I am researching my family tree and have found my 4th great grandmother was Alice Robson from Heddon-on-the-Wall. I notice there is a grave stone of the Robson family but these were later members.
Alice was born in 1797 and was convicted of larceny (she stole some cloth) and was transported to Australia in 1814 (she was 17).
There are lots of stories about her that I've found on Ancestry and I wonder if you would be interested. I believe William Robson and Jane Lister were her parents. Do you have any information please on the family.
In February 2013, a lady called Julie Williams contacted me about a relative from Heddon on the Wall:
There are indeed a lot of Robsons in the graveyard of St Andrew's Church but as a common Border name, they might not be simply related.
Julie continued to supply me with the well documented stories of Alice Robson and I will give you a flavour of them below.
Some of the best things about this site are the occasional, out-of-the-blue contacts which provide interesting information about the village and insight into life of earlier times. There are several examples on this blog. One such message arrived today from Angela Kingsbury.
I have been following the case of John Gill born Richmond 1794 (in case he turned out to be a relative of mine). He was transported to Australia for 7 years for stealing a case of tea at Heddon on the Wall in 1821. Do you have any knowledge of this?
I didn't, but a little research using Google delivered some of the details.
At the Northumberland Assizes on August. 25th 1821, JOHN GILL, BENJAMIN McDOWELL, JOSEPH MARR, and ANN BURKE were indicted for stealing a chest of tea from the cart of a Mr Baxter. He operated as a carrier between Newcastle and Longtown, His driver, William Loggan, had picked up a variety of goods from a Mr Lee, grocer in Newcastle, on 5th April, and had stopped for the night, as was his usual practice, at Iron Sign, an inn kept by a Mr Dobson, in the parish of Heddon-on-the-Wall.
The chest, stolen from the inn yard during the night, weighed about 87lb and its value was about £22. Those responsible for the theft were shopped by a man called Rowell, who was found drunk in a Gateshead public house and arrested on suspicion. He turned King's evidence. Proof was provided by dirt on their clothes, and shoes matching the footprints tracked some distance across fields from the crime scene. The empty chest was found by a field dyke near Wylam Hills.The tea itself, hidden in the arch in the wall of an 'old engine' near Wylam, was later revealed to the police by one of the robbers.
Ann Burke was acquitted by the Jury, but the other three found guilty.
The full story of the dastardly robbery, revealed in full at the trial, was reported in the Newcastle Courant, dated September 15th 1821. The newspaper features as a free download on the website of Anguline Research Archives.
The Australian website, Convict Records, tells us that John Gill was sentenced to 7 years, and was one of 150 convicts transported on the Shipley, departing in November 1821 for New South Wales.
Angela Kingsbury added the following information about John Gill on 14th May 2012:
He was born in Richmond, North Yorkshire in 1794 and later described as a ploughman.
Sentenced at Newcastle Quarter Sessions (23rd Aug 1821) to 7 years transportation for stealing a case of tea at Heddon on the Wall.
He married Elizabeth Blore, who was sentenced to 7 years transportation at Liverpool Quarter Sessions, and arrived 25 April 1838 aboard the John Renwick. They married in Sydney on 12 June 1840.
The website, convictcentral, gives the following information about the convict transport, Shipley:
Shipley sailed from London on 7th November 1821, arriving on 11th March 1822 (a trip of 124 days). All but one of the 150 male convict passengers survived to reach Sydney.
Today it is thought that around two million Britons - one in 30 - are related to the thieves, robbers and petty criminals deported to Australia from the end of the 18th century. John Gill, one of the criminals responsible for the Great Heddon Tea Robbery, may be an ancestor of Angela. Nearly everyone has skeletons in the cupboard if you look hard enough.