Convicts Harris

Convict [22178]: William Harris – Overview

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series William Harris

William Harris [aka Smith], originally from Nottinghamshire, England, was, along with fellow accomplice Thomas Wootton arrested and tried at the 1847 Coventry Assizes in Warwickshire for their involvement in a warehouse robbery in Atherstone, England.

For their troubles, William, and Thomas both received a sentence of seven years of transportation to Norfolk Island, NSW, Australia. However, Thomas while incarcerated at the Millbank Gaol in London, succumbed to an illness, and died in custody.

After languishing in Gaol for nearly two years, William would eventually board the Blenheim in 1850 to continue his sentence on Norfolk Island. The Blenheim with its cargo of 300 convicts first sailed to Tasmania where William was confined at the Hobart Barracks for two months before being transferred to Norfolk Island.

In 1852, William was removed from the Island penal settlement and transported to Port Arthur where he completed his sentence before being granted a ticket of leave in c1854.

While never married, William, sometime around 1857, formed a relationship with the former convict, Margaret Erskine. And, over the following ten-year period, William and Margret would give birth to seven children, the eldest of which, William, is my second great-grandfather. For reasons unknown, William chose to go by the name of Smith, a name that each of his and Margaret’s children were baptised with.

William who worked in the timber industry as a sawyer and splitter spent most of his adult life living and working in Tasmania’s Huon district and resided on the Huon Track which is now the Huon Road.

Only two months after their last child had been born, William was again convicted for his involvement in robbing the Longley Inn, the outcome of his trial was a sentence of five years imprisonment at Port Arthur.

Within a year of finishing his sentence, William was granted his freedom again only to be caught for robbery and jailed again for one month in the Hobart Barracks Robbery.

William at the age of forty-five eventually succumbed to pneumonia and died a pauper in the Hobart General Hospital. He was buried at the Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Tasmania, in an unmarked grave for which there is no marker to identify his grave.