Friday, 15 July 2016

Laurence Flynn (1808-85) From Convict to Settler (NON FICTION)

Laurence Flynn, my (John Flynn) great great grandfather, was born around 1808 in the Lismore region of County Waterford, Ireland. He married Mary Lyons in 1832 and they subsequently had seven children, one son and six daughters, by the year 1844.
Four years later in 1848, during the Great Famine, he was tried and convicted of sheep stealing.  His sentence was transportation for seven years. He served his sentence, brought his wife and four of their children out to join him and settled in the Port Cygnet district, south of Hobart where he lived out his life until his death in 1885.

Laurence Flynn was the son of Mary Flynn.  He had a brother John and a sister Mary (1). No father is listed in his Convict Indent Record. 
His wife’s maiden name was Mary Lyons, born c. 1816. Laurence and Mary were married on the 19th Jan. 1832 (2) at Lismore, Co. Waterford. They had six children – James (1833)(3), Mary (1835)(4), Catherine (1838), Bridget (abt 1840), Julia (1841)(5), Johanna (abt.1842) and another Mary (1844)(6).
One presumes that the first Mary b. 1835, died prior to 1844 as no further record of her can be found.

Entry for Laurence and Mary Flinn, Marriage in the parish of Lismore, Co. Waterford.
Record of Marriages from 1822-1839, page 31.  Last entry on right, No 19.

Laurence was a forty year old labourer with a wife and six children to support when he was  charged with stealing a sheep from Jack Morrisey, County Waterford. He was tried in the Lismore Assizes, this was his first offence. He was convicted and his sentence was “To be Transported for Seven Years & Kept to Hard Labour til Transported”.  His 15 year old son, James, was also tried and convicted with him of the same offence and he was sentenced to 3 months gaol. James was released from gaol on completion of his sentence and was not transported. The date was 4th July 1848 (7) and it was a time of famine. 

The Great Famine or the Great Hunger was a period of mass starvation, disease, death and emigration between the years 1845-1852. During this famine, approximately 1 million died and another 1 million emigrated from Ireland.

Prison records show that Laurence was held in Waterford City Gaol and the record below  lists his residence as Carrignagower, Lismore, which is a small hilly, rural area a few miles outside Lismore.

Entry for Laurence and James Flynn in the Waterford Prison General Register 1846-1849. (Left side page)

Entry for Laurence and James Flynn in the Waterford Prison General Register 1846-1849. (Right side page)

On the 4th April 1849 he was transferred to Spike Island, Cork Harbour, near Queenstown (now Cobh) Co Cork, where he  spent the next two years imprisoned at hard labour, waiting for a convict ship to take him to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL)(7).

Laurence was very lucky to have survived this incarceration and penal servitude as records indicate that over 1000 convicts were buried on the island by the time the prison closed in 1883, with most dying between 1847 and 1857, the period when he was there. The prisoners were unsuited to the hard labour due to their general debility. The convicts were responsible for the landscape of the island, extensive naval docks on nearby Haulbowline Island and many other military installations around Cork Harbour, where Spike Island was situated.

Laurence finally departed 13 September 1850 from Queenstown and arrived in Hobart Town, VDL on 13 December 1850 on the ship Hyderabad (3), voyage No. 322. The ship’s captain was T.A. Castle and there were 300 convicts onboard. His Conduct Record (8) for the voyage gives the following information. 
Spike Island Prison Report: Good. 
Surgeon’s report: Good. 
Description: Age 42, Height, 5’ 6½”, fresh complexion with grey hair, brown whiskers and eyebrows. Grey eyes, large nose, long chin, mouth medium, oval face and no distinguishing features. His trade was Farm Labourer; he was Roman Catholic and could read a little. 
His Police No. was 23504.

Entry for Laurence Flynn in the Convict Conduct Register, CON 33-1-100, Image 109. TAHO

Postcard of Hobart Town 1848. Artist FGS de Wesselow. Private Collection

On the same voyage, was a convict Thomas Donovan. Whether Laurence previously knew Thomas in Ireland or just became acquainted on the 'Hyderabad' is a matter for conjecture but interestingly their families were united by marriage when Thomas’ son Peter married Laurence’s granddaughter Catherine Flynn in 1881 in the Port Cygnet area where they all settled. 

The ProbationSystem was in operation in VDL when Laurence arrived.  Laurence’s Probation period began with him working with the Gang stationed on The Old Wharf.  This probation lasted from December 23, 1850 until March 19, 1851, a period of three months and twenty one days(8). During this time he would have been held with the other male convicts at the Prisoners’ Barracks in Campbell St. This short probation period can possibly be explained by the fact that he had already spent two years in prison in Ireland prior to boarding the Hyderabad and also his good conduct record. 
Following this probation Lawrence worked for Mr George Ford on the Government Domain for a 3-4 week period in May 1851 (8). Presumably he would have received some small payment for this, which would have gone to pay for his accommodation.

Laurence was recommended for a Ticket of Leave on the 3rd of August 1852(9), after applying for it on the 15th of June 1852(8). Tickets of Leave allowed convicts to live and work for wages wherever they wanted to within a certain Police District. They were generally given to convicts with good behaviour after they had served a certain amount of their sentence. This would appear to be the case for Laurence as his Conduct Record shows no evidence of magistrate appearances. Once a year the convict had to report in at the ticket of leave muster or else the ticket was revoked.

Launceston Examiner (Tas.:1842-1899) Saturday 31 July 1852, page 8.
Convict Dept Ticket of Leave Granted.

After receiving his Ticket of Leave Laurence applied to bring his family out from Ireland, however he was informed on the 29 November 1852 that he would have to pay half of the cost of passage before his application could be completed(8).

 Entry for Laurence Flynn in the Convict Conduct Register CON 33-1-100 Image 109. TAHO

During the period between receiving his ticket of leave and his family arriving, Laurence was granted his Conditional Pardon on the 14th of June 1853(10), effectively making him a free man, allowed to leave the colony but not to return to England. 

Conditional Pardon Entry for Laurence Flynn CON 22-1-8, page 673. TAHO

His Certificate of Freedom was granted on the 6th of October 1853(11), signalling the completion of his sentence.  He had served only five years of a seven year sentence.  This was probably due to the practice of early governors granting pardons as a cost saving process.
Entry for Laurence Flynn for Certificate of Freedom.
Laurence must have been a hard worker, because within four years of his application to bring out his family he had raised the necessary eighty pounds. This was the amount of the bounty which had to be paid to the master of the vessel, Sir W.F. Williams, for conveying his family to VDL. Laurence’s wife, Mary (40), and four of their children - son James (22) and daughters, Bridget (16), Johanna (14) and Mary (12) arrived in VDL on the 2nd of December 1856(12). Julia is not on the passenger list but research has found a Julia Flynn, a servant (cook), in the household of Jas Barry in the 1871 England Census for Lewisham, Kent, England. The record shows Julia as 28 years and from Co. Waterford. The age is similar to Laurence and Mary’s daughter Julia, but further research is necessary to validate her identity.

Entry for Mary Flynn and children in the Descriptive List of Immigrants, December, 1856, Tasmania, Australia, Passenger Arrivals, 1829-1957. 
NB: The  bounty of 80 pounds is listed in the far right hand column.

Later Laurence applied for another daughter - Catherine to be sent out to VDL.  She left London on the 'Broadwater' on 10th May 1864 and arrived in Hobart Town on 31st August 1864.
As part of the agreement for her transport she was to go to Mrs Wilkinson at Campbell St, Hobart Town.
Catherine was aged 26, RC religion, could read and a general servant.  Her native place was Co. Waterford, Ireland. (13)

Catherine Flynn: Description list of Immigrants, 'Broadwater' 1864.      (First entry on list)

The Flynn family settled at Woodstock (now known as Pelverata) in the Port Cygnet area, south of Hobart where they worked a small farm. The Irish convicts who settled in the Port Cygnet area were not well educated, most signing documents with a cross. They were predominantly Roman Catholic and more active religiously than the protestant settlers. They were the first denomination to have a church built there. This tended to have the effect of retaining the Irish people in the district. After working for wages or leasing small land holdings, most pardoned convicts were able, in time, to purchase their own land through hard work and saving what money they could. 

Laurence Flynn and his son James purchased 50 acres in partnership in April 1870 (14) for the total price of sixty pounds, twelve shillings and sixpence. In July 1884 Laurence purchased a further 15 acres in his own name for the sum of twenty pounds (15). Laurence appears to have been a good citizen and continued living in the region until his death in 1885. He was survived by his wife and four children. 
After arriving in VDL as a convict with nothing except the clothes on his back, he was able to provide his heirs with cash and property. Certainly it could be said he left his children with the opportunity for a better life than they would have had in Ireland.

Laurence Flynn Gravestone at Roman Catholic Cemetery, Port Cygnet. Private Collection



(1)  TAHO, CON14-1-43, Images 42 & 43 Convict Indent Register, Lawrence Flynn

(2) PARISH OF LISMORE, CO. WATERFORD Record of Marriages from 1822-1839, page 31. Laurence and Mary Flinn.

(3)  Church Baptism Record. Parish of Lismore, Co. Waterford. James O'Flynn baptised 19 Feb 1833. Father Laurence O'Flynn, Mother Mary Lyons.

(4)  Church Baptism Record. Parish of Cappoquin. Co. Waterford. Mary Flynn baptised 04 Mar 1835. Father Laurence Flynn, Mother Mary Flynn.

(5)  Church Baptism Record. Parish of Lismore. Co. Waterford. Julia Flynn baptised 17 May 1841. Father Laurence Flynn, Mother Flynn.

(6)  Church Baptism Record. Parish of Lismore. Co. Waterford. Mary Flynn baptised 26 Feb 1844. Father Laurence Flynn, Mother Mary Flynn.

(7)  Irish Prison Register 1846-1849.  Book No. 1/39/2 Item 6.

(8)  TAHO, CON33-1-100, Image 109 Convict Conduct Record, Laurence Flynn

(9)  Launceston Examiner (Tas., 1842-1899) Saturday 31 July 1852, page 8.  Convict Department Tickets-of-Leave Granted. Lawrence Flynn.

(10)  Tasmania, Australia, Convict Court and Selected Records. 1800-1899 (Provo.UT., USA) Conditional Pardon, Lawrence Flynn, 14-6/1853

(11))  Tasmania, Australia, Convict Court and Selected Records. 1800-1899 (Provo.UT., USA) Certificate of Freedom, Laurence Flynn, 6th Oct 1853

(12)  Mary Flynn and four children, 02 Dec 1856.  Tasmania, Australia, Passenger Arrivals, 1829-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011

(13)  Convict Applications to Bring out families to Van Diemen's Land Index 1827-1873. Published by The Tasmanian Family History Society, April 2001.

(14)  Tasmania, Australia, Deeds of Land Grants, 1804-1935 for James Flynn and Lawrence Flynn.  Date 22 April 1870. [database on-line]. (Provo, UT, USA)

(15)  Tasmania, Australia, Deeds of Land Grants, 1804-1935 for Lawrence Flynn.  Date 29 Jul 1884. [database on-line]. (Provo, UT, USA)

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