FF JOSEPH TUSO Convict ‘Scarborough’ (c1769-1825)

Joseph Tuso was just 14 when he was tried for Violent Theft - highway robbery, 7th July 1784.

JOSEPH TUSO (aged FOURTEEN) was indicted for feloniously assaulting John Ansell , on the King’s highway, on the 26th of May last, and putting him in fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person and against his will, one walking cane, value 5 s. three guineas, value 3 l. 3 s. and one half guinea, value 10 s. 6 d. and 3 s. in monies numbered, his property .
The witnesses examined apart at the request of the prisoner.

Do you know the prisoner? - Yes very well.
Was you at any time robbed, and when? - On the 26th of May, in Stepney Churchyard .
Was it in a high road? - Yes.
What was you robbed of? - I was robbed of three guineas and a half, and some silver, and a cane.
Who robbed you? - There was a great man, a great thief, came and stood behind the church dead wall, and I thought it had been a post, squatting down in this manner, and it had been raining the whole day, and the place was deeper than common, it took me up to the knees; there was a great thief, and I thought the great thief had been a post, and I looked to the lane end to see if there was any thieves, and I could see nobody but a thing that I thought was a post, and when I came at him he was a great tall man, and he whipped up in this fashion; and this little thief clapped his hand at me, and stopped my mouth, and the other thief, as I compute, knocked me down.
Court. What hour was this? - To the best of my knowledge, it wanted about a quarter to eleven at night.
Then the great thief knocked you down? - Yes.
Who took your money? - The great thief also, I was hardly sensible , for they threw me among the dirt; I was all water and dirt; it was as deep - as deep - I could feel his hand against my thigh, he cut my breeches pocket, and took my money and my cane.
What way did the prisoner assist? - Please you, my Lord, this little thief ran away.
What part did he take in it? - He clapped his hand to my mouth, and stopped my breath.
Was that after you was down? - Before I did fall.
How did he reach you? - He did, I was as near him as I am to these gentlemen; I saw his face, and I saw his dress, and I know him properly; I never saw him before.
Jury. Was you sober? - O yes, I am never drunk.
How soon after did you take the prisoner? - I cried out murder! and fire! and stop thief! and the watch came directly, and I followed him and took him; when they called stop thief, this little thief said, I am after the thief.
What is the watchman’s name? - I am studying, it is an odd name; but he is somewhere out, if you will please to call him.

I am a watchman. I had just done crying the hour of ten, it wanted about a quarter of eleven, and I heard somebody cry out murder! murder! for Christ’s sake! for the Lord’s sake! fire and murder! I ran up to his assistance, the prisoner at the bar was a little distance off, I kept sight of him till I got the gentleman up, then I asked him what was the matter, he said he had just been knocked down, I ran after the prisoner, and I took him.
Did you keep him in sight all the whole time? - Yes, we brought him down to the watch-house, and they scrupled to take him in; then I charged Mr. Orange with him.
You was not present at the robbery? - No, I came immediately as I heard the gentleman cry out.
What was the prisoner doing then? - He was running along, crying out stop thief! stop thief! Here are the gentleman’s breeches that were cut, and the shirt that he was knocked down in, and the stock where the blood was.
Court. No part of his property is in that bundle? - Orange and Cole were with me.
Prisoner. I have nobody to call but a poor father.
Jury. Was it moon-light? - Yes, as broad as the day.
Court to Prisoner. How old are you? - Fourteen.
Court to Jury. Gentlemen, the part the prisoner took in this, if you believe the prosecutor is right, is sufficient to constitute him a party in the robbery, for if he was present when the robbery was committed, and acting with one common intent with the person that knocked him down, it makes him equally guilty.
Jury to Prosecutor. When did you see the prisoner again after you was robbed? -
That very night, as soon as I could walk, but I could not walk without the watchman’s help.


GUILTY:Death. Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice Ashurst.

He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted on the 23rd February 1785 to transportation for life. On 19 March 1785 he was reprieved to life transportation to Africa and sent to the Ceres hulk on 5 April, aged 17.


He was ordered to Portsmouth by wagon on 24 February 1787 and embarked on 27 February, He left England on 13 May 1787 on the ‘Scarborough’ sailed with 208 male convicts on board. There were no reported deaths during the voyage, and the ship arrived on 26 January 1788.


At Port Jackson on 9 January 1790 a charge of theft of shoes against Joseph was dismissed. Joseph was sent to Norfolk Island aboard the ‘HMS Sirius’ in March 1790, where he was constantly in trouble. On 11th June 1790 he was sentenced to 50 lashes for neglect of duty along with Charles Repeat (Convict Alexander)


On 7 July 1790 Ralph Clark wrote: Lieut Johnstone came out to inform us that the two convicts that had absconded the 28 of June from their work were brought in as also Josh Touso who had left his work on Saturday last and that he Supposed that the[y] would be tried tomorrow or next day and that we all Should be Sent for”.


On 9 July 1790 Joseph, who had left his work without permission and two convicts Benjamin Ingram (Convict Scarborough) , David Lankey (Convict Scarborough) that had absconded on 28 June from their work were tried at a General Court Martial On the following day all three were sentenced to receive each 300 lashes on their bare backs. The punishment was for stealing a fellow convict’s shirt, leaving their work and sheltering in the woods.John Hunter described them as “many of the very worthless characters”.


On 20 December 1790 Joseph left his work at Charlotte Field and ran into the woods after refusing a work  order (punishable by flogging) by the Superintendent Mr Dodge-‘I hope he will never return for he is a Great Rascal’ wrote Ralph Clark(2nd Lieutenant Friendship). Joseph surrendered on 25 December (Christmas Day) 6 days later and was put in irons.

By July 1791, Joseph had cleared 110 rods of a Sydney Town lot, on which he was subsisting with two persons, but he continued to be in trouble. On 27 October 1791 he was ordered 100 lashes for disobedience and neglect of duty,along with Charles Gray (Convict Alexander) was just 22 years of age. Again, on 18 April 1792, he received 25 lashes for theft of government corn, and was ordered to work in the gaol gang.Joseph Tuso was returned to Sydney aboard the ‘Atlantic’ in September 1792


Years passed and once again Joseph found himself on Norfolk Island travelling aboard ‘HM Brig Supply’ on 23 March 1796, this time as a private in the NSW Corps. Joseph became a member of the “Boat Crew” who helped with the landing of people and provisions from ships at Norfolk Island such as he is recorded for the ‘Reliance’mid November to early December 1799. He is noted on Norfolk Island victualling lists as departing on 12 March 1802 to Sydney aboard the ‘Francis’


Almost certainly he was the Joseph Tuzo who mustered on Investigator as an ordinary seaman from London, aged 31 on 16 June 1802 at Port Jackson, and in July 1802 Joseph received his Absolute Pardon. He is now 33 some 19 years since his conviction at 14. Matthew Flinders commanded that ship on this voyage circumnavigating and charting the coast of Australia. Joseph was discharged at Port Jackson on 21st July 1803 at the end of the voyage.


In the colony, Joseph married Sarah Ward (Convict ‘Indispensible’1809) on 12 March 1810 at St Phillips Sydney. The witnesses were William Blake and Mary Blake. He was appointed Constable of Sydney in November 1813. His marriage was evidently pretty short lived because Joseph and Sarah had separated by late 1814, and soon after, he was living with Rebecca Goldsmith (Convict, ‘Friends’ 1811).


The couple had three children.-Mary Ann (c1812), Pricilla(c1815) and Johanna (c1818). plus William, a stepson, (Convict’s Child Friends 1811) who had come free with his mother, was aged 14 in 1822.


In 1819 Joseph sold a house at Cockle bay and is 1820 was listed as married and holding land in Kent Street Sydney. In 1821 Joseph received a land grant at Cockle Bay Sydney, after requesting land in July 1820 to help him to provide future support for his family of 4 children (which included his stepson William)


In March 1822 Sarah Ward, was found guilty of stealing wearing apparel, the property of Mary Starkey and sentenced to 3 years transportation to Newcastle. She was transported aboard the Elizabeth Henrietta


Also, in 1822, age 53, Joseph was recorded as a dealer at Sydney holding an Absolute Pardon, and he died on 4th October 1825 Sydney age 56. He was buried on 6 October 1825 at the Devonshire Street Cemetery Sydney. The remains were reinterred in 1901 to Botany Cemetery when Devonshire St Cemetery was resumed for Central Station.The Australian 6 October 1825 Died “On Tuesday last, Mr. Joseph Tuzo, an inhabitant of this Colony since its first establishment”.


Joseph left a will that gave his property to Pricilla and Johanna with Rebecca as sole executrix and trustee. She was to get an equal share when the girls turned 21.The estate consisted of three cottages in Prince Street and Fort Sydney. “Each Cottage contains 6 rooms, with a cellar and out-offices, and the convenience of an entrance in Fort-street, nearly opposite the Signal-post; two of the Cottages are now renting at the low rate of £100 per annum”, these were auctioned off in October 1831 as part of the estate of late Joseph Tuzo


To his first wife Sarah he left the sum of one shilling. Sarah remarried in 1824 to George Ison (Convict Eliza 1 -1820) at Parramatta and she was noted as a housekeeper to Vestas Tongue at Patrick's Plains.in 1834. She died in 1860 at Singleton NSW. Sarah and George had one daughter Mary (1827-1901)


In 1828 Rebecca was at Kent Street working as a charwoman aged 45 with her two younger daughters and living with Samuel Power, age 36 years,(Convict  Neptune 1818.). Rebecca died in 1831, also at Sydney, aged 51.

Pricilla Tuzo married John Baylis in 1832 when she was 17 and they had 11 children - 5 boys and 6 girls). Pricilla died in 1901 at Wattle Flat aged 86.Her husband John had been born in 1808 at Windsor and died in 1880 at Kelso NSW aged 72


Johanna Tuzo married Benjamin Baylis in 1837 when she was 19 and he was just 16.They also had 11 children-6 boys and 5 girls. Johanna died 1878 at Bathurst aged 60. Her husband Benjamin had been born in 1818 and died in 1872 at Windsor NSW aged 51. He was buried at St Matthews.


Both Tuzo girls had married into the Baylis family as their husbands, John and Benjamin, were brothers, the sons of Joseph Bayliss/Bayless/ (Marine Private Surprize) and Ann Taylor. (Convict Earl Cornwallis)


Compiled by John Boyd 2020, from an original article by Phil Hands, 14.11 2017



-The Founders of Australia by Mollie Gillen p363

- Sydney Cove 1788 to 1800 in 5 Volumes by John Cobley

-The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts by John Cobley

-Convict Records:-www.convictrecords.com.au/convicts/tuso/joseph/57051



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