Convict Histories

Henry Beard (1823 – 1887) (Reg. Nos. 4494 and 7604)

By Irma Walter, 2022.

Henry Beard was born at Staffordshire in 1823 to Thomas, an ostler, and his wife Maria Caton. His father died in 1841, and at the time of the census that year Henry, aged 20, a baker, was registered as living in High Street, Wolstanton, Tunstall, District 2, Staffordshire, with his five siblings (all born in Staffordshire) – Thomas (15), apprentice baker, William (13), apprentice joiner, Alfred (9), Ann (12) and Elizabeth (10). Where their mother Maria was at this time is not known. [At the time of the 1851 census, when Henry Beard was in prison, his mother Maria Beard (58), was a shop woman, living at the premises of her son Thomas (26), baker and confectioner, along with four of her other children and a nephew.[1]]

Henry Beard married Ann Tinsley on 5 February 1844 at Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.[2] She was listed as a minor, the daughter of John Tinsley. Their residence was Stoke Lane. The birth of their son Thomas was registered in June 1844.[3]

In 1849, following raids on their homes, Henry Beard was arrested with his wife Ann, Nathaniel Eardley and his wife Jane, along with William Rhodes, Samuel Rhodes and John Robinson. They were suspected of breaking into several premises to commit robbery and when police found them they were carousing and drinking illicit whisky.

Henry Beard and William Rhodes were convicted at the Staffordshire Quarter Sessions of breaking into the manufactory of Edward Walley and stealing 19 boxes of bear’s grease, which at that time was used as a hair-cream and a cure for baldness. Both were sentenced to ten years’ transportation. Nathaniel Eardley was suspected of breaking into a chapel and was convicted of another crime, of breaking into a shop at Burslem and stealing a ham and other foodstuffs. The case against Ann Beard was dismissed, while Jane Eardley and Samuel Rhodes, who faced charges of receiving a cheese, were found not guilty.[4]

Both Nathaniel Eardley and William Rhodes were sent to Van Dieman’s Land to serve their ten-year terms, arriving there on the Oriental Queen in June 1853.[5]

Beard’s prison record in England after his conviction on 3 April 1849 shows that he was discharged from prison on 10 April 1855, but this was revoked on 7 October 1856. He earned a capital conviction for his involvement in a riot while in Portsmouth Prison.[6] He was then transported to WA on the convict ship Clara, arriving on 3 July 1857. His two previous convictions for assault contributed to the length of his sentence.[7]

He was described as a baker and confectioner, aged 34, height 5’10” married with one child in England. He had dark brown hair, an oval face, a fresh complexion, and was stout, with markings described as ‘cupped on breasts, loins and left side’.[8]

Beard’s conduct after arrival in WA must have been satisfactory, because his ticket-of-leave was issued on 15 December 1857, for employment on the Toodyay Road.[9] On the 26 December 1857 he was given permission to seek employment in the Toodyay district with F Whitfield, of Wicklowe Hills. His next employer from 29 June 1858 was Isaac Doust, licensee of the Toodyay Inn, where Beard was employed as a cook for £2 per month.[10]

Henry was a personable fellow who worked hard and showed considerable business acumen. Apart from occasional lapses, he prospered as a baker and as a licensed publican or boarding-house keeper. At one stage he also leased a small farming property on the outskirts of York, where he ran some livestock.[11] Over the years from 1862 to 1883 he employed 20 ticket-of-leave men including a baker at York for seven years and three labourers.[12]

During these early years in York, he took up with a lady named Mary Batty, (née Taylor), widow of Henry Taylor who had died in 1859. They had two children, Maria Beard, born 1860, and Alfred Beard, 1862.

All was progressing well for Henry Beard before he was arrested at York on 1 March 1864, along with JW Parker’s shepherd, a man named Henry Shufflebottom (or Shufflebotham), on suspicion of sheep-stealing. At the time of their arrest there was also mention of a still having been discovered near the town.[13] Henry Shufflebottom, (Reg. Nos. 4499 and 7605), was an acquaintance of Henry Beard, having come to WA on the Clara with him in 1857. Like Beard, Shufflebottom had been charged at the Stafford Assizes, but his case involved receiving stolen goods which on 9 March 1852 earned him a seven-year sentence, with one month’s hard labour.[14] At the time of the sheep-stealing offence he was described as a potter by trade, a 40-year-old widower with two children. Shufflebottom departed for London on the Chalgram in 1880.[15]

Stealing stock was considered a serious crime and this court case, which was heard at the Supreme Court in Perth, attracted a deal of interest. Evidence was given that the two men had taken a cart to JW Parker’s place and took some sheep. When arrested, they could give no convincing evidence of where they had acquired the animals, so were convicted. In summing up, the judge stated that Beard was currently the landlord of the York Hotel and his character had been good since his arrival in WA. His final summing up of the case was reported as follows –

His Honor addressed Beard at some length; informed him that he was an example of the opportunity offered to people of his class. He was on the road to competency, if not wealth, but could not resist the temptation to relapse. He was convicted of a grave offence in 1849, and sentenced to 10 years’ transportation, and he should feel obliged to visit his present offence with severity— not so severe as to leave him without hope, but such as to mark the gravity of the offence. Shufflebottom, who was in a more humble position than Beard, and was perhaps influenced by him, would be dealt with more leniently. His Honor then sentenced Beard to 7 and Shufflebottom to 5 years’ penal servitude.[16]

Soon afterwards an advertisement appeared in the Western Australian Times —

ALL Parties indebted to HENRY BEARD, late of York, publican, are hereby required to pay the amount of their respective debts forthwith to his Assignee, MR. J. H. MONGER, Jun., York, or to MR. LANDOR, Solicitor, Perth. The receipts of no other persons (unless specially authorised in writing) will be recognised.

E.W. LANDOR, Solicitor to the Assignee. Perth, April 15, 1864.[17]

Later that year the owner of the hotel, JH Monger, advertised its availability for rent



THE newly-built “York Hotel,” containing 17 rooms, and situated in a position suitable to command the principal business in the town; will be ready for occupation about February next, and will be let, at a reasonable rate, to any responsible person, on application to Mr. J. H. Monger, Sen., Perth, or to Mr. J. H. Monger, Jun., York.

Perth, November 7, 1864.[18]

William Marwick of York posted a letter in the WA Times, announcing that he had set up a petition on behalf of the two men, claiming that it was a known fact that the evidence brought against the two men was inconclusive and that they were innocent.[19]

[In Henry’s absence Mr Marwick established a long-term relationship with Beard’s de facto wife Mary, and the couple had four children, before finally marrying in 1906. Mary Marwick died at York in 1926 at the age of 91, leaving behind a large number of descendants. Her husband William had pre-deceased her in 1925.[20]]

Two years after Henry Beard’s conviction for stealing sheep, an auction of his property was announced

MR. R. G. MEARES has received instructions from Mr. J. H. Monger, Jun.,

to Sell by Public Auction, at the New York Hotel, on WEDNESDAY, 18th April, 1866,

at 11 o’clock, the whole of the property belonging to the Estate of Henry Beard —

CONSISTING of from 10 to 14 HORSES, most of them excellent staunch Cart Horses, 18 Head of Cattle, including some good Cows in milk;  also Drays, Spring Cart and Harness, Farming Implements of every description, and a variety of useful Household Furniture.


The unexpired Lease (terminating 31st December, 1866,) of a very desirable farm,

1 mile from York, containing 52 acres, all under cultivation, and well fenced,

with good Dwelling House, and superior Stabling and Yards.

Terms at Time of Sale.

York, 31st March, 1866.[21]

The date of Beard’s expiration of sentence was 7 April 1871, but he was released early on Ticket of Leave, on 21 August 1868.[22] He went to Bunbury, where he opened a boarding house. However he drew censure from various parts of the media, both in WA and in other parts of Australia, when he had the temerity to advertise in the Fremantle Herald his intention of holding a ‘Complimentary Ball and Supper’ at his boarding house in Bunbury, to mark the official date of the end of his sentence for sheep-stealing.[23] No doubt Henry was fully aware that his advertisement would antagonise certain sections of the community. The editor of the Inquirer in Perth expressed his concern about the opprobrium it brought to the colony of WA, criticising the Herald for publishing the notice

The following paragraph from the Australasian shows that our Melbourne contemporaries agree with us as to the impropriety of publishing the announcement of the dinner given by Beard —

 “The following advertisement, amusingly characteristic of a social phase of West Australian life, appears in the Fremantle Herald: — Complimentary Ball and supper. — Henry Beard has much pleasure in informing his supporters and friends that he will give a complimentary ball and supper at his boarding-house in Bunbury on Thursday, 6th April, 1871, being the day of the expiration of the sentence received at York in the year 1864. Henry Beard proposes to give the entertainment as a slight acknowledgement of the kindness and support he has received since his commencement in business at Bunbury.”[24]

The editor of the Herald, a former convict himself, was quick to respond to the criticism, suggesting that it came from a higher authority

…We feel grieved that we have offended the cultivated sensibility of our new friend, but we would remind him that the circumstance of its being a paid communication, free from libellous or immoral matter, relieves us from all responsibility. We could refer to many equally as absurd and harmless notices in the columns of the Times and other established journals. It is certainly far less offensive than many medical advertisements that appear in our contemporary, or even the publicity of the “contagious diseases” Imperial Act. Had Mr. Henry Beard forwarded the advertisement to the editor of the Inquirer instead of the editor of the Herald, would he have refused to give it publicity on the grounds that it would have stamped his journal with a character that few journals, desirous to hold a character of respectability, would desire to possess? That the Colonial Secretary is the writer of the article in which these charges against us appear, is too transparent to escape detection.

It is not known how long Henry remained in Bunbury. By 1873 he was back in York, where he ran a bakery. His behaviour appears to have deteriorated, with frequent arrests for petty offences such as being drunk and using bad language. On 22 January 1874 he was found guilty of assaulting Mary Sawell (?) at York, with a sentence of two months.[25]

Henry Beard had formed a relationship with Mary Randall, probably in Bunbury, where in 1869 she gave evidence at the trial of James McLaren, for the murder of Margaret Regan. At that time Mary Randall stated that she was known as Mrs Weston in the town. Her mother Mary Holgate, who lived with her daughter, also gave evidence.[26]

Henry and Mary Randall had two children registered in York, Henry (1), who was born in 1873 but died the same year, and Henry (2), born 1874. Their relationship was a tempestuous one, with Henry Beard, baker and confectioner, being charged by P.C. Scott with making use of obscene and indecent language towards Mary Randall in the public street on 22 December 1877.[27] Mary was called ‘a notorious character’ during another court case, when she and Henry Beard appeared before the York Magistrate, charged with using obscene language ‘unfit for human ears’ during an argument in Beard’s house. They were each fined 40s. and costs 3s. 6d., in default one month’s imprisonment.[28]

Considering Henry’s record of bad behaviour in public, it is surprising that he was granted a license to run a boarding-house in York

Application for a Board and Lodging House License.

To the Worshipful the Licensing Justices of the Peace in and for the district of York in the Colony of Western Australia.

I HENRY BEARD, Baker and Confectioner, in the Town of York, hereby give Notice that at the next Meeting of the Licensing Justices in and for the district of York, it is my intention to make an application for a Board and Lodging House License in the premises now occupied by me, containing six rooms, and which I intend to keep as a Board and Lodging House.

I have held a Board and Lodging House License.

Given under my hand this fourth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven.

HENRY BEARD, York, 4th May, 1877.[29]

In 1877 Henry was fined for allowing drunk and disorderly persons on his premises in York.[30]

He did have his loyal supporters, however, including J. T. Monger, MLC, who left himself open to criticism when he took Henry’s side, criticising the police for charging Beard over having drunken men on his boarding-house premises. Monger thought that the police should have more important work to do than standing outside a boarding-house for an hour with an ear to the wall. He conceded that Beard was a ‘rough and ready sort of fellow, but had every reason to believe him to be truthful’.[31]

In March 1878 the following notice appeared:

HENRY BEARD, Baker and Confectioner, in returning thanks

to his numerous customers and the public generally, for the patronage

hitherto accorded to him, begs to intimate that he has taken a lease of

those commodious premises opposite to the “King’s Head” Hotel,

commencing from the 1ST JANUARY NEXT, where he trusts

by strict attention to business to merit a continuance of their favors.


7th Dec., 1877.[32]

On 10 February 1879 Beard was reported for failing to send in his returns for 31 December 1878. In 1883 he moved premises once again, advertising as follows –


YORK BAKERY. Established 25 Years.

HENRY BEARD, baker, begs to inform his numerous friends that he has removed

to Mr. J. T. Monger’s cottages, where he guarantees to supply the BEST of BREAD,

at the lowest possible price. York, Jan. 18th, 1883.[33]                                  

Henry continued to keep bad company. He was criticised for allowing ticket-of-leave men to live at his house, and on 9 March 1885 he was charged with keeping a common lodging house, open to the public, not being licensed, in accordance with 44 Vic, No. 9, section 43. He was cautioned and discharged.[34]

In June 1885 he gave evidence at the inquest into the death of William Redfern, who drowned in the Avon River –

Henry Beard, being sworn, saith, — I am a baker, and reside on the east side of the North Bridge in York. I saw the deceased on Thursday night week. He was at my house between 6 and 7 in the evening. He left close on 7 o’clock. He asked me to go over to Mr. Monger’s, but I refused; he appeared to be half drunk. He had a skin purse with a two-shilling piece in it. He went away in the direction of the bridge; I never saw him again; it was very dark.[35]

Henry Beard died in 1887.[36] He would have been around 64 years old. No record has been found of his burial in York or in the Metropolitan Cemetery Records.


[1] 1851 UK Census, Wolstanton, Staffordshire.

[2]  UK Marriage Index , Vol.17, p.147, at

[3] UK Birth Index , Vol.17, p.279, at

[4] Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Chronicle, 11 April 1849.

[5] Australian Convict records, at

[6] Fremantle Prison Registers, Register of Local Prisoners for Nos. 3655 – 5197, 1870 – 1877 (F2A)

[7] Ibid.

[8] Cupping is a therapy used since ancient times for relieving pains, or as a massage treatment.

[9] Convict Department Registers, Character Book 1850 – 1857 (R17).

[10] Convict Department, Registers, Ticket of Leave Register, 1857 – 1861 (R6)

[11] Inquirer, 4 April 1866.

[12] Rica Erickson, Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, p.174.

[13] Inquirer, 9 March 1864.

[14] Convict Department Registers, General Register for Nos. 4375-4534, 1017, 6383-6458(R24-R25)

[15] Fremantle Prison website,

[16] Inquirer, 13 April 1864.

[17] WA Times, 21 April 1864.

[18] Perth Gazette, 11 November 1864.

[19] Perth Gazette, 8 August 1865.

[20] Eastern Districts Chronicle, 23 July 1926.

[21] Inquirer, 4 April 1866.

[22] Convict Establishment, Miscellaneous – Record of Court Cases 1861 – 1914 (V23)

[23] Herald, Fremantle, 25 March 1871.

[24] Inquirer, 10 May 1871.

[25] Fremantle Prison Registers, Register of Local Prisoners for Nos. 3655 – 5197, 1870 – 1877 (F2A)

[26] Herald, 9 October 1869.

[27] Eastern Districts Chronicle, 22 Dec 1877.

[28] Eastern Districts Chronicle, 31 August 1878.

[29] WA Times, 8 May 1877.

[30] Eastern Districts Chronicle, 15 December 1877.

[31] WA Times, 31 August 1877.

[32] Eastern Districts Chronicle, 16 March 1878.

[33]Eastern Districts Chronicle York, 20 July 1883.

[34] West Australian, 21 March 1885.

[35]Eastern Districts Chronicle, 27 June 1885.

[36] WA Death Index, Reg. No. 714.