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The Campbelltown Convicts


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I didn't know until the late 1980's that I had convict ancestry. One of my convict ancestors was John Champley who had been transported to Sydney NSW in 1819 from Yorkshire England. In the late 1980's whilst attending the State Archives I noticed an index card that stated, "John Champley under sentence of death". I thought this must have been a mistake on someone's part and I just took down the details. In the early 1990's I was supplied with information by a cousin that indeed confirmed that Champley had been sentenced to death - at Campbelltown New South Wales. After finding Champley was a convict and had been sentenced to death I accumulated of bits and pieces on him and thought that there was a story there. I knew very little about John Champley apart from the paper trail he left. In my research for the book I found that Roger Therry the legal identity in colonial New South Wales had written about Champley's trial and the confession of the bushranger Webber. Also the Sydney Gazette at the time had published its own "transcript" of the trial at Campbelltown. In addition I found that information had survived on John Champley in the Colonial Secretary's records. These records do not appear to have been touched during the destruction of convict records. The records included, the decision of the Supreme Court in favour of life for the three convicted. Governor Darling's determinations as to where to send the Campbelltown convicts after their death penalties were commuted, the petition by Mary Morris for Champley's release and the decision by Governor Bourke in granting the three pardons and various other letters. Information contained in the National Library's Trove's digitized newspapers was invaluable to my research. It was not until 2006 when I was on holiday on Norfolk Island that I started thinking about Champley and I suppose that it was after that I took the first steps to write a book. The fact that I had been a forensic accountant during my working life helped me piece together the book on The Campbelltown Convicts from a multitude of documents.

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