Rioters Clergy Solicitor, William Cowburn Contacts & Links Riot Home Page
A total of 345 men were arrested for disturbances
in Hampshire alone, and tried before a Special Commission at Winchester over
the period 20th to 30th December 1830, with a break of two days for Christmas.
Of these defendants, 22 had been committed for troubles in and around Selborne and Headley:
· Aaron Harding · Thomas Harding · John Heath · Thomas Heighes · William Heighes · Robert Holdaway · Henry James · John Kingshott · John Newland (the 'Trumpeter') · James Painter · Matthew Triggs
· Robert Bennett · William Bicknell · Henry Bone · William Bright · John Cobb · Thomas Hoare · William Hoare · Thomas Marshall · Thomas Robinson · Benjamin Smith · John Trimming
There is evidence to support the view that Aaron Harding was one of the prime perpetrators of the riot in Selborne probably more so than Robert Holdaway. At his trial, people accused him of having a prominent role, and he was certainly in trouble before the riot occurred, having been in the courts three times and in jail twice:
Vicar Cobbold, at least, was convinced that Aaron should not be reprieved from his sentence after the riot and, hearing rumours that a petition had been got up on behalf of him and John Heath, wrote to Lord Melbourne on 28th January 1831 stating that they were "the most desperate and daring characters of his entire parish and the terror of the neighbourhood, and should they be let loose on society again there is no saying what may happen." (See section on John Heath for full text of the letter)
Aaron was indeed a colourful character, as his subsequent life in Australia proved.
Born near East Worldham around 1789 (we have not found a record of his baptism), son of William and Mary Harding, he married Sarah Stacey at East Worldham on 7 August 1810.
They had nine children (ages in 1830): William (20), Mary Ann (18), George (16), Henry (14), Daniel (11), James (9), Elizabeth (6), Maria (4) and Thomas (2)-all baptised at Selborne.
His wife had died in June 1829 aged 44, and was buried at Selborne.
After transportation, Aaron was assigned to John Atkinson near Berrima in a district then called Sutton Forest, about 80 miles south-west of Sydney. We know a little about Atkinson: he called his property Mereworth, and established an Inn called the Kentish Arms there. But he eventually ran into financial trouble, and sold Mereworth and left the district in the 1840s. The Kentish Arms, later renamed the Three Legs o' Man, was demolished in the early 1900s.
Aaron was kept in the hulk Phoenix in Sydney Harbour for 11 months from 29 January 1836 as witness for the Crown, though we have yet to discover the reason why. We also note that in March 1835 there was a letter addressed to an Aron Harding lying unclaimed at the GPO in Sydney, according to the NSW Government Gazette of the time (see also John Heath).
Aaron 'married' Alice (Ellis) Sargent at Sutton Forest between 3rd July 1843 and the end of 1844. She already had 9 children of her own. In fact the marriage probably never happened, as there is no evidence of Alice's divorce from her husband Thomas Sargent or of her marriage to Aaron, but she and Aaron had a child, also Aaron, born 26th September 1845 at Sutton Forest. Alice also had the custody of the four younger children from her first marriage, Henry (5), Jane (4), Mary (3) and James (21 months), and with the five children, she and Aaron decided to pioneer across to South Australia. It is not known what route was taken, some say they followed the river (possibly Murrumbidgee) until they met up with the Murray/Darling, then followed the Murray through to Adelaide. Others say they blazed their own trail with a mob of cattle, which took from 6 months to two years. The latter is most likely as Aaron Harding called himself an overlander at the time. A rifle said to be one used on the trip over from NSW is now in the possession of a great grandson of Henry Sargent.
However, we know that the family was settled in Gawler by June 1848, as the baptism of Aaron and Alice's second child was recorded there. William Harding was born on the 2nd April 1848, but no birth certificate can be found. He was baptised at St. George's Church, Gawler, on 4th June 1848, by Rev WH Coombs, their address being Floraville, S.A. Due to their broad English accents, the baptism of William was registered as William 'Arden'.
While they were living at Gawler, Aaron Harding senior was found dead on 6th November 1851. An inquest resulted with the finding of "accidental death". Henry Sargent, who would have been only 11 years old at the time, was called as a witness, calling himself Henry Harden. Aaron's name was registered as Harden for the inquest. A search for the death certificate of Aaron Harding (Harden) has so far failed.
An item in the Adelaide Times of Saturday 8th November 1851 entitled 'Dangerous Practice' says: "On Thursday last, Dr Duncan held an inquest on the body of Aaron Harden at the Phoenix Hotel near the Yatala Smelting Works. From the evidence, it appeared that the unfortunate deceased was driving a bullock dray from the Port and had adopted thwe too-usual method of riding on the pole, from which he fell, and before Dr Davey (who was almost immediately on the spot) reached him, he was dead. Verdict Accidental death."
On 12th June 1852, Alice (Ellis) then married Richard Rees, bullock driver of Peachy Belt, Gawler Plains. At this time she was calling herself Alice Arden, widow. She died on 21st October, 1863, at Butchers Gap, her death being registered by her son, Henry.
There is an unsubstantiated family story that Richard Rees destroyed his wife's will when she died, and kicked Aaron junior and William Harding out with only the clothes they stood up in. Whatever the truth, they survived, and went on to ensure that Aaron Harding of Hampshire contributed 18 grand-children and 35 great grand-children to the population of his new homeland. The majority of Aaron's Australian descendents now live in or around the suburbs of Adelaide, and the rest are scattered across Australia.
Aaron Harding Sources: Marjorie Burwood, Jill Chambers, Lynn Croucher, Hilda Symonds, Geof Watts, Lin Cervi and others
Hilda May SYMONDS passed away peacefully 1 April 2011, aged 96 years, in Queensland. She was the granddaughter of Aaron.
In July 2023 the BBC TV programme "Who Do You Think You Are?" featured Lesley Manville who is descended from Aaron Harding through his son James.
Thomas Harding was baptised in Kingsley on 24 June 1798, son of William and Mary, and younger brother of Aaron. He was still single at the time of the riot.
In Tasmania, he was assigned to the service of Dr Henderson in the north
of the island, almost certainly in Launceston. His ticket of leave was granted
on 8 September 1835, and his free pardon dated 3 February 1836. He would
then have been eligible for a certificate of freedom on 27 December 1837,
ie 7 years after his initial conviction.
Instead, he seems to have started to run foul of the law. George Rudé, in a lecture he gave during 1970, called him an 'adventurous spirit' and reports his exploits thus:
He seems to have been a good worker and had no record of offences in the colony at the time of his free pardon in February 1836. But, two years later, he was found guilty of receiving five stolen £1 notes and sentenced at the Launceston quarter sessions to seven years' transportation. In November 1838, he absconded from a road party and a £2 reward was offered for his capture. Brought to trial again, his sentence was extended by another two years. Once more, he absconded-this time from the custody of a constable who was escorting him from Hobart Town to Bridgewater in May 1839. He seems, this time, to have been more successful, as his name features on the half-yearly lists of absconders for July 1840, and again in January and July 1842. And that as far as I can discover, is the last we hear of him!
Indeed, it is the last that anyone has been able to learn of him. Family rumours exist saying that he managed to escape from Tasmania, even that he may have returned to Englandbut no-one knows for sure.
Thomas Harding Sources: Jill Chambers, George Rudé, Geoff Sharman, Geof Watts
John was born in Selborne on 29 November 1788, baptised 4th January 1789,
the eldest of thirteen children of John and Charlotte Heath. He had not
married at the time of the riot.
Of his siblings, it is interesting to note that Robert, born 13th May 1794, married Ellen Newland, daughter of the 'Trumpeter' John Newland, on 30 May 1847. Ellen was tried in March 1849 for the attempted murder of Robert, and transported to Tasmania with their baby daughter. (See below under John Newland).
This Robert wrote to William Cowburn following John's sentence asking for
help in acquitting him:
Selbourn Jany 12th
Dear Sir i have taken the Liberty of Wrighting to You about my Brother John Heath who is to be Transported for Life Sir if You Can Speak to do any Good for My Brother it Will be my endeavour to Satesfiy You as far as Lays in My Power Robert Heath.
Charles Bennett as Sworn again him for being up on Headley poorhouse but thear are 9 or 10 People that will Come on their Oath that John was never in the House at all.
Sir we have been to the Revnd Mr Wells and he says if you think a pettion whould Do Good for my Brother he whould Draw one up for us so Dear Sir if you can make it conveint to send me a few Lines I will endeavur to satesfy You for it.
There had also been a number of sworn affidavits on John Heath's behalf,
from Sarah Adams, Joseph Cobb, Charlotte Heath (his mother), Andrew Knight,
Thomas Ralfs and Hori Smith.
Charlotte Heath said: On Monday morning the twenty second day of November last her son John Heath was taken from his shop by about fifty or sixty men who came there and insisted on the said John Heaths going with them or they would pull down his shop wherein he was then at work.
Sarah Adams, a 'widow of Selborne', said that she was standing by the gate of the Headley Poorhouse premises for about one hour whilst the men were engaged in doing injury to the Poorhouse-that she saw John Heath come from off the Common and stood resting on his stick by the Gate near to her and she verily believes that he did not go into the Poorhouse during any part of the time that the injury was done, she having stood near to him all the time and must have seen him advance towards the said Poorhouse if he had done so. (Interesting to note that this implies some women from Selborne, as well as their men, may have been present at the Headley riot).
Thomas Ralfs, labourer of the parish of Kingsley, gave another view of the Headley sacking, saying that he was standing just within the outer gate of the Headley Poorhouse premises whilst the mob were engaged in breaking off the tiles of the said House-that whilst he was advancing a few paces towards the House by the footpath John Heath came hastily after him and caught hold of him and said "you come back and stop along with me"whereupon he and John Heath retired about three yards and stood still near the outer gate in the footpath. Whilst they were standing there Heath said to him, "there is Charles Bennett pushing the tiles off, see his head through the roof, he sweats like a Bull". Ralfs confirms this, saying that Charles Bennett was on the roof of the poorhouse taking a very active part in the destruction thereof and altho Charles Bennett swore upon the Trial that John Heath was upon the roof of the Poorhouse, Ralfs 'verily believes' that the said John Heath was not on the roof of the Poorhouse nor did he in his opinion take any part in the destruction thereof, he having seen him retire from the said footpath into the Road at the time the said mob left the said Poorhouse for Kingsley.
However, the vicar of Selborne was adamant that John Heath should not be
reprieved, and wrote to Lord Melbourne against remission (see also Aaron
Jany 28, 1831
A report has reached me today, that a recommendation has been made to your Lordship in favour of John Heath, who with Aaron Harding, was convicted at the late Special Commission at Winchester, of being concerned in demolishing the Headley Workhouse, and had both of them sentence of death recorded against them. I know not whether the report is true or not, but it is from an apprehension and alarm that it may be true, that I take the liberty of imploring your Lordship, to listen with great caution to any recommendation, come from what quarter it may, which has for its object any remission of the sentence of either of these men, which the Judges assured me should be transported for life, as they are the most desperate and daring character of my whole parish, and the terror of the neighbourhood, and should they be let loose on society again, there is no saying, what may happen.
I am, my Lord,
yr lordship's obed ser Wm Cobbold
Vicar of Selborne
There is a note on the letter, 'Inform that Ld M has no intention of recomd for mercy.'
On arrival in New South Wales in July 1831, John Heath was assigned to Capt James St John Ranclaud who held a large estate called 'Trialba' at Teralba on Lake Macquarie, about 100 miles up the coast north of Sydney. This estate 'extended west from the mouth of Cockle Creek to the foothills of the Sugarloaf Range, at Killingworth'.
Capt Ranclaud died on 29th May 1832, and the grant passed to his son, James
Ranclaud junior but it seems that prior to this, according to a letter
from the Resident Magistrate at Maitland dated 2nd May 1832, John Heath
had been removed from the service of Captain Ranclaud in consequence of
his having improperly transferred this man to Mr Simpson for a period of
twelve months which would indicate that Heath had hardly worked for
Ranclaud at all.
Mr Simpson was probably Percy Simpson, an Assistant Surveyor of Roads and Bridges for a number of years from 1828, who owned land on the south western side of Lake Macquarie and was instrumental in the construction of the Great North Road.
In July 1832, we find a 'Henry Heath' of the Eleanor, described as a 'rough carpenter', attached to the Government's No.29 Road party building the Long Bridge at Maitland, up the Hunter River from the Ranclaud estate. Since there was only one Heath on the Eleanor, and John was indeed a carpenter, we assume he was the man.
By the following month, August 1832, he had been assigned yet again (the
New South Wales Government Gazette describing him this time as 'Eleanor
Heath', farm carpenter) to another master, Lieut Hanbury Clements of Drummond
Ville near Liverpool, about 15 miles west of Sydney.
Clements had served in the Navy from 1812, then chartered a boat to emigrate to Australia with his family in 1828 where they arrived eventually, having survived ship-wreck at the Cape of Good Hope. By 1830, he had been granted land at Summerhill Estate near Bathurst, 120 miles inland, and a six-day journey from Sydney over the Blue Mountains an area which had only just been opened up for settlers within the previous decade. It was here that John Heath was employed.
He is recorded as being there in the 1837 Muster, and from there he petitioned on 27th February 1837 to see if he was pardoned the reply being, John Heath is not named in the list received from the Col. Sec. of State.
His Conditional Pardon was, in fact, dated 9th November 1837, but we know that he had not collected it by June 1850, and we have as yet no further details of his life.
In a list of unclaimed letters at Sydney GPO issued in March 1835, there is one addressed to a John Heath. We wonder if it was 'our' John Heath, and whether it was ever collected.
Heath Sources: Jill Chambers, Geof Watts
Thomas Heighes was born in Selborne parish on 1 August 1801, and baptised on 25th October 1801, the sixth child (second son) of William and Sarah. He married Ann Bright at Selborne on 20 June 1822, and they had three children (ages in 1830): Ann (3), Lucy (3) and James (1).
In Tasmania, he worked for Mr Solomon Austin (1833) and Thomas Hughes (1835). His ticket of leave was granted on 1 June 1835, and his free pardon dated 3 February 1836.
It is recorded that a 'Thomas Heyes' died on 27 December 1838, of fever, in the John Kelsh Col Hospital, Hobart. The informant was the hospital Superintendent. His age is recorded as being 38 years and he was a labourer. The death was registered the next day.
William Heighes was born in Selborne parish in 1799, fifth child and eldest son of William and Sarah. He married Elizabeth Cole at Selborne on 11 November 1824, and they had three children at the time of the riot (ages in 1830): William (4), James (4), Sarah (born January 1830). After his acquittal, eight other children were born.
According to the 1843 tithe map, William and his family were living at
Waterside, Oakhanger, a small farm on the edge of Shortheath Common, its
eastern boundary being a bend in the Oakhanger stream. The boundary is still
exactly the same today, though the old house is no longer there. In 1843,
the farm belonged to William's mother and in her will of 1847 (she died
in 1850) there is no mention of William, but all of the other children then
living shared equally. We suspect a family quarrel, but have no evidence
to support this.
William emigrated to Canada in 1850 with his family-one child had died before the family left, and seven are recorded as arriving with their parents in New York on 1 July 1850. The two eldest sons, William and James are thought to have arrived in advance.
William the patriarch died in his 90th year, on 13 February 1889 at Holland Township, Ontario. A considerable number of his descendants live today in Canada and the USA.
Heighes Sources: John Heighes, Geoff Sharman
Most of what was known about Robert Holdaway came from 'interested parties'
of one persuasion or another. There was the prosecution's evidence at his
trial given by the Master of Headley Workhouse and by William Cobbold, the
unloved vicar of Selborne; and the subsequent statement by his defence counsel
which tried to put a different complexion on the same facts. All were potentially
Then we found the records of William Cowburn, a London solicitor living with his family in Selborne in 1830. He was in London at the time of the riot, but his wife wrote daily from Selborne telling him what was going on. He took up Holdaway's cause in order to prevent him from being hanged, as he felt this would be disruptive of village life in Selborne. However he was quite happy, it seems, to see him transported. From the correspondence of Cowburn with others during this time we get some unsolicited views on Holdaway's character.
One example is from Edmund Yalden White, great-nephew of the naturalist Gilbert White, writing from Crondall on 2nd January 1831:
To William Cowburn, Esq. I write this to say how rejoiced I am to find you espousing poor Holdaway's cause. I view the whole subject in exactly the same light as yourself. I have had several transactions with Holdaway and always found him a well-behaved, civil, honest, obliging peaceable and respectful man, and shall always be ready and happy to say so or to write so if it will in any way assist your cause; and may God grant you success.
I told many of my friends yesterday that I thought both Mr Cobbold's prospects and life were in danger, and his friends should persuade him never to go near the place again.
Born in Ovington in 1790, the fifth son (and eighth child) of John and
Mary Holdaway, Robert married Elizabeth Jane Mayhew at Bighton, near Alresford,
on 8 July 1813. They had three children (ages in 1830): Mary Ann (17), William
Mayhew (14) and John Freeborn (12) all born in Bighton.
Elizabeth died in February 1820 aged 25 years, and Robert married Sarah Freeman, a minor then 18 years old, daughter of a respected Alresford butcher, at New Alresford on 5 July 1821. They had five children (ages in 1830) Jane (8), Sarah (7), Frederick Robert (4), Frances (3) and Elizabeth Mary (1) all but Jane were born in Selborne.
Robert was transported on the Eleanor, which set sail from Portsmouth on 19th February 1831 with a total of 203 on board and arrived at Port Jackson on 29th June, the surgeon remarking in his Journal that "no set of men perhaps under similar circumstances ever suffered less from disease, the names of eleven convicts only appear on the general list of sick and of these several might with great propriety have been omitted." One of these was Robert Holdaway who, along with the Cook, had suffered a 'trifling' scald and was kept in the sick bay for eleven days!
On arrival in Australia, Robert worked for Dr John Harris, seemingly as a wheelwright, first at Shane's Park Estate on South Creek then at Penrith. We have a description of the place and of Dr Harris, then aged 77, who had been a surgeon with the Second Fleet, and was the first doctor to settle and practice in AustraliaShane's Park is one of the prettiest places in the County of Cumberland. There is a beautiful stretch of the South Creek about one mile long and eighty to one hundred yards wide, the orchard terraced from the top of the bank to the water's edge very prettily. Dr Harris was a cripple, or paralysed in his legs, and had to be lifted in and out of a small vehicle made to wheel him about. Mrs Eliza Harris was a fine lady-like looking woman, and one beloved by all her servants.
Unfortunately, we can find no records to tell us more about Robert Holdaway
in Australia, but we do know that he wrote home in 1831, with Mr Harris's
permission, asking for his wife and children to join him.
A letter from William Cobbold to Lord Melbourne, dated 1st March 1832, reads:
My Lord, Robert Holdaway, late of this Parish, of notorious memory on account of the leading part he took in the riots in this neighbourhood at the close of the year 1830, for which he was sentenced to death which sentence was afterwards commuted to transportation for life, has lately written home to his wife, expressing a strong wish that she and her family of eight children will go over to him, which she has signified to the Parish a great desire to comply with, provided they will defray the expense of her passage. But as they think the sum of money which would be required for this would be greater than they could afford, I write to your Lordship at their bequest, to ask whether Government would not assist them in [ ]ring the object of their wishes in getting rid of such a heavy drain upon their fundsor whether they could not put them in a way of getting assistance from some other quarter.
There is another letter dated 23rd October 1833 from J. Dunn, Under Sheriff
at Alresford, which reads:
The wife of Holdaway whom you know was transported for life being one of the Selborne rioters has just been with me in great distress to implore me to use every exertion to get leave for her and her five infant children to join her husband at Sydney. I believe I once applied to you on this subject and your reply was that the government would not consent to it except some assurance could be given that they would not become burdensome to the colony, but since I am told that the higher powers have relaxed in this resolution and that some of the parties who were transported for limited periods have actually been set at liberty and Mrs Holdaway confirms this by declaring she had seen two of them (natives of Stratton) and that they came through Alresford on their way homeshe has shown me a letter she has just received from her husband urging her to join him and assuring her that he has ample means of supporting her five children and he further states that his master has sent a certificate of his good character to entitle him to this favour.
The wife is the daughter of Freeman the butcher of this place who is a respectable man, but with an extremely large family, and he is likewise very pressing in his desire to accomplish his daughter's wishes. I hope therefore you will be able to give me some hope and expectation that a licence may be given for her departure to New South Waleswe could get a petition strongly signed by the Selborne people if that would aid the cause and the overseers no doubt would contribute largely towards the expense of the voyage.
But, for whatever reason, Sarah did not go to Australia, and eventually
she re-married in 1843 (see further).
Robert was granted a conditional pardon dated 9 November 1837, but he seems not to have collected it, according to the list issued by the Principal Superintendent of Convicts' Office, Sydney in June 1850.
Robert was granted a conditional pardon dated 9th November 1837, but he seems not to have collected it, according to the list issued by the Principal Superintendent of Convicts' Office, Sydney in June 1850. His name also appears on a memorandum issued by the Colonial Secretary's Office in Sydney, dated 8th June 1838, authorising payment of £4 to him from Savings Bank. On this document, his 'condition' is stated as 'free'.
Robert Holdaway died in 1853 and is believed to be buried in Camperdown, Sydney.
Holdaway Sources: Jill Chambers, Keith Holdaway, Christine Mulcaster, Nigel Mulcaster
Warrant dated 2 Dec 1830: Machine breaking, riotous assembly and destruction of Headley Union. No former convictions. Sentence: Death, commuted to life transportation. Received on hulk York 3 Feb 1831, sailed on Eleanor.
In Australia, he was assigned to Alexander Fraser of Castlereagh and Penrith
on the Nepean River, about 35 miles inland from Sydney.
Here was an example of one ex-convict becoming master of another. Fraser had been a clerk in Edinburgh, convicted of fraud in 1817 and transported for seven years, arriving in Australia in 1818. His master, Henry Fulton, had petitioned in 1821 for a mitigation of his sentence, saying "he is a man of considerable abilities as an English teacher, unassuming in his manners, and his behaviour has been exemplary." He later married Fulton's daughter, became the first postmaster of Penrith in 1828, and by 1831 had received a grant of sixty acres from the Governor to add to the 110 acres he already owned.
As to Henry James, perhaps he drew some comfort from seeing how another convict could become reputable so quickly. He was still working for Fraser in Penrith at the time of the 1837 Muster, and his conditional pardon was issued on 9th November 1837 but other than that, as yet we know nothing more about him or his life in Australia.
James Sources: Jill Chambers, Geof Watts
He was born around 1795 in Greatham, one of six children of William and Lydia Kingshott, and married Mary Small at Bramshott in 1821. They had five children before the riot (ages in 1830): William (10), Mary Ann (7), Hannah (4), John (2) and Francis (under 1 year).
In Tasmania, John was at first assigned to John Kingstall, but by 1833
was working for a hotelier in New Norfolk, Mrs Ann Bridger, as a farm labourer
learning the trade of blacksmith, and an application was made to the authorities
for his wife and children to join him.
This was received in England, and on 16 April 1833 the Rev George Godbold of Greatham replied recommending the transfer. Unfortunately, he sent it to Norfolk Island, a thousand miles away in the Pacific Ocean, instead of to New Norfolk in Tasmania(!) and as a result it took a year and a day to reach its intended destination.
By 13th June 1834, an official request had been sanctioned, and in June 1835 the family finally boarded the Hector to arrive at Hobart on 20 October.
John and Mary had a sixth child, Ellen, born in New Norfolk on 21 January 1837. Mary died about two years later, being buried on 1st March 1839.
John's conditional pardon had been granted, dated 5 April 1838, and in the 1848 census he is shown as the proprietor and person in charge of an unfinished wooden house at Brushy Bottom, New Norfolk employing one ticket-of-leave farm servant. The only other occupant was his daughter Ellen.
Of his six children, all married, and all but John stayed in Tasmaniathe latter followed his father's trade as a blacksmith, moving to Melbourne in 1846, then to the gold diggings near Castlemaine where he seems to have had some success.
John Kingshott of Greatham died on 8th May 1866, age stated as 76 years, a farmer at O'Brien's Bridge, Tasmania. Informant of death was his granddaughter Mary Ann 'Kinshott', the oldest child of his son, William Kingshott.
Kingshott Sources: Alan Kingshott, Jim Kingshott, John Kingshott, Molly Kingshott, Ann Knight, Geoff Sharman and others
The noted naturalist W. H. Hudson, in his Hampshire
Days, tells us that the Selborne mob was led by horn-blower, John Newland.
He based this largely on talks he had had with Newland's youngest daughters
at the beginning of the 20th century, when they were both elderly ladies.
They were not even born at the time of the riot, yet the legend of their
father's action that day had clearly been passed down to them.
Hudson recorded it as fact, and the village perpetuates the legend, yet several of the things he states are clearly at odds with documentary evidence-a warning to all of us that, however venerable the author, facts should always be checked before one assumes them to be true! see further information on this.
John was born in Selborne 2 Dec 1791, the son of John and Hannah Newlin
He was enlisted into the army on 1st April 1813, being discharged on 14th December 1819 due to 'Debility caused by disease and wounds when on service with the 2nd Battalion 37th Foot in Holland in action with the enemy.' According to the Regiment's surgeon, he 'received the wound as stated in the body of the discharge in action with the enemy at Bergen op Zoom in 1814.'
He married Ann (née Evans) at Selborne 13 Feb 1821, and was her second husbandshe had previously married George Kemp and had two children by him (ages in 1830): William (12) and Mary (11). George was buried at Selborne 24 Oct 1820.
Ann then had nine children by Johnsix of them before the riot (ages in 1830): Frederick (9), John (7), Jane (5), Ellen (4), Arthur (2), William baptised 21 May 1830and three afterwards: James baptised 9 Apr 1832, Eliza baptised 22 Feb 1834, and Harriet baptised 24 Jun 1838.
In the 1841 Census of Selborne, the Newland family are referred to as 'Paupers'.
Eliza married John Garnettshe was the 'widow Garnett' interviewed by WH Hudson in October 1902. Harriet married James Deweyshe was the 'aged landlady' also referred to by Hudson in his Hampshire Days.
Although John Newland was not himself transported, his descendants did
eventually arrive in the antipodes.
Ellen Newland was sentenced at the Lent Assizes at Winchester on 1st March 1849 to transportation, charged with the attempted murder of her husband Robert Heath 'with arsenic in a pudding.' Her record states: "I left him for 12 months; after returning to him he accused me of living with another man which led me to the offence for which I am now suffering." She travelled out with her baby daughter Mary Ann on board the St Vincent to Tasmania in 1850. The baby died soon after they arrived. Ellen married John Ryan (or Roynan) there in September 1851 and had seven more children. She died in 1908.
In 1884, George Newland, son of James, emigrated to Tasmania on board the Indus, and his descendants now live in both Australia and New Zealand.
John Newland died in bed aged 77 in 1868, and was buried near the famous Selborne yew tree at the request of Eliza and William. His grave is marked to this day as the 'Trumpeter's Grave'. His widow, Ann, married yet again the following year, when over 70, and eventually died at the age of 86 years.
Newland Sources: Jill Chambers, Marian McColl, Nigel Newland, Jean Vivian
He was received on the hulk York 10 February 1831, and transferred to hulk Hardy on 1st March 1831. For reasons which are not clear, he was never transported, and was granted a free pardon granted in May 1833. He returned to his family in Kingsley.
James was baptised on 24 March 1793 at Kingsley, the son of Mary (no other
information). He married Jane and they had one child before the riot: Lucy,
baptised 18 August 1829 at Kingsley.
Two further children were born after 1830: George (baptised 10 August 1834) and William (baptised 10 October 1841).
The family appears in the 1851 census for Kingsley: James (59), Jane (47), George (16), William (9).
James Painter died in May 1860 aged 69, and his wife Jane in 1874 aged
71, both in Kingsley.
Of their sons, George eventually went to Guildford as a blacksmith; William married Sarah Ann Collins in 1863 and went to the Midlands as a shepherd in 1874/75; he died in 1923 at Melton Mowbray.
Painter Sources: Jill Chambers, Lynn Croucher, Graham Harrison
Born in Hollywater, a hamlet of Headley, the seventh and youngest child of William and Hannah Triggs, and baptised on 23 September 1792, Matthew married Mary Croucher at Headley on 30 Aug 1820. They had five children (ages in 1830): William (9), John (7), Hannah (5), Jane (3), Sarah (6 months), all born in Headley.
In Australia, Matthew worked first for William Harper at Oswald near Greta
on the Hunter River, upstream from Maitland.
William Harper, a Scottish surveyor, had arrived in Australia in 1820, bringing with him his newly-purchased theodolite, a rarity which was welcomed by the officials in Sydney. He was appointed assistant-surveyor, and worked for some years surveying many parts of New South Wales. However, by 1826 the wear and tear of this life had taken its toll on him he had suffered paralysis, lost his sight, and was retired early from duty in 1827.
A broken man, he retreated to Oswald, the 2,000-acre estate which he had been granted some years earlier. Here, in 1830, he began to erect a 'comfortable residence' for himself and his family, and he asked the Governor of the day for the assignment of some convicts with skills to assist him including a brickmaker. Whether or not this request resulted in Matthew Triggs being assigned to him the following year, we can only guess.
There were stories of Harper being a cruel landowner, but this has never been proved. He died in May 1836 aged 44 years, and was buried on his own property at a place now known locally as 'Harpers Hill'.
Matthew then worked for Harper's wife, Catherine, at Maitland, and was
granted his conditional pardon on 9th November 1837. Maitland at this time
had a brickworks and was becoming a prosperous area, with demands for his
skills as a bricklayer.
He died on 30th November 1853 in Maitland Hospital aged 61 years, and is buried in Grave 33 at Camp Hill Cemetery, West Maitland. Interestingly, there is another Triggs laid to rest nearby Joseph, who died two years later in 1855 aged 40 years. So far we have been unable to establish any connection between the two. (See further information)
Triggs Sources: Jill Chambers, Philip & Ann Viney, Geof Watts
Age 61: born 12th August 1769 at Lyth, Westmoreland; Queen's College, Oxford: matriculated 1786 (aged 16), BA 1791, MA 1795, Fellow and tutor; Rector of Headley 1818-47; died 1st November 1847 at Cheshunt, Herts.
According to Headley 1066-1966 by Canon Tudor Jones, Mr Dickinson was
'a great deal non-resident, and suffered from ill-health, though he was described
as "a jolly big old farmer".'
Rev William Rust Cobbold (1773-1841), vicar of Selborne in 1830
Age 57: born at Wilby, Suffolk, son of Thomas, clergyman; matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford in 1792 (aged 19); Magdalen College, Oxford - BA 1794, MA 1797, BD 1805; Fellow and tutor; Vicar of Selborne 1813-41; died 19 Aug 1841 at Ludgate Hill, London; buried at Kensal Green.
Mr GV Cox, chorister of Magdalen College in 1793, speaks of Cobbold as the
College Schoolmaster in the following terms:-
"Having during one or two of his last years been a pupil of Mr Cobbold, I am entitled to speak of the impressions left upon me by his teaching: they are these - that from a bilious constitution, betrayed by his yellow-tinted complexion, he was ill-qualified to bear kindly and patiently with little ignorant boys. 'Alphezibeus, Sir,' he would say; 'don't you know s from z? Listen, Sir, Al-phe-si-be-us;' every syllable, especially the third, being impressed by a sharp cut with a cane, or a sharper twitch of an ear. Indeed this latter punishment, his favourite one, extended several times to the partial tearing the ear from the head of a dull boy!"
The conflicts between Cobbold and his parishioners for several years before the riot of 1830 are well documented, a particularly interesting account coming from his own pen in a document entitled Abuse of the Poor Laws in the Parish of Selborne, Hants. This document, which came to light in 1946, has been summarised by Mr L Sunderland, himself a vicar of Selborne, in his booklet Trouble at Selborne, published in 1967.
Even after the riots, Mr Cobbold seems to have shown no sense of amelioration
towards his flock. In a letter from him appended to the Second Annual Report
of the Poor Law Commissioners in 1836, he writes:
"It is to the operation of this Act entirely (Poor law Amendment Act 1834) by withholding from the labourer the means of frequenting the public houses and beer shops, that I attribute the present peace and quiet of the streets as compared with what it used to be. I consider the Poor Law Amendment Act one of the greatest blessings which could have been conferred on a parish like Selborne and I do not despair now of seeing the rude people of this place become perfectly civilized and of a very different character to what they have hitherto been."
Cobbold's death in a road traffic accident was reported in the Gentleman's
Magazine of November 1841 as follows:
"Died at the Belle Sauvage, Ludgate Hill, aged 68, the Rev. William Rust Cobbold, Rector (sic) of Selborne, Hants.
The death of this gentleman was occasioned by his being knocked down, six days before, by the Oxford Mail cart at the end of Ludgate Hill. Being a very corpulent man, it was two days before it was discovered that his ribs were broken. A Coroner's jury returned a verdict of accidental death, accompanied by a censure on the Surgeon, who had not paid the case sufficient attention."
Magdalen College recorded the same event in Latin:
A.D. 1841. Aug. "Circiter hoc tempus casus funestus e vivis aufert Gulielmum Rust Cobbold, S.T.B. nostri Collegii olim Socium, et Vicarium de Selborne in comitatu Hanton.
Quum enim ad Londinium se contulisset, negotii obeundi causa, et per vias omni rhedarum genere refertas gradu titubanti, quippe qui annis provectus et corpore infirmus, festinaret, a curru temere acto eversus fuit, et in talem modum sauciatus, ut post paucos dies animam apud diversorium, ubi commoratus est, expiravit." V.P. Reg.
William Cowburn Esq, age 48 in 1830, was a London lawyer resident in Selborne at the time of the riot who, while deploring the outbreak, strove energetically to obtain a reprieve from the gallows for Robert Holdaway. The son of James Cowburn, a Lancashire man who became bankrupt, he married Catherine Smith of Camer in 1816.
The Cowburns rented a property with a lawn in the centre of Selborne from Miss Mary White (this may have been Wakes, which we know she inherited) and left the village in 1832, moving to Sydenham, Kent. William Cowburn died in 1854.
Early in 1830, before the riot occurred, he had published an 'address' to the 'Cottagers of Selborne' recommending ways in which they might use a bit of 'self-help' to improve their lot:
COTTAGERS OF SELBORNE
I have been induced to draw up the following statement of facts, that the Cottagers of Selborne may see the many advantages to be derived from industry.
In Yorkshire, a poor man of the name of Thomas Rook, rented a small portion of land, and the only persons he had to assist him were his wife and a girl of twelve years of age; the only time he could work himself were the leisure hours after his daily labor was over. His family lived well, never applied to the parish for relief, and he has been enabled to lay by a sufficient sum to place out his two sons, and to furnish them with clothes and other necessaries.
In 1802, another poor man of the same neighbourhood rented one acre and a quarter of land; before he entered upon the occupation he had the greatest difficulty in maintaining his wife and three children, for he had no land, and was therefore obliged to buy every article of food. In 1809 his family had increased to seven children, yet, though from frequent ill health he had not been able to earn the high wages obtained by many of his fellow-laborers, he supported his family without any parochial relief.
These two instances furnish sufficient proof of the vast benefit that must arise to laborers from being enabled to cultivate a portion of land for themselves. Much time which otherwise would necessarily be spent in idleness, after the daily work is over, may, by this means, be advantageously and pleasantly employed; and not only that, but it furnishes full employment to the wives of the cottagers, and gives the children early habits of industry.
It may be asked, how the Cottager can make the cultivation of land furnish him with means of subsistence, when he hears that the farmer is much troubled to make it answer. But this difficulty can be easily and satisfactorily answered. The farmer incurs great expense by the men he employs, but the poor man only employs his idle time; he works himself, and enjoys the produce of his own labors, always feeling that independence will be the reward of his labors; and who that is born in a free country would not glory in such an idea; would not, while he is exerting his strength, delight in the thought that he will no longer be obliged to apply to the parish to assist him in supporting himself and his family?
The answer of a poor man in a parish in Berkshire, who enjoyed the benefit of renting a small piece of land, is well worth remembering; he was asked, he was even solicited, by the parish officers, to accept of some assistance for the support of his nine children. His reply was, on no account; I keep my family, thank God, very well, and would, on no consideration, be beholden to the parish.
I have one more instance to bring forward, which even exceeds those which have gone before. A laborer at Hasketon, in Suffolk, rented a piece of ground, and died, leaving a widow with fourteen children, the eldest a girl under fourteen. The parish is within the district of the incorporated houses of industry, the directors of which immediately agreed to relieve the poor widow by taking her seven youngest children into the house. This was proposed to her, but, with great agitation of mind, she refused to part with any of her children. She said she would rather die in working to maintain them, or go herself with all of them into the house and work for them there, than part with them, or suffer any partiality to be shewn to any of them. She then declared that if the farmer would continue her as his tenant, she would undertake to maintain and bring up all her family without parochial assistance. She persisted in her resolution, and being a strong woman of about forty-five years of age, her landlord told her she should continue and hold it the first year rent free. This she accepted with much thankfulness, and again assured him she would manage for her family without any other assistance.
She has kept her word, placing out twelve of her children in service, and regularly paying her rent, after the first year. She came at length to her landlord, and informed him that as she had now only her two youngest children left with her, who could, indeed, almost maintain themselves; she had taken to the employment of nurse, which was a less laborious situation; she therefore gave up the land, expressing great gratitude for the enjoyment of it, as it had afforded her the means of supporting her family, under a calamity, which must otherwise have driven both her and her children into a workhouse.
Who, that reads the above, would not earnestly desire to possess the means of rendering himself and family independent of parochial relief? It has been found to answer in various parts of the kingdom, and why should it not meet with success at Selborne, where the peasants possess health, strength, and means sufficient for the undertaking? It is to be hoped that they also possess a spirit of independence equal to what is found in other places, which will induce them to labor for themselves, rather than be dependent on parish assistance.
Your well wisher,
LONDON, February, 1830.
Following the riot, he was asked by a local MP to write an account of the conduct of the mob at Selborne. This was sent, with other documents, as an affidavit in favour of Holdaway to Lord Melbourne and Baron Vaughan:
In the latter end of November 1830 the Laborers and poor of Selborne in
Hampshire required an increase in wages, and that the Governor of the workhouse
should be discharged. The wages were deemed to be too small, and the Governor
oppressive. The maximum of wages there has been 9/- a week for able laborers,
less for young men, boys, and women, and some men not being strong only 1/-
a day, or 6/- a week. The parish allowance to parish laborers working on the
roads was 10d a day. This must be admitted to be on too low a scale. The wages
demanded was 2/- a day, which cannot be deemed too much.
The Farmers deliberated, but came to no decision. The Laborers then invited the surrounding parishes to join them, and formed a mob of from 300 to 500 which increased to 800 or 900. They then required the Farmers to attend the vicar (the Rev Wm Cobbold) and demanded of the latter that he should reduce his Tithes, and of all of them that wages should be increased, and the Governor of the workhouse discharged. Some reluctancy was shown, and they proceeded to the workhouse, destroyed the furniture, and broke the windows.
They then returned to the vicar and allowed him just half an hour and, that expired, 5 minutes to decide, when a rush was about to take place upon him and his house, and to save his life and property he came out and signed the paper prepared for him agreeing to accept £300 a year in lieu of taking in kind of from 600 to 900 a year. The remainder of this night was past in eating, drinking and rioting, and the following morning their banner was again displayed, their force called together by the sound of horns, and compelling all laborers every where to join, they accumulated it is said 1,100 and proceeded to Headley, a neighbouring parish, and did as at Selborne.
Money was asked for and given at Selborne, and was spent in eating and drinking. The poor of Selborne, if not oppressed, have at least not been sufficiently attended to, the laborers not sufficiently rewarded, and in many instances throughout the county similar causes have produced similar effects. The following instance may tend to illustrate that, where the poor are attended to, they can feel gratitude and abstain from doing mischief.
A family [Cowburn was referring to himself here] have resided at Selborne about half of each year for the last 8 or 9 years. They have been uniformly, but only ordinarily attentive to the poor, and have not been overnice in selecting the worthy only, but by employing and relieving occasionally some of an opposite character, as it was said have tried to reclaim them. Early this year an address was circulated by this family among the laborers to encourage industry; and land was granted to any poor man who desired it of an acre or two to each, to enable them to grow their own potatoes, and wheat for bread.
When the mob assembled, though collected from almost all the surrounding parishes, it seems to have been a well understood rule among them that they were not to injure any thing belonging to this family nor at all to annoy them, and this was carried so far that although the Man Servant, when numbers were collected about the gate, asked them what they wanted, or what they would have, the immediate answer was "nothing here, this gentleman and lady bear too good characters and are too good to the poor, and we will not hurt a stick or stone about them", nor did they.
On another occasion when they came and forced away the Outdoor Servant, they told a woman servant not to let her mistress be alarmed for they would not injure any thing, but the labouring man they must have to join them. And they were overheard to say in different parts of the mob that nothing must be injured about this family. In the evening, some stragglers came down and asked for something to eat and drink, and when they returned and told the main body it was the cause of a quarrel, and some say of a fight, at all events great displeasure was expressed that this family had been disturbed at all.
The lady was at this time alone with a numerous family, so that the power of causing terror, doing mischief, and exciting any thing was very great. It is also the more remarkable because this is almost the only assailable family at this beautiful sequestered spot, for which even Cobbett says "God has done everything".
A few nights afterwards a house was set on fire, and the gentleman of this family (for he was soon there) can bear ample testimony to the readiness with which his orders and advice were attended, which it is believed by the nearest Magistrate and other Gentlemen, prevented the fire spreading and saved great part of this village.
For some years the Farmers have been distressed and the poor laws have borne heavily upon them, and to relieve themselves they have naturally kept wages as low, and the relief to the poor as low too, as they possibly could so that the laborers and poor have suffered beyond human bearing and now comes the reaction. This should be remedied, but how? Let statesmen judge.
And finally, we have an account of the riot and trials from James Bridger, one of the more significant farmers of Selborne parish, written soon after the events at the request of William Cowburn:
To: Wm Cowburn Esq
14 Tavistock Sq
Selborne, Jany 12th 1831
I hear from T. Hoare it is your wish to have an account from us respecting the proceedings at Selborne on the 22 Nov, which I now give to the best of my recollection.
We did not hear until the morning of the 21st that there would be a mob at Selborne, and then Mr Hale [a Farmer] and Mr Collyer [Church Warden] went to Mr Cobbold to request his advice. He was very short with them and told them they might do as they thought proper, for his part he could do nothing.
We had heard of Riots in many places round us, and certainly expected it here, to prevent which we called a meeting a few days before and agreed to advance the labourers wages to 2/- a day, which we thought would prevent any thing of the sort here. According to the report of the Times, Mr C accuses us of inciting the labourers to make the demand on him, which is very false as on the contrary we did every thing in our power to prevent them breaking in at his gate, of which we have plenty of witnesses, and that I told him when he asked us if we should consider his agreement binding, that I certainly should not.
The 'Times' goes on to state what they consider to be the most criminal part of the conduct of us Farmers. They say after forcing C. to sign away his property we distinguished ourselves in defending our own Property, the Workhouse, but this again is wrong. Whether by design in C. or by mistatement of the reporter I know not, but the damage was done to the workhouse before they went to C. There was an attempt made to save the workhouse, the particulars of which I believe you know.
Mr Debenham Snr, on his arrival at Selborne, asked the people what they wanted; they said an advance of wages and also to lower the Tithe. Mr D. remonstrated with them on its being an unlawful proceeding, when they immediately surrounded him and with uplifted clubs demanded what he meant, which with the treatment his son had received at the workhouse before was enough to convince us that persuasion and not force would be of any avail, and there were only about few of us unarmed against 300.
Mr C. also accuses us of giving them Beer, and ordering it to be charged to the Parish, but here again I think we have reason to complain, as he was the first to propose its being charged to the Parish Acct, and mentioned how much he thought each man should have, and Eade [Church Warden] wished half of the Beer to be had from his House.
There seems to be great odium thrown upon us for signing the paper, although C. was the first to put his name to it, and Eade drew up the agreement and handed it to most of the Farmers for them to sign, and also wrote a copy and gave it to the men and the original to me, and even after my Father had several times refused to sign, held a hat for him to lay the paper on. After C. had signed, the mob declared they would not leave till he had given them five Pounds. We then stepped forward and told them they should have no such thing, we (the Farmers) would sooner join round and give them some ourselves. C. then proposed its being charged to the Parish.
We should have contradicted the statement of C. before, but our attorney, Mr Mellersh of Godalming, wished us to be quiet for a time and not even to let any one know we had had any advice. It is our most anxious wish to have this affair sifted to the bottom, as I think C. will then be seen in his proper colours. We can make it appear we advised the men to abstain from violence, and that if we had not been there the consequences would have been a good deal worse for C. as many of the Labourers are ready to come forward and say. We did every thing in our power to keep them quiet, and when Cobb, one of the most active amongst them, got in at his gate we ordered him out.
I called upon poor Holdaway to do all he could to keep them out. It appears C. knew the intentions of the mob toward him for several hours before any of the Farmers, except those living on the spot, were there. Surely he ought to have requested our assistance, and then if we had refused he would have had a just reason to complain of us. We refused for some time to give any Beer, and only consented at last on condition they should immediately disperse and go to their work.
We had given Mr Harrison [master of the Selborne workhouse] instructions the evening before, in case the labourers should go to him before we were there, to assure them in our names their wages should be raised if they would be peaceable, which we thought would satisfy them, as we had no thoughts of their interfering with Mr C. or of seeing any more than our own parishioners there. We can prove also that on hearing of the disturbances in other places, we had mentioned to the principal Farmer of a neighbouring parish that we should wish to advance the price of labour, in order to prevent similar disturbances here.
I think we should not have had so much blame thrown upon us if Ed. Fitt had not given such miserable evidence. I asked him the other day how he came to say in court he was one of those Farmers who were inciting the mob to make the demand on C., to which he instantly replied, Well, he was in sight of them, how could he help seeing them when they stood right before his eyes.
Perhaps, Sir, you could inform us if it is possible to get a correct statement of C's evidence and if so in what way, as we should then know better how to proceed. For my own part I am determined, if any thing can be done the matter shall not rest as it is. Should you, Sir, think proper to publish any thing from this unconnected statement, all we have to request is it may be done in such a way that we may not appear to be acting contrary to the advice of Messrs Mellersh & Marsham. I should take it as a very great favor if you would return us a line or two upon this subject, and remain
Sir Your Most
The author is in contact with descendants of Aaron Harding, Robert Holdaway, John Kingshott, John Newland, James Painter, Matthew Triggs, and the Heighes family, and is happy to receive enquiries from others who may be interested in following up similar connections contact me.
Other useful contacts are:
Jill Chambers researcher of the Swing Riots, author of several books on the subject, and editor of 'Machine Breakers' News' website
. . . and the following people who volunteered at the First Australian Swing Rioter Descendants' Meeting in Melbourne 1997 to respresent the machine breakers' ships which transported them to Australia:
Wendy Baker ELIZA e-mail
Chrissy Fletcher ELEANOR e-mail
Geoff Sharman PROTEUS e-mail
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