Joseph Pooler (convict)

Joseph Pooler was born in November 1807 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England to parents Edward Pooler (1772-1814) and Letitia Hopkins (1771-1822).

St Phillips Cathedral Church, Birmingham England

Joseph was baptised on 9 June 1808 at St Phillips parish church in Birmingham.

Joseph was the last born child of seven children, born to Edward and Letitia.

Sarah 1793-1848, Letitia 1795-1827, Edward 1795-1799, Charlotte 1797-1847, William 1806, Susanna 1806, Joseph 1807-1866.

Unfortunately Joseph’s father Edward died when Joseph was aged 7, and his mother when he was just 15, leaving the children orphans.

At the age of 17 Joseph was charged with stealing a cloak in Church Street, Birmingham.

Joseph appears in the Warwick Criminal Registers for Lent 1825, and was sentenced to death for his crime of burglary which was thankfully commuted to a 2 year gaol sentence.

Joseph was again convicted on 27 March 1830 in the Warwickshire Assizes, Lent, for stealing a pair of shoes, the property of Richard Turner.

This time he was sentenced to death, but then it was commuted to transportation for life to the colonies. He was transferred from the Warwick Castle Assizes prison to a convict prison hulk awaiting transportation to the colonies.

May 1830 Quarterly return Prisoners on Hulks.  The Eurayalus at Chatham became a hulk solely for younger boys. Here the regime was especially severe. Boys (often aged no more than 14) were kept below deck for 23 hours a day.

At some stage he was transferred to a different convict hulk the “Leviathan”. He appears in the Quarterly returns of Prisoners in Convict Hulks for the September 1830 quarter aboard the Leviathan.

Joseph Pooler sent to prison hulk Leviathian

Joseph Pooler departed old England on 30 August 1830 from Portsmouth, Hampshire aboard the convict ship “Clyde”, and spent 110 days at sea before landing in Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land on 18 December 1830.  The convict transportation Registers advise that his sentence of “death” has been commuted to “life”.

Joseph, a labourer and carpenter, was assigned to work in Hobart, and his convict conduct record advises on 27 June 1834 he was punished (hard labour at the treadwheel for 6 days) for being found on the premises of Mr Young under suspicion of visiting his female.

He was caught breaking the law again on 18 November 1834, this time travelling at unreasonable hours without lawful cause and punished this time on the treadwheel for 10 days.

As a punishment, convicts were made to step continuously on treadmills to power wheels that ground grain. The men were rotated on and off the treadmills with rest periods of about 20 minutes per hour. This monotonous task was supposed to be a reformative punishment, unlike flogging. It also put convict manpower to good use, as they were helping to feed themselves. In 1825 Sydney’s treadmills were praised for producing 40 bushels (1000 kilograms) of ground corn per day.

Joseph’s sentence was discharged on 14 March 1837, and he was appointed as a ‘javelin man’ at Longford Gaol. Unfortunately his taste of freedom didn’t last and he was charged with misconduct and given 6 months hard labour at Campbelltown, Tasmania.

Two years later Joseph was finally granted his Ticket of Leave, allowing him to move around the area with less restrictions, but he could not leave the Colony.

Hobart Town Courier Fri 3 Jan 1840 – Joseph Pooler, Ticket of Leave

Not long after Joseph was granted a Conditional pardon in 1843.

Colonial Times Hobart Tues 14 Feb 1843

Joseph appears on the Tasmanian Convict Muster in 1841, which describes him as a Ticket of Leave Convict.

On 25 June 1842 Joseph applied to marry fellow convict Susan Mills which was approved a month later.  Susan had an illegitimate child James Mills, born in 1838 in the Cascade Female Factory previously.

Joseph Pooler (police no 686) ‘Clyde’ and Susan Mills (police no 274) ‘Atwick’. Sent to muster master 25 June 1842, sent to secretary 12 Jul 1842 1842, decision approved.

They were married a month later on 17 August 1842 at the school house in Swansea, Avoca, Tasmania. Joseph is described as a farm servant aged 29, and Susan aged 24.

Joseph’s full pardon was published in the Cornwall Chronicle in 1847.

Cornwall Chronicle Hobart 21 Aug 1847 – Joseph Pooler, Pardon

Joseph and Susan’s only biological child, Joseph Edward Pooler was born on 10 November 1842 at Waterloo Point, Great Swan Port, Tasmania. Joseph senior is described as a carpenter. Joseph junior left Tasmania and married in 1878 at Forbes, NSW to Martha Feldmann and had five children.

On 22 April 1844 at the age of 29 years, and after 7 years after her conviction in 1836 in Scotland, Susan was granted her convict Certificate of Freedom No 383.

Sadly a few years later when her first son James Mills just was 10 years old Susan Pooler died in Hobart on 30 August 1849 at the age of just 34 years old (inflammation of the lungs). Her son Joseph Pooler junior, was just six. The family were residing at Murray Street in Hobart at the time of her death.

In 1853 Joseph journeyed from Launceston to Geelong, Victoria. His voyage was record on the passenger lists –

Departures, Joseph Pooler, steerage,”Pirate”, from Launceston to Geelong, Vic, ship to colony ‘Clyde’.

In 1856 Joseph Pooler, along with many others,  signed a petition in Hobart (Petition New Duties, Tasmania) objecting to the raising of additional taxes for the purposes of meeting the expenditure in the colony.

Joseph Pooler, died at the age of 58 years on 29 May 1866 in Hobart (phthisis pulmonatis or TB).

We do know the two step-brothers , James and Joseph kept in touch, and Joseph Pooler’s descendants had the same portrait photograph (pictured above) of James Mills handed down through their family. They also had a birthday book with dates of James’ family in it.

Several DNA connections have been found between the descendants of Joseph Edward Pooler, and descendants of James Henry Mills, confirming they were indeed stepbrothers and descended from Susannah Mill, the convict from Aberdeen, Scotland.