Grace Himbury, Criminal Tendencies!
Grace Himbury was born in Yetminster, Dorset, in 1806, a twin sister to Charles Bessant Himbury, daughter of Matthew Himbury and Grace Bessant. Matthew Himbury and his wife Grace emigrated to the United States in 1829 with several of their children, but Grace did not go with them. Grace does not appear on any of the census records, for England or America, but there is a transportation record for a Grace Himbury who was sentenced at Leicestershire Assizes to seven years transportation to Tasmania in 1837 for stealing a pound of cheese and 2 loaves of bread, plus various other items belonging to a John Hustlebury. A boy named Peter Moore aged 14 was charged with the same offences, but he was acquitted.
A report in the Leicester Journal dated August 4th states that on Wednesday August 2nd 1837, before the Hon Sir James Allen Parke:
“Grace Himbury, 25, and Peter Moore, 14, stood indicted of stealing one pound weight of butter, and a variety of other articles, the property of John Hustlebury, on the 25th of March last. Grace Himbury was found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation: Moore was acquitted.”
Grace was transported on the vessel “The Atwick” which departed from the port of London on 30th September 1837 and arrived in Van Diemans Land (Tasmania) on 23rd January 1838.
We know about Grace’s appearance from the convict description document which states that she was 5ft 1in in height, aged 26, complexion dark, head round, hair black, visage round, forehead high, eyebrows dark brown, eyes dark hazel, nose medium, mouth medium, chin medium, remarks: mole left arm. The record also states that her trade was Nursery maid and needle woman and that she was from Yetminster in Dorsetshire.
Her conduct record whilst in the colony was not good. She seems to have gone absent without leave on a number of occasions, sometimes for days at a time, only to be found drunk or in “a disorderly house”. Each time she was found and brought back to the prison and several times she had her sentence extended as a result. However, in the end she only served 4 years having being granted a conditional pardon “for the satisfactory manner in which she gave evidence before a Board of Enquiry into prison discipline.”
It appears that Grace applied for permission to marry whist in the colony as there is a document to that effect. She wanted to marry Howard Shadwick who had arrived on board the “Royal George”, but it does not appear that permission was ever granted and there is no evidence of a marriage having taken place.
After Grace was released I do not know what became of her. She does not appear on any census records and I have not been able to find a marriage record. She does not appear to have returned to England either, as I have been unable to find any record of her there. It is possible that she managed to join her family in America, but I think this is unlikely as they emigrated several years before she was transported so I would imagine she had lost contact with them, possibly a long time before she was sentenced. Maybe she changed her name? Maybe she married and I have been unable to find the record? One thing I am sure of is that she lied about her age as countless women do today. Grace’s age is given as 25 in 1837 which would make her born in 1812, six years after our baptism record for her. I am sure this is ‘our’ Grace as she seems to have disappeared in England and there is no death or burial record for her.