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William Thompson

William Thompson, one of 280 convicts transported on the Hougoumont, 10 October 1867

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: William Thompson
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1832
Occupation: Soldier
Date of Death: 23rd June, 1878
Age: 46 years

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 Life

Crime: Insubordination
Convicted at: Lower Canada, Montreal General Court Martial
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Hougoumont
Departure date: 10th October, 1867
Arrival date: 9th January, 1868
Place of arrival Western Australia
Passenger manifest Travelled with 280 other convicts

References

Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/19, Page Number 264. --0-- Edgar, W. (Bill) (2018), “The precarious voyage of her majesty’s convict ship ‘Nile’ to the Swan River colony, late 1857 – and the unexpected aftermath.” The Great Circle, 40(1), 20–43. --0-- https://riflesmuseum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Rifles_Chronology_1685-2012_Edn2.pdf
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 24th April, 2022 wrote:

COURT MARTIAL:

11 July, 1866: Private William Thompson, Rifle Brigade, was court martialled at Montreal for “firing at a Sergeant with intent to kill him [and] discharging a rifle”. He was sentenced “to suffer death by being hung”; sentence commuted “Death to Penal Servitude for life” (Judge Advocate General’s Office: general courts martial registers, abroad, 1866-1900 at https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-1693332957/view).

The 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade served in Canada 1865-1866 (in 1866 it saw war service in the “Fenian raids”), before returning to England in 1867 (http://regiments.org/default.htm).

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Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 wrote:

31 August, 1866: William Thompson was admitted to Millbank prison, Westminster, London, having arrived from Canada per the ship Orontes. By this time he had already served 1 month 20 days in jail in Canada and aboard the ship for “insubordination in having attempted to shoot his superior officer”.

Listed as a servant and formerly a Private, 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, now inmate #2325; 33 years old when convicted, single, Church of England, able to read and write imperfectly. Next of kin—his sister, Katherine, in Melbourne, Australia. Previous convictions—1 General Court Martial, two at District CsM (UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951 for Willm Thompson; Millbank Prison; Register of Prisoners; 1866-1867).

While at Millbank, he would have been held in separate confinement.

“After a sentence of transportation [or penal servitude] 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.

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Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 wrote:

17 September, 1866: He was admitted to Pentonville prison, Caledonian Road, London—inmate #3997; other details listed are already on record.

Notation: “Parchment Certificate of Discharge received 1.4.67 and handed to Steward” (UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951 for William Thompson; Pentonville Prison; Register of Prisoners; 1866-1869).

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Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 wrote:

23 April, 1867: He was sent to Portland prison, Grove Road, Portland.

Portland, Portsmouth, 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)

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Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 wrote:

8 October, 1867: He was sent to board the Hougoumont for transportation to WA.

“The hired convict ship Hougoumont, which has been taken up by the Government for the conveyance of a numerous party of convicts to Freemantle, Western Australia, left the Nore [anchorage in the Thames estuary] on October 1, and proceeded down Channel, after receiving on board 150 convicts from the establishments at Chatham and Millbank…

On Tuesday, October 8th, the Hougoumont arrived in Portland roads. Shortly before midday ninety convicts were marched down to the Government pier at Portland under a strong escort of the 12th Light Infantry… The Government steamer employed in the breakwater service was used for conveying the convicts on board the Hougoumont transport ship. The convicts were chained together on embarking, and on board the steamer a strong guard of marines from her Majesty’s ship St. George was formed, and saw the convicts safely placed on board the Hougoumont.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Dec 1867, p4, at https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28608271?searchTerm=hougoumont)

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Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 wrote:

IN WA:

From his Fremantle jail record:

THOMPSON, William; inmate #9892, arrived 10 Jan 1868 per Hougoumont

Date of Birth: 1832
Date of Death: 23 Jun 1878
Place of Death: Fremantle Prison Hospital, heart disease

Marital Status: Unmarried
Occupation: Labourer, soldier
Literacy: Literate

Sentence Place: Montreal, Canada
Crime: Insubordination & violence against officer
Sentence Period: Life

Ticket of Leave Date: 28 Aug 1877
Comments: Labourer. Reconvicted in Western Australia [incorrect. The other William Thompson #9895, per Hougoumont, was reconvicted and was recorded as Colonial #10141.] (https://fremantleprison.com.au/)

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Convict Changes History

Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 made the following changes:

gender: m

Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1832 (prev. 0000)

Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 made the following changes:

date of death: 23rd June, 1878 (prev. 0000)

Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 made the following changes:

occupation

Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 made the following changes:

crime

Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/19, Page Number 264. --0-- Edgar, W. (Bill) (2018), “The precarious voyage of her majesty’s convict ship ‘Nile’ to the Swan River colony, late 1857 – and the unexpect

Dianne Jones on 24th April, 2022 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/19, Page Number 264. --0-- Edgar, W. (Bill) (2018), “The precarious voyage of her majesty’s convict ship ‘Nile’ to the Swan River colony, late 1857 – and the unexpect

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