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Details for the convict George Thomson (1827)

Convict Name:George Thomson
Trial Place:Edinburgh Court of Justiciary
Trial Date:4 December 1826
Sentence:14 years
Arrival Details
Ship:Manlius (1)
Arrival Year:1827
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There is currently one researcher who has claimed George Thomson

  • Researcher (6527)
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Aged fifteen, and a carver and gilder living in Boswell's Court on the Royal Mile, he was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years at Edinburgh High Court on 4th December 1826 on a Bill for Criminal Letters for five offences of theft from houses in the New Town committed in July 1826, along with a co-accused named James Fowler. The offences all appeared to be sneak thefts from dwelling houses, and the items taken were not, to modern eyes, of great value. The first offence chronologically was theft of a coat from a house in Eyre Place, when he stated he had gone to bathe in a pond at Canonmills. It was recovered in the home of its resetter, one Mary Brodie or MacMillan of South Gray’s Close. She likewise found herself in custody for her part in these events. Her deposition indicates that the ingenuity of the average young criminal was no greater in 1826 than it is today. George Thomson told her the coat had been a gift, but it did not fit him, so he wished to sell it. He asked for a pound, and when she laughed he settled for three shillings and sixpence. Within days, he was seen stealing a silver cream pot and four silver spoons from a dentist’s home in George Street, and somewhat hesitantly identified the next day by his clothing. The next day he stole a silver candlestick, a spoon, a tablecloth and a pinafore from a house in Duke Street occupied by perfumier and wig maker Vair Clirehugh (presumably the man listed that year as Grand Master of St Mary’s Lodge) and his wife, then stole a tartan mantle. He then stole an umbrella from the home of an advocate in Northumberland Street. Having done little to cover his tracks, and his fustian clothing being regarded as distinctive, he was apprehended and taken to the Tolbooth. On 12th July he emitted his declaration before the sheriff. At his trial on 4th December the Crown were represented by Advocates Depute Archibald Alison (later a Baronet and author of a renowned textbook on Scottish Criminal Law) and Mr. Robert Dundas, advocate, while counsel for the defence was Mr. A.S. Melville, advocate. Trial judge was Lord Justice-Clerk Boyle, and Thomson pled guilty to five charges (Fowler's plea of not guilty to Charge 2 was accepted). George Thomson was transported to NSW on the Manlius, arriving on 11th August 1827. There is no trace of Fowler in the transportation records. Court records are held in the National Archives of Scotland - references AD14/26/72 and AD14/26/23, although the cases were split into two separate indictments as other accused were charged as "habit and repute" thieves and the papers should perhaps have been separated more carefully. George married an Englishwoman from Middlesex, 25 years his junior, named Mary Ann Phoebe King (1836-1909), who had reportedly arrived in 1849 on the Fortitude, as a part of an immigrant family, along with her father William King and mother Mary Ann Lewis. To modern eyes, this relationship can only be described as disturbing. Mary Ann’s date of birth is listed as 26th December 1836 and her baptism as in May 1837. Thus, assuming the relevant English parish records have been transcribed accurately, on her wedding day in 1851 she was still fourteen years old. The legal age for marriage of girls in the Australian colonies at the time was twelve (as was the case in Britain until the Age of Marriage Act 1929). Between 1852 and 1875 she bore him eleven children, from whom he had over fifty grandchildren.
Submitted by Researcher (6527) on 27 June 2016

Disclaimer: The information has not been verified by Claim a Convict. As this information is contributed, it is the responsibility of those who use the data to verify its accuracy.

Research notes

Certificate of Freedom issued New South Wales, Australia May 5 1841
Submitted by Researcher (6527) on 27 June 2016

Disclaimer: The information has not been verified by Claim a Convict. As this information is contributed, it is the responsibility of those who use the data to verify its accuracy.


  • The National Archives (TNA) : HO 11/6, p.158

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