Topic: Edward Hart (1802-1884) by Debbie McCauley

Topic type:

Bricklayer Edward Hart was sentenced to seven years jail aboard a prison hulk for stealing food and drink to feed his wife and family in 1825. The Hart family later arrived in New Zealand on board the 'Tyne' in 1841. Edward was my fourth great grandfather - Debbie McCauley (2013).

Edward was most likely born to Edward and Margaret Hart in 1802 as there is a baptism recorded in Chatham, Kent, on 7 November 1802. Possible siblings are James (baptised 21 April 1799); Elizabeth (baptised 11 August 1799 in Chatham) and Mary (baptised 10 March 1793 in Thurnham, Kent). His father was possibly the Edward Hart who was baptised in Thurnham on 21 May 1763 and died on 30 October 1804.

On 24 August 1823 Edward married Sarah Culley at St Mary's Church in Thurnham, Maidstone, Kent, England. The details of Edward and Sarah's children can be found by clicking here.

According to Kathryn Kersey, Edward and family like many of their neighbours at Thurnham, were 'among the poorest members of society' and between 1819 and 1824 Edward Hart regularly received payments from parish overseers. After their marriage and the birth of their first child, 'Sarah received a total of eighteen shillings in payments from the parish overseer'.

Edward worked as a bricklayer, most likely at Ware Street in Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent. 'Bricks were usually made only in the spring and summer, so although he was a skilled labourer, the work was seasonal'. 'Wages were low, employment was scarce and food prices rose' (Kersey, 2007, p. 6).

With a wife and child to support, as well as another one on the way, Edward must have been under considerable pressure when he burgled William Akehurt's house in Capel Lane Farm in 1825. The 'principal items listed as stolen were food and drink so perhaps it was the desperate action of a man who could think of no other way to provide food for his family'. The burglary tore the family apart as 'Edward went on the run' (Kersey, 2007, p. 6).

It is possible that Edward joined the army during the time he was on the run and for a period was stationed overseas as it 'was subsequently noted by the goaler that he was an army deserter' (Kersey, 2007, p. 8).

Eighteen months later, on 2 July 1827, Edward was apprehended. The Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser reported on 21 August 1827:

EDWARD HART was indicted with stealing one crock, a stone bottle and other articles, the property of William Akehurst, at Thurnham. On the 3rd of February 1825, on rising in the morning, Mrs Akehurst found that some of the bricks were taken out of the wall of the house underneath the kitchen window. On going into the dairy, she found the pork all taken away, a ham, a stone bottle of wine, and other articles, to the value of about £2. On the 4th of February, Mr Forster, the constable, searched the apartments of the prisoner and a man named Smith, and found a hand of port, a leg and two cheeks, a bottle of parsnip wine and other articles belonging to Mr Akehurst. Hart was at the bottom of the stairs, and on the constable telling him he had a search warrant, he went out of the house. He was missing till the 2nd July last, when the constable overtook him with some soldiers near Maidstone. He was afterwards delivered up to a peace-officer in Maidstone. Several witnesses gave the prisoner a good character. Guilty. Sentence not passed. (Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, 21 August 1827)

At aged 24, Edward was sentenced to seven years jail at the Summer Assizes [a court sitting at intervals in each county of England and Wales to administer civil and criminal law]. He was held at Maidstone Goal from August 16 to 31 at a cost of 5s 8½p. On 1 September 1827 he was moved onto the prison hulk ship, The Retribution, which was moored in Woolwich and held up to 600 men. He seems to have also served time aboard the ships Discovery and Ganymede

By all accounts conditions aboard the prison hulks must have been appalling and disease rife. Edward must been extremely relieved to reach the end of his sentence in one piece and return to his family. How Sarah coped during this period, giving birth to their second child and providing for the family on her own, is unknown.

It is possible that at some stage Edward worked for Bryan Edward Duppa Esq. as it was he who selected Edward and Sarah as suitable for emigration to New Zealand. As Frances Moss explains, 'the Duppa's were a well known family in Hollingbourne, and had connections to the Wakefield scheme'.

The Hart family arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, aboard the Tyne on 9 August 1841.

Sarah died in Wellington, aged 74, on 12 March 1880 (reg. 1880/5042). Her death notice appeared in the Evening Post: HART. – On the 12th March, at her late residence, Alma Lane, off Tory-street, Sarah Cully, the beloved wife of Edward Hart, aged 74 years (Evening Post, 13 March 1880, p. 2). She was buried in Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington, on 15 March 1880 (Plot: 127.R).

Edward died in Wellington, aged 82, on 23 November 1884 (reg. 1884/4547). On 24 November 1884 the Evening Post reported that: An octogenarian named Edward Hart, who has resided in Wellington for exactly half of his long life, died yesterday at his residence in Tory-street. (Evening Post, 24 November 1884, p. 2). Edward was buried with Sarah in Bolton Street Cemetery on 26 November 1884.



Baptism: William Hart (1834).

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Burial Record: William Hart (1835).

Death Certificate: Edward Hart (1884).

Evening Post (1880 & 1884).

Frances Moss : second great granddaughter of Edward Hart and great granddaughter of Eliza Wallis (nee Hart)  (personal communication, 17 April 2013).

Kersy, Kathryn (2007). The Lost Manor of Ware. ISBN: 9780954583132.

Marriage Entry: Edward Hart and Sarah Culley (1823).

National Archives (Kew) record 1 collective petition (the prisoners) from Edward Hart and George Smith of Thurnham, Kent imprisoned in Kent Gaol for destroying rabbits belonging to Richard Adams, farmer in August [1823?]. Grounds for release: the prisoners have compensated the prosecutor who agreed to discharge the warrant but forgot to do so, leading to the prisoners' arrest. Annotated: 'Have they been tried'. Fk23. Reference: HO 17/39/73.

Prison Hulks: Life on Board

Tyne Passenger List (1841).

UK, Prison Hulk Registers & Letter Books 1902-1849 via

Wellington Cemetery Records Online: Edward Hart (1884).

Wellington Cemetery Records Online: Sarah Hart (1880).

Will: Edward Hart


This page was archived at Perma cc February 2017

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Edward Hart (1802-1884) by Debbie McCauley

First Names:Edward
Last Name:Hart
Date of Birth:7 November 1802
Place of Birth:Kent
Country of birth:England
Date of death:23 November 1884
Place of death:Wellington, New Zealand
Place of burial:Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington
Date of Arrival:9 August 1841
Name of the ship:Tyne
Port of arrival:Wellington
Spouses name:Sarah Culley
Spouses date of birth:1806
Spouses place of birth:Bearstead, Maidstone, Kent, England
Spouses date of death:12 March 1880
Spouses place of death:Wellington, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington
Spouses nationality:English
Date of marriage:24 August 1823
Place of marriage:St Mary's Church, Thurnham, Maidstone, Kent, England
Fathers name:Edward Hart
Fathers date of birth:21 May 1763
Fathers date of death:30 October 1804
Mothers name:Margaret
Name of sibilings:James Hart, Elizabeth Hart, and Mary Hart
Name of the children:Sarah Hart, William Hart, Eliza Hart , and Rose Hart