Todmorden U3A member Sue Hayter made no apologies for having convict ancestors when she spoke about My Convict Ancestors – A Genealogical Journey.
The story, a detailed and fascinating one, revolved around two brothers from Hereford who, having been convicted of aggravated robbery were transported to Australia in 1833.
Sue’s quest to trace her Maylard ancestry was prompted by hearing a great-aunt talking about the family in detail but holding back on something she told Sue to ask her father about.
Sue started working backwards in time through public records to answer questions she had about her family. The internet also proved a valuable aid. “Googling”, found Herb Pruett, a second cousin in America, where a number of Maylards had gone in the 19th century. Herb was to provide Sue with a family tree and a transcript of From Prison to Pulpit.
It was Hereford where she continued to trace the story of three brothers, including Rev John. It was two of his elder brothers, James, born 1811, and Charles, born 1813, three years John’s senior, who were transported.
John’s brushes with the law which gave rise to the title of the book about him were minor but did cause him to realise he could take his life in a wrong direction.
Or it was it possibly the example of his brothers? Sue quoted: “On the morning of Easter Sunday 1833, when but 16 and a half years of age, he had a remarkable dream which made such an impression on him that he requested his father to allow him to leave his situation [employment] and thus remove him from the scene of peculiar temptation and sin.”
This, a fortnight after his brothers’ trial. The dream lead to his decision to turn to God and he became a Primitive Methodist preacher active from 1834 until his death in 1896.
The law proved to be the restraint on James’s and Charles’s criminal activities after they undertook a burglary in Hereford with two others. They were apprehended and tried on March 27, 1833. Previous convictions contributed to the sentence of transportation. James and Charles sailed from Woolwich on the convict ship Lloyd on August 19, 1833, and arrived in Sydney Cove on December 18. Sue learned much about their fate and had a quite detailed description of them from the Convict Indents which included their tattoos.
Convicts were made to work. James may have been a seaman as he was employed on steam boats. Charles was sent to a settler in Bathurst and may have been a shepherd. Both received conditional pardons in 1848. The talk was well timed for those in the audience who are watching the BBC series “Banished”.
Sue’s story can be found in her book, My Maylard Family – The Genealogical History of an Ordinary Family, which also includes a transcript of From Prison to Pulpit.