The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names

Richard Burgum - Convict!

I do not yet know where William and Ann Bergum came from, but parish registers indicate that their son John Burgum was christened at Kempley (18th Oct 1747), he married at Kempley (13th Aug 1769) and was buried at Kempley (13th Aug 1812). Kempley is a small village just to the north of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, close to the Herefordshire border. John married Ann Baylis and they had six children Richard, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, Hester and Ann. My story is about their son Richard Burgum. He was christened at Kempley on 14th July 1782. Richard was in his mid-twenties when he found himself in trouble with the authorities. He was convicted at Hereford Assizes for a breach of the peace on 22nd March 1808 and was sentenced to be transported to Australia. He was sent to a hulk ship called the Retribution, which was moored on the Thames, at Woolwich. He was received on 2nd December 1808.

Hulk ships were decommissioned vessels, no longer suitable for service, but adequate to be used as prison ships. The prisons were already over-crowded and, at the outbreak of the American Revolution, convicts could no longer be sent to the colonies of Maryland and Virginia. An act of 1776 created the provision of hulk ships, while an alternative destination could be found.

It was ten years before the resumption of transportation, this time to Australia, and the hulk ships were filling up. Full prison ships were considered a threat to the security of London, and other ports, these 'temporary' hulk ships remained on the Thames, and elsewhere, until 1853. The conditions on board the Retribution and other hulk ships were appalling. Typically two or three hundred men would be imprisoned in small prison cells onboard the vessels, stripped of equipment such as rigging, masts and rudders. Disease was common in the confined, cramped conditions and one out of three prisoners were likely to die while onboard. It seems Richard was sentenced to 7 years, but only served 9 weeks before being pardoned and rehabilitated. He returned to Kempley and on 3rd May 1811 he married a Gloucester girl, Elizabeth Gabb.

Richard and Elizabeth had six children at Kempley, living at Kempley Green. They were Mary (b.1811), Esther (b.1815), Richard (b.1816), Elizabeth (b. 1818), James (b.1821) and John (b.1824). The children were recorded in parish records as Burgum, Burgham, Bergum and Burgam. The industrial revolution was well underway and there was a gradual migration from the country to the cities. Nevertheless Richard remained at Kempley, working as a labourer on the surrounding farms. For many these were harsh times and some were forced into petty crime just to keep themselves and their families alive. We cannot know the circumstances that led Richard to break the law, but he was accused of stealing a sheep and on 2nd August 1831 he was again convicted at Hereford assizes. He was sentenced to a term of life and sent initially to another hulk ship, the Cumberland, moored at Chatham.

Richard was to be transported on the sailing vessel "The Elizabeth", originally built in Calcutta and weighing some 506 tons. Its' Master for the journey was John Craigie and its' surgeon William Martin was responsible for the prisoners' welfare. Before leaving the hulk ship, the convicts were clothed in new suits. The Elizabeth housed its prisoners below deck, sometimes behind bars, and they were usually restrained in chains. They were accommodated in two rows of sleeping berths, one above the other like bunk beds, extending each side of the deck. Each berth would be six feet square, designed to hold four convicts, giving each of them just eighteen inches of space. A small hospital on the same deck was defended by two sets of doors to keep out intruders! The conditions on board were very cramped, with low ceilings, and discipline was harsh. Ventilation was carefully controlled to prevent escape. Each prisoner had a pair of shoes, three shirts, two pairs of trousers, a thin mattress, pillow and blanket. Bibles and prayer book were also supplied.

News Cutting, published Friday 6th March 1840. in The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen's Land Gazette (Tasmania)


Secretary's Office, February 24 - Tickets-of-Leave have been granted to the following convicts, viz: Joseph Barker, Gambier and Pegasus ; William Boyd, Lady Harewood ; William Gibson, England ; Andrew Nottage, Norfolk ; William Richardson, John ; Thomas Sanders, York ; John Sley, Lord Lyndoch ; James Sims, Stakesby ; Jonathan Stead, William Metcalf ; Thomas Tavenor, Moffatt ; Adrian Van Wyk, William Glen Anderson ; William Wilson, Lord Lyn- doch ; Joseph Watson, Emperor Alexander ; Charles Ward, Arab ; John Williams, alias Butler, Lady Kenna- way ; John Weaver, Mangles ; William White, Aurora ; James Williams, Bardaster ; Mary Cooper, Newgrove ; Mary Ann Dempsey, Arab ; Ellen Elliott, Edward ; Abel Ashworth, William Glen Anderson ; Thomas Arnold, Lord Lyndoch ; Thomas Brown, Asia 3 ; George Beach, William Glen Anderson ; George Butler, Strathfieldsay ; Richard Burgum, Elizabeth ; William Berry, do ; George Bland, York ; Joseph Nelson Barnes, Stakesby ; Thomas Blister, Isabella ; James Blackburn, do ; Joshua Barton, John ; Richard Colclough, Surry ; James Cook, Man- gles ; Frederick Cooper, Aurora ; William Chapman, Bardaster ; John Cooper, do ; William Cutts, Asia 4 ; Robert Dare, Mangles ; Edward Dodd, Layton ; Robert Erskine, Stakesby ; Peter Fitzsimmons, Larkins ; Wm. Finn, Aurora ; John Farrington, Layton ; Henry Foley, Bardaster ; James Healey, Manlius ; John Halliwell, Elizabeth ; George Harlow, do ; Thomas Harper, Stakes- by ; Morrice Howling, Isabella ; Charles Hampson, Moffatt ; Hugh Heap, Norfolk ; William Hague, Aurora ; William Jeffery, Isabella ; Michael Jackson, Moffatt ; John Jones, Layton ; Robert McLaughlan, alias Ruther- ford, Lord Lyndoch ; Edward Lloyd, Aurora ; William Mawson, Strathfieldsay ; John Morris, Lord Lyndoch ; William Maddox, Layton ; Thomas Arnold, Georgiana 1; Â William Andrews, Lord Lyndoch ; Richard Atterfield, Asia 4 ; Henry Brown, Stakesby ; Thomas Brinkworth, Bardaster ; Philip Caton, alias John Smith, Morley ; Robert Collins, Governor Ready ; Thomas Campbell, John ; Hugh Cartwright, Lady Kennaway ; William Cottle, Layton ; Thomas Dagnall, Manlius ; Alexander McDonald, David Lyon ; Joseph Davis, Argyle ; John Davis, Lord Lyndoch ; William McDonald, Surrey ; Henry Daw, Norfolk ; Patrick Durkin, Layton ; Thomas Davis, do ; William Floyd, alias Thomas Jones, Georg- iana ; William Fountain, Larkins ; Henry Green, Eliza- beth ; Edward Grooby, John Barry ; Joseph Grainger, Asia 4 ; John Harwood, Roslyn Castle ; William Hen- derson, Larkins ; Henry John Hawson, Circassian ; Thomas Hewitt, Isabella ; Jacob Holt, do ; John Hughes, John 2 ; Thomas Jones, Aurora ; Lachlan Kelly, Asia 4 ; Samuel Lee, Persian ; Joseph Ledger, Larkins ; James Lovett, Lord Lyndoch ; William Lam- beth, John Barry ; John Lea, Layton ; William Leaf, Bardaster ; John Mackrain, Malabar ; Joseph Morris, England ; Thomas Mansfield, Layton ; Samuel Newton, do ; Joseph Pearson, Lord Lyndoch ; George Purcell, Isabella ; Richard Pickering, Southworlh 2 ; John Peter, Mangles ; Alexander Ram, Governor Ready ; Duncan Robertson, Gilmore ; William Rowe, William Metcalf ; James Shearman, York ; Thomas Simmons, David Lyon ; John Stephenson, Larkins ; Joseph Senior, Strathfieldsay ; Arthur Spruce, York 2 ; Joseph Seagar, alias T. Smith, Bardaster ; James Townsend, Argyle ; John Taylor, Lord Lyndoch ; John Tylor, Arab 2 ; George Thompson, Bardaster ; Thomas Underkill, York 2 ; Thomas Wright, Earl Spencer and Kangaroo ; William Wrenn, Medway ; John Wilkie, Southworth ; George Westcott, Strathfieldsay ; James Wilson, do ; John Woddington, Isabella ; Frederick John White, George the Third ; James Wilson, Layton ; Henry Weet, do ; Mary Ann Baker, America ; Mary Ann Harris, William Bryan ; Hannah Hunt, Arab ; Helen Livingstone, Mellish ; Elizabeth Larcombe, Hydery ; Sarah Mosely, Jane ; Phillis Perry, Lady of the Lake ; Margaret Peckitt, Edward ; Martha Park, Hector ; Joseph Reeves, Stakesby. By His Excellency's command, M. FORSTER.

Over 800 ships had brought 162,000 convicted men and women to Australia. Between 1803 and 1853 approximately 75,000 convicts had been transported to Tasmania. With a population increasing above one million, there was no longer a shortage of labourer. The practice of transporting convicts to Australia stopped in 1868. Richard never saw his family again. He died at Swanport, 65 miles north-east of Hobart, on 28th January 1841.

Click here for more about Kempley and some of the Burgums and Burghams who lived there.

List of Burgum baptisms, marriages and burials that took place at Kempley

The Kempley Tardis Project is a Social History project, funded originally by the Heritage Lottery Fund, creating an online archive of the Kempley's history through vital records, maps and old papers. Well worth a look!