Convict Histories

Transported Twice – Joseph Rossiter (alias ‘George Seaman, George Henry Rossiter’) (1839 – 1896) (Reg. Nos. 4867 and 8978)

Joseph Rossiter was one of the more unusual characters transported to Western Australia during the convict era. He was the son of a master bootmaker, William Rossiter, and his wife Susannah (née Freke), the family living in the Parish of Bristol St George in Gloucestershire. Like his brothers, Joseph learned the boot trade at an early age, but he was a bright boy seeking a better life. Unfortunately he was also prone to criminal activities.

His history is a complicated one, with one successful (but brief) attempt to escape from Western Australia, and a later unsuccessful one. He finally left the Colony legally, in 1886, bound for Victoria, where he died in 1896.

Early History

Joseph was a 16-year-old pupil teacher in a training school when committed for trial on a charge of assault at Mangotsfield in Gloucestershire on 24 December 1855, against Matilda Powell, while armed with a pistol. He was of slight build, described as 5’2½”, with brown hair, brown eyes, a thin face, and a pale complexion. His distinguishing marks were moles on his left shoulder, upper left arm and right arm pit, and a scar on his left knee. At the time of the robbery he was in the company of another 16-year-old, Frederick Mahoney, labourer.[1] For some reason both were acquitted – perhaps they appeared to be sufficiently contrite in the eyes of a sympathetic judge.

Foolishly, Joseph was arrested again the following year, this time for burglariously entering the dwelling house of Mary Brain at Britton on 30 August 1856, stealing a gun and a case, a bunch of keys, a writing desk and other articles. He faced the same Court and this time he was sentenced to 15 years’ transportation. He was just 17 years of age.[2]

While in the Gloucester County Gaol his conduct was deemed ‘Bad’, due to an attempted escape. His record there shows that he had been once convicted, but had faced Court three times. His next of kin was named as his brother Stephen Rossiter. Despite having been baptised in a Wesleyan Chapel, Joseph’s religion was recorded as C. of E.[3]

From 9 January 1857 he spent time in Millbank Prison, then on 23 November that year he was transferred to Portland Prison, to await transportation to Western Australia.[4]

He was taken onboard the Lord Raglan, where his reading and writing skills would have been put to good use in onboard classes. [Another convict who taught classes and gave lectures during the voyage was Stephen Stout, who, like Joseph Rossiter, later ran schools in Fremantle.[5]]

Arrival in WA

The ship set sail on 3 March 1858, arriving at Fremantle on 1 June 1858. In the Surgeon Superintendent’s Journal, Joseph was described as a ‘monitor’, aged 18, able to read and write, having attended both Sunday and Day Schools.

At Fremantle Prison, with good conduct, Joseph was released on Ticket of Leave on 14 July 1860. Not much is known about his employment record after his release, although in 1861 his name appears in a case where he alleged that his employer J. Brown had provided another of his workers with a bottle of gin. (Whether this had illegally occurred after hours is not stated in the newspaper report.) The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.[6] James Brown had his revenge in the Court a week later, when he charged his clerk Joseph Rossiter with having embezzled the sum of 13/-,  and having illegally obtained 1lb of tea from the store of A. De Leech. The first charge was dismissed, but Rossiter served a month in prison for the second offence.[7]

Erickson records that Rossiter was self-employed as a shoe-maker and received his Conditional Pardon on 2 July 1863.[8] With a shortage of teachers in the Colony, Joseph saw an opportunity to gain some respectability in the community. Parents in Western Australia had little alternative but to entrust the education of their children to the likes of Joseph Rossiter and Stephen Stout, another former convict advertising his ‘Academies for Young Gentlemen’ around this time.

There were indications of rivalry between the two ex-convicts as they competed for pupils –


Removed to Bannister-street.

Mr. STOUT will be happy to receive

his PUPILS on MONDAY next,

12th instant.

Some misapprehension having existed that Mr. Stout has resigned his charge in consequence of a circular emanating from a Mr. Rossiter, to the effect that a course of instruction he proposes is the same as formerly advertised for the LATE Fremantle Academy, Mr. Stout begs to state that he has no intention of abandoning his post; he has merely, at the suggestion of his supporters, limited the number of his pupils.[9]

There was understandable disapproval from some quarters at the idea of former criminals being in charge of their children’s education –

1863 From a Correspondent – Fremantle

There is an abuse to which a portion of the public here have been subjected of late, requiring a remedy, and the remedy is in the hands of the people themselves. Several impudent fellows of the bond class have taken upon themselves to open ‘academies’ and ‘training schools’ and from time to time have obtained a good number of pupils, and considerable sums of money from the parents, (and worse, have contrived to get into the debt of good-natured tradespeople), fellows, whose qualifications for their profession, if examined, would have been found nil. More than one of these persons have bolted of late, leaving their creditors to lament their own want of sense, and their pupils worse dunces than before they enjoyed such distinguished tutelage. The hypocritical scamps should be returned to their own ‘training school’ for a period to mend their manners, and no more such blind patronage extended. A good school is really wanted in Fremantle. The Government schools do not appear to supply this want, though there can be no doubt as to the ability and qualifications of the teachers, but something in the system is not right; what that is I cannot pretend to guess. It may interest those whose concern it is. One thing is certain, that a respectable and qualified master could obtain as many scholars as he could manage. Meantime, the youth of Fremantle are increasing in stature but not in wisdom.

December 7, 1863.[10]

Escape From the Colony, 1864

Sensitive to criticism, Joseph decided that despite his best efforts, he could no longer tolerate the disrespect shown towards him. On 13 January 1864, he illegally fled the Colony, working his passage via the port of Callao in Peru.[11] After a series of misadventures he eventually made his way back to Gloucester, where he was arrested for stealing, under the alias ‘George Seaman’. He had broken into Wesleyan Chapels at Hanham and Stapleton, stealing items to sell. By co-incidence, he found himself back in the same Court, before the same judge whom he had faced twice before. As well as the stealing charge under the name George Seaman, he was recognised as Joseph Rossiter and was further charged with having returned before the expiration of his sentence. [On 2 June 1865 Police Superintendent Thomas Box claimed a £20 reward for apprehending Rossiter.[12]]

The judge gave Joseph a sympathetic hearing, allowing him to read a lengthy report that he had prepared, describing the trials and tribulations he had faced, both in Western Australia and during the voyage home. Making the most of the fascination held by the general public for reading stories of convict exploits, Rossiter’s treatise was widely published by the British press –


A convict told an extraordinary tale in the Gloucester Assize Court, on 9 December 1864. A

prisoner named Joseph Rossiter, who was also known by the name of George Seaman, was charged before Baron Bramwell with breaking into Wesleyan chapels in a remote district and stealing communion cloths and bibles.

Joseph Rossiter pleaded guilty. He was only 24 years of age, and his appearance was not that of an ordinary convict. He asked permission to read a statement before sentence was passed. Leave was given, and he read as follows —

My Lords and Gentlemen of the jury — Were there not circumstances connected with the case to dispose you to lenity, and a desire on my own part to become a free and useful member of society (for I and every other convict have failed to become a recognised one), I should desire perpetual incarceration, or resignation of this life. About 8 years ago I received from the court the very severe sentence of fifteen years’ transportation. I was a youth then, and the impression made was deep and terrible. From that moment a continuous resolution set in to raise myself to such a position that temptation to theft would be an infinite descent therefrom and impossible. I laboured through my term of imprisonment, received remission and license for exemplary conduct, and opened a scholastic institution in the town of Fremantle, near the mouth of the Swan River. By perseverance and merit I obtained precedence over the other academies there (as my circular will show); I realised sufficient to support me in a respectable position. My pupils were of both sexes, and the children of all the respectable inhabitants and Government officials of the place.

Your lordship would imagine that I had recovered even more than the position I had lost. Not so; I recovered nothing at all. To state the matter clearly, it is a Medish law with West Australian society not to admit nor recognise any person who has once been a convict. I stood uninvited at their doors to transact any business; cards of compliment assumed the form of turgid epistles, barely initialled. I passed unrecognised in the streets, even by my lady-pupils and the older boys. And, to mention a trivial but aggravating incident, the lady of a resident ship-owner explained to a missionary from Adelaide that they were obliged to allow their daughters to be taught dancing by a convict, adding, “I know that his arm must be a viper’s grasp around them.” Ah! the shrine of society requires more atonements than law! I could not stand it, and therefore petitioned His Excellency for my pardon, and obtained it.

My position was not a jot better. The brand remained. I attempted by marriage to force a footing; but — worst endeavour in my life — I drew forth the slumbering venom of colonial magistrates, commissary, and the whole free community at large, as ‘Satan among the children of Job.’ There are others worse off than myself. Poor Robson, Redpath, and Beresford are treated with every indignity and repulse. The former and latter were among my assistant teachers. The uneducated convicts and poor ticket-of leave labourers who have not the means of pushing themselves into circumstances, are reduced to the government working depots; they are crammed full of them. The struggle for life is over with them; the free class have triumphed and set up their throne of tyranny there. A chance ship for New Zealand or India is stopped with the ragged outcasts seeking shelter elsewhere. I have not time to tell of all the barbarities practised there. This drove me to break up my establishment and go to Singapore; but here, though I had arranged with the captain how to get on shore, I was ruthlessly refused landing. I hung my shirt on the yard-arm, but the navy boats refused to accept of me, and I was obliged to return to Fremantle, £45 the worse for my journey.

I next travelled to King George’s Sound, procured a box, bill of lading, and booked it for Sydney. The Peninsular and Oriental Company’s mail failing to arrive within three days of the usual time, I grew uncomfortable in the cramped position in which I had been placed, and the box was brought on deck and opened, I was taken out of it, and sent before the magistrates, mulct in £2 and costs, and forfeited my box and freight. No persuasion either could induce the company’s agent after the affair to grant me a passage in their boats to Point de Galle, and he distinctly told me if I was caught on any of their boats he would get me thrown overboard. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Singapore, and Cape Colony, the only accessible ports, are closed against us, and the V. & O. Company will not convey conditional-pardon men.

I have laid this case before the judge advocate, Sir Alexander Campbell, of the Sound district, who furnished me with a certificate of freedom, and I procured a passage in the Yankee coal ship to the Chincha Islands, on condition of working my passage. I worked unloading the coals for upwards of a month. At sea I was beaten and kicked about unmercifully for not knowing how to do things. The mate stole my old ticket-of-leave and nailed it to the main-mast for all the men to look at, and gave me the “lag” on board. The Spanish had just taken the island, and I could not get on shore before the captain had seen the consul, who, instead of attending to my complaint, wanted to hand me over to the commander of her Majesty’s war ship the Sheerwater, alleging that I was known to be an escaped convict with false documents. Here I should have had to remain six months before release. I threw his clerk down, and escaped into the streets. I was taken to a Shanghae house, but I got a flotera to take me to Pisco in the night.

I then travelled to Lima and waited for the Callao mail steamer to Panama. Thence I crossed the Isthmus, and went on to New York; and, to secure myself from all further trouble, I took the oath of allegiance, and went to settle down with my parents in Seneca. Unfortunately, I found that they had left for England previous to my arrival, and I was again left to my own resources. I obtained employment at the mills, and stayed there nearly two months. The order for draft was issued at this time, and I beheld my name, among others, posted in the district court. Now I neither had 300 dollars to procure exemption, nor a substitute, and I was not ready or willing to meet the inevitable fate that commonly awaits the Federal draftsmen, I had seen too many instances of squandered life, and I therefore arranged an exit to meet the Canard steamers at Boston. It was immaterial at that moment where I bent my steps, but I admit that I preferred the chance of obtaining employment in England rather than the Southern States or Canada.

I landed in England with a good wardrobe, but little money. My first endeavour was to obtain suitable employment, and what money I had I spent in advertisements, agencies, and circulars, my worst misfortune being the lack of reference. I pawned and otherwise sold my wardrobe to support a respectable appearance, and my applications for employment in Liverpool, London, Bath, and Bristol were without number.

Of course I was soon reduced to the work-house, and entered the union at Bath. I stayed there upwards of a week, till I was questioned about my parish, at which I voluntarily took my discharge, and then set out as a tramp on the road. I travelled from town to town to Cardiff, receiving vagrants’ tickets at the police stations for a night’s lodging. Filthy, dirty, and hungry, I came to a standstill here, and offered myself to a recruiting sergeant of the 61st Foot, who, on measuring me and testing my sight, rejected and discharged me. It was then that I determined upon this — to appeal to some benevolent person, to write a false testimonial, or obtain a pound or 30s, and emigrate. I first appealed to Miss Carpenter, of the Kingswood Reformatory, for any menial employment. I told her my circumstance, and waited several days, but received no reply. I then forged a testimonial of character, and called upon Mr Saunders, relieving officer, of Bristol, who undertook to assist me to get employment; but he kept my testimonials to prove them. This made me flee his presence, and change my name to Seamen. I then struggled to raise the 30s; for if I could get to Sydney, Melbourne, or Adelaide by emigration, I thought I could earn a few pounds on the passage out to start myself there. Also, coming from England, no doubts would be entertained about my freedom, and I should be able to realize money and move in good society. I indulged these hopes so much that I yielded to the temptation to commit the crime. I was at the time, in order to save money, living on one meal a day, and sleeping at three-penny lodging houses. Hunger and destitution preyed sore upon me, and I foolishly yielded.

The young man’s voice weakened as he proceeded, and he ended in a burst of tears. All the court looked on with sympathetic interest. Baron Bramwell looked at him and told him that was the third time he had seen his face in that court. On the first occasion, eight years before, he was almost a child, and was brought up on a charge of highway robbery. The jury mercifully viewed his conduct in the light of a boyish freak, and acquitted him. Again he appeared, while still a youth, on a charge of burglary. The judge then feelingly pressed upon the prisoner that the contumely of society for the convict was a part of his burden, and he must bear it. He ended by sentencing him to 15 years’ penal servitude from that time. The case created much sympathy and interest.[13]

Some aspects of Joseph’s story do not ring true. Whether his parents ever went to New York and returned is doubtful – his father being a boot-maker in Gloucester. No marriage was recorded for Joseph in Western Australia during his first term there. With regard to his tale of attempting to transport himself from WA into South Australia inside a wooden box, there was an instance in 1885,[14] but there is no evidence of Rossiter carrying out such a plan in the 1860s. Citing the names of three notorious fraudsters as examples of the poor treatment of ex-convicts in the Colony would have aroused the ire of those swindled by them. Many would have considered that the treatment Rossiter complained about during his first term in WA was thoroughly deserved.

Early in the following year the long story of Rossiter’s trial in Gloucestershire was reproduced in newspapers around Australia, including the Sydney Morning Herald, with the following comment from its editor –

…The remarks of the learned Judge seem to have been approved of by the English Press, but they do not appear to have discovered the full significance of the history of Rossiter. When the convict spoke of the Medish law which prevented such men as himself from being received in society in Western Australia, he indirectly proved the falsity of the plea that the West Australians were eager for the continuance of transportation to their shores. If West Australia was so very desirous of obtaining a portion of our convictism it would surely treat our Redpaths, Robsons, and Rossiters with a little more consideration. That it should be otherwise proves the views of the West Australians on this question to be identical with those entertained by the colonies of the East and South.

The moral force of Rossiter’s plea was very weak. He had transgressed the rules of society and was condemned to expiate the same. Society, however was merciful and gave him a chance of redeeming his character. Instead of acting like a sensible man, and availing himself of the opportunity proffered him, he became indignant that society did not forget his crime and at once receive him as they would one whose character was untainted. In this lay his error, and also the error of thousands like himself who have not patience to wait until the present has atoned the past. With his abilities and opportunities Rossiter might have done well, certainly much better than thousands of honest and hardworking Englishmen. That he did not do so is his fault, not society’s.[15]

Back in Western Australia, as Convict No. 8978

Joseph, by this time known as ‘George’ Rossiter, arrived back in Western Australia on 4 July 1866, onboard the Belgravia, to serve his second term of 15 years.

He received his Ticket of Leave on 16 March 1875, but in May that year, in the company of another ticket-of-leave man named Frederick Clayton Clift (Reg. No. 8951),[16] he made a second desperate attempt to escape the Colony –

Jos. Rossiter, and Fred. Clayton Clift, nominally in the employ of Mrs. Spencer, St. George’s Terrace, were charged with absconding from the District. The evidence disclosed that the prisoners had been captured at a place 290 miles from Perth, named Jerrymungo, on the route to Eucla, accompanying a team of Mr. Dempster’s; that they had three horses with them at the time of their arrest, two of which had been stolen from the Serpentine by Clift, and for which it appeared they have already been adjudged three years’ imprisonment by the Bench at the Williams. It was clear to the Bench that the object of the prisoners was to escape from the Colony, and remarked it as their impression that Mrs. Spencer’s conduct, as the employer of the absconders, savored very much of connivance in their escape, and it certainly thought that she ought to be proceeded against. They were severally sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labor, cumulative on the sentences already recorded against them by the Bench at the Williams.[17]

Both men were received back at Fremantle Prison.[18] On 4 November 1878 George Rossiter was released to Ticket of Leave. Where he found employment is not known. On 22 September 1879, as Convict No. 8978, he was convicted of  unlawful possession of fire-arms at York –

MONDAY, September 22ND, 1879.

George ROSSITER, t.l., was charged by Sergeant Back with being illegally in possession of fire-arms, for the purpose of making his escape from the colony.

Sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labor.[19]

On 30 August 1880 he was released early to Ticket of Leave.[20] As George Rossiter, he again entered the education market, employed in 1880 as a Drawing Master at the Fremantle High School, under Principal C. Trotter.[21]

Herald, Fremantle, 4 December 1880

By 1881 Rossiter had opened his own ‘Commercial School’ in Fremantle –

NEXT Wednesday a cricket match will take place on the ground at the rear of Barracks, between the 2nd Eleven of the Perth High School and the 1st Eleven of Mr. Rossiter’s School. The visitors will be captained by S. P. McKay, while Rogers will be in command of the local team. The game will begin at two o’clock in the afternoon.[22]

In 1882 at Fremantle, recorded as George Rossiter, he married Maria (or Mary) Ann Lavery, daughter of John and Jane.[23] Two children were born to the couple in Fremantle, George Henry in 1883 and Florence in 1885.

Enjoying a challenge, late in 1882 George entered into a newspaper discussion over how a Building Society’s rates were calculated –



Sir, — The interest in the Building Society’s rate question seems keener than ever: A dozen answers at least are afloat. According to the Herald, the question is thus formulated :— 300 R419-301 R417 plus 1 eq. 0 — being ‘a high order question!’ Will you kindly present the £1 enclosed to any person who can, within one month, obtain from this the value of 8.7 as answer. — I am, &c, GEO. ROSSITER. Fremantle, Oct. 19, 1882. [Enclosure received. — Ed.][24]

The public discussion over interest rates continued into the following year. George seems to have had the last word –


Sir,— The Rate of Interest Question must certainly be annoying to you; but, as it has a public interest, I beg this last insertion. I sent a copy of the Herald’s, or, rather, of Mr. Briggs’ solution of it, to the Melbourne University, and received a reply from Professor Nanson, Royal Society of Victoria, to the effect that ‘there was an error in the last step.’ That reply is in the Professor’s own handwriting. I hold the letter. As, however, the lost £10 has not been dubbed up to the Orphanages, I shall retire from the quarrel — except there are any explanations you personally wish me to make.— I am, &c,: GEO. ROSSITER. Fremantle, 6th January, 1883.[25]


FREMANTLE SCHOOLS. Sir, — I beg to deny that each of the private schools started in Fremantle a few years ago have collapsed. The Commercial School there has never fallen below its full complement of scholars ; and is certain of permanency, as the left-pupils are in good situations and giving satisfaction. I also differ from you in the matter of Government support, and affirm that every request for and concession of it to a school proves its worthlessness; a good school is self sustaining. And let me ask, if the schools you mention were dependent solely upon the efforts of their teachers, as the Fremantle Commercial School is, how long would they last? Be it also remembered that it was a pupil of this school who solved algebraically the vexed Interest Question to the satisfaction of the highest mathematical authority in Australia. — I am, Sir, Yours obediently, G.R. April 6, 1883.

[Of course we never intended our remarks to imply that ‘The Commercial School’ had collapsed, as every Portonian knows it is in a very flourishing condition. By ‘superior’ private schools we meant those in which ancient and modern languages were taught, and with this explanation we venture to maintain that our statement was correct, ‘each of them having collapsed. — Ed.][26]

In 1884, once again in trouble with some parents, George pressed charges against a couple named Charles Annois and his wife Bridget for slanderous comments he accused Mrs Annois of making in front of his pupils back in 1882. He declared that since then the number of pupils in attendance had dropped. A lengthy hearing ensued, with various witnesses called, including Rossiter’s wife and servant. Rossiter finally won damages of £10, but his reputation was in tatters.[27]

It appeared that, in April 1882, a rumour was current in Fremantle to the effect that during that month the plaintiff had criminally assaulted a little girl named Amanda Johnson, about seven or eight years of age. When it reached the ears of Mrs. Annois, she went to the plaintiff and told him that while such a report was in circulation, she could not allow her son to continue at his school. She also asked to be left alone with her son for a time, as he knew something about the charge. Rossiter assented, and when Mrs. Annois’s interview with her son was ended, she expressed herself perfectly satisfied with the plaintiff’s innocence, and did not remove her son. The rumour died out and plaintiff heard nothing more until the 10th of August of the present year, when Mrs. Annois came to the school to see him about a summons he had been compelled to take out against her husband for the recovery of 10s. 6d. for school fees. She was very excited, and, when the plaintiff went to the school door to speak to her, she abused him about the summons, and said “As you are going to extremes, I am going to extremes also, for by the living God, I will have you put in prison. That rape upon Johnson’s girl is not done with yet. I know you are guilty and can prove it.” This was said in a loud tone of voice, in the presence of the school, and the plaintiff replied, very properly, that he would make her prove it. She continued her abusive language, and Rossiter begged her to go away. She told him that she would not leave, until he had signed the receipt, which he very foolishly allowed himself to be coerced into signing, whereby when the case came on in the Local Court, he was non-suited. The quarrel got bruited abroad, and the plaintiff’s scholars decreased in number: he had also lost the promise of several new scholars, and both in reputation and pocket had suffered by the defamatory language uttered by Mrs. Annois.[28]

George won the case and received damages of £10.  Feeling aggrieved over the matter, George wrote the following letter –


SIR H. Dixon’s correction of the statement of my evidence in the West Australian’s report must include that of other newspapers, and I therefore render the matter in full; On Monday following Local Court day in Fremantle for August, Mr. Herbert Dixon called to me on passing his house and asked respecting the truth of the rumours afloat. These I stated to be false and malicious. He replied by urging me to take steps to bring the author to justice in order to clear my reputation, for, said he, ‘No parent can trust a pupil with you— I wouldn’t after that.’ — Yours &c., G. A. ROSSITER. Fremantle, Nov.17.[29]

1884 – A COMMERCIAL EDUCATION can be obtained at the Fremantle Commercial School. Pupils from other schools continue to be initiated. No holidays given. Only twenty select pupils — all found. Half guinea per month. Rapid progress guaranteed. G. H. ROSSITER. Fremantle, Dec. 21.[30]

Later that year there was an opportunity for some free advertising –

On Thursday last the scholars attending the Commercial School presented their master (Mr. Rossiter) with a number of very handsome gifts, together with an address beautifully engrossed by one of the lads belonging to this institution. The occasion being the anniversary of their master’s birthday, it was very thoughtful and good taste of the boys to thus evince their appreciation of the good feeling existing between them and their tutor.[31]

In January 1886 George Rossiter left the Colony of Western Australia, this time legally, on the ship Franklin, bound for South Australia. The names of his wife and children do not appear on the shipping list.[32]

The family ended up in Victoria, with two more children born in various parts of that Colony. Neither survived their first year – Emily (1886–1886),[33] and William (1890–1890).[34]

Their son George Henry, born in WA in 1883, died in 1919 in Victoria, aged 35 years.[35] Their daughter Florence married William James Adams in 1906.[36] She died in 1933 at Flemington.[37]

George Henry Rossiter (snr), appears to have been employed by the Malvern Council as an Inspector of Weights and Measures, and as Electoral Registrar. His death was recorded in 1896 as ‘George Henry Rossiter’, aged 55.[38] He died intestate, with his wife Mary Ann Rossiter awarded probate.[39] His estate was valued as £114.[40]

So ended the life of Joseph Rossiter, alias George Seaman, alias George Henry Rossiter.



Frederick Clayton Clift (Reg.No. 7951), a brush manufacturer, married with one child, was first convicted in 1861, along with his brother George, of setting fire to a house in order to defraud an insurance company. Both men were sentenced to 10 years.[41]

The following year, FREDERICK CLAYTON CLIFT (25), was charged on 15 December 1862 at the Central Criminal Court with feloniously being at large before the expiration of the period to which he had been sentenced; to which he PLEADED GUILTY. It was stated by Dennis Howard, warder of Millbank, that the prisoner, (with two others) had broken out of that prison, and had stated that he got out by bribing one of the warders, which was untrue. Fifteen Years’ Penal Servitude. There was another indictment against the prisoner for forgery.[42]

Frederick arrived in WA on the Merchantman, on 12 September 1864 to serve his term of 15 years. He was granted his Ticket of Leave in 1868, but was re-convicted in May 1875, along with George Rossiter, for attempting to escape from the Colony. He died at the Fremantle Prison Hospital on 30 April 1877.[43] His early death resulted from having a large part of his thigh removed due to a tumour.[44]


[1] Gloucestershire Register of Prisoners, County Gaol.

[2] Ibid

[3] Gloucester Assizes, Prison Registers, Series PCOM2, Piece No.38

[4] Millbank Prison Registers, Series HO24, Piece No.7

[5] See Stephen Stout’s story on this website.

[6] Perth Gazette, 5 July 1861.

[7] Ibid., 12 July 1861.

[8] Rica Erickson, Dictionary of Western Australians 1829-1914, Vol.2, Bond 1850-1868, UWA Press, Nedlands WA, p.464.

[9] Perth Gazette, 9 January 1863.

[10] Inquirer & Commercial News, 16 December 1863.

[11] Rica Erickson, Dictionary of Western Australians 1829-1914, Vol.2, Bond 1850-1868, p.464.

[12] Correspondence and Warrants, Series HO13, Piece No. 108.

[13] Inquirer & Commercial News, 15 March, 1865.

[14] South Australian Advertiser, 9 October 1885.

[15] Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 1865.

[16] See Appendix for details of Frederick Clift.

[17] Western Australian Times, 25 May 1875.

[18] Convict Establishment, Receipts & Discharges (Rd9-Rd9a)

[19] Eastern Districts Chronicle (York), 27 September 1879.

[20] Convict Establishment, Receipts & Discharges (Rd9-Rd9a)

[21] Geraldton Observer, 5 October 1880.

[22] Herald, 9 April 1881.

[23] Register of Marriage, No. 5297, WA Department of Justice,

[24] Daily News, 21 October 1882.

[25] Ibid., 8 January 1883.

[26] Inquirer, 11 April 1883.

[27] West Australian, 13 Nov 1884.

[28] Ibid., 13 November 1884.

[29] Daily News, 18 November 1884.

[30] Inquirer & Commercial News, 2 Jan 1884.

[31] Inquirer, 29 October 1884.

[32] Daily News, 7 January 1886.

[33] Victorian Birth & Death Registers, Nos.  22949 / 1886 & 12741/1886

[34] Victorian Birth &  Death Registers, Nos. 14757/1890 & 8106 / 1890

[35] Victorian Death Register, No. 14757/1890

[36] Victoria Marriage Register, No. 8302/1906.

[37] Victorian Death Register, No.1836/1933)

[38] The Age, 6 October 1896.

[39] Ibid., 28 November 1896.

[40] Argus, 6 November 1896.

[41] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, trial of George Clift and Frederick Clayton Clift (t18611021-908)

[42] Old Bailey Proceedings Online, trial of Frederick Clayton Clift (t18621215-130)

[43] Rica Erickson, Dictionary of Western Australians 1829-1914, Vol.2, Bond 1850-1868, p.104.

[44] Convict Establishment Medical, Daily Medical Journals (M19a – M21)