(1754), the son of
John Bint and Mary Critcher was a labourer, who
worked for neighbouring farmers and tended his own small plot to
support a growing family. He had married Elizabeth Taylor at
Hurst near Wokingham in 1780.
James and Elizabeth with their children, like other villagers,
would have been accustomed to using the commons and wastes of
Winnersh, near Wokingham, to feed their cow, geese, and possibly
a pig, and to gather fuel for a fire. When seasons allowed, there
would also have been wild fruits and nuts available.
Things changed fairly dramatically in 1817, when the wastes and
commons of Winnersh were enclosed under the Enclosure Acts, and
although its effect on the family and his neighbours is
uncertain, it is reasonable to assume that life became more
difficult for them.
A poem from the time expresses the mood of some local
The law locks up the
man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from
off the goose.
The law demands that we
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the
lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and
Added to that general
feeling, their local market town of Wokingham was in a
depression during the early part of the 1800’s when a number of
trading companies had ceased to exist.
This fortunately was to
change in the 1840s, mainly thanks to the new railway links to
Reading, Guildford and London.
At 11pm on the evening of
the 5th of August 1818, 20 year old
Joseph Bint, accompanied by his friend John Houlton,
both disguised in long great-coats and faces covered with cloth,
held up local butcher John Hibbert, close to their local pub,
The butcher handed over his takings but had already recognised
the voice of 20 year old Joseph Bint.
The local newspaper reported ..
Reading, Berkshire Newspaper report Saturday August 15th 1818.
On Wednesday 5th of August Mr Hibbert, a butcher from Hurst, was
returning from Wokingham and was stopped at 11pm on the road
leading to The Pheasant by two men, disguised in
great-coats and crepes over their faces, who robbed him of notes
and cash to the amount of £40.
Not withstanding the disguise Mr Hibbert knew Joseph Bint to be
one of the robbers and told him so.
John Houlton, the companion of Bint, was apprehended in
Wokingham on Tuesday and immediately confessed that himself and
Bint went out with the intention of stealing a horse, but
finding it difficult to catch it, and having seen Mr Hibbert
telling his money in a public house, agreed to stop and rob him.
After which they went to London but the notes being of the
Reading Bank could not get them changed. They therefore set off
for Oxford where they brought watches and a variety of other
Having returned to the neighbourhood
of Wokingham, Houlton went out to reconnoitre, and finding his
name had not been mentioned, he gave his share of the money to
Bint, who was hid in a wood, to keep for him till his return and
then ventured into the town and was immediately taken into
custody. Bint on not finding his companion returned took
alarm and escaped.
Twenty guineas is offered for
Houlton confessed they had committed a highway robbery before
and at different periods have stolen poultry from every farm in
John Houlton is fully committed for trial at the next Assizes.
Saturday August 22nd 1818
Last Sunday, the same day, Joseph Bint the accomplice of Houlton
in robbing Mr Hibbert, was committed to the County Gaol by James
Webb Esquire for trial. He was taken at Colnbrook.
At Berkshire's Lent Assizes in 1819 Joseph was sentenced to
Death which was later commuted to transportation for life. John
Houlton was luckier and walked free having had all the charges
On the 14th of June,
Joseph, with 169 other convicts, was on his way to Australia in
chains on the good ship Malabar.
|Ticket of Leave
granted after 11 years as a convict
The 525 tons Malabar,
not to be confused with the Royal Navy's similarly named
HMS Malabar, was built at Shields in Tyneside around 1804
and was owned by Johnson and Son. Captained by William Ascough,
on his first recorded voyage as a ship's master, it sailed to
New South Wales from Spithead near Portsmouth in June 1819, with
170 convicts and guard detachments from the 89th
Regiment. Included in the ship's complement was surgeon Evan
Captain Ascough was a competent man, as was
his surgeon. The voyage to Sydney via Rio de Janeiro was
completed in 135 days without the loss of any of his charges.
The Malabar arrived in Sydney on the 30th October 1819.
The surgeon’s log of the Malabar indicates that the
prisoners were well treated on the voyage, the youngest
prisoners being separated from the hardened criminals and taught
to read and write.
Returning again on the
Malabar in 1821, William Ascough was to build up a
considerable fortune bringing convicts to the colony, and also
investing in property and land there. Between 1819 and 1833 he
was to be captain on various Johnson & Son vessels, making at
least a further seven voyages carrying convicts.
who had arrived on the
Malabar in April 1820 only received his Ticket
of Leave 10 years later on May 1st 1830 at Airds
which indicates that he may not have stayed out of
the New South Wales General Muster of 1822 he is
listed as a government servant and his employer is
Mrs Aylard of Parrammata. The 1828 census shows him
now as a servant to Sarah Harris, also at
Parramatta. On both returns his name is wrongly
spelt as 'Bent'.
1835, now with his Ticket of Leave and living at
Airds, he married Catherine Ward from
Catherine was a
Roman Catholic and Joseph (now Bent) was himself
baptised as a Catholic at St Mary's, Wollongong in
There does not appear
to be any children from the marriage and there
is currently no record of what happened to him after
1837. We must assume that Joseph died sometime
between 1843 and 1844 as that year the widow Catherine
John Jones at Goulburn Catholic Church.
It is possible that his late baptism at a Catholic
church in November 1837 at the age of 39 was because
he was seriously ill and Catherine would have
understandably wanted to give him a Catholic burial.
He seems to be still alive at Camden on 20th January
1843 when his name appears with that of brother
Henry, and Josiah Bent, in a newspaper advert
endorsing Charles Cowper as a candidate for the
Legislative Council. (Cowper was later a premier of
NSW, serving five terms.)
older brother, Henry Bint, who was born at
the parish of Hurst in 1793 also found himself in
trouble for thieving.
Mercury reporting the Berkshire Easter Assizes in
May 1824, relates - Thomas Swallow jnr, Josiah
Bint and Henry Bint, three well-known characters,
were indicted for feloniously stealing from a summer
house at Whiteknights, the mattresses and cushions
of a large sofa containing a considerable amount of
horse-hair. (The Whiteknights estate is today part
of Reading's University.)
It appeared from the evidence that the summer house
had been forcibly entered by destroying the back
part of it and that the prisoners had been
frequently seen in company together on or near the
premises about the time of the robbery and that all
of them had been offering horse-hair for sale.
Josiah Bint was detained in the act of doing this -
he had with him a sack of horse-hair which after
various statements he had said he found under the
Park pales, and upon searching his house and the
lodgings of Swallow, a quantity of horse-hair and
canvas was also found in their possession. The
identity of the latter of which, with the covering
of the sofa, and its correspondence in size with the
extraordinary dimensions of the sofa, were clearly
The trial occupied about five hours and the Jury
after a few minutes deliberation (to the
satisfaction of a crowded court) found a verdict of
Guilty against all the prisoners who were
immediately sentenced to Transportation for seven
The court records show that the crime took place on
the 6th of March 1824 and that the inventory of
items stolen were - Ten sofa mattresses - value 2
pence, ten sofa squabs - value 2 pence, ten sofa
cushions- value 2 pence, 100 lbs of horse-hair-
value 2 pence, 10 yards of canvas - 2 pence, the
goods and chattels of Sir Charles Cockerell -
Baronet and others.
Henry Bint lived in Brunsdons Buildings at Castle
Street, Reading and was in bed when arrested by
Peace Officer William Golding of the Borough of
Reading on Sunday morning the 7th of March at 9am
and had a gun by the fire-place which was made to be
carried inside his coat. It was in two pieces and
loaded with powder and middling-size shot.
We have no idea
who his accomplice Josiah Bint (1792-1865) was.
He later claimed his birthplace as Wokingham and if
that is correct he was highly likely to be a cousin
of Henry Bint who probably was not christened. I have
been unable to find a birth record or that of any
parents. He married Jane Collins at
Sydney in 1848 and when he died at Myrtle Creek, NSW
in 1865 his father's name was given as Josiah Bint
and on an earlier record his mother was named Helen.
Both were sentenced to seven years transportation at
the Berkshire 1824 Lent Assizes, and arrived in New
South Wales with the convict ship Mangles
on October 30th 1824. It seems that they managed to
stay together and were assigned to Mr Hawkins of
Henry and Josiah were granted their Ticket of Leave
on 24th March 1829 but Josiah had his cancelled
after being found guilty of larceny on 26th August
They appear to have settled in the Picton Stone
After the end of the American War of Independence,
Britain had to find new territory to send its convicts.
New South Wales was selected as a suitable penal colony.
Legislation permitting transportation from Britain to
Australia was passed in 1784.
Between 1788, when the first
convict ship arrived on the east coast of Australia at
what is now Sydney, and 1868, when the last official
convict ship landed on the west coast, at Fremantle,
roughly 160,000 convicts were transported from the
British Isles, which also then included Ireland, to our
colonies in Australia.
impressions of the accommodation provided for the
convicts on board are mainly gained from accounts of
other convict ships. "Two rows of sleeping-births,
one above the other, extend on each side of the
between-decks, each berth being 6 feet square, and
calculated to hold four convicts, everyone thus
possessing 18 inches of space to sleep in--and ample
The hospital is
in the fore-part of the ship, with a bulkhead across,
separating it from the prison, having two doors with
locks to keep out intruders; while a separate prison is
built for the boys, to cut off all intercourse between
them and the men.
stanchions, thickly studded with nails, are fixed round
the fore and main hatchways, between decks, in each of
which is a door with three padlocks, to let the convicts
out and in, and secure them at night. The convicts by
these means have no access to the hold through the
prison, a ladder being placed in each hatchway for them
to go up and down by, which is pulled up at night".
embarking, the convicts had been washed and fitted out
with the regulation dress for the voyage, which
consisted of jackets and waistcoats of blue cloth or
kersey, duck trousers, check or coarse linen shirts,
yarn stockings and woollen caps.
"Each is allowed a pair of shoes, three shirts, two
pairs of trousers, and other warm clothing on his
embarkation, besides a bed, pillow, and blanket---while
Bibles, Testaments, prayer-books, and psalters are
distributed among the messes." From the medical
journal of the Grenada convict ship - 28 March to 20
September 1821 by Peter Cunningham, Surgeon and
"It would be impossible to
relate the scenes or to describe the feelings
experienced during the first few days of a voyage. These
painful sensations, arising from a sense of leaving our
native land, and of parting with dear and affectionate
friends, were in this instance increased by the sight
and sound of a number of fellow-creatures in a state of
degradation, with pale and haggard countenances passing
up and down the hatchways with their legs ironed; or
else at intervals marching round and round the ship, in
a continued line, or rather oblong, of three and four
deep, to the beat of drum, for the purpose of obtaining
the exercise necessary to the preservation of health."
Church of England minister in 1844.
"The smells were, of course,
among the notable feature of life on board. The
combination of animal and human excrement, foul water
from the bottom of the ship below pump wells which never
came out, the remains of old cargoes and the perpetually
rotten wooden structure of the vessel herself must
between them have produced a dreadful stench, unrelieved
by any kind of ventilation system in the ship.
People were accustomed to
this ashore in towns and villages which stank like an
Oriental slum today".
John Boyle's description of the last convict ship
Hougoumont sailing to West Australia in
Until 1810 convicts
were permitted to wear ordinary civilian clothes in
Australia. The new Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, wanted
to set the convicts apart from the increasing numbers of
free settlers who were flocking to Australia.
distinctive new uniform marked out the convicts very
clearly. The trousers were stamped with the letters PB,
for Prison Barracks, and were buttoned down the sides,
enabling them to be removed over a pair of leg irons.
Most convicts were not sent to work on Government
projects such as roads but were assigned to private
masters, whether Army officers or settlers, as servants
To have convicts assigned to them, free settlers had to
prove that they were rich enough to provide them with
clothing and food and that they had enough work for them
to do. Usually a settler could have a certain number of
convicts assigned, according to the size of their
property and the work that had to be done.
Settlers around Sydney, or friendly with the Governor,
usually got first pick of the convicts. There were many
complaints, from those living further out in the bush,
that they were assigned the ones that were too old, lazy
or sick, to work properly.
Convicts who stayed out of trouble could become eligible
for Tickets of Leave, rather like a parole or probation
in our modern system. Generally they were eligible after
four years of a seven year sentence or after six years
for fourteen year sentence or after eight years for a
The importance of the Convicts to Australia's
development cannot be taken lightly. Convicts and their
children numerically dominated the country from the
first settlement in 1788 to the 1820's. They formed the
great labour force, which laid the foundations of
Australia prior to the Gold Rushes of the 1850's.
Once granted a ticket of leave, a convict was permitted
to seek employment within a specified district but could
not leave that district without the permission of the
government or the resident magistrate. Each change of
employer or district was recorded on the ticket. They
could also acquire property.
Convict huts and punishment
stocks Parramatta in 1798. Government house is on the
Church attendance was compulsory, as was appearing
before a Magistrate when required.
Ticket-of-leave men were permitted to marry or to bring
their families from Britain, and to acquire property,
but they were not permitted to carry firearms or board a
ship. They were often required to repay the cost of
their passage to the colony.
The Ticket of Leave lasted for a year at a time and was
renewed provided the person had behaved themselves. If
they were convicted of any offence while they held one,
they could have it taken away from them. It was easy to
lose it. If they went outside the prescribed district
without a passport, did not carry their Ticket of Leave,
overcharged for work or were drunk and disorderly in
town, they could be reported and charged and loose it.
If they committed a colonial offence they not only lost
their Ticket of Leave they could be sentenced to a chain
gang or time in a penal colony. A convict who observed
the conditions until the completion of one half of
his sentence was entitled to a conditional pardon, which
removed all restrictions except the right to leave the