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Transported Convict John Kingshott

John Kingshott was from Greatham, Hampshire, England and was the patriarch of a whole bunch of Australian Kingshotts. His main biographical page can be found here.


The Selborne & Headley Workhouse Riots of 1830


What has been described as the greatest wave of protest machine-breaking in English history occurred in south-east England in the winter of 1830/31. The mythical leader of the machine breakers and rioters was Captain Swing who took his name from the moving part of the hand operated flail used to thrash grain from sheaves of harvested cereal crops. The rioters were known as machine breakers. The majority were farm labourers traditionally employed as thrashers during the winter months but that winter work was now increasingly being done by horse or steam powered thrashing machines. These machines were seen to be taking work from honest working men, and something had to be done.


A series of disturbances broke out in 1830 and the disorder spread throughout the south eastern and southern counties of England. These were collectively known as the Swing Riots. Unfortunately, John Kingshott played a part in one of these riots as, on Tuesday 23rd November 1830, he was present with a mob and stole loaves of bread, cheese and beer from a lady called Mary King, in the nearby village of Kingsley.


Arrest, Trial and Transportation


John was arrested, it would appear with great difficulty, on Sunday 28th November 1830. The vicar of Empshott, Charles Alcock, states in a letter that "almost all Greatham labourers are in custody", and says that John Kingshott in particular "made a great resistance and attempted the life of young Debenham." He was therefore taken into custody and eventually appeared at Winchester Assize Court.


John was charged with "having, on the 23rd day of November last, at the parish of Kingsley, feloniously robbed Mary King of certain loaves of bread, some cheese and beer." As was common for the time, he was sentenced to death, but this was shortly thereafter commuted to transportation to the colonies for life.


A petition from members of the Petersfield Friendly Society, dated 31st January 1831 on behalf of John Kingshott of the parish of Greatham, stated that he had always been considered "a sober and industrious individual, having a wife and five small children, and that he would have been forced to join the mob." The petition did not stop John from being convicted, but may have helped in the later commutation of the death sentence. 


John was received on the prison hulk "York" on 9th February 1831 and he subsequently sailed to Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) on the ship "Proteus". He departed Portsmouth aboard the "Proteus" on 14th April 1831 and arrived in Hobart 4th August 1831. His description as filed in Tasmania adds other personal information: head, round; visage, oval; forehead, perpendicular; whiskers, black; eyebrows, brown; nose, medium length; mouth, wide thick lips; chin, medium length fleshy underneath; arms, hairy.

This is John's listing on board the prison hulk HMS York. He is third on the list.

It is said that he was the second wealthiest man on the Proteus, having £10.10s, which in those days was enough to have bought him a passage home had the law allowed it.  


After several years in Tasmania, where his family joined him in 1835, John later applied for, and was granted, a conditional pardon. This was dated 5 April 1838. As with all such pardons the condition was that he never returned to England. In the 1848 census he is shown as the proprietor and person in charge of an unfinished wooden house at Brushy Bottom, New Norfolk employing one ticket-of-leave farm servant. The only other occupant was his daughter Ellen.


John Kingshott of Greatham died on 8th May 1866, age stated as 76 years (sic.), a farmer at O'Brien's Bridge, Tasmania. The informant of the death was his granddaughter Mary Ann 'Kinshott', the oldest child of John's son, William.  

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