Trial of John Phetheon – transported 14 years, 1840

I’m trying to accumulate documentary evidence John Phetheon’s life. I have documents showing when and where is was transported (Tasmania) and that he received a free pardon after 7 years. John may have returned to England briefly but then went back to Hobart along with wife Susan and possible two children in 1849. I have other circumstantial evidence confirming that his wife was called Susan, and also a record of a marriage between a John Phetheon and one Susan Burt in Lambeth, 1839.

The trial is described below :

From:  Henry Buckler; Central Criminal Court.  Minutes Of Evidence,  Vol X11; Session VII to Session XII; George Herbert, Cheapside, London, 1840

2038. JOHN PHETHEON was indicted for stealing, on the 26th of February, at St. George, Hanover-square, 4 salt-cellars, value 41; 6 ladles, value 1/. 5s.; 18 forks, value 91.; and 6 spoons, value 11.; the goods of Thomas Robert Baron Hay, his master, in his dwelling-house :— 2nd Count, stating it to be the property of the Earl of Kinnoull, in Scotland.

Messrs. Bodkin and Ballantine conducted the Prosecution.

Thomas Mowbray Neatham. In July last I was butler to the Earl of Kinnoull, at No. 58, Green-street, Grosvenor-square, in the parish of St. George, Hanover-square. The prisoner was the under butler—his Lordship was leaving town in July—previous to his leaving it was customary to examine all the plate before it was sent to the banker’s—a small portion of the plate was left behind in the house, kept in a small iron chest—on the 14th of July I told the prisoner to put all the plate out as usual, that it might be examined before it was sent to the banker’s—next morning I went into the pantry—the plate was in the strong closet—the prisoner was in the pantry—I did not find the plate put out, but found one chest packed and another partly packed—I said, “I desired you to put the plate out that I might examine it before any part was put away”—he said, there was bags belonging to what was put away, and he thought it much better to put it in the chest out of the way—I asked him the contents of the chest, and as he named them I wrote them down in a memorandum book—it was the chest No. 1, which was already packed—he lifted the trays out of the chest —1 saw the large things, and there was a number of small things, which I took his word that they were there as he named them—he locked that chest down, and we went on packing the other chest—I said, “Now we will put all the plate out in the pantry before any more is put away, we will have it out and examine it’:—it was done—I examined it and missed the snuffer-tray—I asked him where it was—he said he would tell me after a short time—I then went on, and missed a lemon-dish and two strainers —I asked him where they were—he said he would tell me after a bit— these articles were replaced by the prisoner the same evening—I found the remainder of the plate correct as far as I examined—about twelve o’clock the same night I went into the pantry, and opened the chest No. 1, which had been packed by him—I examined them by the list he had given me, and found four salt-cellars missing, and six ladles—1 examined the other chest, and found it right—next morning I went into the pantry—the prisoner came in afterwards—I told him I had a claret cork to put away, and asked him what chest we should put it into — he said, “No. 1 chest”—when this chest was opened, I said, “I did not examine the contents of this chest, it would be more satisfactory to myself, and also to you, that we should examine it”—I told him to take all the things out —I asked him if the things were in that chest according to the list, and read it down to him three times over, and he said it was correct—I then said it would be more satisfactory to examine them—they were taken out, and four salts and six ladles were missing—I asked him where the salts were—he said he had pawned them—when we missed the ladles I asked where they were—he said he had pawned them also—I told him they must be forthcoming, as the chest would leave the house at nine o’clock to go to the banker’s—this was about half-past seven o’clock in the morning— he said if I would allow him an hour they should be forthcoming—I said, “Now we had much better examine the contents of the iron chest,” of which he kept the key—I did so, and asked him the contents of the chest —he laid six tea-spoons and two salt-spoons down before me, and said, “That is all”—I had a list of what ought to be in it, which I received in February from his Lordship—it was quite right then—I missed twelve tableforks, six table-spoons, and six desser tforks—I asked where they were—he said he had pawned them—I told him all the plate missed must be forthcoming by nine o’clock—he said it would if I would allow him an hour, they should be produced—I consented, and he was going away to fetch it —I said, “Stop, John”—Mr. Dudfield, (who is groom of the chamber to his Lordship) went with him—they returned shortly, and the prisoner produced one table-fork, and nine duplicates—I told him the plate must be forthcoming, for the chest must leave by nine o’clock—he said he had not the money to get them—I asked him whether he could not borrow it—he said he could not—he went away with intent to borrow it, and returned, and said he could not—I gave directions for him to be watched—he went to the pantry—I gave Mr. Dudfield a 51. note to fetch some things out, and gave him three duplicates for the four salts and six ladles—he went and brought them—I sent him that the plate might go away at nine o’clock—this was about eight— I left the prisoner in the pantry, and while I was gone up to his Lordship’s room to inform him, the prisoner went away without my permission—he was brought back by a publican, about seven o’clock in the evening.

Cross-examined by Mr. Jones. Q. What is the name of Lord Hay? A. Thomas Robert—Hay is the family name, Thomas Robert are his Christian names, and Hay is the surname—I believe Hay Drummond Hay is the name—the prisoner lived in the service upwards of ten years—his wages were thirty guineas a year—Tuesday was the first time I spoke to him about the plate—it was afternoon, or evening—he did not sleep in the house—he came next morning, as usual—on the Wednesday we looked over the plate—he went away on Thursday —I saw the snuffer-trays, lemon-dish, and two strainers in the pantry afterwards—he told me he had pawned them—I suppose he redeemed them, for he brought them back himself—he did not say he had redeemed them—I had not given him an)’ directions not to go away when I went up to speak to Lord Kinnoull—I did not at any time say to him, “What could have possessed you to have gone away, and had you not gone I would have got the articles out of pawn ;” or that I would have lent him the money to redeem them—he was brought back by Graham, the publican—I did not say, “What could have possessed you to go aw;iy?” that I recollect—when he was brought back I believe I said, “You have d—d yourself by going away”—I do not think he said he had been among his friends to borrow money to redeem the plate—I have six of the duplicates which were brought back by him—I do not recollect whether there was an endorsement on the back of one ticket—Mr. Dudfield gave me nine duplicates in the prisoner’s presence—I believe nothing was said about handing \et the duplicates to ine—I never promised him to redeem any of the arti-his wages were paid every six months.


Frederick Mortimer Dudfield. I am groom of the chambers to the Earl of Kinnoull. On Wednesday, the 15th of July, Neatham spoke to me about the plate being missing—I accompanied the prisoner from the house on Thursday morning—he took me to No. 44, Market-street, where he lodged—I waited at the door—he came out, and brought the nine duplicates and one silver fork from his pocket—I delivered them to Neatham in the prisoner’s presence—Neatham afterwards gave me a 51. note, and I redeemed the four salts and six ladles named in three duplicates.

David Nunn. I am shopman to John Duttin, Edgeware-road, pawnbroker. I have six table-spoons pawned at our shop on the 26th of February for 31. 10s.—these three duplicates refer to the articles pawned in the name of John Phetheon—I do not recollect who pawned them—it was a man—here are six dessert forks that were pawned with us for 30*. on the 18th of March in the same name—the duplicates of them are here—I produce two tableforks pawned on the 15th of July, in the name of Ann Taylor, by a female—the duplicates of them are here.

Edward Lewis. I am shopman to Mr. Greygoose, of Crawford-street, Marylebone. I produce four silver table-forks pawned on the 15th of July by a female.

Cross-examined. Q. Have you any duplicates on which the interest has been paid? A. No.

Thomas Mowbray Neatham re-examined. I had not seen these forks that day, nor the day before—we had not examined the contents then.

Robert Copen. I was apprentice to Thomas Smith, of the Edgewareroad. I have four table-forks pawned on the 18th of March for 30a. in the name of John Porter, No. 41, Market-street—1 do not know who by—I produce another fork pawned on the 15th of July in the name of Ann Phetheon—the corresponding duplicates are here.

John Graham. I keep the Globe public-house, North Audley-street. I knew the prisoner in Lord Kinnoull’s service—I heard something, and saw him in George-street, New-road, on Thursday evening, the 16th of July—I told him I had heard of the case, and requested him to return with me, as it would be best for him—he said, “I want to call on a friend,” he had a parcel—I went with him to his friend’s, and he came with me very quietly without resistance, between seven and eight o’clock in the evening — I left him at Lord Kinnoull’s house.

Cross-examined. Q. Was he going in a direction to Lord Kinnoull’s house 1 A. Not exactly, he was going to Kentish-town—he was going towards Hampstead-road—there was a turning which would lead to Lord Kinnoull’s house, but he turned a different way.

Henry Beresford. I am an inspector of police. I went to Lord Kinnoull’s house after the prisoner was brought to the station-house—I searched the prisoner’s writing-desk, and found a paper with Lord Kinnoull’s seal.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you hear him asked how he came into possession of that seal 1 A. No, he was not there—the seal has not been out of my possession—I produced it before the Magistrate—-the prisoner was present.

John Connell. I am agent to Lord Kinnoull, in London. His lordship is a Scotch earl, and sits in the House of Peers as Lord Hay, an English peer—his Christian names are Thomas Robert—his surname is Drumrnond Hay.

Cross-examined. Q. Tell me all his names? A. Thomas Robert Drummond Hay, Earl of Kinnoull, in Scotland—his original name was Hay —he took the name of Drummond with an estate—he is described by those names.

{Property produced and sworn to.) (The prisoner received a good character )

GUILTY.—Recommended to mercy, believing he intended to replace the


2039. JOHN PHETHEON was again indicted for stealing, on the 6th of November, 1 silver saucepan, value 21. 10.?., the goods of Thomas Robert Baron Hay.—2nd Count, of the Earl of Kinnoull.

Thomas Mowbray Neatham. I am servant to the Earl of Kinnoull. His Christian name is Thomas Robert—he is a Scotch Earl—his English title is Baron Hay. I was in his service fifteen years last July—the prisoner was under-butler—the plate was counted out by my directions, and part of it was under my examination—after the counting of the plate, in consequence of something that occurred, I went up to Lord Kinnoull to make some communication to him—I left the prisoner below— when I came back I found him gone—he was brought back by a publican named Graham, in the evening about half-past seven— I had called his attention to articles missing in the plate—the prisoner said nothing to me about a saucepan—{looking at one)—this is Lord Kinnoull’s property—it is upwards of two years since I had seen it—I last saw it at Duplin Castle, Perthshire—it was used in Lady Kinnoull’s room—it came down stairs in a general way to be cleaned—the prisoner was at Duplin Castle, and followed the family to England two years last April—this is worth under 51. —in the natural course of things this would come to England.

Cross-examined by Mr. Jones. Q. Is there any mark on it? A. No, I do not think there is—I am positive it is Lord Kinnoull’s property by its being mended here—I had not said any thing to the prisoner about it—I have seen the duplicate said to refer to the saucepan.

Mr. Bodkin. Q. Was such an article as that missed? A. Not till it was found—I have had it through my hands repeatedly.

John Graham. I am a publican in North Audley-street. On the 16th of July, J saw the prisoner in George-street, going toward Hampsteadroad—I had heard something about plate, and stopped him—he came back with me to Lord Kinnoull’s house—he called in Charles-street East, and left something there.

Cross-examined. Q. Was he going, when you first met him, in the direction towards the house where he afterwards called? A. I should say not, because he turned to the left to call on his friend—he turned with me, and then called on his friend—he had not passed his friend’s house—he had not arrived at it—he was going in a way that would lead to it.

Henry Hopton. I am a coach-maker, and live in Charles-street East, Hampstead-road. On Thursday evening, the 16th of July, the prisoner called on me in company with Graham, and left a parcel with me—I believe he had it in his hand, but I am not quite certain whether he had it in his hand or took it from his waistcoat pocket—when he was gone J opened it —it contained pawnbrokers’ duplicates—I gave them to inspector Beresford—I had only seen the prisoner twice before, nine or ten months back.

Cross-examined. Q. Did he say any thing to you when he gave you the parcel? A. He merely asked me to take care of it—he did not state what it contained.

William Henry Mills. I am a pawnbroker, and live in Edgeware-road. On the 6th of November this saucepan was pledged at our house in the name of Mary Turner, No. 5, Pechel-street, for 21. 10s. — I cannot recollect who by—it was taken in by a young man who has since left—this is the duplicate that was given for it.

Cross-examined. Q. Can you tell whether the article was pawned that day, or the ticket renewed?    A. l am certain it was pawned, because that day twelve months I was not in business there.

Henry Beresford. I am a police-inspector. I received ten duplicates from Ilopton, one of which is the duplicate produced.

Cross-examined. Q. Were the other nine for articles of wearing apparel? A. Several—one was for a gold pencil-case—I have made inquiries to whom they belong—one article has been claimed by Lord Kinnoull.

Mr. Bodkin. Q. Has the gold pencil-case been claimed by Lady Kinnoull 1 A. No—she has not seen it.

GUILTY. Aged 34.—Transported for Fourteen Years.

I have deduced the following information about John Phetheon:

Age:  35 as of 1841-03-17; estimated birth year: 1805

Place of birth: Chatham, Kent, England

Body Marks: Slightly pockpitted

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Grey

Height 6ft 6¼ inches

Married; 3 children; Wife: Susan. 1 brother Josiah, 1 sister Alice; brother soldier in 7th Fusiliers. Religion: CofE

Trade: House servant

Trial Date: 17 Aug 1840


Incarcerated in prison hulk “York” at Gosport, Hampshire, England from 31 Aug 1840 prior to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).  Sailed from Portsmouth 30 Nov 1840 via Cape on ” Lady Raffles”; Master Ed. Hight, Surgeon Rbt. Wylie to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania); Journey 105 days. Embarked with 330 men; deaths 3 men; landed 327 men. Arrived 17 Mar 1841. Assigned to “South Port Party”.

Other information:

Wife Susan believed to be Susan BURT, marriage in Lambeth, London 1839

Sentence was commuted to a “Conditional Pardon” after 7 years. John requested that his wife and family should join him.

30 May 1849:  John Phethean (note spelling) and Susan Phethean and two children embark “William Jardine”, 671 tons,  from Plymouth, England to Hobart, Tasmania ( Van Diemen’s Land), arriving 26 Aug 1849. No trace of any journey by John from Hobart to the UK. Note that only two children accompany them. The post-trial summary notes three children.

After this the trial goes cold. Did they stay in Tasmania – maybe they changed their surname, which was relatively common for ex-convicts; or did they finally return to England?

1 thought on “Trial of John Phetheon – transported 14 years, 1840

  1. Dear Stuart – I would be interested in receiving an update on the family tree. There have unfortunately been a couple of changes here. We lost Ken in August, 2013 and Richard in April of this year. Hope all is well with you and the family. Love, Kathy

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