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John Stephens

John Stephens, one of 270 convicts transported on the Nile, 18 September 1857

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Stephens
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1833
Occupation: Labourer
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 51 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 14 years

Crime: Robbery with violence
Convicted at: Herefordshire, Hereford Assizes
Sentence term: 14 years
Ship: Nile
Departure date: 18th September, 1857
Arrival date: 1st January, 1858
Place of arrival Western Australia
Passenger manifest Travelled with 270 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/18, Page Number 235 (119)
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

Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:


3 January, 1853: John Stephens was convicted, at the General Quarter Sessions at Hereford, of larceny; a previous conviction for felony was taken into account—sentenced to transportation for 7 years (England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 for John Stephens; England; Herefordshire; 1853).


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:


8 February, 1856: John Stephens was granted a Licence for Parole, #4934, as below:

“Reference: PCOM 3/45/4934
Licence number 4934: John Stephens.

Caption order and prison record from when he was convicted of Felony, stealing a breast of mutton at the Quarter Sessions at Hereford, Herefordshire 03 January 1853.

Then aged 20 years and by trade a Labourer.

Sentence: 7 years transportation.

Licence granted 08 February 1856, for early release from Portland prison.

Date: 1856 February 8
Held by: The National Archives, Kew” (https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C10341190).


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:


26 July, 1856: John Stephens was convicted at Hereford Assizes of “robbery in company with violence, and previous conviction” and sentenced to transportation for 14 years (England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 for John Stephens; England; Herefordshire; 1856).


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:

NEWSPAPER report of his trial:

From the Hereford Journal, Wednesday 30 July 1856, p3:

“HEREFORDSHIRE SUMMER ASSIZES… Brampton Abbotts.— Highway Robbery. John Stephens, 23, and John Pember, 18, were indicted for feloniously assaulting John Morgan, and stealing from his person ten sovereigns and a £5 note.

Mr. Skinner was for the prosecution; Mr. Cooke defended the prisoners. Prosecutor, old man, miller, living Brampton Abbotts, near Ross, had been to Ross market, and was walking homewards in the evening; one the prisoners came up behind, grasped him round the neck and held him, while the other rifled his pockets for the money they contained; the prosecutor identified Stephens as the man who took the money from him; but could not see the man who held him behind; he called to some men in a wood hard by, and they went off in pursuit of the prisoners, who had run away.

John Jay, of Ross, was on duty on the afternoon of the robbery, as switchman on the railway; saw the two prisoners together going the direction described by the prosecutor as being that from which the prisoners approached him; Ross man; the prisoners reside there also, and knows them well.

Thomas Clutterbuck, who was attracted by the calls of Mr. Morgan deposed to having seen the two prisoners running away, and having gone in pursuit.

A little girl named Anne Wilks, also saw the two prisoners pass by her, following Mr. Morgan; when they came up to him, they threw him down, and then she saw them run away.

Richard Thompson, who was working a field, saw Mr. Morgan by, followed by the prisoners; presently the prisoners came back, and were pursued by the woodmen.

Wm. Peart went in pursuit of the prisoners whom he found lying hidden in the wheat; on seeing him they jumped up and ran away; witness followed and caught them; Stephens said he had done nobody any wrong; witness told him be had robbed John Morgan and then Stephens said that if he had done John Morgan any wrong he wished to go and beg his pardon; witness and other men took the prisoners into Ross, and in passing a house there, occupied by Pember’s mother, a door was suddenly opened and Pember was taken into the house and escaped.

P.C. Blossett apprehended Pember at Leicester on the 18th June.

The jury found the prisoners Guilty. A former conviction for felony, in Herefordshire (after another previous conviction), and sentence to transportation for seven years was proved in the case of Stephens, who is a ticket-of-leave man.

The learned Judge, in passing sentence, commented on the daring nature of the offence, committed in the open day. Stephens, in view of the previous conviction, was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation; Pember to four years penal servitude.” (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/)


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:


16 June, 1856: Committed at Ross to stand trial (from Portsmouth jail record).


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:

21 June, 1856: Admitted to Hereford City jail, Gaol Lane or Gaol Street, Hereford—served 2 months 9 days; behaviour “good” (UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951; for John Stephens; Portsmouth Prison; Registers of Prisoners; 1855-1858).


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:

25 August, 1856: Admitted to Millbank prison, Westminster, London—served 8 months 21 days in separate confinement; behaviour “good”.

“After a sentence of transportation was handed down, the prisoner entered into a separate stage where he was placed into an individual cell, isolated from others, apart from brief periods of exercise and attendance at chapel. However, no communication of any kind with other prisoners was permitted at any time. The philosophy behind this penal methodology had its provenances in the religious, monastic traditions; i.e., that in the isolation of his cell the malefactor would be able to contemplate the errors of his way, unadulterated by the negative influences of former contemporaries, and be reformed.” (Edgar, 2018, pp39-40)

When first put into practice, the mandated period of separate confinement was 18 months. By the late 1840s, authorities had conceded that such conditions of imprisonment were “injurious to many prisoners’ mental health” and the stint was reduced to 12 months. Periods of separate confinement were reduced further “as a prisoner displayed good behaviour tendencies” (Edgar, p40).

Millbank, Pentonville, Wakefield and Mountjoy in Ireland were the “Probation” or “Separate” prisons, as were some local jails.


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:

16 May, 1857: Admitted to Portsmouth prison, Cumberland Street/Gloucester Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire—inmate #3979.

Portsmouth, Portland, Chatham and Spike Island in Ireland were listed public works stations and the second stage in the penal process.

After separate confinement, prisoners were “placed on work parties at various locations, most commonly naval stations, where maintenance of facilities was vital for the effective protection of Britain’s far flung commercial and military influences around the world. While there, attitude and behaviour were monitored closely. In theory, only after consistently positive reports was a prisoner moved on to the third stage of his incarceration—transportation.” (Edgar, p40)

John Stephens was listed as 23 when convicted, single, labourer, able to read, Protestant; next of kin—his father George Stephens of Ross; health “good”. He served 3 months 24 days at Portsmouth in public works (UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951; for John Stephens; Portsmouth Prison; Registers of Prisoners; 1855-1858).


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:

8 September, 1857: Sent from Portsmouth to board the Nile for transportation to WA, convict #28/3979; by this time he had served 1 year 1 month 14 days of his 14 year term (Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930; Convict Department, Registers; Convicts Transported Per Nile (R32)).


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 wrote:


From his Fremantle jail record:

STEPHENS, John; inmate #4630, arrived 1 Jan 1858 per Nile

Date of Birth: 1831
Place of Birth: Allstone, Gloucester, England
Date of Death: 6 Jul 1898
Place of Death: Nnargo near Dongara

Marital Status: Unmarried
Occupation: Labourer
Literacy: Semiliterate

Sentence Place: Hereford, Hereford, England
Crime: Robbery with violence
Sentence Period: 14 years
Previous Convictions: Yes

Ticket of Leave Date: 15 Oct 1859
Conditional Pardon Date: 5 Mar 1862 (https://fremantleprison.com.au/).


Convict Changes History

Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 made the following changes:

gender: m

Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1833 (prev. 0000)

Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 made the following changes:


Dianne Jones on 26th March, 2022 made the following changes:


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