The Story of John Mawson - Felon 1814

    John Mawson had a considerable record. He was first tried at York Castle Lent Assizes on 19th March 1814 before justices Sir Simon Le Blanc & Sir Alan Chambre. The case justice was W. Farrer Esq. The charge read:-

    John Mawson, 31 of Ripon in the West Riding, bricklayer, committed on the 29th day of October 1813, charged with suspicion of feloniously taking & carrying away half a bushel of wheat, four bushels of unwinnowed wheatand two barfen tops tops, on Wednesday night then last from and out of a barn situate in Bishop Monckton, in the liberty of Ripon aforesaid, of the value of 20 shillings, the property of Christopher Dambrough, of Bishop Monckton aforesaid, farmer.

    His sentence is set out on the gaol delivery notice:

    John Mawson, Guilty of grand larceny within the benefit of statute - fined one shilling, and to be imprisoned and kept in hard labour in the same house of correction(at Wakefield) for eight calendar months and until he shall pay the said fine.

    We can assume that John Mawson served his time, nut if he was out after eight months  he was back in trouble again a few months later. On 22nd February 1815 before justices Sir Alexander Thompson & Sir Simon Le Blanc, the latter no doubt unimpressed to see him again in the dock. James Britton Esq., who was Mayor of Ripon was the case justice. This time the charge read:-

    John Mawson, 32, late of Ripon in the County of York, bricklayer, committed 22nd February 1815, charged ipon oath of James Rowell aforessaid dealer in bacon & others, with having in the night of 25th December past or early in the morning of 26th December feloniously taken & carried away from the warehouse of the said James Rowell, situate in Ripon aforesaid, one side of bacon and eight hams, the goods and chattels of Francis Bulmer and company of the city of York, bacon factors, of the value of four pounds and upwards.

    The said John Mawson also stands further charged upon the oath of William Burnett, overseer of the poor of the township of Aismunderby with Bondgate, in the liberty of Ripon, on suspicion of having along with one John Dunhill, on the night of Saturday 31st December, or early in the morning of Sunday 1st January last past, feloniously broken open a certain shop of the said William Burnett in Bondgate aforesaid, and adjoining his dwelling house and stolen, taken and carried away certain goods and chattels, to wit, an oak box belonging to the township of Aimunderby with Bondgate aforesaid containg the town books and paper, and a quantity of copper monies of the value of forty shillings and upwards the goods and chattels of the aforesaid William Burnett, as overseer of the poor of the township aforesaid.

    His gaol delivery notice was succint:

    John Mawson - Guilty of Grand Larceny within the benefit of statute - to be severally transported beyond the seas for a term of seven years.

    A York Library archivist commented that Mawsons' sentence was unuisually lenient given the scale and number of his offences. "Usually this amount of crime would get a lfe sentence, so he must have had good people speak for him or some extenuating circumstancesthe court took on board"

    John Mawson was transported to Sydney on the Ocean, arriving there on 30th January 1816.

    With thanks to Brian Willis-Johnson of Perth Australia for this fascinating story.