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Details for the convict John Brown (1831)

Convict Name:John Brown
Trial Place:Stirling Court of Justiciary
Trial Date:29 March 1830
Sentence:7 years
Arrival Details
Ship:York I (2)
Arrival Year:1831
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Researchers who have claimed this convict

There is currently one researcher who has claimed John Brown

  • Researcher (Douglas Speirs)
Claimed convict


Whilst researching the history of my house in Scotland I discovered that it was broken into by John Brown in 1829. The story goes...

Flockhouse Farm House is a Georgian farmhouse built around 1780. It is located in the parish of Cleish in Scotland (near Kinross). It was the home farm on the Blairadam Estate and during the opening decades of the 19th century it was occupied by the tenant in liferent, James Flockhart.

Anyway, Scottish court records show that in March, 1829, 28 year old local labourer from Kelty, John Brown, broke into Flockhouse farmhouse, an act he confessed at court at his trial in Stirling. After being apprehended, he was first held in the local jail/tolbooth in neaby town/village of Kinross and then quickly taken to the Justiciary court in Stirling for sentencing. On 29 March, 1829, we was sentenced to 7 years transportation for house breaking.

He was then taken to England where he next appears as an inmate on the prison hulk Ganymede, anchored at Woolwich. He was removed from the Ganymede on 24th August, 1830, and loaded on to the ship, York I (2), which eventually set sail from Sheerness on 3 Sept, 1830, arriving at Port Jackson, Sydney on 3 Feb, 1831 (although the prisoners were not disembarked until 28th Feb).

A ticket of leave from 1831 shows that John Brown was sent to Bathurst. A certificate of freedom was granted to him in 1839.

The birth register for the Parish of Beath (the parish of John Brown's home village of Kelty, Scotland) does not hold a record of his birth, which would have been around 1801/02. This suggests that either John Brown was not born in the parish or (less likely but not impossible ccording to the contemporary Second Statistical Account of the parish of Beath written in 1834) that his birth was not registered (I was surprised to find that as late as 1834 the parish minister could write that some of the labouring classes did not always register their births, but that's what the Second Statistical Account for the parish of Beath says).

The Scottish parish birth registers show a number of John Browns that were born in Scotland in 1801/02. I will follow these up and see if I can track the date/place of his birth.

Interestingly, the farmhouse which John Brown broke into, still exists today almost exactly as it did back in 1829 when John broke in (it's my house). Indeed, there are even still iron bars fitted on the back windows, no doubt a response to the break in.

I've only just started my research (January, 2014) but I hope to examine his certificate of freedom soon and so establish where John went once released. I will post further details when I know.

I have already established quite a lot regarding the prison hulk he was held on and his voyage to Australia.

All in all it is of great interest to earn that he probably did a lot better for himself by being transported to Australia than he would have done had he remained a labourer in Kelty!

Kelty is a small town today with a small historic hamlet on its edge called Keltybridge. In 1829, the main part of Kelty did not exist. Rather, in 1829, Kelty was the hamlet we now know as Keltybridge and the town we now call Kelty was called keltyhead.

Anyway, Keltybridge (the Kelty of 1829) is a small, historic hamlet whihc is almost uncahnged since 1829. Consequently, I hope in time to be able to idenitfy John Brown's house. The gravestone of the farmer, James Flockhart, whose house he broke into, is a very fine gravestone right next to the front door of Cleish parish church.

Submitted by Researcher (Douglas Speirs) on 13 January 2015

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  • The National Archives (TNA) : HO 11/7, p.492

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