Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Using Convict Records to Go Back

The wonderful Tasmanian Archives site has a wealth of records available online - particularly for those researching their convict ancestors. 

My ancestor, Elizabeth ALLEN arrived in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) aboard the convict ship, Margaret in 1843.  The details given by her where recorded upon her arrival.

Coming from a large city like Birmingham, with a relatively common name, I had lost hope of finding who Elizabeth ALLEN's parents were. For some strange reason - perhaps I was having trouble reading the handwriting or deciphering the code used - I didn't realise how much family information was contained on my ancestor's arrival record when I first viewed it. After looking again at her arrival record, I could now see that the information I needed was there waiting for me.

(Male and Female Convicts image via National Archives of Australia)



Allen, Elizabeth
Height: 5/2 1/4
Age: 20
Calling: [Domestic Servant] & Needlewoman
Where Tried: Warwickshire, Birmingham Boro QS
When Tried: 21 October 1842
Sentence: 10
Native Place: Birmingham


Married or Single: S
Children: [blank]
Religion: CE
Read or Write: R
Relations - Apprenticeship - Where Last Residing: F Isaac at Churchill 2B Josiah & Wm 1S Mary Ann with my father; 9 [months?] on the Town
Ship Character: Fair
Offences: Stg a shawl [from? Gt?] Hampton St; once for same 3 mos

My interpretation:
F = father Isaac at Churchill
2B = 2 brothers Josiah and William
1S = 1 sister Mary Ann
These siblings (or at least Mary Ann) are living with her father in Churchill. 

('9 months on the town' seems to indicate that Elizabeth had also been prostituting herself).

Using Family Search, I searched the IGI for the birth of Elizabeth ALLEN around 1822, including her father's name Isaac.  I found an appropriate entry for 29 Sep 1822 in Harborne, Staffordshire. Harborne was so near to Birmingham that it became a suburb in 1890 (source).


To check this was the right record and accept her mother's name as Ann, I then searched for her siblings birth entries.  I was able to find Josiah and Mary Ann, also born in Harborne (no record of William as yet).  Ann was recorded as Ann PHILLIPS on Josiah's record, Anne Philis on Mary Ann's and simply Ann on Elizabeth's.

I was also able to find the likely marriage record for Isaac and Ann - 26 Aug 1821, Halesowen, Worcester - Ann was recorded as Ann Phillis GEALEY/GALEY.  So was Phillis another Christian name or a mistranscription of Phillips?

Next Steps:

  • Find ALLEN birth entries in Harborne parish registers

  • Locate family members on 1841 census (and beyond)

  • Find marriage record in Halesowen parish registers

  • Determine Isaac and Ann's birthplaces/dates

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