|Mary Hindle's Convict Record (Click over to enlarge)|
WHO WROTE THE LETTER? (Written by Lorraine Hooper and giving a summary of her research into the Mary Hindle letter)
In researching my family ancestors, I was given my Grandad Ekes family Bible, in it was the enclosed letter, in a very fragile state, I was told that Great Grandmother was transported for stealing a loaf of bread and some groceries. Well I read the letter and just couldn't leave it at that, but I couldn't really decide how to go about finding who had written it. There was no husbands name, she hadn't signed her name, but there was a date and also reference to her little daughter Elizabeth, and that was it! The letter itself folded over as an envelope and on that was a very faint "Geo" and Haslingden, Lancashire.
So began my quest!! I started trying to work my way back to the date on the letter, down through my different branches, but it was very slow and I was getting nowhere fast, It was really frustrating because this letter had taken over my mind, I just couldn't leave it alone!
So I thought I'd have a go on the internet, which I'd only just got on to. Well, it was magic!! I found an Australian convict site, clicked on the female button and a list of numerous ships appeared, I whittled it down to the Harmoney re. the date, clicked on that and there's the list of all the female convicts and where they were tried. There were two who were tried at Lancaster, Ann Entwistle aged 45 and Mary hindle aged 26. (Entwistle is one of my family names), but I was more drawn to Mary hindle, because of her age, she seemed more likely to have a young daughter.
Not being sure where to go next, I kept going here and there on the internet but not really getting anywhere, then I thought perhaps there might be a Lancaster Castle site and sure enough there it was. Click here for the convict trail! I entered both names and there they were, both tried for rioting! Rioting! that's a bit different than stealing groceries!!
I now had to find a riot in 1826, well that was hard work as well, there was the Luddite riots the riots to do with the Hargreaves Spinning Jenny, (my mother's maiden names was Hargreaves). The Peterloo riots in Manchester, but I hit a brick wall looking for a riot in 1826. By I kept on going back to the internet and finally I found a Lancashire Link list and going down through the historical events, there it was, the 1826 Power Loom Riots, and as I clicked Oh! suddenly saw Mary Hindle! Wh was Mary Hindle?! I couldn't believe my eyes, was I getting paranoid?
No. I clicked on the site and there she was. There's a Community Centre named after her in Haslingden. She was sentenced to death with, Ann Entwistle and 8 men, then it was commuted to life in Australia, she left her husband George behind and her 6 year old daughter Elizabeth!!
It said, for more information ring William Turner, who'd written a book called "Riot", so I rang on a Sunday afternoon at 4 0'clock and babbled away my story, he must have wondered who this women from Somerset was, saying she had a hand written letter by Mary Hindle. I read it out to him, over the phone and reduced him to tears, he only travels around Lancashire giving talks about Mary Hindle and the riots. Needless to say we are now good friends.
We travelled to Lancashire last year and visited the Mary Hindle Centre, met Bill Turner and presented the letter to the Lancashire Records Office at Preston for safe keeping.
I had a wonderful time finding out who the letter was addressed to and who had written it, the trouble is my family tree seems quite mundane, now!!
PS It turned out, Mary Hindle wasn't my Great Grandmother after all that, she's my cousin Jim Chew's Great Grandmother.
The Letter This is the actual letter which Lorraine found in her Grandad Eke's family Bible
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT MARY HINDLE Compiled by the late William Turner (February 2000)
Mary was the daughter of James and Ann Holden of Todd Hall, Haslingden. James was a handloom weaver. Mary was baptised at St. James's Parish Church, Haslingden on 14th April 1799.
Mary's p[arents were married at St. James's (both of this Chapelry) on 26th May 1798. Both signed the marriage entry with their "mark" (a cross) to indicate they were illiterate. They then lived at Todd Hall which at the time was divided into 'tenements' i.e. separate dwellings, each used by a hand loom weaver.
The name 'Holden' was that of a family prominent in Haslingden since at least 1272, when Robert de Holden was named as the father of Adam de Holden to whom Henry de Lacey granted the estates in Haslingden which formerly belonged to a William de Keelin, hanged at Lancaster Castle in 1272.
The seat of the Holden family was Holden Hall, Grane (near the present Holden Hall Cemetery). There were branches of the family at Duckworth Hall, Oswaldtwistle, and Pickup Bank, near Belthorn. A brance also lived at Todd Hall from before 1517 when the birth of Adam, son of Gilbert Holden was recorded.
After Robert Holden of Holden Hall, a bachelor, died in 1792, both Holden Hall and Todd Hall fell into decline as the lands were sold. Holden Hall became a farmhouse and Todd Hall was divided into tenements.
It is not know how Mary's father was related to the Holdens but as "James" was a common forename in the Pickup Bank branch it may be possible he was related to them.
Mary Holden married George hindle at St. James's on 26th July 1818. Both signed the register with a cross. George was the son of Abraham Hindle who was born in Bury. He married Betty Heap from Haslingden, at St. James's on 15th January 1797.
Abraham Hindle was literate and a businessman. At the time of his son's marriage, he was described in a local trades directory as a "carrier", transporting woven pieces and other goods to Bury and Manchester. In 1824 he was also the landlord of "The Hare and Hounds" public house and a Churchwarden at St. James. He was also an investor in property. (In June 1825 a James and Phoebe Barnes, on the baptism of a child, gave their address as "Abraham Hindle's Houses" (later Hindle Street).
Mary and George Hindle's first child, a daughter Elizabeth, was baptised at St. James's on 21 March 1819. The father's occupation was given as a weaver and their abode as Club Houses (later Pleasant Street).
Soon after this, on 23rd December 1821, Mary's mother was buried at St. James. She was forty-eight. Two burials of children are then recorded in the register at St. James. First, Abraham, on 10th January 1822, aged one year. Second, Robert on 17 December 1823 aged one year. On both occasions the address of Mary and George is given as Sheep Green, Haslingden. Shortly after this Mary's father was buried on 18th September 1824. He was forty-five.
On Tuesday 25th April 1826 the handloom weavers who were rioting against the introduction of the power looms attacked William Turner's Middle Mill in Helmshore. Mary Hindle was in the crowd watching the rioters. She was arrested a few days later after an employee of William Turner accused her of being inside the mill and "shouting encouragement to the rioters".
Mary Hindle, with other alleged rioters, was taken to Lancaster Castle to await trial. This began on Tuesday 8th August 1826. When the trial ended several days later, thirty-five men and six women, including Mary Hindle, were sentenced to death.
On 8th September the death sentences were, in the case of eight men and two women - Mary Hindle and Ann Entwistle - commuted to transportation to New South Wales for life. The remaining men and women received prison sentences - none longer than two years.
Many people in Haslingden were disturbed at the harsh sentence meted out to Mary. On 10 October 1826 John Holgate, a Helmshore factory owner, sent a petition signed by thirty-four "very respectable inhabitants" (including William Turner himself) to Robert Peel, the Home Secretary. Other petitions by the Revd. William Gray J.P., the vicar of St. James; by George, her husband, who said she had simply gone to the scene of the riot to look for her daughter; and by her late father'semployer, John Rostron of Holcombe (who offered her a job for life). All were rejected.
On 25th April 1827, exactly a year after the riot at Middle Mill, Mary Hindle left Lancaster Castle for Woolwich and the convict ship "Harmony". She arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on 27th September 1827. She was in the ship's hospital suffering from pleurisy for most of the voyage.
Mary was assigned, as a convict to be a laundress for the family of John Nicholson, who was Mater attendant at the Dockyard at Darling Harbour (now part of Sydney Harbour).
On 30 September 1830 Mary wrote to the Govern of New South Wales asking if a pardon for her had arrived from England. The answer was "Nothing is known about this matter".
A year later, on 19 November 1831 Mary received her "Ticket of Leave". This was only given for good conduct and exempted her from working for a particular employer, provided she remained in the district of Sydney. This was renewed on 12 February 1835.
The next reference to Mary Hindle is in the "Government Gazette" of April 1838. Unfortunately she is on the list of runaways apprehended in the third week of that month. She absconded as she was being escorted to Parramatta Female Factory (a prison, hospital etc) and recaptured several days later. (It is possible she was found out of her district, which was strictly forbidden).
Sometime later, on 28 May 1838, whilst in Parramatta Female Factory, Mary wrote to the Governor asking for a free pardon. Three anotations on her letter show how the injustices she suffered were to continue. "Is this woman one of the machine breakers?" "No pardon has been received for this woman," (dated 22nd June); "Let her be told so through Mrs. Leach," (dated 25 June). (Mrs. Leach was the Matron of the Female Factory).
In 1840 it is possible that Mary Hindle was a laundress for Thomas Ryan, the Chief Clerk to the Principal Superintendent of Convicts. Thomas Ryan, an ex-convict himself, lived at 139 Princess Street, Sydney. Sadly, in the Government Gazette for June 1840, Mary is again listed as a runaway from Thomas Ryan since 6 June. She was apprehended within days.
However, on 21 August 1841 Mary took her own life whilst in Parramatta Female Factory. She was buried the following day in the graveyard of St. John's Church, Parramatta. There is no headstone. So ended fifteen years of imprisonment and transportation with all the horrors that went with both.
In the petition of the thirty-four signatures in 1826, Mary Hindle is described - "---hath uniformly borne a good character for peaceable demeanour, honesty and industry ---- she was not activated by any malignity of dispostion ----- and further, your petitioners are truly affected by the severity of her sentence ----".
John Rostron's (her father's employer) petition spoke " ---- very few have come so clean and descent and none have done their work better ----". He then asked that Mary be restored to her family.
Mary Holden, as she was, bore a name, which is arguably the oldest in Haslingden. Nothing - the good name of her family or the petitions on her behalf - made any difference to those in the legal and political system who were determined to make a example of a descent woman in order to put fear in the hearts of others. The accusations that she destroyed looms were never proved. Elementary justice would have see her acquitted.
Like so many in East Lancashore, Mary hindle endured starvation and deprivation. The death of her mother, father and two children within three years indicates the effect on her family alone. To bring the full retribution of the law onto Mary Hindle in such circumstances was monstrously cruel and unjust. This continued even in New South Wales.
The manner of Mary's death is especially saddening after being treated with such gross injustice, prejudice and bigotry. The "The Mary Hindle Centre" will keep her name alive in the minds of those who deeply oppose such things.
William Turner - February 2000.
POSTSCRIPT Written by Lorraine Hooper.
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MARY HINDLE STORY - "The Ballad of a Female Convict down under" by Catherine Doucet (Canada)
Please enjoy the beautiful song written and sung by Catherine Doucet who was so inspired after reading the "Mary Hindle Story" that she produced the following work which is found here on this You Tube link. PLEASE CLICK HERE