A layman forger at Edgcott!

 

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A loose end in the Tingewick database led me to this burial in Edgcott, Northamptonshire of William Sewell aged 78.  It took place on 6th October 1856 but it was the barely-decipherable note below in the officiating minister’s name that caught my eye.  It reads:

F. W. Stewart
off. Minister
who afterwards
turnd out to be a Layman
was convicted of Forgery
and transported’

Well I never!

Isaac Coote: convicts in Van Diemen’s Land

Timeline

  • 1822 (Sep 8) – baptism of Eliza Cross in Tingewick, Buckinghamshire
  • 1832 (Mar 15) – Isaac Coote sentenced to death, commuted to transportation for life, at Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk
  • 1832 (Apr 6) – arrival in Tasmania of John and Frances Cross and ?five children aboard ‘Forth
  • 1832 (Dec 29) – arrival of Isaac Coote in Hobart aboard ‘York
  • 1838 (Feb 28) – Eliza Cross marries Isaac Coote
  • 1838 (Jun 17) – baptism of Matilda, dau of Isaac (‘tailor’) and Eliza Coote
  • 1840 (May 5?) – birth of Emily, dau of Isaac (‘taylor’) and Eliza **Coots**
  • 1841 – Isaac Coote granted Ticket of Leave
  • 1842 (Aug 16) – birth of Clara, dau of Isaac (‘tailor’) and Eliza Coote
  • 1845 (Dec 15) – Isaac Coote granted Conditional Pardon
  • 1847 (Aug 21) – birth of Alfred Richard, son of Isaac (‘tailor’) and Eliza Coote
  • 1848 – Isaac and Eliza Coote recorded on census with 2 daughters + son, with another unmarried freed convict
  • 1850 (Sep 29) – Isaac Coote becomes licensee of the Angel Inn, Charles Street, Launceston (until 1854)
  • 1851 (Nov 13) – birth of Adelaide Frances, dau of Isaac and Eliza Coote
  • 1854 (May 9) – Isaac Coote becomes licensee of the Jolly Farmer, Perth (Tasmania)
  • 1855 (Nov) – birth of Arthur Isaac, son of Isaac and **Sarah** Coote
  • 1862 (Jan) – Isaac Coote becomes licensee of the Hadspen Inn, Launceston (until 1865)
  • 1868 (Feb 26) – death of Eliza Coote – death notified by Isaac, widower
  • 1869 (Apr 14) – marriage of Isaac Coote and Adeline Laird
  • 1870 (Jun 30) – birth of Thomas James Coote, son of Isaac and Adeline Coote
  • 1873 (Dec 25) – death of Isaac Coote,  (‘tailor’) , of ‘dropsy’, aged 58

In 1832, John Cross – a mason from Tingewick – and his wife Frances née Terry arrived in Tasmania aboard the ship ‘Forth‘.  He seems to have led a most interesting life and I’m hoping one of his more knowledgeable descendants might write about him here in due course.

John and Frances’ second surviving daughter Eliza was barely fifteen and already pregnant when she married convict Isaac Coote, to whom she bore at least five children before dying of ‘paralysis’ in 1868, aged just 45.

Who, though, was Isaac Coote?  My search led me to discover the wealth of information available through the Tasmanian Archives Online website and its Tasmanian Names Index – a vast number of searchable scans, freely available.  A word of warning, though – the images are HUGE and very slow to load, so not something to attempt on a mobile phone signal!

Lent Assizes for Bury St Edmunds, 1832 (from Ancestry.com)

Lent Assizes for Bury St Edmunds, 1832 (from Ancestry.com)

Isaac was, it seems, convicted of housebreaking at Bury St. Edmonds Assizes on 15th March 1832, one of thirteen men sentenced to death for offences ranging from sheep-stealing to sacrilege.  As often happened at the time, none of the sentences were carried out: most were commuted to transportation – one for  7 years, the others (including Isaac) for ‘life’  but one man (a sheep-stealer) was merely imprisoned for 12 months!

Six months later, Isaac was one of 200 convicts aboard the ‘York‘ sailing from London and Plymouth, arriving in Hobart on 29th December 1832 after a three month voyage.

1832Coote,Isaac-description-CON18-1-21_00261_L_c

Description list from Linc Tasmania CON18/1/21

 

On arrival, his description was carefully noted: he was 5’5½”, aged 19, with fair complexion and a small head.  His hair was brown and he had ‘small’ brown whiskers.  His ‘visage’ was small and narrow, his forehead low and retreating.  His eyebrows were dark brown, his eyes dark grey, his nose small and his mouth ‘normal width’.  His chin – in proportion with the rest of his face – was ‘small’ and he had a blue mark on his left arm.

Once disembarked, he was assigned the number 1442 and assigned to work for a Mr Fletcher as a ‘house servant’.

Conduct record from Linc Tasmania CON31/1/7

 

According to his conduct record, he had a few brushes with authority – absconding, ‘neglect of work’, and helping himself to his master’s ‘porter’ and chickens.

Marriages at Launceston, 1838 from Linc Tasmania, http://stors.tas.gov.au/RGD35-1-42p34j2k

Marriages at Launceston, 1838 from Linc Tasmania, RGD36/1/3

However, in February 1838 he was granted permission to marry Eliza Cross; in June their daughter Matilda was born followed by Emily (1840), Clara (1842) and Alfred Richard (1847)  – Isaac’s occupation recorded as a ‘tailor’ on each of the birth / baptism records.

Approx. 1845, from ancestry.com HO 10/59 page 102

Approx. 1845, from ancestry.com HO 10/59 page 102

In 1841 he was given a Ticket of Leave and granted a Conditional Pardon in December 1845.  The governor’s recommendation states that his ‘conduct having been good for many years past and … having completed beyond the ordinary servitude with a Ticket of Leave

1848 census of Van Diemen’s Land from Linc Tasmania CEN1/1/98

The 1848 census return gives a full and interesting view of their household.  The house was brick-built, in parish ‘No 2’   There were three adults (aged 21-45) living there, presumably Isaac and Eliza and another unmarried male.  Both men seem to have been freed former convicts.

1848 census of Van Diemen's Land from Linc Tasmania CEN1/1/98

1848 census of Van Diemen’s Land from Linc Tasmania CEN1/1/98

 

 

 

 

 

Although Isaac and Eliza had four children by the last day of 1847, only three were recorded as living at home at the time of the census.  All are said to have married and had children: who and where was the missing child?  Matilda was by this time 10 years old, soon to be 11.  Was she, perhaps, already working in another house in the town?  No names are given in the census, so we may never know.

Rather surprisingly, both men and the baby are said to be Church of England, but Eliza and the two girls were Roman Catholics!  Isaac’s occupation falls under the heading of  ‘Mechanics and Artificers’: the other man was a ‘Domestic Servant‘.

Births at Launceston, 1851 from Linc Tasmania, RGD32/1/3  http://stors.tas.gov.au/RGD32-1-3-p673j2k

Births at Launceston, 1851 from Linc Tasmania, RGD32/1/3

The Launceston Examiner, Wed. 8 September 1852 (from trove.nla.gov.au)

The Launceston Examiner, Wed. 8 September 1852 (from trove.nla.gov.au)

 

 

In 1850, Isaac took up a new career – licensee of the Angel Inn in Charles Street Launceston – a licence he renewed three times, the third time in October 1853.  This new occupation is reflected in the baptism record of their daughter Adelaide Frances in 1851.

In May 1854, Isaac took on the licence of another hostelry – this time the Jolly Farmer in the township of Perth on the plains to the south of Launceston.

Births in Longford, from Linc, Tasmania, RGD33/1/33

Births in Longford, 1855, from Linc Tasmania, RGD33/1/33

18 months later, there is a rather odd birth recorded at Longford (close to Perth and around 7 km / 4.5 miles to the West): Arthur Isaac Coote, son of **Sarah** and Isaac Coote: father’s trade is given as “Licensed Publican” so it seems reasonable to assume this is ‘our’ Isaac.

It’s been suggested that Sarah might have been Sarah Cross – Eliza’s sister – but I’m unconvinced.  She was married to James Devall, had borne him a daughter in the previous year or so and would bear him another two years later.  My best guess is that the wife’s name has been mis-heard, mis-written – or even mis-remembered by the registrar.  The page does not seem well-maintained – several entries (including this one) are lacking the informant’s signature, and the mother’s maiden name is also omitted.

By 1862, they were back in Launceston, this time running the Hadspen Inn, renewing the licence each year until at least 1865.

1868 death record from Linc Tasmania

Deaths at Launceston, 1868 from Linc Tasmania RGD35/1/37

In 1868, Eliza Coote died of “paralysis”, aged 45, and two days before her 30th wedding anniversary.  Her occupation is given as “Publican’s wife” and Isaac registered the death.  Hardly the actions of an estranged husband who was living with another woman, since they had grown-up children who could have done what was necessary.

 

18690414-Coote,Isaac-marr-IMAGE_282_c

Marriages in Launceston, 1869, from Linc Tasmania RGD37/1/28

 

Fourteen months later, Isaac married again – this time to the 24 year old Adeline Laird.  The marriage took place in his house in Youngtown.

 

Launceston birth record from Linc Tasmania RGD33/1/48 no 59

Births at Launceston, 1870 from Linc Tasmania RGD33/1/48

Their son Thomas James was born the following year, 1870: Isaac was still recorded as a ‘Licensed Victualler’.

 

from Linc Tasmania RGD35/1/42 no 2239 Deaths at Launceston, 1873

Deaths at Launceston, 1873 from Linc Tasmania RGD35/1/42

Isaac died at Launceston on Christmas Day 1873 of ‘Dropsy’, aged 58 – having apparently reverted to his original occupation of ‘tailor’.


What, though, of Isaac’s origins?  My money is on Isaac Coot, born (according to Ancestry) 29th November 1814, at Sudbury in Suffolk, son of Isaac Coot and Matilda.  There are other births recorded for the couple: Robert (15 Oct 1812), Richard (8 Mar 1817) and Eliza (17 May 1819) but I’ve not found their marriage.


On 29 Jan 1761, at All Saints, Sudbury, an (earlier) Isaac Coot  married Sarah Pain.

On 10 Oct 1734, at All Saints, Sudbury, an (earlier) Isaac Coot  married Elizabeth Sneell.