Saturday, January 30, 2021

I really did find my lost Frosts: never give up! (What an adventure.)


USA census 1900, Philadelphia USA

I haven't put all the pieces together yet, but in brief, this is what I have so far in continuation of my search for my missing Frosts: the family of Richard Frost, my great-granduncle (1847-1882) after his death. Richard was the illegitimate son of Sarah Frost (1830-1885) - at least, I believe him to be her son and not her very much younger brother, as I have still found no record of Richard's birth. When Richard died, he left his young widow Eliza and three children: Elizabeth, Maria, and his namesake, Richard Frost.

Other parts of this story show the brick walls I have run up against trying to find this little family; if you look at this part of my tree on, you'll see it's full of notes like, "not the husband of ..." and reasons why not as I eliminated people one by one from census records and marriages. This research has been going on for a long time and until very recently, I thought they would remain a tantalising and probably sad mystery.

Now, I know what happened to Eliza and to her youngest, Richard Frost born 1878 in Leicester, England. They did emigrate and they did go to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. 

When studying family history, sometimes you go down deep rabbitholes trying to find someone, and then find out that you were chasing a dream, a hunch that never plays out. Once in a while that hunch is correct.

Marriage of Richard Frost Dyson
and Elizabeth Spalding

I found Richard Frost travelling to the USA alone: then I found that he was most likely with his uncle, William Worthy.They arrived in Philadelphia where Eliza Frost nee Worthy's aunt Annie and some of her family had settled. There was no record of Richard Frost after that - I chased one that seemed a likely candidate, but he had the wrong birth date by a couple of months and a few days, and by digging deeper I found that that Richard Frost came from a German family, not from England. 

Richard's older sister Maria (born 1876) appears to also have travelled to the US, but to New York; I searched for Richard there too, but no luck. Searches for mother Eliza - under both Frost and Worthy and all alternate spellings - produced no results, not for passengers or US arrivals or remarriages in either the UK or USA. 

So I started to trawl the US 1900 census (there isn't one for 1890) as a last resort, knowing that the females had probably married by then and would have other names and would probably never be found. I began with Pennsylvania... and there I found an Eliza Dyson married to a George H Dyson, with one child - a son, Richard Dyson, born in England in 1878.

It's them. It is widow Eliza, and her son Richard, living in the Wister area of Philadephia - part of Germantown.

I have been able to confirm this: it is no longer just a hunch. The records prove it: Eliza's death certificate names her father as William Worthy. Young Richard's marriage record names him as Richard Frost Dyson, and shows that he was born in Leicester, England and that he worked as a knitter. I'm now happily tracing his descendants - including this amazing gentleman who served his country in the US Marines (Richard Frost Dyson's grandson William James Kane Jr).

I still don't know if/when Eliza officially married George Dyson, nor have I found her travel records - though the 1900 census shows that Eliza arrived in the USA two years before her son Richard and now I know she might have been travelling under the Dyson name. I haven't tracked down her daughters Elizabeth or Maria, yet. But for some unknown reason, finding Eliza and Richard alive and well in Pennsylvania made me profoundly happy. They didn't end up in a pauper's grave in Leicester, or in the workhouse; they made it across the ocean to a new world and a new life. I hope it was happy, healthy, and prosperous.

Eliza lived until she was 80; her son Richard, until he was 69 (and if any more confirmation was needed, Richard's death certificate gives his mother's maiden name as Worthy). A long way from the sad day in 1882 when Richard Frost senior left them for heaven.

That's a few more dots joined. Now I must tell the story of Eliza's relative Elizabeth and the Manchester men... coming soon!

Monday, January 25, 2021

I may have found my lost Frosts: here are my missteps


Richard and Eliza Frost's family, 1881

If you have been following this occasional blog, you'll have noticed a slight obsession with finding a few of my ancestors - my Lost Frosts. I may have found what happened to one or two of them.

Richard Frost (junior) was born in Leicester in 1878. Like his older sisters Elizabeth and Maria, and his mother Eliza Frost nee Worthy, there was no trace of him after the 1881 census. Father Richard, aged 35, died in June 1882 and his death was recorded at Gresham Street, Leicester. Widow Eliza was then 32 years old - young enough to remarry and have a second family - but there is no trace in the UK records of this happening. Her younger sister Elizabeth had three families - both in and out of wedlock - so I scoured the censuses throughout Leicester and the whole UK looking for Eliza and the children with different surnames. No sign. I checked with unregistered deaths and burials at Leicester's cemetary where others in the family were laid to rest - again, no indication that Eliza and the three children were there. I checked all Eliza and Elizabeth's siblings' census entries to see if the children had been housed with them - no, nothing. I wondered if the youngest daughter registered to Eliza's parents - Lavinia - was really their granddaughter as she spent her life living with Eliza's younger sister Maria Diggle nee Worthy, though the birth was registered to William Worthy and Sarah nee Hayes, but none of that wondering found Richard's family.

Knowing that Eliza must have been close to her mother Sarah Worthy nee Hayes (born near Nottingham in 1829) - the grandparents were living with Eliza and Richard Frost in 1881 - I then researched up and across Sarah's Hayes tree, into the mining community of Nottinghamshire. I found that Sarah's older sister Ann Hayes, born 1826, gave birth to a couple of children (Elizabeth and William) prior to her marriage with James Knowles in 1853 in Bullwell, Nottinghamshire. Many children later - including a son, Thomas, tragically killed in a mining accident aged 16, in 1882 - Ann separated from husband James and nipped across the Atlantic to Philadelphia, USA, arriving on 18 October, 1883. She travelled with son James Knowles (b. 1849) and a grandson James (b. 1877, parents yet unknown). At least two others of her offspring - William and Joseph Knowles - had made homes in Pennsylvania, USA. Later Ann's daughter Elizabeth joined the family in the US, travelling from Leicester. 

Elizabeth had shown up with various surnames including Hayes (registered in her mother's maiden name, no father listed), Knowles (stepfather), Graves (married name - widowed in Leicester in 1886 after only six years of marriage - her marriage cert names her as Elizabeth Manchester Hayes - this is important). Elizabeth was later accused of marrying her uncle in the USA. There is another story there. I spent a lot of time looking into her family, taking me down an interesting path but not the main purpose of this research.

Back to the Frosts. A while back, I had found a lone Richard Frost, right age, apparently travelling alone to the USA, arriving in Philadelphia in 1889. And a lone Maria Frost, again the right age and from Leicester, also sailing across the Atlantic but to land in New York in 1885, aged only eight years old. None of this made any sense other than a tenuous connection with great-aunt Ann and her family. Why would two little children cross the ocean - alone? If they were really my missing Frosts, wouldn't they travel with family? Maria appeared to be travelling with a Joseph West from Leicester, so I spent more fruitless time trying to find out who he was, even looking at a police constable of the same name (but why would he take a child to the USA and then be back with his wife?) - all the while thinking, this is not 'my' Maria, she is probably in a pauper's grave in Leicester.

Richard Frost on passenger list, British King
Passenger list naming Richard Frost

But this weekend - bored in lockdown - I took another look at young Richard's possible passenger list.

British King

Young Richard travelled on the passenger ship the British King, a steamer owned by American Line (more info here). I went through the entire passenger manifesto looking for names that had some connection to the Frost/Bonnett/Worthy/Hayes/Knowles family. Realised that this passenger list was ranged alphbetically, not by groupings of families travelling together. Found a William Worthy, aged 18: no record of his hometown. Went back to the UK census and tried to find this William and see if - of all the UK - he might have been related to Eliza nee Worthy and therefore this young Richard Frost.

Guess what. I had missed something really important a long time ago.

In 1881, Richard and Eliza Frost lived in Leicester at 4 Brunswick Terrace on Palmerston Street - a tiny, tiny home. Not only did Richard and Eliza and their three children live there, so did Eliza's parents, William Worthy and Sarah nee Hayes. And right next door? William's brother John Worthy (aka Wortley) and his wife Maria (or Martha) nee Mee. John and Maria had no children and I had already traced them in other censuses living with various branches of the family while I was looking for my missing Frosts, but in 1881, right next door to Richard and Eliza, they were living in Leicester. With a nephew, William Worthy, aged nine. 

I had missed who this William was.

William Worthy's birth was registered in the third quarter of 1871 - therefore after the 1871 census - in Leicester, with mother's maiden name Hayes. I had completely missed finding William, Eliza's youngest brother.

William Worthy was on the British King with Richard Frost. Richard was travelling with his young uncle towards a new life in the USA. My hunch that the family emigrated looks like it may now be confirmed.

I haven't found William Worthy or a definite Richard Frost in the USA, yet. But I now think that this research is on more solid ground. There's a lot more work to be done now! (The loss of the USA census for 1890 makes this tricky as Maria - if it is her - would most likely have married and have a new name by the 1900 census.)

A few years back I was in Philadelphia for work: even climbed the Rocky steps. Who knew that there was family there?

We are all immigrants; every single one of us.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

More about my lost Frosts... and why we need to keep on remembering our history

I'm still trying to trace my little family of Lost Frosts: Eliza nee Worthy and her children Elizabeth, Maria, and Richard junior. Still no luck: they vanished into thin air, changed all their names, were kidnapped by aliens, emigrated under pseudonyms, or just slipped away into the shadows or lost census pages. (I discovered that I cannot find Eliza or her Worthy parents and siblings in the 1861 census because the pages that document the part of Lewin street that they were most likely living on (5 Lewin Street) have been lost: they are missing from all online copies.)

What I have found is two more daughters born to Richard Frost and Eliza nee Worthy: Elizabeth (their first Elizabeth) born 5th January 1871, and Clara born at the very end of 1871 or early in January 1872. This newly-discovered Elizabeth died, only thirteen days old, from convulsions. Clara, who must have been conceived very quickly after sister Elizabeth, little darling, lived until she was five years old... and then scarlet fever killed her, right around the time that her little sister Maria was born. What tragedy for the parents.

I found no other babies between Eliza's marriage to Richard, and his death in 1882. But there are two-year gaps between the other children, and no child at all after Richard Junior's birth in 1878: I'd bet there were miscarriages in the gaps, or unregistered births and deaths.

This is the ongoing story of family history research. My ancestors were poor, all of them, all except a very very few, like one or two generations of Mountneys before they became scoundrels on canal boats, and shepherd William North of Seagrave who had a cottage and a horse to bequeath to his children, or the farmer Bonnetts of Whitwick who had their own tragedies after John contributed to my tree. There are no ancestral knights in shining armour, no "blue blood", no hidden riches. They were hardworking people: blacksmiths and bootmakers and shoe finishers and framework knitters; lacemakers and even a milliner (hatmaker). They fought for the country and were lucky and escaped, most of them, with their lives, their bodies and minds never forgetting.

One thread runs through it all, from the 1500's until last century, the century I was born in: huge families, many children, and so very many - far too many - infant and childhood deaths. So many parents lost way too young, their bereaved partner then finding someone else to help raise the kids. Multiple births and multiple losses; children fading after a parent dies; health problems due to their occupations; parish records with page after page of burials for "an infant", "child of", or aged under 30.

What changed in the 20th century? Several things: first and foremost, the National Health Service, making health care available to everyone, no matter how poor, no matter if they lived in the industrial city streets or in little villages. Equality in voting and election process for women. Schooling continuing into late teens, enormous progress in workers rights and safety at work - made even stronger by the common rules of the European Union. The availability of contraception to those who want it, and sex education for all. And yet... today it feels like the world wants to turn the clock back.

Has everyone forgotten where we all came from?

Before you go and cast a vote for someone who swears they represent you, yet will convert your healthcare to a for-profit business, or will strip away the workers' rights today guaranteed by law, think about what your ancestors too experienced. Remember those who had babies, each and every year, and lost half of them. The parents - men and women alike - who worked until they dropped, including those who managed to survive until their 70's and 80's, because they had no pension to survive on. The families living ten to a room, without the heating and electricity that we take very much for granted today.

They deserve a vote, too. Don't mess it up.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

More Syston butchers, a load of tripe, and a few gypsy tales (part three)

An idea of the travels of Frederick and Eliza
Google Maps
(If you didn't read part one, start here. Part two, here.) 

By combining the locations of censuses, births and deaths, and newspaper reports, we can get a picture of just how far the travellers roamed. Frederick and Eliza Blankley kept within the boundaries of the East Midlands, and mostly within Leicestershire, with occasional visits to Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. I found them as far south as Hinckley and as far north as Derby and Nottingham, but no further east than Syston, and no further west than Ashby de la Zouch. This map is plotted on today's roads: no doubt they took the country ways, along tracks that may no longer exist. And we have no insight into the days between the official records, no idea how long they stayed in each place.

I wondered why Frederick returned to living in a fixed house, after Eliza died. And why, after all those years on the road, with horses pulling his home and earning his income, he should decide to become a horse slaughterer.

Maybe it was because it was the only way he could get the darn things to stay in one place.

 On 27 September 1890, Frederick Blankley was fined for allowing four asses to stray, in Syston, Leicestershire. On 13 June 1891, working as a showman in Leicester Forest East, he was fined for allowing both horses and asses to stray, (plus having two unlicensed dogs). 14 July 1894, in Shepshed, Leicestershire, same thing, but this time with eight asses, two horses and one mare. Just two weeks after that on 28 July 1894, he was in Loughborough and his two horses, two donkeys and a mare were wandering about on the Derby Road, near Swing Bridge Lane, in the middle of the night. 12 March 1898, back in Syston, fined again - three horses and three donkeys on the loose. 23 July 1898, in Ratcliffe on the Wreake, Fred Blankley a showman, no fixed abode, and with six previous convictions for cattle straying, fined for - wait for it - four horses and fourteen, yes fourteen, asses. (I wonder if by this time he was looking after the fairground donkey rides?) On 17 September 1898 Fred was in court again, not this time for stray cattle, but after a fight with another family over a field to camp in, in Costock, Nottinghamshire. 17 June 1899, back to Loughborough again, and those dratted, wandering animals: fined once more, for allowing four asses to stray. 

I have not found any other newspaper stories or court reports after Eliza passed away. It looks like Frederick left the travelling community - I wonder how that worked, as he was only there through his marriage to Eliza, not from his own family roots. Would he have been asked to leave? Was it through his own choice? Did he miss the life, away from the road and the campsites, or did he relish the idea of staying in a solid house, in one place, after so much travel? We may never know - but we do know that his occupation became that of the person who puts the end to horses' lives, living and working in George Yard, Loughborough. Horses were being replaced by motor vehicles, both for transport and for farm work. Sadly, there must have been a demand for his trade, and hopefully it was all done humanely. 

Frederick and his second wife, Mary Ann nee Kellam, went on to have three children who survived infancy: Lillian May, born in 1905, who later married a Tom Burton from Barrow upon Soar; Percy, born in 1906, who lived to the great old age of 89, and Harry, born in 1909 and died in 1989. 

Frederick Charles Blankley passed away in the middle of 1931, in Loughborough, Leicestershire. three years after his son Fred junior.

I still have to tell you about little Ernest. That's part four of the story.

All news articles from the Leicestershire Chronicle, with kind permission of

Saturday, January 5, 2019

More Syston butchers, a load of tripe, and a few gypsy tales (part two)

Marriage of Frederick Charles Blankley and Eliza Smith, 13 June 1880
by kind permission of
(If you didn't read part one, start here.)

Frederick Charles Blankley, born in Syston, Leicestershire in 1858, son of John Corner Blankley and Charlotte Toon, decendant of a long line of butchers, he is where our story becomes much more interesting. While his ancestors seem to have lived in houses on streets of small towns and villages, Frederick Charles Blankley married into a family of horse dealers and travellers, lived in a horse-drawn caravan, and worked at a travelling fair. And it really wasn't all glamorous every day. The life was hard.

Eliza Smith was baptised in Whissendine, Rutland, on 30th May, 1858. Her father, John Smith; her mother, Selina on the baptism record, but maybe Carolina - records and researchers are not really clear after the baptism. John and Selina of no abode, occupation 'traveller'. In 1871, Eliza seems to be part of a huge family group, with John Smith possibly having two wives: Selina and Maria, but the census-taker might have messed up, or missed someone out. For certain, they are all travellers, living in caravans, in a field on Regent Hill, Sneinton, Nottingham, a track off Windmill Lane to the south, which no longer exists.

I am not going to attempt to try to disentangle the gypsy family that Frederick Charles Blankley married into: other researchers with far more traveller knowledge have tried, and the best account I can find is here: Johnny Two-Wives Smith, by Eric Trudgill on Gypsy Geneaology, which explains Eliza's mother being Carolina and Selina. I do want to take a look, however, at the reality of living as part of a travelling community in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Example fairground caravan, unknown family,
Coalville, Leicestershire, about 1900from NFCA Digital Collection

On the night of the 1901 census, Frederick Charles Blankley and Eliza nee Smith were living in a caravan, somewhere within the parish of Shepshed, Leicestershire. Fred is a horse dealer working at a stables: so is one of his sons, also called Fred. We lost track of the family in 1891: they may well have been travelling under the name Smith, not Blankley, in Derby and with a group of gypsy travellers and performers: Fred a horse dealer, living with Eliza and two sons, John aged 7 and Frederick junior aged 4, again in a caravan. Other families in the group included more horse dealers, roundabout and  swing boat proprietors, cocoa sellers, people who looked afters shooting galleries and riding donkeys: all those who would have made up a wonderful travelling fair. It's hard to be 100% certain that this is indeed our Frederick Charles and Eliza due to the name change: likely, but not certain. However, at the baptism of Nathan (born 1896), Fred's occupation is given as a travelling showman.

It seems nice, life on the road in a caravan. Romantic and free. You imagine beautiful horses, colourful homes, green grass and blue skies; a life outside of the rules of society. However, after 1838, like every other citizen, the travellers were still bound by law to report births and marriages and deaths. Frederick Charles and Eliza were no different: they reported the births of their babies. And far too often, they had to report their deaths, too.

These are the children that I have found, so far. Only John, Fred, Ernest and Sydney survived infancy. (At least, I think these are all from the same family - if there are errors that you know of, let me know.)

And poor Eliza. She passed away in her caravan, in Loughborough, on 15th December 1901, from postpartum haemorrhage, most likely at the same time as the last baby, a female, was born and died. Eliza was 43 years old.

I have not ordered the death certificates of all those babies - in a way I don't want to find out what happened to all those little ones: they were not all newborns, they survived one, three, six months, even a year or more. I can too easily imagine poverty and ill-health, in a little, cramped, colourful house on wheels.

Frederick Charles remarried, to Mary Ann Kellam in 1904, and they lived in a house, on George Yard, in Loughborough, just off the market place. Frederick's occupation, in 1911, along with his son Ernest, was that of horse slaughterer. A sad contrast to the life on the road, I think.

More about Ernest in part three... or maybe part four!

And see the wonderful collection of fairground photos at the National Fairground and Circus Archive (NFCA)

UPDATE: I couldn't resist... ordered the certs for four of the little ones. Little Flora was two months old when she died of bronchitis in March, 1888. George, aged four years in January 1889 died of pneumonia and meningitis. The family gave the same address for both, 11 The Rushes, Loughborough. Charles died aged 14 days in Sandiacre on 16th September, 1900, from "imperfect heart development". And the last of Eliza's babies, simply recorded as female, no first name, was only 16 hours old when she passed away from convulsions in the caravan in Loughborough - the day after her mother died. Seems just like a random thread of horrible luck.

More Syston butchers, a load of tripe, and a few gypsy tales (part one)

Honeycomb tripe
image shared under Creative Commons licensing
There are a couple of more unusual family names that wind in-and-out of my paternal tree (in both my grandad Toon's, and my grandma Riley's, lines, so much so that there I have relationships with several ancestors in multiple ways) and I have been exploring them: Possnett and Blankley. Like the Toons, they are sprinkled around the area between Syston, Loughborough and Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, with occasional forays into other areas, but not a lot of roaming until we find the Blankley that married a Smith, and then they were definitely travelling, in caravans.

In the story about The Butchers of Syston, we met my great-great-great-grandmother, Ann nee Possnett (b. 1778), who married James Toon (b. 1767). Ann Possnett's own great-grandmother was a Blankley: Elizabeth Blankley, baptised in Hoby, Leicestershire, in 1692. (This part of my heritage brought up two lovely names that have faded with time: Leonard (Possnett) and Gabriel (Blankley), names which were used through several generations. Now I have both Gabriel and Emmanuel in my blood. What does that say?)

Closer to my generation, and in Syston, Leicestershire, my great-great aunt Charlotte Toon (b. 1836, daughter of Richard Toon and his first wife Catherine Cooper) married John Corner Blankley in Syston on 30th January, 1859. Their son, Frederick Charles Blankley, was born sometime in 1858, before the marriage: there was a bastardy order placed against John Corner Blankley which was then abandoned, presumably because the parents married each other. John Corner Blankley and Charlotte went on to have several more children:  Catherine in 1859, Harry in 1865, Mary in 1866 and Florence Anne in 1872. There are a few gaps: maybe there were more children or pregnancies, not found yet. In 1861 and 1871 the family were lodgers in the home of John Brown, in Syston, but by 1881 they had moved to Tollerton in Nottinghamshire (and John Brown from Syston, their previous landlord, was their visitor in Tollerton - possibly connected to John Corner Blankley's paternal grandmother, who was a Mary Brown, born in Syston in about 1777).

John Corner Blankley's father was Charles Blankley, and guess what. He was a butcher, and he lived in Syston, on High Street. His father - John C's grandad - George Blankley was a butcher, too. I checked the 1841 census again, and realised that I had missed a few in the original story: there were at least three more Syston butchers, two called Sheffield and one called Charles Blankley, in Syston, in 1841. As well as John the eldest child, he and his wife Jane nee Corner had three more sons: William (born 1839) worked on the railway, went to London, and ran a coffee house. Charles (born 1849)  was a 'beast dresser', probably involved in butchery in 1871, but later worked as a labourer. Frederick, born 1853,  was a shoe finisher who was married and living in Leicester by 1861. Daughters Elizabeth (1837), Emma 1838), and Mary Ann (1843) the second - another Mary Ann born 1832 died in infancy) completed the family.
Butchers of Syston as listed in the
Gazetteer & Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland, 1861

John Corner Blankley was a butcher too, of a special kind: in 1861 and 1871, he was a tripe dresser. The guy who took the first three stomachs of cows, cleaned and scraped and prepared them, and made them fit for humans to eat. While tripe is no longer part of most peoples' diets today, it's not so long ago that people ate it frequently: I remember my own grandad gently simmering honeycomb tripe, in milk, with onions and either nutmeg or mace or cloves; my memory has me scudding through the kitchen, not wanting to see the skin on the milk but fascinated by the shapes in the tripe.

(And this is where we see the interconnections in the tree: while Charlotte Toon was my great-great aunt, John Corner Blankley was also my fourth cousin, four times removed.)

By the time the family were living in Tollerton in Nottinghamshire in 1818, John Corner Blankley had progressed from tripe dresser to cattle dealer. That might have had something to do with his eldest son, Frederick Charles, and the gypsies. More about that in part two of this story!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Henry Hackett, prison hulks, deportation to Tasmania... and magical babies

A prison hulk, Deptford, artist unknown.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Henry Hackett was the maternal grandfather of husband of one of my great-great-aunts, and maybe not even that... so a rather distant relation. And things became even more, way more distant, when he was deported for burglary! It's a story of prison hulks, Dickensian images, and a family that kept growing despite him being on the other side of the world.

Henry Hackett was born in Wigston, Leicestershire, in 1818. I believe he was baptised in Wigston Magna (Greater Wigston) Independent chapel on 15th March, 1819, to parents William Hackett and Charlotte (nee Bates). Henry married Esther Brewin (also spelled Bruin) on 23 November, 1838, when both bride and groom were aged twenty. The wedding ceremony was performed at the Anglican church in Wigston Magna--All Saints'--and both of the spouses' fathers, and the spouses themselves, were all working as framework knitters.

Henry and Esther's first child, a daughter, Mary Brewin Hackett, was born during the second quarter of 1839, and the second child, another girl named Sarah Ann, was born in the second quarter of 1841. (Sarah Ann is the one who later marries Samuel Cawthorn, and whose son then marries my great-aunt, Elizabeth Bonnett.)

At least, I am pretty certain that Sarah Ann is Henry's daughter. I have ordered Sarah Ann's birth certificate to be 100% sure. Without the birth certificate, we cannot know Sarah Ann's exact birth date--it could be any day between mid-March and June 30th. Most likely, she was born at during the early part of the registration quarter. Why does this matter? It matters, because on 7th August, 1840, Henry Hackett was sentenced, in Leicester, to ten years' deportation, and despatched to a prison hulk, Justitia, in Woolwich, London, before being shipped to Tasmania, Australia in May, 1841 on the convict ship called David Clark, one of 308 prisoners making the journey. I doubt that conjugal visits were allowed on prison hulks, though you never know.

Leicestershire Mercury, 8 August 1940.
By kind permission of
Henry Hackett was charged with breaking into the house of a Mrs. Fox in Wigston, and stealing "jars, keys, and other items". The Leicestershire Mercury on 8th August went into more detail, and stated that he was suspected of stealing two pounds of mutton, a pound of butter, a loaf of bread, five jars of preserves, and a jar of pickles. Someone was hungry. Maybe his wife was craving the pickles during early pregnancy. If he had stolen the goods for his  family rather than to resell, or just because he wanted a snack, then very sadly, Henry was soon to leave his wife and child in a far hungrier state. Committed to trial at the county assizes, and then sent to London, he ended up on the other side of the world, never to return. He died in Richmond, Tasmania, on 19th November, 1847.

New South Wales and Tasmania Convict Musters
By kind permission of
The prison hulk that Henry was held on for the months prior to shipping out to Tasmania, was called the Justitia in 1840, but had had a long prior history as the HMS Hindostan, sailing to India, Australia, the Mediterranean. No longer seaworthy, by 1840 she had been "hulked"--her masts and other parts removed, leaving just the hull and decks--and converted to a prison--a common practice in the early 19th century. The sort of place that Abel Magwitch escaped from in Dickens' Great Expectations.

The ship David Clark had already been to Australia in 1839, that time carrying the first emigrants under the assisted-passage program: encouraging people to settle "down under". Those that were on the ship in 1841 didn't make the voyage of their own choice, and may even have been put to work for some of the people on the 1839 voyage. (There is a picture of the David Clark on various websites, but reproduction is prohibited. Try here. Or here but this link was not responding for me.)

The bridge in Richmond, Tasmania
Under Creative Commons licensing via Wikimedia Commons
Richmond, Tasmania, was the end of Henry Hackett. Unless, of course, Henry had a personal transporter that allowed him to return to Leicestershire and impregnate his wife several  more times, both before, and after, his death. Emma Louisa Hackett was born in 1846, with Adah Maria in 1850, Amelia Catherine in 1855, and Martha Ellen in 1860. (All were registered as Hackett, in Esther's married name, despite no Henry in sight!) It might have taken a while for news of Henry's death to reach Wigston Magna, allowing Esther to marry again: in 1851, Esther was living with her sister, Mary Percival, Esther's baby Adah only eight months old and Henry long gone; in 1861 she was living as a housekeeper in the household of John Holmes, a 42 year old bachelor. In 1871? Esther was Mrs Esther Holmes, having married John in 1864.

I obviously have to do more research into Esther's children after Sarah Ann, before she marries John Holmes. (Amelia) Catherine gives no father on her marriage certificate:

Marriage of Amelia Catherine Hackett to Henry Frederick Wells in 1873
with kind permission from
I wonder if there are any Hackett descendants in Hobart?

UPDATE: Sarah Ann was indeed registered as Henry's daughter. Born on the 22 April, 1941 in Wigston Magna (Greater Wigston), her mother Esther must have been only three or four weeks pregnant when Henry was sent for trial at the Assizes.