Edward (Henry) Peever - possible family of origin in Shropshire - REVISED

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For recent research see Henry Peever's Family of Origin in Birmingham. This page is retained for the time being only for cross reference and will be removed. [DB 27 May 2005]

Brenda Peever has written as follows:

As to Edward Henry Peever being the son of Richard Peever and Elizabeth Sherwood. From the records on the IGI, I recently found that their Edward in fact died on the 19 November 1818, so it can't be him. My feeling is that Edward came from the Kidderminster area near Worcester as I found a family there with similar names to those of his children, although the Edward from that family also died shortly after he was born, still he could have come from a brother to the John Peever who was the father of this Edward. The wife of John Peever was Catherine Colemore. Some of their other children that I have found were, John, William and Elizabeth, with the dates of their births ranging from 1804 to 1810. John and Catherine were married at Edgbaston.

familysearch.org gives the following record:

Event(s): Birth: Christening: 01 NOV 1818 Stockton By Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England
Death: 19 NOV 1818 Burial:
Messages: Form submitted by a member of the LDS Church. The form lists the submitter's name and address and may include source information. The address may be outdated. Details vary. To find the form, you must know the batch and sheet number.

These member records are not always reliable and the parish register of deaths should be checked, but there is no reason to doubt this one. DB 2 Oct 2003.


Joan writes as follows:

I seem to have some info that you do not - see below. I am not convinced that the Edward born in 1818 to Richard and Elizabeth is our man.

If Henry was 15 when tried and 16 on arrival he was born was Mar-Nov 1815 and as he was "late of Dodderhill", more likely at or near Dodderhill. I think it unlikely that he was any younger as he had been convicted before and the sentence was "to be hanged" As to him saying he was 30 when he married Catherine Johnstone, this was probably because he was considerably older than her, and maybe he was one of those people who look younger than they actually are. I will an eye on your family history page and look forward to developments.

Best wishes, Joan (bessell@qldnet.com.au)

Worcestershire, Lent Assizes, March 5 1831, Kalendar of the Criminal Prisoners

For trial: Henry Peever, aged 15, packing-case maker, can neither read nor write, George Troth, aged 15, gilt toy-maker, can read, John Boulton, aged 19, brush-maker, can read and write, William Crompton, aged 18, gardener, can neither read nor write. Charged on the oaths of Thomas Jones, and others, with having, at Dodderhill, in the county, on the 26th day of July last, feloniously broken and entered the dwelling house of the said Thomas Jones, and feloniously stolen and carried away, two hams,three loaves, two cheeses, five silver spoons, and other property of the said Thomas Jones. Committed the 27th day of July 1830, by Richard Spooner, Esq

The Jurors ... present that Henry Peever ... late of the Parish of Dodderhill in the County of Worcester, labourer, George Troth late of the same, labourer, John Boulton late of the same, labourer, and William Crompton late of the same, labourer on the 26 day of July ... with force and arms at the parish aforesaid ... the dwelling house of one Thomas Jones there situated feloniously did break and enter and three bacon hams of the value of forty shillings, three loaves of bread of the value of three shillings, two cheeses of the value of three shillings, five silver spoons of the value of thirty shillings, four pounds weight of sugar of the value of three shillngs, two waist coats of the value of ten shillings, one pair of shoes of the value of ten shillings, one neckerchief of the value of one shilling, one saucepan of the value of the value of three shillings, ... of the value of four shillings and four pounds weight of lamb of the valueof two shillings ... of the goods and chatels of the said Thomas Jones ... in the same dwelling house then and there being found feloniously did steal and carry away ...

Inserted over the names of Henry Peever, John Boulton and William Crompton - "found (?) Guilty - to be hanged"

I had previously written as follows, much of which could be ill conceived, but I will leave it as the basis for an alternative line of investigation for the time being:-

The information recorded about Henry Peever when he arrived in Van Deimans Land as a convict in 1831 on the "Lord Lyndock" does not include his "native place" as was the case for our other convict ancestors. Perhaps another convict record will turn up to give us this vital information, but on what we now know we must search for a place of birth, looking for a birth of a child with his name at about the right time, and a reasonable location, in a family with names which are consistent with his and his descendants', recognizing that these are not very secure guidelines.

As to the name being originally Edward, rather than Henry as he was usually known, he was married as Edward, and Edward is given as the father's name at the baptism of three of his children and in the registration of the birth of one. Also, according to the convict record, he has a tattoo of "EP" on his arm.

Dick Gandy looked in the local parish records for the part of Worcestershire where he was arrested and where he was said at the trial to be residing and found no Peever records. His inquiries among local people and a few named Peever a little further afield led him to think that our Henry, or young Edward, was likely to have come from Shropshire a neighbouring county where there were Peever families. It is too big an area to go to the parish records without some further guidance (and we must use parish records for the period before 1837.) The IGI is limited in not having covered all parishes, although it does seem to include now a high proportion of those in the area of interest, and it can be searched by computer for the whole of England. If we could find him or a likely starting point there that would be most helpful, but absence of a record would not prove anything. The census information is not sufficiently indexed to be useful at that early date although there is now a national index for England from the 1881 census, which could tell us a little of where Peever families were living at that late date and whether anyone of the same name who was born at about the right time was still living in England.

The following record of baptism is the only one in the IGI which is at all feasible:-

Edward Peever 1 Nov 1818 son of Richard Peever and Elizabeth Sherwood, at Stockton by Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

One obvious difficulty is that he would then have been only 13 at the time of his arrival in Tasmania, 18 November 1831, when he was said in his convict record to be 16 years old. It is not impossible. Boys were transported and in the later years of the transportation era in Tasmania there was a special institution for them. It is not clear whether Henry was assigned immediately after he arrived. He was only 4ft 11ins tall, which is unusually short for a 16 year old even in those days. As to his actual age being other than stated in the convict record we know that in other cases such records were not always accurate, and we have inconsistent evidence for his year of birth from other documents.

One indication that he might have been younger then 16 comes from the only person who could remember him, or at least his death, who was still alive in the time when some of our generation began making enquires. Thora Bottcher (Burton) the eldest grandchild of his daughter Catherine said in an interview recorded in 1979 that "he was only a boy". We don't know what she meant by that, but it came in response to a question about Henry Peever, whether "he was only young when he was sent out from England", apparently reflecting the family tradition, and it seems that Thora meant to emphasis this to an extent that might not have been justified if he were 16 but certainly would be if he were13. (All four of our convict ancestors were teenagers when they arrived, and 16 though young was not extraordinary.) Thora said in the same interview that she could remember him dying. That was in 1890 when she was four years old. She knew her grandmother Catherine well and was 22 when she died. However, Thora's evidence is not always to be trusted and she could be deliberately deceptive, particularly in regard to the convict background which she hid and anything not socially acceptable: e.g. she knew that Catherine was born to unmarried parents for she confided this secret to her cousin Kath (Sylvia) Martin when they were young (and Kath passed it on in her old age in a letter to Dick Gandy of which I have a copy) but she allowed the interviewer to think that Henry was married to Catherine's mother.

Other documentary evidence of his age comes from his marriage registration at Launceston 18 December 1854 which has him as 30 and implies a date of birth of 1824/23, and is obviously too late. Then there is the registration of his death, 12 September 1990, which has his age at death as 72 years. That happens to be about right for a birth in 1818, but as it was given by the undertaker it was probably less reliable than family memory would normally have been. The memory of which we have documentary evidence is the newspaper notice, but unfortunately "The Examiner" death notice has 85, which we think was probably a misprint for 75, but who knows -- someone could have thought he was 85. If 75, it would be consistent with 16 at the time of arrival, but it is scarcely good evidence. In general, age at marriage is usually a better guide than age at death, but perhaps not in this case. We have other reasons to believe that he and his partner(s) were not always completely frank with each other; and it is possible that he did not know his true age in any case. He was illiterate.

That the baptism in 1818 was not a delayed baptism of a child born some years earlier, is evident from the pattern of births of the siblings listed below. I found the marriage of the parents:

Richard Peever and Elizabeth Sherwood 5 May 1810 at Stockton by Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

The following children were all baptised at Stockton by Bridgnorth, except for Susannah, the first five recorded as children of Richard Peever and Elizabeth Sherwood, and the others as the children of Richard and Elizabeth Peever:

Margaret 22 July 1810

Susannah 2 August 1812, Worfield, Shropshire.

Charles 15 January 1815

Sarah 27 October 1816

Edward 1 November 1818

Elizabeth 12 March 1820

John 22 August 1824

William 7 January 1827

Martha 25 October 1829

Frances 27 April 1832

Hannah 16 November 1834

Note that of the names of those children, Edward, Elizabeth, John, William and Frances all appear among the first or second names of the children of Henry Peever and Catherine Elizabeth Johnston(whom he married some years after our Catherine was born); but Edward and Elizabeth are easily explained and Frances in England was born after he was transported. Further, there is some doubt about whether Henry was in fact the father of all of those children whose birth registrations in Tasmania name him as father (it appears that he was in goal when one of them was conceived, and his wife left him and took the youngest, Frances, to Melbourne, when that child was about three, where she had other children by another man); so I am not sure whether to accept this naming sequence as evidence of family continuity.

It is possible that Richard, his father, had been married before, perhaps twice, 1790 and 1805, with three other children (Samuel, 1 November 1801 to Richard and Penelope Peever; Samuel, 19 June 1808, and Rebecca, 13 August 1809 to Richard and Ann Peever).

The Worfield baptism of Sussanah is significant, for Worfield, a village within a few miles of Stockton and near to Bridgnorth, was the location of the marriage and baptism of the children of Edward Sharwood (Sherwood) and Susannah Evans, who married there 23 September 1770. I suspect that I have not found all their children, but those I have include Elizabeth as the youngest child and are as follows: (all listed as Sherwood, the children of Edward and Elizabeth, except Samuel whose mother's name is not given.)

Charles 6 February 1776

Samuel 22 November 1778

James 30 October 1781

Edward 30 September 1787

Elizabeth 21 September 1789

Undoubtedly, Sussanah, the second child of Richard and Elizabeth Peever was named after her grandmother in the same village where she was born. Elizabeth's family could well have been there earlier, and was still there later. There was an earlier Sherwood family at Worfied, of Edward Sherwood and Esther, but unfortunate I could not find a baptism for Edward father of Elizabeth among their nine children, although there is gap at 1750 which is about when he could have been born. Another possibility for the birth of Edward, the father of Elizabeth Sherwood is a family in Worcestershire, where Edward and Mary Sherwood had sons named Edward in 1744 and 1745, at Fechenham which is a few miles east of Droitwich, the town which now includes the village of Dodderhill where Edward Peever was arrested. There was also at Fechenham, Worc. a Sherwood couple named Henry and Mary Sherwood who had children baptised in 1760 and 1765, the first named Edward, but I don't think that is the same couple though it could be.

As for the Peever side, it was harder to find a Richard Peever birth which clearly gives us the previous generation in parallel with the Sherwood side. The name Richard Peever was quite common in that part of the country and there is little to indicate which might have been the man who married Elizabeth, though we could get more of an idea if we could find a later census record or see their actual marriage registration. (I only saw the index.) There were some earlier Peever births at Stockton, but no Richard at the right time. However, the general pattern suggested that he was born not far away.

So, in spite of some speculation in which I have engaged, I think that the family of the young Edward Peever who was born at Stockton by Bridgnorth in Shropshire is unlikely to have come from Ireland, at least not within a generation or two of his birth. My enthusiasm for Irish ancestry of our Peever convict was misplaced -- if, of course that Edward is our man; and that is by no means certain though the more I look into it the more likely it appears.

I have wondered how a 12 year old might be away from home, albeit that children of that age would have gone to work if possible at that time and noting that Droitwich is only a day or so's journey on foot across the county border, but then I saw that there were several Sherwood families in the Droitwich area from the earlier time when his grandfather could have been born there and as late as the 1860s. I wonder if young Henry was visiting or living with his cousins* when he was arrested. I would like to know the names of the men who were tried for the same offence*. In his report to me of the trial record, Dick Gandy did not give the names, but only that with three others, one of whom escaped, he broke into a house etc. We should get the full record of the trials of each or all of them at the Worcester Assizes, which is at the PRO in London, and not easily available without someone going there to have a look.

*The names of the people who were convicted with HP are given in the trial record as follows: Henry Peever, aged 15, packing-case maker, can neither read nor write, George Troth, aged 15, gilt toy-maker, can read, John Boulton, aged 19, brush-maker, can read and write, William Crompton, aged 18, gardener, can neither read nor write. Charged on the oaths of Thomas Jones, and others, with having, at Dodderhill, in the county, on the 26th day of July last, feloniously broken and entered the dwelling house of the said Thomas Jones, and feloniously stolen and carried away, two hams,three loaves, two cheeses, five silver spoons, and other property of the said Thomas Jones. Committed the 27th day of July 1830, by Richard Spooner, Esq. Of these there is evidence of one George Troth being born 15 SEP 1810 Bromsgrove, Worcester, England [about 10 kms NNE of Droitwich] and a John Boulton baptized 8 November 1812 at Old Swinford, Worcester, England [about 10 kms East of Droitwich]. These are in the area east of Droitwitch where there were Sherwood families. The first looks too old, but the second could have been the associate of young Henry.

I searched for a later marriage of an Edward Peever which might prove that the man born at Stockton in 1818 was still in England when our man was in Tasmania, and found none; and I looked for an early death and did not find any. The index of the 1881 census was checked to see whether a man of his age and name was still living in England, and found only one possible but unlikely (rather too young) Edward Peever who was aged 50 and living in Shropshire - the place of birth of that person should however be checked. It remains feasible, I think, to act further on the assumption that we have a likely candidate in Edward son of Richard and Elizabeth born at Stockton by Bridgnorth in Shropshire in 1818.- but see note at the top of this web page.

DB 9 May 1999, REVISED 18 November 1999, 26 February 2003, 2 Oct 2003, 27 May 2005.

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