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John Taylor, one of 260 convicts transported on the Merchantman, 29 June 1864
Name, Aliases & Gender
Birth, Occupation & Death
|Date of Birth:
|Date of Death:
life span was 51 years*
* Median life span based on contributions
Conviction & Transportation
Sentenced to 7 years
||Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/19, Page Number 51 (28)
||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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Christine Baker on 19th December, 2019 wrote:
On 27th February 1863 at Rutland Assizes, Oldham the following case was heard: -
“John Taylor, 21, and John Grant, 23, labourers, were charged with feloniously setting fire to a stack of what straw, the property of Mr Wm Wright, farmer at Ryhall, on 21st August last. Mr Palmer conducted the case for the prosecution; the prisoners were undefended. When asked upon to plead, both men said “We ae guilty of setting fire to the stack, but not maliciously.” A plea of not guilty was taken.”
The first witness called was Mr Wm Wright, the prosecutor, who said – On 21st of August I saw the prisoners begging at my door about one o’clock in the day. I said “It is a bad time begging in harvest, you might find something to do.” They did not reply. About a quarter of an hour later afterwards my daughter called my attention to the stack-yard, and I saw a blaze. I was in my gig, but I got out, ran after the prisoners, and overtook them as they were on the road leading to Stamford, and about 100 yards from the yard. I said to them “You must come back;” they hesitated a little time and then said “What for?” I said “Look there what you’ve done.” They did not speak. I saw a man named Weldon at a distance, and I gave the men into his custody. The straw stack was all consumed, and some fencing and a hovel framing were also on fire.
Dorothy Wright, wife of the prosecutor, said – The two prisoners came to the door on the 21st August, and I cut them some bread. My husband afterwards spoke to them. When they had left the door I saw them about ten yards from the stack, which was then on fire. There was no other person present.
Wm. Weldon, a gamekeeper at Ryall, said: About a quarter past one I was told that Mr. Wright’s stack-yard was on fire, and I went to see him. I met him with the prisoners, and said to them, “You rascals, what have you been doing?” Taylor said, “We did it for want.” The other man Grant said, “We have done it for want, and we are not sorry for what we have done.”
Grant said “It’s false; my comrade said so.”
The Judge stated: - I searched the men, and found two bits of soap, one match, a few bits of rag, and a knife upon them. I did not find a pipe. When asked for their defence,
Grant said: “My Lord and gentlemen; when we committed this crime we did it not out of malice. We did not know anything of the prosecutor. We had no food, and were in distressed circumstances. We had left home in consequence of the depression of trade, and being in this miserable condition, committed the rash act, for which we are very sorry. We throw ourselves on your mercy.”
Taylor said: “I have no more to say.”
The Judge, in summing up, said so far as the law of the case went, it was not necessary to prove that there was any particular spite or malice on part of the part of the prisoners towards the prosecutor. If such were the case, a stranger who had landed in England from any foreign country, who did not know the language, might make that his plea for committing similar acts with impunity. If any person set fire to a stack maliciously, the offence was complete in the eye of the law, and if the jury were satisfied that the prisoners committed the offence with which they were charged it would be necessary to find them guilty. The Jury found them guilty.
And his Lordship, in passing sentence, said the prisoners, as reasonable men, could not expect to benefit by setting up the plea of want. The most reasonable solution of the matter was that they were angry with the prosecutor for not relieving them. Putting himself as far as possible in their position, he could not see that, because he was wretched and unhappy, he should become the instrument of another’s misfortune, and be the means of causing his children to stave. Probably it was not necessary he should pass full sentence allowed by law. The prisoners were young, but they had been guilty of a wicked act, in the destruction of property necessarily exposed, and belonging to a class entitled to protection and respect. The sentence of the Court was that each be kept in penal servitude for seven years.
(Lincolnshire Chronicle 6th March 1863).
Convict Changes History
Iris Dunne on 19th December, 2019 made the following changes:
date of birth: 1842 (prev. 0000), gender: m, occupation, crime