I’ve been researching the great-uncle of a client. We started off with a notice in the NSW Police Gazette that he had been arrested for stealing money from the Government Savings Bank. A Sydney Morning Herald report of the trial at the Sydney Quarter Sessions showed that he had worked for the bank for 17 years and was sentenced to two years hard labour in Goulburn Gaol ‘to be made an example of’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Aug 1925, p.12).
For more information I needed a trip out to State Records NSW at Kingswood.
The Goulburn Gaol Entrance Book [7/13506] is an enormous volume requiring three pillows to support it. The Entrance Book gives:
- Entrance date
- Entrance number
- Gaol Number
- When, where and by whom committed
- Where born (with date of birth in this case)
- Ship and Year if born out of the colonies (it’s an old book)
- Height in feet and inches
- Colour of hair and eyes
- Remarks, which appeared to indicate whether this was a first imprisonment
- How and when disposed.
Our former bank employee was admitted to the prison on 10 September, along with some other prisoners. He’d been a bank manager, aged 36, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was disposed ‘To Tuncurry’ on 4 November 1925.
Tuncurry? I hadn’t realised there was a gaol at Tuncurry.
It turns out that Tuncurry hosted the first ‘Afforestation Camp’ in New South Wales. Tuncurry Afforestation Camp was a 6,000 acre property where prisoners were provided with ‘a modified form of prison life and the opportunity to acquire skills which could be used on release’. It makes sense – he was never going to be a bank manager again.
There are a number of volumes generated by the camp in its history from 1913 to 1938. The Entrance book shows some of the same information as the Goulburn book, without the physical description or birth date, and the final column shows that he was disposed ‘On license’ on Christmas Eve 1926. I imagine this was an early release for good behaviour, since his two years wasn’t up yet.
I had high hopes for the Visitors Book [5/1620] but I guess Tuncurry is a long way for family members to travel. Visitors weren’t as common as they are now. Few of the pages were actually used and the visitors were usually chaplains and surgeons, although there was a visit from the Governor of New South Wales and his entourage during my bank manager’s inprisonment. What a day that must have been!
I would love to know how this ex-bank manager got on after his year of planting trees. I do, however, know what happened to the prison camp: