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I Am What You Say I Am

Lawrence "John" Wagstaff (1808–1892)

Lawrence John Wagstaff, married, a ‘gardener & shepherd & plo'man’ was transported in 1835 for stealing timber. He’d taken scantling from a church. His right arm featured ‘a woman holding a flower’. Even before transportation he was ‘ironed’ for ‘having tobacco in the Hulk’.
Assigned to Mrs Thomson, he stole ‘a bag of wheat valued at 21 shillings’, and he absconded. His sentence was extended by two years.
Eventually free, he applied to marry Jane McMullen, but the marriage didn’t eventuate. Three years later he reapplied, this time to marry Bess Ward. The ceremony took place at Brighton on 12 April 1847. Jane and Bess had been transported together on the Waverley.
John and Bess moved to the Victorian goldfields, and raised a family of ten children. But John’s life of crime didn’t end, with charges for horse-stealing and highway robbery.

With the discovery of gold in 1851, thousands rushed to the diggings, and not just the honest prospectors.  The Victorian goldfields lured all manner of thieves, swindlers, con-artists, bushrangers, and ex-convicts, the Vandemonians.  Maintaining law and order was a constant challenge for the authorities.
With the discovery of gold in 1851, thousands rushed to the diggings, and not just the honest prospectors. The Victorian goldfields lured all manner of thieves, swindlers, con-artists, bushrangers, and ex-convicts, the Vandemonians. Maintaining law and order was a constant challenge for the authorities.

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