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George Vigers

George Vigers, one of 172 convicts transported on the Florentia, 14 August 1827

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: George Vigers
Aliases: Vigors, Vigos
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1805
Occupation: Shoemaker
Date of Death: 13th August, 1844
Age: 39 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 56 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Stealing
Convicted at: Devon Assizes
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Florentia
Departure date: 14th August, 1827
Arrival date: 3rd January, 1828
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 172 other convicts

References

Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 89, Class and Piece Number HO11/6, Page Number 264 New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842; Bound Indentures 1827-1828
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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Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

1828: On arrival in NSW, George VIGERS was listed as 22 years old. He could read and write. A Protestant, he was single. A shoemaker and a native of Davenport, he had been convicted on 13 March 1826 for stealing a watch and shoes. He received a sentence of seven years. No previous convictions are listed. He was described as 5’2½” tall with a fair ruddy complexion, light brown hair and hazel eyes. He was sent into the service of Edward Smith at Parramatta (see New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842; Bound Indentures 1827-1828).

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

Too many offences to list…

George VIGOS’s record is presented chronologically with the exception of two articles that give a fair indication of the number and frequency of his illegal exploits after arriving in NSW, culminating in a murder and his subsequent execution for that crime.

The first article, by Dr Fiona Starr, appears on the Sydney Living Museums site:

“GEORGE VIGORS (see https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/convict-sydney/george-vigors)
“Shoemaker, thief, bolter, murderer

“Arrived 1828 on Florentia [the online article has a sketch of Vigors from his trial].

“As a young shoemaker of three years’ experience in Davenport, England, George Vigors probably had no idea of the treacherous path his life would take. After arriving in the colony with the minimum sentence of seven years, Vigors went on to notch up a long list of criminal convictions.

“Eventually, while staying at the Hyde Park Barracks, he committed murder, sparking public hysteria and heated debate about the evils breeding in the barracks.

“One day, the 22-year-old Vigors was tempted to steal a watch and a pair of shoes, and so began his fall. Tried at a court in Exeter, his sentence of seven years’ transportation was minor compared with that of many convicts sent to New South Wales, but once in the colony, Vigors refused to stay on the straight and narrow.

“Leaving Sheerness in the summer of 1827, the Florentia took just over four months to make the voyage to Sydney, arriving on 3 January 1828. With his shoemaking trade, Vigors was quickly snapped up into the service of Edward Smith, an ex-convict shoemaker in Parramatta. But Vigors ran away, and was then found out with a false pass. His real taste was for theft, however, and in 1829 he committed a robbery which lengthened his sentence to ten years.

“In 1831, now wearing leg-irons as punishment, Vigors absconded from Iron Gang 3 twice, then from Road Gang 25, and then from Road Gang 36 in 1832. Apparently, Vigors intended to regain his liberty and quit the colony. In their ‘flash’ slang, the other convicts would have called him a pebble, a difficult convict, and a bolter, one who liked to escape. By 1840 he was at the Hyde Park Barracks, and he bolted again on 4 March 1840, but was captured a few weeks later. In May he bailed up some unsuspecting settler on the road and was sentenced to seven years on Norfolk Island. Back in Sydney after doing his time, he was re-convicted for dishonesty, and was banished again to the island.

“By this time Vigors had endured 1100 lashes on the flogging triangle, done four stints labouring in leg-irons, two stretches on Norfolk Island, and had been convicted of 31 offences. In early 1844, aged 39, suffering chronic heart disease, Vigors was one of a group of invalids returned to Sydney. But he wasn’t too weak to unleash more of his evildoing. The Hyde Park Barracks had by now become known for its wayward inmates and lack of discipline. And Vigors, with his track record, did nothing to improve that reputation.

“In the barracks wards, Vigors and fellow Norfolk Island invalids Thomas Burdett and James Martin were as thick as thieves. It was probably in some dark corner that they whispered their plans to conduct a robbery. Somehow, Vigors had saved a gold sovereign, which he passed to convict Robert Malcolm to buy two pistols, powder and shot, which he stashed away in the barracks wards one evening. Then one Sunday in late May, all was ready. When the convicts reached the door of St James’ Church for their compulsory service, Vigors, Martin and Burdett escaped. Throwing off their convict ‘slops’ to reveal plain clothes underneath, the men later knocked on the door of a James Noble in Clarence Street and attempted to rob him. In the struggle, Vigors stabbed Noble in the stomach, using his shoemaking knife. Noble later died. Vigors and Burdett were captured a week later and tried, both prisoners stating that it was the ‘rascality’ of the men in the Hyde Park Barracks that drove them to the crime. In August, both were executed at the gates of Darlinghurst Gaol.

“Vigors, shortly before his execution, stated…‘that he had been a thief since he was nineteen years of age, when he made a voyage to sea, that being the last and only time he had tried to earn an honest livelihood… but he never had been in a place where so much crime and rascality was carried on as in Hyde Park Barracks…’” (The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 1844, p2).

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

One of his stints on Norfolk Island:

1840, 26 July: He arrived on Norfolk Island following a conviction by the Supreme Court, Sydney, on 7 May 1840, for highway robbery.

1844, 20 January: At Norfolk Island, George VIGOS, per Florentia, is on a list of prisoners who are deemed “Invalids and Ineffective” and recommended for removal to Sydney. He is described as “aged 39, suffering from chronic disease of the heart, weak but can work at his trade” (see New South Wales, Australia, Convict Records, 1810-1891; Norfolk Island: Returns of Convicts to NSW, 1844-1845).

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

THAT MURDER and THE TRIAL:

George VIGORS, as he is called in the newspapers, first enters their narratives on 12 June 1844. However, an earlier report of the murder of James Noble is included for context:

1844, 1 June: From the Maitland Mercury & Hunter River Advertiser, Sat 1 June, p3:
“MURDER.- On Sunday evening last, about seven o’clock, three men called at the house of Mr James Noble, in Clarence-street, and on the door being opened they all entered, and while one of them presented a letter to Mr Noble, another of them locked the door, and the third, presenting a pistol at Mr Noble’s head, pulled the trigger, but it missed fire. Mr Noble instantly rushed upon the man, when one of the others stabbed him in the stomach with a knife. An alarm was given, and two of the miscreants made their escape, but Mr Noble, notwithstanding his wound, kept his hold of the man he had first seized until assistance came, when he was secured. On Monday evening, about eight o’clock, Mr. Noble died of the wound. An inquest was held on the body on Tuesday, and a verdict of wilful murder was returned against the man in custody, whose name is James Martin, an ‘invalid’ from Norfolk Island, and against two other persons unknown. On a report of the outrage reaching Hyde Park Barracks, on Sunday evening, there was a muster of the prisoners, when it was found that 25 were absent, and amongst them were the prisoner and two other Norfolk Islanders, who, as well as several others, were not reported as being absent, either at the gate, or to the police.”
In its report of the same incident, the Weekly Register of 1 June, p613, said James Martin “has been about two months in Hyde Park Barracks, as an invalid from Norfolk Island.”

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

1844, 12 June: James Martin turns “approver”.
A lengthy account of the committal proceedings was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, p2. Below is an excerpt:

“COMMITTAL OF THE MURDERERS OF THE LATE MR NOBLE.

“Soon after James Martin had been committed by Captain Innes, the Acting Coroner at the inquest, to take his trial for the murder of Mr. Noble, he was conveyed to gaol, and after being there a few days, he expressed a desire to communicate with Mr Keck, and made such disclosures to that gentleman as induced him, near the hour of midnight, on the 5th instant, to repair to Mr Miles, Commissioner of Police, who accompanied him to the house of a ticket-of-leave holder, named Rankin, residing on the west side of Kent-street, a few doors south from King-street, when Rankin and his son were instantly taken into custody; on being separately brought before the Chief Commissioner, they individually made the following statements, which were committed to writing.”

[On 8 June] the statements of John Rankin and his son John Jnr were presented. John Rankin Snr said he had sold a pistol but no ammunition to a Joe Crossthwaite who had stopped at his home for two days in June. He denied knowing Mr Noble or that a meeting between a servant of Mr Noble’s and Joe Crossthwaite had taken place in the Rankin house. John Rankin Jnr confirmed that a pistol shown to him looked like one his father had owned.

The newspaper report continued:

“After the Rankins had been secured, Messrs Miles and Keck proceeded to Hyde Park Barracks and left such instructions with the porter at the gate as caused a convict named Mukohn, then in Hyde Park Barracks, to be secured and forwarded to Woolloomooloo Gaol… Soon after [George] Vigors and [Thomas] Burdett had been captured, they were forwarded to Woolloomooloo Gaol, and on Saturday last a Court was opened there before Captain Innes…

“Mrs. Noble… gave the following additional testimony: The man who snapped the pistol is one of these men; my husband tried very much to hold the man who snapped the pistol; they scuffled together; my husband not being able to succeed in holding him, turned round and laid hold of [James] Martin, I have no doubt he is the man, and I believe he was the last man that entered the house and shut the door; the prisoner [George] Vigors is the man who entered the House and presented the pistol; he was the man my husband first laid hold of; I assisted my husband in detaining [James] Martin; I cannot swear as to any of the other prisoners.

“Cross-examined by [George] Vigors:-I am sure you are the man who told me not to be alarmed, and held the pistol to me; I know your appearance, your voice, I know your face.”

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

Continued:

Other witnesses included Robert Malcolm, bond, per Lloyd, 14 years, who said on the Saturday before the murder George Vigors had asked him to purchase “a pistol or two” for him. Robert Malcolm bought one from John Rankin Snr and was told the second would be ready for him the next day, along with shot and caps. Robert Malcolm told Rankin Snr the pistols were for two men in Hyde Park Barracks, Vigors and Martin. The next day, Malcolm took James Martin, George Vigors and Thomas Burdett to the Rankin house to collect the firearms.

Robert Malcolm continued: “As I was going away, Vigors said, ‘I have dropped my knife, it must be in the room where we were, go and look for it for me, I did so, and found it on the chair where Vigors had sat. It was a shoemaker’s knife with a wooden handle and worn at the point, I would know it again, I gave it to him. I am convinced that Rankin knew the men were going to do a robbery, he knew the men were all wrong, that is, runaways, for I told him they were, and but a short time from Norfolk Island. Rankin told the men he had an empty room, and he could have it ready for them, and would give them the key of it.”

George Whitfield, a gunmaker, living in King Street, swore that Rankin Snr had purchased some percussion caps from him on Sunday 26 May.

The committal hearing continued on 11 June.

Among the witnesses was Henry Hynes, sergeant in the Sydney Police, who deposed: “The trousers I now produce were given to me on the 30th May, as being the trousers worn by the deceased Mr Noble when he was stabbed; there is a cut in the waistband as if pierced by a knife, the inside of the lining round the cut is saturated with blood; they were in the same state when given up to me.”

Robert Malcolm was recalled, and deposed: “The knife, now produced, is the one alluded to in my statements; it is the one Vigors sent me back into the room for; that is the knife; I took it out of the chair and gave it to him.”

Dr George Fullerton, who treated Mr Noble after he had been stabbed, deposed: “I consider the shoemaker’s knife to be the most likely one to have pierced the trousers, but the knife produced at the inquest was one more likely to have inflicted the wound on the liver.”

James Martin’s statement followed:

“On the Friday previous to the murder, Vigors proposed to me and Burdett that we should go out on Sunday and do some robbery; he also said he had a ‘place put up’ where money was to be got; it was at a Mr Noble’s in Clarence street, with a brass plate on the door. Robert Malcolm, attached to Hyde Park Barracks, received a sovereign from Vigors, for which he said he had purchased three pistols, powder, and shot; two of the pistols, with a portion of the powder and shot he said he had left with a man named Rankin, in Kent-street, in order to be ready when required. He brought the third pistol he had bought into the Barracks on Saturday, and gave it to Vigors, with some powder and shot; the shot were about the size of a pea. On Sunday when the gangs went to church, we, Vigors, Burdett, Malcolm, and myself accompanied them to the church door but did not go in; we dressed in the barracks in the clothes we were taken in, but put our slops over them, we left the slops in an old privy on Church Hill. When at Rankin’s, Malcolm, Vigors, and Rankin left the room where Burdett and I were sitting, they went into a back room or yard, on their return Malcolm said it was all right, meaning that the pistols were ready, and that we could be harboured there. It was then arranged that after the robbery was done we were to come back and stop there all that night, as Rankin said he had a place down in the back yard where he could put us away, and we would be safe from the police. Rankin fetched three half-pints of rum, one he paid for and two Malcolm, paid for. We remained there till half past six by a clock in the room where we sat. Vigors said, ‘It is high time we were off, as it is getting dark.’ It was Vigors who wrote the letter that was handed to Mr Noble; he wrote it on the Saturday night; I saw him write it; he also wrote a letter to Joe Ward [This letter to Ward, a constable in the Sydney police was written at the dictation of Burdett, who had been apprehended by Ward previous to his, Burdett’s, being transported to Norfolk Island for a robbery; it contained a request that Ward would endeavour to obtain for him, Burdett, a pass to see some of his relatives, on the Sunday of the murder. Ward received the letter on Saturday, but paid no attention to it until after hearing on Monday, in the Police Office, that Burdett was one of the men concerned in the murder, when he called to mind the letter, and handed it over the same night to Mr Miles, who has it in safe keeping for the trial.] I do not think Burdett can write.

“Vigors planned the part we were each to take when we got into the house. Burdett was to have gone to the back door to prevent escape, but he did not go as the alarm was instantaneous. I was to have taken charge of the front door, and Vigors was to have bailed the people in the house up with the pistol. Vigors never said to me who put up the robbery, but he said the money was kept in a chest of drawers in the sitting room, that there was a roll of notes and several 20s packages in silver. It must have been put up by someone very well acquainted with the house. When we got to Mr Noble’s Vigors knocked at the door with his knuckles, it was opened by deceased, when Vigors handed him the letter he walked towards the light, and we all then followed him. I shut the door, before Mr Noble had time to read the letter Vigors presented the pistol, and desired him not to be alarmed, but to stand. Mrs Noble then screamed, when Vigors presented it at her, and snapped it at her. I saw it loaded, it was loaded with care, the cap exploded with such a report that I thought the pistol had gone off, and when I saw the deceased wounded in the hand, I thought the shot intended for Mrs Noble had hit her husband, as they were close together after the report. Mr Noble sprang at Vigors and seized his arm; when the pistol flew out of his hand, he then seized him by the collar and held him for a short time. It was then I am certain that the stab was given by Vigors, as he had a shoemaker’s knife on his person when he left Rankin’s House. I would know the knife again - it was much worn, and tapering to a sharp point (that is the knife).

“Burdett then went over to get Vigors out of the grasp of Mr Noble, and they escaped by the back door; deceased then seized me, and I became so weak from fright, thinking the pistol had gone off, that I was unable to follow, and made very little effort to get from deceased. I never knew Mr Noble was stabbed until informed of it by Mr Miles at the watchhouse. When we were leaving Rankin’s to go to Mr Noble’s, we asked him for the two pistols left by Malcolm, but he said Malcolm did not leave them there, but if we wanted arms he could supply us, on the following Monday; he told this to Malcolm before he went away; Malcolm left us in time to meet the gang coming from church, and to go into the barracks with them. Vigors was very much vexed at being deceived by Malcolm, and that we had not each a pistol; he asked Rankin to get him a few caps, which Rankin did at some near neighbour’s house, and gave them to Vigors. Vigors had twice before absented himself on Sunday from his gang by not going into church, but joined the gang as it was returning to barracks. I remember Vigors calling to Malcolm as he was going out, ‘I have dropped my knife in the room where we were, go and look for it’; he did so and brought it to Vigors, who put it in his trousers pocket, with the handle sticking out. When he left the house to go to Mr Noble’s, I observed the knife in the same pocket; I have not seen it since.”

In a further statement, James Martin said he knew Joe Crossthwaite, as they were at Hyde Park Barracks at the same time, and Crossthwaite had been with him, Vigors and Burdett at the Rankin house. “We had no conversation as to what we were about to do before him,” he said. But it was a different story with Malcolm “who most positively was the person who brought us to Rankin’s, and seemed very intimate with him…Malcolm knew we were going to do a robbery, but I do not think he knew where; old Rankin well knew we were going to do a robbery, for we spoke of it before him; and we also told him we were going to do a robbery, and would be back in about an hour and a half or two hours; the son did not know of it…”

The newspaper report continued: “The prisoner [James Martin] was then sworn to the truth of the above statement. The prisoner Martin, having been committed on the day of the inquest, was remanded to his cell. The other two prisoners, Vigors and Burdett, declined saying anything, and were both committed as principals in the murder. The prisoner Rankin merely asserted his innocence, and was also committed to take his trial as accessory before the fact in the perpetration of the same murder. The prisoners were then returned to their separate cells, where they had been confined ever since their apprehension.”

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

1844, 13 July: The Murder Trial ran over two days – Saturday 13 July and Monday 15 July. This extract is from a report of the first day by the Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July, p3:

“George Vigors, labourer, late of Sydney, was indicted for the wilful murder of James Noble,
late of Clarence-street, Sydney, by stabbing him with a knife on the evening of the 26th May last, thereby inflicting a mortal wound, of which the deceased died on the following day; and
Thomas Burdett, labourer, late of Sydney, was indicted, for being present, aiding, and abetting the said George Vigors, in the committal of the said murder, and John Rankin, late of Sydney, labourer, was indicted us an accessary before the said murder, by hiring, counselling, commanding, or otherwise conspiring with the said George Vigors and Thomas Burdett, previous to the committing of the said murder.”

The three accused pleaded not guilty.

Both James Martin and Robert Malcolm appeared as “approvers” – witnesses for the Prosecution.

The Attorney General told the Court (Judge and Jury) he wanted to “call their attention to the fact that at the time that Martin turned approver, he had had no opportunity of ascertaining whether Malcolm had said anything or not. Martin was in the custody of the police, and not allowed to communicate with anyone, but the stories of Martin and of Malcolm, when compared, would be found exactly to correspond. Both would be brought before them as approvers and to the evidence of both he invited their most serious attention. They had had no opportunity of communicating with each other before they made their statements; but when a Jury had to decide on a case which rested principally on the evidence of two approvers, they must be satisfied that the details of the stories told by these approvers agreed, and at the same time that the agreement was not previously concocted; in this case he thought that the Jury could entertain no doubt…”

Several witnesses were called, including the two approvers – James Martin and Robert Malcolm. Each testified in a similar vein to their statements at the committal hearing. The Court adjourned at 11.45pm.

On Monday, the case continued. This report is from The Guardian, 20 July, p247:

“…the defence was resumed by Mr Purefoy (on behalf of the prisoner Rankin) who spoke upwards of three hours, and called the Rev Dr McGarvie as a witness to Rankin’s character.

“The defence having closed, the Attorney-General replied in a most powerful speech; in the course of which he paid a well-merited tribute to Mr. Keck, governor of the gaol, for his public spirited conduct in the investigation of this painful case.

“His Honor then proceeded to charge the jury, in an address of nearly three hours, entering most minutely into all the details of the evidence.

“The jury retired for about half an hour, and returned with a verdict of Guilty against all three
prisoners.

“The judge then proceeded to pass the awful sentence of the law upon the prisoners.”

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

1844, 27 July: After the trial, the Guardian editorialised on the flaws of the British colonial penal system in this two-page article…

“POLICE HISTORIES of Vigors, Burdett, Martin, Malcolm, and Rankin, the parties connected with the murder of Mr James Noble.

We have been enabled to procure an outline of the police histories of the parties concerned in the late murder, which has spread so much excitement and horror throughout the city; and we lay it before our readers, confident that whilst it will excite wonder and disgust, it will lead to yet graver reflection on those systems of punishment and reformatory discipline, the efficacy of which have been so loudly and repeatedly vaunted.

In looking over this record of sustained infamy, the first fact that strikes us, is the enormous expense to which the colony has been subjected by the career of crime, to which it has been exposed by the transportation of these men.

In the case of Vigors, we perceive that he has been dealt with by the various tribunals not loss than thirty times, three of which were before the supreme court of the colony; whilst for each of the other minor offences, the colonial paid services of the constabulary, scourger, and police magistrates, have been called into requisition, with all the expensive machinery by which they are accompanied.

Truly, if any illustration of facts were wanting to enforce the argument, of the injustice of Great Britain saddling this colony with the expenses of police and gaols, for restraining the outcasts sent here, the narrative of this man’s colonial life would afford a most powerful one.
Of the five individuals connected with the murder, Rankin is the only one who has not subjected himself to a second conviction previous to the commission of the awful crime, for which three of the number, now await the last penalty of the law.

Far beyond this question of expense, however, is the feeling of shame, and fear, and horror, that such beings should have been allowed to be thrown into communication with the people of a British colony; and we find, notwithstanding the audacious and persevering villainy which characterised him, that no less than sixteen times was Vigors punished for being illegally at large. Will this serve to explain to the obtuse faculties of the Colonial Secretary and the upholders of the city prison establishments the moral contamination which has been spread by these men? Will this serve to show how often the lives and property of the colonists have been placed at the mercy of a man whose every feeling of moral restraint seems to have been deadened?

The list which we present is of the crimes only for which he was convicted: Who can furnish an account of those which evaded the eye of justice? Who can tell what deeds of bloodshed and savage ruffianism, now hidden in oblivion, may not have been committed by this man — a man so reckless that neither the fear of punishment or a knowledge of its pain, could compel him into even a semblance of obedience to the law?

There is one other point of view in which we cannot refrain from noticing this record — the disgusting, the revolting, amount of corporeal punishment it exhibits forms to us the solo cause, on which the mind can rest, on inquiry into the reasons which could have impelled so long, so pertinacious, a career of vicious habits — the Lash: the degrading and torturing instrument of brutality is blazoned in this record in fearful characters, and the result has shown its utter inefficiency as a corrective to the evil dispositions of man!

We have no morbid sympathy with the criminals; we have no pity for their sufferings; but we fear for the feelings of others, when they can know that such enormities are perpetrated on their fellow men. We believe that the boasted discipline of the prison establishments of this colony has been nothing more than this unsparing use of the lash: that terror, debasement, and savage irritation have been nurtured in them; that it has been unnecessarily used — that it has been unfairly used. We admit there are men of that brutal order which may be coerced by the lash, but the control of these minds may be achieved by other means. Whilst we are quite sure that no reformation, nothing but minds seared to crime in its deadliest aspect can result from confinement in a dungeon where the sound of the scourge, and its attendant groans and curses, is constantly heard.

Let the reader read the following detail and judge for himself.”

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

Then followed a summary of each man’s criminal history:

“GEORGE VIGORS arrived in the colony in the ship Florentia, 3rd January, 1828, having been convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation, for stealing a watch and shoes, at the Dover Assizes, 13th March, 1826.
Punishments in the colony.
1828 — March 7th, fifty lashes for drunkenness; May 10th, one hundred lashes for absconding and stealing boots and shoes; July 12th, three months in an iron gang for absconding; August 14th, fifty lashes for absconding.
1829. — January 13th, three years extension of original sentence for robbery; January 27th, twenty-five lashes for absconding; June 22nd, fifty lashes for being illegally at large; October 12th, six months in irons for forging an order and uttering the same; November 23rd, fifty lashes for absconding.
1830. — April 12th, fifty lashes for absconding.
1831. — May 21st, three days in the cells for being out after hours ; May 31st, twenty-five lashes for neglect of work; July 30th, six months in an iron gang for absconding ; October 29th, one hundred lashes for absconding and making away with a government blanket; December 17th, seventy-five lashes for running away.
1832.— January 27th, fifteen lashes for absconding ; February 21st, thirty-five lashes for making away with his leg irons ; March 21st, fifty lashes for absconding; April 14th, fifty lashes for absconding ; May 10th, thirty-six lashes for absconding; November 1st, tried at the Sydney supreme court for highway robbery and transported to Norfolk Island for seven years.
1834. — March 22nd, seven days in cells for rioting; May 17th, seven days in cells for disorderly conduct.
1835. — July 1st, three hundred lashes for dishonest and disorderly conduct.
Returned from Norfolk Island November 21st, 1839.
1840. — May 7th, tried again before the Sydney supreme court for highway robbery, convicted, and transported for life to Norfolk Island.
1841. — July 3rd, four months solitary confinement and four months in gaol for attempting to escape from the Island; December 21st, three months imprisonment for cutting the bars of his prison.
1842. — May 7th, twelve months in irons for making a canvas boat and absconding therewith.
1843. — March 21st, twenty-five lashes for proceeding to hospital unnecessarily; March 24th, imprisonment till further orders for absence and threatening language.
Returned from Norfolk Island as an invalid the 27th March, 1844.
1844. — July 13th, tried at the supreme court, Sydney, for having on the 26th May— two months after his arrival as an invalid – committed wilful murder on the body of James Noble, of which he was convicted, and cast for death.

THOMAS BURDETT arrived in the colony, per Florentia No. 2, the 15th December, 1830, having been convicted and sentenced to transportation for life at the Middlesex Gaol Delivery, for burglary, 18th February, 1830.
Punishments in the colony.
1832. — March 30th, two months to an iron gang for disorderly conduct.
1834. — December 10th, twenty-five lashes for being out after hours.
1835. — August 24th, tried at the Bathurst quarter sessions for cattle stealing, convicted, and transported to Norfolk Island for life, from whence he was returned as an invalid the 31st January, 1844.
1844. — July 13th, tried before the Supreme Court of Sydney for the murder of James Noble on the 26th May, convicted, and cast for death.

JAMES MARTIN arrived in the colony, per ship Norfolk, February, 1837, having been tried, convicted, and sentenced to transportation for life, for burglary, at the Sussex Assizes, 23rd July, 1836.
Punishments in the colony.
1838. — April 10th, ten days in cells for absconding; June 7th, fifty lashes for insolence and drunkenness.
1841. — February 2nd, tried at the Supreme Court, Sydney, for housebreaking, and sentenced to ten years transportation to Norfolk Island, from whence he was returned as an invalid the 27th March, 1844.
1844. — July 13th, was admitted an approver on the trial of the murderers of Mr James Noble.

RONALD [sic; should be Robert] MALCOLM
arrived in the colony per ship Lloyds the 18th December, 1843 [incorrect – it was 1833], having been tried, convicted, and sentenced to fourteen years transportation, for stealing a watch, by the Court of Justiciary, Stirling, 16th April, 1843 incorrect; 1833].
Punishments in the colony.
1834. — April 21st, fifty lashes for pilfering,
1835.— February 12th, was tried at the Bathurst Quarter Sessions for cattle stealing, convicted, and transported for life to Norfolk Island, from whence he returned 27th March, 1844, as an invalid.
1844. — July 13th, was admitted an approver on the trial of the murderers of Mr James Noble.

JOHN RANKIN arrived in the colony per ship Layton on the 9th November. 1829, having been tried, convicted and sentenced to transportation for life, at the Edinburgh Court of Justiciary, 15th December, 1828, for receiving stolen goods.
No colonial offence recorded against him; and on the 1st March, 1838, he obtained a ticket-of- Leave No 38-400, for the district of Sydney.
1844.— July 13th, was tried before the Supreme Court of Sydney as an accessory before the fact to the murder of Mr. James Noble, committed, and cast for death.GEORGE VIGORS
arrived in the colony in the ship Florentia, 3rd January, 1828, having been convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation, for stealing a watch and shoes, at the Dover Assizes, 13th March, 1826.
Punishments in the colony.
1828 — March 7th, fifty lashes for drunkenness; May 10th, one hundred lashes for absconding and stealing boots and shoes; July 12th, three months in an iron gang for absconding; August 14th, fifty lashes for absconding.
1829. — January 13th, three years extension of original sentence for robbery; January 27th, twenty-five lashes for absconding; June 22nd, fifty lashes for being illegally at large; October 12th, six months in irons for forging an order and uttering the same; November 23rd, fifty lashes for absconding.
1830. — April 12th, fifty lashes for absconding.
1831. — May 21st, three days in the cells for being out after hours ; May 31st, twenty-five lashes for neglect of work; July 30th, six months in an iron gang for absconding; October 29th, one hundred lashes for absconding and making away with a government blanket; December 17th, seventy-five lashes for running away.
1832.— January 27th, fifteen lashes for absconding ; February 21st, thirty-five lashes for making away with his leg irons ; March 21st, fifty lashes for absconding; April 14th, fifty lashes for absconding ; May 10th, thirty-six lashes for absconding; November 1st, tried at the Sydney supreme court for highway robbery and transported to Norfolk Island for seven years.
1834. — March 22nd, seven days in cells for rioting; May 17th, seven days in cells for disorderly conduct.
1835. — July 1st, three hundred lashes for dishonest and disorderly conduct.
Returned from Norfolk Island November 21st, 1839.
1840. — May 7th, tried again before the Sydney supreme court for highway robbery, convicted, and transported for life to Norfolk Island.
1841. — July 3rd, four months solitary confinement and four months in gaol for attempting to escape from the Island; December 21st, three months imprisonment for cutting the bars of his prison.
1842. — May 7th, twelve months in irons for making a canvas boat and absconding therewith.
1843. — March 21st, twenty-five lashes for proceeding to hospital unnecessarily; March 24th, imprisonment till further orders for absence and threatening language.
Returned from Norfolk Island as an invalid the 27th March, 1844.
1844. — July 13th, tried at the supreme court, Sydney, for having on the 26th May— two months after his arrival as an invalid – committed wilful murder on the body of James Noble, of which he was convicted, and cast for death.

THOMAS BURDETT arrived in the colony, per Florentia No. 2, the 15th December, 1830, having been convicted and sentenced to transportation for life at the Middlesex Gaol Delivery, for burglary, 18th February, 1830.
Punishments in the colony.
1832. — March 30th, two months to an iron gang for disorderly conduct.
1834. — December 10th, twenty-five lashes for being out after hours.
1835. — August 24th, tried at the Bathurst quarter sessions for cattle stealing, convicted, and transported to Norfolk Island for life, from whence he was returned as an invalid the 31st January, 1844.
1844. — July 13th, tried before the Supreme Court of Sydney for the murder of James Noble on the 26th May, convicted, and cast for death.

JAMES MARTIN
arrived in the colony, per ship Norfolk, February, 1837, having been tried, convicted, and sentenced to transportation for life, for burglary, at the Sussex Assizes, 23rd July, 1836.
Punishments in the colony.
1838. — April 10th, ten days in cells for absconding; June 7th, fifty lashes for insolence and drunkenness.
1841. — February 2nd, tried at the Supreme Court, Sydney, for housebreaking, and sentenced to ten years transportation to Norfolk Island, from whence he was returned as an invalid the 27th March, 1844.
1844. — July 13th, was admitted an approver on the trial of the murderers of Mr James Noble.

RONALD [sic; should be Robert] MALCOLM arrived in the colony per ship Lloyds the 18th December, 1843 [incorrect – it was 1833], having been tried, convicted, and sentenced to fourteen years transportation, for stealing a watch, by the Court of Justiciary, Stirling, 16th April, 1843 incorrect; 1833].
Punishments in the colony.
1834. — April 21st, fifty lashes for pilfering,
1835.— February 12th, was tried at the Bathurst Quarter Sessions for cattle stealing, convicted, and transported for life to Norfolk Island, from whence he returned 27th March, 1844, as an invalid.
1844. — July 13th, was admitted an approver on the trial of the murderers of Mr James Noble.

JOHN RANKIN arrived in the colony per ship Layton on the 9th November. 1829, having been tried, convicted and sentenced to transportation for life, at the Edinburgh Court of Justiciary, 15th December, 1828, for receiving stolen goods.
No colonial offence recorded against him; and on the 1st March, 1838, he obtained a ticket-of- Leave No 38-400, for the district of Sydney.
1844.— July 13th, was tried before the Supreme Court of Sydney as an accessory before the fact to the murder of Mr. James Noble, committed, and cast for death.”

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 wrote:

1844, 13 August: George VIGORS and Thomas BURDETT were executed.

The Guardian reported on the circumstances of their deaths in minute detail (on 17 August):
“EXECUTION OF THE MURDERERS OF MR. NOBLE.

On Tuesday morning George Vigors and Thomas Burdett, convicted at the late sessions of the murder of Mr, James Noble, on the night of Sunday, the 26th of May, suffered the awful penalty of the law. The gallows was erected over the entrance gate of Woolloomooloo Gaol, the beam from which the fatal ropes were suspended projecting, beyond the walls of the gaol. At nine o’clock the prisoners, attended by the Rev. Mr. Elder (Chaplain of the gaol), Mr. Prout (Under Sheriff), Captain Innes (Visiting Magistrate), and Mr. Keck (Gaoler), ascended the scaffold. The appearance and demeanour of Vigors was perfectly fearless and composed; but Burdett seemed to suffer much from the terrors of his situation, and his whole faculties were apparently absorbed in prayer. As soon as they had taken their places on the scaffold, Burdett sunk on his knees, and Vigors followed his example, whilst the chaplain administered the last consolations of religion; after which, they both stood upright, and Vigors came forward to the front of the scaffold and attempted to address the multitude assembled in front of the gallows. An underling of the gaol, however, stepped forward, and, with a rude and indecent officiousness, thrust him back, and the rope was placed on his neck and tightened. Vigors turned round, and, by the motion of his hands, appeared to be appealing to the Under Sheriff for permission to speak, and the fatal noose was again removed from his neck. Vigors then came to the front of gallows, and, with a firm, clear voice, spoke to the following effect:

‘In the situation in which I now stand — not knowing where I am going to, or what I am to suffer — I feel it my duty to say a few words, with respect to the old man, Rankin. I solemnly declare that he had no knowledge — no idea — where we were going, or what we were going to do, on the night we left his house: and I do declare that I had never been in his house — never seen or spoken to him — until the day on which we did the murder.’

He then bowed to the crowd, and turning back, took his stand under the cross-beam, and suffered the rope to be re-adjusted round his neck. He then again turned to Captain Innes, and requested him not to forget what he had told him respecting Hyde Park Barracks.

The men then shook hands with each other, and with the Chaplain, Vigors maintaining his firm composure to the last. The fatal bolt was drawn, and the unhappy beings were launched into eternity.

Animation appeared to be immediately suspended in the case of Burdett; but the body of Vigors heaved convulsively for about a minute.

Both prisoners were attired in the same clothes they had on when tried. Ever since then, Burdett had displayed great signs of penitence; but Vigors, to the last, continued hardened, and appeared to derive little benefit from any of the religious instructions and admonitions tendered to him.

It is understood that Vigors, shortly before his execution, stated to those in charge of him, that he had been a thief since he was nineteen years of age; then he made a voyage to sea, that being the last and only time he had tried to earn an honest livelihood. He had been in many prisons, both at home and here, and had undergone different punishments; but he never had been in a place where so much crime and rascality was carried on, as in Hyde Park Barracks: and both prisoners united in stating, that it was chiefly owing to their being placed there that they had done the deed which brought them to an untimely end.”

Convict Changes History

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 made the following changes:

gender: m

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 made the following changes:

alias1: Vigors

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 89, Class and Piece Number HO11/6, Page Number 264 New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842; Bound Indentures 1827-1828 (prev. Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 89, Cla

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 made the following changes:

alias2: Vigos

Dianne Jones on 12th February, 2021 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1805 (prev. 0000), date of death: 13th August, 1844 (prev. 0000)

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