Convict Histories

Edward Chatterton (1827 – 1897) (Reg. No. 1739)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

Edward Chatterton was christened at Prees in Shropshire on 19 August 1827. His parents were Thomas and Mary Chatterton. (Mary, née Carter, had married Thomas at Prees on 29 December 1825.)

At the time of the 1841 census Edward (aged 14) was living with his father Thomas Chatterton, widower, (39), a blacksmith at Whitchurch, in the Wem District of Shropshire. Edward’s siblings were Mary (12), Eliza (8), John (7), Jemima (6), and Thomas (3). Shortly before the census was held, Edward’s mother Mary Chatterton had died in the January Quarter of 1841.

On 25 December 1848 Edward Chatterton, born 1827, married Ann Jones in the Wem District.

Following his conviction at Shrewsbury for larceny on 5 March 1850, and with previous convictions for petty larceny, Edward was sentenced to seven years’ transportation. Later that year the deaths of his wife Ann and their son (Edward Chatterton jnr., born in the September Quarter of 1850) occurred, most likely at the time of childbirth.

The 1851 census has Edward Chatterton, labourer, aged 22, born at Salop, Prees, Shropshire, a prisoner onboard the Warrior Convict Hulk at Woolwich Dockyard, Greenwich in Kent.[1]

To Western Australia

Edward left Torbay onboard the Pyrenees (its 2nd voyage) on 2 February 1853, bound for the Swan River Colony, arriving on 30 April 1853. His description was – widower with one child (?), height 5’ 9“, dark brown hair, dark grey eyes, an oval face, sallow complexion, stout build, with a scar on second middle finger of left hand.

By 1 May 1853 Edward had his Ticket of Leave.[2] As a blacksmith, he was well-placed to find employment in the colony. On 21 July 1855 Chatterton’s name first appeared in the journal of Marshall Waller Clifton of Australind as an employee, one of many employed on Clifton’s various land-holdings.[3]

In 1855 Edward Chatterton, Australind blacksmith, was called to give evidence in a case against John Lewis, charged with stealing a gun barrel, a rifle barrel, and a brass pistol, the property of William King at Bunbury. Lewis was found guilty, incurring 6 month’s imprisonment with hard labour.[4]

In 1856 Chatterton married Ellen Develey in Bunbury.[5] They settled into a house on the Clifton property. No record of the couple having any children has been found.

Chatterton’s relationship with Clifton was not always harmonious. On 20 October 1857 Clifton suspected Chatterton of having stolen £7. 10 from Catherine’s box and sent for the police, but nothing was proven against him and he remained in Clifton’s employ. In February 1856 Clifton recorded that Chatterton was fitting up an iron pump for him. In October that year Clifton’s men were putting up a fence by Chatterton’s house.[6]

Their relationship over several years is not clearly defined. On 10 June 1858 Clifton recorded that he had received the new plough from Chatterton and sent it to Lyons. An entry on 21 January 1859 records Clifton going into Bunbury to ‘hear the case against Chatterton’s man and sent him to the Establishment for a month’, which indicates that Chatterton by that time was employing a labourer, probably a ticket-of-leave man.

Trouble arose on 11 March 1859 when Clifton gave instructions for his men to cut a drain through Chatterton’s garden to the Estuary. On 4 April Clifton wrote that he had taken possession of Chatterton’s garden and moved the fence. The next day when his men were cutting up some trees Chatterton came out of his house and abused Clifton for taking his garden. ‘He swore with repeated oaths that he would pull down the fence & fill up the drain & said the shop was not mine. He would hold it as long as he liked & would burn it down if I attempted to eject him.’ Clifton went into Bunbury the next day to consult his son-in-law, Resident Magistrate George Eliot, over the matter. By 7 April the two men had come to an agreement, with ‘a letter from Chatterton & reply accepting his offer to give up Blacksmiths on 30 April instead of on 31 May according to the notice served upon him by Harris for me today tho’ dated the 8.[7]

Where Chatterton and his wife went next is not known. Clifton had not finished with him, however. On 25 February 1860 a rather ambiguous entry in Clifton’s journal appeared as follows –‘The Detector had got from the Tinman that he had bought the watch of Chatterton.’[8] It appears that in 1858 Clifton had lost his watch in a field and despite a wide search and instigating enquiries amongst his workers he had been unable to find it. In April 1860 Chatterton faced trial, charged with stealing the watch. The case against him was reported as follows:

Edward Chatterton, charged with stealing a watch, the property of M. W. Clifton, a second count charged him with receiving. Prisoner was defended by Mr Howell.

M.W. Clifton — I reside at Australind. The watch produced belongs to me, I have had it for 20 years. I lost the watch on the 16th November 1858, I believe in a field where I was directing some men in felling a tree; while there I looked at it, and on returning to my house, I found I had not got it about me. Every search was made, and I described the watch to my men, and also to the prisoner who lived near the field, but I could hear nothing of it, until about six weeks since. I received a letter from prisoner (that now produced), it is his hand-writing, dated, Guildford, March 1st, stating that he bought a watch in April of a man coming from the Vasse for £4; he never thought the watch belonged to me; the letter also begged pardon, if I thought he knew the watch to be mine.

Charles Semple, a Detective Policeman, stated the prisoner acknowledged to him that he had had possession of the watch in question, and that he bought it from a man coming from the Vasse, that he gave £4 in cash and provisions. He stated that in the beginning of March, and said that he had it about 6 months previously.

By Mr Howell — The prisoner made no concealment respecting the watch.

Richard Homden – lived with prisoner in April last year. Saw a watch in his possession about twelve months ago; it belonged to a man named Hooper. Knew of the loss of Mr Clifton’s watch on the morning after it occurred; that was after the prisoner had Hooper’s watch. Prisoner had no watch then; he never told him anything about buying a watch of a man coming from the Vasse. He had Hooper’s watch for sale.

By Mr Howell — Prisoner left Australind in April, 1859.

The Jury found a verdict of Guilty on the second count, and a sentence of 3 years imprisonment with hard labour was passed upon the prisoner.[9]

Chatterton’s status while in Fremantle Prison changed from Colonial to Local Prisoner. He was on the Casual Patients list several times, treated for a bad cough. He was admitted into hospital in 1861.[10] He was discharged from prison on 7 October 1862. A gratuity of 5/- was paid to Edward Chatterton, Local Prisoner, on discharge during October 1862.[11]

Edward was working as a blacksmith in Guildford in the 1860s. He must have prospered, since he is said to have employed 19 ticket-of-leave men between 1865-1874, including five smiths, a fitter, a charcoal burner and a carpenter.[12]

In the 1877 edition of ‘The Herald Almanack’, E Chatterton was listed as a blacksmith at Guildford. He was still there when he sold his original premises to Walter Jones:


MR. WALTER JONES, JUN., begs to inform the inhabitants of Guildford, and the public generally, that having purchased the premises occupied by Mr. EDWARD CHATTERTON, and also the tools, and Blacksmith’s business, &c, he is prepared to shoe Horses and perform other work in Iron, on the shortest notice, and trusts that by punctuality, dispatch, good workmanship and moderate charges, to merit a share of the public patronage.[13]

Chatterton remained in Guildford, still blacksmithing. In 1880 he put his name to a letter of support for ER Brockman for the Swan Electorate.[14] He also expressed support for Walter Padbury’s election to the Legislative Council representing the seat of Swan in 1882.[15]

There is a legal document dated 28 July 1881 concerning ‘Assignment of Blacksmiths tools between Edward Chatterton to Francis Kirk and related documents.’[16] Despite this, Chatterton was still in the blacksmithing business in Guildford in 1890:

OWING to the Increase in the Price of Iron, the charge for shoeing horses at

our forges will, on and after the 1st day of MAY, 1890, be as follows:

per set.

New Shoes …6s.

Removes …3s.

Slippers   ….4s.




Guildford, April 29,1890.[17]

Edward died in 1897, his age listed as 68.[18] He provided for his wife Ellen as follows:

The following Probates and Letters of Administration were granted for the week ending this day: — Probates — Edward Chatterton: late of Guildford, blacksmith, to Ellen Chatterton, £75.[19]

In 1906 Ellen Chatterton passed away in the Swan District.[20] She had been living in Scott Street at Guildford. She died intestate, without issue. The auction of her household goods after her death indicates that she had lived a comfortable life in Guildford:

THIS DAY SATURDAY, AUGUST 18th, at 3 p.m. at Scott Street, Guildford. Supreme Court of Western Australia. PROBATE JURISDICTION. By Order of the Curator of Intestates Estates, W. J. ROACH will SELL by PUBLIC AUCTION the property of the late Ellen Chatterton, of Scott-street, Guildford, all her HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE and Effects, consisting of Tables, Chairs, Bedstead, Mattress and Bedding, Eight Day Clock, Sofa, Dining-room Furniture, Garden Tools, and a host of sundries. Without Reserve.[21]

[Note: There was still the sum of 1s. 3d. unclaimed in Edward Chatterton’s Government Savings Bank account at Guildford in 1911.][22]


[1]1851 Census England,

[2] Fremantle Prison records,

[3] P Barnes, JM Cameron, HA Willis, The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Carlyle, WA, 2010.

[4] Perth Gazette, 5 January 1855.

[5] Department of Justice, Reg. No. 997,

[6] P Barnes, JM Cameron, HA Willis, The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Perth Gazette, 6 April 1860.

[10] Convict Establishment Medical (M19).

[11] Convict Establishment, Miscellaneous, Local Prisoners Register (V16).

[12] Rica Erickson, The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, 1987, p.515.

[13] Perth Gazette, 14 February 1868.

[14] Inquirer, 11 February 1880.

[15] Herald, 21 December 1872.

[16] JS Battye Library of West Australian History Private Archives – LETTERS OF ASSIGNMENT 6067A/754, Collection Listing, ROBINSON & COX, Solicitors, MN 2256 Acc.6067A.

[17] West Australian, 1 May 1890.

[18] Department of Justice, Reg. No. 2532,

[19] Daily News, 2 October 1902.

[20] Department of Justice, Reg. No. 76,

[21] Swan Express, 18 August 1906.

[22] Government Gazette, 3 February 1911, p.205.