Michael Purcell (or Purcill), my biological third great grandfather, was an Irish convict sent from County Clare to New South Wales in 1836 for stealing money.
According to the Convict Indents, Michael was only 16 years old when he was sent aboard the Captain Cook (3) after being convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation. 16 years old! So young…
I haven’t been able to find any trial transcripts for this particular convict relative, but being 16 years old and getting caught stealing money in 19th century Ireland says to me that times were pretty tough for Michael and his family. It’s all about perspective, right?
I love the Convict Indents, as they often detail the lesser known physical attributes of each inmate. Whilst it’s not super important to know for the purposes of my family tree, it’s still rather interesting to learn that Michael was “dark, ruddy and freckled, with brown hair and hazel eyes, with an anchor tattoo on the inside of his lower right arm. He was also only 4 foot 11 at the time of his arrival in Australia. Being vertically challenged was certainly passed down to my younger sister! Michael was listed as being Roman Catholic and a sweep by trade. He was uneducated at the time of arriving in Australia.
All actions have a ripple effect on future generations to some extent. For Michael, being “naughty” meant eventually laying down roots in a new, prospering country. It was evident that the conditions here in Australia were much better than that of Ireland…as when Michael received his Certificate of Freedom on the 24th of November 1843, it states that he had grown to 5 foot 5 and 3/4 inches. Michael went on to marry an Irish orphan from Dublin, Bridget Willoughby who had come out to New South Wales from Dublin. He, at the time of marrying her was 33 and she was 17 years old, having come to Australia only two years previously. Together, they had nine children and made their home in Bathurst, New South Wales. From my initial searches, it appears Michael toed the line following his first offence and lived a long life of 90 years, dying in 1909. Being “naughty” allowed for endless opportunity for Michael’s future descendants, myself included.