I probably need to get out more, but a few days ago, I ran my surname through querypic, looking to see if there were any reports relating to George or Thomas Moncur.
I didn’t turn up anything relating to them but I did turn up this notice about an absconding Moncur in 1828:
As a notice it’s quite informative – it tells us that John Moncur, who was transported on the Minstrel – which sailed and arrived in 1825, and that when he absconded from the road gang he was 21 years old, making him seventeen or eighteen when he arrived in 1825.
Well our old friend the Scots Magazine with its record of court proceedings helps tie this down:
but as you can see, it’s one of these cases where digitisation went a little askew.
A bit of hunting showed that there was also a report of court proceedings in the Scotsman, but the Scotsman digital archive wants to charge you eight quid for two days access, which I thought was a little excessive for a couple of column inches.
Fortunately the Scotsman is included in the State Library’s Proquest subscription, so after a few minutes scratching about to find my login details I had my report:
The Scotsman described him as fifteen or sixteen, assume he was sixteen when convicted in December 1824, he could plausibly be seventeen when he arrived in August 1825.
Given that a lot of poorer classes – labourers, farmworkers etc, – in the Georgian era were a bit vague about their age and date of birth, it’s quite possible that he didn’t know his birthday and was judged to be sixteen.
So, he should have been easy to find. But he isn’t. No John Moncur shows up in the convict register.
It’s another good old transcription error – he’s listed as John Mancor
on the convict records website, albeit with Moncure being given as an alias.
His conviction record ties in with the report in the Scotsman
so we can be reasonably certain it’s him.
Unfortunately I can’t trace him beyond 1828 – none of the newspapers report him (as Moncur, Mancor, or Moncure) as being recaptured – it’s possible he’s in the convict records somewhere, but I havn’t looked very hard.
There’s a takeaway to this – be aware of aliases, different spellings and just plain old transcription errors, especially when searching old records …