Joseph Johns

Joseph Bolitho Johns (abt. 1826 - 1900)

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Joseph Bolitho "Moondyne Joe" Johns
Born about in Wendron, Cornwall, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, Fremantle, Western Australiamap
Profile manager: Rob Judd private message [send private message]
Profile last modified 11 Aug 2019 | Created 13 Mar 2014
This page has been accessed 3,312 times.
Moondyne Joe
The troopers said we'll catch him,
But we know it's all in vain,
Every time we lock him up he breaks right out again.
Cause in he goes, and out he goes, and off again he'll go,
There's not a gaol in WA can keep in 'Moondyne Joe'.
Joseph Bolitho Johns, 1884


Cornwall flag
Joseph Johns was born in Cornwall, England.
Joseph Johns was a convict after the Third Fleet.
Joseph Johns was an Australian Bushranger
Joseph Johns is Notable.

Joseph Bolitho Johns was born 1826 to Thomas Johns and Mary Bolitho. He was baptised on 19 February 1826[1] in Wendron, Cornwall. Joseph's father died in 1833 and Joseph is recorded in the 1841 census with his brother John and his mother Mary.

Joseph Bolitho Johns 1841 Census

By 1848 Joseph had moved to Wales working as an iron ore miner. On 15 November 1848, Joseph and William Cross - real name John Williams - were arrested near Chepstow for stealing from the house of Richard Price Esquire of Pentwyn Clydach: three loaves of bread, 2 pieces of bacon, part of a shoulder of mutton and a piece of suet. Arraigned at the Brecon Assizes on charges of burglary and stealing, the pair pleaded not guilty. On 23 March 1849 they were tried at the Lent Assizes before Sir William Erle and both were convicted and sentenced to ten years penal servitude.[2] Joseph would have spent the next seven months working on a government work party in the local area, before being transferred to Millbank Prison.

On 1 January 1850 he was transferred to HM Prison Pentonville to serve a mandatory six months of solitary confinement. Joseph was transferred to HM Prison Dartmoor on 21 October 1851, but shortly afterwards he was transferred to Woolwich prison hulk, Justitia for discipline reasons and later transferred to Woolwich prison hulk, Defence.

Joseph boarded the transport Pyrenees which left Torbay, England on February 2nd 1853 bound for the Swan River Colony in West Australia and arrived in Fremantle on April 30th 1853. On arrival Joseph was granted a Ticket of Leave and on 10 March 1855 he received a conditional pardon. Living in the Toodyay District in a gorge on the Avon River known as Moondyne Springs, he worked as a fencer and also rounded up straying cattle and horses for the reward; the instances of wandering livestock seemed to increase after he arrived in the area.


Trial for horse stealing and escape, 2 October 1861

On the 2 October 1861, Joseph appeared in court for branding with his own mark an unbranded horse. He was also charged with escaping from the Toodyay goal, and it is also alleged that that he re-stole the horse, along with a saddle and bridle that belonged to the resident Police Magistrate. When Joseph was sentenced no mention was made of the horse concerned. Joseph was only convicted of jail breaking and received a 3 year goal sentence. Serving his sentence at Fremantle he received some remission of sentence and by August 1864 he was issued a certificate of freedom, then he returned to the Toodyay district.

It was not long before Joseph was again in trouble. On the 5 July 1865 he faced the Supreme Court for "killing an ox with felonious intent", the property of William Wallace. Joseph was sentenced to 10 years goal and he was to deny he committed this crime for the rest of his life.[3] At first serving his time at Freemantle goal, he was transferred to Canning Flat where in November 1865 he escaped, but was to be caught one month later and now had the nickname "Moondyne Joe". Receiving another 12 months added to his sentence, he was transferred back to Freemantle goal. He petitioned for a remittance of sentence and received 4 years off his original sentence, but he tried to escape in July 1866 and was caught, and received a further 6 month in chains. On the 6 August 1866 he escaped yet again, this time successfully.


The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, 10 August 1866


  1. This record has the father listed as Joseph and is mis-transcribed or written. Some of his siblings also have the middle name of Bolitho but with the correct father's name of Thomas, and are contained in the IGI Batch C05329-1
  2. Transcription of the trial is here.
  3. 1865 Trial: The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times. 7 July 1865.

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Excellent profile! I love the picture of him with the hatchet!
posted by Paula J

Joseph is 25 degrees from Danielle Liard, 19 degrees from Jack London and 22 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.