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John Sell

John Sell, one of 216 convicts transported on the Clyde, 20 August 1830

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Sell
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1802
Occupation: Ploughman
Date of Death: 1868
Age: 66 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Poaching
Convicted at: Essex Assizes
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Clyde
Departure date: 20th August, 1830
Arrival date: 18th December, 1830
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land
Passenger manifest Travelled with 215 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 89, Class and Piece Number HO11/7, Page Number 468
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

Michael on 18th July, 2012 wrote:

A member of the Elmdon Poaching Gang who were arrested, charged, convicted and transported to penal colonies for violation of game laws.

Full details regarding the court case can be reviewed from the British National Archives (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk)

Item reference: HO 47/75/3

John Gibbons on 19th July, 2015 wrote:

John Sell (my great, great grandfather) was born in Langley a small village in North West Essex.  He was christened there in the church of St John the Evangelist on 3rd October 1802. 

He married Eliza Wombwell on 8th June 1825 (or 1823 - the records are ambiguous) and the couple had three children - William, George and Moses.  In 1828 John was working as a ploughman but was also part of the Elmdon poaching gang.  John was arrested after an affray in Pond Street Wood on 18th December 1828.

He was tried at the Essex Assizes in Chelmsford and on 9th March 1829 found guilty of poaching and sentenced to transportation for seven years.  He was held at Springfield Prison, Chelmsford until 30th May when he was transferred to the prison hulk ‘York’ in Portsmouth.  On the same day he was moved to the ‘Hardy’ which was used as a hospital ship.  He was transferred to the convict transport ‘Clyde’ on 20th August 1830, also in Portsmouth.

The ‘Clyde’ arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 18th December 1830 and the archives in Hobart contain this description:

Place of Birth: Langley Essex

Body Marks: Lost 2 joints mid finger right hand. Ring pricked middle finger left hand.

Eyes:  Dark Hazel

Hair:  Black

Height: Five feet, six and a half inches.

Family:  Wife Eliza and three children

Trade Ploughman.

In the convict muster of 31st December 1830 he is shown as being employed on public works.

According to Tasmanian records he was assigned as a convict to Gilbert Robertson who, at that time, farmed at Woodburn in the Coal Valley near Richmond.  The ledger (CON27-1-4) is not dated but presumably this would have been in early 1831.  Robertson, the son of a Scottish planter in the West Indies and his black slave, was one of the more interesting early free settlers in Tasmania.  Professor Cassandra Pybus writes: ‘On Christmas Eve in 1831 some of his (Gilbert Robertson’s) convicts were arrested for drinking and in June the following year there was a Supreme Court case involving the death of a convict in a fight with one of Gilbert’s assigned men.  Even though Gilbert’s servant was acquitted of murder, the Attorney General recommended that he denied any convict labour his farms.’ (John West Memorial Lecture, 2011).

In the absence of any other evidence, it is, I believe, a fair assumption that it was after these events that John returned to being employed on public works and is recoded as such on the Convict Musters for 1832 and 1833.  According to that for 1835 he had been granted his Ticket of Leave.  Not all the musters have survived (those for 1831 and 1834 are missing) and details of Certificates of Freedom issued to convicts in Tasmania for the relevant period have been lost.

However John must have returned to England sometime between 1836 and 1838 as his and Eliza’s fourth child Joseph (my great grandfather) was chistened in the church of St John the Evangelist, Langley on 22nd September 1839.

The couple had a fifth child Ann and in the 1841 census family (apart from their eldest child William) were shown as living on Upper Green, Langley.  John and Eliza went on to have four more children: David (b 1842), Esther (b 1846), Nathan (b 1849) and Amos (b 1852).

The family remained in Langley and were recorded in the censuses for 1851 and 1861.  John died in 1868.  His wife Eliza survived him and died in 1879.

Convict Changes History

Michael on 18th July, 2012 made the following changes:

date of birth 1795-00-00, gender m

John Gibbons on 19th July, 2015 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1802 (prev. 1795), date of death: 1868 (prev. 0000), occupation

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