Burglary at Hungerford

The Berkshire Chronicle of 5 March 1825 reported the trial at Berkshire Assize Court on 28 February 1825 of George Breadmore and John Giles, both of Hungerford.

They were charged with 'having, on Saturday night, the 18th of December, feloniously and burglariously entered the dwelling house of George Edwards, at Hungerford, and stolen thereout a number of silver and plated articles, also 40l in country bank notes.'

Following a number of witnesses for the prosecution a confession was read by the Assize clerk in which George Breadmore fully acknowledged that he assisted in committing the burglary. When the prisoners were called on for their defence, said they had none to offer.

The judge 'summed up the evidence at a great length, and fully explained the law of burglary. He remarked, that from the parole evidence the prisoners could not be found guilty of burglary, for there was no proof which shewed that the house was broken open during the night - that is, between the close of twilight in the evening, and its commencement in the morning. With respect to the confession of Breadmore, it clearly proved that he had been guilty of committing a burglary, but that could not tend in the slightest to implicate Giles; and as they were both charged under one indictment, Breadmore could not be found guilty, unless Giles were so likewise; should the Jury not find the prisoners guilty of a burglary, they would have to consider whether sufficient evidence had been given to shew that both the prisoners were guilty of stealing in a dwelling, to the value of 40s or not'.

Both George Breadmore and John Giles were found Guilty of stealing in a dwelling house to above the value of 40s with both having a sentence of 'Death Recorded'.

Sentence - Breadmore George 19 Labourer - Death Recorded

This was not the end of the story as it would appear that the Death sentence was changed at some point to one of Transportation for George Breadmore, as he arrived in Hobart, Tasmania as convict number 7583 on the ship Chapman on 7 October 1826.

The following account of the life of George Breadmore in Tasmania was written by his great great grandson Don Bradmore in 2008

George’s early years in Tasmania were difficult ones. Assigned to a succession of landowners as a farm labourer, he was frequently in trouble. Convict records show that, in October 1834, he was sentenced to the Launceston Chain Gang for an indefinite period of time for ‘stealing one and a half pounds of sugar, the property of some Person unknown.’ Some months later, still on the chain gang, he was charged with ‘neglect of work’, a misdemeanour for which he received twenty five lashes. In May 1835, he committed the same offence again and was given another twenty-five lashes.

Even after receiving his ‘ticket-of-leave’, which ended his close confinement and allowed him to move in a prescribed region in order to find work of his own choosing, he was unable to avoid trouble. On 29 June 1839, he was charged with ‘having a board in his possession for which he could not satisfactorily account.’ For this offence he received ‘21 days Hard Labour’. His ticket-of-leave was suspended during that time.

However, there must have been good times, too. In 1835, George met Elizabeth Farrell. A free woman, she had arrived in Hobart aboard ‘Sarah’ earlier that year as an ‘assisted immigrant’, one of 2,700 women to migrate to New South Wales and Tasmania between 1833 and 1837 under the auspices of the London Emigration Committee. This Committee had been established, as an initiative of the British Government, to encourage young women to emigrate to the colonies as a means of ‘bettering their condition’. By the time George had applied to the authorities for permission to marry – a strict requirement for ‘ticket-of-leave’ convicts – Elizabeth had given birth to their first child, a daughter whom they also named Elizabeth.

With the consent of the Government, and after publication of the banns, George and Elizabeth were married in the parish church at Launceston on 27 June 1838. Both signed the certificate of marriage with their marks.

In 1840, George was granted a ‘conditional’ pardon. The sole ‘condition’ of the pardon was that he was never to return to England again. Whether that condition troubled George greatly is not known, but it seems unlikely that it would have done so. Life was now becoming considerably more agreeable. George had found work to his liking with a Mr Solomon at picturesque Evandale, south of Launceston, and Elizabeth had given birth to two more children, a son, Henry, in 1839, and another daughter, Sarah, in 1840. Twins, George and Maria, were to follow in 1842.

At about this time, too, George seems to have adopted ‘BRADMORE’ as the preferred spelling of his surname. The reason for this is probably not, as some have suggested, that he wished to escape his convict past, but more likely because ‘Breadmore’ was commonly pronounced ‘Bradmore’ and so it simplified things to spell it that way.

Then, in the late 1840s, an opportunity presented itself to George and Elizabeth that they could only have dreamed about previously. It was to change their lives enormously!

Charles Robert Prinsep, a wealthy landowner who had made his money as a financial advisor to governments in Calcutta, India, decided that his business affairs abroad were making it impossible for him to manage satisfactorily his large property, ‘Adelphi’, at Whitemore, near Evandale. He announced that he was going to divide the big estate into smaller farmlets, ranging in size from fifty to one thousand acres, and to make them available to suitable applicants. The only assets that were required to obtain a lease were rural skills, energy and ambition.

District records reveal that, in 1847, George Bradmore was one of the first successful leasees, and that he took up sixty acres at a rental of ten shillings per year, this amount to be waived for the first two years because much of the land was still to be cleared and there was no dwelling on it. By 1850, Archives Office of Tasmania records show, fifty of the sixty acres had been cleared and fenced - and that all of the ‘tenant farmers’ on ‘Adelphi’ had ‘prospered beyond their expectations ... owing no doubt to the high prices of all kinds of farm produce.’

Thus, for the remainder of his life, George Bradmore, former convict, was a successful ‘tenant farmer’ at Whitemore. When he died, at about 79 years of age, in 1882, he was still leasing eighty acres, while his son, Henry, had an adjoining 151 acres. Until 1890, when all of the leasing arrangements came to an end with the sale of the ‘Adelphi’ farmlets by Charles Robert Prinsep’s heirs, Henry Bradmore was leasing the combined 231 acres.

George’s death certificate shows that he died of ‘paralysis’ (a stroke?). His wife, Elizabeth Farrell had died, aged about 52, in 1857; ‘asthma’ is shown as the cause of her death. In 1859, George remarried. His new wife was a local woman named Mary Richards. There were no more children.

In the end, as a number of historians have observed recently, George may have been one of the lucky ones among the poor, hungry and illiterate of 19th century England. Was his life in Tasmania, despite the disgrace of transportation, the hardships and the other deprivations, better than it could have been in his native Hungerford? Many would argue that it was.

Andrew Young - andrew@breadmore.org - © Margaret and Andrew Young
Breadmore One-Name Study - Burglary at Hungerford - http://www.breadmore.org/