John Kinchett was born around 1799 in the small village of Ashington, Sussex, England. His father was Nicholas Bailey Kinchett who was the brother of Francis Kinshott. Francis was, in turn, the father of the most famous of the Australian family John Kingshott who was transported to Australia eight years after this John Kinchett. This makes THIS John Kinchett and Convict John Kingshott first cousins.
Though John Kinchett married in Tasmania, I can find no evidence of children from that union. This is perhaps why he is not particularly well known. Indeed, I only started to work on him on 17th April 2020, during the Covid-19 virus lock-down.
So, what do we know of him?
John appears in a newspaper article in the Morning Advertiser of Saturday 2nd November 1822. He had walked to London from Washington, Sussex and in the process had both worn out his shoes and apparently committed a robbery on the way too.
He was initially picked up trying to sell a watch that clearly didn't belong to him, was arrested and placed before the Police Court for this. This was recorded in the Morning Advertiser newspaper (London) on Saturday 2nd November 1822. This article is reproduced here.
Morning Advertiser, Saturday 2nd Nov 1822
The process in those days was a first appearance at the Police Court then, if the offence was a felony, it was transferred to the Assize Court. The Assize Court therefore heard more serious offences and had the power to sentence people to death, imprisonment, corporal punishment or transportation to the colonies. Transportation was initially to Virginia in what is now the USA, but was quickly changed to Van Diemen's Land - modern-day Tasmania.
By the time John appeared at the Kent Assize Court on 18th December 1822 what was initially a theft or handling stolen goods offence had been increased to one of highway robbery. Though it is not mentioned in the accounts at the time, I suspect that the owner of the stolen watch had been traced and that the circumstances amounted to a robbery which, then as now in English law, is basically a theft where violence is used to undertake that theft.
John Kinchett was found guilty of highway robbery and was sentenced to death. Luckily, the judge was feeling in a good mood and ultimately commuted the sentence to one of "transportation for life". The Statesman newspaper of Friday 20th December 1822 recorded this sombre process.
After his conviction John would have been sent to a gaol or prison hulk in Kent, waiting for there to be enough convicts for the ship to sail. He was there for about four months before he was placed aboard the "Commodore Hayes" which left the English shores on 26th April 1823. This was the last time that John would see his native land.
The journey to the far side of the world was long and arduous and the "Commodore Hayes" finally arrived in Australia on the 16th August 1823.
Almost ten years after arrival, on 10th June 1832, at Green Ponds, Tasmania, John Kinchett married a lady called Mary Watts. He would have had to have sought permission to do so as he was still a convicted felon at this time. Sadly, I cannot find any evidence of any children borne of this marriage.
John received a conditional pardon on 1st August 1839 and a full pardon on the 22nd November of the same year. The remaining condition of the pardon was that he was not allowed to go back to England.
Any chance of children coming along was dashed on 18th June 1846 when John was killed by part of a tree falling on him. The record of his death is shown below. Sadly, this Kinchett line in Australia died with him, but his cousin John Kingshott more than made up for that.