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William Dalby Hipwell Convict Number 4476

William Dalby Hipwell was born in October 1832 to Thomas Hipwell and his wife Charlotte Adelaide Constance Dalby.  He was baptized on October 24, 1832 at St George’s Church in Leicester, England.

The family lived at number 2 Belvior Street, Leicester. Thomas Hipwell was a hairdresser according to the 1841 and 1851 censuses.  The family paid 11 pounds per annum in rent on the property 

2 Belvior Street Leicester today

2 Belvior Street Leicester today

Charlotte Dalby Hipwell died aged 43 on the 12th of August 1846 of breast cancer. She left behind three surviving sons and one daughter. A death notice was placed in the Leicester Chronicle newspaper by her family. 

Leicester Chronicle newspaper 17 January 1846

Leicester Chronicle newspaper 17 January 1846

William became an apprentice silk hat maker to Mr J.H. Clarke.   In the 1851 census he is listed as living with his father and sister Charlotte.

 

In March 1852, William had his first brush with the law. He was arrested and tried along with four other boys, John Johnson, George Main, William Peet, and Samuel Brewin with “throwing stones off the road into the plantations”.  Peet was considered the worst of the lot with Brewin and Johnson escaping punishment. 

 

William, Peet and Main were fined 5s or a week imprisonment. It is unknown which punishment the boys chose.  

Leicestershire Mercury 27 March 1852

Leicestershire Mercury 27 March 1852

William’s next brush with the law happened a few months later. He was arrested and charged with stealing some brass from Messrs. Hunt and Pickering in June 1852. He was either lucky or innocent this time as he was discharged with no conviction being recorded against him. 

Leicestershire Mercury 5 June 1852

Leicestershire Mercury 5 June 1852

Somehow through all of his court cases he has managed to stay in his apprenticeship with Mr Clarke. This was to end with his crime that eventually led to his transportation to Australia.

 

In December 1852, William was arrested after he was caught selling a hat (some reports say he also sold a box as well) at a pawnshop owned by Mr Saulsbury. He received 3 shillings for the hat but was caught by a fellow employee of his master Mr JC Clarke. 

Leicester Mercury 13 December 1852

Leicester Mercury 13 December 1852

On 3 January 1853, William was found guilty and sentenced to seven years. After his conviction William was taken to the Leicester lock up where he spent about six weeks before being sent to the hulk Defence in Woolwich.  He was allocated prison number 1713. 

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William was one of 500 prisoners kept aboard the Defence. Life aboard the hulk consisted of either working for the prison system ie as a cook or a tailor, or laboring off the ship removing or stacking timber, unloading stores, repairing roads and other manual labour.

 

His behavior is recorded as being very good in 1854 and the surgeon recorded him as being “healthy”. 

Prison record from the Defence Hulk

Prison record from the Defence Hulk

Prior to his transportation to Australia, at some time William was moved to Chatham prison. From there on the 19th of March 1857, William boarded the Clara bound for the Swan River Colony. The Clara departed England with 262 convicts and 95 passengers aboard. It took 106 days and finally arrived in Fremantle on the 3rd of July 1857.

 

Once in Fremantle, William would’ve been taken to the newly built Fremantle prison. There his physical description was recorded and he was given the convict number of 4476. He was listed as being 5 foot 3 inches tall, with light brown hair, dark hazel eyes, a round face with a dark complexion, and a middling stout build. He had a cut over his right eyebrow and a mole on the left side of his face. His occupation was listed as being a silk hat maker.

Convict records

Convict records

After a period of probation, he was allocated to a work gang based at Mount Eliza.  There are extensive records of William being admitted to hospital during this time.  On it his occupation is listed as being a mason’s labourer. 

 It appears William’s good behavior continued once he was in the Colony as he was granted a ticket-of-leave on the 19th of February 1858. 

This would have allowed him to be either employed by a free settler or assigned to a public works party somewhere in the Colony. In 1858 that could’ve been building bridges, jetties, or public buildings like police stations, the lunatic asylum, Government House. 

Ticket of leave record

Ticket of leave record

In April 1859 he was admitted to hospital with great debility. He had been working on his own in the bush as a wood cutter.

At sometime it appears that his TOL was revoked due to bad behavior though I have not as yet found what occurred to revoke the TOL.

 

Convict hospital records

Convict hospital records

William was freed by his sentence expiring in February 1860.  There is no evidence to show what William did once he was freed from his time as a convict however in May 1861 he was once again in trouble with the law. 

Government Gazette March 1860

Government Gazette March 1860

Along with Thomas Sherwood and William West he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months hard labour for the theft of 3 goats and 21 pounds of mutton, the property of John Gallop. 

Perth Gazette; Perth Police Court; 17 May 1861

Perth Gazette; Perth Police Court; 17 May 1861

William went back to Fremantle prison and presumably a work gang again as he is listed as a labourer in another casual sick record.

 

William was released in January 1862 with 5 shillings in his pocket as a gratuity. 

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He appears to behave himself until the 27th of December 1876 when he is arrested for drunk and disorderly behavior and sentenced to 10 days jail.

 

There he vanishes until he pops again in a newspaper article on the 25th of August 1893 where he is convicted of vagrancy. When asked if he would like to go to jail, William said yes and thanks the judge. 

The Daily News, Police Reports, 25 August 1893

The Daily News, Police Reports, 25 August 1893

On the prison record for this admittance to Fremantle Prison, William is listed as a widower however I cannot find a marriage record for him. He may have been in a de facto relationship which may not have been recorded.

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From there, the records for William end. I cannot find what happened to him. There are no records for him in the WA or other states births, deaths or marriages nor a cemetery record for him. All I can guess is that he died a vagrant and ended in an unnamed pauper grave.