Tasmanian Tapner History


Charles Tapner was born in 1808, in or about the village of Pagham in Sussex. His baptismal date is recorded at Sidlesham on 27th August 1809. At the age of 24 years (age may be wrong) he was sentenced at the Chichester Assizes on 4th January, 1834 to seven years transportation to Van Dieman's Land (later Tasmania) for stealing. He was described as a labourer of Pagham. His co-accused was John Goldring and they were both convicted. The following was the charge: Stealing from Mary Yeats - one shawl value 2 shillings. Stealing from Robert Watkins - two glasses value one shilling, one mug, value 6 pence, 18 gallons of beer, value, 18 shillings and one cask, value 8 shillings. The offence was committed on 20th November 1833. He sailed, with John Goldring, on the transport "William Metcalfe" which sailed from Woolwich via Spithead on 23rd May 1834 (also on board was George Loveless, the leader of the Tolpuddle Martyrs). The "William Metcalfe" arrived at Hobart Town on 4th September 1834. The "Hobart Town Courier" of 5th September 1834 published the following: "Arrived on Wednesday the ship "William Metcalfe", Capt Edward Phillipson, 447 tons from Portsmouth 23rd May with 240 male convicts. Surgeon Superintendent Dr Brock RN. The guard consists of 29 rank and file of the 21st and 50th Regiments under the command of Capt Peddle of the 21st and Ensign Arthur of the 4th, eldest son of His Excellency, whom we have the pleasure to welcome back and rejoice that he has returned to us in good health".

The Chichester Records Office advise that Charles Tapner was accused of assaulting John Florance at Bognor in August 1833, of which he was discharged by proclamation.

Charles is listed as convict number 855 and his occupation as "boatman". He was assigned to Mr "Markam Clausen" (name is not clear). His records with the State Archives describe him as follows:

Trade - Boatman.
Age - 25years.
Height without shoes - five feet, eight and a half inches.
Compexion - dark.
Head - round.
Hair and whiskers - brown.
Visage - oval.
Eyebrows - brown.
Eyes - grey.
Nose - small.
Mouth - small.

His Conduct Record shows: Transported for Felony. Gaol report, several times in Gaol before. Hulk report, orderly. Single. Stated his offence as stealing a shawl etc., gaoled once for assault 2 months and again for assault 2 months. Surgeon's report - orderly.

March 20th 1835, drunk, reprimanded by Magistrate.
September 30th 1837, drunk and disorderly, 25 lashes.
December 15th 1839, drunk, admonished by Magistrate.
March 5th 1840, drunk, fined five shillings.
March 11th 1840, drunk, fined five shillings.
December 14th 1840, disobedience of orders, admonished by Magistrate.
November 12th, 1840, drunk and furiously riding, fined five shilling for each offence.
July 16th 1862, Triabunna, stealing two (cows?) the property of Mr Seal, year hard labour.

The records do show an "Application for Indulgence" on 22nd November 1838 to the Richmond Police Court and he was granted a ticket-of-leave. (a type of parole for good conduct). It was normal to apply for indulgence after 4 years of a seven year sentence and it was normally granted if the applicant had a good record. The records also show that he applied for permission to marry Eliza Gee in August 1847. He is described as a "free man" and a resident of Prosser Plains and Eliza Gee as living at Buckland. It was stated that she arrived in Van Diemans Land on the "Emma Eugenia 3". In fact there is no record of Eliza on this ship. There is however a record of her on the "Emma Eugenia 4". (The number associated with the ship denotes the number of voyages to a particular destination). The "Emma Eugenia", which carried mainly female convicts, was known as the Bride Ship.

Eliza Gee is listed as a "servant" and being 23 years of age. She could neither read not write and she was single. Her crime was "stealing heifers and calves" according to the convict log, for which she received 10 years transportation at the Leicester Assizes on 5th December 1844. She spent part of her sentence at Leicester Goal arriving there on 19th December 1844. Eliza was placed on the barque "Tory" at Woolwich and taken off again on the 17th March 1845. Eliza embarked on the barque "Emma Eugenia" from Millbank Prison on 17th January 1846. The convict log of the "Emma Eugenia" records that her conduct in prison was listed as good and she had no previous convictions.

From the "Leicester Journal & Advertiser", December 1844. News from The Assizes. Eliza Gee, 23, and William Jacques (on bail) were charged, the former with stealing four cows and four heifers, the property of John King at Twycross, on 21st of November last, and the latter being an accessory before and after the fact. Eliza Gee pleaded guilty. The case against Jacques was not gone into, the jury under the direction of his Lordship, acquitting the prisoner. The female prisoner was sentenced to ten years transportation, His Lordship intimating that if some other party were the instigator of the offence, a representation to the proper quarter would probably lead to a mitigation of the punishment.

Extract from the Parish Registers of Twycross, Leicestershire. Eliza, illegitimate daughter of John Wilson (of Whitwick) and Ann Jee (of Twycross) was baptised on the 28th of January 1821.

Extracts from the 1851 Census of Twycross, Leicestershire.
William Jacques aged 45
William Jacques aged 36

Extracts from the 1851 Census of Whitwick, Leicestershire.
John Wilson aged 41
Ann Wilson aged 45
Thomas Wilson aged 8

The "Emma Eugenia" sailed from Portsmouth on 10th February 1846 and arrived in Hobart Town on 5th June 1846. 170 female convicts embarked, however 6 died on the voyage. Captain was Wilfred Beech and the surgeon was Jn Wilson. The ship was a barque of 385 tons with a length of 103 feet, beam of 29 feet and draft of 20 feet and built in Whitby in 1833, the same boat yard that built Captain Cook's "Endeavour".

Charles married Eliza Gee on 13th September 1847 at the age of 37 years. His wife died at the age of 56 years on 10th June 1875 and Charles died on 6th June 1892. On his death Certificate it is noted that he was 84 years old and he was born in 1808, yet on his convict records it is stated that he was 24 years old at the time of his conviction. It is noted on Mormon records that a Charles Tapner, son of Thomas and Mary Tapner was christened at Sidlesham on 27th August 1809. Sidlesham is only 2 miles from Pagham. The age is right and the location is right so the assumption can be made that he is the same person. Of interest, on the record, is that Charles was the eldest child and had four sisters and a brother. (See family tree chart.)

Charles and Eliza had five children, Ellen (1848), William (1850), Eliza Jane (1851), Thomas (1854) and Mary Ann (1855). Thomas and William seem to have established themselves in the early oyster cultivation in Spring Bay. See below. Eliza Jane married a convict, George Lincoln and they had six children. George died in 1887 and Eliza remarried Herbert Boden, a man 16 years her junior. They had no children. Eliza Jane died in 1923 and Herbert died in a fire in Hobart in 1934. Thomas Tapner is noted in the local Post Office directory of 1890-91 and listed as a labourer of Maria Island. Thomas died in Hobart in 1930.

Extracts from the book, "Spring Bay, Tasmania": " John and James Cotton arrived at Sandspit (Rheban) c 1858 with men and equipment in a whaleboat to begin clearing the land to which they gave the temporary name of "Mains'l Haul", later Earlham. Thomas Dunbabin claimed in "A Farm at World's End" that the Dunbabin's whaleboat, "Marie Laure" could carry 90 hoggets (young sheep) to and from Maria Island. She was also rowed in the 1879 Spring Bay Regatta, crewed by Bill and Tom Tapner, George Franklin the blacksmith, Jim Morley, Thomas Dunbabin, with the steersman Captain Nat Hopwood of the "Guiding Star".

Oyster cultivation was started in Spring Bay in 1868. The book states that:" An experienced fisherman, W.Tapner had sold several thousand in 1884". Neil Blake, a local fisherman, believes that the Tapner family laid bricks and slate for the oyster spat to settle on, near Woodstock, Triabunna, on a point known as Bricky Point." Amongst the oyster leaseholders were listed Blanche and W.C. (William Charles) Tapner". Of interest here is that William Charles died at the age of 6 years, so William possibly registered two leases in the names of his two children. William Tapner was regarded by the "Tasmanian Mail" as one of the experts in oyster farming.

There is a Mrs Tapner mentioned as one of the local midwives in the 1890s, but no christian name is mentioned, but it is most likely to be have been Elizabeth Bethel Tapner as Lucy Amelia Tapner died in 1890.

There are four Tapner graves in the Triabunna Municipal Cemetery for Elizabeth (Eliza) Tapner, William Tapner, William Charles Tapner and Lucy Amelia Tapner. The inscriptions are listed in "Living Stones", Volume 2 with the artist's sketch of the family graves. There is a "Tapner Lane' in Triabunna, probably the only historical connection to the Tapner family in Tasmania.

Copies of the Convict Conduct Sheet and Indent Sheet for Charles Tapner have been received from the Archives Office of Tasmania.

Copies of the last Will and Testament of William Tapner and a Letter of Administration of the Estate of Lucy Amelia Tapner have been received from the Probate Division of the Supreme Court of Tasmania on 19th July 1999. The Will of William Tapner was signed on the 25th September 1902, the day prior to his death. It is noted also that he signed both his Will and the Letter with his mark. He was probably unable to read and write. In William's will it states that his home would be used by the children's Aunt, Marie Carter during her lifetime. There is no record of a Marie Tapner, nor is there a record of Lucy Amelia having a sister. However as all the Tapners were registered, it is reasonable to assume that Marie is a sister of Lucy Amelia, as her birth was not registered, if indeed she was born in Tasmania.

A group photo has been received showing a group of early pioneers in Triabunna region and published in the Central Coast Courier (Tasmania). Included are William Tapner and "Aunt" Marie Carter - so the mystery is solved. A piano mentioned in William's will is still in existence and is owned by the Howell family.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists the death of Private William Tapner (Regimental number 945), 40th Bn, Australian Infantry. AIF, on 4th October 1917. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Tapner , of 46 George St., North Hobart. A native of Triabunna, Tasmania. He is remembered at the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium. Gordon Tapner of Cheltenham, Victoria remembers William as his Uncle Bill and says that he was "blown to bits" and his body was never found.

10.12.2007
Further information will be added as it comes to hand.

Submitted to this site by
John William Tapner
9 Combe Place, West Pymble, NSW 2073 Australia
Ph: 02 9498 7024 International +61 2 9498 7024
Email: * John Tapner
John Tapner 2007. All rights reserved

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Submitted 30-Jan-2005
Updated 17-Aug-2010