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Tocal's convicts 1822-1840

Cooperation or defiance?

About half of Tocal's convicts were reliable and cooperative men and boys who were seldom punished and remained on the estate for most or all of their sentences. The other half were defiant convicts who were frequently punished. Most of this group made an undignified exit from Tocal, sentenced to an iron gang or penal settlement, or returned to government as unsatisfactory.

Convicts were not locked-up at Tocal, nor were they worked in irons. Consequently the most common offence committed by Tocal's convicts, and by convicts in general, was absconding - simply walking off the farm, seeking temporary pleasures such as wine, women and song, or yielding to a passionate urge for a change of place. At least 38 convicts absconded from Tocal. The next most common offences were refusal to work, disobedience, neglect of work and disrespect for the master.

First offenders usually received 25 or 50 lashes but repeat offenders faced increasingly severe punishment, ranging from 100 lashes, sentence to an iron gang, or exile in a penal settlement such as Norfolk Island or Moreton Bay.

Below: Monthly Return of Corporal PUnishments for the Newcastle district in February 1825 showing the number of lashes inflicted on four of Tocal's convicts (those in the service of J.P. Webber).

Corporal punishments Newcastle Feb 1825