William Epey

William Epey
Born at St Ives in either 1801, 1809 or 1815, William made his first appearance at Huntingdon Assizes in 1830 on a charge of fraud, imprisoned for 3 days. He next struck a constable and was gaoled for 1 month.

William was by trade a butcher, but hit hard times in 1842. An inmate of St Ives Union Workhouse, he stole the shawls of two female inmates from a storeroom and hid them under his bed. His sentence of 2 months imprisonment was reported in the Cambridge Chronicle & Journal 19 March 1842.

St Ives Union Workhouse
St Ives Union Workhouse
In 1843 he stole a 'drab great coat' from William Gilby, sold it to Mrs Maile, a dealer in second hand clothing, who sold it on to a man named Sissons. Gilby spotted his coat on the back of Sissons and William was back in Huntingdon Assizes. He was gaoled for 9 months, reported on 7 January 1843.

William again appeared at Huntingdon Assizes in December 1844 , having stolen 14 sacks, a great coat and a necklace. He was sentenced to 14 years transportation, reported in  the Cambridge Independent Press 11 January 1845.

After a week in Huntingdon gaol, William was moved to Millbank Prison. Conditions were atrocious. Kept in solitary confinement and imposed silence on rations of bread and water, exercise was limited to five minutes. There were regular outbreaks of choleramalariadysentery and scurvy.

William boarded the Pestonjee Bomanjee at Woolwich on 4 September 1845 and sailed for Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), one of 299 male convicts. They arrived at Hobart on 30 December 1845. During the voyage William was twice on the sick list. In October 1845 he suffered anasarca, cured after 11 days. He was back on the sick list the following month with diarrhoea and dysentery, cured after 4 days.

Reported on arrival as 5ft 3ins tall with a ruddy complexion, William had a large head, brown hair and eyes, large nose, small mouth and broad chin. He had a scar on each arm above the elbow and a scar on the forefinger of his left hand. Although he could read a little, William could not write.

Hobart 1845
Hobart, 1845
Listed as very well behaved, William was placed on a probation gang working around Lymington. Although this meant he was under close supervision, engaged in hard labour such as road building, it was his first stage to freedom. For his sentence of 14 years he would typically spend 2 years on the probation gang.

Progressing to the next stage towards freedom as a Probationary Passholder, William worked under contract to private employers and was paid a wage. In June 1851 he worked for John Lamb of Jerusalem for 12 months. By November 1851 he had transferred to "S Bryant, sex unknown, address 'The Hollow Tree'" for 6 months. A scrubby area 50 miles north of Hobart, his job was most likely clearing land for agriculture.

William obtained his Ticket of Leave on 10 May 1852, entitling him to marry and own property. This greater level of freedom appears to have been a challenge too far for William. He was fined five shillings for being drunk in April 1853, and again in June 1853. In September he was sentenced to 12 months hard labour for absconding. As a result, his Ticket of Leave was revoked in October 1853.

After more than a year of good behaviour he was recommended for another Ticket of Leave in March 1855. While on a pass from Hobart Police Office he absconded. His Ticket of Leave was revoked in April 1855. This was followed by one month's hard labour for being drunk in July 1855, another month's hard labour for being absent in August 1855.

Again granted his Ticket of Leave in January 1857, this was revoked in March 1858 for non attendance at muster in the previous December.

William died of hemoptysis on Tuesday 31 January 1860 at Port Arthur, Tasmania. Because his date of birth was recorded for various years he was either 45yrs, 51yrs or 59yrs when he died.

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