Thursday, 15 August 2013

Cat fights, court cases and conjectures

Photo: Gladstone Gaol where Mary Atkins Ross's son Charles Vangelios would work. 

We have snippets of information coming through in regard to the Atkins family. Trove has published further accounts of the street-fight incident involving Mary Atkins Ross and her sister Elizabeth and sister-in-law, Sarah Lewis, wife of George, Elizabeth Mashford Atkin's eldest son by her marriage to Peter Lewis.

It seems that the Atkins girls were the aggrieved parties in the incident and it will be interesting to find out more about what actually happened. Perhaps the Moy girl was taunting Mary for her illegitimate son - probably we may never know. But what we do know is that Mary and her kin were more than capable of defending themselves.

But Sarah Lewis had been banged about the head with an iron bar so the disagreements between herself, or the family, and Annie Moy were substantial. Given earlier charges for Mary (Polly) and Elizabeth (Lizzie) attacking a boy, it is a fair bet that there were two sides to the story and our girls were far from innocent.

In this article from the Northern Argus 1878


Lizzie and Polly Atkins were charged with using threatening language and with throwing stones at a boy named John Blackwell, at Gladstone, on October 31 last. Messrs. Bonnar and Hardy for defendants, and Mr. Hosier with Mr. O'Halloran for informant. The information was dismissed without costs, the evidence against defendants being of a rather trivial character. 

 And a second charge in the same court related to Sarah Lewis:
Sarah Lewis was charged with using obscene language towards John Blackwell. At
Gladstone, on October 31. On the application of Mr. Hosier the information was amended by altering the date of the alleged offence to November 13. The hearing was then adjourned until the January Court.

Sarah Lewis was then charged with assaulting Annie Moy, at Gladstone, on Nov. 13 by striking her on the back with a stone
and attempting to throttle her.

plainant gave evidence of the assault, admitting, however, that there was violence used on both sides. Her two daughters testified to having seen the assault, and to rescuing her from defendant's violence, but said they had in no way provoked the assault or retaliated. Defendant's evidence proved that the real assaults were committed by informant. The S.M. dismissed the case, commenting unfavorably on the evidence for the prosecution. Two other informants connected with the above matter were withdrawn.Northern Argus Tuesday 3/12/1878 p2

Thursday, January 23.
[Before Messrs. Edmonds, S.M., Moorhousp,
and Inglis, J.Pd.J

Lewis v. Moy. — £100, damages for as
sault. Messrs. Bonnar and Hardy for the
plaintiff, and Messrs. Hosier and O'Halloran
for the defendant. The Messrs. Lewis and
Moy both lived at Gladstone, and had rows
promiscuously; and in this one a female
Lewis got battered about the head by a metal bar,
witnesses (mostly wives and daughters of
neighbors) described the affair ad nauseam,
and the Bench gave a verdict for plaintiff
for £30. -

Atkins v. Moy.— £100, damages for as
sault. The attorneys and counsel appeared
in this case. The claim arose out of the
same disturbance as the previous cause of
action. Both plaintiffs were related, and
both seemed to fall equally under the dis
pleasure of the Moys. Verdict for plaintiff
for £15.

Atkins v. Moy. — £50, damages for 'as-
sault. In addition to the advocates appear
ing in the other cases, Mr. Bright acted for
Michael Moy '(nominal defendant), who ob
jected to being sued for an assault alleged
to have been committed by his daughter—
a minor. Nonsuit.

Perhaps Mary had inherited her father's temper although her mother may well have had one as well, hence the breakdown of the marriage. Again, conjecture.

But to move on to more conjecture regarding the possible links between Henry Edwin Atkins, born Gloucestershire to Joseph and Ann (Haines) Atkins and convict, Edwin Atkins, born Gloucestershire and our Edward Atkins, probably born Gloucestershire, we have a bit more information following research.

We now have a copy of the court recording for the trial of Edwin Atkins for sheep-stealing in 1830 and it includes a physical description of him.

Seven Springs house. - - 1514316.jpg 

His parish is given as Cubberly (now Coberley) which is in the Cotswolds and just over two miles south of Charlton Kings where Joseph Atkins and Ann were recorded in census registers.

The court record has the following description:

Light brown hair, dark blue eyes, fair complexion, long face with small moles on his forehead, six small moles on r.h. cheek, small mole near his left ear, four small moles left arm, two small moles near right armpit; three small moles left arm,  two moles on his back, three moles on back of his neck. Reads and writes.

Lent Assizes April 7, 1830. Death Recorded. Transported for seven years. Discharged May 24, 1830. Behaviour orderly. Blacksmith. Height: 5.7. 

A convict record had 'grey eyes' for Edwin Atkins but such things are probably a moveable feast. One assumes grey is light grey but it may be dark grey, which looks more like dark blue. Or eyes can change colour. Perhaps a few months in prison, experiencing no doubt great stress, could do that. Did they return to grey during his trip to Australia? Maybe. Or did they change colour on the voyage? Maybe. Or is it just another error in the mistake-making way of the times in regard to names and ages? Maybe.

Moles seemed to be the mark of the day with others appearing in court on the same day, recorded as having moles and more than one 'long face.' Perhaps he meant it in the metaphorical - long as in sad!  It would be understandable given the punishments. Edwin got death for stealing a sheep, or at least being found guilty. He had it transmuted to transportation for seven years which must have been a relief although one presumes it was not a given. Nearly four months after appearing in court, Edwin would board the Florentia and set sail for Australia, on the other side of the world. His last time on English soil would be August 11, 1830 when the Florentia set sail.

Then again, people did not travel far in those days and married into local communities time and again so it would hardly be surprising if they had similar physical attributes. It is not possible to discern moles on our Edward's face from the image we have of him with Mary and Elizabeth but if I can get hold of the original photograph, it might just be possible.

We have also found a few more children for Joseph and Ann (Haines.Haynes) Atkins and amended the list as follows:

Children of Joseph and Ann Atkins. Joseph listed variously as shoemaker and cordwainer. A cordwainer is a shoe-maker and the names are used alternatively.

Charles Atkins baptised (abbreviation bp.) 1 July 1810

Henry Edwin Atkins bp. 23 February 1812Born January 22, 1812. (This now gives a birth date for Henry Edwin of 1812 but it is close enough to 1811 given the vagaries which always seem to surround ages at the time.)

Joseph Lewis Atkins b. 18 January 1814, bp. 13 February 1814, bur. 3 April 1814.

Sarah, b. April 30, 1815.

James Webb Atkins b. 14 August 1816, bp. 5 October 1816

Susannah b. 30 November 1817, bp. 3 January 1819

George, born 12 December 1818. Baptised January 2, 1819.

Jane, born September 17, 1820. Baptised November 3, 1820.

David Atkins b. 31 March 1822, bp. 19 May 1822 

Thomas Haines Atkins b. 20 June 1825, bp. 24 July 1825, d. 30 October 1825

Mary Ann Haines Atkins b. 10 January 1827, bp. 4 February 1827 

Eliza Atkins was born in 1831.

At this point we can clarify existing links between the three men although this does not constitute evidence and remains conjectural.

 Photo: The Florentia on which Edwin Atkins sailed to Australia.


Henry Edwin Atkins and Edwin Atkins, convict:

1.      Age – birth year
2.      Location - Gloucestershire
3.      Edwin Atkins has the initials HE*A tattooed on his wrist.
4.      Edwin is from the parish of Cubberly (Coberley) which is close to Charlton Kings where Joseph and Ann Atkins, parents of Henry Edwin Atkins, are recorded in the census.
5.      Father of both named Joseph.

Edward Atkins and Edwin Atkins

1.      Age – birth year.
2.      Time-frame in Australia.
3.      Profession – both shepherd/blacksmith.
4.      Employer connections
5.      Description of Edwin fits image of Edward in photograph closely.
6.      Origin Gloucestershire.
7.      Both could read and write.

Henry Edwin Atkins and Edward Atkins

1.      Same name of father, Joseph.
2.      Edward’s first son called Henry, not Edward.
3.      One of Edward’s daughters calls son Edwin Henry
4.      Two of Edward’s daughters share names with Henry Edwin’s sisters: Jane and Sarah. One is called Anne, possibly after mother (Hannah) or paternal grandmother.
5.      Age – birth year
6.      Location – Gloucestershire
7.      Maternal name Haines or Haynes. Henry Edwin’s mother is Ann Haines/Haynes. Edward’s son James Haynes Atkins and grandson Haynes Mashford Atkins.
8.      Edward’s son is James; Henry’s brother is James.

Henry Edwin Atkins, Edwin Atkins and Edward Atkins

1.      Origin Gloucestershire.
2.      Age – birth year 1811/12.
3.      Father named Joseph.


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