- from Bedfordshire -
- Convict per Elizabeth 1832 -
John Woodcraft, illegitimate son of Mary Woodcraft was baptised in Haynes Bedfordshire
on 18th May 1812.
Samuel Whitbread, a local justice, recorded in his notebook:
“496. Samuel BEARD of Haynes, with Anna Maria GODFREY, housekeeper to Mr. Gudgeon.
About the charge of bastardy against John Gudgeon aged 15 (and) Mary Woodcraft. Can
only say will recollect the charge made if the case shall come before me (ct...)”.
Reference: Samuel Whitbread's Notebooks 1810-11, 1813-14. Cirket ( Alan F.)
Although this brief note doesn't give us much information as to who Mary Woodcraft and
John Gudgeon were, it does give us enough information to speculate. Mary Woodcroft,
baptised 2nd November 1788 at Maulden, daughter of Joseph Woodcroft and Sarah
Wildman had a brother named Warwick aka Joseph Woodcroft also baptised 2nd November
1788 with another sister named Martha. Warwick Joseph married Susannah Gudgeon
baptised 1783, daughter of John Gudgeon/Gudgin and Ann Kirby. Susannah had a
younger brother named John baptised 1794. Is it possible that this is John Gudgeon above?
I believe Mary Woodcroft to be the daughter of Joseph Woodcroft and Sarah Wildman.
Fellow researcher please note that this is only a theory
Bedford Gaol Records recorded the following:
Record ID: 4566
Commital Year: 1830
Reference Doc: BLARS QGV10/1
ID in Reference Doc: 125
Alias(es): John Gudgeon
Height: 5 feet 2½ inches
Hair Colour: Brown
Offence: House Breaking
Committed By: W.H.Whitbread Esquire
When Committed: 12/10/1830
Trial Type: Lent Assizes 1831
Sentence: Death recorded Transported for 7 Years. NOTE: England Criminal Records shows
How Disposed: Delivered on board at Woolwich
Discharge Date: 14/04/1831
Transportation: per convict ship Elizabeth that sailed on 3rd October 1831 and arrived in
Tasmania on 14th February 1832. It carried 220 convicts.
Below: John's convict indent. Note spelling of surname is now Woodcroft
On arrival in Tasmania, John Woodcroft [sic] rope maker and farm labourer was assigned to
Conduct record: There are no reports of misconduct on John's conduct records. It only
shows details of his crime. His report from Bedford gaol was very bad. His report from the
Hulk Justitia was orderly. He was single and the charge of housebreaking was his first
Marriage: On 19th June 1849, John Woodcroft, free was given approval to marry Emma
Smith per Tory. Their marriage took place on 16th July 1849 in the parish church
Swansea. John Woodcroft aged 28 married Emma Smith aged 21 on 16th July 1849 at
Great Swanport District Tasmania. John made his mark. Witnesses were James House and
Mary Ann Woodcroft born 10th July 1850 in the District of Great Swanport and Spring
Bay, father a shepherd of Riversdale. John, as informant, made his mark. Mary Ann gave
birth to a child, Maria on 25th January 1869. William Turvey, farmer, was recorded as the
father. They were not married. Mary Ann's mother Emma Woodcroft was the informant.
Marianne Woodcroft [sic] minor [aged 19] married John Sparkes, full age, on 14th June
1869 at Spring Bay. James was a shoemaker.
Travel to Melbourne: On 16th March 1853, John took passage for Melbourne as a steerage
passenger aboard the Clarence. He returned to Tasmania in April 1853 aboard the Clarence.
This is the last record I have found regarding John Woodcroft or Woodcraft in Tasmania.
John Woodcroft moved to New Zealand, possibly in 1867 when the following report appeared
in the Wellington Independent dated 7th December 1867.
Daughter Mary Ann, spent time in Victoria before moving to New Zealand as well.
New Zealand Electoral Roll for 1878 shows John Woodcroft residing in a house at Waimea
Plains in the electorate of Wallace. Land description is "Deferred payment section 462
New Zealand Electoral Roll for 1881 shows John Woodcroft, labourer residing at Waimea in
the electorate of Hokonui
Deaths: John Woodcroft died in Hokonui New Zealand in 1881 [private researcher] Wife
Emma died in 1903