James Tydeman was born in Suffolk in 1829.
He was baptised in Walsham-Le-Willows, where so many of my ancestors lived, on 27th December 1829. His parents are listed as James and Mary.
There is a death record for a James Tydeman in the Stow district of Suffolk in 1838.
The 1841 census records Mary, (36, born 1805) James, (12, born 1829) and William (3, born 1838) living in Church Street, Walsham-Le-Willows. Mary is working as a “Wash Woman” to support her family.
In 1845 Mary married Robert Frost and according to the 1851 census is living with him and William in Palmer Street, Walsham.
There are several interesting things on this census. Firstly, William is described as ‘son-in-law’ instead of step son , which caused me some confusion. His age and date of birth comply with the previous census. Robert is ten years younger than Mary, and is an agricultural labourer, very common in this area. But they now have a daughter, Sarah Ann Frost, born in 1847, who went on to be my great great grandmother.
This is our link to James Tydeman; where was he though, in 1851?
It’s a sad story, and it’s thanks to my grandfather Wilfred Gardiner, and his grandmother Sarah Frost/Clarke, that we know what happened.
A bundle of letters from James to his parents, Mary and Robert, have been passed down to me.
From 1848 James wrote to them from Bury St Edmunds Gaol where he had been imprisoned in 1846 for stealing beans. His sentence was 7 years. He had previously been imprisoned for house breaking in 1846 for 18 months.
The writing is beautiful and flowing, (probably dictated to a scribe), and the content is heartbreaking.
In his first letter dated October 1848 he tells his mother that he wishes he had taken her advice, and if he had he wouldn’t be in his current position. He says, addressing William,
“Brother, I hope you will be a good boy to your Father and never gamble for that have been the ruin of me. gambling is the first step of ruin. I hope this will be a warning to all my companions.”
He signs this letter, “your unhappy son”.
His second letter is dated April 1849, also from Bury St Edmunds Gaol. It seems James is unwell as he says,
“I am very sorry to think that I cannot send you a good report of my health for I get no better.” He asks Mary to send him a pocket handkerchief and is anticipating a visit from her in a month’s time.
A change is afoot though, and the next letter, dated October 24th, comes from the Defence Hulk Convict Settlement in Gosport.This was one of the decommissioned ships which were used as floating prisons.
James says ,”this place agrees with me very well” and that he is feeling better, but he also says,
” But we cannot tell What a Day may Bring forth for Death May Come when we Are Not aware of it.”
He also pleads,
“Send my love to my Master and Mrs and in hope you will send me all the Good News you can”, which makes me wonder if he is hoping for a pardon.
The next letter is from November 1850, still at Gosport.Optimistically he hopes that he will,
“In a few months to again be restored to you.” He is desperate to be home and is anxious about his family’s wellbeing. He says he has been ,”acting as cook”. He sends regards to Mary Ann Death; I wonder if she was his girlfriend at home.
The next letter, from March 1851, is in response to a letter from Mary and Robert sent two months earlier. He explains the delay is due to the fact that he had sent a reply in error to ‘Walter’ Frost rather than Robert and his letter was returned to him from the ‘dead Letter office London’. He explains that the Governor has given him permission to write, but in a post script he says further that although he isn’t allowed to write more frequently than once in three months, they can reply immediately .
This letter and the two following are interesting as the notepaper used includes the Convict Establishment rules for writing letters. Included are such instructions as,
“All letters of an improper or idle tendency either to or from Convicts, or containing slang or other objectional expressions will be suppressed.” Letters are “for the purpose of enabling [convicts] to keep up a connection with their respectable Friends , and not that they may hear the news of the day”.
James’ next letter is dated 7th June 1851.He says that ,
“In all probability I may be moved to another place, where I cannot inform you, at present should such be the case, I shall no doubt be allowed to write to my friends immediately on my arrival…”
He signs off, “Believe me to remain My Dear Father & Mother Your Unfortunate Son James Tydeman.
The last letter is dated 10th January 1852 and is from Dartmoor Prison. The official notes on the letter’s second page say,
“The Convict has been received here, under a Sentence of Transportation, and will remain until removed according to Law…No visits are allowed”
Poor James says he is uneasy at not hearing from his parents for over 6 months. He says,
“I was told when I was at Portsmouth that when I had completed the half of my time I should be restored to my liberty in this Country. But now I can see no signs of it.”
He is still hoping that “ a petition or a private letter to Sir George Gray”will help his case. He asks his parents to,
“take this letter to Mr George Finch and tell him I am very sorry for what I have Done And I hope he will Do something for Me Towards Getting me my liberty”. In that case, he says that,
“you shall see by my future life and conduct that I am become a useful member of society.”
My Grandad reports that in with these letters was a small piece of paper with this address:
Pestonjee Bomanjee. Van Dieman’s Land. Ober Town, (I wonder if this is a mishearing of Hobart town)
The ship Pestonjee Bomanjee left England on 18th April 1852 and arrived at the Van Diemens Land colony on 31st July 1852. There were 292 convicts on board.
digitalpanopticon.org is a magnificent resource through which I have found further information on James. The digitised documents tell me that he was 5’ 4 1/2” with black hair and dark eyes. He had a tattoo on each arm, one a heart with a cross and the other an anchor. He had an oval face, fresh complexion and (like me) he had a low forehead. Like his step father he was a farm labourer.
He was given 2 conditional pardons, I expect one for each offence, gaining a certificate of freedom on 7th July 1855 when he was 27.
Wikipedia entry on Tasmanian convicts.
I next found him getting married on 26th November 1866 to Louisa Denner. She was 17 and he was 35. They married at the Chapel in Fingal, Tasmania. He is described as a labourer and she can’t write, so signs the register with a cross. Sadly they didn’t have much time together as Louisa died inAugust 1877 of lung disease. I found all this information on Find My Past.
With the help of family trees on FamilySearch and Ancestry I found that they had a daughter, Roseanne, in March 1868
After Roseanne they had a daughter in February 1872, unnamed on her birth registration. Sadly, a son, James, only lived for a month before dying in March 1876 of an insect bite. More tragedy in 1877 as another daughter, Louisa, was born on 12th August 1877, but died on 30th August of convulsions. As her mother, Louisa had died on 28th August their death entries are adjacent in the Fingal registration book.
Roseanne, under the name Rose Ann Tidiman married James Curtis in November 1885.They had a son, Thomas Henry in January 1888. Sadly, I found her death under the name Rose Curtis in April 1889. The cause of death is given as burning so, like her mother, an early marriage and an early death.
This is where I lose track of James.
Going back to his brother William, though, I find he became a policeman. He married, moved to Wiltshire and had 2 daughters and 6 sons, one of which also became a policeman. None of William’s descendants are called James.