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John Knatchbull

John Knatchbull was born in Kent, England in about 1792. He served as a volunteer in the British Navy from 1804-1818, rising to the rank of captain. He seems to have then fallen on hard times and in August 1824 he was found guilty of stealing with force and arms at the Surrey Assizes. Knatchbull was given a 14 year sentence and transported to NSW on the Asia V.
Handwritten name of 'John Knatchbull alias Fitch'

Handwritten name of 'John Knatchbull alias Fitch'

Handwritten name of 'John Knatchbull alias Fitch' from the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence 1832 [NRS 905, 32/6805]

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Ship's Muster for the 'Asia V' [Reel 2417]

Ship's Muster for the 'Asia V' [Reel 2417]

John Knatchbull used the alias of John Fitch throughout his life in England and NSW. This entry from the Ship's Muster for the Asia V shows Knatchbull as having been tried at the Surrey Assizes on 19 August 1824 and received a 14 year sentence.

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Police report on John Knatchbull

Police report on John Knatchbull

In January 1844, Knatchbull was found guilty of murdering shopkeeper Ellen Jamieson. The surviving records of his Supreme Court trial include a copy of a police report detailing the many aspects of Knatchbull's convict life in NSW. Supreme Court: Police report on John Knatchbull, 1844 [9/6329, No. 135]

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Bank exchange from Edward Knatchbull

Bank exchange from Edward Knatchbull

This is a bank exchange sent by Sir Edward Knatchbull for £50, to his half-brother. The note was torn in the presence of Knatchbull after he was arrested for murder. It includes John Knatchbull's signature. Supreme Court: Bank exchange from Sir Edward Knatchbull to John Knatchbull for the sum of £50, 1844 [9/6329, No. 135]

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1829 Ticket of Leave for John Fitch

1829 Ticket of Leave for John Fitch

This is the first Ticket of Leave granted to John Knatchbull in 1829 while he was working in the Bathurst region. Knatchbull was granted the ToL for having apprehended eight runaways from Windsor Gaol. He moved to Liverpool in November 1829 where he became an overseer on the Parramatta Road. This ToL was subsequently cancelled. A later ToL, 42/1681 [Reel 912], is also listed for the district of Port Maqcuarie, on his return from Norfolk Island. A ToL Passport, 43/767 [Reel 971 4/4251], was also granted so Knatchbull could work on a cutter travelling between Sydney and New Moruya River. 1829 Ticket of Leave for John Fitch, No. 29/746 [4/4072]

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Supreme Court: Exhibit of a forgery by John Knatchbull, 1832 [T33 32/55]

Supreme Court: Exhibit of a forgery by John Knatchbull, 1832 [T33 32/55]

In February 1832, Knatchbull was found guilty of "false making forging and counterfeiting a certain order for payment of money", in the name of Judge James Dowling. The forged note appears here as an exhibit for the prosecution. Knatchbull was found guilty and given a death sentence, which was later commuted to seven years to be served on Norfolk Island. Supreme Court: Exhibit of a forgery by John Knatchbull, 1832 [T33 32/55]

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Extract from Black Book

Extract from Black Book

It appears Knatchbull was held on the Phoenix Hulk in 1832 following his conviction for forgery. He was re-transported to Norfolk Island late in 1832. These entries demonstrate some of the "bad" behaviour of Knatchbull. NRS 905: Extract from Back Book, 1832 [32/6805]

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Gaol entrance book

Gaol entrance book

This gaol entrance entry shows Knatchbull (entry #23) was held at Hyde Park Barracks (HPB) while waiting for the results of the inquest into the death of Ellen Jamieson, who took twelve days to die. He was found guilty of murder and hanged on 13 February 1844. Mrs Jamieson's two children were eventually adopted by Knatchbull's defence lawyer, Robert Lowe. Sydney and Darlinghurst Gaol entrance book, 1844 No. 23 [4/6440, Reel 854]

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Letter re execution

Letter re execution

In this letter, the Sheriff's Office, which was in charge of executions, requests from the Colonial Secretary more armed guards to be present at the hanging of John Knatchbull. Knatchbull has the dubious honour of being the first man hanged in the newly opened Darlinghurst Prison, in what was to become one of the last public executions in NSW. Sheriff's Department: Letter dated 6 February 1844 relating to John Katchbull and extra guards for his execution. Sheriff's Department: Letter dated 6 February 1844 relating to John Katchbull and extra guards for his execution [4/6656, Reel 1262 p.193]

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