Thomas is recorded as appearing in court on 5 Jan 1835 on the charge of Larceny but was discharged 'No Bill'
In 1835, whilst being employed as a Cattle Jobber, Thomas was apprehended and charged with Sheep Stealing. On his appearance before the Suffolk Quarter Session he was convicted on 3 July 1835 and given a Life Sentence. Eventually he was transported to New South Wales in the vessel “Strathfieldsaye”. The Strathfieldsaye arrived on 15th June 1836 from Portsmouth via Rio Janiero, having sailed from the former port the 18th of February, and the latter the 10th of April, under Captain Philip Jones. 216 male convicts, under superintendence of Dr Wilson R.N.. Guard - Lieutenant Cadell, and Ensign Garling, 28th regiment, and 28 rank and file of the 28th regiment. Passengers: Mr Thomas Smith, farmer; Miss Cameron, governess; Mary Peacock and Caroline Freeman, Servants; eight soldiers’ wives, and thirteen children
The report of the ships surgeon ....
PRO 3210 ADM 101/69 Medical Journals Convict Ships
Strathfieldsay (Hired Transport)
J. B. Wilson M.D. Surgeon
16 Dec 1835 - 24 June 1836
270 male prisoners
Ten cases recorded in the journal; of these two are soldiers.
Case 7 R. Duris age 24 Soldier, treated April 12, Syphilis
Case 10 J. Murphy Soldier, treated May 9, Rheumatism
General Remarks by Wilson:
He joined the ship at Deptford on 16 December. The ship was not ready until 27 January, when the guard, a detachment of the 28th, embarked. Left Deptford on 28 January, moved to Woolwich, received 70 prisoners from the Justitia hulk, and at Portsmouth received 200 prisoners. Experienced heavy weather so Downs not reached till 3 February.
“The wind being fresh and fair, we continued our course and at half past five next morning, the ship struck on a sand bank where she remained hard and fast. I hurried on deck and found her on the Elbow of the Moers[?] !! a bad beginning! fortunately the tide was flowing rapidly and in rather more than half an hour the ship was afloat and at noon of the same day we anchored at Spithead. This clumsy accident at the very beginning of the Voyage on a weather shore, vexed me exceedingly and it tended to make me lose confidence in the Master. The ship, however, did not receive any material damage.”
Feb 6 received 130 prisoners from the Leviathan hulk, 70 from the York, rejected only two “but I must confess , that during all my former voyages, I never had such a miserable looking squad.”
On 18 Feb weighed anchor; prisoners were in “pretty good health but many of them, with broken constitutions”. Had a good passage across Biscay and then came too near the Coast of Africa and “got entangled among the Canary Islands”, passed between Grand Canary and Fuerta Ventura. Passed west of Cape Verde Island and made “a favourable passage across the line”. The South East Trade took them within sight of Cape Frio and so they touched at Lanum [?] “rather than run the chance of having to touch at Cape of Good Hope” Sunday April 3 anchored off the harbour entrance
“and next day, after a narrow escape, we anchored near HMS Dublin - we just weathered the breakers on the starboard shore. This second instance of want of caution or want of skill in the Master vexed me much - but he promised to pay in future more attention to my advice. We remained at Rio until the 10th April”.
They took on water, fish, beef and vegetable as well as 6 bullocks. Everyone was in good health. Had a “fair average voyage to New South Wales where we arrived on the 15th June”. On the 24th 289 [?] prisoners landed “in far better health than when they embarked.”
Many prisoners had “catarrhal complaints and affection of the bowels” but their illness was mild and responded to treatment. They were affected by the heat in the tropics. After Rio “griping and bowel complaints were frequent, arising from too great indulgence in fruit”. One prisoner died on the voyage of apoplexy. “I may likewise mention as a farther proof of the healthiness which prevailed during the voyage that (tea, sugar and a little barley excepted ) I had no occasion to use any of the Medical Comforts - the wine, preserved meats and [undeciphered] were returned into store untouched.” The provisions supplied were all of “excellent quality, particularly those received at Portsmouth”; He particularly commends the provision of Cocoa. Oatmeal also was “very agreeable” for a change of diet.
end Surgeons report
As the colony was short of farm workers, Thomas was assigned to a G. F. SAVAGE who had a property at Bringelly, west of Sydney Town. He was to be employed there until such time as he could petition the Court for his Ticket Of Leave (T.O.L.). This meant servitude for eight years with one Master and also to have a record of good conduct. This would be granted with the ironbound provision that the person named remained in the District named on his T.O.L.. Any breach of this provision and that person would revert to the status of convict until the Court’s pleasure.
The Maitland Mercury newspaper, 6 January 1850 page 2, (see archive copy) carried details of a trial in which Thomas was charged with Cattle Stealing. The article indicates that, in November 1949, Thomas was lodging at the home of Mrs Maloney at Four Mile Creek. It was charged that Thomas stole her cows and sold then. The verdict was Not Guilty and Thomas was acquitted.
Thomas was granted his T.O.L. on 16th July 1844 and it stated that he was “Allowed to remain in the District of Maitland” which is north of Sydney and near Newcastle. Where he lived and what he did there has not been discovered except that a notation in the N.S.W. Government Gazette for 11th August 1848, in a “List of unclaimed letters for July1848, in the General Post Office, Sydney”, that there was an unclaimed letter for NEECH, Thomas, East Maitland. Whether he ever received it has not been ascertained. At least it proves that some person was aware of his whereabouts. Also there is proof that that his behaviour was good as he petitioned for a Conditional Pardon which was granted, being No.49/622 by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Charles Augustus Fitz Roy and dated 15th February 1849.
Thomas NEECH was now a free man able to travel anywhere in the world other than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. If he should set foot in any of these lands his pardon would be rescinded and he would be returned as a prisoner to New South Wales in order to complete his Life Sentence. According to what little evidence has been found, Thomas returned to the vicinity of the farmlands of Liverpool and Bringelly where he was first assigned. He was finally admitted as a pauper under the name of Thomas NEICH, to the Liverpool Asylum on the 1st June 1877 and he died on the 4th June 1877, confirmed on his Certificate of Death, Index 6117/1877.
A reference in the Sydney Morning Herald, 27 October 1864 to Thomas Neech of Bath Arms, Parramatta, is a misprint and actually refers to a Mr Neich
Source : Robert Neech Family Tree from Evalyn. Family tree from Lynda Neech
Last Updated : 25-Apr-11