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Whatever happened to my Thomas?


 But this young man took to a life of crime which ended tragically for him and cut his life short.

This is the story of a young man who was born in the village of Toot Hill near Stanford Rivers Essex.

Thomas Hudgell was baptised on the 28 Nov 1819 it is thought at St Margaret’s Church Stanford Rivers. He was the third child and second son of Thomas Hudgell and Sarah Buck. Thomas juniors’ siblings were Elizabeth born 1815 and Joseph born 1818.

Nothing is ever quite what it seems. I have been researching who I thought was my maternal great great great grandfather Thomas Hudgell for over 10 years. During this time I have formed an affection for ‘my Thomas’ along with his wife Emma.

 My first view of Thomas  was on the 1841 census, a young man of 20 lodging with Charles Lowen and his wife Ann in Coopersale Common near Epping in Essex,  also in the household was the young lady that Thomas was to marry later that year Emma Radley aged 15 female servant of Essex (more likely to have been nearer 18), along with Eliza Stanton also aged 15 a female servant of the county.

 Thomas and Emma Radley married a few months later on September 5th 1841 at Theydon Garnon, a part of Epping Town. On their marriage certificate Emma is stated as 18 and the daughter of William Radley.

 Thomas’s occupation was stated as agricultural labourer but soon after his marriage he took to a life of crime and on the 19th February 1844 he was convicted of ‘Obtaining money by false pretences’ but it appears this was not his first crime:

From the Hertfordshire Mercury, 24th February 1844

 Thomas Hudgell aged 21 labourer, North Weald Essex, pleaded guilty to an indictment, charging him with having fraudulently obtained from Mary Rix, in the parish of St Andrew, Hertford, the sum of £2.8s. (equivalent 2005 £168.86) by falsely representing that her son, Henry Rix was in the station house at Ponders End for some offence he had committed, and had sent him (prisoner) for the sum mentioned, for the purpose of procuring his release. The Court were informed that the prisoner had been convicted for a similar offence in Essex.

Sentenced to seven years transportation

Thomas Hudgell

Age: 21

Place: Hertford St Andrews

Year: 1844 Herts. Quarter Sessions Epiphany

Sentence: 7 years

Ship: Maria Somes

Crime: Obtaining money by false pretences - 2 gold sovereigns, a half crown and 5 shilling and sixpence property of Mary Rix

  The Maria Somes set sail from Woolwich London for Hobart Australia on 25th April 1844 with 264 convicts on board. The journey was to take 96 days and was expected to arrive there on the 30th July 1844, but on the 27th June Thomas became ill and spent the rest of the journey in the hospital and on the 27 July 1844 he died 3 days before the end of the journey.

 It is not possible from the surgeons report that I have a copy of to make out what Thomas actually died of but he complained of aches and pains in his hips and knees, headaches and his tongue turning black. Only 262 of the 264 convicts landed in Australia. The master of the Maria Somes was John Baker and the Surgeon whose report I have was James Osborne. He died aged 22!

So it would appear that Thomas was NOT my gt. gt. gt. grandfather after all as only one of Emma’s children was Thomas’s and he died without even seeing her.

 Emma took to living with James Bettis of Stanford Rivers not long after Thomas had left for Australia, it is not known if she heard about his death or not but in the 1851 census she was still stating herself as being married, and in subsequent ones as mistress (of James Bettis) and pauper.

Her first child with James Bettis was in 1846 – James Hudgell my great great grandfather - still taking Emma’s married name but was actually a Bettis, So I am NOT of the Hudgell blood and only by name………………………….


  From the Maria Somes Log - the death of Thomas Hudgell





Pamela Bishop ©2002 - 2006  All rights reserved


last updated 16/11/2010 19:38


















'Congratulations on a wonderful family history presentation.

I just "googled" on the off chance, and struck gold!....................

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