Joseph Stokes the Convict

Calculating Joseph Stokes' birth date from the age stated when he first married (25 in 1856), and at death (80 in 1911), he was born about 1831. The convict Joseph Stokes stated his age as 17 when he was tried in 1843, making his birth year about 1826. His native place was recorded as Troubridge, and given he was tried in Wiltshire this probably refers to Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. Potential matches for his birth include the following:

  • Joseph Stokes bapt. 06 Aug 1826 to Stephen Stokes and Elizabeth Unknown in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England.1
  • Joseph Stokes born 19 Apr 1828, bapt. 23 Nov 1828 to John Stokes and Rachael Rogers in the Tabernacle in Bark Street, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England.2 (A Joseph Stokes was living in Trowbridge for the 1861 census that also fits with this birth date).

A Joseph Stokes was tried in the County Sessions at Wiltshire on 30 June 1840, aged 14, for larceny, was found guilty and sentenced to two weeks imprisonment and whipped.3 Joseph Stokes was tried at the Marlboro Sessions in Wiltshire on 17 October 1843 for stealing from the person. It was his second offence, and he was sentenced to 10 years transportation.4 The known details of the convict Joseph Stokes will be reproduced here in an effort to trace any potential links between him and the man who would later father 22 children in the north-west of Tasmania. If the convict was not the same person we would expect to find a separate set of records for him.

Joseph Stokes was transported to Van Diemen's Land on the Lord Auckland's third voyage to the colonies. The ship departed from London on 20 July 1844 and arrived in Hobart on 15 November 1844. Upon arrival Joseph had his convict description record created.

  • Trade: (Not Recorded)
  • Height: (Not Recorded)
  • Age: (Not Recorded)
  • Compexion: Fair
  • Head: Oval
  • Hair: D[ar]k Br[own]
  • Whiskers: None
  • Visage: Broad
  • Forehead: M[edium] H[eight]
  • Eyebrows: D[ar]k Br[own]
  • Eyes: Grey
  • Nose: Small
  • Mouth: D[itt]o
  • Chin: Medium
  • Native Place: (Not Recorded)
  • Remarks: stout made, two large scars on right side of neck5

A transcription of Joseph Stokes' convict conduct record follows:

Stokes, Joseph

Tried Marlboro Ass[izes]
17 October 1843 - 10 Yrs
Embarked 27 June 1844 Arrived 15 Nov[embe]r 1844
Protestant - Can Read & Write

Transported for Stealing from the Person - Gaol Report
Second Conviction Single Stated this Offence
Stealing a Handk[erchie]f pr[operty] Mr. Laurence Troubridge
for Linen Print [?] 2 Weeks Single
( No of Offences
( How Employed
( Gen[era]l Conduct - Good
Trade: Lab[oure]r & Groom; Height: 5/1; Age: 17; Complexion: Fair; Head: Oval; Hair: D[ar]k Brown; Whiskers: None; Visage: Broad; Forehead: Med[iu]m Height; Eyebrows: D[ar]k Brown; Eyes: Grey; Nose: Small; Mouth: Small; Chin: Med[iu]m; Native Place: Troubridge
Marks: Stout Made two large scars on right side of neck
Period of Labour: Eighteen Months
Station of Gang: Westbury, 5/4/45; Deloraine, 7/4/45; W, 10/4/45; D, 3/9/45
Offences and Sentences: 3 May 1845: Disobedience Insolence & being late at muster. Dismissed/A.B.J.; Same Date: Insolence. Fourteen Days Solitary/A.B.J.
Same Date: Insolence. Fourteen Days Solitary. A.B.J.
6 Sep 1847: Cape Laun.? Disob[edience] of orders & neglect of duty. Four days ??? and hard labour | ??? Approved 10/9/47
10 Nov [18]47: ??? Pass. Absonding. ? Existing sentence of transportation ext. six months.
30 May [18]48: Bunster. Pass. Absconding. Twenty days solitary.
20 Jul [18]48

: ??? Disobedience of orders & refusing to work. ??? and hard labour. / B. R. L. / Appd 22/7/48


Detail of Joseph Stokes' Convict Conduct Record

Detail of Joseph Stokes' Convict Conduct Record
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

The newspaper reports that have been found relating specifically to Joseph Stokes the Convict are few. On 6 March 1844 it was reported that Joseph Stokes per the Lord Auckland was now a third class probation pass holder.7 In August 1848 when Joseph absconded from Tunbridge Station he provided an interesting reason for doing so:

Joseph Stokes, pleaded guilty to the charge of absconding from Tunbridge Station,- on the 31st ult. In answer to the question of the magistrate, as to reason, &c, prisoner asserted, he had ample reason. What reason? Why, I would rather be free, and at liberty than there! Twelve months hard labour.8

In November 1851 it was reported that Joseph Stokes per the Lord Auckland had been granted his Ticket of Leave:

Tickets of-Leave Granted...Joseph Stokes, Lord Auckland9

  • 1. England & Wales, Christening Index, 1530-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2008.
  • 2. The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; General Register Office: Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non-parochial Registers Commissions of 1837 and 1857; Class Number: RG 4; Piece Number: 3318
  • 3. England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. Class: HO 27; Piece: 62; Page: 348
  • 4. England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. Class: HO 27; Piece: 71; Page: 381
  • 5. TAHO Convict Description List CON18/1/38
  • 6. TAHO Convict Conduct Record CON33/1/6
  • 7. "Advertising" Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899) 6 March 1844: 7 (EVENING). Web. 26 Mar 2016;
  • 8. The Cornwall Chronicle Saturday 19 August 1848
  • 9. "Convict Department." The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 - 1880) 8 November 1851: 712. Web. 26 Mar 2016;



John Horton
John Horton's picture
Joseph Stokes et al in Queenstown

The following newspaper reports concern an Elizabeth Stokes, and a Joseph Stokes, both of whom lived or worked in Queenstown. As this Joseph is someone apparently not associated with the Circular Head family this may represent a link to the convict:


Late last night John Lipscombe was arrested on warrant by Constables Wright and Hynds, charged with assaulting Alfred Burke and Mrs. Stokes, a resident of Piggery. It appears that Lipscombe and another man, who has disappeared, were knocking Burke about when Mrs. Stokes called on them to stop. It is asserted that Lipscombe turned on Mrs. Stokes, throwing her down, causing her arm to be broken.1

WESTERN NEWS. QUEENSTOWN, Sunday. Yesterday morning the local Bench heard the case against John Lipscombe for assaulting and beating Elizabeth Stokes. Three hours were occupied in hearing the evidence, and eventually the accused was committed to take his trial at the next Supreme Court sittings.2

QUEENSTOWN, Wednesday.

At the inquest to-day on the body of, Joseph Stokes, who was killed on the railway line last week, the jury returned a verdict of accidental death, no blame being attachable to anyone. The following rider was added:--"That the Government should take immediate steps to have the road to Lynchford constructed, in order to avoid a repetition of such accidents in consequence of the necessity for people to walk on the line to Lynchford."3

No inquest records exist in the Archives Office of Tasmania for the accident.

  • 1. The Mercury Saturday 27 January 1900
  • 2. Examiner Monday 29 January 1900
  • 3. Examiner Thursday 6 December 1900