Convict Histories

Thomas Thomas (1813 – 1873) (Reg. No. 1571)

By Irma Walter, 2019.

In nineteenth century Britain any form of deviant sexual behaviour was considered to be an ‘unspeakable crime against nature’ and deserving of a death sentence. On 26 March 1851 at the Monmouth Assizes in Wales two witnesses gave evidence of Thomas Thomas’s act of buggery with a donkey, for which crime a sentence of death was recorded against him.[1] Another newspaper report described Thomas Thomas as ‘a middle-aged man of most repulsive features, charged with bestiality at St Melon’s’. In the same paper another man William Davies, aged 30, of Llangattock–juxta–Caerleon in Wales, was reported to have been found guilty of ‘a nameless offence’ and was also sentenced to death.[2] Their offences were bracketed together as ‘B____y’ in the Criminal Register for that date, with their death sentences commuted to Transportation for Life.[3]

Thomas Thomas was received from Dartmoor Prison and arrived in Western Australia on the Dudbrook on 7 February 1853. [Note: Also on board were two men, a William Davies and a William Davis. William Davies aged 34, (Reg. No. 1570) was serving a life sentence for an unnamed offence, while William Davis (Reg. No. 1506) is recorded as convicted at Monmouth on the same day as Thomas Thomas, 26 March 1851, his crime being burglary, sentence 10 years.[4] One of these is probably the man mentioned above.]

Thomas Thomas was described as 40 years old, 5’8¾”, with grey hair, hazel eyes, oval face, a swarthy complexion and a stout build. He was a cooper by trade and had three middle fingers lost from his right hand. He was a married man with two children.

Thomas was discharged on Ticket of Leave on 29 February 1856. He served three months’ probation with a road party. On 2 June 1859 he was convicted of being drunk when acting as bearer at a funeral and was received back at Fremantle Prison and was placed in separate confinement where he remained until 2 August 1859.[5] He was employed at Sutherland Bay at Crawley between 5 August and 10 September 1859.[6] On 13 August 1860 his Conditional Pardon was refused.[7]

His employment record shows that on 25 January 1866 he was employed by RH Rose at Parkfield, Australind, as a labourer for 20/- per month.

On 30 June 1866, ditto.

On 31 December 1866 he was paid 40/- per month by RH Rose as a carpenter.

On 30 June 1867, ditto.

On 30 December 1864 he was employed at Welgarrup [Wilgarrup, in the Blackwood District, the property of Charles Rose] at 20/- per week.[8]

On 29 August 1867 he was received by the Resident Magistrate at Bunbury.[9] Where he was employed at that time is not known. We do know however that he had an ongoing connection to the Rose family of Parkfield.

The history of the Parkfield School at Australind on the Harvey History Online website gives details of Thomas’s involvement in the preparations of the initial school building in 1869, as recorded in the diaries of Robert Henry Rose. It is evident that Thomas’s disability did not prevent him from carrying out carpentry work:

The first teacher was George Wardell, an educated ticket-of-leave man who had arrived in WA aboard the Lord Dalhousie on 25 December 1863 and was employed at the neighbouring farm ‘Springhill’, which belonged to Ben Piggott. In 1869 Wardell approached the Rose family with an offer to teach their children.

It is presumed that the school was housed in an existing building on the farm, probably a former workman’s cottage. On 17 April 1869, the day after Wardell’s offer, Robert Henry Rose’s diary records that Thomas was preparing the schoolroom. On 23 & 26 April Thomas was flooring the schoolroom, on 4 May he was making desks, and on 28 May, Yates was whitewashing the schoolroom.

The Rev. Andrew Buchanan was able to hold the first church service in the building on 11 May, 1869.[10] Lessons commenced at “Parkfield’ on 8 June 1869, although work on the building was not complete.

More work was carried out on the building in 1870. In June of that year, Thomas was putting windows in the schoolroom. In July, he was putting on shingles and Mason had started building the school chimney.[11]

In 1872 Thomas was living at ‘Park Nook’, the home of Mrs RH Rose, when he was robbed of his savings:


Charles Dale, an expiree,[12] was indicted for having, on the 16th March, feloniously stolen and carried away a silver watch and chain, and a cheque for £2, the goods, chattels, and money of one Thomas Thomas, at Bunbury.

Mr. Burt defended the prisoner. The prosecutor, who resides at Park Nook, thirteen miles from Bunbury, proceeded into town on the day in question, having in his possession a watch and chain and £4 in money, the latter consisting of a cheque for £2, a bank note, and a sovereign. While in town, the prosecutor indulged somewhat freely in drink, and spent a considerable portion of his money. Towards the evening, armed with a bottle of rum, he wended his way homewards, and called upon the prisoner, who is a blacksmith, with the object of obtaining some iron work which he required.

While in the smithy, the bottle of rum was tapped, and the blacksmith and the prosecutor hob-and-nobbed together. By-and-bye the prisoner became overpowered with deep potations of the fine old Jamaica, and became happily oblivious. In the morning he found himself in an adjoining barn, minus his chronometer and his money. Recollecting that he had been in the prisoner’s company, and that then he had the watch in his possession, he straightway proceeded to make enquiries relative to it, but the prisoner denied any knowledge of either the watch or the money.

The prosecutor then gave information to the police, and a constable was sent to interrogate the prisoner, who then informed the policeman that the watch was in safe custody, having been handed over by him to a person named Molloy. No account of the missing money, however, was forthcoming, the prisoner denying any knowledge of it.

Mr. Burt, for the defence, contended that the prisoner had removed the watch from the

prosecutor for safety, and that the money had dropped out of his pocket when rolling about in a state of drunkenness. The jury, however, did not appear to take this view of the case, and the prisoner, having been found guilty, was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude.[13]

Thomas Thomas died at Bunbury, aged around 60 years, on 20 March 1873.[14] He was buried at the Australind Pioneer Cemetery, Grave No. 37, with Rev. J. Withers officiating.[15] His death was briefly recorded in a newspaper as follows:

A man named Thomas Thomas died suddenly of heart disease in the hospital lately.[16]


[1] Monmouthshire Beacon, 29 March 1851.

[2] Hereford Journal, 2 April 1851.

[3] England & Wales Criminal Registers 1791 – 1892, Monmouthshire, 1851.

[4] Convicts to Australia,

[5] Convict Department Registers, Re-convicted Prisoners’ Register, 1856 – 1859 (R10)

[6] Convict Establishment, Receipts & Discharges, 1859 – 1861, 1863 – 1865 (RD3-RD4)

[7] Convict Establishment Stamps Book, 1857 – 1864 (S1 – S3)

[8] Brian Rose Convict Index.

[9] Convict Department General Register 1850 – 1868 (R21B)

[10] Brian Rose, Extracts From Parkfield Diaries, R H Rose Era, 31 May 1859 – 28 June 1894.

[11] Harvey History Online, at

[12] Charles Dale, Convict No. 6566.

[13] Inquirer, 10 July 1872.

[14] Brian Rose Convict Index.

[15] See Harvey Shire Burial Records,

[16] Inquirer, 2 April 1873.