by Eric L Hansen Sept 2010

See also the article on William's Family and the Brisbane Court Case in 1899

Information kindly provided by Eric L Hansen from Bull Creek in Western Australia.

Reccommended reading is the 'HERDSFIELD EXCERPT' from 'Viking, Villians and Vagabonds' by Eric Leslie Hansen, the excerpt is free and available for download at:

Eric is a descendant of the HERDSFIELDS of Derbyshire and later of London.

George HERDSFIELD shares the same ancestors and was sent to New South Wales as a convict in 1836.

SEVENTH SESSION 1833 (1292) GEORGE HERDSFIELD and WALTER ANDREWS were indicted for stealing, on the 10th of August, 1 handkerchief, value 2s., the goods of Henry Pierce Perkins, from his person.

Henry Pierce Perkins. I am an ironmonger, and live at Enfield. I was in Giltspur-street between eight and nine o’clock in the morning, on the 10th of August, a witness called to me, and I saw Herdsfield standing with my handkerchief close to his feet – Andrews ran across the road – the witness told me to take him, which I did.

Herdsfield. You said it was at Andrew’s feet.
Witness. Well, I think it was so; and Herdsfield ran across the road.
Thomas Richards. I was going along on the 10th of August, and saw the two prisoners behind the gentleman – Andrews had the handkerchief in his hand, and was going to give it to Herdsfield – I took Andrews, and Herdsfield ran across the road and told the gentleman to take him; which he did – Andrews dropped the handkerchief.

William NcLennan. (City police constable No 63) The prisoners were brought into the police station, and given to me, this is the handkerchief. (Property produced and sworn to)
Confined Six Months
Within three years, on April 4 1836 George was back in court.

SIXTH SESSION 1836 (922).GEORGE HERDSFIELD was indicted for stealing, on the 29th of March, 1 handkerchief, value 4s., the goods of James Walker, from his person, and that he had been before convicted of felony.

JAMES WALKER. I live at the Harp, Harp-alley, Farringdon-street, and am a smith and iron-founder. On the 29th of March I was in Fleet-street, at half-past ten o'clock in the evening - I felt a hand behind me - I put my right hand behind and caught my handkerchief - I turned round quickly, and the prisoner had hold of my handkerchief in his hand, and drew it through my hand - he ran across Fleet-street, and was folding up the handkerchief all the while - I followed him for three hundred yards, and was not three yards from him - about a dozen men then got round us, and I lost sight of the handkerchief.

PRISONER. I was going through Fleet-street - I was going after that gentleman - two boys followed him and took his handkerchief, as he said, and then they ran away - I ran after them, and then he followed me, and did not lose sight of me.

WITNESS. He ran uncommonly well, and put the handkerchief into his bosom.

HENRY BOLTON. I am watchman of St.Bride's. I heard the cry 'Stop thief' - I saw the prisoner run up Shose-lane - I attempted to stop him, but he slipped through my fingers and ran away quickly - I followed him to the corner of Harp-alley, and there he was taken - he did not call 'Stop thief' - I saw him stopped, and took him to the watch-house - no one passed round him - I was in the middle of Shoe-lane - I did not see any thing thrown down - the persons who were pursuing him were very close behind him - the people did not get about him when he was stopped - he was running when I took him - there were persons about him.

PRISONER. He and three more watchmen took me - I do not see how I could throw any thing down without their seeing me.

WITNESS. There were three of us, and a great many people about him.

WILLIAM McLENNAN (city police-constable No.4.) I produce a certificate of the prisoner's former conviction, which I got from Mr.Clark's office - the prisoner is the person - (read.)

GUILTY. Aged 18. - Transported for Seven Years.

A handkerchief valued at the high price of between 2s and 4s in the late 1700's was probably lace edged and of fine linen, the property of a wealthy man, possibly an aristocrat. This theft would be viewed very seriously indeed and punished accordingly. It was only a step from this to purse stealing.

One month later, George was on his way to the penal colony in New South Wales.

He sailed from Portsmouth on the Moffatt 7 May 1836. The Moffatt was a ship of 820 tons, Class AE1, built in Bengal India in 1807, and sailed under the command of Thomas Bolton, with the ships surgeon John Smith.

Four hundred convicts boarded the ship, one was re-landed, three convicts died on the voyage and after one hundred and sixteen days at sea the ship arrived in the colony 31 August.

Details from the convict indent records provided the following information & description.
Age: 19
Read & Write: Yes
Religion Protestant: Single 
Native Place: London
Occupation: Stockman’s boy
Crime: Picking pockets
Tried: Central Criminal Court
Date: 4 April 1836 
Sentence: 7 years
No prior convictions:     Height 5’2” 
Hair; Flaxen
Complexion: Fair & a little freckled
Eyes: Grey
Description – Small dark mole back of left cheek, JHJCCRI heart L on upper & GR on lower right arm, CCNPMM upper, heart pierced with 2 darts, and woman inside lower left arm. 
(E L Hansen - Another tattooed candidate for Dickens)

Brother: Charles Herdsfield 5 years ago. (Source - State Records NSW X635.).

The 1837 muster of NSW records. - George HERDSFIELD 19 years per Moffatt 1836 Hyde Park Barracks Sydney.

The Hyde Park Barracks was built between the years 1817–1819 and is a popular landmark in the historic precinct of Macquarie Street and Queens Square in Sydney. Constructed by convict labour, the Barracks is one of the finest works of the accomplished colonial architect Francis Greenway. As the principal male convict barracks in New South Wales it provided lodgings for convicts working in government employment around Sydney until its closure in 1848. It has had many occupants since then. It was an Immigration Depot for single female immigrants seeking work as domestic servants and awaiting family reunion from 1848–86 and also a female asylum from 1862–86. From 1887–1979 law courts and government offices were based at the Barracks.

Between 1819 and 1848, more than 15,000 male convicts passed through the Hyde Park Barracks. The majority of convicts were English and Irish men found guilty of theft.

Their punishment was exile to the opposite side of the world and as a further punishment, the government controlled their labour. The Barracks provided lodgings for male convicts working in government employment like mines, waterworks, land clearing and road making projects around Sydney.

Under Governor Macquarie’s administration the more skilled convicts constructed churches, courthouses, gaols and barracks. Male convicts also stayed at the Barracks for short periods while awaiting assignment to work for free settlers and emancipists. Although the men were sometimes referred to as prisoners, the Barracks was not a prison.

Men lodging at the Barracks worked for the government, usually without wages, in return for food and accommodation. Well-behaved men were given freedom outside working hours and some only reported to the Barracks for work said John Petersen.

It was convict labourers and tradesmen who constructed the Hyde Park Barracks from 1817 to 1819 under the supervision of government architect and convicted forger, Francis Greenway. The Barracks were part of an extensive program of public works under Governor Macquarie and was designed to accommodate 600 convicts.

Regimentation and surveillance were supposed to make the Barracks run efficiently and reform the convicts but men often misbehaved. Convicts gambled and sold their rations and absconded from work to sneak down to The Rocks district.

By 1841 George was in the district of Paterson where he received his ticket of leave No. 41/2145 Dated 8 October 1841.

In 1843 George received his Certificate of Freedom. No 43/1109 He was by now about twenty-eight years old with a slightly different description. 
Height 5’4’
Eyes: Dark Grey
Hair: Light
Complexion: Fair and Ruddy

It was this same year that he was named on the baptism details for St. Phillip’s Church Sydney as the father of Catherine HERDSFIELD, mother Elizabeth.

The next seven years are a mystery and it is not until several years later that George turns up in Brisbane Queensland.

George married Emma Rosetta WADE, daughter of John and Charlotte WADE, 28 June 1851 at St John’s Church Brisbane in the County of Stanley.

Witnesses at the marriage, which was conducted by H. O. IRWIN, were William QUALTROUGH and the bride’s sister, Elizabeth QUALTROUGH.

George was fined in the City Police Court Friday 23rd May and the details were published in “The Brisbane courier” on the following Saturday.

Neglecting to Pave a Footpath.-R. Cribb was fined 20s. and ordered to pay $3.06 2s. professional costs and costs of court, for neglecting to pave the footpath in front of the premises occupied by him after having received due notice from the Municipal Couucil.

George HERDSFIELD, who was summoned for a similar offence, was ordered to pay costs of court, after an order had been made for the work to be done.

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