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Charles Drewery

Charles Drewery (sometimes spelt ‘Drury’) was a young man from Hull transported to Tasmania in 1822 for stealing two pairs of trousers. However, like many of those transported, he had previous convictions. In 1819 Charles was committed to Hull New Gaol by Thomas Carrick Esquire, Mayor, for the crime of ‘assault and ill-treating Eliz. Drury his mother’ [1].  It seems he was released from the gaol at the January 1820 Quarter Sessions, at which point his age was 19 [2][3]. Charles, now recorded as ‘aged 21 years’, again came before the Quarter Sessions in January 1821. This time he was accused alongside William Wallis of stealing unvalued goods belonging to William Read [4]. It was at the Michaelmas quarter sessions held on 18 October 1821, that the assembled justices of the peace (including Charles Whitaker Esq, Mayor of the town, Daniel Sykes, recorder, and other aldermen of Hull) sentenced Charles (listed as aged 21) to be ‘transported for seven years’ for what was apparently his third offence within two years, the stealing of two pairs of trousers from James Hatfield [5].

A petition was sent to the Home Secretary on the behalf of his mother, Elizabeth, asking for clemency for Charles, on the grounds that his she was ‘a poor widow, aged 60 of a weak constitution who is greatly distressed in mind’; the petition asked that instead of being sent to New South Wales, Charles be sent into the penitentiary, and that Charles ‘is truly penitent and will use every means to lead a good and moral life’. The petition was also signed by James Hatfield, the man from whom Charles stole trousers, and was considered by Lord Sidmouth on 5 December 1821. It was turned down. This document gives Charles’ occupation as ‘mariner’ [6].

Charles was first sent to the prison hulk Justitia, at Woolwich on the Thames. The prison registers for the hulk Justitia record that Charles was of ‘very bad character’ [7]. Charles was one of 136 convicts who set sail for Van Diemen’s Land (present day Tasmania) aboard the convict ship Prince of Orange on 1 April 1822, arriving there on 23 July [8]. The surgeon onboard this ship was John Crockett, and his journal for the voyage exists in the National Archives [8]. In the New South Wales convict ship muster rolls, Charles is reported as being five feet eight and a quarter inches tall, with grey eyes and light brown hair, and his trade is given as ‘sailor’ [8].

New Gaol, Hull
The New Gaol, Castle Street Hull, 1789. Charles was incarcerated here prior to his transportation. A wall still extant at the Hull Trinity Burial ground may have been the wall of the New Gaol prison yard. Image from the Gott Collection, A1.91 9/46.1.
Hobart, Tasmania
Hobart, Tasmania. Charles may have ended up in prison here for debt. Photo by CSIRO. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
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Charles Drewery in Convict Muster
Entry from Australian Convict Musters (National Archives HO10) showing that Charles Drewery arrive aboard the Prince of Orange and in 1826 was assigned to 'public work'.

In Tasmania, Charles was employed by a J.L Roberts in 1823, and was assigned to ‘public work’ in 1826 [9].

Charles may well be the Charles Drury who the Launceston Advertiser reported was in gaol for debt on 9 October 1834:

"In the matter of Charles Drury, a prisoner confined for debt in His Majesty’s Gaol at Hobart Town. Notice is hereby given, that the above named Prisoner did on the 26th day of September last, present his petition to the Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land, praying for relief, pursuant to the provisions of an Act entitled ‘an Act for the relief of Insolvent Debtors, now in custody for debt’."

References cited

[1] Hull History Centre, Business for the Epiphany Sessions 1820, C CQB/107/35.

[2] Hull History Centre, Calendar of all felon prisoners now held in his Majesty’s gaol’, 13 January 1820, C CQB/107/35.

[3] Hull History Centre, list of sentences from 13 January 1820 Quarter Sessions, C CQB/107/4.

[4] Hull History Centre, Quarter Sessions records January 1821, C CQB 111/7.

[5] Hull History Centre, Quarter Sessions records from Michaelmas (October) 1821, C CQB 114/4; C CQB 114/15.

[6] National Archives, Criminal petitions, HO 17/53/47.

[7] National Archives, index to register of prisoners on Justitia, HO9/5.

[8] National Archives,ships surgeons’ records ADM 101/60/9.

[9] Australia convict musters 1806-49, National Archives HO10.