Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 21 No. 2 August 2006

John Blencowe — convicted and transported.

For several generations Australians generally ignored their convict ancestry. From about 1970 attitudes began to change and by the Australian Bi Centennial celebrations in 1988 it had become obvious that Australians had developed a respect for their convict heritage.

John Blencowe was born on 29 October 1820 in Lower Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire England, to Francis & Elizabeth Blencowe. He was the second youngest of nine children. At nineteen years of age, while working as a Man Servant, John was convicted of “Stealing from the dwelling house of his Master, Mr William Malling”. The Northampton Assizes sentenced John to fourteen years gaol to be served in Van Diemen's Land (later named Tasmania)

The “Lord Lyndoch” left Plymouth for Australia on 11th September 1840 and arrived in Hobart Town on 5th February 1841, taking 147 days. The “Lord Lyndoch” was built in Calcutta in 1815 and was of AE1 class. It weighed 638 tons. The Master of the ship was John Humble and his cargo consisted of John Blencowe and 313 other male convicts six of whom died at sea.

Convicts in Tasmania faced a terrible incarceration especially those who were gaoled in Port Arthur. However, our John seems to have fared rather well having his fourteen year sentence reduced to eighteen months when granted a conditional pardon on 27/10/1841. John served his probation period working as a baker for Mr Thomas Archer at Woolmer's Estate at Longford. Mr Archer was known to have great compassion for convicts, not agreeing with the system of transportation, thus treating his workers well.

On 6 September 1846, John Blencowe married Elizabeth Horner in Longford, Tasmania. Elizabeth, born in 1822 in Ponterfact, Yorkshire had travelled to Van Diemen's Land as an assisted migrant in 1843 with her two sisters.

John and Elizabeth had three children while living at Longford, near Launceston. After John's probation period, the family moved to Victoria circa 1850. They had fourteen children, eight of which were boys. John died in Cheltenham, Victoria in August 1870 and Elizabeth in 1889.

The First World War took its toll on the family with John and Elizabeth losing three grandsons ironically fighting for the country their grandfather had been transported from. Louis Victor Blencowe was an original ANZAC dying in the Gallipoli landing; Clarence John, and Francis Thomas Blencowe both died at the Somme in France.

Most of John and Elisabeth's many descendants are still living in Victoria, however, the line has almost daughtered out with only two fifth generation descendants being Blencowes. Fortunately they are both boys.

Reference: Based on research by Peter Hedgecock, Pauline Blencowe & Vera Lay
Vera Lay: First Families 2001 20/5/01 Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour

old line

Blencowe Families' Association   Vol. 21 No. 2 August 2006
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updated: 10 September 2006