Author Topic: Samuel Perkins born 1816, charged in Birmingham May 1840  (Read 215 times)

Offline Perkins1820

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Samuel Perkins born 1816, charged in Birmingham May 1840
« on: Sunday 26 April 20 13:02 BST (UK) »
Hi all,

I am looking to get more details on the trial of my 3x Great Grand Uncle Samuel Perkins (born 1816, son of Thomas and Ann Perkins), in particular, whether it is possible to access the court records of his criminal trial (what was the evidence that convicted him, was it before a jury etc). 

He was charged at Birmingham court on 22 May 1840 with stealing a watch and is sentenced to 10 years transportation.   The following report was captured in The Birmingham Journal newspaper, on Saturday 23rd May 1840:

‘Samuel Perkins was charged with stealing a watch, value 16s, the property of Mr. Robert Riley*.  The prisoner pleaded not guilty; and Mrs Sarah Norton was called and examined by Mr. Daniels.  She stated that she was in the service of Mr. Riley and was in his shop on the 15th April, when she heard a crash at the window, and on looking at the place, she saw the prisoner run away with a watch.  She followed him down Deritend, and had him taken into custody.  Mrs Wood, of Alcester Street, swore that she saw the prisoner break the pane of glass, and run away with the watch.
Verdict: Guilty. Sentence: 10 years transportation.’
* Name actually appears to be Robert Ryley.

The crime is also noted again in The Birmingham Journal on Saturday 30th May:
‘Transportation – for ten years. Samuel Perkins for stealing a silver watch, the property of Mr. Robert Ryley’

Despite his plea of ‘Not Guilty’, he is found guilty and sent to Van Diemen’s Land on 30 November 1840, one of 330 convicts transported on the ship ‘Lady Raffles’, and arrives in Tasmania on St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1841.

What is interesting to me is that, based on the newspaper report, he seems to be convicted purely on the eyewitness evidence of Ms Norton and Ms Wood, who place him at the broken window.  But there is no mention of him being caught red-handed with the watch for example.  Samuel's father was a silver smith, so whatever about being caught stealing, it would surely have brought real dishonour to the family name if the son of a silver smith was stealing from a jeweller.  the crime was only a couple of miles away from the family home.

Interestingly, his father Thomas lists Samuel as living at the family Road on Vauxhall Road with his parents when the next Census took place on 6 June 1841, but we know from the transportation records that Samuel was in Australia at this time.

Samuel must have settled well in Australia when his 10 year sentence was up, as he is living in Avoca, Victoria, Australia, when he does in 1893 aged 77.

Any help with getting a better understanding of his conviction would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!