Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Blogging A-Z - April Challenge - C is for .....

C is for...... Convicts.

A theme focusing on Australia could hardly not post about convicts, but I almost wrote my post in a general sense, then as luck would have it I found one! How exciting is that?

Robert Turpin was the brother of the individual I was most interested in, as Sarah married into my Ellis family, but more about that later. I hate loose ends, so set about gathering my material on the siblings of Sarah. 

Robert Turpin was born in 1814 in Long Acre London, the son of Henry Turpin and his wife, Wilhelmina Hollingway. Henry was recorded at the baptisms of his children as being a weaver and then later a lace weaver. This concurred with material already discovered about Robert's sister Sarah. I set about locating Sarah's siblings in the various Census for England and obviously because surnames do not change, males are easier to locate. As I searched for Robert I could not locate him in the 1841 Census, which is typically the oldest Census available, nor could I locate a death. So the chances were he had migrated. 

A search on Ancestry revealed that a Robert Turpin, aged 18 years was recorded in the Hulk Prison Records as a resident on the Ship HMS Leviathan berthed at Portsmouth.  I then turned to the Old Bailey records. Here the site gave me the details of the trial of Robert Turpin.

Courtesy of The Old Bailey website

The document concurs that Robert was of Long Acre and had a connection to the lace making industry, and was of an age consistent with "my" Robert. Further research shows that Robert Turpin sailed, along with 230 other prisoners on the Captain Cook from England on 2nd May 1833 and arrived in New South Wales on 26th August 1833. 

So far, the time line for Robert reads as this:
  • 24th July 1814 - birth to Henry & Wilhelmina Turpin of Long Acre at St Martin's in the Fields London.
  • 3rd Jan 1833 - Convicted at the Old Bailey London.
  • 25th Jan 1833 - Transferred from Newgate to Portsmouth, where he was held on the HMS Levinthan, a Prison Hulk and was one of 600 prisoners.
  • 2nd May 1833 - Voyage commences and Robert is recorded as being on the ship Captain Cook (2)
  • 26th Aug 1833 - Ship Captain Cook (2) arrives at Sydney.
Material in Australia 
  • The new settlers and convict list reveals that Robert Turpin was "disposed of to W. H. Williams of Sydney" 
  • NSW Convict Indents reveal that Robert Turpin was a stable boy, able to read and write, single and a protestant. Born in London and was convicted of stealing lace.
There are so many more questions and searching to undertake and I wonder what happened to Robert.

The link for the A-Z Challenge 2011 post is HERE


  1. Hi, How very interesting! Thank you so very much for the story of Robert Turpin. I always love learning about new things.

  2. This is fascinating!

    Looking forward to more posts!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your kind comment.


  3. I'm so pleased you found the genuine article. You'll be able to claim Australian citizenship now surely.

    1. If only it were that simple Pauline!

  4. I love history - this is so interesting.

  5. Anonymous3:17 pm

    Its fun to do research. Especially with so many tools at our fingertips like the Internet. Good luck with your search!

    Stephen Tremp
    Co-host A to Z Challenge

    1. Absolutely, the internet has revolutionised so many things and is remarkable. At the time of this individual sailing to Australia took 3 months in some dreadful conditions, now it takes around 25 hours, in the air. Imagine that in the world of Robert Turpin. Even if you could write, it could takes months for a letter to reach the Colony, now it arrives within seconds if sent by email.

  6. Genealogy is so much fun! I'm hoping to visit all the blogs on the A-Z Challenge in April.

    1. It is lots of fun and fascinating. I have learn't so many different things and met some wonderful people as a result.

  7. I read an excellent book called the Fatal Shore some years ago that detailed convict transportation. It was fantastic! :-)

    1. It is a great book, I have read it several times. Another favourite, although a slimmer read is The Floating Brothel by Sian Rees.

  8. I love family trees, and yours sounds fantastic!


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