BORN:    Circa. 1792-1851

 Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire



   William's life of crime started from a very young age, in 1804 at the age of just 12 he was tried for stealing a parcel but was acquitted.

     In 1825 he was tried for stealing a rabbit and 2/- and was proved guilty and sentenced to transportation but this never occurred.

     In October 1830 he was charged again for stealing two hurdles and several other pieces of wood for this he served 3 years and 4 months at the bridewell and was whipped.

    Finally in 1835 at the age of 43 he was convicted of larceny and transported to VDL for life.

     Arriving in Tasmania on the ship Elphinstone in mid 1836.

     Within 6 months in December of that year he was in trouble again for absconding  from Glenarchy road party and was sentences to six months hard labour in chains.

     Three years later in 1839 he served 10 days solitary confinement on bread and water for being drunk and disorderly in charge of a team of horses.

 In 1840 he was absent without leave under suspicion of robbery and harbouring for which he got 6 months hard labour

     He was given his Ticket of Leave in 1849.

     He was married to May Hopkins (or at least she was his common-law wife who died just before his last crime in England in Hertfordshire in 1835.




At the age of 12 stole a parcel

1804 Jan 3 - 1805 May 11

Correspondence and warrants

1804-5 William Hudgell prisoner, home office, conditional pardon

 Source Citation:

PRO HO 13/16


1825 – Hertfordshire Summer Assizes, William Hudgell from Gilston,   7 Years Transportation, but not transported, crime, larceny – a tame rabbit, and 2 shillings (approx £6 in today’s money 2011) the property of William Culver


1830 – Hertfordshire Epiphany Sessions,

Presentment Book, Volume 2

pp. 278 – 280

Gaol and Bridewell calendars:

Indictments William Hudgell of Saridgeworth (Sawbridgeworth) labourer, for stealing two hurdles, value 1s., and 10 pieces of wood, value 1s from Thomas Chapman……

Hudgell had previously been convicted of Felony served 3 years and 4 months at Bridewell and whipped




Commitments to the County Gaol


Hertfordshire Mercury page 2

Publication date: 

9 January 1830





Personal names: 

John Cooper ; George Potter ; James Warwick ; Thomas Harding ; William Hudgell


Hertfordshire Mercury page 3

Publication date: 

16 January 1830


Crime; Quarter Epiphany sessions



Herts Epiphany Sessions : Prisoners - theft of hurdles

Hertfordshire Mercury page 3

16 January 1830




Millbank Penitentiary nr. Vauxhall London.

     Every male and female convict sentenced to transportation in Great Britain is sent to Millbank previous to the sentence being executed. Here they remain about three months under the close inspection of the three inspectors of the prison, at the end of which time the inspectors report to the Home Secretary, and recommend the place of transportation.


Millbank Penitentiary


1835 – 4 March 1835, William Hudgell, aged 42, born about 1793, Larceny, No prosecution, Acquitted



Commitments to the Hertford County Gaol


County Press page 2

Publication date: 




Personal names: 

William Hudgell ; James Johnson ; James Miles ; John Briggs ; Joseph Ford ; John Charles ; James Hankin ; John Ansell ; Henry Cain ;




1835 – 10 October 1835

Volume 2 pp. 95-197

Recognisance’s entered into:

William Hudgell, age 43 born about 1793 can neither read nor write, Larceny, from Cheshunt, labourer,  life sentence, transported on the ship Elphinstone, crime larceny – stealing hay, value 3d, a spade worth 1 shilling and a pitchfork worth 6 pence property of Elizabeth Jessopp, widow.  (Convicted before of Felony, transported for life)



Herts Quarter Sessions : Stealing a spade and fork


County Press page 4

Publication date: 



Quarter sessions

Personal names: 

William Hudgell




p. 387 Cost of prosecuting, etc.

The court forwarded the following particulars to the Secretary of State: cost of criminal prosecutions at the Michaelmas session, £131.17s., cost of conveying William Hudgell and Robert Turner to Woolwich £4.8s.6d.



 No 3265 - William Hudgell, aged 43, born about 1792, received onboard prison hulk “Ganymede” moored at Woolwich and Devonport on 10 November 1835 from Hertford Gaol, convicted 19 October 1835 at Hertford for stealing a spade and fork, sentenced to transportation for Life, sent to VDL 12 January 1836



HMS Ganymede 1819-1838 was the French frigate Hébé captured in 1809. She was converted to a prison hulk in 1819 and broken up in 1838.

The prison hulks filled a hole in the criminal justice system following the end of transportation to North America.


These ships sat on the Thames and in Plymouth Harbour and provided a temporary home for thousands of miscreants sentenced to transportation – from murderers to petty thieves. Many of the prisoners listed aboard the hulks were later transported to Australia.


Death and disease

Mortality rates of around 30% were quite common. Between 1776 and 1795, nearly 2000 out of almost 6000 convicts serving their sentence on board the hulks died.

Many of the convicts sent to New South Wales in the early years were already disease ridden when they left the hulks. As a result, there were serious typhoid and cholera epidemics on many of the vessels heading for Australia.



Convict dress

The men were poorly dressed as well as unhealthy. They were supposed to have:

  • a linen shirt
  • a brown jacket
  • a pair of breeches.

But the men who controlled the ships often pocketed the money the government had given for the clothes.


Food on the hulks

The authorities were always keen to keep down the cost of the prisons. They wanted to avoid giving prisoners a better life than the poor had outside the hulks.

The quality of the prisoners' food was therefore kept as low as possible. The monotonous daily meals consisted chiefly of:

  • ox-cheek, either boiled or made into soup
  • pease
  • bread or biscuit.

The biscuits were often mouldy and green on both sides! On two days a week the meat was replaced by oatmeal and cheese. Each prisoner had two pints of beer four days a week, and badly filtered water, drawn from the river, on the others.

By the 18th century the death penalty began to be regarded as too severe a punishment for certain offences, such as theft and larceny, and transportation to Australia became a more usual form of sentence.

Convicts sentenced to transportation were sent instead to ‘hulks’, old or un-seaworthy ships, generally ex-naval vessels.

These floating prisons, operated by private contractors, were used to house prisoners and convicts awaiting transportation. Although originally introduced as a temporary measure the hulks quickly became a cost efficient and integral part of the British government’s response to an apparent increase in crime during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

 From 1784, the British government passed legislation authorising the transportation overseas of convicts from the hulks and the notion of using hulks as floating prisons was exported along with the convicts. Eventually convict hulks were established in several British colonies.



Voyages in 1836

17 convict ships set sail in 1836.

4274 convicts transported in 1836

William Hudgell was one of 240 Convicts Transported on “Elphinstone” 1836

Sentenced to Life at Hertfordshire Quarter Sessions

Transported to Van Diemen’s Land


  • Convict No: 37864
  • William Hudgell
  • Ship:  Elphinstone
  • Departed:  Downs 30th January 1836
  • Arrived: Australia 24 May 1836
  • Captain: Thomas Fremlin
  • Surgeon: Colin Arrott Browning
  • Destination: Van Diemen’s Lane
  • Conduct Record:   CON31/21
  • Description List:   CON18/7, CON23/2


NAME:                WILLIAM HUDGELL

AGE:                    43 on arrival in VDL

TRIED:                 19 October 1835, Hertfordshire Quarter Sessions

SENTENCE:          Life

CRIME:                Stealing a spade and fork


SHIP: Elphinstone (first voyage) – departed London/Sheerness/ Downs 30 January 1836, arrived Hobart 24 May 1836, a voyage of 115 days, carrying 240 male convicts (238 landed).  Master Thomas Fremlin, Surgeon Colin Arrott Browning

 Source Citation HO. 11/10



Australian Convict Transportation Registers 1835-1836

RELIGION:  Not known


LITERACY:  Illiterate


Police Number: 2063H


Source Citation: GAOL REPORT:  CON 31/21

Transported for stealing a spade and fork.  Gaol Report. Character and disposition bad, twice convicted, connexions indifferent, transported before.


Source Citation: GAOL REPORT:

CON 31/21

 Transported for stealing a spade and fork Gaol Report – Character and disps bad, twice convicted, indifferent, transported before. Hulk Report – Good – married – stated this offence, stealing a Hay fork and spade, prosecuted at Hertford, transported before for stealing a rabbit, 10 years ago, sentenced 7 years, serves 3 years and 4 months at the penitentiary, once for hurdles, 3 months,

 once for stealing a parcel acquitted. Widower.

(Convicted before, transported for life)


Source Citation: CON 31/21


In red left hand side:

Wife died a week before I came from Goal, Surgeons report, extremely ignorant and obstinate and abusive in his language, believed to have latterly somewhat improved



Surgeon’s General Comments: 

Folios 24-29

 The Elphinstone's crew consisted of 34. On the 9th January the guard embarked at Deptford consisting of 2 officers, 29 men, 8 women and 11 children. On the 12th January 160 convicts were embarked at Woolwich 80 of which from the Justitia and 80 from the Ganymede hulks. Another 80 prisoners 50 of whom from the former [Justitia] and 30 (boys) from the latter [Ganymede] total number at the time of sailing 325; Sergeant Bradley's wife delivered of a son during the passage giving the number 326 souls to be disposed of. The total number of deaths on board 5, two of these deaths being prisoners. The appearances of the prisoners are generally in good state of health. However according to the Surgeon which stated that he was almost imposed upon by the officers of the hulks to receive prisoners who are not fit for embarkation, one of which is George Hughes (61) embarked from the Ganymede and from the statements of his fellow prisoners it could not be known to the officers of the hulks that this man was insane and quite unfit for being on board the transport.

(Note: There is no mention of William Hudgell in the Surgeon’s Journal)


Source Citation: FAMILY – CON 31/21

 Marital status:  Married (conduct record);  Widower (conduct record)

Wife:  My wife died a week before I came from gaol



 Police/Convict No:  2063

Trade:  (Ploughman)

Height: 5’ 4 ½“


Complexion:  Brown

Head:  Oval

Hair:  Dark brown

Whiskers:  None

Visage:  Long

Forehead:  High

Eyebrows:  Dark brown

Eyes:  Hazel

Nose:  Long

Mouth:  Wide

Chin:  Medium long

Native Place:  Salesworth (Sawbridgeworth)

 Distinguishing marks:  (Tattoos)

 D.H.W. Hudgell, Anchor, M. Hudgell, Mary Hopkins, H. Hudgell, G. Hudgel, W. Hudgell, P.H. N.H. E.H. T.H. Anchor and cable circle fc fc right arm; William Hudgle, scar on left cheek,

S.H.H. I. Hudgell, S. Patmore, I. Heard losing H.R. M Eldridge, Anchor and cable, C.H. D.H., 2 anchors, ½ moon, 199 left arm;  12 circles and numerous dots back of same hand



Tasmanian Conduct Record:


Transported for stealing a spade and fork – stated this offence “stealing a hay fork and spade, prosecutor at Hertford”


Previous Convictions:


Transported before for stealing a rabbit, 10 years ago; sentenced to 7 Years; served 3 years and 4 months at the penitentiary.

Once for Hurdles – 3 months

Once for stealing a parcel - Acquitted



To be worked on the Public Works by order of the Secretary of State



   3 Dec 1836 – Public Works

 20 Oct 1837 – New Norfolk

 10 Mar 1840 - Cleveland


Offences and Sentences:

Source Citation:  CON 31/21

1 Dec 1836 – Public Works – Absconding – Hard labour for 6 months in chains on a Road Party – Sent to Town Surveyor’s Chain Gang, and at the expiration of sentence to be returned to Glenorchy Road Party – vide, Lieut-Governor’s Decision 8 December 1836

(A convict could be flogged with the cat-o-nine tails for crimes like swearing, a poor attitude, being drunk as well as stealing small items. Convicts who ran way from their work were often sentenced to work in leg irons for at least 6 months and up to 3 years. These leg irons could only be put on or taken off by a blacksmith. If the crime was really serious, they might be sent to harsh penal colonies in Port Macquarie, Newcastle or Norfolk Island.)


Newspaper report:

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas)

Page 7

Friday December 2 1836

William Hudgell and William Jones were ordered to six months

 hard labor in chains, for absconding from Glenarchy road party.


1 May 1838 – Gage – Overstaying his pass, and in a public-house

after hours – Reprimanded

29 April 1839 – Gage – Insolence and very bad language – 7 days

in cells on bread and water – Returned to Government and

recommended not to be assigned in this District again

16 Nov 1839 – Lackay – Drunk and disorderly conduct while in charge of a Team of Horses with property in the cart – 10 days Solitary Confinement on bread and water, and returned to his service

18 Feb 1840 – Lackey – Absent without leave under circu Haines creating a suspicion against him of robbery and harbouring – 6 months hard labour to the Crown – sent to Cleveland, then to Willis’s ___ for assignment – Vide, Lieut-Governor’s Decision 21 February 1840


Ticket of Leave:

Granted ticket of leave 17 May 1844

COLONIAL TIMES (Hobart), TUESDAY, 21 MAY 1844 – CONVICT DEPARTMENT – Comptroller-General’s Office, May 15, 1844 – The Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to grant Ticket-of-Leave to the undermentioned convicts:-  Wm. Hudgell, Elphinstone

New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters,  Tasmania  Ledger Returns  1849




No 2063 – William Hudgell, aged 43, 5’4”, Ploughman, Herts. Life, Hertfordshire, To be worked on the Roads



1841 –

No 2063 – William Hudgell, Elphinstone, assigned to Mr Dixon at Isis

(Isis Hills in Tasmania is a locality about 110km north of Hobart)

(HO 10/51)



1846 –

William Hudgell, Hertfordshire 1835, Life, Elphinstone 1836, Ticket-of-Leave holder

Source Citation: (HO 10/38)



1849 –

No 2063 – William Hudgell, Elphinestone 1836, Hertford 1835, Life, Ticket-of-Leave holder

 Source Citation:  (HO 10/40)



None –



COLONIAL TIMES (Hobart), TUESDAY, 6 DECEMBER 1836 – Friday, December 2 – William Hudgell and William Jones were ordered to six months hard labor in chains, for absconding from Glenorchy road party.


Convict life in the  days of the NSW penal colony

A convict’s life depended on who they worked for. A convict employed by the government had a different life to those assigned to free settlers.


In the first few years of the colony there was not a lot of food available. Crops did not grow and the colony relied heavily on supplies coming from England.

Government employed convicts were given a set
ration of 3kg beef, 3kg flour, 1.3kg maize meal and 0.9 kg of sugar per week. They were also given tea. Fresh vegetables were uncommon. Women convicts were given less rations, as their work was often not as physical.

Convicts who worked for free settlers were expected to be fed by their master.


Convicts were expected to work from sunrise to sunset. In hot weather they had an hour off in the middle of the day. The men were given physically harder work than the women. Jobs they might have had include farm labourer, bricklayer, shepherds and working on chain gangs building roads. Women often had jobs as servants.



Convicts often looked ragged and untidy. Most arrived in Hobart wearing their own clothes and with no change of clothing.

 Men wore coarse cotton shirts and trousers, waistcoats and jackets.


Each year a male convict was supposed to receive 2 jackets, 1 waistcoat, 1 pair breeches, 2 shirts, 1 hat, a woollen cap, 2 pair’s shoes and stockings.


Each woman received 1 jacket, 2 petticoats, 2 shifts (plain dresses), 2 pairs shoes and stockings, 2 caps, 1 handkerchief and a hat.

Shoes & socks

Convicts sent to Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney weren't always lucky enough to be issued with socks. And to make matters worse, their shoes weren't even specifically made for the right or left foot. See what they did to ease the pain by watching the video below


Convicts didn’t have very much time or energy to spend on entertainment.

At night, before bed, convicts had 1 hour of recreation in the yard. They might play cards (but gambling was illegal), sport or marbles.

Sunday was a day to rest. Religion was very important – more important than music or sport today – so every Sunday the convicts had to go to church. Sunday was also wash day when the convicts washed their clothes and had their weekly bath!

Punishment & rewards

A convict could be flogged with the cat-o-nine tails for crimes like swearing, a poor attitude, being drunk as well as stealing small items.
There were many well-behaved convicts and they could be rewarded by being given responsible jobs or allowed time away from the Barracks.

A convict who was well-behaved may be given a ticket-of-leave that allowed him or her to work for money and own land but they couldn’t leave the area.

A convict may also receive a pardon. A conditional pardon allowed them to live anywhere in the colony and an absolute pardon allowed them to go anywhere.

Once a sentence had been served a convict received a certificate of freedom.

But William didn't get much time to enjoy his freedom as less than 2 years later he was dead.


Convict Status: Ticket of Leave

       Death Date: 16 Jun 1851

       Death Institution: Hospital

       Death Place: Launceston Australia

       Source Citation:  CON 63/2


     Launceston is a city in the north of the state of Tasmania, Australia at the junction of the North Esk and South Esk rivers where they become the Tamar River. Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania after the state capital Hobart. With a population (greater urban and statistical sub division) of 103,325, Launceston is the ninth largest non-capital city in Australia.

     Settled by Europeans in March 1806, Launceston is one of Australia's oldest cities. Like many Australian places, it was named after a town in the United Kingdom — in this case, Launceston, Cornwall.





     The colony of VAN DIEMEN'S LAND was established in its own right and its name was officially changed to TASMANIA on 01/01/1856.

     The first settlement was made at Risdon on 11/09/1803 when Lieut John Bowen landed with about 50 settlers, crew, soldiers and convicts. The site proved unsuitable and was abandoned in August 1804. Lieut-Col David Collins finally established a successful settlement at Hobart in February 1804 with a party of about 260 people, including 178 convicts. (Collins had previously attempted a settlement in Victoria.)

     Convict ships were sent from England directly to the colony from 1812-1853 and over the 50 years from 1803-1853 around 67,000 convicts were transported to Tasmania. About 14,492 were Irish but many of them had been sentenced in English and Scottish courts. Some were also tried locally in other Australian colonies.

     The "Indefatigable" brought the first convicts direct from England on 19/10/1812 and by 1820 there were about 2,500 convicts in the colony. By the end of 1833 the number had increased to 14,900 convicts of whom 1864 were females. About 1,448 held Tickets of Leave, 6,573 were assigned to settlers and 275 were recorded as "absconded or missing". In 1835 there were over 800 convicts working in chain-gangs at the dreaded penal station at Port Arthur which operated from 1830-1877.

     Convicts were transferred to Van Diemen's Land from Sydney and, in later years, from 1841-1847, from Melbourne.

     Between 1826-1840 there were at least 19 ship loads of convicts sent from Van Diemen's Land to Norfolk Island and at other times they were sent from Norfolk Island to Van Diemen's Land.

     A census taken in 1828 found that half the population of NSW were Convicts, and that former Convicts made up nearly half of the free population.

     It is estimated that by the time transportation ended in 1868, 40 per cent of Australia's English-speaking population were convicts.

     In 2007, it was estimated that 22 per cent of living Australians had a convict ancestor.

     Crimes punishable by transportation included recommending that politicians get paid, starting a union, stealing fish from a river or pond, embezzlement, receiving or buying stolen goods, setting fire to underwood, petty theft, or being suspected of supporting Irish terrorism.

     Convicts were not sent to Australia for serious crimes. Serious crimes, such as murder, rape, or impersonating an Egyptian were given the death sentence in England.



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