Elizabeth Jones (1814?-?)

by Steve Rhodes

 

Elizabeth Jones was a native of Isle of France (Mauritius), born in about 1814, and although it is not known when or why, by 1827 she was living in London and working as a cook for a family there. On 30 June 1838, she found herself caught up in a scheme to swindle a gullible and vulnerable newcomer to London out of her money and possessions.

Lucy Jackson had arrived in London from Great Barford, Bedfordshire, early in the morning of 30 June, hoping to find employment as a laundress. As the laundress was still sleeping, Lucy went to a public house where she was befriended by Sarah Neville, who identified with her as she was from the country herself, and invited her to her house for breakfast. There she met Sarah Chapman, John Henry Austin, and Elizabeth Jones.

After a short nap, Lucy had the breakfast promised her with her four new friends and then lent Neville 1/- to buy some coals. At the recommendation of Neville she went for a walk with Austin and Jones, but not before leaving her money and belongings in a room, also at the suggestion of Neville, because of the risk of being robbed by ‘such rogues’ that existed in London.

During the three hours they walked, Austin said he could find her plenty of work and wrote her a letter of introduction at a public house at which they had stopped. When they left that establishment Jones left them, and Austin asked Lucy if she could make her own way back to Neville’s house. She was quite lost so asked Austin to escort her. He pretended to do so, but instead, left her at a similar looking address.

Being quite distressed, Lucy went to the house next door for assistance, the police were notified, and eventually the four accused were apprehended and most of the belongings and some money recovered. At the trial at the Old Bailey on 20 August 1838, there was plenty of evidence for there to be no doubt about the guilt of Sarah Neville and John Henry Austin, and as Elizabeth Jones had been present when Austin sold some of Lucy’s clothing and had received the 6/- obtained for it, she was also found guilty and sentenced to 7 years’ transportation. Sarah Chapman was set free.

Elizabeth Jones and Sarah Neville were among the 177 female prisoners, fourteen children of convicts, five free women and their nine children, and two commissariat clerks who embarked on the Planter, bound for Port Jackson, New South Wales. Although the ship’s surgeon treated on average five women for sickness per day, there were no deaths or serious illness on board. During the voyage the prisoners were kept on deck during the day, weather permitting, occupied with needlework and dancing. A school was also conducted and many women learned how to read and write who previously were unable to do so.

Elizabeth’s convict indent describes her as being 5 feet 1¾ (154.31 cm) tall, having a black complexion, black woolly hair, black eyes, a very broad nose, thick lips, and had a horizontal scar on the left side of her neck and another on the back of her right thumb. She was illiterate, a protestant, and had one female child. Before her appearance at the Old Bailey, Elizabeth had no prior convictions.

There is no evidence that Elizabeth received any convictions whilst under sentence and she was given her certificate of freedom on 12 March 1846. Due to her common name it is difficult to be certain what became of Elizabeth after leaving the convict system.

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