HAA007 MAIN: John Snell1808 - 1883

In Castle Street, Bristol the home of Harris Abrahams was broken into, with jewellery and watches stolen. On Friday 25th May 1827 between 1-2 am the break in occurred despite the home being securely fastened the night before by Mrs Abrahams and servant Jane Willis.[1]

A watchman had sighted William Stone at 2.45 am in Queen Street, 138 paces from Abrahams' shop. Twenty minutes later he found Abrahams' house broken into. Mrs Abrahams had been awoken earlier by a noise but heard nothing more and returned to sleep.[2]

At 5-6 pm later that day Jonathan Matthews sighted William Stone, John Snell and John Cork near Barton Hill looking at some jewellery. Stone was apprehended as he put a handkerchief with the property wrapped inside into his pocket. Snell and Cork ran away and were apprehended the following Sunday morning in different houses.[3]

Joseph Smart had been apprehended at Bath on 26th May by Mr J. L. Solomon who found a brooch in his neck cloth which was identified by Mrs Abrahams as part of the stolen property.[4]

Mr Abrahams prosecuted William Stone, John Snell, John Cork and Joseph Smart in the Bristol court on 27th October. £500 of property had been stolen, which included watches, gold rings, old fashioned gold seals, gold watch keys, tablespoons, teaspoons and brooches.[5]

Stone pleaded guilty to the charges and that the other three prisoners were innocent. Despite being warned by the court that 'by pleading guilty did not entitle himself to the smallest relaxation of punishment', he continued to plead guilty.[6]

Several witness were called by the defence to give an alibi for Cork and to prove Smart had the brooch the day before the robbery, but varying witness descriptions failed to prove this. The jury found Snell, Cork and Smart guilty of being accessories. The court directed the death sentence and stated any commuted sentence would be of considerable severity.[7]

During this time John Snell, petitioned for a reduced sentence which stated he was of a poor but honest parents. His employer for whom he had worked as basket maker had also signed the petition.[8] His sentence was commuted to 14 years transportation and hence his new life as a convict — a journey into the unknown.

References

[1] The Bristol Mercury (Bristol, England), Monday 5th November 1827; Issue 1960. British Library Newspapers

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] Find My Past, Home Office: Criminal Petitions, HO17 no.112 WM 30

[9] Ancestry.com. UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-49. Home Office: Convict Prison Hulks, Registers and Letter Books, Class: HO9; Piece 4 Justitia

[10] ibid.

[11] Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Convict Indents, 1788-1842

[12] http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/shipNSW2.html

[13] Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Convict Lists

[14] Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930

[15] 1830 'HORRID MURDER.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 2 December, p. 3. , viewed 14 Jun 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2196659

[16] ibid.

[17] Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930

[18] 1830 'HORRID MURDER.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 2 December, p. 3. , viewed 14 Jun 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2196659

[19] 1831 'Supreme Court.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 24 May, p. 3, viewed 14 Jun 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2200721

[20] ibid.

[21] ibid.

[22] ibid.

[23] ibid.

[24] ibid.

HAA007 BREAKOUT 1: John Snell marriages