Chapter III – Phillis Skinner Convict Number 70514- A Biography by Wendy Bloomfield
Phillis Skinner was convicted of theft and transported to Van Diemen’s Land.
Phillis was born in 1815, in Lambeth, Surrey, England, the daughter of Thomas Skinner and Sophia. Phillis was christened on the 16th April 1815 at Stockdale Chapel, St Mary, Lambeth, Surrey as Phillis Kinner. Phillis had a sister, Martha Skinner, born about 1811 in Croydon, Surrey.
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t18331128-125
Phillis SKINNER, Theft: Simple Grand Larceny
28th November 1833
130. PHILLIS SKINNER was indicted for stealing, on the 10th of October, 1 coal-scuttle, value 8s. the goods of James Decasne .
JANE NASH . “I live at No. 3, Steven-street. James Decasne has a house at No. 12, Homer-street, and I had the key of it to show the apartments to any person who called – on the 10th of October the prisoner called on me at ten o’clock in the morning, and asked me if there was a room to let there; I said there was and I showed it her: she said she had been a servant, but had been married three weeks to a foreman-sawyer; she referred me to her mistress, and wanted to come in that night – she came again about six o’clock in the evening; I went up to the room and missed a milk-pot and a basin from the mantle-piece; I thought she might have taken them off to put some images on – this coal-scuttle was let to her as a part of the furniture of the room; I gave it her to fetch some coals, and she went away with it; it was found at a broker’s in the neighbourhood.”
MICHALE BROWN (Police Constable I 22). “I took the prisoner, and have the scuttle.”
GUILTY . Aged 19. – Transported for Seven Years .
131. PHILLIS SKINNER was again indicted for stealing, on the 18th of October, 2 sheets, value 2s.; 1 blanket, value 4s., and 2 pictures, value 1s., the goods of Joseph Millege .
MARY MILLEGE . “I am the wife of Joseph Millege . I let a lodging to the prisoner on the 11th of October; she staid till the 18th of October, but did not pay anything – I went up that day to ask for my rent, and missed these things – she said her husband was a sawyer – there was a man came there every night, and I thought he was her husband”.
JOSEPH NOCK.” I am a pawnbroker. I have a blanket I cannot tell who pawned it.”
MICHAEL BROWN (Police Constable I 22). “I found three duplicates on the prisoner but they don’t refer to this”.
132. PHILLIS SKINNER was again indicted for stealing, on the 19th of October, 1 counterpane, value 5s.; 2 sheets value 3s.; 1 blanket, value 8s.; 1 looking-glass, value 10s.; and 4 cups, value 6d.; and 4 saucers, value 6d. , the goods of Richard Macey Ross .
RICHARD MACEY ROSS. “I live at No. 7, Star-street, and am a carpenter. On the 17th of October, the prisoner came and took a room of me – she said, she was just married, and could give no reference but to her mother, and her mistress – on the Saturday following, when I came home I was told to go up stairs, and I missed the articles stated – the prisoner was then gone – I heard the next morning she was at the station-house, and there I found part of my property, which is here; I can swear to it.”
MARY MILLEGE . “These sheets were brought to my house by the prisoner.”
GUILTY. Aged 19. – Transported for Seven Years longer.
Phillis departed Woolwich, England on the ‘Edward’ on the 5 May 1834, arriving in Van Diemen’s Land on 4th September 1834.
Information from Description List CON18/23
Name: Phillis Skinner
Trade: Plain Cook
Height: 5′ 1/2″
Forehead: Medium Height
Eyes: Dark Hazel
Mouth: Medium Width
Skinner, Phillis – (Ship) ‘Edward’ 4th September 1834. Middlesex Goal 28th November 1833. 14 years. Transported for stealing sheets,
Gaol Report not known, 4 indictments. Single. Stated this offence, pawning a coal scuttle from my lodgings, tried on 4 indictments, acquitted on two – Single – 1 child, 6 months on board**. Surgeons Report – ‘indifferent’.
Extract from Burial Record:
Burials in the Parish of Hobart Town in the County of Buckinghamshire in the Year 1834.
No 1445: Jane SKINNER
Abode: Hobart Town from Factory
When Buried: 13th October 1834
Age: 8 months
Quality or Profession: Convict’s Child.
I am sure that this is the child Phillis had with her on the ship when she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land.
16th March 1835 – Stone/Absconding and being found on the Paddock, and in Puzerfs Public House and making use of indecent language. C Class two months the 1st of which at the Wash Tub/P.S.
24th August 1835 – Dean/Clandestinely leaving her master’s premises after the family had retired to rest.
3 months in the crime class/W Gunn.
20th August 20th, 1836 – Home/Absent all night without leave, Crime Class 1 month/W Gunn.
3rd May 1841 – Wife of D Langley/Absent from her husband’s house at night & keeping company with another man. Three months hard labour, House of Correction, then return to her husband/P.J.
The Lieut.Governor has been pleased to remit the remainder of this woman’s punishment sentence vide? of P.S. 24th July 1841 – ?
24th November 1842 Recommended to the Queen for a Conditional Pardon in the Austn Cobt 25/5/45
12th May 1845 YL/ Using obscene language – fined 5/- /J.P? Approved 5th January 1846.
8th November 1847 ? 29/11/47
Phillis married David LANGLEY on the 26 September, 1836 in Hobart.
They had six children: Amelia Langley born 2 September 1837, David Langley born 3 June 1839, Sophia Langley born 5 December 1841, Richard Langley born cir 1843, Sarah Langley born 31 January 1844, and Rachael Langley born on the 21 December 1846.
It would seem that Phillis had a very hard time keeping out of trouble, she was in court again in Hobart. This ‘Hobart Town Police Report’ in the Colonial Times of Hobart, Tuesday 13th May 1845, page 3 states:
Phillis Skinner, ticket of leave, a very decent looking young woman, with a young child in her arms, was charged by Mr. D. C. Esdaile, of New Town, with violently assaulting a man named Britton, and with using obscene language. Mrs Skinner said, she certainly did strike the man, because he had been impertinent to her. Mr Esdaile described her conduct and language as most disgraceful; Britton was on the ground, and Mrs. Skinner was “kicking at him with all her strength”. The language made use of was too indecent for publication, and for its utterance she was fined 5s.
David Langley left Van Diemen’s Land sometime after 1846 and went to San Francisco, California USA where he remarried, and fathered more children – See Chapter II The San Francisco Years ).
Phillis’s Second Marriage:
On the 27 February 1854, in Hobart, Phillis married Daniel EVANS. They had one daughter, Jane Evans, born on the 28 December 1851. Phillis would have had to wait seven years after David Langley left for California to be able to remarry, which explains why Jane was born some two years before Phillis and Daniel married. Jane Evans married Wilford DODD on the 14 February 1870, in Hobart.
Daniel EVANS died on the 9 August 1859 at Hobart. His death certificate states his age as 57 years, Trade as Tinsmith, birthplace as Wales, and the cause of death as ‘Chronic Disease of the Kidneys’. The death was registered on the 10 August 1859 by Phillis EVEANS [sic], wife, of Bathurst Street, Hobart.
Phillis’s Third Marriage:
Joel ORME was Phillis’s third, and final husband. Phillis EVEANS [sic] and Joel were married on 17th July 1861 at the Chalmers Free Presbyterian Church in Hobart. Joel was also a convict. He was a boatman, or whaler.
On 10th August 1861 Rachel Langley the daughter of David and Phillis died from diphtheria at the residence of Mr John Edmonds (husband of Rachel’s sister Sarah), in Argyle Street, Hobart. A month or so later on 11th September 1861 Rachel’s brother Richard Langley died of diphtheria in the same house. His death was reported by a friend Mr. John Jones of Melville Street, Hobart.
Even after Phillis’s marriage to Joel, it appears that her behaviour did not improve, as she was arrested again on 18th October 1862 for ‘Stealing Money’. The reports in the Colonial Times, Hobart state:
Monday, October 20th, 1862. Before the Right Worshipful the Mayor, Mr. Alderman Risby, and H. Bilton, Esq.
STEALING MONEY: – Phillis Holmes, alias Evans, was charged by Detective Vickers with stealing, on the 18th inst., a leather purse, of the value of 6d., and 16s. the moneys of Peter Thomas Briggs. The prisoner was remanded this day till tomorrow.
In the same newspaper, the following day:
Tuesday, October 21st 1862. Before A.B. Jones, Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate, and Mr Alderman Cook.
STEALING MONEY. – Phillis Holmes, alias Evans, was brought up on remand, charged with stealing 16s., the moneys of Wm. Peter Briggs.
The prisoner pleaded not guilty.
Bridget Briggs, the wife of the prosecutor; who is the landlord of the Old House at Home, Bathurst-street, stated that she saw the prisoner on Saturday morning last in the tap-room; her husband was there also. Witness took a purse out of her bosom, containing 16s. and two three-penny pieces, and placed it on the table. She then walked a short distance from the table, and when she turned round, she missed the purse, and saw the prisoner leaving the house. Witness followed her, and on charging her with taking the purse, she said she had no purse belonging to witness, and asked witness if she had seen her take the purse? Witness said she had not.
When the prisoner saw the constables coming, she threw some money on the table, about 16s., and was taken into custody. (On the money being produced by Detective Vickers, the witness identified two of the shillings, which were peculiarly marked.)
By the prisoner: I say that I placed the purse on the table.
Prisoner: You false swear yourself. I picked up the purse from the floor, and that I have always acknowledged.
Examination continued: You did not count out the money. You threw it on the table.
Detective Vickers deposed to the apprehension of the prisoner, whom he previously saw leaving the Old House at Home.
He apprehended her secreted in a closet in Bathurst-street. She said she had picked up a purse in the house with 7s. in it.
The prisoner was sentenced to three months imprisonment.
Phillis was granted her Ticket of Leave in December 1842, as reported in The Austral-Asia Review, Tasmanian and Australian Advertiser (Hobart) on the 2nd December 1843.
The Cornwall Chronicle Newspaper, Launceston – 18th December 1847:
The periods for which the under-mentioned persons were transported having expired, Certificates (Pardon) to that effect have been granted: Phillis Skinner, Edward (Ship).
I am unaware of any children of the marriage of Joel and Phillis, and I have no record for the death of Joel Orme.
Phillis Skinner died on 6th January 1873 at Argyle Street, Hobart. Her death entry is under the name Phillis Holmes, Whalers Wife. As Joel Orme was a Boatman, or Whaler, and going on the above newspaper reports, I am convinced this is her death entry.