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Sarah Ann Sharpe

Sarah Ann Sharpe was sentenced to seven years’ transportation at the Midsummer East Riding quarter sessions in Beverley on 27 June 1837. The quarter sessions records state that she was a ‘singlewoman’ from Brandesburton. She was found guilty of stealing ‘one straw bonnet of the value of one shilling and one pair of cloth boots of the value of two shillings and one cotton handkerchief of the goods and chattels of one Ann Wallace’, also of Brandesburton [1]. Sarah pleaded not guilty, but was convicted and sentenced to ‘be transported beyond the seas for the term of seven years’. A report in the Yorkshire Gazette 1 July 1837 gives more details:

"SARAH ANN SHARPE (20) charged with stealing, at Brandesburton, on 24 April, one straw bonnet and a pair of cloth shoes, the property of Ann Wallace. Prisoner went to lodge at the house of prosecutrix; she stated that she had come out of Beverley jail. She remained there a week; on her going away, the bonnet and boots were missed. A Bridlington constable apprehended her with the articles in her possession. To be transported for seven years."

The criminal registers state Sarah’s ‘degree of instruction’ as ‘imp’ (presumably ‘imperfect’) and that she was 20 years old [2]. It appears that she had a previous conviction, as the Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette of 21 October 1836 reported:

"Sarah Ann Sharpe, charged with stealing on 12 October at Bridlington, one pair of boots and one pair of stockings, the property of John Emmerson. Pleaded guilty. The prisoner at the time she took the articles was a servant in the house of prosecutor. To be imprisoned six months."

After being sent to the hulks at Woolwich, Sarah was transported to Van Diemen’s Land as one of 133 female convicts aboard the ship Nautilus, departing from Woolwich on 25 April 1838 [3]. The ship’s surgeon reported that Sarah was aged 19, and was a servant: she was on the ship’s sick list for a month between May and June with ‘gastrodynia’ (a stomach complaint) [4].

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Sarah Ann Sharpe indictment 1837
Sarah Ann Sharpe's East Riding quarter session indictment of 1837 for stealing a bonnet and a pair of boots (ERALS QSF 516/B/3). Records for the East Riding quarter sessions are held by the East Riding of Yorkshire Archives and Local Studies Service.
Brandesburton cross
The East Riding village of Brandesburton, where Sarah was living before she was transported. Photo by J. Thomas. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
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Sarah Ann Sharpe register entry
National Archives Criminal Registers entry for Sarah Ann Sharpe, detailing her sentence (7 years), age (30), crime (larceny), place of sentencing (East Riding quarter sessions), and that her literacy is 'imp' ('imperfect').

The Nautilus arrived in Van Diemen’s land on 29 August 1838 [5]. The True Colonist, a Van Diemen’s Land newspaper records the arrival of the Nautilus, stating its master as J Newcombe, the weight of the ship at 400 tons, from ‘Downs 2 May’ with 132 female prisoners and government stores [6]. Tasmanian convict records contain descriptive information about Sarah, including that she had brown eyes, brown hair, had been a farm servant before her conviction; these records state that she came from ‘Stockson nr Scarborough’ – presumably Stockton-on-Tees [7]. It was usual for farm servants to move around to find employment.

A letter from the principal superintendent of convicts, Josiah Spade, written to the Colonial Secretary on 14 September 1838, detailed the distribution of the convicts from the Nautilus – 120 were assigned from Hobart (where the ship docked), two forwarded to Launceston, five were not fit for assignment, three were sick, and one (Jane Brown) died onboard [8]. Seventeen seamen from the ship were charged in the Hobart court on arrival with disorderly conduct and refusing to work on board, claiming they had not sufficient rations, ‘which was most satisfactorily contradicted’ [9].

Sarah was one of a number of prisoners given ‘memoranda of conditional pardon …until Her Majesty’s pleasure be known’ in October 1841 [10] – another source records that Sarah received a ticket of leave from the Colonial Secretary’s Office at the same time (15 October) [11]. Sarah was given a further ticket of leave two years later [12]. The Colonial Secretary’s Office announced on May 24 1844 a list of prisoners whose periods of transportation had expired and who could therefore collect a certificate of freedom, including Sarah Ann Sharp [13].

References cited

[1] ERALS, East Riding Quarter Sessions records, QSF/516/B/3.

[2] National Archives England and Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892, copy accessed on Ancestry.com.

 [3] Queensland Library, British Convict Transportation Registers online database, (accessed 17 November 2015).

[4] National Archives – Sick  List of Nautilus, ADM 101/56/1A/2 Folios 1-5

[5]  ‘Convict records’ website, based on records taken from National Archives HO11/11,  (accessed 17 November 2015).

[6] The True Colonist Van Diemen’s Land Political Despatch, and Agricultural and Commercial, Friday 31 August 1838, viewed on Trove Digitised Newspapers Website, (accessed 15 November 2015).

[7] ‘Founders and Survivors Storylines’ website, (accessed 17 November 2015); see also Tasmanian Archives CON 19/1/4, descriptions of female convicts - online images, (accessed 18 November 2015).

[8] ‘Female convicts’ website, (accessed 17 November 2015).

[9] Hobart Town Courier Friday 7 September 1838, viewed on ‘Trove’ digitised newspapers website, (accessed 15 November 2015).

[10] Colonial Times (Hobart) Tuesday 12 October 1841, viewed on ‘Trove’ digitised newspapers website, (accessed 15 November 2015).

[11] The Courier, Hobart Friday 15 October 1841, viewed on ‘Trove’ digitised newspapers website,  (accessed 15 November 2015).

[12] The Courier, Hobart Friday 13 October 1843, viewed on‘Trove’ digitised newspapers website,  (accessed 15 November 2015).

[13] Colonial Times (Hobart) Weds 5 June 1844, viewed on ‘Trove’ digitised newspapers website,  (accessed 15 November 2015).