Convict Histories

William Hall (c1835 – ?) (Reg. No. 3796)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

William Hall was born at Nottingham St Mary, to John Hall and his wife Ann. The 1851 census shows that the whole family apart from the youngest was involved in the textile trade:

1851 census

Address, 39 Stanhope Street, Nottingham St Mary. All born in Nottingham St Mary.

John Hall, framework knitter, aged 43.

Ann, wife, seamer, aged 42.

Mary, daughter, 20, unm., cheavener [sic, chevener, a person who embroidered stockings.]

William, son, 18, framework knitter.

Henry, 15, winder of cotton.

Abraham, 7, scholar.

Early Offences

William Hall’s life of crime began at an early age:

1845 – Larceny at age 10 in Nottinghamshire, seven days & whipped.

1846 – Larceny at age of 13 in Nottinghamshire, unable to read or write – No Bill.

31 December 1846 – Aged 14, stealing from the person in Nottinghamshire – No Bill.[1]

His entry in the Prisoners’ Character Book is a record of poor behaviour and punishments while in prison:

1847 – One month [hard labour?]

1849 – Three months hard labour.

1851 – Three months hard labour.

1852 – Five months hard labour.

1853 – Three months [hard labour?][2]

These offences could be viewed as petty crimes, but when William was arrested in Nottingham on 16 January 1854 the charge against him had escalated to the more serious one of garrotting, a style of street crime common at the time, which usually involved two robbers, one grabbing the victim around the throat from behind in order to render him unconscious, while the other rifled through his pockets for valuables, which in this case included 7/6d in change, a purse, a large silver pencil case and a key. Luckily for the victim this time the two attackers ran off when approached by a policeman and another witness, who together chased them until the thieves split up in different directions. William Hall was finally run down when another policeman joined the chase and he was taken to the police station to be charged with robbery with violence. Due to his previous convictions Hall was sentenced to 15 years’ transportation.[3]

He was received onboard the convict ship William Hammond from Portland Prison on 1 April 1856. He was described as a framework knitter, single, Protestant, aged 20, reads tolerably well, but can’t write. His behaviour whilst in Separate Confinement was rated as Good, in Portland Prison as Indifferent and during the Voyage to Western Australia, Very Good. The ship arrived at Fremantle on 29 March 1856.

William seems to have thrived in his new environment. From past employment as a framework knitter in a Nottingham cotton mill, by 24 February 1857 he was described as a sawyer when being treated for indigestion at the Fremantle Prison Hospital.[4] Then on 20 March 1857, he was re-admitted and treated for an injured thumb.[5]

On 11 April 1857 William was sent down to Bunbury.[6] He received his Ticket of Leave on 29 May 1858.[7] He sought employment with Marshall Waller Clifton at Australind on 19 January 1859 and was engaged by him as a carter. From then until Marshall Waller Clifton’s death on 10 April 1861 William Hall became one of Clifton’s trusted employees, working in a variety of roles. On 1 March 1859 he replaced Crowd (Crowde) as cook, then on 9 June he himself was replaced as Parlour Servant and was put to work in the garden, before being employed as a sawyer. In July 1860 he was contracted by Clifton to cut 3000 feet of weatherboards and again on 26 July 3500 more weatherboards, before being sent to take up the barn floor. On that date Clifton wrote that he had given Hall a ‘recommendation for a Ticket on his own account’. [Hall received his Conditional Pardon on 24 November 1860.[8]] While employed by Clifton, William also planted and dug potatoes and sometimes worked with cattle. At times he was entrusted to accompany the ladies on outings. He appears to have avoided involvement in staff arguments and offences such as drunkenness, although on one occasion Clifton recorded that Hall had been very late in getting back from Bunbury.[9]

Nothing further has been found re William Hall, formerly Convict No. 3796. It is possible that he left the colony at some stage.


[1] England & Wales Criminal Registers, Nottinghamshire.

[2] Convict Department Registers, Character Book (R19)

[3] Nottinghamshire Guardian, 16 March 1854.

[4] Convict Establishment Medical (M14-M16)

[5] Ibid.

[6] Convict Department Registers, Character Book (R19)

[7] Fremantle Prison Convict Database,

[8] Ibid.

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