Stephen May, believed to have been born in 1804 in Atworth, Wiltshire, England, is the primary subject of this page. Stephen was caught and convicted of larceny at Bishops Cannings in 1823 and transported to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), eventually arriving in Geelong by 1841 where he would meet and marry a 20 year old Irish woman named Ann Farrell or Ferrall. One of their daughters would marry into the Kingwell family that migrated from Newfoundland in Canada to Port Philip. Click this link to view Stephen May's history in Australia.
Stephen May's line - so far identified - is believed to be as follows. This assumption is based primarily on the similarity of names in each generation (Thomas, Hannah, Mary, Samuel, Stephen, Ann, Elizabeth). The names are highlighted in bold in the text below.
Other May family names and groupings are included for cross reference as they may be related.
The Kingwell family of Devon, England, appear in this story from the 1850s. Information about the family up to that time has been sourced from the Carr-Brion website. Permission to use this material has been provider by the site owner (13 June 2019).
The earliest Kingwell recorded so far is Richard Kingwell who was born around 1732 in Ugborough, Devon, England. Richard married twice. The first marriage was to Catherine Lavers (abt 1735 - 1776). From this marriage six children were born including their sixth child, John Kingwell (abt 1770 - ). Possibly as a result of Catherine's death in 1776, Richard re-married in 1778 to Ann Couch (1755 - 1832) and had five more children.
The Kingwell story continues below.
Stephen May, the main subject of this page, is believed to have come from Wiltshire. People with the May surname are recorded in Bradford-on-Avon, Corsham, Holt, Atworth, Staverton and other locations.
Note - where the full baptism date is shown (not just the year), the original record has been sighted in online records (mostly findmypast.co.uk).
Robert May married Ann Johnsons [sic] in Bradford-on-Avon on 10 September 1671. They may be the parents of the following children:
The two children below (twins) were baptised in Atworth and were the children of a Thomas and Elizabeth May. A record has not yet been found of their marriage and it is not believed to be the same Thomas and Elizabeth May who married in 1688 (see below) because the twins were baptised before that couple were married.
A Robert May married Anne Heale in Bradford-on-Avon on 24 July 1688.
Thomas May married Elizabeth Bullock at Holt on 14 May 1688. It is believed that they are the Thomas and Elizabeth May who were the parents of the children below.
The following child was born to a John and Sarah May at Staverton, suggesting that they married before that date. A record of this marriage has not yet been found.
Sarah May was baptised to unknown parents in Atworth in 1718.
A Samuel May married Mary Webb in Atworth on 8 January 1721/22. The following child was born to a Samuel and Mary May. It is not known if this is the same Samuel and Mary (nee Webb).
Elisabeth May married Gillam Webb in Atworth on 18 November 1722. (Source: OPC Atworth Register)
A Samuel May, said to be the 'base born' (illegitimate) son of a Samuel May and Mary Chapman, was baptised in Atworth on 24 January 1724.
Eleanor May married John Mayes from 'out of Wiltshire' (Batheaston) in Atworth on 27 April 1730. (Source: OPC Atworth Register)
Anne May married John Rickards on 18 April 1731 in Atworth. (Source: OPC Atworth Register)
Thomas May married Grace Hazell on 12 August 1739 at the Holy Trinity church in Bradford-on-Avon.
The following children were born to a Samuel May (possibly the one born in 1699 to Thomas May) and Anne (surname not known) in Atworth from 1725. A record of their marriage has not yet been found. The children's names suggest a likely link with the family of Stephen May born in 1804 - see below.
William May married Sarah Tucker in Atworth on 10 July 1739. (OPC Atworth Register) The following children were born to William and Sarah May in Atworth from 1740 to 1751.
Robert May and a woman named Damaris married by 1740 and had at least three children in Atworth:
Francis May married Sarah Brownjohn, both of the Bradford-on-Avon parish at Bradford-on-Avon on 3 June 1740.
Thomas May married Sarah Stinchcomb on 3 October 1741 in Atworth. They may be the parents of the following child:
Sarah May (probably born around 1725) married Samuell ([sic] Nut on 19 October 1745. They were both of the same parish.
The following children were baptised in Atworth to parents Frances and Sarah May. Their marriage record has not yet been found.
Samuell [sic] May (possibly the one born in 1726 to Samuel May and Mary Webb) married Mary May at the Holy Trinity church in Bradford-on-Avon in 1749. They had the following children. The names are consistent with the previous and next generations, and so this is beleived to be the father of Samuel May (baptised 1760) and grandfather of Stephen May who was baptised in 1804.
William May, from Melksham parish, married Elizabeth Sadd from Rowde parish in Rowde on 19 December 1750.
Robert May married Sarah Taylor on 22 April 1753 in Atworth, Wiltshire on 22 April 1753. They had the following children:
Stephen May married Sarah (details yet to be confirmed) in Atworth (? not in OPC listing) before 1756.
A William May married in Rowde in 1754 (but this marriage is not in the OPC Rowde register).
Robert May and (first name) Barctlet married in Bradford-on-Avon on 24 February 1754. They had the following children:
William May married Sarah (details TBC) in Atworth (? not in OPC listing) before 1757. They had the following children:
Thomas May (possibly the one baptised in 1730) married Sarah Hawkins on 10 June 1759 in Atworth, Wiltshire. (Source: OPC Atworth Register) They had the following children:
Jane May married Thomas Sheppard in Atworth on 5 October 1760. (Source: OPC Atworth Register)
Thomas Neat, from Great Cheverell parish, married Sarah Bishop from 'out of parish' (OTP) on 2 January 1760 in Semington, south east of Atworth (OPC Record). (Note that an Elizabeth Bishop and George Bishop, also from OTP, registered their banns to other people in Semington in 1756 and 1760 respectively.) Thomas and Sarah Neat had the following children:
The family may have moved to Atworth at some point as both Mary Neat and Daniel Neat were married there - see below. There are no Neat burials in Semington from 1750 to 1837. There are several other Neat marriages from 1794, in addition to the above:
John May married Edit Uncles in Atworth on 8 August 1762. (Source: OPC Atworth Register)
Thomas May married Anne Norris in Corsham, Wiltshire (about 3.5 miles from Atworth) on 9 July 1763. (Source: OPC Corsham Register) They had the following children:
John May, of Atworth parish, married Mary Field, of Broughton Gifford parish, in Atworth on 19 April 1772. They had the following children:
Samuel May was possibly the person with that name born at Atworth in 1760, the son of Samuel May born 1726 in the same location. The older Samuel May is believed to be the one born in 1726 and who married Mary May at the Holy Trinity church in Bradford-on-Avon in 1749.
The banns for Samuel May and Mary Neate (also recorded as Neat/Neale), both from Atworth parish (suggesting that the Neat family had moved to Atworth), were registered on 25 March 1781. Mary was likely the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Neat, baptised on 28 April 1760 in Semington, south east of Atworth. (Note: Another Mary Nate, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Nate, was baptised in Chippenham, north east of Atworth, on 2 January 1761. This is not believed to be the Mary who married Samuel)
Samuel May and Mary Neate married in Atworth on 16 April 1781. The witnesses to the wedding were Thomas Hayward (interestingly, a name given to their first son) and William Sawyer (who appears as a witness to the marriage of another Samuel May, see below).
Samuel and Mary May had the following children, at least two of whom were baptised in the non-conformist church in Atworth (possibly the Atworth Independent Church that was built in the 1790s - http://s748680975.websitehome.co.uk/).
Stephen May's birth record, 1804.
The story of Stephen May continues below.
Several people with the surname May married in Atworth, Holt, Bradford-on-Avon and Corsham from 1781.
Note: The Flower name is common in Wiltshire and is seen regularly in the Corsham registers. William Flower Sawyer baptised in 1783 is believed to have had a grandson named William Flower Sawyer (born 1850), who also had a son with the same name.
Note: A Mary Sawyer, aged 80 (born 1761) and a widow, was recorded in the 1841 census in Atworth, living with a Mary Sawyer aged 65 and a Jane Sawyer aged 25. Other Sawyers are also recorded.
John Kingwell (born 1770, the son of Richard and Catherine Kingwell (nee Lavers)) and Ann Wyatt married in Kingston, Devon, England on 17 June 1794. They had the following children (information from the Carr-Brion website):
The story of John Kingwell (1796 - 1865) continues below.
Charles May married Elenor Flower (probably born 1780 or 1781) in Corsham on 7 November 1797. They had at the following children all in Corsham:
An Ann May (possibly born 1774), spinster of Atworth, married James Sawyer (possibly born 1778, possibly the brother of William Sawyer)) also of Atworth on 24 December 1798, in Atworth. They are believed to have had at least two children based on the 1841 census for Atworth:
Charles May, from St Philip and St Jacob in Bristol, married Susanna Elms by licence on 9 February 1800.
As noted above, the only Stephen May found so far from 1795 to 1815 born in Wiltshire and the son of Samuel and Mary May, is the one who was baptised on 10 November 1804, 22 years after his older brother Thomas Hayward May and 12 years after his older brother Samuel May.
However, the record of his arrival on the prisoner hulk Justitia on 15 May 1823 recorded that he was only 16; if he was born in 1804 he was actually 18. There would be no reason to increase his age artificially - Joseph Crabb who appears directly above Stephen is aged only 13. Family records state that he was born in Bishops Cannings Wiltshire in 1800. These two elements are likely based on (a) the location where he was caught stealing and (b) his death certificate that states he was 77 when he died in 1877. His death certificate in 1877 notes that his parents were Samuel May, a 'gardener', and Mary May. Aside from the Stephen May born in Wiltshire in 1801, no other Stephen May has been found born in Wiltshire between 1785 and 1815.
For the reasons stated above, Stephen May is believed to have been the son of Samuel and Mary May (nee Neate) who married in Atworth in 1781.
A John May (born 1786), a builder, married Ann (born 1791) possibly in Box, Wiltshire, in 1813. They had three children, all recorded in the 1841 census living with their parents (dates are from the census and online BDM records):
A Samuel May, possibly Stephen May's older brother, married Miriam Stone at Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire on 23 January 1809. OPC for Bradford On Avon. While there is no evidence that this Samuel was Stephen May's older brother who was born in 1791, there is an interesting link with another family in 1841 which suggests a possible connection - see below. The record of that marriage reads as follows:
No. 6 } Samuel May of this Parish & Miriam Stone of the same [parish] were married in this church by Banns this twenty third day of January in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and [eight - crossed out and initially GPD] nine by me Geo. Pyke Dowling, Curate. This marriage was solemnised between us Samuel X his mark May, Miriam X her mark Stone in the presence of Wm Gibbs, Thos Gibbs.
The 1841 census for Atworth shows a Miriam Stone, a widow aged 76 (born 1766) living with an Ann Stone, likely Miriam's mother, a widow aged 95 (born 1746) and two likely siblings who relationship to Miriam is not known: - George Underwood (aged 20) and Maria Underwood (aged 15). A couple of doors down lived William and Jane Hulbert (aged 40 and 35) and five children aged from 15 to 1; a James Hulbert was sentenced to death for burglary at the same time as Stephen May. This may have been William Hulbert's brother.
A Samuel May, aged 20, 'of this chapel', was buried in the Chapel of St James in the Parish of Bishops Cannings in 1821. This would put his birth at around 1800 unless the age is shown incorrectly. There is no birth record noted for Samuel May in the above Bishops Cannings listings, suggesting he may have been borh elsewhere, possibly Atworth.
There are two very similar names and details in the Wiltshire area after that date:
Also, an S May, born 1794, appears in the 1861 census in Pewsey. A Mary May, born 1797, appears in the 1861 census in Collingbourne Ducis, Pewsey, Wiltshire in the same census.
John Kingwell (1796 - 1865) first married Elizabeth Matthew on 26 May 1816 in Christ Church, Greyfriars, Newgate, London. From 1819, John was recorded as a schoolmaster in Walworth, London and then as a teacher for the Newfoundland School Society in Canada. John and Elizabeth Kingwell had four children:
The Kingwell family line continues below.
According to the record of her arrival in Victoria, Ann Farrell was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1820. She could neither read nor write.
Unsourced family history records (death certificate?) state that Ann Farrell was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1822 to Martin Farrell a woolcomber, and Mary Ann. A record of this birth has not been found in online Irish government records. Her father may have been the Martin Farrell who married Mary Gorman on 7 October 1819 in St Mary's, Kilkenny City, but no record linking Ann to Martin and Mary has yet been found.
The only other person yet found with a very similar name born to a Martin Ferrall was Ann Ferrall, baptised on 26 November 1818 in the Parish of Newport in the western side of County Tipperary. As alternative Parish names were Birdhill, Drumkeen, Killoscully/Killoughscully and Newport, it is possible that the official on her arrival misheard 'Kilkenny' for Killoscully?
A Samuel May, no other details given, was admitted to the Salisbury Infirmary Hospital, Admissions and Discharge, on 7 July 1821. He was discharged to the outpatients ward on 4 August 1821. It is not known if this Samuel May has any connection with anyone else on this page but the information is noted for the record.
Family records (reference CO 21/39) noted 'Samuel May a blind man lived at Burgess in 1823'. This may be Stephen's father; further research is required. Burgess may be a reference to Burgess Green in Salisbury. Potentially it refers to the same Samuel May who was admitted to hospital in 1821.
It is not (yet) known why he was there (working, perhaps), but the 18 year old Stephen May was caught stealing a watch and monies worth £29.0.2 from John Bolland* in the Parish of Bishops Cannings on 24 February 1823. His trial took place at the New Sarum (the original name for Salisbury) Assizes at the Guild Hall in Salisbury, Wiltshire (Lent Circuit) on 8 March 1823 (Source: ASSI 23/10). He was found guilty of 'larceny in a dwelling house' and sentenced to hang. Stephen's sentence was transmuted to transportation for 14 years (Source: ASSI 23/10). The Comprehensive register of Convicts (Core Series N - Z) show the sentence as 14 years, with an additional 2 years on 10 May 1827 - see below for further details.
* - John Bolland is believed to be from the Devizes Bolland family but no record of his birth, marriage or death has yet been found and he is not recorded in the 1841 census.
The New Sarum Assizes comments and trial outcome for Stephen May (one of many on the day) on 8 March 1823. (ASSI 23/10)
The New Sarum Assizes criminal register for Stephen May (ref HO 27/26 Page 247). Note that Moses Ball (aged 15), William Beaumont (15), William Crabb (15) and Joseph Crabb (13) all appear below Stephen and were transferred to the hulks with Stephen.
The young men were transferred from New Sarum Assizes to the prisoner hulks. The register for the Justitia hulk (ref HO 9/4/3 page 31 sheet 138) shows that prisoner 7080, Stephen May, aged 16 (therefore born 1807 or 1808) was received on that hulk on the 15 May 1823, having been sentenced at the New Sarum Assizes on the 8th of March 1823. The register does not show that Stephen was placed on or transferred from from the Retribution (as previously believed). The other prisoners transferred on the same day to the Justitia were Moses Ball (aged 15) and William Beaumont (15)(convicted of highway robbery), William Crabb (15) and Joseph Crabb (13) (likely brothers convicted of highway robbery, possibly with Ball and Beaumont), George Williams (17) and Job Drew (18). Job Drew appears on the same Assizes record as Stephen.
Stephen May's record of arrival on the Justitia hulk register. (Ref HO 9/4/3 page 31 sheet 138)
The separate register of prisoners for the Justitia notes that Stephen May was 'indifferently behaved'. (Ref HO 9/5/1, sheet 27)
The line in the Justitia Register showing Stephen May's behaviour
Family history stated that Stephen was sent first to the Retribution hulk where he was reported as being 'bad, artful, insubordinate 3 three times committed and acquited'. This appears to relate to a Henry May in an undated reference in the Retribution registers, not Stephen May (Reference HO 9/6/1 sheet 17).
All the boys that were transferred to the Justitia on the same day as Stephen - except Stephen and the last one (possibly Job Drew) - were transferred to the Retribution hulk. According to its register of prisoners (in the 'boys' section) they were received in a group of 26 prisoners from the Justitia hulk on 29 June 1823. (Reference HO 9/7/5 pages 81 to 82, sheet 223).
Prisoners transferred from the Justitia to the Retribution
All this detail appears to confirm that Stephen only ever was imprisoned on the Justitia, not the Retribution before or afterwards.
Stephen was transferred from the Justitia to the Asia on 15 July 1823 with 149 other convicts to be conveyed to Hobart Town in Van Diemens Land. The voyage took 163 days, during which the surgeon William Evans wrote a detailed report from 28 June 1823 to 18 January 1824. Folio 1 of the report is summarised as follows: 'Evans (surgeon) joined the Asia on 28 June 1823 at Deptford. The guard embarked on 5 July 1823 consisting of one captain, one subaltern, one sergeant, two corporals, thirty men, five women and one child. On 15 July, 150 male convicts embarked on board from the Justitia hulk at Woolwich to be conveyed to Hobart Town.'
(See this link for the rest of the summary and a download link)
Click this link to view Stephen May's history in Australia, including his marriage to Ann Ferrall/Farrell and their daughters marriages into the Aikman and Kingwell families.
Page created 2 May 2019 (split from the original single web page), updated 17 July 2019. Copyright Andrew Warland. email: andrewwarland(at)gmail.com