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Category Archives: Convict Transportation

Jeremiah Swift, Convict and Child Murderer by Robert Barnes

Note: This week Early American Crime welcomes historian and genealogist Robert Barnes as a guest author. Even though Robert’s guest post is a first for him on this website, it is not the first time his work has appeared in this space, since his book, Colonial Families of Maryland: Bound and Determined to Succeed, served […]

Convict Transportation to America: Epilogue

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Almost as soon as British convict transportation to America ended, Americans began to downplay the numbers and significance of convicts sent to the colonies. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson led the way by claiming, The Malefactors sent to America were not […]

The End of Convict Transportation: One Last Gasp and the Australian Solution

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. The American Revolution brought an abrupt end to the British practice of transporting convicts to America. Back in England, the supposedly temporary solution of housing convicts on prison hulks in the River Thames to relieve prison overcrowding only had a […]

The End of Convict Transportation: Convict Hulks

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. The American Revolution ended the British practice of transporting convicts to the American colonies and threw Great Britain’s criminal justice system into chaos. With no place to send its convicted felons, and without a back-up plan in place, England suddenly […]

The End of Convict Transportation: Closing Stages

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Beginning in 1770, English courts handed out fewer transportation sentences to its convicted felons. The growing unease in the American colonies over British rule and its use as a destination for convicts probably had something to do with this trend. […]

The End of Convict Transportation: Debates Back in England

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. In 1739, Governor William Gooch of Virginia complained to the British government that “The great number of Convicts yearly Imported here, and the impossibility of ever reclaiming them from their vicious habits have occasioned a vast Charge to the Country.” […]

The End of Convict Transportation: Ex-Convicts Who Succeeded in America

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. In a letter to the Maryland Gazette on July 30, 1767, one writer defended importing convicts from Great Britain by citing how many of them reform their ways: [A] few Gentlemen seem very angry that Convicts are imported here at […]

The End of Convict Transportation: After Servitude

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Most transported convicts did not make it back to England. Escape was difficult, and the passage back to England was expensive. Even if some convicts were able to return to England after serving out their 7- or 14- year term, […]

Transported Convicts in the New World: Samuel Ellard’s Return to England

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Samuel Ellard grew up in Spitalfields and was apprenticed to a butcher. He completed his time as an apprentice and worked in the Spitalfields Market for various people until he was arrested on March 9, 1741 for robbing a cheese […]

Transported Convicts in the New World: Convicts Who Returned to England

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Most of the convicts who were sent to America from Great Britain stayed in America, but some made it back to their home country, legally or illegally. Convicts who escaped, ran away, or purchased their freedom soon after landing in […]