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Within the recesses of my memory, you will find fond recollections of sitting at my Grandma’s kitchen table, looking through old photos and listening to her talking about my convict ancestor. As I grew up I attended a few of the Barratt reunions in virtual ignorance. I knew who my convict ancestor was but it wasn’t until I started my family tree that I gained a better appreciation for the man who started a whole generation of Barratt descendents within Western Australia. He is, without a doubt, the reason why I was inspired to learn about my family.
Enoch Pearson Barratt (my Great x 4 Grandfather) was born in Northamptonshire in England in 1812. Around 1838, at the age of 26, he married Mary Ann Fleming and together they had four children, Elizabeth Mary Barratt (born on 4 December 1839 in Newport Pagnell), James Enoch Barratt (born on 8 October 1845 in Deptford – my Great x 3 Grandfather), Emma Matilda Barratt (born on 23 December 1848 also in Deptford) and Frederick Pearson Barratt (born on 28 December 1856 in Perth).
In the year of 1841, Enoch (living with his wife, Mary Ann and daughter, Elizabeth in the North End of Newport Pagnell) supported his small family by working as an agricultural labourer. Ten years later and now residing at 25 Grove Lane in Deptford St Paul in Kent (with Mary Ann, Elizabeth and two new additions, James and Emma), Enoch was employed as a Switch Turner for London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway Company. He had been working for them for more than five years and it was known that whilst in this position he had received a gratuity for good conduct.
It was also in this year that Enoch (along with his brother George) was brought to the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London charged with stealing various articles from his employer. He was also charged with receiving stolen goods. On 12 May 1851, he was found guilty of these charges and was sentenced to transportation for ten years.
It would be some time before Enoch would be transported and until that date, he was imprisoned in Newgate Prison in London. It was here that he remained until 3 May 1852 when he departed from Plymouth on the ship “William Jardine” bound for Western Australia. He arrived in Fremantle on 1 August 1852.
Convict number 1338; he is listed as being a married labourer with three children. He is 5′ 6 1/4″ tall with dark brown hair and grey eyes. His face is round; his complexion is described as sallow and his build stout. Other distinguishing marks noted include a bite by a dog on his right arm as well as the forefinger on his left hand being broken at the joint.
Mary Ann and the children soon followed Enoch out to the new colony and they arrived in Western Australia on 23 March 1854 on the ship “Victory”. During Enoch’s sentence he often worked for various colonists as a gardener until he was pardoned in 1856. Deciding to make the most of his gardening skills, he started selling various plants. Currently residing with his family on Murray Street (his land fronted it and ran the full length to Wellington Street), he utilised the nearby wetlands to grow his plants and in effect started one of the first nurseries in Western Australia. Note: Today’s Shafto Lane was once named Barratt Lane after the family.
It was also during the year of 1856 that Mary Ann gave birth to their fourth child, Frederick who was their first and only child to be born in Western Australia.
In 1868, Enoch applied for and obtained the position of Government Gardener for the site now known as Stirling Gardens (in front of the Supreme Court). Back in those days the gardens were home to various fruit trees which were of course very popular with the children of the colony. A description of Enoch and his encounters with these children is found in the book The People of Perth:
But the Gardens had other attractions, notably the fruit trees which were fair game for the young and nimble. And quick they had to be, because old Enoch Barratt, the ex-convict caretaker, carried a large knobbed stick which he had been known to use (or so it was said) on some luckless children.
Enoch remained employed in this position until his retirement in 1880.
After nearly 40 years of marriage, on 11 February 1877, Enoch’s wife, Mary Ann passed away. Later that year however on 25 October 1877, at the ripe old age of 65, Enoch remarried. He and Maria Church (a lady who was also widowed) said their vows in the Trinity Congregational Church on St Georges Terrace.
Enoch Pearson Barratt lived for many more years in Western Australia with Maria and was surrounded by his children, grandchildren and even some great grandchildren until he passed away on 14 December 1895 at the age of 83. He was laid to rest in East Perth Cemetery in the family plot with his first wife Mary Ann.
Though he will have been deceased for 115 years this December, he has by no means been forgotten. The story of his life will forever be remembered, researched and retold by all of his descendents.
- Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]
- Ancestry.com. Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 [database on-line]
- Reakes, J., comp. Australian Convict Index, 1788-1868 [database on-line]
- Ancestry.com. 1841 & 1851 England Census [database on-line]
- Old Bailey Online (http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=def2-1219-18510512&div=t18510512-1219#highlight)
- Convicts to Australia (http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/con-wa6.html)
- The People of Perth; C.T. Stannage; Published by Perth City Council in 1979; Page 108.
- Western Australian Births, Deaths & Marriages (http://www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au/)
- West Australian Gardener Magazine; John Viska; Volume 31; No. 3 Spring 2003
- East Perth Cemetery website (http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/graves/intro.htm)