JAMES GUNTON & ANN MINTON, notes by R.B.Howroyd 6/93
Website http://tinyurl.com/qiov Conatct firstname.lastname@example.org
The first of the Tasmanian Guntons was James Gunton, a native of Norfolk,
England. At the time he arrived in
Tasmania James was about 29 years old. Convict records said he stood 173 cm. tall, a big man for his time
considering a man's height was measured barefoot. His hair was brown, he had a thin beard, his eyes were grey,
his complexion dark, & his visage round. There were several inter related Gunton families around Mattishall in
1802 when James was born the son of Samuel, a nail maker. One of those families emigrated to become well known
pioneers in Canada but James' migration to the Antipodes was to be of another kind. James' siblings were
Robert who became a bricklayer in London, & Ann who married a weaver called Powley in Swaffham, Norfolk.
James became a blacksmith & married Susan Harrison, of Carlton Forehoe, some five years his junior. James &
Susan had three daughters, two dying in their infancy. The eldest child lived in Norfolk until her death in
1870. By 1830 England was in a period of economic & social upheaval when the onset of mechanisation caused
great unemployment & distress in the countryside. Earlier there had been the rise of the so called Luddites &
by 1830 a new movement calling itself followers of a mythical Captain Swing resorted to cattle maiming, rick
burning, & machinery breaking as an expression of their grievances. James Gunton was caught up in that
movement until he & many others were brought by an incensed government to trial. On the 5th of January 1831
James was found guilty at Quarter Sessions held at the Shirehouse in Norwich of felony & destroying a threshing
machine at Tuddenham on 3rd December 1830. James was also charged with misdemeanor & rioting & sentenced to
solitary confinement for one calendar month in the county gaol & transportation for 7 years. Among those
brought to trial for the same offence was James' father Samuel, but he was discharged. A sentence of 7 years
was tantamount to one of 'life', & for James it meant he was not to see his home, his wife, his children or his
family ever again.
After his conviction James was held in detention until he left Plymouth on March 18th 1831 aboard the convict
transport 'Proteus' bound for Van Diemans Land via Rio De Janiero. There were 112 prisoners aboard the
'Proteus', most of them artisans. Their arrival in the Derwent on October 3rd 1831 was welcome in a place
where skilled workmen were in great demand, so most of the 'Proteus' men were found immediate employment
amongst the settlers. James was sent to the Campbell Town district where he seems to have remained until his
pardon in 1836. All we know of James during that time are favourable reports on his conduct, & two reprimands
for being in a public house out of hours. Not a picture of a dangerous man.
While James was keeping out of trouble in Tasmania it was unhappily very different for his wife Susan at home
in Mattishall. On the 22nd of August 1834 a 'bastardy order' was issued by the parish against Thomas Randall,
a butcher of Mattishall... "for a male child born to Susan Gunton whose husband was transported about 3 years
ago. Thomas to pay 2pnds/5/6d & then 1s/6d per week. Susan to pay 6d. per week if she did not care for the
child herself... ". By 1841 Susan was living with this child she called William Gunton, & her daughter Ann, on
Baddley Moor near Mattishall. In 1851 Susan was still at Baddley Moor with only William. Susan died in
Mattishall in 1867.
On 3rd February 1836 James Gunton received his pardon for his misdemeanours in England, & in 1838 he married
Ann Minton in 'the chapel for the party' at Campbell Town where he described himself as a bachelor. He could
have heard of the 'bastardy order' & doubtless the by then common 'bachelor' euphemism used by transportees
came easily to hand. By the January 1842 census he was living in a dwelling & smithy attached at Cleveland
with a married female, three female children & two adult males. Apparently the two males were his employees.
Two of the children were less than 7 years of age, & the third between 7 & 14 years. The younger girls would
have been James' daughters. The smithy was to be the subject of a long wrangle over the land upon which it
stood. Tradition has it that the dwelling is one of the buildings standing now adjacent to the Cleveland Inn.
However the 1842 census referred to a wooden building whereas the existing ones are masonry construction. In a
petition to the Governor concerning the smithy site James said he had erected the buildings himself & was
conducting a needed service for the highway. In support of his petition he reminded the Governor that he had
been promised favourable consideration in return for his assistance in apprehending the highwayman Regan.
Nevertheless on 21st December 1844 in the Hobart Town Gazette the internal revenue office announced that grant
deeds for an allotment at Cleveland were ready for issue to Jas. Gunton upon payment of two pounds ten
shillings. The 1867 Directory of Tasmania said Gunton was a blacksmith at the Nile property 'Fordon' where he
was to remain until his death. Still working at his trade at the age of 73 he was killed by the kick of a
horse he was shoeing. Death followed 'rupture of the intestine'. James was buried in the old Catholic
cemetery at Evandale The tombstone is one of the few still standing & curiously gives his age as 83 whereas his
convict records suggest he would be 73.
Ann Minton was one of about 229 free female immigrants arriving at Launceston
21 Nov.1835 on the 'Charles Kerr'
out of Gravesend. On the passenger list she was "Ann Minton, aged 19, a nurserymaid". No place of origin was
shown. To see so many young & unattached women arrive in early Launceston must have been a unique opportunity
to examine them in detail. Earlier arrivals of women in Van Diemans Land had not been successful additions to
a society suffering an imbalance of the sexes. Governor Arthur had been very critical of the methods used to
recruit women migrants for they seemed to have relied on finding them in the poorhouses, or even on the
streets. The governor had insisted that committees were set up in London charged with seeking women of moral
fibre. This contingent including Ann was the first of the new system & so expected to fulfill everyones'
hopes. One could imagine the giggles from the women, the settlers' wives distrustful glances, the calculating
stares from from young blades of the town, & the hopeful looks from lonely young men. Even in 1835 journalists
wanted a good story so we can read in the Cornwall Chronical of 21 Nov 1835 : "The Female Immigrants landed on
Friday from the 'Charles Kerr'. No unusual sight, it of course attracted considerable observation, & their
march to the place appointed for their reception was accompanied by half the Inhabitants of the Town. A lot of
wild beasts, drawn through London, would not have attracted more ridiculous notice. The women must already
have formed a singular notion of the curiosity of the Launcestonians." Ann was initially employed in Launceston &
later according to family lore she worked for a Doctor in Westbury. . Apparently the doctor's rounds took him to
Campbell Town accompanied by his young assistant Ann Minton. By then James Gunton had received his freedom &
lived in Campbell Town where he & Ann were married in February 1838. At that time there was no formal place for
worship in Campbell Town & marriages were performed in the police quarters which were referred to for the
occasion as 'the chapel for the party'. The ceremony was performed by the Church of England vicar general the
Rev. William Bedford & the witnesses were Nathaniel & Hannah Poole. As a Catholic Ann must have suffered a
deal of trepidation to be married by an Anglican priest but Catholic ones were few & far between. Family elders
said Ann was Irish & came from County Leix, now Laois, & was an only daughter with many brothers & wanted
to find better opportunities than Ireland could offer. Whether she thought she found the good life we do not know
but she did raise a large & loyal family. James & Ann had 8 children & 49 grandchildren. At present count their
descendants number over 300, not including a great many who have been named, & are in our records, but have yet
to be authenticated. Ann lived for only a short time after James & is buried with him & two sons at Evandale.
The family said she was grief stricken at James' death & the medical cause of death which was noted as 'atrophy'
seems to bear witness to the tale.
Comments by David Gunton - further reading: Captain Swing by Eric Hobsbawn and George Rude, published by Phoenix Press.
THE 'CHARLES KERR' passenger list (from Elizabeth Rushen's book 'Single & Free')\
Abbott, Elizabeth; Abingdon, Ellen; Adams, Catherine; Anderson, Bridget; Archibold,
Eliza; Axtell, Elizabeth;
Bain, Isabella; Barnes, Sarah; Barrett, Elizabeth; Barry, Margaret; Batchelor, Louisa; Bendall, Charlotte;
Bingham, Catherine; Bolton, Catherine; Bourke, Margaret; Brain, Elizabeth; Brain, Mary; Brown, Mary Ann;
Browning, Elizabeth; Cahill, Bridget; Callaghan, Mary; Callaghan, Mary; Capon, Ann E.; Capon, Elizabeth;
Capon, Hannah; Capon, Helen; Capon, Margaret; Capon, Richarda; Capon, Susan; Carney, Mary; Cassidy, Ann;
Cassidy, Joanna; Cassidy, Mary; Clarke, Mary Bennett; Cochrane, Margaret; Collins, Mary; Coombe, Frances Maria;
Corry, Catherine; Counsel, Sarah; Cox, Sarah Elizabeth; Cullen, Sarah; Cunningham, Elizabeth; Cunningham, Maria;
Davis, Ann; Dow, Margaret; Dow, Naomi; Dow, Sarah, Mrs; English, Mary Ann; Etheridge, Elizabeth;
Fawdington, Ann, Mrs; Fawdington, Isabella; Fawdington, Louisa; Ferrier, Margaret; Finn, Ellen; Finn, Hannah;
Fisher, Sarah; Fisher, Susan; Fitzgerald, Isabella; Foulder, Eliza; Foulder, Emma; Frazer, Ann; Garvin, Mary Ann;
Gibson, Jane; Girling, Sarah; Godsell, Catherine; Goldsworthy, Jane; Goodall, Anne; Gordon, Emily H; Gurr, Martha;
Gurr, Mary Ann junr; Hammond, Ann; Hart Anna; Hart, Cecilia; Heatherman, Bridget; Hicks, Eleanor;
Hickstep, Catherine; Higgin, Elizabeth; Hill, Harriet; Hill, Louisa; Holland, Joanna; Hussey, Catherine; Jarman, Ann;
Jeffcott, Julia; Johnson, Joanna; Jordan, Mary; Kearns, Mary; Kerrison, Caroline; Kerrison, Eliza; Kirk, Ann;
Kirk, Mary; Kirk, Mary Ann; Knox, Margaret; Lane, Margaret; Lawler, Bridget; Leahy, Margaret; Little, Sarah, Mrs;
Lockhart, Isabella; Mann, Mary; Marshall, Georgiana; McCabe, Ellen; McCarthy, Hannah; McManus, Catherine;
McNamara, Sarah; Meaghan, Julia; Merrilies, Barbara; Minton, Ann; Mitchell, jane; Mordaunt, Phoebe;
Murphy, Hannah; Murray, Catherine; Murrell, Mary Ann; O'Keefe, Maria; Palmer, Emma; Pattison, Jane;
Peed, Catherine; Permycook, Janet; Perry, Ann; Phillips, Elizabeth Ann; Pilkington, Charlotte Anne; Rice, Amelia;
Roach, Margaret; Robinson, Susanna; Sheridan, Amelia; Sheridan, Amelia; Sheridan, Sarah; Silk, Ann;
Spicer, Ann Maria; Spicer, Elizabeth; Spicer, Ellen; Spicer, Frances; Spicer, Sarah; Stoddard, Joanna;
Sullivan, Elizabeth; Sullivan, Elizabeth; Sullivan, Mary; Taylor, Harriet; Thomas, Ann M.; Thyer, Mary Ann;
Tremlett, Caroline; Tremlett, Charlotte; Vaughan, Mary; Wallace, Margaret; Webb, Mary; Welden, Mary;
Westall, Johanna; Weymouth, Caroline; Weymouth, Clara; Weymouth, Elizabeth; Weymouth, Emma;
Weymouth, Helen; Wilkins, Sophia.