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James Gunton 1802
Mattishall Blacksmith, Swing Rioter - Convict

James Guton was born at Shipdham, Norfolk in 1802. It is unclear how he met Susan Harrison but in the January of 1828 they married. Their first daughter was well on her way and was born in the May of same year. She was baptised at All Saints Church in the village of Mattishall, Norfolk where James's trade was said to be Ploughman & Country Blacksmith. Two other daughters followed, one in 1830 and the other in 1831, both were also baptised at All Saints Church. However a few month before his third daughter was born he was involed in a local riot, later to become known as 'The Swing Riots'. The Swing Riots were a widespread uprising by agricultural workers; it began with the destruction of threshing machines in the Elham Valley area of East Kent in the summer of 1830, and by early December had spread throughout the whole of southern England and East Anglia. By December 1830 nearly 2,000 people involved in the Swing riots were awaiting trial. Of these, 19 were executed and over 500 transported and James Gunton was one of those transported. In 1830 the wage of an agricultural labourer was nine shillings a week. By 1834 the rate was six shillings. The riot's got their name from 'Captain Swing' - who was supposed to have written intimidating letters to farmers and other machine owners - to this day he remains a mysterious character.
There is a full story of James's life (link below) but this is a timeline of events, where he came from, his parents, his family life in Mattishall and then what happened to his family after he was taken away from them. James Gunton never returned to England.

JAMES GUNTON born 1802
Son of Samuel Gunton and his wife Ann Turvey

James's Grandparents
Dec 23 - Marriage at All Saint Church Shipdham - Entry 170 - by licence
Francis Gunton of Garveston, Norfolk married Ann Rivet of Shipdham
Witness: William Catton and Gregory Blockwell
It is unclear if Francis was actualy born in Garvestone or if he was only working there are the time of his marriage.
However there is evidence that a large family of Gunton's were living at Mattishall and they had a son Francis Gunton born in 1747 - His parents were Robert and Ann Gunton. If this is proves to be the family line it would makes Robert and Ann James's Great-Grandparents.

Francis and Ann had many children - Samuel (James's father) being one
1773: Jan 8 - Baptism at All Saints Church Shipdham
Samuel Gunton son of Francis Gunton and his wife Anne Rivet

James’s parents?
1795: Nov 23 - Marriage at All Saints Church Shipdham – Entry 352
Samuel Gunton a Bachelor married Ann Turvey a Spinster of this parish
Witness: James Carr and John Mendam

1802: Aug 03 – Baptism at Shipdham, Norfolk
Jas Gunton son of Samuel Gunton and his wife Ann

1828: Jan 7 – Marriage at St Mary Church Carlton Forehoe – Entry 9
James Gunton a Bachelor of Mattishall married Susan Harrison a Spinster of this parish
Witness: Charles Small and Ann Harrison.

Susan Harrison was baptised on Feb 22nd 1801 at St Mary Church Carlton Forehoe
The daughter of James Harrison and his second wife Elizabeth Flood who were married on nov 5th 1783 at St Mary Church Carlton Forehoe –Entry 36
James, a Bachelor had first married Diana Morris a Spinster on October 4th 1760 at Carlton Forehoe – Entry 7
Diana died in 1781 and was buried on July 21st in the parish churchyard.

James and Susan had children:

[1] 1828: May 18 – Baptism at All Saints Church Mattishall – Entry 487
Ann Gunton daughter of James Gunton and Susan

[2] 1830: May 30 – Baptism at All Saints Church Mattishall – Entry 547
Mary Gunton daughter of James Gunton a Labour and his wife Susan Harrison
Mary died in 1831 age 2 and was buried in All Saints Churchyard

[3] 1831: Sep 25 – Baptism at All Saints Church Mattishall – Entry 583
Susanna Gunton daughter of James Gunton a Labour and his wife Susan Harrison
Susanna died in 1836 age 5 and was buried on Jan 28th

1831: Jan 5 - James Gunton whose trade was reported as Ploughman and County Blacksmith born at Shipdham, Norfolk was sent to Swaffham Bridwell and then to Norfolk Quarter Sessions for being involved in two ‘Swing Riots‘ on successive days. One was at the farm of Mr Salter on Whinburgh where the mob wrecked a threshing machine and then at the farm of Robert Aylmer of Whinburgh, where they wrecked a hay-cutting machine. The next day the mob went to Thomas Wright, of East Tuddenham and broke two threshing machines. It seems James Gunton was known by the farmers so he may have worked for them at some time. He was caught and tried with others, one being his father Samuel Gunton.

More on James Gunton, his trial and life in Tasmania

1831: Jan 5 - Trial Reports: James Gunton, 28 and James Brightly, 18, pleaded guilty to destroying the chaff-cutting machine of Robert Aylmer of Whinburgh. On the other occasion the other members of the gang were Thomas Anderson, John Gilbert, Francis Spraggs, George Bowles, John Bugg and Jane Taylor. They were all convicted but Samuel Gunton and George Bowles, five were given prison sentences but James, for leading the riots was sentenced to 7 years transportation plus one month in solitary confinement. He was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) he departed on April 14th 1831 from Portsmouth on the Proteus with 111 other convicts and landed on August 3rd 1831. The ships Master was Sylvester J Brown and the Surgeon, Thomas Logan – He never returned.

Name: GUNTON, James
Age: 28
Trade/Calling: Country blacksmith.
Offence/Sentence: Machine breaking (a threshing machine)
Sentenced to transportation for 7 years.
Remarks: Married (wife Susan) with two children. Susan was also expecting a third child at the time he was convicted and transported.
Another Gunton, who may have been his father, was convicted of rioting at the same Quarter Sessions, but received only a short sentence.
Transported on: Departed from Portsmouth, England on the ship Proteus
Shipmaster: Sylvester J. Brown
Ship surgeon: Thomas Logan
Convict Conduct Record in VDL: Two minor reprimands in 1834 for being in a public house out of hours.
Narrative of life in VDL Upon arrival: Gunton was assigned to Dr Temple Pearson, who had a property in the Campbell Town area.
Gunton appears to have served his entire term with Pearson and received his free pardon on 3 February 1836 and in 1838 married Ann Minton (a free immigrant).
He became a prosperous smithy, first at Cleveland and later at Evandale.
Death/Final record: Died in 1873 at the age of 73 in Evandale, when kicked by a horse that he was shoeing.

At the time James landed in Tasmania he was about 29 years old. Convict records said he stood 173 cm. tall, a big man for his time considering a man's height was measured barefoot. His hair was brown, he had a thin beard, his eyes were grey, his complexion dark, & his visage round.

The Norfolk blacksmith James Gunton, claimed to have been actively involved in tracking and capturing a bushranger - for which he eventually received a land grant.

It is unclear if James got news of his wife’s liaison with Thomas Randal and the resulting baby or if he had heard of the deaths of his two daughters. Divorce was not available to the common person until the late 1800s and was expensive and scandalous. Previously married convicts were permitted to remarry after seven years' separation as long as their spouse was abroad, even if they were still living. The Government encouraged marriage between convicts as it was seen as a means of rehabilitation and more desirable than de facto relationships. From all accounts this was the way James went as he remarried Ann Minton a ‘Female Immigrant’ in the February of 1838. They settled at Campbell Town where James & Ann had 8 children & 49 grandchildren. James had become a Blacksmith by trade at the Nile property 'Fordon' and was still working at his trade at the age of 73. He was killed by the kick of a horse he was shoeing. Death followed 'rupture of the intestine'. James was buried in the old Catholic cemetery at Evandale The tombstone is one of the few still standing & curiously gives his age as 83 whereas his convict records suggest he would be 73. James died in 1873. For a fuller story -

James Gunton:
James Gunton was a Norfolk blacksmith who served out his assignment in the Campbell Town district. Back in England, his wife Susan had survived as well as she could in the meantime and in 1834 a bastardy order had been taken out against Thomas Randall, the local butcher, for siring her son. After receiving his free pardon James Gunton remained in the district working his trade and in 1838 married Ann Minton, one of 229 free female immigrants who arrived on the 'Charles Kerr' three years earlier. They eventually had eight children. On the marriage documents, he described himself as a bachelor (although Susan did not die until 1867). He slowly built up his blacksmith business in Cleveland and in 1842 he was recorded as employing two men in the business. He petitioned the government for a title to the land where his house and smithy stood, claiming that he was entitled to it as payment for his part in the apprehension of a highwayman named Regan in 1839. Eventually, deeds were prepared for the land but it is not clear whether James Gunton took them up. In later life, when well into his sixties, Gunton went to the property of "Fordon" at Nile and worked as blacksmith there. He was killed by the kick of a horse that he was shoeing at the age of seventy three.

Meanwhile back in Mattishall Susan gave birth to a son
1834: July – William Gunton was born – fathered by Thomas Randall a Butcher – SEE below…..
Thomas Randall of Mattishall was ordered to pay to Susan Gunton two pounds, five shillings and six pence outright followed by a weekly maintenance fee of one shilling and six pence for William Gunton – No baptism record found

Susan was not free to marry as she was still the wife of James but it appears Thomas Randall had both Susan and his future wife Sarah on the go at the same time as Sarah also gave birth to a child the following month.

MORE on THOMAS RANDALL born 1789 and his descendants
Son of William Randall and his wife Sarah Rose

Thomas’s parents
1775: Aug 22 – Marriage at All Saints Church Brandon Parva – Entry 27
William Randall a Widower married Sarah Rose a Spinster by licence
Witness: Charles Dobson and John Gunn
William’s first wife Ann had died in 1771 and was buried at Brandon Parva

1789: Aug 5 – Private baptism at All Saints church Brandon Parva
Thomas Randall born July 28th 1789 son of William Randall and Sarah Rose

1833: Dec 24 – Marriage at All Saints Church Mattishall – Entry 72
Thomas Randall married Sarah Walton

Sarah had a child before she married Thomas Randall – we assume by a Mr Howes
1827: May 30 – Baptism at All Saints Church – Entry 463
Eliza Howes Walton illegitimate daughter of Sarah Walton

1834: Thomas Randall of Mattishall was ordered to pay to Susan Gunton two pounds, five shillings and six pence outright followed by a weekly maintenance fee of one shilling and six pence for William Gunton – No baptism record found

Susan Gunton was not free to marry as she was still the wife of James Gunton (Convict) but it appears Thomas Randall had both Susan and his future wife Sarah on the go at the same time as Sarah also gave birth to a child the following month.

1834: Aug 3 – Baptism at All Saint Church Mattishall – Entry 691
Sarah Ann Randall daughter of Thomas Randall a Butcher and his wife Sarah Walton

1836: Oct 23 – Baptism at All Saints Church Mattishall – Entry 741
Elizabeth Randall daughter of Thomas Randall a Butcher and his wife Sarah Walton.

1851: Census – Mattishall Burgh
Thomas Randall – Head – Married - age 60 - Butcher - Brandon Parva-Norfolk
Sarah A Randall – Dau – age 16 – Dress Maker – Mattishall
Elizabeth Randall – Dau – age 14 – At Home – Mattishall

Meanwhile Sarah was here with her daughter
1851: Census - Centre of Village, East & West Flegg
William Smith – Head – age 30 – Carpenter – Brundle
Eliza Smith – Wife – age 23 – Mattishall
Infant Smith – Son – age 1day - Caister Norfolk
Sarah Randle – Malaw – Married – age 55 – Nurse – East Dereham

1861: Census – Welgate Mattishall
Thomas Randall – Head – age 70 – Butcher – Brandon Norfolk
Sarah Randall – Wife – age 66 – Butchers Wife – East Dereham
Sarah Ann Randall – Dau single – age 26 – Mattishall
Jane Walton – Boarder – age 4 - Cambridgeshire - Fulbourn

1871: Census – 17 Dereham Road – Mattishall
Thomas Randall – Head – age 80 – Butcher – Brandon Norfolk
Sarah Randall – Wife – age 75 – East Dereham
Sarah A Randall – Dau – single – age 34 – Mattishall – Sarah Ann will prove to be the Ancestral Line
Arthur Stephen Randall – Gson – age 7 – Mattishall – Sarah Ann’s illegitimate son
Living two doors up at 19 Dereham Road was Thomas’s son William Gunton which he had by Susan Gunton
Was there ever a father, son relationship between them?

1877: Death record – Thomas Randall at Mitford – Mar quarter (4b 185) age 86

1881: Census – 15 Welgate Mattishall
Sarah Randall – Head – Widow – age 66 – East Dereham
Sarah A Randall – Dau – single - age 44 – Mattishall
Arthur Randall – Gson – age 17 – Ag Lab – Mattishall
Fred Adcock – Lodger – age 15 – Ag Lab – Mattishall

1888: Death record – Sarah Randall at Mitford – Dec quarter (4b 171) age 93


1841: Census –
Susan Gunton – age 35
Ann Gunton – age 13
William Gunton – age 6 1835

1851: Census - Badley Moor Mattishall Mitford
Susan Gunton – Head – Married – age 44 – Charwoman - Carlton Forehoe-NFK
William Gunton – Son – age 16 1835 - Ag Lab - Mattishall-NFK
It is not known where Ann was at this time

1861: Census - Badley Moor
Susana Gunton – Head – Widow – age 56 - Laundress - Norfolk – Caston
Ann Gunton – Dau – single – age 32 – Dressmaker - Norfolk – Mattishall
William Gunton – Son – single – age 25 1836 - Agricultural Labourer - Norfolk – Mattishall
Hardy Cole – Lodger – single – age 26 – Sawyer – Mattishall

1863: Marriage record – William Gunton married Sarah Ann Osborne at Mitford – Sep quarter (4b 445)
William and Sarah had 14 children all of which were born and schooled in Mattishall.
William died in 1903 age 69 and was buried on June 4th
Sarah died in 1917 age 75 and was buried on November 7th
They are both buried in the Mattishall Cemetery on Burgh Lane.

Susan lived to see her son William marry in 1863 to Sarah Ann Osborne the daughter of Henry Osbourne landlord of the 'Ivy House' public house at Welgate Corner Mattishall and his wife Elizabeth Hutchins.

1867: Death record – Susannah Gunton at Mitford – Jun quarter (4b 179) age 66
Susan is buried in All Saints Churchyard

In Memory of
who died May 3rd 1867 aged 66 years
Nov 15th 1871 aged 15 months

Matthew was Susan's grandson (son of William)


The following in formation has been kindly supplied by Pat Misson of Queensland, Autralia Great granddughter of William & Isabella Took

Susan's daughter Ann Gunton married
1870: Marriage record - William Took to Ann Gunton at Mitford - Mar quarter (4b 457)
Feb 16th - Marriage at The Parish Church Mattishall - Entry 166
William Took a Bachelor, Horsebreaker age 30 to Ann Gunton a Spinster age 42 borth of Mattishall
Fathers: William Archiball Took a Tailor and James Gunton a Blacksmith
Witness: William Gunton - G.J. Jary - Charlot Secker (Charlotte was William Took's sister) and E Grances.

William Archiball Took was born in 1839 at East Dereham and baptised on Dec 8th 1839 at St Nicholas Church East Dereham the son of William Took a Tailor and his wife Ann Maria formaly Rawlings

However Ann died only a few weeks later
Death record - Ann Took at Mitford - Jun quarter (4b 183) age 44
May 14th - Anne Took formarly Gunton died - Entry 267
At Mattishall - Ann Took age 44 years, wife of William Took a Horse Trainer
Cause of death: Decline Certified - William Took present at death, Mattishall

After this William Archiball Took moved away for we next find him at 32 Charles Street, Gateshead in the 1871 census where he was recorded as a unmarried 32 year old Lodger/Laborer. Then on Nov 16th 1873 he declared himself again as 30 years old, a widower and a Groom when he married Isabella Knowles a 19 year old spinster of 55 Back Cheapside, the daughter of William Knowles a Weaver at the parish church of Bolton-le-Moors, St Peter, Lancashire - Entry 147



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