Before the Court Again

George and Mary Ann Tickle (nee Hill) were both convicts when they married. The government encouraged convict marriages as they wanted to develop a free colony in Australia, rather than have it remain simply a penal settlement. in order to achieve this they sentenced many female convicts to transportation. These were mainly young, single women, who had often been domestic servants. The majority were first time offenders convicted for minor theft.

Mary Ann was born in Gloucestershire. She was transported to New South Wales in 1835, at the age of 17. Within a year she was married to Thomas George Bishop, a 32 year old convict. He drowned in 1840 and soon afterwards she married George Tickle.

Once convicts such as George and Mary had served their time, they were free to remain in Australia. Many became law-abiding and successful settlers. But sometimes the path was not smooth.

In 1861 Mary Tickle was sentenced to two months imprisonment for attempting to stab her husband and their son, George Junior, while the worse for drink. George Tickle alleged that Mary often became very excited after drinking and he was afraid to leave sharp knives in the house.

The newspapers reported that:

The prisoner’s husband, GeorgeTickle, came home from work on the 5th or 6th of October, and found his wife in an excited state, through taking drink ; he made some remarks on her conduct, and was sitting down to supper, when she caught him a blow on the top of the eyebrow with a knife, causing a small wound. The prisoner’s son, George Tickle Junior, also came into the house about the same time, and in consequence of making some remark similar to that which his father had made, she attempted to strike him immediately after, but was unable to effect her purpose, as he caught hold of her. The knife with which the assault was committed was blunt at the point, the prisoner’s husband having been obliged, in consequence of her excitable disposition, to permit only blunt knives to be in the house. To questions put by the prisoner, both her husband and son denied having called her a ” drunken sow” and a more approbrious name, which she alleged they did. The apprehending constable said that the prisoner was intoxicated when he took her in charge, and that she said, ” The bloody wretch that was going to send her to gaol, she would have his bloody life”.

There were no witnesses for the defence. His Honor summed up. The Jury, without retiring, found a verdict of guilty of common assault. The prisoner was sentenced to be imprisoned in Maitland gaol for two months.

Some female convicts had little choice in the matter of marriage, and we don’t know what Mary had been subjected to during her years as a prisoner. She served her sentence and was released. The couple had several children. The information I have to date is:

Henry Tickle, their second son, also appears in the court records. In 1868 he was accused of raping a neighbour, Rosanna Boggs. Although only 16 years old, Rosanna had been married for 3 months. The incident occurred while her husband, a shepherd, was at work one evening. Rosanna appears to have been in the company of Henry’s younger sister, Martha, at her home. Someone (it was disputed whether it was Martha Tickle or Rosanna Boggs) screamed loudly, causing several young men nearby to come running to assist them, including Henry Tickle. Rosanna then invited three of the company to stay for a while.

The two young men, in the absence of seats, placed themselves on the floor, with their backs against a slab partition. By way of entertaining her company, it still appeared, from the evidence for the defence, she had recourse to practical joking, such as poking Russell in the back with a knife passed between the slabs, potting her arm round his neck, pushing him on her bed, and throwing a pint of water in bis face to prevent him fainting. The manners ot the mistress of the place rather surprised her visitors.

The alleged rape took place later that evening. As is often the case with rape, it was a question of his word against hers.

[Rosanna Boggs] in cross-examination, denied that she had been guilty of any freedom towards the prisoner, or that on the evening in question she had conducted herself with any impropriety, or had at any time been false to her husband. Her statement of the circumstances was that, during the stay of prisoner, Russell, and Caroline Tickle, the two latter were skylarking; that all three left, to go away together; that when she had gone into her bed-room to get a candle the prisoner came in after her, took her by the hands, forced her on the bed, and, in. spite of her struggles, committed the offence. 

George and Mary were witnesses for the defence. Mary Tickle declared that;

She, her husband, her daughter Lizzy, and Russell all deposed that the husband of the prosecutrix had on the Wednesday—two days after the crime was alleged to have been committed—told them that his wife had accused the prisoner of committing the rape; that at the time he had evinced jealousy and suspicion, and had himself described her as a most abandoned and lying woman; also, that he had extorted confessions from her by a course of brutal treatment.

After impassioned arguments by the prosecution and defence, the judge apparently summed up the evidence, It took the jury a mere 15 minutes to deliver a Not Guilty verdict on Henry.

One of the people mentioned in the case was a Tom Tickle. I can find no trace of George and Mary having a son, Thomas, but Mary had a son, Thomas George, from her first marriage. I believe he may have taken his step-father’s name. Another Tickle mentioned was Caroline. I am unclear who this was, as again I can find no daughter named Caroline, but perhaps it could be Catherine with her name mis-transcribed in the court or newspaper records.

I’ll return to this family at a future date. Meanwhile, if you are descended from any of the Tickles I’d love to hear from you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *