Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The origins of Samuel Priestly

I have been trying to work out the origins of my convict ancestor Samuel Priestly.

Details I have that relate to his life in England, mostly from his arrival records:

Samuel Priestley (or Priestley – some lines in Australia ultimately became PRIESTLEY, but the original spelling is important in England)
Convict per "Aurora" (I), arrived Sydney 3 Nov 1833, aged 22
Born: 1812 (multiple sources support this - so possibly 1811 or 1813)
Occupation: Clothier
Born: Yorkshire
Marital status: Single
Religion: Protestant
Able to read
Offence: picking pockets
Trial: York (Leeds) Quarter Sessions, 15 Apr 1833
Sentence: transportation for 14 years
Prior conviction: 6 months [gaol]

Furthermore, his ticket of leave states he was born in Leeds, Yorkshire.

And that’s all we have from his arrival in Australia. But recently I realized that Samuel married a second time in 1871, at St Jude’s Randwick, to Louisa FROST. In this certificate he gave the following information about his parents:
Father: Joseph Priestly, clothier
Mother: Sarah - (maiden name not known/given)

I did some searching and put a query out on forums for help – Yorkshire is huge and I find the administrative divisions (Ridings) confusing. Some very useful help came back very quickly, particularly from Judith Varley. There is only one Samuel baptised that fits:

Birth: 16 JUL 1811
Christening: 15 SEP 1811 Holbeck, Yorkshire, England

Looking to preceding records in the same parish (Holbeck, Yorkshire) another son is found:

Christened: 08 December 1805, Holbeck, Yorkshire
Father: Joseph

In the subsequent years there are four more baptisms at Holbeck, with parents Joseph and Sarah:

Ann, dau of Joseph and Sarah Priestly, of Holbeck, Cloth Dresser, bapt 31 Oct 1813
Elizabeth, dau of Joseph and Sarah Priestly, of Holbeck, Cloth Dresser, bapt 30 Jul 1815
Sally, dau of Joseph and Sarah Priestly, of Holbeck, Cloth Dresser, bapt 14 Sep 1817
Hannah, dau of Joseph and Sarah Priestly, of Holbeck, Cloth Dresser, bapt 11 Oct 1818

The occupation of Joseph, a Cloth Dresser, fits well with the stated occupation of Clothier that Samuel gives on his arrival in NSW in 1833, and at his marriage in 1877.

Marriage records reveal a marriage in 1805 at nearby Rothwell, Yorkshire:
Marriage at Rothwell Parish Church
12 May 1805
Joseph Priestley of this Parish to Sarah Horner of this Parish
Witnesses Thomas Hairdry & Joseph Gibson

Despite the fact both were 'of the parish', I cannot find the birth of either in the Rothwell Parish baptism records. No further information was recorded in the parish register regarding occupation etc.

Other possibilities for the marriage of Joseph and Sarah?

At first, I thought the marriage of a Joseph PRIESTLY to Sarah COX occurring on 1st December 1811 at Holy Trinity in York might be related, as it’s the year Samuel was born: "Joseph Priestley OTP, cabinet maker, and Sarah Cox of this City, By licence 01 December 1811 By J.D. Witnesses: George Priestley, D.Cox, Thomas Foster". However: 1) this couple at York had multiple children in the same parish, ruling them out; 2) this Joseph is a cabinet maker; 3) York and Leeds are a significant distance apart. There was also a marriage in 1805 of a Joseph PRIESTLY to a Sarah GRACE at Wakefield, Yorkshire. Again, all their children were baptised in Wakefield, ruling that marriage out.

On the Wiki page about HOLBECK:

In the first half of the 19th century Holbeck village was a hamlet of just a few streets, most of which were owned by John Scholey (1774–1834) and are all listed, with tenants, in his will, now at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York. His family sold up with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when Holbeck became one of the richest and most significant places in England. Holbeck's foundries and mills manufactured cloth, machinery, steam engines and other equipment for companies across the world. The area was home to three of the greatest industrialists of the age: Colonel Thomas Harding, John Marshall and Matthew Murray.

"HOLBECK, in the borough and parish of Leeds, liberty of Pontefract; joins to the town of Leeds by Water Lane, 1 mile S. of Leeds. Pop. 7,151. The Chapel, of uncertain antiquity, which, in the last century, was repaired at an expense nearly equal to being rebuilt, is a perpetual curacy. Patron, the Vicar of Leeds.”

Criminal record

Criminal indents reveal a few run-ins with the law

Date of Session, Session, Sentence, Offence
April 1829, Leeds, 3 months, Larceny
Epiphany 1830, Leeds, 5 months & whipping, Larceny
Epiphany 1833, Leeds, No prosecution, Larceny
Easter 1833, Leeds, Transportation, 14 yrs, Larceny

The Calendar of Prisoners for the Wakefield House of Correction (later HMP Wakefield) record those that were tried and sentenced – the West Yorkshire Archive Service sent on a transcript of their records. These reveal that Samuel was a repeat offender prior to his transportation to Australia. We know these are all the same Samuel as his arrival indent in Australia (above) states he had previously spent six months in gaol.

April 1829
Leeds Borough Session
Event of Trial: Guilty Imprisoned 3 months, hard labour
No: 228
Name: Samuel Priestley
Age: 17
Offence: Felony

January 1830
Leeds Borough Session
Event of Trial: Guilty Imprisoned 6 months and whipt
No: 180
Name: Samuel Priestley and Thomas Fox
Offence: Stealing trousers

December 1832
Leeds Borough Session
Event of Trial: Bill not found, discharged
No: 189
Name: Sam Priestley and John Foster
Age: 19
Offence: Charged with stealing, at Leeds, 10 shillings, the property of one Michael Garland

April 1833
Leeds Borough Session
Event of Trial: Transported 14 years
No: 26
Name: Samuel Priestley
Offence: Felony

Note that No. 265 at the Easter (April) Assizes was John Foster, who was transported for 7 years. Unfortunately the Assize records no longer survive, however a Leeds newspaper captured some details of the sentencing:

Leeds Intelligencer, 20 April 1833
West Riding Quarter Sessions
Transported 14 years
Samuel Priestley 22 yrs for stealing 10 shillings from the wife of Michael Garland in the Leeds Free Market on the 27th Oct last
John Foster transported for 7 yrs for same crime.

John FOSTER was transported to NSW with Samuel on the ‘Aurora’.


willow said...

I am extremely impressed by your dedication to dead people :)
thanks for the Rodgers info it was wonderful to read about my families

Matt Hall said...

Thanks! Let me know if you have anything to add. matt