200 Years Ago in Norwich : Transportation for Stealing Rope

And another in my little series of posts relating to articles in the Norwich Mercury from 200 years ago this week. The list of crimes, as usual, was extensive and it’s evident from the media of the time that Norwich was a dangerous city in which to live. Crime was seemingly out of control and the judicial system was desperately trying to deter people from committing offences by having harsher and harsher sentences. And this was certainly one of them:

“John Challis, charged with stealing a quantity of rope, the property of Samuel Jay, transported for 14 years”.

Challis had been caught committing crimes before, and indeed had been flogged to stop him repeating his misdemeanours, but that clearly didn’t work. This sentence isn’t some extreme offence either, the courts of the time liked transportation. John was 19 years old, so wasn’t really a hardened criminal and he was sent to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on the Princess Charlotte, which departed on 3 July 1824 and arrived on 9 November 1824. It’s hard to imagine just what that journey must have been like, but I’m imagining it was traumatic. Those who saw their sentences out were allowed to remain as free settlers in Australia or be given a ticket home, but the story isn’t a happy one for John. He died on 1 January 1827 at the age of 22 and he’s buried in the Cypress Street Anglican Cemetery in Launceston City.