The Incredible Hulk

Success – hulk similar to where George was imprisoned.    (No photographs of the Ganymede appear to exist)

After a bit of a break I ventured onto the Ancestry site and noticed that they had ‘new’ prison hulk registers and letter books. I found that my ol’ pal, George WHITE was held on the Ganymede while awaiting trial and/or transportation to Van Diemen’s Land in 1834.

UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849 for Geo White – Ganymede – 1818-1836

The Ganymede was originally the French frigate, Hébé which was captured in 1809.  She was converted to a prison hulk in 1819 and broken up in 1838  (source: Wikipedia) (AND the Index of 19th Century Naval Vessels).  Hulks were not nice places to be and it seems George was ‘lucky’ enough to stay in one for under a year.
The Intolerable Hulks by Charles F. Campbell seems like a good read.

In response to a couple of comments below (always welcome) about the fate of the prison hulk Ganymede, I feel I should mention the possibility there are OTHER ships/hulks also named the Ganymede.  The ship I refer to was formerly:

The French L’HEBE taken by Capt. SCHOMBERG in LOIRE in the Atlantic on 5 January 1809. Broken up in 1838 (source: Michael Phillips’ Ships of the Old Navy –

I have found reference to ANOTHER Ganymede – an iron clipper-barque built in 1868 which was hulked in 1912 (source).  

Although I don’t claim superior naval knowledge, it is more likely that the Ganymede my commenters refer to as being used as a convict vessel in 1839, is a DIFFERENT ship to either of these as ship names were often REUSED.

I feel I should also add here that wikipedia was not my only source. The Index of 19th Century Naval Vessels also contained this information and I have updated my source in the post to include this link.

However, if you feel you have evidence that proves these ships are in fact the same vessel I would be really interested to hear about it.

Black Sheep Sunday

Hobart Town from the New Town Road by J.S. Prout (1844)
Carrying on from last week’s Black Sheep Sunday post. I have managed to have find some more snippets of information of my Black Sheep duo – George WHITE and Elizabeth ALLEN.
World Vital Records offered free records until the 18th (tomorrow) so I took them up on their offer. I must say, I do find the site a bit of confusing. Searches for records of specific places (such as UK, Australia and New Zealand) tend to also include the American records in the results. This may be something an experienced user can combat but for me, time is of the essence!
Tucked away in the Hobart Town Gazette of 1844 were 2 references for each of my beloved convicts.

Hobart Town Gazette – 8 March 1844
Elizabeth Allen, Margaret, to Zachary Pocock, Hobart

Hobart Town Gazette – 16 August 1844
George White, George III., from J. & R. Meikle, Murray-street,
to Thomas Allcock, Hobart Town.

Hobart Town Gazette – 12 November 1844
George White, George the Third, by Thomas Allcock, Liverpool-street,
2 months, 21st ditto [October]

Hobart Town Gazette – 8 October 1844
Elizabeth Allen, Margaret, by George Lewis, Restdown, 1 month, from 10th ditto [September].

These snippets refer to whose private service they entered as a passholder.

From 1840 convicts usually served an initial period of “probation” in government work gangs, before becoming “passholders” who competed in the labour market. In the context of high unemployment, this meant that thousands of serving convicts joined ticket-of-leave holders and emancipists to roam the island in search of work. The sight of these workers, who by necessity or choice often lived rough in the bush, horrified and frightened the free settlers… (Source: Van Diemen’s Land by James Boyce – found via Google Books).

Next steps:

  • Search for other issues of the Hobart Town Gazette
  • Research the employers listed for some background information

Black Sheep Sunday

Some more details of two of my family’s black sheep:

I first mentioned George White and Elizabeth Allen in my post, Woman of my Conviction. Both were transported to Tasmania, Australia (then known as Van Diemen’s Land) for their respective crimes in the early 19th century.

Convicts in Tasmania were not allowed to marry each other or a ‘free’ person without approval. I discovered that the Archives Office of Tasmania has a free record service for records not available online and requested a copy of the original page with George and Elizabeth’s Convict Application to Marry.

George White & Elizabeth Allen – Convict Application to Marry

The entry gives their names, and the ships they arrived on – George the 3rd and Margaret. It tells me the application was sent on the 22 March 1845 and was approved.

George White & Elizabeth Allen – Marriage Record

The pair were subsequently married the next month on the 28th of April. Nothing is mentioned about their convict status and I wonder how long they had to answer to the authorities.

Convictions – update

I’ve discovered that if the record image you want is not online, the Archives Office of Tasmania has a free record service – I’ve now requested a copy of the original page with George and Elizabeth’s Convict Application to Marry.

Woman of my Convictions

I found out last year that I have convict blood coursing through these law-abiding veins.

Birmingham Quarter Session Records book

Alice Ann WHITE was born in Victoria, Australia in 1860. Her parents names on the birth certificate left no clues that both her parents were actually freed convicts. The only reference to their previous life was that both of their birthplaces were recorded as Birmingham. Now, Birmingham’s a big place – George Allen WHITE and Elizabeth ALLEN are not unusual names, so I was unable to confidently identify my George and Elizabeth from the many others in the IGI.

After a bit of digging about and requests for information online, a helpful person contacted me to say they had located George and Elizabeth’s marriage in 1845 but it was actually in Tasmania! That’s pretty much where my research into this family stayed for some time.
To cut a very, long story short, I discovered that both had been transported to Australia for various thefts – George was convicted in Bedford 1834 and Elizabeth in Birmingham 1842.
I went to the Birmingham Central Library archives last week to do a bit more research into this.


I looked in the Quarter Session Records and found the record of Elizabeth’s sentence of transportation. I was surprised to see it also mentioned that she had been previously convicted of felony.
‘Oh, well’, I thought, ‘yet another mystery I may never know the answer to’.
However, when I photographed the index page, I noticed Elizabeth Allen listed again.
The entry stated that Elizabeth had been sentenced to three months hard labour for stealing a brooch and some earrings from Ann Rock.


She obviously didn’t learn her lesson – it was less than three months after her release when she stole a shawl from Michael Kelly and was transported to the colonies for 10 years.
‘Twas a hard life in them days…