Convict Histories

Henry House (1835 – ?) (Reg. No. 3163)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

Henry House was born in 1835 at Meare in Somerset. He was 17 years old when convicted of larceny in 1851, for which crime he served four months.[1] At the time of the 1851 census Henry House, aged 18, born at Mere [sic], was a prisoner in the Shepton Mallett Gaol in Somerset.[2]

On 23 March 1852 he was convicted in the city of Wells in Somerset of receiving stolen goods.[3] The item stolen was a silver watch.[4] Due to his previous conviction his sentence was 15 years’ transportation and was received on 26 March 1852 at Wilton Gaol. His description there was 18 years of age, born at Meare and his last place of residence was at Glastonbury. He was described as a labourer, single, 5’4.75” tall, with a fair complexion, dark hazel eyes, dark brown hair, with scars on his forehead, top lip and finger.[5]

His character record tells us that Henry could read imperfectly, but could not write. He had a very good record during Solitary Confinement and on Public Works. However during his voyage to Western Australia on the Ramillies, Surgeon Superintendent Daniel Ritchie recorded his behaviour as ‘Indifferent’, with various punishments meted out to him during the voyage. Henry served 36 hours in ‘the Box’, and his wine was stopped for one week. Three times he received a conviction for theft or participation. On 7 July 1855 his attendance at classes was suspended for one month and on 9 July 1855 he was on bread & water for 7 days with class suspended for three months. On 15 July 1855 class rsd (restored?) one month. In spite of these misdemeanors, House’s records in 1855 and 1856 were all either Very Good or Excellent.[6]

In his early days in Western Australia Henry frequently sought medical treatment for minor ailments, otherwise his convict record is sparse. On 9 July 1855 he was one of a long list of convicts at Fremantle Prison placed in 4th Division on Bread & Water for seven days, resulting in loss of Class for three months.[7]

Henry received his Ticket of Leave on 6 October 1856. He found employment with Marshall Waller Clifton at Australind from 4 July 1857 as assistant shepherd at £1 per week.[8] On 20 November 1857 Clifton issued workers Iggulsden [sic Eggleston] and House with orders on Allnutt.[9] On 15 July 1859 Clifton recorded that he had attended the Bunbury Court and heard ‘Dr Brydge’s case against House’.[10] On 16 December that year Clifton wrote that ‘Robt. went to Bunbury on House’s affair and returned in the afternoon.’[11] No more details are known.

Henry House received his Conditional Pardon on 27 August 1859. Rica Erickson records his marriage at the York Wesleyan Church to Elizabeth Kennedy on 31 October 1863 and that he was employing one Ticket of Leave man at ‘The Lakes’ on York Road in 1865.[12] There is no evidence of any children born to the couple, and no record has been found of their deaths in Western Australia.

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[1] England and Wales Criminal Registers, Somerset, 1851.

[2] 1851 Census, Shepton Mallet Parish, https://www.ancestry.com.au

[3] England and Wales Criminal Registers, Somerset, 1852.

[4] Wells Journal, 25 March 1852.

[5] Somerset England Gaol Registers, Wilton Gaol Description Book, 1841 – 1853.

[6] Convict Dept. Registers, Character Book (R18)

[7] Convict Dept., Superintendent Orders (SO4 – SO6)

[8] Barnes, Cameron, et al, The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840 – 1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, WA, 2010, p.540.

[9] Ibid., p.550.

[10] Ibid, p.594.

[11] Ibid., p.608.

[12] Rica Erickson, Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, at http://www.friendsofbattyelibrary.org.au/the-bicentennial-dictionary-of-western-australians.html, p.1544.