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Tocal's convicts 1822-1840

Sweat, sawdust and timber

By 1830 there were 13 kilometres of fencing on Tocal. This was before the days of fencing wire, so all of it was constructed with timber posts and rails.

Making timber fences was hard work for Tocal's convicts. They had to fell the trees, remove the bark, cut the trunks into suitable lengths called billets, split the posts and rails from the billets using a hammer and wedges, and roughly shape them with an adze and broadaxe. Finally they dug the post-holes and erected the fence.

Most of the early huts, sheds and animal pens at Tocal were also made from timber, and one of Tocal's convicts who gained skill in timber work was Alfred Padmore. He was an errand boy from England who was convicted of housebreaking in 1821, sentenced to death, reprieved and transported to NSW for life at the age of 19.

press clipping re Padmore's abscondment

Padmore worked on farms around Sydney before being assigned to James Webber at Tocal in 1832 where he worked as a sawyer. He absconded from Tocal twice and on both occasions he was caught, punished and returned.

Right: abscondment notice for Alfred Padmore, a sawyer assigned to Tocal. Note the typo indicating 'lawyer'. His occupation as a sawyer is confirmed by other records.[NSW Government Gazette June 1833].

Padmore's 1837 petition to the NSW Governor seeking a Ticket of Leave is shown below. Although his petition was not successful, he received his Ticket in 1838 after serving 17 years of his life sentence. He was finally free in 1846 when he received a Conditional Pardon.

Below: Padmore's petition. Note that he referred to himself as a 'Government man'. They did not refer to themselves as 'convicts'.

His Excellency the most noble the Governor Gen'l in Council

The Humble Petition of Alfred Padmore

Hon Sir

Veracity boldens me thus humbly to submit my grievance to your Excellencys charitable consideration knowing the stance your Excellency has always taken in what Regards the misfortune, and welfare of the Government Men, since we had the good fortune of being commanded by your Excellency.

*** *** I beg leave to inform your Excellency, that I arrived in this Colony by the Ship Asia in the year 1822 and during that period up to the present date, I have only been with two masters and it can only be reckoned as one as I was transferred from Mr Webber to Mr Wilson at the time Mr Webber sold the farm to Mr Wilson whom I now live with. I applied for a Ticket of Leave in the month of March 1836, recommended by my master and received no answer to my application. I applied the second time in September 1837 and received no answer to my application. I then wrote to Mr Wilson in Sidney Requesting him to inquire from the proper authorities at Sydney why my liberty was detained. And the answer I Received from him was, that I would not be entitled to his liberty till 1840 in consequence of numerous punishments.

Your petitioner humbly begs to state to your Excellency that the only punishment he Received the last eleven years *** since he was signed to a Master was only 76 lashes. And agreeable to the Act of Council, were I to be put back for the punishment I Received I have served double the time specified in the Regulations. Your Petitioner begs to inform your Excellency, that the only punishment he Received was shortly after his arrival in the Colony when unaquainted with good order. But since I arrived at the years of Manhood I made it my constant study to Act in compliance to my Masters wishes and those placed over me, in hopes and *** of being Restored to the liberty which the British Government is so charitably Kind as to hold out to their prisoners, after the prescribed period of good conduct. Your petitioners sole hope Rests in your Excellencys charitable and benevolent consideration in seeing him done justice.

Your humble petitioner will as in duty bound ever pray

Alfred Padmore Government Man to C & F Wilson Esqr's

Patterson 1st May 1837

Annotated on back:

Report from P. Supt of Convicts: "Name returned in Parramatta List for April 1832, in Maitland list for December 1835, in Paterson list for January 1836. Not recommended not being entitled until 1840. Iron Gang sentence and numerous punishments. Let him be informed accordingly."

[SR. 4/2375.2 Colonial Secretary's Correspondence, in-letter 37/5360].