OMANT, Ickleford, Early 19th century

June 2002

Les Clark (jclar @t of Mount Macedon, Victoria, Australia, asks:  Can you please point me in the direction of obtaining information on "Thomas OMANT", born 18/6/1818, of "Manderville Hall, Ecclesford". Ancestors and family station would be of interest, also maps of the period. He was Transported to Tasmania [Van Dieman's Land] Australia for stealing 15/4/1837.

Although there are discrepancies I would guess that the Thomas Omant you mention is the 19 year old Thomas Omant of Ickleford who appeared before the 1836 Hertfordshire Midsummer Quarter Sessions and was sentenced to transportation for life. He was found guilty of larceny with Daniel Newberry of Ickleford (who only got 7 years transportation) for taking an iron pot, value 6 shillings, an iron grate, value 5 shillings, and 100lbs of iron, value 3 shillings, the property of Elizabeth Robinson. They also took an iron gate, value 3 shillings, and 50lbs of iron, value 2 shillings, from Charles Princett. He was one of 10 Hertfordshire men who were transported to Van Diemen's Land on the Blenheim, (Captain T L Spence, Surgeon George Birnie), sailing on 15th March 1837 and arriving on 16th July. [Source: Transported beyond the Seas]

I have also seen references to the surname Omant from Ickleford (which is just north of Hitchin) and the nearby Bedfordshire villages of Holwell (Holywell) and Shillington which could be relatives of Thomas.

It is not clear from your question what sources you have already consulted, and you give no background information of the type requested in My Ancestors Emigrated from Hertfordshire. Because of my current situation (see message on the Home page) I have less time than usual to answer questions and I may be able to help you further once you have studied the general advice pages on this site - and checked at least some of the common sources - such as familysearch (online) and the British Vital Records Index (preferably the new CD edition) which everyone researching their English roots should know how to use. You may find old maps (online) helpful to get to know the geography of the area where Thomas lived. It may that there are references to Omant on parts of the Rootsweb site, and if one is lucky the Guild of One Names Studies. If you can have a look at the 1841 and 1851 census microfilms for Ickleford, Holwell and Shillington you may also be able to find references to people who are Thomas's parents or siblings. Once you have got a bit more information, post me details and I may be able to help further.

I don't know if there is a nearer family history society which could help you but there are excellent genealogical facilities in Melbourne which is no great distance from Mount Macedon by Australian standards. (I know first hand, having driven from Melbourne to Hanging Rock for a Christmas barbecue a few years ago!)

April 2003

Diane Omant (robersons @t of Hobart, Tasmania, sent a message which included: Thomas Omant from Ickleford Hertfordshire was transported for life years to Van Diemans Land (now Tasmania Australia) for stealing in 1837.  He had previous convictions recorded - one being poaching and assault at Ickleford, Herts.  The source of my information has come from The State Archives of Tasmania on Thomas Omant's "Convict papers". I am not sure where "Manderville Hall" fits into my puzzle.  But reference is made to "Manderville Hall" on a Microfische recording Thomas Omant from Manderville Hall Ecclesford Herts arriving as a convict.  This lists Thomas's occupation as Shepherd / Ploughman / Milk at Ecclesford Herts. Thomas's mothers name was Mary "Newberry" Omant hence the connection with Daniel Newberry (who was Thomas's accomplice was transported for 7 years) my research confirms Daniel as a first cousin to Thomas

Unfortunately I can not locate Daniel Newberry arriving as a convict to Van Diemans Land or Port Jackson New South Wales as a convict at that time.  I have obtained copies of Parish Registration for the births [baptisms?] of Thomas & Daniel - basic stating birth dates, parents, fathers occupation (labourer) and registration.  No mention of Manderville. Family hearsay tells me that Thomas's older brother James (whom Thomas sponsorded to V.D.L some years later with his wife and 7 children) was approached by a wealthy uncle from Manderville for one of his sons to be left in his care  - to be brought up as a gentleman and educated correctly (reference "Sailing into Adventure" written by Gladys A Hamilton, James Omant's granddaughter)

The book Transported beyond the Sea lists Thomas Omant (aged 19) and Daniel Newberry (aged 19) as being convicted in 1836 at the Hertford Midsummer Quarter Sessions for stealing an iron pot value 6 shillings, and iron grate value 5 shillings and 100 lbs of iron value 3 shillings from Elizabeth Robinson, and also with stealing an iron gate value 3 shillings and 50 lbs of iron value 2 shillings belonging to Charles Pincett, labourer.

Thomas Omant was sentenced to transportation for life, leaving on 3 March 1837 aboard the Blenheim and arriving in Van Dieman's Land on 15 July 1837. Daniel Newberry was transported for 7 years, leaving on 4 August 1837 aboard the Asia and arriving in New South Wales on 2 December 1837. 

Hopefully knowing the boat could help you trace Daniel Newberry in the Australian records. It is possible that HALS will have more information from the Quarter Session records.

As to "Manderville Hall" I have drawn a blank in the general Hertfordshire records and maps easily available to me, including the Victoria Count History of Hertfordshire. Ickleford is so small that I suspect that there there has been no major building, manor or farm of that name in the parish in the last 150 or more years. However anyone can call any building anything they like, and so proving the negative can be difficult. I also was unable to find anyone named Mandeville associated with Ickleford. It might be worth contacting the Hitchin Museum.

Of course the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire boundary in this area was very complex (it has now been redrawn) and the "Manderville Hall" may have been in Beds. It might also be the result of mis-recording at some stage (could "Manderville" be an error for nearby Meppershall, Beds?). [But see March 2004 update, below.] In addition many people who emigrated modified their English past in an upwardly mobile direction, knowing that they were unlikely to be found out. My experience is that most genuine family traditions have a grain of truth in them - the problem is finding out which bits are true, which are exaggerations or misunderstandings, and which are later embellishments.

November 2003

Diane Omant (robersons @t provides an update on her research: She writes: With your suggestion I have found Daniel Newberry arriving in Port Jackson New South Wales on the "Asia" 2nd December 1837.  I have obtained a copy of his "Ticket of Leave" but unfortunately I can not locate where Daniel was "assigned" after he arrived or a copy of his trial or records in Hertfordshire.  He married Margaret Jenkins in 1844 at St Lawrences Church Sydney. (State Records of NSW)  So far I have located only one child a daughter Ann born in 1867.  Daniel was in Braidwood Gaol New South Wales during the 1863/64 period but for what crime I have as yet to find out. (Braidwood NSW Gaol Records 1856-99) I have also found reference to him living at Monga in 1872 with the occupation of a farmer. (Grevilles Post Office Directory) Daniel died at the age of 57 in Braidwood.  I have also found a reference to Privates Harry Edwin & Charles Alfred Newberry at BraidwoodHarry Edwin been killed in action during the 1914-1919 conflict.  Perhaps these could be grandsons?  My hunt will continue.

March 2004

Diane Omant (robersons @t reports that I have finally discovered a huge piece to the puzzle re Thomas Omant and the Mandeville Hall query I had asked you. Norton Mandeville Hall is located at Gretna in Tasmania not in the Ickleford area of the U.K.

Such mistakes happen and complicate the work of the family historian. An example which catches many people out is when someone said where they were born on a census return but fails to add the county. The census enumerator then adds the county - failing to realise that there is more than one place with that name - and he has inserted the wrong county name!

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

email address updated May 2009