When my friend Babette Smith investigated the case she discovered ‘a bit of a mystery about Jimmy's actual trial and verdict.’

In the calendar of prisoners for trial in the New Bailey, Salford, Monday 5 July 1841. (List supplied by- Wm Holker Boult, Governor.) (Preston Record Office QJC 5/1841-1843) she found -

No. 149 James Harrison
No.144 Joseph Kenny (also transported on the
Elphinstone)


No. 149 James Harrison age 17 (sic) Reads imperfectly.
Warrant to arrest 23 June, Committed 24 June issued by J. Lowett Esq.
Charged on the oaths of Nancy Sharpe and others that at Ashton under Lyne on 18th instant burglariously broke into the dwellinghouse of John Sharpe and stole:
9 books, 3 shoes, 2 bottles, penknives and other articles.
Verdict: Committed to Lancaster Castle for 12 months (sic).

No. 144 Joseph Kenny age 13 Literacy: None.
Charged by Thomas Turner and others of stealing at Manchester on 23rd instant a wheelbarrow, cart, thripple and cart axle.
Verdict: Transportation 7 years.


On the Prosecutors Bill for Joseph Kenny (QSP/3103/115) Babette found the following for an earlier offence of Joseph Kenny:
Salford April 1839 -James Parkinson, for prosecution of Joseph Kenny and another. Counsel briefed. Found Guilty but not ordered (immediately) to transportation. 4 witnesses x 6 days at 3s6d per day. There was another later Bill of Costs for Joseph dated 184.. where he was again 'found guilty, not transported'. (QSP 3153/227)

This is interesting because of the delay in transporting. It adds to the possibility your Jimmy was first sent to the Castle first.

Jimmy pleaded guilty and was part of the Gaol Delivery so there was no trial as such and no publicity in the local press either unfortunately. He was just sentenced to the Castle. Then maybe they found he was younger than he claimed at the trial or caused more trouble and sent him to the boys' hulk with Joseph Kenny.

Yet his conduct record, CON 33/25, says he was transported for stealing sixpence from a house. That does not fit well with No.149 and the offence at Ashton under Lyne. There is no mention there of the 12 month sentence but his other four offences are detailed. 1 month and then 3 months for taking a handkerchief, and two lots of 2 months for taking a book. Then there is his height. James Lancaster from Bury has looked into my questions after my request to the Roman Catholic Archivist in Salford were passed on. James pointed out that in 1998 the median height of 11 year old boys in England was 146 cm but James was 144 cm over 100 years earlier. So he was a big boy then, perhaps that explains why his age is confused.

For the present it may be best to ignore ‘No.149 James Harrison’ as those matters were excluded from the records that were sent to Tasmania.

Preparing for Transportation

In November 1841 James and the 13 year-old Joseph Kenny, were sent to the prison hulk
Euryalus at Chatham. (Lord Nelson’s courier ship at the Battle of Trafalgar (see image below) had been given this less glamorous role in 1825.) This was a holding prison exclusively for boys awaiting transportation.

When James and Joseph arrived at the ship that was moored in the River Medway they were read the rules and sent to be thoroughly washed. Then they were sent to a probationary ward where they remained for a fortnight before being assigned a permanent ward based on their conduct. Having served four gaol terms it is not surprising that his conduct was reported to be 'indifferent'.

Their days now followed a fixed routine. Up at 5am to stow their hammocks and be washed. Chapel at 5.30 and breakfast at 6. Next cleaning their ward and at 8am they start work – all in silence. Making clothes seemed to be the preferred employment. Dinner at noon followed by an hour on deck for exercise. At 2pm some go for lessons the others back to work. Supper is at 5.30 pm followed by another hour on deck before muster, prayers and bed at 8. It is not surprising that nearly all the boys preferred to be on their way to a new worlds rather than confinement on the old frigate with 150 or ‘classmates’. Some on board were as young as ten and they could not be transported until they were 14.

Life on
Euryalus was punishing in that personal freedom had been revoked but otherwise James may never had been so well looked after. As well as rudimentary accommodation and regular food, he got some education and some health care probably for the first time. In addition the five months moored in the Medway prepared him for the next phase of his life where the sea would not be quite as calm when they went on board the transport Elphinstone for its third trip to Australia.

On the 5 July 1841, a month after the Census was taken, James was sentenced to be transported for seven years for stealing sixpence from a house. By than he had already been convicted on four previous occasions for which he had served a total of 8 months gaol. In these escapades he had stolen sixpence from a house, a 'handkerchief' (silk scarf) three times and twice he stole a book. It seems likely that he changed his name from Morris to Harrison during this period to try and hide his past record. Living in abject poverty young James had probably started to steal as a child of ten, or perhaps less; the death of his mother another contributor. It appears that when the authorities discovered his real age and his past record it was decided that he would be better off on the other side of the world.
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He had been arrested on 23 June on charges brought by Nancy Sharpe and others of Ashton-under-Lyne that on 18 June he had broken into the house of John Sharpe and stole 9 books, three shoes, two bottles, penknives and ‘other articles’. A somewhat unusual collection for a boy who could not read and had only two feet! In the records of this offence he was said to be 19 years old. After the development of canals (and later the railways). Ashton became the junction of three canals, the Manchester and Ashton canal, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Peak Forest Canal. Although four miles east of Ancoats it was easily accessible to adventurous boys via the Ashton Canal. Instead of being at work in the mill a few blocks from home they could hitch a ride on a barge and soon be there.

In this modern photo of Ancoats showing the location of the cotton mills Gerrards Court is in the upper left corner