Thomas Buckton – Convict

Thomas was born around 1789. The first 28 years of his life in England have not been found. We are not certain where he was born, where he lived, or who his parents, brothers and sisters were. Time and patience will reveal more.
Thomas first appears in the Gloucester summer assizes of 16th August, 1817.
His crime was to break into the dwelling house of Thomas Shepherd at Almondsbury and steal a leather pocket book containing 8 pounds (two one pound local notes, one five pound local note, one guinea and three seven shilling pieces of gold). At the time he was described as dark brown hair, light blue grey eyes, brown complexion, long face, a small cut on left side the end of his nose, rather long chin, a large mark on his belly near the naval, a mole on his left arm and a small scar, lower part fore finger, left hand. He was 5’6 ½” and could read and write. Somehow, Thomas managed to have his sentence of Death commuted to life. On the 27th March 1818, he was transported to New South Wales. At the time, his occupation was recorded as Dyer and Woollen Manufacturer. He had a ruddy complexion and hazel eyes. He supposedly came from Yorkshire.

The ‘Tottenham’ sailed from Spithead, England on 17th April 1818. She was twice beaten back, owing to various accidents and bad weather. Her rudder also had to be repaired. The ‘Tottenham’, originally built in Stockton in 1802 by Thomas Haw, was a 3-decker, second class, ship rigged and measured 102ft. 6ins long and 31ft wide. Her tonnage was 557 tons. Thomas appears several times in the surgeon’s log . On the 18th May he was treated for severe pain in his left knee. By the 9th June he had swelling in the legs and blotches. Thomas was one of 36 cases of scurvy and by the 24th June he was much improved. The voyage was very tedious and Captain Dugald McDougall arrived in Sydney, Australia on the 14th October 1818. The vessel had been long expected and looked for. 190 male convicts were landed, 10 having died on the voyage.
No record has survived of Thomas’s first days in the colony, nor did the record of his assignment.

The first 28 years of his life should be interesting as his brief 11 ½ years in the colony found him quite active.
On 6th April 1819, he married Elizabeth Curtis (free) by banns. The minister was William Cooper. In late 1820 or early 1821 James was born. We have no record of Elizabeth’s death. However on the 2nd July 1821 Thomas married Jane Thompson. Jane was born in England (probably London) in 1798. She arrived with her parents (James and Eliza (nee Sawyer)), brothers and sisters (free) aboard the “William Pitt” in 1806. In 1814 she was living at Windsor. Thomas and Jane were married at St Phillips church in Sydney. The witnesses were Carolyn Thompson and Charles Hogsflesh. At this time Thomas was a clothier.
On the 8th November 1822 Thomas was born. He was baptized at St Phillips church Sydney on the 8th December 1822. Elizabeth was born on the 28th December 1824. She also was baptized at St Phillips on the 6th February 1825.
On the 1st March 1826 “Thomas Buckson, prisoner of the crown, who had conducted himself with great insolence and disrespect towards the magistrates yesterday, whilst visiting the house to which his wife had obtained the indulgence of a licence for the last year. Sentenced to receive 50 lashes, and to be returned to Government.
In September of 1826 (a Saturday), Thomas purchased a mare from a Mr. Kelly for 35 pounds. Fortunately Thomas purchased the horse in the presence of Mr. Collins and Mr. Passfield and obtained a receipt. On the following Monday, Thomas happened to meet Kelly who called out. “You are come to take me, I know: it is a stolen mare.” Kelly made towards the back door offering to give back the money. He subsequently made his escape from the house up George Street. Thomas overtook him and gave him in charge to a constable. A court case was held on 15th November 1826.
William Collins was the keeper of the Royal Oaks public house on the Brickfield Hill.
Shortly after, on the 23rd November 1826 Jane died. She was buried in the Devonshire Street Cemetery, Sydney (CofE). Her headstone read: “Sacred in memory of Mrs. Jane Buckton, wife of Thomas Buckton, who departed this life, 23rd November 1826, age 28 years, leaving a husband and …children.”
On the 27th November 1826, Thomas petitioned Governor Darling for his freedom. He also asked that if this was not possible, that he be assigned to William Thompson, a Brewer at Brickfield Hill (Jane’s brother).
On the 19th December 1826, he was assigned to William Thompson.
On the 20th June 1827 Thomas again petitions Governor Darling to allow him to marry Ann Hance (free – “Morley” 1820). He resides at Brickfield Hill.
With the consent of the Governor on the 6th August 1827, Thomas married Ann Hance (22 years). The witnesses were William Thompson (Jane’s brother) and Dulcibella Piper.
In late 1827 James (Thomas’s first son) must have died. No record has been found of his death. However his name never appears again.

On the 17th July 1828, Francis (a son) was born. At this time, Thomas gave his occupation as brewer residing in Campbell Street. He had no land or animals.
In the 1828 Census, John Kidling gave his occupation as a brewer and that he was employed by Thomas Buxton of Campbell Street, Sydney.
In the Sydney Gazette, Tuesday, 16th February 1830, there is a public notice, the events of which lead to Thomas’s death.
“In the Supreme Court. Sherriff’s officer 12th February, 1830
Chisholm v Buckton
Wheeler v same
Cuthbert v same
Cooper v same
On Thursday next, 18th Instant, at One o’clock, on the Defendant’s Premises at the bottom of Brickfield-hill, the sheriff will cause to be sold, all rights, Title, Interest, and Estate of the Defendant in and to all those very valuable Allotments, on which are erected substantial Stores and Dwelling Houses: and, unless sufficient be realized to satisfy these Executions, all Defendant’s Stock in Trade, Brewing Utensils and Household Furniture: unless these Executions be previously satisfied.” Thomas was desperately broke.
The sheriff’s officer had issued the notice on the Friday (12th February). Between 8 and 9 o’clock, that night Thomas had been confined in No5 Watchhouse for having in his possession a gold watch, identified to have been stolen. “He was in a very unruly state, frequently calling out for drink; his intel’ects were indeed unsettled.
” He was allowed to walk the hall for the enjoyment of fresh air”  some short time after; the deceased, who had been supplied with some beer of his own brewing, became more infuriated, and his language becoming very outrageous, he was confined in a cell, where he died;”
He was found dead about 9 o’clock on the Sunday evening (14th February 1830).
Dr. Bland examined the body and was of the opinion, from the attested history of the case, that the deceased came by his death partly from the diseased state of his body, more particularly of the stomach, which is very frequently attended with a certain species of delirium, and partly from the extreme heat of the weather and closeness of air of the cell in which he was confined. Verdict: That the deceased died from suffocation, much accelerated by heat of weather, the closeness of the cell in which he was confined, and a predisposition of the state of body, arising out of a constant excess of drinking.
It was later noted that the watch had not been stolen.
On the 18th February in the Sydney Gazette it was reported that eighteen months earlier he had been worth 2000 pounds. His embarrassments are said to have arisen out of an unfortunate attachment.
Of the three surviving children, Thomas and Elizabeth went to live at Richmond with Caroline John (nee Thompson – Jane’s sister). Francis went with Ann, his mother, to the Newcastle area. She later married Thomas Hardes.
All efforts to find Thomas Buckton in England have been fruitless.

If anyone has the smallest piece of information about Thomas, it would be appreciated if they would contact George Buckton at bucktongr@yahoo.com.au or PO Box 3076, Valentine, NSW, Australia.2280.

Compiled by: George Buckton – July 2009 (Original compilation October 1986 – now revised)

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