George Vicary/Vickery

Born in Shobrooke in 1817, George Vicary was the fourth of John and Mary Vicary’s nine children. His father was a farm labourer, and the family lived at Little Silver, in the centre of Shobrooke.

In July 1840, with two other lads, Elsworthy and Radford, of Silverton, he stole food from his former master, George Gill in Silverton.


Here is the newspaper report of his trial in Exeter on 23 July 1840

Burglary. William Elsworthy, James Radford, and George Vickery, charged with stealing provisions and gin from the house of George Gill, of Silverton, on the 18th July. Mr. Kekewich appeared for the prosecution. He called Jane Gill: I am wife of George Gill, of Silverton. On the 18th of July I went bed at 10 o'clock, and saw the house safely fastened. The dairy window was safe. I had pork, cheese, bread, butter, and nearly a gallon of gin in a jar the dairy. On the next morning the dairy window was broken so that a person could get through. A variety of articles of food were stolen, and the jar of gin. George Gill, farmer of Silverton. On the 19th of July I saw the dairy window broken, and found several articles stolen. The prisoner Vickery had been apprenticed to me and worked with me the day before the robbery. When the prisoners were in custody I asked Vickery how he came to do it and when, and he said at one o'clock in the morning. He also said he had a scythe that I missed. Elsworthy said they found the doors of the yard open, and that the beef which they took away was very dry, but they had eaten a pudding and pie which they took.  James Talbot, a constable, searched a linhay near where Elsworthy lived, and found there a bag and jar of gin. There was bread and cheese in the bag, and both were covered over with reed. The name “George Gill” was on the bag. I watched from neighbouring window whence I could see through the linhay. I saw the prisoner go into the linhay and remove the reed, and in about ten minutes he left. I went early next morning to the loft, and found that the cork had been taken from the jar, and some hay put there instead. I then found some bacon in another part of the linhay. I watched on Monday, and saw Elsworthy come and drink some of the gin. They were apprehended on Tuesday. Thomas Way watched with last witness, and corroborated his testimony. Thomas Dewdney, farmer of Silverton, knew Mr. Hopkin's linhay, and saw man like Radford come from it on Sunday morning. Benjamin Thomas corroborated part of James Talbot's testimony. Edward Walland, farmer, of Silverton, searched Vickery's lodgings, and his box, which was locked; in it were two pieces of cheese. Vickery acknowledged that he had stolen the cheese from Mr. Gill. [Part of the property was now produced, and identified by Mr. Gill—it consisted of a jar of gin, five loaves of black bread, some cheese pieces, and three whole cheeses, and some large pieces of bacon.] The prisoner Radford called Ann Davie, who swore that he lodged in her house, and that he was not out of her house on the night the robbery. He came home at ten o'clock and remained all night. The house was a mile from Mr. Gill's. A friend happened to come in and they all staid up till half-past two in the morning, when Radford went to bed in room next to the kitchen. A young man, called Joseph Ireland, slept with him. She went to bed and went to sleep. Her daughter staid up till half-past three, as she staid up to take care her father who had got rather drunk. Cross-examined— There is a sort of attachment on the part of the prisoner for my daughter. They used to go “iteming” about together and the like of that. Her husband's house is not a beer house. Prisoner walked part of the way home to Chitterly with her daughter on the night in question. She did not sleep very sound that night. She saw prisoner in bed the next morning between seven and eight o'clock. John Pedrick gave Vickery a very good character for nearly 12 months, during which he had lodged with him. Mary Pedrick, wife of last witness, corroborated his testimony. The Judge then proceeded to sum up the evidence to the jury.—Each 10 years transportation.

The three prisoners were first taken to the prison hulk “Stirling Castle” moored at Devonport until their convict ship “Somersetshire” sailed for Tasmania in November 1841.

On the voyage some of the convicts and crew conspired to mutiny and take over the ship. The plot was foiled; the ship put into the Cape of Good Hope where one of the crew was executed. The ship continued its journey uneventfully, arriving in Hobart in May 1842.

James Radford was killed within a few months of arriving in Tasmania by “the fall of a tree in Victoria Valley”.


George Vicary obtained his certificate of freedom in 1852 and probably left Tasmania and went to the Australian mainland.

Back to Shobrooke