Catalogue description Correspondence attempting to establish the identity of Joseph Harris, alias John Tisley,...

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Details of HO 17/50/27
Reference: HO 17/50/27

Correspondence attempting to establish the identity of Joseph Harris, alias John Tisley, convicted at the Old Bailey, 17 June 1829, of having returned from transportation for life, and sentenced to death.

A document marked 'Private information placed in Mr Capper's hands' says that Harris is not Tisley but is actually George Dove, who was transported for life 17 years previously. Particulars of Dove's family are given. The informant says that Dove returned 8 or 9 years earlier and went by the name of Joseph Harris, a short time after this she remembers reading a letter he wrote to his mother in which he said he had been convicted and sentenced to be 'sent away for seven years'. The family knew he had returned again and were now very afraid of being indicted. The informer says she dare not swear against him because her life would be in danger.

Three forms give descriptions of Joseph Harris, George Dove and JohnTisley taken from registers of prisoners received on the hulks. Joseph Harris was transported for seven years in 1817, a note by J H Capper says his description matches that of the man in Newgate. The description of Dove is incomplete.

A note confirms that Dove was originally transported to New South Wales in 1813 for life but escaped in 1815.

A document lists queries by the Recorder of London, Newman Knollys, intending to clarify the identities of witnesses who appeared at the Old Bailey and if there is any relation between the Dove and Tisley families. The answers seem to show there is no connection between the two families, though they live in the same area and both families had a son transported at about the same time.

A letter from Newman Knollys, dated 24 August 1829, says that the conviction as it stands is very questionable and the convict probably entitled to a pardon but, if it is certain that he has returned from transportation, could be capitally convicted on a fresh indictment or sent back to New South Wales without any further trial. Although the Dove family claim they have not heard from George since his transportation, they may wish to conceal the truth.

A letter dated 9 September 1829, from [J Stafford], Bow Street, to J H Capper, concludes that the man convicted as Tisley is obviously George Dove but it would be difficult to get witnesses to satisfy a jury that it was the same man if another indictment was made in his real name. The letter suggests considering sending him abroad again or granting him a remission of his original sentence.

A certificate signed by [W Box] and Edward Stanley, surgeons, certifies that Joseph Harris, alias Tisley, 'is in a most dangerous state of insanity' and should be removed to an asylum. The certificate is annotated 'Ordered to Bethlem 5 Oct 1829'.

Date: [1829]
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: Ho 27
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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