Thomas Green alias John – Convict – Part 1

In my previous blog, I was just a little bit excited, well a big bit excited, about finding a direct ancestor who was a convict. It’s like having royalty in the family. My dear Uncle Ray on my mother’s side, was very excited when I shared with him that we were related to Her Majesty QEII. This is similar, well I think so, but on a totally different level.

John Green, proper name Thomas Green, is my paternal grandmother’s great grandfather. My 3 x great grandfather.

The line looks like this:
Jenny (self) > Charlie Cripps > Norma Cripps nee Lymburner > Alice Zenobia Lymburner nee Campbell > Ann Campbell/Clinch nee Green > Thomas (John) Green. If you’re my first cousin reading this, then Thomas is also your 3 x great grandfather. After that, I too will need a chart to work it out!

This is Part one of the story. If I don’t break it up into parts, it will be way too long a read and even today, new information has come to light which has shown me that Thomas was a piece of work! But first…

(PLEASE NOTE: The numbers in brackets [-] refer to the source of the information contained in this document and are listed at the bottom.)


Following the American War of Independence in 1783, it became crucial that the British Government find an alternative locality to transporting convicts to the American colonies. As a result of the exploration of the Pacific by Captain James Cook, Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia, had been recognised for its potential. It was suggested as one of the possibilities to establish a penal colony. The decision was made in 1786 when the British government resolved to send convicts to this area. Captain Arthur Phillip was appointed as the Governor of NSW and along with the First Fleet set sail on the 13 May 1787. The First Fleet arrived on the 18 January 1788 to Botany Bay. Convicts were sent to NSW until transportation ceased in New South Wales in 1842. The last convicts to arrive in Australia landed in Western Australia in 1868.

As part of the transportation process, many records were created in Britain as well as Australia. These records recorded the legal processes, and then kept track of the convicts throughout their sentence, from their departure to their arrival, through assignment, until their freedom. [1]
(That’s why it’s great to have a convict in the family, so many records to find!)

Britain, in the late 18th century and early 19th century, was going through changing times and the same applied to Ireland. There were dramatic things happening, cities were expanding, people’s lives were being ripped apart, new laws were being created. Some convicts were literally being transported for things that twenty years earlier had not been criminal offences.

It was a period of transition from a largely agricultural society to a largely industrial society. People were going to the cities and found it hard to get jobs there, so it was easy to fall into theft just to get by or find something to eat.

But, were people better off being transported because the conditions back in England were dire? Many of the Irish were transported after 1840, in large numbers. Many were fleeing the famine, they were dying of hunger.

To put some of this into context, Thomas Green was born in Limerick, Ireland about 1809. Parents unknown. He had a brother Robert and a sister Catherine. [2] [3] [4]

Thomas married his first wife Ann Wright on the 1st May 1833 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, Ireland. [5]

From 1801 to 1922, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. For almost all of this period, the island was governed by the UK Parliament in London through its Dublin Castle administration. Ireland faced considerable economic difficulties in the 19th century, including the Great Famine of the 1840s. [6]

Thomas and Ann Green’s first child Ann was born in Dublin and baptised at St Andrew’s Church, on the 7th February 1834. [7]

At first, I thought it strange that this entry would show up in Dublin, not Limerick, until it became clear that the family would have been on the move, catching a ferry from Dublin, heading to England. In the 1841 England Census, they were living in Vincent Street, Shoreditch, London.

The 1841 Census entry reads:
Borough of Tower Hamlets, Parish of St Leonard Shoreditch, Vincent Street
Thomas Green, age 30, occupation Shoemaker, born Ireland
Ann Green, age 25, born England
Ann Green, age 6, born Ireland
Matilda Green, age 3, born England
Samuel Green, age 3 months, born England [8]

Matilda Ellen Green was born on the 15th May 1838 at the Lying in Hospital, City of London. To date, I haven’t been able to find Samuel and it seems like he didn’t go to Tasmania. It is possible that he died as an infant. (More on this story as it comes to hand…!)

Note to self: Ann Green nee Wright was born in the county of Middlesex. If I could ask them a question, it would be –  Thomas, did you meet Ann in England or Ireland?

Thomas and Ann would have been trying to make a living and feed their 3 children on the meagre money earnt as a shoemaker. Thomas decided to try his hand at counterfeiting coins. He must have realised, surely, what would happen if he was caught. Counterfeiting was a common crime in England and throughout the nineteenth century, a large number of men and women appeared in the Old Bailey (CCC – Central Criminal Court of London) charged with making and passing counterfeit coins. For this crime, capital punishment, the death penalty, was carried out.

Following the legal prohibition of most forms of trade tokens in 1817 and the collapse of small provincial banks in the financial crisis of 1825 to 1826, British cash became more stable from the 1830s. At the same time, other forms of assets that could be traded became more confusing and complicated, opening the way to new forms of fraud and theft. The death penalty for forging bank notes was changed to transportation (and later imprisonment) for life in 1832. [9]

Would he have been better off with the death penalty, or being transported to Tasmania? More on this story later…

On the 23rd December 1844, the police visited the home of John Green at No. 1 Bath-court, Bath-street, Shoreditch. John Green and his daughter Ann were held at the Newgate Prison, awaiting their trial for counterfeiting coins.

Note: Thomas Green is now known as John Green throughout his court appearances and transport to Australia.

On the 8th January 1845, John Green aged 36, Bootmaker and Ann Green aged 9, Spinster, were tried at the Old Bailey CCC for:- Feloniously, with materials producing the colour of silver, washing over counterfeit half-crowns etc. [10]

John Green was found Guilty and sentenced to 15 years transportation while Ann was given the verdict of Not Guilty. Ann? Aged 9?? What is the story here?

Many newspapers throughout England carried the story. 

Here is one article from the Morning Advertiser, 9th January 1845. 

John Green 36, and Anne Green, his daughter, aged 9, were indicted for feloniously making counterfeit coin. On a second count, the prisoners were charged with feloniously colouring counterfeit coin to resemble silver.
Mr Ellis and Mr Bodkin appeared on behalf of the authorities of the Mint.
The circumstances under which the charge was made against the prisoners were these; Serjeant Brennan of the G division of police, in consequence of information he received, went to the apartment occupied by the male prisoner and his family, and as he was about to enter, the little girl came out and clung to him, at the same time calling out “Father, father.” The serjeant disengaged himself from her, and ran upstairs, when he was met by the man, who rushed upon him and struck him, at the same time saying, “Serjeant Brennan, you—-, you have not got me yet, you —-;” and a severe struggle took place, but eventually another constable came to his assistance, and the man was secured. During the struggle the little girl made herself very active in attempting to convey away counterfeit coin, and the constables took a considerable quantity away from her. The officers eventually found 61 counterfeit half-crowns, and 40 counterfeit shillings, the whole of which turned out to be under some soft white metal coloured with silver by the electrotype process. In the prisoner’s room there were also found two electro galvanic batteries, and a number of bottles and vessels containing liquid’s for the purpose of the plating process.
The man, in his defence, asserted that the articles found in his room had been placed there for the purpose of entrapping him, and that he was innocent.
The Jury found the male prisoner Guilty, and acquitted the little girl.
The prisoner begged for mercy on account of his having a wife and a young family.
Mr Justice Patteson told the prisoner that he should have thought of his family before he committed the offence. It was one of a very serious character, and but a very few year ago would have subject him to capital punishment, and that sentences had been carried out in a great many cases. The Court therefore, felt called upon to pass a severe sentence, which was that the prisoner be transported for 15 years. [11]

Just when I thought that was the end of his story and John was to be transported to Tasmania, more information came to light today… but that is another story!

[2] Indents of Male Convicts CON14-1-29 P133
[3] Conduct Record- Arrival 4 July 1845 Convict No 15907 CON33-1-67 pg93
[4] The Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (TAHO)
[5] Family Search FHC Film No 897365
[7] National Library of Ireland; St. Andrew’s, Dublin city; Microfilm 09493/02, Baptisms 30 Jan. 1832 to 30 Dec. 1846: Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915
[8] Year: 1841; Class: HO107; Piece: 707; Book: 1; Civil Parish: St Leonard Shoreditch; County: Middlesex; Enumeration District: 1; Folio: 9; Page: 9; Line: 12; GSU roll: 438817
[9] Old Bailey Online – Currency, Coinage and the Cost of Living – Monetary Crime 1674-1913
[10 ] 8 January 1845 Newgate Prison Calendar HO77 Piece number 52; Folio number 10 also Ann Green
[11] Morning Advertiser, 9th January 1845. [Find My Past]
Dover Telegraph & Cinque Ports General Advertiser – A Clever Coiner – 11 January 1845  [FMP]
Illustrated London News – Conviction for Coining -11 January 1845 [FMP]


About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
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9 Responses to Thomas Green alias John – Convict – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Orphan Annie’s Mum | jenealogyscrapbook

  2. Pingback: Sources Used: Convict Thomas Green | jenealogyscrapbook

  3. I’m hooked. Sounds like a movie script.

  4. Eilene Lyon says:

    Oh my! Not too surprising they threw the book at him with all that evidence. Why do they drag the children into though? I’ll never get that. Quite a story!

  5. Helen carter says:

    Interesting story Jenny. Look forward to the next instalment! Helen C

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