Section F - Descendants of Robert Rowntree 1778-1830
This branch of the Rowntree clan can he attributed to Edward Casson Rowntree (1811-1893) who was the eldest son of Robert Rovvntree (1778-1830) and Elizabeth Casson (1782-1818). Edward's life was to take a dramatic change that took him to Tasmania and for a time, New Zealand. The events that led to this change came from an incident which brought Edward into conflict with the law leading to a term of seven years transportation.
The sentence of transportation to Australia and Tasmania came in multiples of seven years. Seven, 14 and life, usually 21 years, were the usual terms imposed. In the majority of instances this meant that after the end of the term imposed the ex convict was not allowed by law to return to England. In many cases those who were transported had a far better life in their adopted country than they might have expected back in their homeland. Some became landowners, respected tradesmen or civic leaders and some settled in other countries such as New Zealand.
Apart from the hardened criminals who repeatedly offended or committed murder and spent their time in such prisons as Port Arthur, the remainder were sent to work in the community employed by the government or by the settlers depending on the qualifications of the convict. It was under these conditions that the convicts often met their future partners and if they wanted to get married before their sentence had expired, an application had to be made to the Governor, and in the case of Tasmania, the Lieutenant Governor.
On February 15,1829, Edward had stolen a quantity of money and an iron key, which had been reported to the authorities. His case was brought before the court on 27th April 1829, at the Quarter Sessions which was formerly a criminal court held four times a year before justices of the peace or a recorder, empowered to try all but the most serious offences.
Tried at the Pontefract Quarter Sessions in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Edward was charged with a felony, to wit, that he did steal, take and carry away two promissory notes for the payment of two guineas valued at two pounds and two shillings, one piece of gold being a current coin of the Realm called a Sovereign valued at one pound, one piece of silver being a current coin of the Realm called a Half Crown valued at two shillings and sixpence and one iron key valued at one penny, being the property of one George Hancock. Having heard from several witnesses and a guilty plea from the accused, the court sentenced Edward to seven years transportation.
Before undertaking the passage to Van Diemen's land (Tasmania), Edward spent almost a year in prison and on board a prison hulk from where he was rowed out to, and placed on board the ship Manlius at Sheerness, at the mouth of the River Thames. The ship set sail on 23rd April 1830, arriving at Hobart town some 107 days later on 12th August 1830.
The Manlius was built in Quebec, Canada, in 1825 and was sold in London for the transportation of convicts. She was a three-masted square-rigged vessel of 479 tons with a crew of about 30, sufficient guards to control the prisoners and some 200 convicts, with provisions for three months. During fine weather the convicts were allowed on deck surrounded by a railing which was within three or four feet of the ship's sides from where the guards were able to keep an eye on the prisoners. However, during rough weather the convicts were confined below decks in the holds, where the air was foul from sweating bodies and the stench of improper toilet facilities combined with a lack of fresh air due to no air circulation did nothing for ideal travelling conditions. These poor conditions must have been unbearable, and it is surprising that there were no deaths recorded for this voyage. The ship was under the command of a William Johnston and the health of all on board was the responsibility of an Ebenezer Johnson, the Surgeon, who sailed on the ship for the first time.
Upon arrival at Hobart a very detailed muster was conducted on the quarter deck in the presence of the Surgeon Superintendent, the Captain and the ship's company. Each convict was asked his name, the time and place of his trial, his sentence, native place, age, trade and occupation. The answers were compared and corrected (if necessary) by the indents and in the lists transmitted from the hulks. After recording the height, colour of hair and eyes, complexion and any other identifying marks of each convict, an inquiry was made in respect to the treatment that each had received during the passage; whether he had been given his full ration of provisions; if he had any complaint against the captain, officers or crew; and lastly whether he had any ailment or infirmity that might prevent him from being actively employed.
The muster of the convicts conducted in this manner, occupied the secretary from five to seven hours, and if there were numerous complaints, the muster continued the next day.
The facial description shown on the right was typical of that made for the identification of convicts.
When the muster had been completed on board the convict ship, the Lieutenant Governor appointed a day for the disembarkation. At an early hour on the day, the convicts were dressed in their new clothing and were taken ashore and arranged in lines for the Lieutenant Governor's inspection. They were permitted to take with them the bedding that they used on the voyage, and such items as clothing and effects that they had brought with them.
Patrick McTeman, a previous surgeon who had sailed in the Manlius a few years earlier, was quoted as saying of the convicts — 'Clothing was altered much to the advantage and comfort of the convicts'. They wore a woollen cap, guernsey frock, a check shirt, raven duck trousers, a neckerchief, shoes and stockings.
The ship's captain, surgeon superintendent, chief engineer and the superintendent of convicts, accompanied the Lieutenant Governor in his inspection. The superintendent as he went repeated aloud from a distribution list previously prepared by either the chief engineer for the government, or by the settlers' individual applications to the magistrates of the different districts, or to the superintendent himself, the destination of some of the convicts. At this point of the inspection, the Lieutenant Governor received a report from the captain and superintendent regarding the good or bad conduct of any individuals during the passage, and promised to attend to their recommendation. He rarely altered the convicts' destination made by the superintendent, but would sometimes request that certain categories of men be assigned to settlers who had previously applied for that category. These orders were conveyed to the chief engineer and superintendent. When the Lieutenant Governor had completed his inspection, he addressed the convicts in an audible tone, which started with an inquiry as to whether they had any complaint to make, or if their treatment during the passage had been humane and kind, and if they had their proper allocation of provisions. If any complaint was indicated, the name of the individual was taken and the inquiry was referred to the Police Magistrates, but if the convicts were silent, of if they declared in general that they were satisfied, the Lieutenant Governor proceeded with his address. He expressed his hope that the change in their situation would lead to a change in their conduct and that they would become new men, specifying that there would be no reference made to their past, and that their future conduct in their respective situations would alone entitle them to reward and indulgence.
When a convict ship arrived at Hobart town the period between the arrival of the convicts and their disembarkation was generally of short duration. The maximum amount of notice possible was sent to the settlers to enable them to attend the distribution. Mechanics were generally reserved for the government, with the exception that the settlers were allowed to select such men as, upon their own personal inquiry, would best suit them.
On arrival, Edward was assigned to an R. H. Woods, and two offences were recorded against Edward during his sentence. The first was reported by Woods on 24th January 1831, being drunk on Saturday night last. Reprimanded. The second was on 8th August 1832, when Edward was reported as being insubordinate by a Mr J. Jackson, master of H.M. Cutter Charlotte, during a voyage from Great Island to Hobart town. Presumably Edward had been returning from Great Island (Flinders Island) after completing sortie construction work at an Aboriginal establishment there. Punishment: 14 days solitary confinement.
R. H. Woods was the Principal Superintendent of Convicts who had been appointed in 1830 and was dismissed from this post (probably in 1831) for irregularities in his administration. One of the charges against Woods was that he had altered an appropriation list for the Manlius in order for him to have a convict assigned to him as a farm labourer who was in fact 'an excellent joiner and carpenter'. An examination of the relevant records had shown that this was in fact Edward Rowntree who was originally described as a carpenter and joiner indicating that Edward had acquired his trade before being transported.
Before Edward could marry he had to obtain permission to do so from the Lieutenant Governor (George Arthur held this post in 1835). Without this legal authority, a convict was not able to marry. It was usual for a male convict to have a ticket of leave if granted permission to marry, to ensure that the convict had a means to support his wife. For some reason, Edward's convict record does not show that such a document was issued. However, the last reference on Edward's convict record is dated 3rd February 1835. (The author does not know what this entry refers to.) Edward and Hannah Nicholls, a free settler, were residents of Richmond and were married on 6th July 1835 in the Sorell Parish by Rev. James Norman. The witnesses were Joseph Nicholls, Mary Smith and Jane Law, all of Richmond.
Edward had gained the skills of an architect, either during his detention at Hobart or prior to being detained at His Majesty's pleasure. It is certain that during this time, copies of Edward's architectural drawings were retained at the Archives office in Hobart. One set of these drawings relates to plans and written specifications for alterations to a house for a Mr F. Rowntree.
Not much is known of Edward and his family after his release. However, there are some basic items of information which have come to light.
One source indicates that Edward was an Overseer of carpenters in Government Works at Richmond in 1835. He was also a registrar of the Van Diernen's Land Total Abstinence Society.
The 1842 census lists Edward as living in Terrace Street, Richmond, in a house belonging to Henry Garland. The household consisted of a married couple between 21 and 45 years, one female under two years and two females and one male aged between two and seven years. Edward was listed under the 'mechanic and artificer class', and all belonged to the Church of England.
Six years later the 1848 census revealed that the family was living in Melville Street, in a house belonging to John Wilkinson. The household consisted of a married couple between 21 and 45 years, one female and one male aged between 14 and 21, two females and one male aged between two and seven years. The family was now listed as dissenters.
Edward's religious background was that of a Quaker due to the fact that many members of the Rowntree clan belonged to the Society of Friends. His family (parents, etc.) were Quakers in Sheffield and were referred to in the Quaker monthly meeting minutes. At the time of his transportation, he was disowned by the Society of Friends.
The Hobart Quaker records show that in 1833 Edward was recorded as being an ex member, and in 1852 he was listed as an attending non member. On 6th September 1866, his wife Hannah became a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers).
Edward had removed his family to Dunedin, New Zealand (it is thought that they had sailed on the vessel Isobella, which has not been confirmed), probably in the early 1860's as it is known that his daughter Mary was married in Dunedin on 29th July 1864 to Joseph Anderson. At this time there was a gold rush in the South Island, and it may have been this event that had attracted Edward to New Zealand as carpenters, architects and draughtsmen would have been in demand to cope with expanding towns and the building of new settlements.
One of Edward's children, Edward Casson II, born in 1836, was in Dunedin in 1878 when his youngest son Albert (the author's grandfather) was born. I understand that this second Edward Casson returned to Australia, possibly Melbourne.
Taking into account Edward's religious background, it is hard to comprehend why he had found it necessary to steal from his employer. Unfortunately the judicial system in England at that time did not record the reason for this action. Edward's Quaker relatives who knew him best, would have found it difficult to come to terms with his behaviour. It is said that the death of his mother in 1818 might have had a detrimental effect on him. Edward had been described by a cousin as a 'poor boy in bad company'. Whatever the reason for this misdeed, it appears that Edward had done his best to overcome the stain in his life.
It appears that he made genuine attempts to a large extent to recover from the devastating events that he had found himself in during the early years of the 1830's. As already mentioned, Edward had sought out the Society of Friends in Hobart, become a member of the Total Abstinence Society, and was given a position of responsibility by the government. The approval for him to marry before the termination of his sentence and no known blemish against his name since his freedom, has been recorded.
TREVOR IAN ROWNTREE
Edward Casson Rowntree I (1811-1893), following his release in Tasmania, at age 24, married in 1835 18-year-old Hannah Nicholls (born 1817) 'who had come out free', and 15 children were born to them benveen 1836 and 1859. [W. K. Sessions]
Trade: Rough carpenter and farm labourer.
Height: 5' 7 3/4".
Whiskers: Dark brown thin.
Eyebrows: Dark brown.
Eyes: Dark brown.
Nose: Medium length.
Mouth: Medium width.
Chin: Medium length broad.
Remark: Scar upper lip.
Native Place: Thorne, Yorkshire.
Can read and write
Remarks: Strongly recommended.
No other offence
Educated: Ackworth School 1821-1825.
Member Balby Meeting: Disowned 1830
20 Nov. 1833 listed as ex-member in Hobart
1852 listed as non-member in Hobart, but as an Attender.
Was joiner in England - Overseer of Carpentry in Government Works at Richmond. Registrar of Van Diemans Land Total Abstinence Society.
Photo thanks to Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.