Sunday, July 14, 2013

My great-great Grandfather, Transported

Many people were born, lived, and died in the nineteenth century without leaving much more than a note in a church register -- if that. Oddly enough, criminals often led much better-documented lives, and this tuned out to be the case with my great-great Grandfather, William Henry Brunt. His grandson -- my grandfather -- used to recite a bit of doggerel verse about him that began "Bill Brunt was a thief and that we all know." Little did I suspect that, years later, I'd find Bill Brunt in the convict records of Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen's Land. The Tasmanian Archives are a wonderful -- and free -- resource, and I was fairly quickly able to locate his official conduct record. After the particulars of the voyage, the ledger gives his name and crime -- housebreaking and larceny, 10 years. He admitted to taking a pair of Trousers and handkerchiefs, however, yet curiously declared "he was never in the House of Correction," although his report from there stated his conduct was good. His physical appearance was given -- "Slightly freckled. man flag. anchor mermaid. on rt arm ring on middle finger rt hand H.B. hearts and darts M x S flower pot on left Arm." Like many convicts, he'd had his initials tattooed on his arm, in case he were to be be lost or drowned -- but happily for him (and me) he survived both the voyage and hard labor, and was discharged 17 June, 1851. 

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