On closer examination, there is an uncanny resemblance between the two photos and the beard is a dead set give away. Although most men wore beard at the time, the trimming and style of the beard often varied from person to person. In the first photo, William is younger and standing resolute, appearing somewhat of a formidable figure. In the latter, you can almost see a twinkle in his eyes and probably enjoying the fruits of his hard labour in retirement.
William was a convict born in 1824 in the northwest of England. In December 1841, he was sentenced to 10 years transportation at the Lancaster Quarter Session for housebreaking and stealing "two or three pounds of copper." He was single, aged 18, and listed as a Roman Catholic who could neither read nor write.
William arrived in Hobart on 5 July 1842 onboard the Eden, which left Woolwich with 275 convicts, of which five died en route. Once in Hobart, William was processed and documented and identified with the following description: 5ft 6 1/2 inches in height with sallow complexion, brown hair and eyes, large nose and with a blue dot and several scars on the back of his hand. He also had a mole on his right cheek. However, the most distinguishing feature was a tattoo on his left arm depicting a man with a pistol and a sword, and he had rings on the second and third finger of his left hand.
His gaol and hulk reports gave him contradictory assessments of good and bad character respectively, and the surgeon-superintendent's report described him as orderly.
William's life in Tasmania began with a station of gang until May 1845. He was first assigned to Rocky Hill station of gang with a probation of 2 1/2 years extended by one month for idleness. He was released from the first stage of probation on 5 February 1845 and shortly thereafter became third class pass holder on 24 May 1845. This may have been a turning point for William as he became entitled to the full amount of wages held in trust until his Ticket of Leave. Second class probationers received just two third of their wages.
William received his Ticket of Leave on 9 November 1847. Eighteen months earlier he had been sent to work for John Lamont at the Braemar estate on the North Esk River. Two months later he was reprimanded for disobeying orders. It is possible he was sent to gaol for one month as his conduct record shows an abbreviation, H of C i.e. house of correction.
On 2 June 1846, William was sent to work on the 390 acre Fossil Bank estate for Thomas Brugh Lamont. No date is given for William's arrival in the Circular Head district, however, it is believed he began working for John Poke between 1847 and 1848.
William finally received his Conditional Pardon on 5 February 1850, just over eight years after his conviction at the Lancaster Quarter Session in December 1841.
Eight months later, he married widow Ann Siggs. She had lost her husband, John Poke, two years earlier. The marriage took place according to the rites of Church of England with both signing the marriage certificate with an X, indicating that neither could read nor write.
Ann Siggs was at least 10 years older than William, however, she went on to bear four more children in addition to the nine children she had with John Poke.
William lived to the ripe old age of 82 when he passed away on 16 April 1906. Whatever circumstances he came from, he had done rather well leaving an estate to his children valued in the amount of £4949, a significant sum of around $500,000 in today's currency.
But what of William's early life, one might say, and of the family he had left behind. Unfortunately, his background is still shrouded in mystery.
According to his Indent record, his father's name was Thomas, his brother was Joseph and then there was also a sister by the name of Ellen. There is no mention of a mother and is therefore presumed deceased at the time of William's conviction.
There is a William Lucas in the 1841 census for the township of Preston. He and his brother, Joseph, were aged 15, with a sister, Ellen, who was five years older at aged 20 (baptised at the St John's Church, Preston, on 18 October 1819). The head of the household was Thomas Lucas aged 40 who was a weaver.
Preston was a small market town near Lancaster with a thriving textile and cotton industry. This propelled the town into an industrialised one in the early 19th century. In 1842, a group of cotton workers demonstrated against the poor conditions in the town's mill. The Riot Act was read and armed troops corralled the protestors, killing four of them.
As noted in the census, William's father was a weaver, and William himself was a cotton carder. They themselves must have also experienced the same hardship and the social upheaval and unrest that manifested from the industrialisation.
In this period, there was a growing phenomenon of urbanisation as people moved to urban centres in search of employment.
In William's obituary, it is said that he came from Bolton, which was then a smaller town with a tradition of cottage spinning and weaving, and situated about 30 kilometres from Preston.
Bolton had been a production centre for textiles since Flemish weavers settled in the area in the 14th century, introducing wool and cotton weaving tradition.
That Bolton was even mentioned in his obituary, may suggest that William's parents could have moved from Bolton to Preston in search of employment.
Illustrated below is an image of the original entry received from the St Wilfred's Church from a baptism register for 11 April 1824. St Wilfred is a Roman Catholic church in the city centre of Preston.
The entry is in Latin and reads, Gulielmus filius Thoma et Catharine Lucas. The next line shows the godparents, Gulielmus Machon - Betty Waring. Gulielmus is Latin for William, Thoma is Thomas.
Although birth records were non existent at the time, it should be noted that the average age at baptism increased from one week old in the middle of the 17th century to one month old by the middle of the 19th century.
As for William's mother, it is possible Catherine died at Preston during the first quarter of 1841, which would make sense as the 1841 census was taken on the night of 6 June 1841. Hence the probable reason for her absence from the census.
I have not ventured further into William Lucas' ancestry as from this point it becomes rather murky. Without his parents' marriage record as the next stepping stone, it is not possible to go back further.
Thanks for checking in and welcome to my adventure
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