Oz ancestors trace convict’s footsteps

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Simon Hargreaves was once transported half way around the world after being caught with a boiled egg in one pocket.

Yesterday his Australian ancestors paid a visit to York Castle to see where he was once imprisoned.

Pam Naylor, her daughter Rachel and granddaughter Laura, from Melbourne, were in York, where Hargreaves was imprisoned in 1829 for stealing food.

Hargreaves, who lived in Leeds, was originally sentenced to death, but this was commuted to transportation for life.

After three unsuccessful escape attempts, Hargreaves eventually became a successful business owner in Australia and raised a family, including Pam’s great-granddad, also called Simon.

While in prison at York Castle, now York Castle Museum, Hargreaves wrote his name on the wall of an exercise yard, which can still be seen today.

Pam said: “Thanks to the research York Castle Museum has passed on to us, I know 
much more about Simon than I did. He had such an interesting life and I think it will be a 
great experience for us to see where he was held before transportation.”

Katie Brown, assistant curator of history at York Castle Museum, said: “It is always fascinating to meet direct descendants of the people who were imprisoned in York Castle.

“We are delighted that Pam has got in touch with us and we hope we can shed some light on Simon’s time in York Castle for them,” she added.

At the age of 18, Hargreaves 
was committed to York Castle Gaol on a charge of breaking into the house and stealing six loaves of bread, one pound of butter, one glass bottle, one pint of elderberry syrup, one pound of dripping and nine eggs on 22 May 1829.

A report of the trial in the Hull Packet and Humber Mercury indicates that Hargreaves’ arrest was a rather pathetic affair – he was apprehended with ‘a boiled egg in one pocket’.