Penelope Lovesy 24/05/2020 12:08:49
In the eighteenth century the English legal system was hard and sometimes cruel. People could be executed for crimes such as theft and forgery - they would be sentenced to death. A lesser punishment was transportation. This involved people being shipped abroad to work in Britain’s colonies. A favourite destination was America where Britain ruled the Thirteen Colonies. In 1783 Britain acknowledged American independence and Australia became the main place to send our convicts.
In March 1768 three people were brought before the court at the Guildhall in Poole.
William Handyman was convicted of forgery. The sentence was “Let him be hanged by the neck until he be dead”.
Elizabeth Ridout was convicted of felony. The sentence was “Let her be transported to some of his majesty’s colonies or plantations in America for the term of seven years”.
Thomas Sherrenham was acquitted. “Let him be discharged”.
We do not know the nature of Elizabeth’s felony but she may have been an accomplice of William Handyman, the forger. We do know that she travelled by the ship John and Betsy and she was handed over to the authorities in New York on 15th July 1768.
Post script: An Elizabeth Ridout was also named as one of the women involved in a food riot in 1737.