Richard Message married my great x4 Grandmother Hannah Oliver in Dallington, Sussex on 20 October 1803. They had one child from the marriage, Richard baptised on 9 February 1807 at Warbleton, Sussex where the family were living. Various contacts have mentioned a second child, Philadelphia who lived between 1804 and 1817 but have never shown me any proof and I have searched high and low with no sign. So I discount until someone shows me the evidence! Hannah had two children already by a previous relationship with a Benjamin Carley, Benjamin Oliver Carley baptised on 16 February 1800 at Warbleton, and Stephen Carley Oliver born in 1802 in Warbleton.
Richard may have been born in Shoreditch around 1786, a baptism has been found on 31 January 1786 to a Richard and Mary Message of Holywell and there is nothing in Sussex at that time.
But Richard’s story can be picked up in 1806 and fits this week’s theme of Negatives for #52Ancestors nicely. Richard appeared in the England and Wales Criminal Register 1791-1892 on Ancestry.co.uk charged with Felony (which was a serious crime) at the January session, he was acquitted.
Then he turned up again in 1807 on the England and Wales Criminal Register 1791-1892 on Ancestry.co.uk at the Lent session at Horsham Court charged with Larceny (theft of personal property), the sentence was 14 years Transportation.
At the age of 21 in 1807 he appeared on the register of Perseus a Prison Hulk register, convicted on 16 March at Horsham of Felony which is a bit confusing unless it was a separate charge from the Criminal Register above. He was awaiting transport on the Admiral Gambier. The Perseus was moored in Portsmouth Harbour and it would appear from the next record that they were moored for over a year. It must have been grim!
A newspaper report from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday 25 December 1808 reported that the Admiral Gambier arrived from England under Captain Harrison with 197 male prisoners. They sailed from England on the 2nd July and arrived in late December so a 5 month voyage, but all were reported in good health and good spirits. A small handful died on the passage.
Richard appeared on a list in 1811 as being in Hobart town in Tasmania and then in 1816 he appeared in the New South Wales Convict Register of Conditional and Absolute Pardons with an Absolute Pardon.
Amazingly the next record found for Richard is the record of his marriage on 26 June 1816 to Mary Ann Mullins in Hobart, Tasmania. She was a free person. Unfortunately Richard doesn’t appear to have been free to marry again, as he was still married to Hannah although she was all those miles away in England. I guess the likelihood of him ever returning to England was so very slim, he took his chances as many others must have too. He was 31 years old and Mary Ann was 19 years old.
Richard died on 5 October 1821 in Hobart, Tasmania aged 35 years, having never returned to England.
Willetts, J (n.d.) "Convict Ship Admiral Gambier 1808" Free Settler or Felon
18 April 2022 – more information about the Admiral Gambier