Convict Histories

Darby Furie (c1833 – ?) (Reg. No. 4649)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

A Scotsman, Darby Furie (or ‘Fury’) was arrested with his partner-in-crime Theodore Dowd (alias ‘Peter Dowd’ and other names), a well-known offender. They had been roaming the countryside in the company of others for a number of months, following a violent robbery perpetrated by five men at a farm-house in Craigshiels in Ayrshire on 20 March 1851. The farmer was hit over the head with the butt of a gun, then his son was assaulted and their farm-workers were threatened with death if they didn’t hand over their money. The farmer’s wife escaped from the house with her baby and ran through the night for help. Some minor items were stolen before the robbers made a quick getaway.[1]

The five burglars went on to steal from shops in neighbouring villages as they made their escape. When located they were hiding out within a group of around a dozen men reported to be Irish, camped in the Scotsdyke Plantation on the English side of the border. One of this gang Bernard Williamson reported the two men to the police, saying that they had told him the full story of the Ayrshire robbery. He said that he knew the two men as ‘Jeremiah Haggerty’ and ‘Peter Friar’, but they gave their names to the police as ‘David Fuiry’ and ‘Peter Dowd’. The latter was recognised as an old offender who had been convicted under that name in Dumfries in July the previous year.[2] At the time the police suspected that Williamson may also have been present at the time of the assault at the farmhouse.[3]

During the trial at the Edinburgh Sessions of the two men on 7 June 1852 for theft and assault, the judge in summing up used the Scottish term ‘stoutthrief’[4] to classify their crime, sentencing the two men to 21 years’ transportation.[5]

On arrest he was described as aged 19, a labourer, unable to read or write. His conduct record while in British prisons was recorded as V. Good while in separate confinement and also V. Good while on public works.[6]

It was some years before Darby Furie was received onboard the convict ship Nile from Chatham Prison.[7] He had already spent long periods in confinement, first at Edinburgh for 3 years 6 months and at Millbank for 2 years six months.[8] On 10 March 1857 Furie was at Dartmoor Prison[9], where he attempted an escape. At one stage he received a one-month sentence for misconduct.[10]  He arrived on the Nile at Fremantle, WA, on 1 January 1858. His description on arrival was 27 years old, height 5’8¾”, with dark brown hair, hazel eyes, oval face, dark complexion, and middling stout, slightly pock-marked. He was a single man, listed as a footman.[11]

His Ticket of Leave was granted on 7 February 1858.[12] That year his name appears in the journal of Marshall Waller Clifton of Australind as ‘David Furie’, (aka ‘Davy’). Clifton appears to have taken a liking to him. On 18 June 1858 Furie was contracted as Clifton’s home cattle man for six months at £1 per month, and later to be paid £1.5.0. Clifton noted that he ‘gives satisfaction’. During 1859 Furie was occasionally mentioned as doing general labouring jobs for MW Clifton and his son Robert. On 1 May 1860 he was hired to dig Robert’s vineyard at Alverstoke. At the end of May, after ‘finishing vinegar at Alverstoke’, it was arranged for Furie to come back to MW Clifton’s place, arriving there on 19 June 1860 to begin pruning with Clifton and Whitchell[13]. They were joined in the task by Offer[14] on 30 July 1860.[15]

Furie was sent by Clifton on several trips to Bunbury during August and September. On 16 October he gave MW Clifton warning (of his intention to leave) for December – Dornan[16] gave his notice the same day. Clifton must have valued Furie as a worker because that day he settled that ‘John’ (Francis Tutton[17]) was to quit and Furie was to take his place, with the promise of £20 per annum, to be raised to £24 after six months’ service.

On 3 November 1860 Furie took up the position as footman for Clifton. On 9 December he went fishing with Clifton and Stephen Stout, schoolteacher at Australind[18]. All seemed to be going well until 23 November 1860, when Clifton had to break up a row in the kitchen between Michael[19] and Furie. Both men were ‘lectured most thoroughly’ but were forgiven. Furie’s behaviour deteriorated further, when on the evening of 10 December 1860 Clifton recorded that ‘David Furie was drunk and frightened all the household’. The next day Clifton gave him one month’s notice, re-engaging John Tutton in his place at £20 per annum.

Where Furie went next is not known. On 21 November 1861 it was recorded that authority for his Conditional Pardon had not been received.[20] In 1861 D. Furie, a ticket-of-leave man, was charged with having robbed drunken W. Rearden on the Perth Causeway. The case could not be proved and was dismissed.[21] There is a record of Western Australian convict Darby Furie departing for Callao, Peru on 10 March 1863.[22]


[1] Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 26 March 1851.

[2] Stirling Observer, 31 July 1851.

[3] Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 30 July 1851.

[4] Stouthrief (alternatively stouthreif) is the Scottish criminal offence of use or threat of violence against a householder who defends themselves during a housebreaking; it is additional to any associated robbery offence. Wikipedia.

[5] Scotsman, 9 June 1852.

[6] Convict Department Registers, Convicts Transported per Nile (R32)

[7] Convict Department Registers, Character Book for Nos 4508 – 5585 (R8)

[8] Convict Department Registers, Character Book for Nos 4508 – 5585 (R8)

[9] Convict Department Registers, Convicts Transported per Nile (R32)

[10] Ibid.

[11] Convict Department, Estimates and Convict Lists, (128/1-32)

[12] Convict Department Registers, Character Book for Nos 4508 – 5585 (R8)

[13] John Whitchell, Convict Reg. No. 1595.

[14] Henry Offer, Convict Reg. No. 746.

[15] Barnes, Cameron, et al, The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park WA, 2010.

[16] Thomas Dornan, Convict Reg. No. 4124.

[17] Francis Tutton, Convict Reg. No. 3490.

[18] Stephen Stout, Convict Reg. No. 4901.

[19] Michael Cawthorne, Convict Reg. No. 4868.

[20] Convict Establishment Stamp Books (S1 – S3)

[21] Perth Gazette, 3 May 1861.

[22] Australian Convict Index, 1788 – 1868, at