As far as we know Edward Ricketts was the first or second child (first son) of Thomas and Mary Ricketts. No birth or baptism records have been located for him and his DOB has been deduced from various documents. His DOB varies from one record to another! We have a birth and baptism record for his sister Sarah 1802 in Clavering, Essex and as Edward's Convict record shows his Native Place to be Rickling, possibly he was born prior to his parents move to Clavering.

church rickling essex
All Saints Church, Rickling, Essex, UK

His Convict description shows him to be aged 26 in 1827 - DOB 1801
His Death details show his age at death in 1881 to be 79 - DOB 1802

Edward married Mary Knight, spinster, a minor with parents consent, in Berden, Essex, UK on 17 November 1825; the Parish record for this marriage is held.

A daughter Louisa was born to Edward and Mary c. 1825 in Clavering, Essex. Despite comprehensive searches by many people no record of this birth or baptism has been located. Louisa and her husband Thomas Chappell emigrated to Australia aboard the ship “ROBERT SMALL” 1858 bringing with them their four children Sarah, John, James and Eliza. Louisa died in Brompton, South Australia on 11 October 1899 having married John Ashworth in 1882. At that time Louisa's husband Thomas Chappell was alive and living in Narrabri, NSW - he died aged 80 in 1893.

The union between Edward Ricketts and Mary nee Knight was not destined to be long-lasting as on 10 July 1826 he was tried for burglary in the summer Assize Courts, Chelmsford, Essex. He was sentenced to Life and was received into the Prison Hulk “YORK” which was moored at Portsmouth, on 29 Aug 1826.

hulk york
Prison Hulk “YORK”

woolwich hulks
Prison Hulks on the River Thames, Woolwich, c.1856

The only known photograph of the convict hulks at Woolwich shortly before their removal in 1856.
The hulks were established at Woolwich and at other ports in the 1770s to accommodate the burgeoning prison population.
Prisoners either served their time on the hulks or waited to be transported to Botany Bay in Australia.
NOTE: Some 30 years after Edward was imprisoned on the “YORK”

Disposal from the hulk was to NSW and took place 21 March 1827; the Convict ship “GOVERNOR READY” departed London 3 April 1827 and arrived VDL (Tasmania), Australia on 2 August 1827; Master of the ship was John Young. (NOTE: NSW State Archives state date of arrival to be 31 July 1827 - does this mean the ship called at the mainland before going on to Tasmania...?)

convict record
From Tasmanian Archives - CON31-1-34_00381_L

Following is a brief extract of details on his Convict Record (top section to right of Name, Ship, Date etc.) prior to his arrival in VDL:

“Transported for burglary. Char. from Gaol. Convicted before. Indifferent. In Hulk - good, in ship good. M (married) Confessed this offence burglary Prosecution Mr Stevenson, Clavering a clergyman. Twice confined before in Chelmsford Gaol for Rows, first time a month, 2nd time 3 months. w. and ch. (wife and child/children?) at Clavering in Essex.Mother Mary Ricketts at Clavering is a widow - I worked for Mr Spencer, Clavering Hall, Farmhand, Protestant’.

There are a number of documents available from the Tasmanian Archives (some of them online) regarding Edward's time spent as a convict, including his complete Convict record from 23 June 1829 to 8 March 1844 (very difficult to decipher), letters regarding a request to marry another convict (this does not appear to have taken place), newspaper snippets of questionable ventures with his brother Samuel in Tasmania, and Ticket of Leave details.

In 1831 a letter was received by Edward from his sister Mary Anne Giss/Ginn/???. This letter was carried from England to VDL by Edward's younger brother William, also a convict. The letter is very bad quality but fairly good attempts have been made to decipher it. Dated 15 January 1831 it appears to have been written for Mary Anne and generally speaks of the misery the family has suffered since Edward was ‘taken’, not hearing from him and presuming him to be dead. It also mentions his wife having married again very soon after his departure and also her having died in childbed, also the death of the child she had borne to him. The letter is confusing as it mentions him having been married, having thought of himself as married, and his wife having said she was never married... Family members apparently have been much ashamed of the whole situation. She and her mother entreat him to write as proof that he is alive and well.

Another letter exists, written to Edward by a friend Daniel Hollingsworth - yes you guessed - another convict! It was from friends of Daniel that Edward's family in Essex first heard that he was alive, prompting the letter from his sister. The dates surrounding Edward's application to marry the convict Sarah Ashbridge and the statements in letters and official documents pertaining to whether or not he was, or ever had been, a married man, are all very close and makes one wonder if there may have been some skullduggery going on to discount his 1825 marriage and allow him to marry in Australia.

This of course is just a thought! Convicts transported for Life were generally presumed to be ‘dead", so it seems logical that if the wife back in UK was free to marry, then the convict in Australia should also surely be allowed the same option.

It is known for a fact that Edward's wife Mary did have a daughter Louisa, and that she did marry again - to John TANT and following his death, to Edward NEWMAN. She had a number of children to John TANT, both prior to her marriage and after they were wed. Entries on the Latter Day Saints website (IGI) show entries for births and deaths to Mary KNIGHT and Mary TANT, some of which even appear to have taken place prior to her marriage to Edward RICKETTS. Of course there is no way of knowing if the entries are correct, and if they relate to the Mary KNIGHT who married first Edward RICKETTS and then John TANT. They are mentioned in more detail in pages relating to Mary KNIGHT.

Mary NEWMAN, formerly TANT, formerly RICKETTS, nee KNIGHT emigrated with her husband Edward and their daughter Sarah on the ship “ROBERT SMALL” in 1858. This was the same voyage and ship mentioned above regarding the emigration of her daughter Louisa.

Upon his arrival in VDL Edward RICKETTS was assigned to Thomas George Gregson and one entry on his Convict Record states ‘April 10 1832 No 2 Chain Gang - Having in his possession a bag containing shoemakers tools and shoes part-made and part unmade when the Gang came into Barracks from other circumstances evidently showing that he had been working for himself instead of breaking stones’. (NOTE: this ties in with occupation shown amongst death details at end of page).

Edward Ricketts did not read or write so the letters regarding his Application to marry Sarah Ashbridge were written by Rev. Drought, chaplain of Greenponds. The petition was to Thomas Gregson of ‘Restdown’ property mentioning a brother James Gregson. Thomas George Gregson was the person to whom Edward was assigned.

Another letter was ‘To Edward Ricketts in the Care of Mr Grigson, (sic. Gregson), Gerico (sic. Jericho), Van Diemens Land near Colebrook turnoff on the Midlands Highway’. Also mentioned in letters is James Gregson, Thomas's brother - possibly he was in charge of Thomas's property while he was away. The Gregsons were large property owners in the Richmond area.

Sarah Ashbridge came on the “MELISH” and it is probable that her daughter Elizabeth Ashbrige died in Hobart on 2 January1833 aged 10 months.

As mentioned above it appears there was no marriage to the pregnant Sarah Ashbridge, however it is possible that Edward married Anne or Emma Saddler though no record has been located. I was given details by another researcher showing sons Edward Ricketts b. 1851 d. 1853 and Thomas John Ricketts b. 1862 d. 09 June 1952, Hill St., Hobart. The following index entries from Tasmanian BD&M are similar.

* Edward Ricketts baptized 13/12/1853 Hobart father Edward mother Anne
* Thomas John Ricketts b. 11/7/1861 Hobart father Edward mother Emma Saddler

Edward received his Ticket of leave 22 March 1844; this was held for 2 yrs 4 months with only 2 convictions for slight offences during the 14 years which gave reason for indulgence to approve his Conditional Pardon which he gained on 5 May 1846.

He died 22 March 1881; Lower Collins St (Born England) aged 79 years, Occupation Shoemaker (NOTE: 1831 entry on Convict record re shoemaking). Cause of death - Malignant disease of stomach, Alex Jas Clarke, Undertaker Collins St.

It is quite possible that Edward was born to his mother Mary before she married Thomas Ricketts which makes locating his birth or baptism record well nigh impossible! Having no Marriage record for the union between Thomas Ricketts and Mary also muddies the waters as for when and where to search; Rickling PR's have been searched looking for the surname Ricketts. An unknown surname for the mother coupled with almost illegible entries mean we may never know the details of his arrival in this world.....!

However, thanks to the wonderful records available on Australian convicts we do at least have some idea of the part of his life which was spent “Down Under”.

The above details (including dates, places and names) have been collated from information garnered from various sources including indexes, websites, certificates, publications and fellow researchers. Some of the details were supplied by descendants of Edward and Samuel Ricketts with follow-up research conducted to verify the facts where possible.

Names, dates and information are presented with the best intentions. Family history being what it is, although much time, effort and money is expended, we can never know it all!

If you notice any inconsistencies or errors, or if you feel you have information to add, please go to Contact Page to submit form, or send me an e-mail


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