- the wife of a transported convict left behind in England -
Susan [Susannah, Susanna] Roberts was the first wife of William Smith, my convict
ancestor. Although I have no connection with Susan, I think her story goes hand in
hand with that of her husband William and the new life he made for himself in
Tasmania. It illustrates how the family of a convict suffered a different kind of
Baptism: A possible Baptism for Susan is on 25th September 1808 at Maiden Newton,
daughter of John Roberts and Mary Clark [married 28th May 1805, Maiden Newton - OPC
Marriage: William and Susannah married on 10th June 1827 in the neighbouring parish of
Cattistock. They both signed with an X [marriage unconfirmed but sighted - seems the most
likley]. The witnesses were John Nobbs Jnr and Ann Russell.
Conviction and transportation: William and Susan had been married only three months
when he was sentenced to death for stealing 3 lambs. William's gaol report states that Susan
was 'in service' however it appears she lost her position because within a month of William's
sentence, a Removal Order [Ref PE/SSN/OV 3/4/11] Date 1827 was issued for her from
Godmanstone [where they had been working] to Sydling St Nicholas [William's native place]
William Henry Smith: Seventeen months later [and almost two years after William had faced
court] Susan has her son William Henry baptised at Sydling on 26th April 1829. The Minister
notes in the registry:- 'father (shepherd) transported to Botany Bay; mother resident in
Sydling'. William snr is named as father however it is highly unlikely that the child is his
unless it was at least nine months or older at the time of Baptism. Going by later census
data, William Henry was born in 1829. The baptism entry appears as follows: "William
Henry, son of William and Susan Smith; father (shepherd) transported to Botany Bay;
mother resident in Sydling"
Jane Bridle Smith, daughter of Susan, baptised 19th December, 1830. George [Bridle] the
reputed father. [Husband] transported for life in 1827. Bastardy Order: A Bastardy Order was
issued against George Bridle ion 17th December 1834 for a female child born on or about
23rd July 1830. There is a burial for a Jane 30th December 1834 Aged 4 at Sydling St
Nicholas which could be our Jane. She is absent from the 1841 census.
James G[George?] Smith: Born about 1833. The 1841 census also mentions a child James,
born approximately 1833 but I have been unable to find a corresponding baptism for him.
Bastardy Order: A Bastardy Order was issued against George Bridle on 17th December 1834
for a male child born on or about 2nd June 1833.
Unknown Child probably born about 1835. If daughter Jane died in December 1834 then
Susan must have given birth to another child at some point before February 1835 at the time
of her imprisonment when she is recorded as having 3 children.
Robert John Smith, son of Susan, Baptised 24th February, 1837. Married woman, her
husband transported. There is a second Baptismal record for Robert John as follows; Robert
John SMITH, baptised 15th May 1853, mother Susan.
Parish Help: The vestry book for the parish of Sydling [Ancestry, not indexed] shows that on
26th March 1829 Susan Smith was granted the weekly sum of 2 shillings for her child,
unnamed but likely to be William. By 1831 she is receiving the same about for 'children',
probably William and now Jane. This payment appears to end in July 1832.
11th February 1835: Susannah Smith aged 28 of Sydling St Nicholas was brought to
Dorcester prison on 11th February 1835, convicted of Assault and sentenced to 2 months
imprisonment. She is described as a married woman with 3 children. [William, James and
unknown?] her trade is 'plain worker'. She was discharged on 10th April but her record has
the comments 'As for this offence but detained for another'. No description is recorded for
Susan at this time. Of interest if the fact that George Bridle, aged 33, a labour of Sydling, the
reputed father of Susan's 2 children was also imprisoned on this date for two charges of
bastardy [ie not supporting his bastard children after an order has been made] and one of
assault. Ironically, George Bridle would also be transported to Tasmania in 1850.
28th March 1835: 'Susan otherwise Susannah wife of William Smith' - Easter sessions, was
convicted of assaulting the constable in the execution of his office. She was already serving
time in prison when this entry occurred. She was sentenced to 6 months hard labour, every
alternate week in solitary confinement. She was discharged on 6th October 1835.
12th February 1840: Susannah is committed to the Dorchester Gaol for assault. She is a
married woman with 4 children. She is a straw hat maker. She is 5 foot 2 and a quarter
inches tall, with light brown hair, dark blue eyes and a fair complexion. She is sentenced to 2
calender months imprisonment. Description: A large mole on the left cheekbone another on
the left side of the  A cut at the left corner of the left eye. A large cut on the right eyebrow. A
slight cut in the right side of the forehead. A very small mole on the bottom of the right [jaw?]
Discharged 11th April 1840. Conduct: Orderly. Comments: Three of these children are
bastards. At the same time Susan was committed another woman, Jane Frampton, from
Sydling was also in gaol for assault, appearing next to Susan in the gaol register.
The 1841 Census reveals the following: at Ham, Sydling: Susannah Smith, female, 37,
female servant, born Dorset, James G Smith, male, 8, Robert J Smith, male, 4. Son William
Smith aged 10 is living with the Rodgers family next door and is listed as a servant. There is
no trace of daughter Jane Bridle Smith or the other possible unknown child.
Susan disappears after this, but I would love to know how she ended her days. Life must have
been hard for her. Note: Not Susan Sharp Smith aged 39 of Weymouth buried 1st July 1843 at
Radipole. [Ref April May June Q Vol 8 page 103 Weymouth] Cert held.
I have traced her children through some of the censuses.
Robert John Smith: The 1851 census shows Robert aged 14, was living with the Courteney
family is Dunn street. He is listed as an Ag labourer. Robert volunteered as a seaman in the
Navy on 24th February 1854 and again for a further period of time on 21st October 1867. By
1871 he is living in the Coast Guard Station at Icklesham, Sussex with wife Annie, born
Portsmouth, Hampshire, aged 31 and three daughters. His occupation is Boatman. By 1881
Robert has four children and is living in Eastbourne Sussex. He is a Naval Pensioner.
William Henry SMITH: The 1881 Census reveals that William Henry Smith is married and
living in Southampton. He is a seaman.
Jane Bridle SMITH: A possible sighting in 1851 is Jane Smith aged 7 [sic] born Sydling in
the Cerne Abbas workhouse. However I can find no corresponding baptism for this child.
James G SMITH: born approximately 1833 no further record. [NOTE: Not James Spracklen
born to single woman Susannah Spracklen same year] Possible sighting 1851 as George
Smith aged 16 born Sydling, a gardeners labourer and lodger with the Bishop family in
Radipole, Dorset. Possibly the George Smith who gives his birth details as born 26th May
1835 at 'Sidland' Dorset [there is no such place and this could be Sidling] who also served in
the Royal Navy. 1871 census shows George Smith aged 35 born 'Ridland' Dorset aboard the
Navy vessel Bristol in Madeira. He is married and a leading stoker.
Some information on George Bridle:
George Bridle born February 1801 in Sydling St Nicholas, baptised 6th Janaury 1802, son of
Richard Bridle and Sarah.
Transported to Tasmania in 1850 aboard Nile (3) arriving 3rd October 1850. Tried at
Dorchester [quarter sessions?] on 27th June 1848. Convicted of stealing timber [weys and
bodkins per gaol record] from John Brett at Siddleham [should this by Sydling Ham?] He had
previous convictions of four counts of bastardy and was acquitted of stealing a spade.
Sentence 7 years. Married with no children, 5 foot one and a half inches tall, and aged 48 of
the protestant religion. It appears he could read and write slightly. He was a farm labourer
with a dark complexion, a medium head, brown to grey hair, grey whiskers, oval visage,
medium forehead, black eyebrows, grey eyes, medium mouth, medium nose and a double
chin. His arms were hairy.
1838: Obtaining money by false pretenses - 6 months hard labour aged 34/acquitted?
Launceston Examiner 14th May 1853. TOL revoked
NOTE: Not the George Bridle who married Rhoda Colmer at Sydling in 1827.
Also to be checked:
Ann Smith base child of Susannah Smith baptised 20th March 1836 at Mappowder, Dorset