George in the Gaol

Herberte, Edward Benjamin; Stagecoach Outside 'The George in the Tree', Kenilworth Road, Berkswell, West Midlands; Berkswell Village Museum;
Stagecoach Outside ‘The George in the Tree’, Kenilworth Road, Berkswell, West Midlands – by Edward Benjamin Herberte  1885


My convict ancestors have been mentioned on this blog a few times, but unfortunately I haven’t really been able to find out much about their lives before they were transported to Australia. Since George WHITE is a fairly common name, the possible matches I find are hard to verify as being ‘my guy’, but I still like to cast my net out every now and then and see if I catch anything new.

It was while doing this that I came across another George WHITE of similar age in the Warwickshire criminal records.  He is not related to me since the record is dated 1837 whereas my George WHITE was transported in 1834, but I was curious to know more.

Warwickshire Assizes entry for a George WHITE, 1837

21 year old, George WHITE was trialled for larceny at the Warwickshire ‘County Adjourned Session’ on the 14th March, 1837.  His ‘degree of instruction’ was recorded as N, which he meant he could neither read nor write [more info].  He was found guilty for this ‘mystery theft’ and imprisoned for 6 months.

I consulted the British Newspaper Archives and found a mention in the Leamington Spa Courier, printed 4 days after his conviction:

Leamington Spa Courier, 18 March 1837, p3 – NISI PRIUS COURT

George White, for stealing one leg and one shoulder of mutton, at the George in the Tree, in the parish of Balsall, the property of John Hemmings.  The prisoner had stolen the property out of the prosecutor’s shop, late one night, and when he was pursued he threw it away and escaped. – Six calendar months, house of correction, hard labour.

Leamington Spa Courier, 18 March 1837, p3

The George-in-the-tree public house marked on map c1890

I managed to find an interesting mention of the George-in-the-Tree pub in the Dictionary of Pub Names:

The pub was once the Royal Oak, with a signboard showing Charles II hiding in the tree. A licensee with little feeling for history is said to have had the head of Charles replaced by that of George III (then the reigning monarch) when the signboard needed repainting.  A different local story is that the pub (and sign) had become the George, but after a gale one night the signboard was found to have disappeared.  Only when a large elm tree across the road shed its leaves later in the year was the board discovered in its branches…

Hopefully this other George White eventually managed to find a better life for himself too.

The George in the Tree pub in more recent times

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