- Born: 1815, Waterford, Waterford, Munster, Ireland
- Died: After Oct 1851, prob New Zealand
Other names for Robert were Robert Lahey and Robert Leahy.
There is a record of a Robert Lahy being baptised 23 June 1813 in Ballybricken, Waterford City, Waterford to parents Edmund Lahy and Mary Walsh. They also had other children: Catherine, bap. 8 November 1815, Name unknown, bap. 15 Jul 1810. As Robert is not a common Irish name I am assuming this is he, but it's not completely certain, especially as his birth year is consistently indicated as 1815 in other documents.
Robert arrived as a convict in Sydney on the Norfolk on the 9th February 1832. He had been tried in Waterford, Ireland on the 12th September 1831 for Aggravated Assault, and was sentenced to 7 years. His was just 17 years old (suggesting a birth year of 1814), 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall with grey eyes, and a fair complexion. The entrance books refer to him as Catholic, from Waterford, and a Labourer.
According to the Convict Lists and The Sydney Gazette, he was assigned as an errand boy to a General Stewart in Bathurst in March 1832. In the 1837 Convict Muster it is recorded that he was aged 22, and that he arrived on the Norfolk in 1832.
He received his Ticket of Leave No. 37/1143 on the 13th August 1837 for the District of Bathurst. This was later altered to Wellington on 27 July 1838. The Sydney Gazette reported on 2 September 1837 a list of people recieving their Certificate of Freedom and Robert is in that list in the County of Bathurst. His Certificate of Freedom was No. 39/1294. Apart from the conviction facts above, this document reveals that his Prisoner's No. was 32/141, his Native Place was Waterford, his trade or calling was "Labour", date of birth 1815, he was 5' 4 3/4" tall, Pale & pockpitted complexion, fair hair and grey eyes. He had a blue "X" mark between thumb & forefinger of each hand.
Robert squandered his opportunity for freedom and ended up a Convict again in the notorious convict settlement of Norfolk Island. He was later transferred to the Convict settlement at Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania). His Conduct Record from his time in Van Diemens Land reveals quite a lot. This document records his name as Robert LAHEY. According to this document he was tried in the Sydney Sup (erior?) Ct (Court?) on the 13th February 1839 and arrived on Norfolk Island on the 3 April 1839. The document records that he was "Transported for Bushranging. Stated this offence Burglary. I was assigned to Mr Wm. Sawyer, Bathurst. Tried with Thomas Connors & John Brown. Onbord to NSW Norfolk 1832 Tried Waterford 7 Years for assault Mr & Mrs Renfrew [NB unclear]. Per Stg ????? at N. Id. [NB Norfolk Island] nearly 7 years 'Single' " this last sentence would seem to be a reference that he had spent nearly 7 years at Norfolk Island as he arrived in Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) on board the Governor Phillip on the 18th November 1845 after a journey of some 17 days.
This document records that he was Roman Catholic and could Read and Write. Native Place Waterford. His physical description was quite detailed and reads as follows: Height 5' 7", age 35 (he was actually about 30), Complexion Fresh, Head Large, Hair Sandy, Whiskers none, Visage Oval, Forehead broad, Eyebrows Sandy, Eyes Blue, Nose Long, Mouth small, Chin Broad. Under Remarks: Slightly Pockfilled. Cross on R.H. Thumb. Faint blue mark between forefinger and thumb of Left Hand.
Another section of the document records that he received 5 lashes on the 6th September 1834 (whilst still in Bathurst) for Disobedience. Other misdemeanours included: 19th November 1839 (Norfolk Island) - Refused to go to work when ordered by the Superintendent of Agriculture, 4 days Gaol on B & Water (probably Bread and Water); 10th June 1840 - Neglect of Work, disobedience of orders, and abusive being wage [???] to an Alexr. Ferrie [?] 100 Merits [?] ; 21 July 1840 - Refused to go to work when ordered by the Superintendent of Agriculture (with others), Severely Reprimanded. There follows quite a few illegible entries which look like records of assignments of various kinds, the last one being dated 20 January 1851.
In another section there is reference to a "Period of Gang Probation One Year" and "Period of Gang Impression Bay" and the date 5/12/45. Then "Emergence from Gang 24 May 1846". In the 1830s the authorities designed a probation system, with 19 probation stations around Van Diemen's Land. When a convict had served (or survived!) a term in one of the penal settlements he/she was to be given a paid job for a time with one of the colony's public works. At the end of this period he/she could get a job as a paid servant to a settler.
But the colony's public departments, denied extra funds by the British government, could not pay wages. And the settlers, not accustomed to paying their servants, were reluctant to cooperate with this new system. So jobs for the convicts did not materialise and probation stations became overcrowded. Crime, fighting and escapes increased. Source: www.discovertasmania.com
Impression Bay was a Convict Probation Station set up in 1841. The station housed an initial 100 convicts, who were employed in the building of their own wooden huts and cultivating the land for vegetable and hop production. Timber milling was another important activity for the convicts at the settlement. By 1846 the number of prisoners had risen to 283 following the closure of the Station at Wedge Bay between Nubeena and White Beach), and it was then mainly housing the infirm, elderly and blind convicts. A year later its status was amended in order to take some of the surplus of convicts transferred from Norfolk Island, but by 1848 it had reverted to an invalid station. In 1850 there were an estimated 600 invalids and free paupers, most of whom were transferred to Port Arthur in 1857 when the Premaydena settlement was abandoned.
There are further notations on this document indicating that he received 7 days in Solitary in June of 1846 for being Absent without leave. And again in June of 1847 he received 7 days Solitary for being Absent without Leave & Disobedience. On the 20th October 1847 he was Admonished for being Drunk, apparently at the "Westy Depot" [NB Westy may be an abbreviation?] whilst being on the Stone ???. He was again punished for being Drunk at "Westy" on the 14th February 1850 and fined 5 shillings. And again on the 2 March 1850, his punishment this time being one calendar month of hard labour. He was also punished with an additional month for an offence on the same date of Disorderly Conduct in the Coatch [sic] House. It appears that these last two punishments were approved in December 1850.
He was refused a Conditonal Pardon on the 17th July 1849 and was recommended again for a Conditional Pardon on the 16th July 1850. He finally received his second Ticket of Leave in January of 1851. By this time he had been a convict in some of Australia's harshest penal settlements for almost 20 years.
He left Tasmania on 13 October 1851 on the Spray bound for New Zealand. His surname on the Passenger List is spelled LEAHY, but it is definitely he as the record refers to his arrival in Tasmania on the Governor Phillip. It appears that this ship departed Launceston and arrived Nelson in NZ on 23 October 1851. Although convicts could not return to England or Ireland upon gaining their release, they were allowed to travel to NZ and many did from Tasmania.
As this was the time of Gold Rushes in the USA it is faintly possible he went on from NZ to the USA.
Robert's first cousin Catherine LAHY or LEAHY was also sent to Australia as a convict. Refer separate entry for her.
The names of his siblings was recorded on his Tasmania convict indent.