Convict Histories

Samuel Dale (c1823 – 1883) (Reg. Nos. 5538, 7231 and 10050)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

Samuel Dale, single, a labourer aged 34 years, was convicted on 11 May 1857 at Liverpool Court of Petty Sessions of larceny.[1] He was sentenced to four years’ transportation because he had served five months in prison the previous year for stealing a coat [2] and was considered an habitual criminal.

Dale served time at Dartmoor Prison before arriving in Western Australia onboard the Sultana on 19 August 1859. On arrival the Surgeon Superintendent Henry Richardson reported that the prisoners onboard the Sultana had conducted themselves in a most satisfactory manner.[3] This was due in part to the fact that there were more Pensioner Guards than usual on board to assist with law and order. It should be noted however that a large proportion of the convicts onboard were facing terms of only four years, indicating that they were not violent criminals. This was despite the fact that the Penal Servitude Act passed in 1853 allowed for prisoners with sentences of seven years or less to serve out their terms in British prisons, although this remained at the discretion of the Courts.[4] Little wonder that Samuel Dale may have considered himself hard done by when his sentence of transportation was handed down.

Dale’s description during the voyage was recorded as follows Character V. Good, height 5’5¼”, light brown hair, light blue eyes, a full face, dark complexion, stout build, gardener, no marks. Soon after arrival he received his Ticket of Leave on 2 February 1860, and was eligible for a Conditional Pardon on 2 February 1861.[5] He was sent out to the Bunbury Depot and found employment with Marshall Waller Clifton of Australind from August 1860 until November that year, when he was dismissed for refusal to obey orders:

Extracts from Clifton Journals

15 Aug. 1860 – Engaged Saml, Dale on trial for a fortnight.

29 Aug. 1860 Farrant & Dale went to Bunbury but did not return till late at night when Farrant went to the Station.

8 Oct. 1860 – Hired Saml. Dale for six Months as Hut Keeper at £1.

10 Oct. 1860 – Saml. Dale joined the Station & Commenced duty.

16 Oct. 1860 – Dale came in with 2 wethers.

30 Oct. 1860 – Dale came in from the Sheep Station for Rations.

11 Nov.1860 – Sent Sam & Dale over to kill the Sheep whose Leg was

broken & another that had been blinded.

14 Nov. 1860 – Dale subsequently came in & refused to go out again in

defiance of my Order & his Agreement.

15 Nov. 1860 – Dale refusing to go out again. I rode to Bunbury where He

met me & I convicted him. Mr Eliot [Resident Magistrate] sentenced him to one Month Imprisonment & forfeiture of his Wages.[6]

Samuel earned his expiree status on 10 May 1861.[7] He was in the employ of Scotsman Alexander McAndrew at Wedderburn [Brunswick] in 1863 when he was arrested for forgery. He was tried in the Supreme Court in Perth and was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment as a Colonial Prisoner with a new Reg. No.7321:

Samuel Dale, charged with forging and uttering at Bunbury an order for the payment of money, purporting to be signed M’Andrew, with intent to defraud David Eadle [Eeedle]

David Eadle proved the order in question to have been tendered to him by the prisoner, and that having no cash in the house, he gave him an order upon Mr. Hough in Bunbury. A. M’Andrew proved the order to be a forgery. From the statement by the prisoner, who had been in the employ of M’Andrew, there appeared to be some dispute between them as to a balance of wages, about two pounds, which M’Andrew refused to pay, because of prisoner leaving him before his time was up. Guilty – 7 years penal servitude.[8]

Samuel Dale’s refusal to obey orders during his incarceration probably reflected a sense of injustice over the severity of his sentence:

Penalties During Sentence.

22 Apr. 1864 – Absconding from Ferguson Bridge Road Party – 3 years H/L (Hard Labour) – To pay £5 for cost of re-capture.[9]

29 Aug. 1864 – Disobedience of Orders – Reprimanded.

17 Nov. 1864 – Refusing to work – 3 days B/W. (Bread & Water)

22 Nov. 1864 – Ditto.

22 Nov. 1864 Filthy cell – Forfeit Sunday Dinner.

28 Dec. 1864 – Refusing medicine – Cautioned.1 April 1865 –To be transferred from the Iron Class to the Bridge Party. (Eligible for T/L on 12 March 1870.)

25 Nov. 1865 – Re-convicted as Samuel Dale, Colonial Prisoner, Reg. No. 7231. – H/L, employed in Cookhouse, aged 41.[10]

18 June 1866 Disobedience of Order – Forfeit Sunday’s Dinner.

27 Oct.1866 – Special Remission of remainder of Magisterial Sentence, amounting to five months and 24 days.

20 Dec. 1866 – Special Remission, 3 months.

3 Jan. 1867 – Will be eligible for Ticket-of-leave on 18 June 1869.

18 Aug. 1867 – Perth – Refusing to go back to his duty – …. (Indecipherable) days B/W.

Nov. 1867 – Decision given in his petition in October …. (Indecipherable) be altered is that

there was no …. (Indecipherable) for interfering with his sentence.

1867 – Perth – Endeavouring to conceal 10 ozs. of meat & refusing to work – 3 days Hard Labour.

Jan. 1868 – Perth – Refusing to leave his cell to see the Visiting Magistrate – 7 days B/W.

Jan. 1868 – Perth – Refusing to work on the 16th & 20th – 14 days close confinement.

Jan. 1868 – Perth – Refusing to leave his cell to proceed to Perth Prison – 7 days B/W.

Jan. 1868 – Refusing to return to his Party – 1day B/W., to be returned – promising to return to work & behave well for the future.

Mar. 1868 – Perth – Absenting himself from his Party – 1 day B/W – to be returned.

9 Apr. 1869 – York – Absconding from ….. Davis’s Party – 1 month H/L in Irons – remitted.

26 June 1869 – Discharged to ticket-of-leave.[11]

It is not known where Dale was employed after his release in 1869, but by 1878 we find him in trouble again, this time down south on a large pastoral property known as ‘Goblup’, at Etticup (Broomhill).


Samuel Dale was charged with having, on the 17th July last, stolen a cheque to the amount of £4 and certain goods of one John Smith, of Gobulup.[12] Prisoner pleaded not guilty, and was undefended. John Smith deposed to the cheque being his property. He last saw it safe on the 16th July last. He placed it in a carpet bag with other articles. Went out with his sheep on the 16th and came back in the evening, when the bag was there. Went out on the morning of 17th, and on coming back in the evening found the bag was still all right. On the 18th found the bag cut open and the cheque and other goods gone. Gave information to the Police.

Frederick Williams deposed to having given the cheque produced to John Smith in payment for a dog. Had told the prisoner subsequently of the transaction.

Police Constable Hogan deposed to tracing the cheque and the arrest of the prisoner. After the arrest prisoner said he got the cheque by selling a dog.

Thomas Tooney deposed to the buying of certain clothing by the prisoner, for which

the cheque produced was tendered in payment.

Frederick Williams recalled deposed that when he met the prisoner he (the prisoner) had a dog with him. Prisoner stated that he received the cheque in payment for a dog he sold to a man named Charles Scully. The jury found the prisoner guilty, and he was sentenced to three years’ penal servitude.[13]

Convicted again in the Supreme Court with larceny, Samuel Dale, Colonial Prisoner (new Reg. No. 10250), was received at Fremantle Prison on 21 October 1878 from Perth. His description at this time was –

Aged 59, single, with light brown hair, bald on top, cupped marks on breast and a scar on his left arm near shoulder, could read & write, and his religion Protestant. His last place of residence was Etticup. He was born in Liverpool and his father was N. Rimmer (?), a miller, of Foxteth Road, Liverpool.[14]

Back in Fremantle Prison, under new Registration No. 10250, his behaviour deteriorated and by October 1879 he was confined in hospital for a few days’ observation for a possible mental disorder, ‘real or feigned’.[15] The Surgeon’s medical reports confirmed the diagnosis:

Colonial Prisoner (Reg. No.10050), S. Dale, aged 59, admitted 4 Feb. 1879 – Lumbago, Discharged on 13th.

9 May 1879 – Swelling & soreness of feet. In poor health.

3 October 1879 – Brought up for observation from Refractory Cells where he was undergoing sentence of Bread & Water. Suffering from Debility & rambling in his talk & labouring under delusions.

30 October 1879 – Delusion & irrational conduct increased to such an extent that he was transferred to the Lunatic Asylum.[16]

Samuel Dale spent the rest of his life in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum before his death in 1883, aged 62.[17] His death was reported as follows:

An inquest was held, a day or two ago, at the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, on the remains of a patient named Samuel Dale. After having heard the medical evidence, the jury returned a verdict of “death from natural causes”. [18]


[1] Convict Department Registers (128/38 & 39)

[2] Liverpool Mercury, 25 July 1856.

[3] Perth Gazette, 26 August 1859.

[4] Greenoch Advertiser, 15 July 1853.

[5] Convict Department, General Registers (R3 & R4)

[6] Phyllis Barnes et al (Eds), The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840 – 1861, Hesperian Press,

   Victoria Park WA, 2010.

[7] Convict Department, General Registers (R3 & R4)

[8] Perth Gazette, 9 October 1863.

[9] Convict Department, General Register (R29)

[10] Convict Establishment, Fremantle Casual Sick Registers, 1865 – 1866 (CS13)

[11] Convict Department General Register for Nos. 7000 – 7607 (R26 – R27)

[12] Goblup, situated near Katanning in the Great Southern District, was a large property under the ownership of Sir Richard Spencer.

[13] Inquirer, 9 October 1878.

[14] Fremantle Prison Registers, Register of Colonial Prisoners (F2)

[15] Convict Establishment, Daily Medical Journals (M21A – M22)

[16] Convict Establishment Medical Registers by Patient (M9 – M9A)

[17] Department of Justice death Register,

[18] Daily News, 19 February 1883.