Emanuel Reed was born in Shearsby and christened in the village church on 2 February 1823. He would have been just over two years old when things outside any control of his happened that haunted him during his life in England. At his trial in Leicester on 4 January 1842 for stealing rabbits his defence made much of the fact that he was the orphan child of parents both of whom came to an untimely end. In brief: “The father had been absent for some time, and on his return found his wife had formed an illicit connection with another man. One day she led him by the side of a canal, and whilst he was in the act of drawing his smockfrock over his shoulders, she took the opportunity to push him into the water; this causing his death, for which she was afterwards executed”.
Emanuel pleaded guilty of stealing two rabbits from Thomas Marvin, at Shearsby and one tame rabbit from Hannah Herbert. The jury was perhaps already familiar with the events that led up to the arrest of Hannah Read and her subsequent trial for the murder of her husband, as with some leniency they ordered that he receive one month’s imprisonment for his crimes.
He had first drawn attention to himself in 1839 after erecting a small hut for himself in a street in Shearsby. The village constable was unhappy with this and brought him before the justices at Harborough. At that time he was described as ‘a young urchin’ (Northampton Mercury, 21 September); ‘a poor boy, who appeared quite destitute’ (Leicester Journal, 20 September) and ‘an idle and dissolute lad’ (Leicestershire Mercury, 14 September). The magistrates heard of his orphan status, his sleeping all night in a self-built small cabin in the town street, his habit of wandering about looking for work where he could find it. They ordered that the constable take him back to Shearsby and find him work and only punish him if he refused to do it.
On the census night of April 1841 he was staying in John Goode’s farmhouse on Back Lane in Shearsby. The work found for him had been sweeping chimneys. In learning this trade he is likely to have come across Thomas Pegg, another chimney sweeper living in the village.
In September 1843 he was again in trouble with the law being charged under the Vagrant Act with being a rogue, but it was for rabbit stealing again, in Coventry on 3 January 1844 that he received a 7 year sentence of transportation. In Warwickshire his family circumstances would be less sympathetically recalled. He had to wait until the middle of the following year before leaving England.
On 14 June 1845 he set sail on the Marion 2 from Woolwich on the 94 day journey to Van Dieman’s Land (now Tasmania). He arrived in good health, according to the Marion’s Surgeon Jn. W. Elliott and was measured as 63.25 inches tall (1.6 metres). He said that he could read and write, was single and a protestant and had skills as a fellmonger. His family relationships included b [brothers] Uriah and Bennett, s [sisters] Ann and Mary, but ‘np’ [no parents].
He received a Conditional Pardon in November 1847 and a Free Certificate in February 1852. He married Bridget in Hobart and travelled to Victoria, to the Geelong area. Bridget died in 1874 (probably childbirth related) and Emanuel married Adele Fresse in 1877. He remained in the Geelong area and owned his own farm eventually at Gnawarre.
In 1879 he was called upon to help one of his neighbours whose wife had attempted to commit suicide, and despite Emanuel’s efforts to save her, she eventually died of her wounds.
Emanuel Read died aged 85 in Geelong Hospital, Victoria on 17 August 1902 of heart failure and pneumonia. He is buried in Mount Moriac Cemetery , Victoria.
Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday 14 September 1839; pg. ;
Leicester Journal (Leicester, England) Friday 20 September 1839; pg. 3
The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, January 08, 1842; pg. ;
Northampton Mercury (Northampton, England), Saturday 23 September 1843; pg 4.
Coventry Standard (Coventry, England), Friday 04 January 1844; pg 4.
The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) Tuesday 23 September 1879; pg 6
Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Victoria, Australia) Monday 22 September 1879; pg3
“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JQY1-FZ4 : 6 December 2014, Emmanuel Reed, 09 Feb 1823); citing SHEARSBY,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 595,767.
Digital Panopticon entry for Emanuel Read https://www.digitalpanopticon.org/search?e0.type.t.t=root&e0._all.s.s=emanuel%20read
Archives Office of Tasmania. Recommendation for a pardon for Emanuel Reed in 1852. http://search.archives.tas.gov.au/ImageViewer/image_viewer.htm?CON33-1-70,313,223,F,60
Featured image: South West View of Hobart Town, Van Dieman’s Land; South West View of Hobart Town, Van Dieman’s Land; South West View of Hobart Town, Van Dieman’s Land. Royal Museums Greenwich. In Copyright.