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Missing Convict - John Allen Eaton

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#1
Hi, I'm brand new here and hoping someone might be able to help with a little quandary.

I'm researching my great great grandfather John Allen Eaton who married in Australia in 1865. He's quite a mystery man and I'm trying to piece together his life prior to marriage. I am considering the possibility that he was a convict. Later in life he was constantly in trouble with the law in Adelaide - usually for stealing - and went to prison many times. Police records state he was from Staffordshire.

I have found a record of a petty thief in England that I want to know more about as he's a possible match for my John Eaton. The age is about right, the crime took place in Manchester, so not a million miles from Staffordshire.
This John Eaton was 21, tried at the Manchester Borough Sessions 23 Feb 1846 for larceny and sentenced to 10 years transportation.

The problem is that I can't find this John Eaton in any convict/shipping records. There are many John Eatons that were transported to Australia but I can't find one that fits with this date.

Is there any way I can find out more about the John Eaton of this particular crime? I have his criminal register record on Ancestry and two newspaper articles (he stole a silk handkerchief) but wonder if I can find out more, such as date of transportation and name of the ship? Are there records in the UK that would tell me this? Or more detailed records from the Manchester Borough Sessions?

Thanks in advance for any clues!
 
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DaveHam9

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#3
Transportation to NSW effectively ceased in 1842 but between 1846-1850 exiles were transported. Exiles had served part of their sentence in a penitentiary in Britain and were granted a conditional pardon or ticket of leave on arrival in the Colony. This index covers 1849-50 only.
If he served several years in England and was then transported perhaps the 1849-50 index misses him. Here is an example of one exile convicted in 1846 who arrived 1849:

HEATON Samuel - Mt Stewart Elphinstone 01/11/1849 Cork (to Moreton Bay) Court Martial Chambley Canada 23/05/1846 10 yrs - Moreton Bay -

Some of the lists of CP and ToL have been printed in newspapers of the day.

Films of CP and ToL are at NSW State Records but those records are in sequence within each year. An example with no date of grant:

EATON Christopher Royal Sovereign 1834 38/474 Ticket of Leave [4/4118; Reel 929] District: Windsor; Tried: Londonderry

Arrived 1834 and ToL number 474 granted in 1838 so the film for 1838 could be scanned for no 474.

Dave
 

DaveHam9

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That one is in the database

Title: Samuel Heaton, one of 230 convicts transported on the Mount Stuart Elphinstone [Mount Stewart Elphinstone], 01 June 1849.
Author/Creator: Great Britain. Home Office. ; State Library of Queensland.
Subjects: Heaton, Samuel;
Mount Stewart Elphinstone (Ship);
Convicts -- Australia -- Registers;
Australia -- Genealogy
Publisher: Canberra A.C.T. : Australian Joint Copying Project
Is Part Of: Criminal : Convict transportation registers [HO 11]
Date: [1948-1990
Language: English
Notes: Sentence details: Convicted at Courts Martial Chambly Canada East for a term of 10 years on 23 May 1846.
Vessel: Mount Stuart Elphinstone [Mount Stewart Elphinstone].
Date of Departure: 01 June 1849.
Place of Arrival: Moreton Bay.
Source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 92, Class and Piece Number HO11/16, Page Number 82

Either the John you are seeking was not transported but arrived after serving his sentence in England or he is missing from the records. There are many missing.
You can find details for over 123 000 of the estimated 160 000 convicts transported to Australia.
Dave
 
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#5
Thanks Dave for the suggestions. It's so tricky, this John might not be him at all anyway!
I wonder if there are records in the UK that would tell me what happened to John Eaton the handkerchief thief?
 

horse

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#6
I have found a record of a petty thief in England that I want to know more about as he's a possible match for my John Eaton. The age is about right, the crime took place in Manchester, so not a million miles from Staffordshire.
This John Eaton was 21, tried at the Manchester Borough Sessions 23 Feb 1846 for larceny and sentenced to 10 years transportation.

Is there any way I can find out more about the John Eaton of this particular crime? I have his criminal register record on Ancestry and two newspaper articles (he stole a silk handkerchief) but wonder if I can find out more, such as date of transportation and name of the ship? Are there records in the UK that would tell me this? Or more detailed records from the Manchester Borough Sessions?
I have found the record, the image doesn't mention a handkerchief, but it does mention a larceny before the conviction... Was the previous larceny to do with the handkerchief, or have I misunderstood?

Also worth remembering he may have had an alias..

Geoff
 

rupert

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Limited information in B.I.S.A. I'd say main source was S.A Police Gazettes.

Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885
EATON John Allen b: c1826 STS ENG d: after 1877
arr: by 1872 occ: Tailor res: Adelaide

Rupert
 

horse

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Occ = Tailor fits well..

Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948
John Eaton
Residence Year: 1868
Place: South Australia, Australia
Occupation: Tailor

Geoff

EDIT: Add = Moore Street, Adelaide.
 
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DaveHam9

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The National Archive in England, and the Mitchell Library in Sydney hold films of Convict transportation registers [HO 11] and HO 10 and related HO (Home Office) convict records.

Apart from the indexes on NSW State Records, the films have not been indexed. I asked at the Mitchell Library one day before attempting to view one of the HO 11 films for a pardon for a convict not in the index and found it impossible. Handwriting hard to read and just an endless list of names, thousands of them. It would take months to attempt to read every name as it went past the viewer hoping to find the name I wanted.

The HO 11 Convict transportation registers has been transcribed and available as a database on SLQ that can be searched. Thousands are not in that database for various reasons.

Details are available for 123 000 of the estimated 160 000 convicts transported to Australia.

Thousands are not in the index for various reasons.


Dave
 
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rupert

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#13
South Australian Marriages, Registrations 1842-1916
Groom: EATON
Given names: John Allan
Bride: BREYNARD
Given names: Elizabeth
Date: 1865-08-29
Groom Age: 33
Status: N
Groom's Father: William EATON
Bride Age: 24
Status: N
Bride's Father: William BREYNARD
Place: St John Church [Adelaide]
District: Ade
Symbol: A
Book/Page: 63/107
Cross Reference:

Rupert
 

DaveHam9

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Some of the very late ones were transported to Western Australia. The one in question I can't see in the Transportation Database on SLQ.

Dave
 
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#18
Thanks everyone for all your ideas and for joining in the search!

Yes, I also had the handkerchief info from that edition of the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. Also one from 7 Feb but for some reason I can't post an attachment. It said he was apprehended whilst attempting to pledge the handkerchief. This just rings so true for my John Eaton, many of the newspaper reports about his stealing in Adelaide are almost identical, stealing something, immediately going to try to flog it off somewhere and getting caught.

To clarify the timeframes I currently have on him:
- in Adelaide by 1865 when he marries in August
- my great grandmother Edith born in 1866
- my GG grandmother Elizabeth (nee Breynard) leaves him in 1868 after he is convicted of assaulting her
- he appears at the Moore St address in the Adelaide directories from 1868 - 1872
- in and out of the newspapers and prison throughout the 1870s
- disappears from newspaper reports in 1884 (last one is Jun 1884 for drunkenness)

He doesn't come up in the death records. I wonder if he died in some kind of destitute asylum or home for old drunks...or just on the street? Still seems unlikely that he would be unrecorded as he was well known to the police. Interestingly, Elizabeth re-married in 1885 and is classed a widow. In the interim she had another "marriage" to a Joseph Broadstock (a whole other story, he was indeed a former convict) and had a child to him, but it appears they were not married, perhaps because she was still legally married to John.

Thank you Rupert for the marriage registration info - I didn't have the age part yet (Ancestry.com doesn't give that detail...I have ordered the original certificate but it hasn't arrived yet). I agree that if that age is correct, he can't be the handkerchief thief (stated to be 21).
However, his age as reported in the police gazettes puts his year of birth at either around 1826 OR 1831. There are often inconsistencies, the gazettes even have him as having blue eyes on one occasion and brown on another! The 1826 date comes up slightly more often.

It's occurred to me that some inconsistencies around his age, etc may be a result of him deliberately bending the truth. This wouldn't be unusual if we was indeed a convict. One police gazette says he used two aliases: Jones and Taylor. Is it possible that he could be transported under one of these names? I can't understand how an alias could end up in an official record, even in those days?
There's also the fact that he was clearly an alcoholic. How coherent was he at times when giving his personal information? There's a very telling record of him in an index of hospital admissions in 1874 (suffering "delirium tremens"), it says length of time in colony 10 years, arrived by ship "Aldinga". Of course I thought I'd hit the jackpot, but couldn't find much about the Aldinga, and nothing of its arrival in Adelaide around 1864. It came to Adelaide in 1869 which doesn't fit at all. I wondered if it was a made up story. Of course, the 10 years in the colony might just mean 10 years in South Australia, having been elsewhere in the country previously as a prisoner.

Back to the possible 1826 birth date... I have found a family in the England 1841 census records that really fits:

Name:William Eaton
Age:35
Estimated birth year:abt 1806
Gender:Male
Where born:Staffordshire, England
Civil Parish:Leek
Hundred:North Totmonslow
County/Island:Staffordshire
Country:England

Occupation: Tailor & draper

Registration district:Leek
Sub-registration district:Leek
Household Members:
Name Age
William Eaton 35
Elizabeth Eaton 40
John Eaton 15: Tailor
Charles Eaton 11
Jane Eaton 9
Thomas Eaton 7
Sarah Eaton 5
Joseph Eaton 3
Jane Kent 4

This is what led me to the handkerchief thief, as the age would also fit the John in the family above. In the 1851 census, John is not living with the other family members (but he would have been 25).

I will be in Adelaide in early January and plan to visit the archives and search for his court and prison records, hopefully that will yield something new!
 

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