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George Steel 1824 – 1865 Convict No. 282

George Steel was 25 years old when he and 18 year old accomplice John Martin were indicted for a robbery with violence against George Hennessy, a tailor, at the Old Bailey, London on 29th August 1849. It was a particularly brutal crime where the victim was assaulted and struck with a life preserver (club-like weapon carried for self protection), which broke his jaw. He was robbed of “1 memorandum-book, and 1 handkerchief, value 2s. 6d. 1 half-sovereign, and 6s.” Both accused men were found guilty and were sentenced to 20 years transportation.1

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Life Preservers “Often made by seamen to sell when they were back on land, they can have whale bone – which is flexible – as the shaft. Lumps of lead would be at each end and the seamen would use fine knotting to enclose the lead. Sometimes the shaft will be of Malacca cane – which is also flexible.”  https://gmic.co.uk/topic/41171-bludgeons-and-flails/?tab=comments#comment-380649

At the time of the offence, George Steel was living with his father (George Steel snr. – a cab driver) at 2 New Pye Street, Westminster. This slum area was considered one of the worst in London in the 1850’s and was known as “The Devil’s Acre”.

George’s occupation was listed as a Whitesmith. He was sent to Newgate Prison on 23rd August 18493 and after sentencing, was sent to Pentonville Prison on 27th September 18494 where he remained until 1st July 1850 and was then sent to Portland Prison to await transportation to Western Australia5.

George Steel departed Portsmouth on the convict ship Mermaid on 13th January 1851 and arrived in Fremantle on the 17th May 18516 The ship’s register described him as Convict No. 282, 26 years old, weighing 9 stone 2 lbs, 5’4” tall with dark brown hair with hazel eyes, a long face and sallow skin with a mark next to his right ear. He was of Protestant faith. He was not married and had no children.7

Two years after arriving in Fremantle, George was granted his Ticket of Leave8. He married an Irish girl from Dublin named Anne Lowham on the 5th February 1854 in the Wesley Chapel Perth.9 Seven years after arriving in Fremantle, he was given a Conditional Pardon on the 7th July 185810 and continued his occupation of Whitesmith/Tinsmith where on occasion he employed 3 Ticket of Leave men.11

George and Anne had at least 3 children; John Phillip baptized 7th September 185812, Anne Marie born 1861 and Lydia born in 186313.

Two years after Lydia was born, George Steel died of heart disease on the 11th November 186514. His widow Anne remarried in 1866 to John Watts in Perth. One of the daughters from that marriage was Emma born in 1867 and died in 1874. She is buried in the same grave as George Steel at East Perth Cemeteries15.

Also buried in the same grave is Robert Holder (1824 – 1860) and Ellen Eyles (nee Sullivan 1833-1887), who was first married to Robert Holder and then to Henry Edwin Eyles (1822 – 1902). I have not found any familial relationship between George, Robert or Ellen. ©Maggie Speak 2019

I have volunteered to write this biography for East Perth Cemeteries https://www.eastperthcemeteries.com.au

End Notes:

1.  Old Bailey Proceedings Online https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18490820-1555-offence-1&div=t18490820-1555#highlight

2.  The National Archives UK;  England & Wales Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935; series PCOM2; piece no.63. www.findmypast.com

3.  The National Archives UK;  England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935; series HO77 Newgate Prison Calendar; piece no.56; folio 14; www.findmypast.com

4.  The National Archives UK;  England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935; series HO77 Newgate Prison Calendar; piece no.56; folio 23; www.findmypast.com

5.  The National Archives UK;  England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935; Pentonville Prison Register Volume 1; series HO24; piece no. 16; www.findmypast.com

6.  Character Book, 1850 – 1857 (R17); www.ancestry.com. Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Convict Records. State Records Office of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

7.  Registers (128/40 – 43); www.ancestry.com. Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Original data: Convict Records. State Records Office of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

8.  Registers (128/40 – 43); www.ancestry.com. Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Original data: Convict Records. State Records Office of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

9.  Australia Marriage Index; Western Australia; Dept. of Justice; Registration No. 689; https://bdm.justice.wa.gov.au

10.  Registers (128/38 – 39); www.ancestry.com. Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Original data: Convict Records. State Records Office of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

11.  State Library of Western Australia (SLWA); Employers of ticket of leave men, 1850-1890 microfilm reels 3&4 (Private Archives – yellow labelled drawer in microfilm room, Battye Library)

12.  Australia Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981; database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XT6W-LZQ : 11 February 2018), John Philip Steel, 07 Sep 1858; citing Perth, Western Australia, Australia; FHL microfilm 1,363,650

13.  Australia Birth Index; Western Australia; Dept. of Justice; Registration No. 5651 for Anna Marie and Reg 7190 for Lydia https://bdm.justice.wa.gov.au

14.  Australia Death Index; Western Australia; Dept. of Justice; Registration No. 851 (Index has Reg No. 3001); https://bdm.justice.wa.gov.au

15.   https://images.findagrave.com/photos/2015/358/UNCEM_1450941081068.JPG

 

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