Is George Ferguson a convict?

+8 votes
Hi all,

I have my one of my first Tasmanian profiles, George Ferguson, and I'm wondering whether the general assumption on the web that he is a convict is true.

All the sources I've found are linked from the profile, but I'm not sure whether his marriage permission (listing him as free) means that he was never a convict, or that he has served his term and is now free. His obit gives him as an early colonist (which may be just that the family didn't want to advertise his past). The 1842 census lists two free people in the house, one arrived free and one other.

I'm not aware of any shipping records that I can search to try to find and alternate arrival.

Thanks in advance, Chris.
WikiTree profile: George Ferguson
in Genealogy Help by Chris Willoughby G2G6 Mach 1 (14.4k points)
retagged by Chris Willoughby

There is a list of people also researching convicts.  George Ferguson's name is not on the list as being researched by anyone.  (That doesn't mean he was not a convict, but my experience usually is that if they are listed as "free", they were not transported.)

There IS someone researching Agnes.  It is possible they may have some information on George that you do not.  There is a contact form linked from her name on this page.  (Link goes to rootsweb.)

Thanks Melanie, this being my first convict I didn't know of this list - awesome suggestion!
I saw the same thing that he may be a convict I have Ferguson in my family 2 gorges but what I'm finding I have open dna in ancestry if you've taken your  dna you can to see if we match
Hi Caryn,

I'm not actually descended from George, he's the father of the George that had two families, one in Tasmania, one in South Australia. He married Mary Jane McMahon in South Australia who is the daughter of my great great great grandmother to her second marriage. I doubt, if l had taken a DNA test, that we'd be very close.

Which George is in your family?

5 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
George Ferguson was not a convict.  His wife Agnes McCormack was a convict.  I have researched her if you require ant information.
by Kerry McKenzie G2G1 (1.3k points)
selected by Chris Willoughby
Hi Kerry,

thanks - do you know how George reached Tasmania? Any sources would be great.
+9 votes
by Ian Beacall G2G6 Pilot (201k points)

The links worksmiley found out how to do a permalink to the TAS archives record.

yes  smiley

Tassie's good that way -- you get the images online.

(Mainland states don't do the images online. I used to get the New South Wales, and Victoria, images on microfiche and microfilm at the library in Queensland.  (Yes, I am that old.)  It was how Mum and I got the correct information to allow us to buy actual certificates.) 

Still managed to get one wrong. All this is confirming that he's the right age and from the right place of origin to be the baker. The other convicts don't fit. We still don't know if there is another man who arrived as a free man.

But if Fergusson (2 s's) did not get his freedom until 1845, he wcould NOT have married as a free man in 1844.

The permission, as I read it, was for Agnes, not George.  (Free men and women didn't require permission, only the convicts did (probably included ticket-of-leave as well, seeing they were not yet free).)

Fergusson was the one who was transported on the Caledonia in 1820. He was only 16 on conviction, 17 on arrival so would have completed his sentence by 1827, plenty of time to establish himself before a marriage in 1844. (much younger wife, I would have thought but he survived her). His age at death  and place of origin  matches.

Now I'm getting all turned around by these Georges!  cheeky

Yes... All these George Fergusons.

There were 4 of them transported as convicts but the George that came on the Caledonia is the best fit. The court record (posted above) states this George was to be transported to New South Wales. It's possible he went to Tasmania instead.

The good news is that there will be more information IF your George was a convict. Records of 'Ship/doctor's records', 'Ticket of leave' , 'Permission to marry' etc. Which will be more helpful for research.

More records than for an assisted passenger. i.e. It will be difficult to find them recorded in the ship record.
Thank you all, much appreciated!

From the sources I can only say for sure that the Goulburn St baker came from Scotland - the Glasgow birth location was from the supposed convict link. I've updated the profile to just say Scotland, for now.

I agree that the Fergusson transported on the Caledonia is the best match for age, occupation and birth location. I guess the question boils down to whether his ship would have been listed in the marriage permission if he was a former convict who had served his time? I have not looked at enough of them to know.

Certainly George started accumulating land in 1833, but that's still after his potential sentence:

Thankyou all again!

Yes, and George had a son George, who had a son George. smiley

The middle George is how he's connected to my William Willoughby - let's not get into how many of them there are (and James Rule). At least the Germans put in a middle name to distinguish them all.

I can't add any useful information. Watching from outside the arena, this is fun to observe.
I admire the comments from different contributors working collaboratively. Well done all!

Yes, and George had a son George, who had a son George.

by Chris Willoughby


Welp -- that about does it for me.  I have WAAAAAY too many of those in the families I am researching already.  (So much so, I kept mixing up a mother and daughter and almost made the incorrect "suggestions" to Find a Grave. blush )

My current lot are Irish-Belgian-Irish, so there are duplicate Patricks, duplicate Bridgets, duplicate Daniels, duplicate Matildas/Mathildes, duplicate Bernards (doesn't help, either, when the one child died, then they name the next same-sex child with the same forename.  At least there are differing secondary forenames for some).  Getting the correct death dates has been fun for some of them!  cheeky

+7 votes
A couple of observations regarding convicts. If they had completed their sentence they did not need persmission to marry and there is no mention of their ship on the marriage records. My observation with convicts in my family tree is that some did seem to wait until after their sentence was complete prior to marrying and sometimes the men were considerably older than their wives. (38 yo man marrying 16yo woman). Also, it is not necessarily inconsistent for them to be land owners/settlers after completing their sentences or being granted a pardon. Some went on to quite prominent roles.
by Nan Hewitt G2G6 (9.4k points)
Thanks Nan, I think I'm coming to the same conclusions.
+3 votes
Hi there,

There are records for three George Ferguson's, two  convicts who were transported to Tasmania, and one to Port Jackson.

1. Left Woolwich on 27 Feb 1832, arrived VDL 16 July 1832.(ship: Katherine Stewart Forbes 2) Tried at Perth (Scotland) on 7 Oct 1831. Sentenced 14 years.

2. Left London on 21 April 1835, arrived VDL 1 August 1835. (Ship: Mangles 7). Tried 4 September 1834, 7 Middlesex. 7 years. You could find the court case on the website.

The other one can be found on the claim a convict site

There is also the Tasmanian Names index to research.
by Anne Murray G2G1 (1.6k points)
+3 votes
Hi Chris,

There were three George Ferguson as convicts in VDL who had received their pardons by 1844 meaning they would have been listed as free if being married to Agnes. None of their conduct records mention their normal occupations. But looking at their descriptions, George from the Caledonia(1820) is listed as baker aged 17, George from Katherine Stewart Forbes(1832) is a boy aged 15, George from Mangles(1835) is labourer aged 20,

George from Mangles got permission to marry Rachel Lewis but she married in 1842 to Stephen Parkhouse, George from Caledonia married Agnes and was listed as baker over 21 years old and George from KSF I can find nothing either marriage or death.

Looking through Trove newspapers, I found a death of baker's brother Alexander

Also found two elderly female servants who worked at his home who died in their early sixties.

There was a George Ferguson in NSW 1817 saying he was moving to the Derwent.

There was also a George Ferguson as a cashier at a bank in Hobart in 1839 who later went to Bathurst in NSW when they started a new bank there.

Hope some of this helps.
by Sue Wyatt G2G6 (8.7k points)
edited by Sue Wyatt
Thanks Sue, every bit helps. The brother Alexander might be the clue.

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