Sinners and (Latter Day) Saints – Part Two


                                                           James and Mary Warby in middle life

 

James Warby was born on November 15 1822 in Hythe, the son of James and Mary Warby, but died a long way away, having almost circumnavigated the globe.

His older brother William was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1835 and four years later, his father took the decision that the whole family would travel across the world and join him – though they ended up in New South Wales and William joined them there when he got his freedom.

On 10 March 1846 James junior married nineteen-year-old Mary Blanch, the child of free immigrants and six months later, their first child was born, the eldest of no fewer than eighteen, including two sets of twins. Sadly, several died as infants and only nine lived long enough to be married, but even that was an achievement in the circumstances in which they lived.

One night in 1852,  when walking home from work, James stopped to listen to two street-corner preachers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).  He was impressed by what they had to say and attended a meeting, together with Mary Ann and his children, that same evening.  At further meetings they learned about the Mormon settlements in Utah and decided that there, not Australia, was where they belonged.

They were both baptised into the church, by total immersion in the Williams River, in 1853.

An early Mormon baptism

They left their home, and went to stay with a brother  of Mary Ann’s until they set sail from Sydney on 22 March 1854, on the ship Julia Ann together with seventy-odd other converts.  That was the last the family in Australia heard of them. It may be that James wanted to disassociate himself  from the family scandal created by his brother and sister (see Sinners and Latter Day Saints part one). They landed at San Pedro, California in June and settled at first in San Bernardino. There was a large Mormon community already there, sent down from Salt Lake City in 1851 to establish a colony on the Pacific coast, as an out-fitting post for the church, and as a Pacific port where converts might be landed. Formerly they had disembarked at New York. The overland journey to Utah could be shortened by two-thirds.

San Bernardino in 1865

In autumn 1856 or spring 1857 James and his family made the long trip by wagon to Utah, setting up home with three other families at a place called – or named by them – Beaver (it later became famous as the birthplace of Robert Leroy Parker aka Butch Cassidy).

The countryside near Beaver. 

The men started to clear land and  fenced in  twelve acres.  They made roads to get into the canyons where there was abundant timber to build their houses, log cabins with mud roofs and hard-packed dirt floors.

Everything had to be made from scratch – furniture, wagon wheels, scythe handles, churns,  cradles, buckets and washboards. In the early days there was no metal available, so spoons, butter paddles, bowls, and wash basins were all wooden, too. Mattresses were filled with straw. The  women carded wool, spun yarn and wove it into cloth. They cooked what they could grow or hunt. There was no organised education for the children and none of the Warby children ever attended school.

More migrants arrived and gradually life got easier. There was a proper meeting house by 1868 and in  1872 a woollen mill was built and women could now buy fabric off he bolt. James became the proprietor of a sawmill and a lime kiln.  The children grew up and married and had children of their own. Then, extraordinarily, in 1896, most of the clan, including James and Mary (now 74 and 69 respectively) took seven wagons, a hundred  head of cattle, seventy horses and two mules and travelled four hundred miles to relocate in Lucerne Valley (later renamed Manila)  and start the settlement process all over again.

James and Mary in later life

James died in 1906 and Mary in 1915. They had fifty -five grandchildren  and a hundred and sixty-eight great-grandchildren. Knowing about family was (and is) important to Mormons. They believe that the family is the basic unit of earthly and heavenly existence. Those members who have died without being baptised into the church can be baptised after death, to ensure that the family is intact in heaven. It was therefore critical to know exactly who one’s family members were. It was apparently for this reason that James told his children about the illicit union between his brother and sister, William and Celia Warby, in Australia.

The grave of James and Mary (www.findagrave.com)

 

 

 

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Sinners and (Latter Day) Saints – Part One

James Warby, a soldier with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, who had fought in the Peninsular Wars at the Battle of Nivelle in 1813, hung up his boots in Hythe, married Mary Woods and raised a family. All was well until, in April 1834,his eldest son, eighteen-year-old William, was found guilty of stealing a half-sovereign from Susanna and Andrew Lawler.  He had gone to the house to sell potatoes and noticed where the cash was kept.  He contrived to loiter after the sale. A small child was present whom he sent off on an errand, and once alone helped himself to the money, which he changed at a butcher’s in Sandgate. He was sentenced to six months in the town gaol.

He spent his sentence alongside Alexander Swain, who had received six months for burglary. By February the next year, they were both back in the same gaol, charged with stealing a pet rabbit from a local solicitor. Swain, probably fearing a stiff sentence, persuaded a seventeen-year-old girl who was visiting her brother in the gaol to give him her clothes. He walked out of the gaol dressed in a blue gaberdine frock and a hat. Of course, he was soon missed and only got as far as Rye before being apprehended the next day.

In court, both men were sentenced to seven years’ transportation. They were removed to the prison hulk Fortitude at Chatham. William, who was reported in gaol to have been bad-tempered and violent was apparently sobered by the hulk experience and was described as ‘orderly’. The men were transported on the ss Norfolk,  arriving in van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) on 28 Aug 1835. Once there, Alexander Swaine disappears from the records and probably died either during the voyage or shortly after arrival.

Van Diemen’s Land was known as a convict hell. Work was hard and punishments harsh. William received fifty lashes in September 1837 for disobeying orders.

 

A sketch of a Van Diemen’s Land chain gang

 

Henceforward, he kept out of trouble and got his Certificate of Freedom in 1842. The next year he sailed for Sydney, not just to get away from the place of his servitude, but to rejoin his family.

James Warby had brought his wife and family to New South Wales in 1839. It was not in fact, unusual for convict’s families to do this. Convicts rarely returned home and often their letters made Australia seem more attractive than England at a time of economic depression.  James must have decided that a reunion on the other side of the world was the best course of action, though he could not possibly have known how it would turn out. With him, apart from his wife Mary, were his other sons, John (19), James (17), Thomas (8) and daughters Mary Ann (15) and Celia (12). They arrived at Port Jackson as Bounty Immigrants then moved on to Morpeth and finally Maitland.

All the children married.

Mary Ann married first, just before her seventeenth birthday. She and her husband had fourteen children. Celia was next. She married John Chivington, a former convict,  on 13 Feb 1845. They had four children, but only two survived to adulthood.  Then James married Mary Ann Blanch in 1846 in Morpeth; John married in 1855 and had seven children and finally Thomas married in 1856 in Maitland and had eleven children.

On 25 February 1851, the husband of William’s younger sister, Celia, died.  William, now in New South Wales, moved in with her.  In 1853, their first child together was born and thereafter William and Celia lived together as husband and wife until their deaths, days apart, in September 1900.

We cannot know whether, from Celia’s perspective, this relationship was consensual or abusive. Whichever was the case, it brought terrible suffering to their children. They had seven, four of whom had  catastrophic disabilities: Noah, who lived to be forty as an ‘invalid’; Samuel, who died aged twenty-six, ‘a cripple from birth’;  Thomas, who lived only a few months and died of ‘inanition’, an inability to feed or drink; John, who died aged forty-four in an ‘asylum for imbeciles’.  It could be said that William’s real crimes were committed not in Hythe but in Australia.

To be continued….

Details of William’s life after leaving Van Diemen’s Land are taken from the Warby family’s site:

http://www.thetreeofus.net/3/182026.htm