Thanks for your logical and thoughtful reply to Helen. The reasons you
mentioned are particularly appllcable to the families of the people who were
transported to Australia in the early 1800s. For many years most people
tried to sweep their convict ancestry under the carpet, but now it is highly
desirable and exciting to find convict ancestry. I have always taken the
view that it was important to understand just what was happening in Britain
in the period of early transportation and all the reasons you quote were
absolutely valid. Also to be taken into account was the attitude of vast
members of the ³upper² class and a king who was rapidly bankrupting the
country for his own pleasure. The bald verdicts handed out at their trials
if one is lucky enough to find them may give some details of their
crime, but nothing of their lives and what conditions drove them to commit
them is given. One of my transportees was Irish lots to read there about
conditions in Ireland. Two were from rural families in Gloucestershire
one from a vice ridden London (read Charles Dickens Oliver Twist¹) and
another from Scotland. The years covered are from 1817-1833.
Once convicts reached Australia their whole lives and movements were
documented, and for the lucky descendants, many of these records survive, so
we know a lot about their early lives in Australia and often by the second
generation most of their descendants were leading respectable and productive
lives. They were the backbone upon which this country was built and I look
back on my five with admiration and gratitude that they had the spirit to
The same background applied to those of my ancestors who came through
choice, encouraged by the shipping agents who gave glowing accounts of life
in Australia, especially from the 1840s on. My ³free² ancestors started
coming to Australia in the early 1840s and the last came in 1858 all
leaving families contacts in Britain, so all contact was not lost. The
grandson of my Devon ancestor, Thomas Cooke, arrived in 1848.
We are also so lucky now that so many records are available online, and the
censuses from 1841 have been invaluable for tracing the people left behind.
I am looking forward to reading the web pages you have mentioned.