Monday, 5 August 2013

Cirencester, Ceylon, convicts and conjectures.....

We know that the father of Edward Atkins was called Joseph and we established in previous research that a Joseph Atkins married Anne Haines (Haynes) in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in 1809 which fits the time-frame for parents of our Edward.

This time-frame would also fit for parents of the convict Edwin/Edward Atkins, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, who is a possible ‘same man’ fit for our Edward.

The link between them was made on the presence of the Haynes (Haines) family name for Edward Atkins and Elizabeth Mashford’s son, James Haynes and grandson, Haynes Mashford; the fact that Edward had Gloucestershire links or family and the relevant time-frame.

Any absolute connection remains unproven, but, as research continues, we have learned a little more about Joseph Atkins who married Anne Haines and who is still our best bet yet as the father of a man called Henry Edwin Atkins, and  potentially the father of the convict Edwin/Edward Atkins who came to Australia in 1831 and  possibly, our Edward Atkins.

Joseph and Anne have been found in the 1851 and 1841 censuses for Cheltenham,  Gloucestershire. He is listed as shoemaker and Chelsea Pensioner, the latter giving him a military connection which has now been confirmed and expanded.

The names and ages of children listed are just a little at odds with previous information but ages, as we know, can be a moveable feast and names can also change.

In the 1841 census, Joseph Atkins, 50, shoemaker, is living in the Parish of Cheltenham, St. Mary’s, Cheltenham, with his wife Anne, also 50.

The children are:

David, 15, labourer, born 1826.

Marian, (Mary Ann) 14, born 1827.

Eliza, 10, born 1831.

Joseph Preston,  30, painter, born 1811. NB: although he is probably a lodger and possibly a relation. Preston could be a middle name but it is not likely. At his age he would be independent and the lodger theory is most likely.

 Elizabeth, 30 (Joseph’s wife presumably)

Photo: Governor's House, Ceylon.

In 1851, Joseph Atkins is recorded in the census as living  at 3, Charlton Place, Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire, born Cirencester, Gloucestershire. He has aged considerably and is now 67, with a birth year of 1784 as opposed to his age of 50 just ten years earlier which would have given a birth year of 1791. Anne is now 65 with a birth year of 1786 as opposed to the 1841 census where she was the same age as Joseph.

They have two children still living with them. Their daughter Mary, one presumes the earlier Marian,(probably a phonetic spelling of Mary Ann) is living with them and is aged 25, which gives a birth year of 1826, also in Cirencester, and she is a servant out of place – or unemployed.

Daughter Eliza is also an unemployed servant and unmarried like her sister, and is aged 20, with a birth year of 1831 which accords with the earlier census, and a birthplace of Birlingham Worcestershire. Information on Eliza may have slipped under earlier radars because she is listed as Altins not Atkins.

The earlier data provided by a Gloucestershire researcher had the following:

Joseph Atkins married Ann Haines on August 14, 1809 in Cirencester in the county of Gloucestershire.  All the children were baptised in Cirencester, Gloucestershire:

Charles Atkins baptised (abbreviation bp.) 1 July 1810 – he would be 31 in 1841 so not living at home.

Henry Edwin Atkins bp. 23 February 1812 – he would be 29 in 1841 so not living at home but also possibly in Australia. NB: Our Edward has a birth year of 1811 if his age at death is correct. With baptism in February of 1812 he was probably born a couple of months earlier, December of 1811.  Family trends show baptism between 4-8 weeks after birth. James Webb nearly 8 weeks later; David nearly seven weeks later; Thomas Haines five weeks after birth; Mary nearly four weeks;  Susannah five weeks later and Joseph Lewis nearly four weeks after birth. It is a good bet if Henry Edwin was baptised at the end of February that he may have been born at the end of the previous December. NB: Our Edward called his first son by Hannah McLeod Henry Edward.

Joseph Lewis Atkins b. 18 January 1814, bp. 13 February 1814, bur. 3 April 1814. Died as a baby so not likely to be the Joseph (Preston) registered in the 1841 census. Preston could be a second name but it is not likely. Lewis must be a family name, maternal or paternal. NB: Our Edward called his second son by Hannah McLeod, Joseph.

James Webb Atkins b. 14 August 1816, bp. 5 October 1816 – he would be 25 and not living with his parents in 1841.  Webb must be a family name, maternal or paternal. NB: Our Edward called his son by Elizabeth Mashford, James.

Susannah b. 30 November 1817, bp. 3 January 1819 – In 1841 she is 24 and either married or working away as a servant.

David Atkins b. 31 March 1822, bp. 19 May 1822 – He would be 19 in 1841 and not living at home but the David Atkins who is, is only 15, so this first David may have died between 1822 and 1826 when the David recorded in the 1841 census was born.

Thomas Haines Atkins b. 20 June 1825, bp. 24 July 1825, d. 30 October 1825 – this child did not survive but the name Haines, a maternal surname, now appears.

Mary Ann Haines Atkins b. 10 January 1827, bp. 4 February 1827 – Mary Ann must be the Marian mentioned in the 1841 census with a birth date of  1827 in the 1841 census and one of 1826 in the 1851 census. Marian is probably  a phonetic mistake from Mary Ann.

Eliza Atkins was born in 1831 and not mentioned in this earlier list.

St. Mary’s Church, Cheltenham which the Atkins family would have attended and where Joseph and Ann were probably married and their children baptised, had been dedicated in 1190 by William Bishop of Hereford as a chapel of ease to St. Mary’s Cheltenham which at that time belonged to the Augustinian Abbey of Cirencester.

The following comes from the website of St. Mary’s Charlton Kings which drew upon the research carried out by Mrs Mary Paget M.A.,and published in the book “A History of Charlton Kings”.


 Photo: St. Mary's, Cheltenham.

It originally consisted of a nave, a chancel, two short transepts and, it is believed, a small bell tower at the crossing. Towards the end of the 13th century the south transept was adapted to become a chantry chapel and was dedicated, like the high altar, to Our Lady. A room was created above this to accommodate a visiting, or resident chantry priest.

In the late 14th/early 15th century the tower was rebuilt with a very high chancel arch. A south aisle was added at a similar or slightly later time.
In 1629 an agreement was made with Jesus College, Oxford whereby they would nominate three celibate, graduate members of the college from whom the patron of St Mary’s would select one to serve in Charlton Kings for a maximum of 6 years. Soon after this pews and, very possibly, the 3-decker pulpit (removed in the 1860s) were installed.

At the beginning of the 18th century the south porch was rebuilt and around this time the church clock was installed.

The early 19th century saw the first major building alterations for 400 years. At around 1800 a south gallery with an external staircase was built and between 1822-24 the north aisle was built and the church was repewed. The Rose Window was installed at the west end between two new 3-light windows.

But some of the most interesting new information, courtesy of family researcher, Kylie comes from records of Joseph’s service in the East India Company.

 Joseph was in the 66th Foot Berkshire Regiment and served in Ceylon between 1804 and 1807.  He spent five years in the regiment, joining at 18 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and being discharged at the age of 23 after five years and one month of service.

His discharge, on September 10, 1807 records ‘contraction of the right leg,’ which translates to lame and was a condition which often resulted from ulcers – not uncommon in the tropics of Ceylon. This gives a birthdate of 1784 for Joseph which correlates with his age in the 1851 census.

The military records show that Joseph Atkins of the 66th Regiment of Foot, landed 18th July 1804, Trincomalee, the isle of Ceylone in the East Indies and left East Indies 11th September, 1807.

What an adventure it must have been for a ‘boy’ from Gloucestershire. Trincomalee boasts a magnificent harbour. The District was captured by Portugese in the 16th century. The destruction and looting of the Koneswarar Temple by Constantine De Saa on a New Year day in the beginning of 1620 was a turning point in the history of the District. The Dutch conquered this district from the Portugese in 1693 and it fell into the hands of British in 1796.

It was very strategic and in that gift came the curse as great European powers fought to control it. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English, each held it in turn, and many a sea fight was staged off the cliffs of Trincomalee. It looks today, largely as it did when Joseph Atkins first saw it. The placid waters and gentle breezes made it a haven for ships and men alike. More like a lake than a sea, the harbour is guarded by two projecting headlands.

Among the sights are the seven hot springs of Kanniyayi, on the road to Trincomalee. The water is mildly hot and it is a good bet that Joseph and his fellow soldiers, used it more than once.  He probably also visited the Kon─ôsvaram temple, which attracts pilgrims from all parts of India even today.

The Kon─ôsvaram shrine itself was demolished in 1622 by the Portuguese (who called it the Temple of a Thousand Columns),  in that thuggish and barbaric way of conquest, and who fortified the heights with the materials derived from its destruction. Some of the artefacts from the demolished temple were kept in the Lisbon Museum including the stone inscription by Kulakottan (Kunakottan) It has an emblem including two fish and is engraved with a prophesy stating that, after the 16th century, westerners with different eye colours will rule the country for 500 years and, at the end of it, rule will revert back to Vadugus.  And they got that pretty much right.

The 66th Berkshire Foot would land at Trincomalee just a few years after the British had taken control. The original uniform was a red coat lined with white and faced with yellow-green; lace for officers and white, with one crimson and green and one green stripe for the men. Waistcoat and breeches were white. The uniform did not change its green facings until 1880 and would have been what Joseph wore as a soldier.

Joseph had joined the Regiment in 1802 and in that year it received orders to proceed to Jersely where it landed on November 3 and occupied Fort Henry and Granville Barracks. The Regiment has been based overseas and now had eleven months of well-earned rest. For Joseph it would have been an easy start to army life.

In 1803 Napoleon broke the Peace of Amiens and hostilities broke out with war formally declared against France on May 18, 1803. In just couple of months the Regiment, with Joseph, would be sent to Ceylon, no doubt as part of a greater plan for power and defence against the French, who had already tried to take the island previously. It was also a time of intense recruitment and depending upon when Joseph joined the Regiment, and the reality that there would have been whisperings for a time, he may well, like many of the English, been indignant at French aggression and sought to fight for his country.

Within a year the First Battalion would embark for Ceylon and services on the Madras Coast.  On March 3, 1804 the 1st Battalion 66th Regiment left Winchester to be billeted in the neighbouring towns during the Spring Assizes, but on the following day, orders were received at Bishop’s Waltham, where they were headquartered, for the Regiment to proceed to Portsmouth and await transport to Ceylon.

Three days later the 66th marched into Gosport, over 1000 bayonets strong, and went on board the Brunswick, Canton and Marquis of Ely – three merchant ships engaged in the China trade – who would carry them to the East Indies.  But it would be two weeks of laying off the Mother Bank before the winds arrived which enabled the vessels to weigh anchor. Sailing down the Channel they began a journey which would take them nearly four months, arriving at Trincomalee on July 16, 1804.

When they disembarked some had the luxury of Barracks but for others it was life under canvas. As a ‘new boy’ it was probably tents for Joseph. They rested for six weeks, following, as the records attest, ‘the tedious voyage around the Cape,’ and then the Battalion was broken into detachments.

The Commanding officer, Major-General Wemyss, expressed regret at breaking up the Battalion and declared himself ‘highly pleased with the handsome and soldier-like appearance of the men.’ For the next two and a half years the soldiers were on duty across Ceylone and also on the Indian mainland, in the Madras Presidency.

In 1807, Colonel Hatton, who had the Regiment in his charge, returned home on leave and was replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel Blakeney. On September 3, 1807, just a couple of weeks before Joseph Atkins would take ship for home after being discharged from the service, the following Order was issued by Lieutenant-General Maitland, on the occasion of his visit of inspection at Trincomalee.

" Lieutenant-General Maitland felt great satisfaction
at the whole state of the Garrison of Trincomalee
and its dependencies, at his visit to that important
post. His Majesty's 66th Eegiment, he is happy to
observe, has not suffered by the temporary loss of
that excellent officer. Colonel Hatton. The steadiness
and appearance of the men is highly reputable to
Lieutenant-Colonel Blakeney and the officers of the
Corps. The general character and good conduct of the
officers does credit to the Regiment, and the whole
state of the Regiment does honour to the Service.**

Interestingly, while Joseph’s military career was comparatively brief, he had, by the time of discharge, risen to the rank of Corporal. Not bad for a labourer in just five short years. And if his ‘contracted right leg’ had been due to ulcers, Joseph must have recovered good health as he would live another 54 years, dying at the age of 77 years – a goodly innings.

Photo: 18th century Gloucestershire. Where Joseph Atkins grew up.

Perhaps the ‘limp’ with which he was left was why he became a shoemaker. One presumes that four years with the East India Company in Ceylon, with little on which to spend wages, would have left him enough money to retrain and set himself up in business. He would have nearly two years from the time he returned to England the time that he married – more than enough time to train as a shoemaker, perhaps, as was the way, with a relative or family friend.

While at this stage we do not know if Edwin/Edward Atkins the convict is either our Edward Atkins or the son of Joseph Atkins and Anne Haines (Haynes), Henry Edwin Atkins, there is a reasonable fit on either count or on all three counts.  Henry Edwin Atkins may be our Edward Atkins or he may be Edwin/Edward Atkins the convict – or the three may be one and the same man. If this is the case then we have in the material to hand for Joseph Atkins and Anne Haines a wealth of new material for the family ancestry.

I am employing a Gloucestershire researcher to attempt to resolve the questions.

The connections so far between the convict Edwin Atkins and our Edward Atkins are:

1. Edward Atkins gives his father's name as Joseph on both of his marriage certificates, firstly to Hannah Mcleod and secondly to Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

2. His obituary has a note asking that Gloucestershire papers  be notified, when he died in 1891 at the age of 80.

Edward Atkins was born circa. 1811 or 1812. - Henry Edwin Atkins was baptised February1812 so may have been born 1811.  A few weeks or a couple of months has been recorded between birth and baptismal dates for two of his siblings.  Joseph Lewis Atkins was born January and baptised February; James Webb Atkins was born August, baptised October.  The convict Edwin/Edward Atkins has in most records, a birth date of 1811.

Image: Gloucester Assizes, court report on the conviction of Edwin Atkins.

There is an age discrepancy in  one convict record to date but we have the following, and it is probably wise to ignore the one discrepancy regarding age:

Edward Atkins    1830  Florentia    - on convict muster record but not transcribed to ship record.   24 yo Gloucester. (This may be another Edward or the age may be incorrect and this is most likely given the other records which give a correct age for Edwin/Edward the convict and our Edward.)

Edwin Atkins      1830  Florentia  (transcribed to ship record)  19 yo  from Yas Plains.

Convict Registers
Edwin Atkins              Gloucester Assizes      7 April 1830    7 years                        
Convict & Passenger Records

Edwin Atkins    19      Florentia          1830    7 yrs  Protestant          Hy O’Brien  ‘Yass Plains’

NSW Muster Rolls
Edward Atkins           20        Florentia          1830                Gloucester

3. The convict, Edwin Atkins arrived in NSW in April 1831, having departed August 1830, after having been convicted At Gloucester Assizes and given a seven year sentence, which would have ended in 1837. He was found guilty of sheep stealing. Edward Atkins appears in South Australia definitely in 1843 and possibly in 1840, both dates occurring after Edwin/Edward would have completed his sentence.

4. Edwin Atkins worked as a shepherd on NSW properties whose owners later had links with South Australia. There were numerous cattle drives between the area where Edwin served his sentence and South Australia between 1837, when Edwin finished his sentence and 1840 when an Edward Atkins appeared in South Australia.  Edward Atkins worked as a shepherd and both Edwin and Edward had trade recorded as blacksmith.

5. Description of (Henry) Edwin Atkins is a good match for a photograph of Edward Atkins, circa 1860, when he would have been about 49.

Photo: Edward Atkins with his daughters, Mary (left) and Elizabeth (right), circa 1870.

The Certificate of Freedom report on Edwin/Edward Atkins says he  had dark grey eyes, sandy hair, a ruddy-freckled complexion, eyebrows meeting and he was 5ft. 71/2 inches and had a tattoo HEA on his right inside wrist.

6. Edward Atkins 'appeared' officially in South Australia in 1843 when he marries Hannah McLeod. There is no record of him arriving in the colony by ship.

7. An Edward Atkins is mentioned in an assault record in SA in January 1840, aged 27 which is a birth date of circa. 1813 - in the region of 1811, the same age as our Edward and Edwin Atkins.

8. Edward's son by his second marriage to Elizabeth Mashford is named James Haynes (Haines) Atkins. James called his son Haynes (Haines)  Mashford Atkins.

9. His first son to his first wife Hannah McLeod was called Henry, not Edward, which was a common tradition of the time, and his second son was called Joseph.  We have found nothing beyond the birth notice for Henry but we have a death notice for Joseph as a child.

10. The name Edwin Henry appears for one of Edward's grandsons. Sarah Atkins, daughter of Edward and Hannah McLeod,  who married Walter James Stacy in 1872 at St Marks Church in Penwortham. They had 11 children ) and one of they was called Edwin Henry Stacy DOB 31 Mar 1882 Bundaleer Springs  DOD 08 Apr 1882 Bundaleer Spring.

Photo: Life as a convict was harsh. 

Further information from the Gloucestershire researcher is as follows:

James W. Atkins and his wife Jane, and son George aged 1 were living in Cheltenham.
Figure 1 - James Atkins, 1841 Census of St Mary, Cheltenham

The researcher found possible deaths for Joseph in Cheltenham in 1860 and Ann in Cheltenham in 1865. These records had them both aged 74, which would give a year of birth c. 1791. NB: The 1851 census which fits with the age of Joseph on discharge from the military, and birth dates respectively of 1784 and 1786, for Anne,  would have him aged 76  or 77 at death and Anne 79 or 80. Certainly good ages for the times.

In Slater’s Directory of 1850, under Cirencester,  the researcher found one entry that may be of interest – Payne & Atkins, of Castle Street, who were listed as milliners and straw bonnet makers.  This may be a female enterprise, perhaps one of the sisters listed above in partnership with another person?

Subsequent censuses revealed George Atkins and David Atkins with their spouses, but not ‘Edward’ Atkins at all, which seems to suggest that he was elsewhere.

Figure 2 - David Atkins, 1851 Census of Cheltenham
Figure 3 - George Atkins, 1861 Census of Lutterworth, Leicestershire
Figure 4 - David Atkins, 1861 Census of Stroud, Gloucestershire
Figure 5 - David Atkins, 1871 Census, Stroud, Gloucestershire
A David Atkins married a Hannah Holder in Cheltenham, during the September quarter of 1842, which seems to tally with the above.

Further research in the Cirencester family also found possible further siblings for Joseph Atkins.  A Thomas Atkins married Grace Boulton on June 3, 1778, Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

A Thomas Atkins was cited as the father of the following children:

Joseph Atkins, who was baptised 22 June 1788 in Cirencester. NB: This is four years too late for Joseph Atkins who married Anne Haines but the records are often very hard to transcribe accurately and the year may well be 1784 and not 1788.

Mary Ann Atkins b. 26 June 1795, Cirencester.

Thomas Howell Atkins bp. 26 June 1796, born Cirencester, d. 28 August 1797

Thomas Atkins bp. 1 July 1798, Cirencester.

NB: It is a longshot but given the habits of the time, the presence of the name Lewis as a middle name for Joseph and Ann’s son indicates a connection to family with the surname of Lewis. If Joseph and Ann are found to be the parents of our Edward Atkins, there is always the possibility that there was a connection between the Peter Lewis that Elizabeth Mashford married, and that this played a part in her meeting Edward Atkins at a later date, in South Australia.

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