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Robert Woolford

Robert Woolford, one of 250 convicts transported on the Ratcliffe, 25 July 1848

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Robert Woolford
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 20th February, 1803
Occupation: Farmer
Date of Death: 18th June, 1875
Age: 72 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 60 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Stealing
Convicted at: Wilts, Devizes Quarter Sessions
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Ratcliffe
Departure date: 25th July, 1848
Arrival date: 12th November, 1848
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land
Passenger manifest Travelled with 249 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 92, Class and Piece Number HO11/15, Page Number 326
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

Anonymous on 16th January, 2012 wrote:

Sheep stealing 1846. parents joseph & martha (nee iles)
Purton wiltshire england

D Wong on 30th April, 2019 wrote:

21/1/1847 Dorset County Chronicle Dorset, England:
Robert Woolford, for stealing a sheep, the property of Thomas Ferris of Cheppenham was sentenced to seven years transportation.—Mary Aon Alder, sued 21, convicted of stealing various articles

Robert Woolford was listed as 46 years old on arrival.
Native Place: Pourton near Swindon, Wiltshire.

Robert was 5’7” tall, ruddy complexion, bnrown hair and whiskers, grey eyes, stout made, hair thin on top of head, scar on chin, literate, married with 7 children.

Wife: Elizabeth at Chippeham
Father: Joseph
Mother: Martha
Brother: William.

27/11/1849: Recommended for a CP
1/4/1851: CP approved.

18/5/1858 The Hobart Town Daily Mercury:
Charge under the Insolvent Act.-Robert Woolford of Sorell was charged on information by H. B. Tonkin, Provisional Assignee of the Insolvent Estate of John Smith, also, of Sorell, with removing on or about the 3rd of April a large quantity of wheat, oats and hay from the premises of the Insolvent with intent to defraud the creditors, and to obstruct the complainant in his duty as such provisional assignee…...
Mr. Moses thought the best course would be to adjourn the case till Friday, and in the meantime the learned gentlemen engaged could arrange as to any ultimate proceedings.
The case was accordingly formally adjourned till Friday next, the 21st instant.

4/6/1858: The Hobart Town Daily Mercury:
Trial held at Hobart -“The jury retired, and after a short absence, returned into Court, with a verdict of Guilty.
The defendant was sentence yto pay a fine of £100, and to twelve months’ imprisonment.

17/7/1869 The Mercury, Hobart:
Robert Woolford of Sorel, Farmer - Declared insolvent.

18/6/1875: Robert Woolford, aged 60, labourer, died of Morbus Cordis at the General Hospital, Hobart.  Buried at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, paupers section.

D Wong on 30th April, 2019 wrote:

1823: Married Elizabeth Clifford.

22/11/1853: Married Eliza Hogan, 19 and free, Robert listed as 35 but actually 50.
1854: Martha
1857: John Charles
1859: Sarah
1861: Eliza
1864: Robert
1866: William
could be more.

Josie Andrews on 5th December, 2019 wrote:

Robert was a convict, transported on the “Ratcliffe” arriving 12 Nov 1848, for sheepstealing.  His indents state that he left a wife Elizabeth and 7 children in Chippenham.  Robert received 7 years for his crime.  It seems a very severe punishment for taking the sheep, this was the period known as the “Hungry Forties” when distress among the agricultural areas was very acute.  Sometimes parishes would subsidise the emigration of agricultural workers and their families, this was cheaper than supporting them on the Poor Rate at a time of financial stringency.  Robert was again convicted in the Supreme Court Hobart, 1 Jun 1858 (Con 33/91 & Con 37/9)of another crime in Hobart for concealing goods for a Mr John Smith, an insolvent.  12 months jail & 100pound . After his release from gaol he is listed in 1860 as the occupier of 60 acres of land owned by Robert Blythe called Shrub End at Wattle Hill.  There is much confliction with Robert’s true age: On the headstone at Richmond Burial Ground it says he died in 1875 aged 80 years.  The place of birth is listed as Pourton. On his death record it says he died in 1875 aged approximately 60 years (which makes him born in 1814-1814) (same as headstone). On his convict indent it says that in 1847 he was 46 years old (which makes him born in 1800-01) Horror of all Horrors - on his marriage certificate it says that in 1853 he was 35 years old when he should have been 53!!  I can only presume that whoever wrote in the registry accidentally transposed the numbers in the year!  It seems quite feasible that he was 53 yrs old as he left a wife and 7 children in England exactly 7 yrs before he married Eliza Hogan, when he was 46 yrs old.  The law of the day was that a man could remarry if he had been separated from his wife by water for a total of 7 yrs as seems to be the case here.  Robert and Eliza named their first child Martha, the same as the daughter Robert had left behind in England some 8 years before and would have been a grown woman of 30 or so about by this time.  In 1858 Robert was in trouble again and convicted at Hobart for concealing goods for a Mr John Smith, an insolvent.  His sentence this time was 12 months jail and 100 pounds.  As a re-offender, it is likely Robert would have been sent to Port Arthur prison.  During the time Robert was working on the farm and raising his small children, his son Edwin in England had become married and had 2 children, naming the first Robert.  Edwin and his wife Sarah moved to London and raised their family there.  There are many surviving descendants of Robert and Elizabeth in the United Kingdom.  The Courier (Hobart Tas : 1840-1859), Friday 4 June 1858, Page 3 .....Upper Court Yesterday.  Robert Woolford surrendered in discharge of bail on an information setting forth that John Smith, on the 18th March, 1858, was declared insolvent on his petition presented to Fielding Browne, Esq.,  Commissioner of Insolvent Estates for Hobart Town, and that Henry Boaz (?) Tonkin was duly appointed provisional assignees, and that certain property, to wit, 70 bushels wheat, vlaued at 30 pounds; 50 bushels oats, 25 pounds, 3 tons hay, 20 pounds, 1 bullock, 10 pounds, one horse, 30 pounds; 1 cow 5 pounds; 1 pair harrows, 3 pounds; 1 winnowing machine, 2 pounds; were part of the bona fide estate and effects of the said insolvent John Smith, and that the said Robert Woolford, well knowing the name, and having received notice of the authority by the assignees (?) given to Samuel Schofield to take possession of the same, did on the 30th April last, and on days (?) between that and the 5th May remove, receive and conceal the said goods and chattels with the intent to lelay and injure Samuel Schofield, Thomas Patterson, and other creditiors of the said John Smith.  Mr Brewer appeared for the defendant.  Defendant was found guilty, and sentenced to be imprisoned for twelve calender months, to pay a fine of 100 pounds to the Queen, and further imprisoned until the fine be paid.  I have obtained a little info about Robert´s first wife Elizabeth Clifford from census forms; it appears she never remarried and lived the rest of her life as a widow with various of her children. She lived to the ripe old age of 95, quite impressive for that era. I will attach a photo I have of her daughter Elizabeth Ann who she appears to have spent her last 20 years or so with.  1851 census, family transcribed as ‘Wooffrey’, charwoman aged 56 living with children Joseph 23 (labourer), Edwin 15 (servant), Albert 11, Ann 5. POB Cricklade, Chippenham, Wiltshire from 1851 census, living at Causeway, near London Road, Chippenham. 1861 - living with son Joseph and his family in Patterdown, Corsham, Wiltshire. 1871 - living with daughter Elizabeth Ann (Fellenor) and her family in Derry Hill, Pewsham, Wiltshire. 1881 - still living with daughter Elizabeth and family, now at Peckingel Lane, Kington Langley, Wiltshire. Died 1st qtr 1890 in Chippenham, Wiltshire.  I have photo´s / scans of Robert & Eliza´s marriage certificate and headstone, which I can send you if you don´t have them already. I can also send you scans of the above census forms if you like?  You are correct in assuming that the 2nd Robert to be transported (in 1852 on the Equestrian was related to the first Robert - they were 4th cousins, their common ancestors were William Woolford (1632) and Margaret Watts (1637). I never knew what his crime as so thanks for the info in your report. I found that in 1859 his sister Elizabeth Ann and her family, along with Robert’s 16 year old daughter Mary Ann emigrated to Australia aboard the James Jardine. Elizabeth gave birth during the voyage and they named the son after the ship! When the James Jardine, arrived at Port Adelaide on 29 June 1859, she had taken 131 days to complete the trip. This 810 ton ship left with 352 people on board, but before she reached South Australian waters five children had been born and six people had died. Robert remarried to Ann Docherty in 1859, and his 2nd daughter Mary (born 1855) married his sister Elizabeth’s son Jonathon in 1877. From this I think we can assume there was a family reunion sometime between 1859 and 1877, and that Robert had named his 2nd daughter Mary thinking he would never see his first daughter Mary again. We can only hope he did.

Calendar of Prisoners Devizes Sessions Tuesday 5th January 1847.  Aged 44.  Committed 9th Dec 1846 by Sir J.W. Awory, Knight.  Charged on theoaths of Thomas Ferris and others, with having feloniously stolen one ewe, the property of the said Thomas Ferris, at Chippenham. (written by hand).  To be transported for seven years and in the meantime to be confined in the county goal.  Prisoner on orders - County Gaol.  Robert Woolford.  Hilary Sessions 1847 Sheep stealing - 7 years.

Convict Changes History

Anonymous on 16th January, 2012 made the following changes:

date of birth 1803-00-00, gender m

Mary Keygan on 30th April, 2019 made the following changes:

date of birth: 0000 (prev. 1803), occupation

D Wong on 30th April, 2019 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1801 (prev. 0000), date of death: 18th June, 1875 (prev. 0000)

D Wong on 30th April, 2019 made the following changes:

date of birth: 20th February, 1803 (prev. 1801)

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