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Luke Dales

Luke Dales was sentenced to transportation at the East Riding quarter sessions on 31 December 1844. His prison guards estimated his birthdate as 1823 [1], and so he may well be the Luke Dales who was listed in the 1841 census as being an agricultural labourer, aged 15, living on a farm in Thornholme in the parish of Burton Agnes (ages on the census were often rounded up and down to nearest five). [2] The census lists this Luke as born in the East Riding of Yorkshire. On the night of the census he was living with four other agricultural labourers (ages given as 20, 15, 15, 13) and two ‘f.s.’ – presumably farm servants, in a household whose head was John Etherington, farmer.

By the time he was sentenced to transportation, Luke Dales had at least one previous conviction at the hands of the East Riding justices. Earlier in 1844, at the Easter quarter sessions, he was sentenced to two months hard labour in the house of correction for stealing one top coat at the value of five shillings, and one hat of the value of two pence and a pair of leggings of the value of two pence of the Goods and Chattels of one Henry Parker’ [3]. In the records from these Sessions, Luke is referred to as ‘late of the township of South Cave’ and as a ‘labourer’.

At the midsummer East Riding quarter sessions held on 2 July 1844, Luke Dales, now described as ‘of the township of Bentley’ was found guilty of stealing a smock frock of the value of one shilling from Joseph Hildred, and again confined to the House of Correction for two months [4].

The crime for which Luke received his sentence of transportation was tried before the Epiphany East Riding quarter sessions 1845, (actually held on 31 December 1844). In these sessions, Luke was listed as living in the parish of Leconfield. Justice Leeman sentenced him to ‘be transported beyond the seas for a term of seven years’ for stealing a top coat (valued at five shillings), from George Arnold [5].

The case was reported in the Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette on 3 January 1845:

"Luke Dales (21) was charged with stealing at Leckonfield Parks, on 10 December, a great-coat, the property of George Arnott. Mr. Liddell was for the prosecution. The Prosecutor was servant to Mr Almack, of Leconfield Park, and on 10 December left his top coat in the stable. The prisoner had pledged it at a pawnbroker’s in Beverley. Guilty; and having been previously convicted, the court sentenced the prisoner to be transported for seven years."

Luke’s age (20-21), his geographical mobility and designation as ‘labourer’ suggest that Luke was a yearly hired farm lad, changing his place of employment every year for a different farm – this was a usual form of employment for young East Riding men at this time.).

Following his conviction, Luke would have been kept briefly in either the borough gaol in Beverley, adjacent to the Guildhall, or in the East Riding prison which was part of the house of correction complex in the town [6].

Soon after the conviction, in March 1845, Luke was taken to the hulk Warrior, which was moored on the Thames. Records from the hulk give more details about Luke. He is listed as being age 21 when received onboard, and his birthdate given as ‘abt 1823’ [7]. He is described as ‘single’, and his literacy noted as ‘imp’ (presumably short for ‘imperfect’, since other prisoners are noted as either ‘read’ ‘neither’ ‘both’); it is also noted that he had been sentenced for a second conviction and that he was ‘supposed to have lived partly by depredation abt 2 years’.  The entry finishes stating ‘Connections bad’ [8].

It is not clear how long Luke spent on the Warrior, but at some point he was transported to Bermuda. The British had established a convict colony in Bermuda for the purposes of building a Royal Navy dockyard, and strong and healthy convicts were picked to spend some or all of their sentence here before returning home or being moved on to New South Wales or Van Diemen’s Land. We know that Luke was here, since he was recorded as one of 204 male convicts loaded onto the ship Bangalore,  which sailed from Bermuda for Van Diemen’s Land on 28 March 1848 [9]. The ship travelled via China and arrived and arrived at Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land on 14 July 1848 [10].

Luke was given a ticket of leave on 9 June 1848; this ticket was renewed in 1849 [11].

In Tasmanian convict records (which may date to 1849) Luke is recorded as aged 24, ‘a single man who can both read and write, a labourer, and from Baynton Yorkshire [12].

Prison ship, Warrior
An illustration of the Warrior convict hulk, on which Luke Dales was held prior to his transportation. Taken from the Illustrated London News 1846 (image held by National Archives, ZPER 34/8).
Bermuda dockyard
Bermuda Dockyard, built by convicts like Luke Dales. A convict hulk can be seen to the left. Image extracted from Bermuda, a colony, a fortress, and a prison; or, Eighteen months in the Somers' Islands by Ferdinand Whittingham. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Leconfield church
Leconfield, the East Riding village in which Luke was living when he committed the crime for which he was transported. Parts of St Catherine's Church, Leconfield, date back to the twelfth century.
East Riding Sessions House
Sessions House, Beverley, where Luke was tried and sentenced.
East Riding House of Correction
The House of Correction in Beverley, c.1860-1870, where Luke Dales was probably incarcerated prior to his removal to the Warrior. East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service, DDX734/4.
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Luke Dales indictment 1845
Luke Dales' East Riding quarter sessions indictment for stealing a top coat in 1845 (ERALS QSF/550/B/12). Records for the East Riding quarter sessions are held by the East Riding of Yorkshire Archives and Local Studies Service.

References cited

[1] National Archives, Convict hulks moored at Woolwich. Index to register of prisoners on the Justitia HO9/5.

[2] Census 1841, accessed from Ancestry.com.

[3] East Riding Archives and Local Studies Collection (ERALS), East Riding Quarter Sessions, Easter, 9 April 1844, QSF 543/B/25.

[4] ERALS, East Riding Quarter Sessions, Midsummer, 2 July 1844, QSF/544/B/5.

[5]ERALS, East Riding Quarter Sessions, Epiphany 1845 (31 December 1844), QSF/550/B/12.

[6] East Riding of Yorkshire Council museum publication ‘Criminals, Courts and Correction’ (ERYC pp. 8-9)

[7] National Archives, HO9/5.

[8] National Archives, HO9/5.

[9] National Archives, transportation register of convicts bound for Van Diemen’s Land on the Convict Ship Bangalore, pp. 281-293, HO11/15/281.

[10] State Library of Queensland ‘British Convict transportation registers 1787-1867’ online index (based on UK National Archives Home Office records), (accessed 17 November 2015); ‘Claim a Convict’ website, (accessed 18 November 2015).

[11] The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tasmania) 22 July 1848; National Archives, New South Wales and Tasmania Convict Musters, 1806-1849, HO10/4; HO10/5/19-20, 32-51.

[12] Website ‘Came to Tasmania on Bangalore 1848’, (accessed 18 November 2015).

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