘Guildford 7’

On Thursday, March 14, 1839, the following notice appeared in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser:

Colonial Secretary’s Office, Sydney, 11th March 1839

FEMALE SERVANTS
NOTICE is hereby given, that Families
who are in want of Female Servants, may be
supplied from the Prisoners arrived by the ship
PLANTER, from England, provided they apply
according to the established Forms, on or before
12 o’clock on THURSDAY, the 14th instant.

The Assignees will be required to enter into the
usual Engagement, under a Penalty of Forty
Shillings, to keep their Servants for One Month,
unless removed in due course of Law.
Printed Forms of Application may be obtained
at the Office of the Principal Superintendent of
Convicts.

By Command of His Excellency the Governor
E.DEAS THOMSON

Upon arrival, Sophia Russell was assigned to John Morris who resided at Market Wharf, Sydney where he ran a timber business.  It is possible that she was assigned to him for the purpose of housemaid. 

On the 23rd july 1840, approximately 18 months, after arriving in the Colony of New South Wales, Sophia Russell and her future husband, Thomas Little, applied for Permission to Marry which was a necessity if one or both of the individuals was a convict with such being the case for Sophia who still had five years of her sentence remaining.  This application was signed by Reverend Robert Allwood.  At that time, Thomas was ‘Free by servitude’ having served his sentence and receiving his Certificate of Freedom (No. 39/928) on the 4 July 1839. 

Approval for their marriage was given by the authorities on 7 August 1840 as well as the permission of Sophia’s employee, John Morris (of Market Wharf, Sydney) and three weeks later Thomas Little and Sophia Russell were married in the Parish of St James, County Cumberland, Sydney.  The relevant entry in the St James Parish Register states that both Thomas Little and Sophia were of the Parish of St Andrews.  John Elder was the officiating Minister. Both Thomas and Sophia signed their marriage certificate and the witnesses to their marriage were Henry Humby of Parramatta Road and Elisha Hayes of Pitt Street, Sydney.

Following their marraige Sophia and Thomas moved to the Brisbane Water district of New South Wales (Gosford area) with the selection of this area possibly being influenced by the fact that Thomas, a former convict himself, may havbe been there before when he had been assigned to Justice Dowling who regularly attended judicial matters in this district and their accommodation was probably with the Hely family at ‘Wyoming’ of whom Frederick Hely was the Superintendent of Convicts.

It was at ‘Wyoming’ that their first child, Christopher William Little, was born on 2 May 1841 at which time, Thomas was employed as a brick maker but a subsequent move by Sophia and Thomas saw them reside in the Campbelltown district (western areas of Sydney) for a couple of years where two of their children, Mary Rebecca and Sophia Harriet were born, the former at Cambletown and the later at Camden.  Some time prior to September 1847, Sophia and Thomas relocated back to the Gosford area with their son John George being born at Blue Gum Flat (now known as Ourimbah) at that time but it wasn’t long before a decision was made to relocate to the New England district of New South Wales.  Such would not have been made lightly for such a trip was long and arduous and with limited information regarding their final destination it would have been a trip which was undertaken by them and their young family in 1848 with a mixture of both excitement and trepidation.

By the time 1849 rolled round, Thomas, Sophia and their young family had managed to get to the New England district of New South Wales where their last five children were born.  Sophia Russell and Thomas Little were to remain in this district for the remainder of their lives.  It was in this district that they worked on a number of properties with Thomas and his sons, and possibly his daughters also, finding employment in a number of ways which included that of labourer, horse-breaker, brickmaker, baker, housemaids and sheperds.  It wasd a case of undertaking whatever work was available with such being necessary to ensure the survival of the family.

During the 1860s Sophia and her family resided at ‘Toryburn’ where her husband, Thomas was employed as a shepherd and labourer.  Records also reveal that in the 1860s Sophia and her husband Thomas and their family were residing at ‘Abington’ but by 1873 Thomas and Sophia had selected their own property at the junction of Five Mile Creek and the Gwydir River.  This selection was initially part of ‘Abington’ station and was the first ‘selection’ chosen from the station under the Crown Lands Alienation Act, 1861, Conditional Purchase of Crown Land section of that Act.

Sophia Little (nee Russell) had been married to her beloved Thomas Little for over fifty three years when she died from Enteritis on the 10 January 1894, an illness from which she had been suffering for a period of three weeks.  She had been visited by a Doctor just two days prior to her death but succumbed to such at the age of 76 years.  Her funeral was held in Armidale and she was subsequently interred in the Church of England Section of Armidale Cemetery where a large, elaborate headstone surrounded by a wrought iron fence marks her final resting place.

Just seven short weeks later Sophia’s husband, Thomas Little, passed away at the age of 84 years.  He had contracted Influenza two weeks earlier and it was this that resulted in his death but many a family member believes that he died from a broken heart following the death of his beloved Sophia.  He was laid to rest on the banks of the river which fronted their property known as ‘River Station’ but unfortunately no headstone remains owing to the fact that such was washed away during one of the many floods which, over time, had impacted on their land.

Rest in Peace Sophia and Thomas

Diane Archer on 17th November, 2014 wrote:

Sophia Russell was the daughter of William Russell and Sophia Hares. 

Little is known of her younger life until she came to live with her uncle, John Hand, on the 19th June 1838 where she worked as a house maid.  Apparently life with her uncle was not what Sophia enjoyed and so, just on four weeks later, she absconded taking with her a coat (valued at ten shillings),and a pair of trousers (value 5s) all of which belonged to Ambrose Lettes.  In addition Sophia took with her two blankets which belonged to her uncle.  She was subsequently arrested after selling the items to David Nunn, the assistant to Mr. Russell of Fore-street, Cripplegate (London, England) who was a pawnbroker.

Tried at the Central Criminal Court in London on the 20th August 1838, it seems that Sophia’s trial lasted a relatively short time with only three witnesses being called:  John Henry Hand (her uncle), David Nunn (pawnbroker’s assistant) and Ambrose Lettes (owner of some of the stolen items).  It also came to the attention of the Court that Sophia had a former conviction prior to her appearance in Court at this point in time with such former conviction seeing her sentenced to one months gaol.  The crime of which she was convicted at that time is unknown at present.  At the conclusion of the her trial in August 1838, Sophia was found guilty and sentenced to ‘Transportation to the Colony of New South Wales for a period of seven years’.

The following is a transcript of Sophia Russell’s trial:

Old Bailey Proceedings, August 1838,
1798. SOPHIA RUSSELL was indicted for stealing, on the 11th of July, 1 coat, value 10s.; 1 pair of trowsers, value 5s.; the goods of Ambrose Lettes; 2 blankets, value 6s., and 1 pair of trowsers, value 4s.; the goods of John Henry Hand, her master.

JOHN HENRY HAND . The prisoner is my niece. On the 19th of June, she came to live with me: on the 13th of July she went away.  I missed a coat, a pair of trowsers, and 2 blankets, part of them were mine, and part Mr. Lettes’s, a lodger.

DAVID NUNN . I am assistant to Mr. Russell, of Fore-street, Cripplegate, a pawnbroker. I have 2 blankets, a coat, and pair of trowsers, pawned by the prisoner.

AMBROSE LETTES . This coat and trowsers are mine: I lodged with the prosecutor.

GUILTY:  Aged 20.  Transported for Seven Years.
[Source:  http://www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 17 July 2011]

Sophia was transported to Australia on board the ‘Planter’ which arrived in Sydney on the 9th March 1839.  This vessel had been built in 1829 and was a barque of 367 tons, of Class AE1 and the Master of the vessel at that time was F.B. Manning.  The health of the 171 female convicts onboard was the responsibility of Thomas Robertson who fulfilled his duties excellently when one considers that during the journey, no convicts had died. 

Sophia Russell’s convict records provide the following physical description:

Name:  Sophia Russell
Age:  20 years
Religion: Protestant
Education: Could read and write
Native Place: London
Occupation: Housemaid
Crime:  Stealing wearing apparel
Tried:  Central CriminalCourt
When:  20th August 1838
Index No: 38
Sentence: 7 years
Former conviction: One month
Height:  Four feet ten and a quarter inch
Complexion:  Sallow
Colour of Hair: Light Brown
Colour of eyes: Grey
Particular marks: Nose short and thick.  Small pockpit between the eyebrows. 
  Father William Russell transported 12 years ago per ‘Guildford 7’

On Thursday, March 14, 1839, the following notice appeared in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser:

Colonial Secretary’s Office, Sydney, 11th March 1839

FEMALE SERVANTS
NOTICE is hereby given, that Families
who are in want of Female Servants, may be
supplied from the Prisoners arrived by the ship
PLANTER, from England, provided they apply
according to the established Forms, on or before
12 o’clock on THURSDAY, the 14th instant.

The Assignees will be required to enter into the
usual Engagement, under a Penalty of Forty
Shillings, to keep their Servants for One Month,
unless removed in due course of Law.
Printed Forms of Application may be obtained
at the Office of the Principal Superintendent of
Convicts.

By Command of His Excellency the Governor
E.DEAS THOMSON

Upon arrival, Sophia Russell was assigned to John Morris who resided at Market Wharf, Sydney where he ran a timber business.  It is possible that she was assigned to him for the purpose of housemaid. 

On the 23rd july 1840, approximately 18 months, after arriving in the Colony of New South Wales, Sophia Russell and her future husband, Thomas Little, applied for Permission to Marry which was a necessity if one or both of the individuals was a convict with such being the case for Sophia who still had five years of her sentence remaining.  This application was signed by Reverend Robert Allwood.  At that time, Thomas was ‘Free by servitude’ having served his sentence and receiving his Certificate of Freedom (No. 39/928) on the 4 July 1839. 

Approval for their marriage was given by the authorities on 7 August 1840 as well as the permission of Sophia’s employee, John Morris (of Market Wharf, Sydney) and three weeks later Thomas Little and Sophia Russell were married in the Parish of St James, County Cumberland, Sydney.  The relevant entry in the St James Parish Register states that both Thomas Little and Sophia were of the Parish of St Andrews.  John Elder was the officiating Minister. Both Thomas and Sophia signed their marriage certificate and the witnesses to their marriage were Henry Humby of Parramatta Road and Elisha Hayes of Pitt Street, Sydney.

Following their marraige Sophia and Thomas moved to the Brisbane Water district of New South Wales (Gosford area) with the selection of this area possibly being influenced by the fact that Thomas, a former convict himself, may havbe been there before when he had been assigned to Justice Dowling who regularly attended judicial matters in this district and their accommodation was probably with the Hely family at ‘Wyoming’ of whom Frederick Hely was the Superintendent of Convicts.

It was at ‘Wyoming’ that their first child, Christopher William Little, was born on 2 May 1841 at which time, Thomas was employed as a brick maker but a subsequent move by Sophia and Thomas saw them reside in the Campbelltown district (western areas of Sydney) for a couple of years where two of their children, Mary Rebecca and Sophia Harriet were born, the former at Cambletown and the later at Camden.  Some time prior to September 1847, Sophia and Thomas relocated back to the Gosford area with their son John George being born at Blue Gum Flat (now known as Ourimbah) at that time but it wasn’t long before a decision was made to relocate to the New England district of New South Wales.  Such would not have been made lightly for such a trip was long and arduous and with limited information regarding their final destination it would have been a trip which was undertaken by them and their young family in 1848 with a mixture of both excitement and trepidation.

By the time 1849 rolled round, Thomas, Sophia and their young family had managed to get to the New England district of New South Wales where their last five children were born.  Sophia Russell and Thomas Little were to remain in this district for the remainder of their lives.  It was in this district that they worked on a number of properties with Thomas and his sons, and possibly his daughters also, finding employment in a number of ways which included that of labourer, horse-breaker, brickmaker, baker, housemaids and sheperds.  It wasd a case of undertaking whatever work was available with such being necessary to ensure the survival of the family.

During the 1860s Sophia and her family resided at ‘Toryburn’ where her husband, Thomas was employed as a shepherd and labourer.  Records also reveal that in the 1860s Sophia and her husband Thomas and their family were residing at ‘Abington’ but by 1873 Thomas and Sophia had selected their own property at the junction of Five Mile Creek and the Gwydir River.  This selection was initially part of ‘Abington’ station and was the first ‘selection’ chosen from the station under the Crown Lands Alienation Act, 1861, Conditional Purchase of Crown Land section of that Act.

Sophia Little (nee Russell) had been married to her beloved Thomas Little for over fifty three years when she died from Enteritis on the 10 January 1894, an illness from which she had been suffering for a period of three weeks.  She had been visited by a Doctor just two days prior to her death but succumbed to such at the age of 76 years.  Her funeral was held in Armidale and she was subsequently interred in the Church of England Section of Armidale Cemetery where a large, elaborate headstone surrounded by a wrought iron fence marks her final resting place.

Just seven short weeks later Sophia’s husband, Thomas Little, passed away at the age of 84 years.  He had contracted Influenza two weeks earlier and it was this that resulted in his death but many a family member believes that he died from a broken heart following the death of his beloved Sophia.  He was laid to rest on the banks of the river which fronted their property known as ‘River Station’ but unfortunately no headstone remains owing to the fact that such was washed away during one of the many floods which, over time, had impacted on their land.

Rest in Peace Sophia and Thomas

Convict Changes History

Diane Archer on 17th November, 2014 made the following changes:

occupation, crime

Diane Archer on 17th November, 2014 made the following changes:

date of birth: 10th January, 1818 (prev. 0000), date of death: 10th January, 1894 (prev. 0000)

Diane Archer on 5th August, 2016 made the following changes:

date of birth: 30th October, 1818 (prev. 10th January, 1818), crime

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