James Tracey was born in Carlow, Ireland, in around 1820. In 1840, he was transported for life to Tasmania, Australia after he attacked a woman with a razor and tried to strangle her three times following her rejection of his romantic advances. He went on to became a convict Police-Constable in the small town of Colebrook, Tasmania for 10 years, working there even after his pardon was granted.
When gold was discovered in Victoria, he travelled with his family to Fryerstown in the Victoria goldfields to make his fortune.
In 1860, James Tracey was found to have stolen£44 and 5 ½ oz of gold, as well as several cheques and personal letters from a drunk customer at the grogshop owned by Tracey. He was convicted of petty theft and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment in chains. While he was in gaol, his wife Johanna began a relationship with one of the men who had testified against him and ensured his conviction, a William Rowell.
Upon James Tracey’s release, he returned to Fryerstown, where, in 1862, he witnessed William Rowell bury his eldest daughter Mary Ann after a Scarlet Fever epidemic. He was still living in Fryerstown in 1881. His place and date of death are unknown.
This is a timeline of his story told in historical documents…
23, 26 & 27 May and 29 & 30 June 1840 (FJ)
James Tracy, a footman in the service of Sir William Leeson over three and a half years, chamberlain of the Dublin Castle, was charged with an attempt to murder Susan Lloyd (about 24 years of age), a housemaid from England in the same service for about three and a half years...The prisoner...razor...spattered with blood, seemed to be about thirty years of age, of the middle stature, and by no means prepossessing appearance...Jealousy, it was supposed was the motive...It appeared that he had been pursuing her for the past eight months...he had written a letter to his master stating his intention to leave the next day...The jury retired, and after an absence of ten minutes returned a verdict of guilty on the count for wounding, with intent to do grievous bodily harm, but acquitted him on the capital charge.
2 July 1840 The Connaught Journal
Attempt At Murder In Dublin Castle.
James Tracy was placed at the bar, charged with that he, on the 21st day of May last, did wilfully, maliciously, unlawfully and feloniously assault one Susan Lloyd, and cut and wound here with a razor, with intent to murder her. He was also charged in another count with having committed the act with intent to disable here and do her grievous bodily harm.
Mr. Monaghan, Q.C. and Mr. M'Kane conducted the case on the part of the Crown.
Mr. J. Walsh attended as counsel for the prisoner.
Susan Lloyd was examined, and described the occurrence, as it has already appeared before the public.
Miss Rochford, the governess in Sir William Leeson's family, corroborated her testimony in several particulars.
Dr. Riud proved the nature of the wounds, which were not sufficient to cause immediate death.
The prisoner was found guilty of the minor charge, but acquitted of the capital felony.
30 June 1840, FJ
Mr. Baron Richards … his lordship addressed him [James Tracy] as follows:- You have been guilty of a cruel and sanguinary attack upon a helpless and unfortunate young woman, whom you ought to have protected. Nothing could be more atrocious- nothing more cruel, than your conduct on that occasion. The sentence I am about to pass on you is certainly one of very great severity. By the merciful view which the jury have taken of your crime your life has been spared. I never object to a jury taking the most merciful view of a case that they possibly can, when any ground whatever exists for it, as I think they are always right to lean on the side of mercy. However, if they had found you guilty of the more capital charge nothing could have saved your life; but as you are you will never again be allowed to go at large in this country. Where you are going to there are different degrees of punishment, varying in severity according to the length of time for which the culprit has been sentenced, and I can, therefore, apprize you that your punishment will not be of a light character. I now sentence you to be transported to some of her Majesty’s colonies beyond the seas, for the term of your natural life.
Irish Prison Registers 1790-1724
First name(s) James
Last name Tracey
Birth year 1818
Residence DUBLIN CITY
Residence county Dublin
Offence FELONIOUSLY WOUNDING WITH INTENT TO DISABLE
Register title DUBLIN-KILMAINHAM PRISON GENERAL REGISTER 1840-1850
Book no 1/10/31
Item no 4
Ireland-Australia Transportation Database (1780-1868)
Other Names: James
Place Of Trial: Dublin City
Trial Date: 20/06/1840
Crime Description: Malicious Assault Of Susan Lloyd. Intent To Disable, Feloniously Wounding
Sentence: Transportation Life
Document References: Tr 3, P 64
Document References: Crf 1840 T 13
Comments: Convict resides in Dublin City with his widowed mother.
Voyage Ship: British Sovereign
Voyage No: 172
Arrival Date: 17 Mar 1841
Departure Date: 16 Dec 1840
Departure Port: London & Dublin
Tried Dublin City 20 June 1840 - Life
Embarkd Dec 1840 Arrd 17 March 1841
Roman Catholic - Can read & write
Transported for Assaulting [crossed out] Feloniously Wounding with intent to disable Stated this offence assaulting a young woman attempted to ravish her but E. not accomplish it & so struck & cut her with a razor. Twas in liquor at the time. Single.
Na of offences.
Han? Employed. Hospital Man
Genl Conduct. Quick, Intelligent & Steady apparenila? a very mild disposition
Trade: Butler & Valet & Gentl Servant
Remarks. 2 moles on left cheek. Mole on rt. eyebrow.
Period of Probation. Two years.
Slakion of Gang SWC 18/Glar P.B. 22/7/42 L.B. 3/2/43 LK 17/4/43 P.B.
Class - 3rd 1st/ P.P. H 3 Class
Offences & Sentences
P.G.H. Expld 17 March 1843
7 July 43 E. Lord. Bothwell Disobce of orders. Fourteen days h. labr. S.B. 1 Jan 44 E. Lord. Bothwelly
Disoba of orders & refusing to work - Seven days solitary APM
20 March 1849 P.L.
Condl Pardon appd 13 July 1852
Cunning - good 3/42. 4/42 Good Grubling 5/42 Good 6/42 the same 7/42 Ob & verder ? 8/42 dof 9/42 ob? & orderly 10/42 Infecs v go? 11/42 Clo Serv 12/42 In & orderly
SIDE OF PAGE DATES from 1841 to 1852
26/4/43 Mr E.K. Lord Carlton Hill. Bothwell 8/4/44 Constabl Richmond
21.7.49 C Paefused must halda J E 2 yrs
To be recorded himself cond in appishen of 4 Cabh Henles C O 19/11/50
1.4.51 Recd Frm C.P
1841 NSW and Tasmania, Australia Convict Muster
Name: Tracey James; Ship: British Sovereign; In what service, or how employed: Salt Water Creek Duty
[wikipedia: “The Saltwater River area contained two penal settlements. One was an agricultural settlement, which produced vegetables, wheat, and had a piggery. The other was a coal mine, known amongst convicts for its hellish conditions. …Today, only ruins exist at the site, which include underground cells.”]
Hobart Town Gazette 1844 (page 449)
Police Department, 15th April, 1844.
The under-mentioned individuals have been appointed Constables for the Island of Van Diemen’s Land and its Dependencies, under the authority of the Act of Council, 2nd Victoria, No. 22 :-
…1687 James Tracey, British Sovereign, 9th ditto.
[Note: James Tracey was appointed to Jerusalem, a town now known as Colebrook, lying half way between Richmond and Oatlands, Tasmania, where buildings (and extensive ruins) from the 1840s can still be seenincluding the convict probation station, police station and court house.]
4 Sep 1847, The Courier (Hobart 1840-1859)
[CONSTABLE TRACEY MAKING AN ARREST.]
District Constable Beckley, on the 18th July, incompany with constables Tracey and Walsh, on nearing Tomkins's hut heard a dog bark, and immediately afterwards observed Benwell run out towards the tier.Tracey called on Benwell by name to stop, stating thathe had a warrant for his apprehension on a charge ofcattle-stealing. He continued to run away, when bothTracey and Beckley fired; he was not wounded, but soalarmed that he stopped …
1 Nov 1848, Hobarton Guardian or The True Friend of Tasmania
MONDAY, OCT. 30TH.
…Constable Tracey was charged with drunkenness, and sentenced to one months hard labour…
[13 Jul 1852, Tracey receives Conditional Pardon.]
[5 Aug 1852, Tracey marries Johanna Ahern, aged 18 at Richmond.]
[11 Aug 1853, Mary Ann Tracey born, Jerusalem (Colebrook).]
22 Feb 1854, Hobarton Guardian or The True Friend of Tasmania
[Snapshot of James Tracey’s very literate letter..]
Feb, 1854, Victoria Coastal Passenger Lists (1852-1924)
Ship Name: Tasmania; Departure: 2 Feb 1854, Hobart; Arrival: 22 Feb 1854, Melbourne; James Tracey, 34, Labourer & Joanna Tracey, 21, Labourer.
[1855, James Albert Tracey born, Fryer’s Creek.]
1856, Australia, Electoral Rolls (1903-1980)
James Tracey; Place of Abode: Fryer’s creek; Nature of Qualification: miner’s right
[c. 1857, Cath Eugenie Tracey born, no birth registered.]
[15 Jan 1860, Michael Tracey born, Vaughan.]
A map from the State Library Of Victoria showing building lots for sale at Butchers Gully, Vaughan, Fryers, and Kangaroo Creek on one sheet. There is only one block marched on the Butchers Gully quarter and the name attached is James Tracey. The map is date 26 August 1857. Butchers Gully is roughly 2km south of the township now know as Vaughan Springs. As the bridge across the Lodden is damaged, easiest road access is via Taralita.
1859 Fryers Creek (S. T. Gill)
17 Oct 1860, Mount Alexander Mail (Victoria, 1854-1917)
Thursday, October 11
(Before T. D. S. Heron, Esq., and Capt. Bull)
There were not less man 40 cases before before the Court today, the only two of much interest, however, were the following:—
James Tracey and Charles Cassidy, remanded from the 4th inst, on the charge of stealing £44, and 5½ ozs of gold, from the person of Robert Le Strangue of Kangaroo, were again brought up. Cassidy was discharged, there being no evidence against him, but Tracey was committed for trial.
2 Nov 1860, Mount Alexander Mail (Victoria, 1854-1917)
CASTLEMAINE CIRCUIT COURT.
Monday, October 20…
STEALING FROM THE PERSON
James Tracey was charged with stealing a portmonnaie, containing gold, notes, a cheque, and other property, from the person of Robert La Shangre, on the 1st October.
The prosecutor deposed that he lived at Butcher's Flat, and knew the prisoner, who kept a grog-shop.
On the day in question he was drinking at the prisoner's tent, and had at the time in his possession, a £10, two £5, and seventeen £1 notes, besides a cheque and five ounces and a half of gold. The £10 and £5 notes produced were the same, and he identified them by the numbers which be had previously taken. He got very drunk and did not remember much of what occurred…
William Rowell had seen the prosecutor at prisoner's tent, and heard him say that he had lost his money, but that he would let it rest till morning when he got perfectly sober, as he knew who had got it. About eleven o'clock next morning, a little girl named Cassidy found the prosecutor's purse under the stretcher where the prisoner was lying. It had no money in it but only a
cheque and some letters. Witness [William Rowell] with others had previously been searching for the money, Tracey then being in custody. When the police were about to remove him the prisoner said the money was in the garden fence, and it was found in a little place alongside the fence.
Mary Pickett, a servant in the prisoner's service, saw the prosecutor with a purse, which the prisoner took a note from, and gave Mrs Tracey to change.
Constable Monahan proved the arrest of the prisoner,and that the prosecutor denied all knowledge of either the gold or money, but subsequently said he would try to find the money.
Charles Cassidy and J. Ah Sin gave similar evidence.
In defence, the prisoner denied that he took the purse with any felonious intent, but merely to take care of it for the prosecutor.
His Honor summed up favorably for the prisoner, saying that as they were all in such a disgusting state of intoxication, it was impossible for the jury safely to convict him.
The jury retired for deliberation, and another case was proceeded with...
The jury in Tracey's case returned into Court, with a verdict of guilty. The prisoner was remanded for sentence.
[Sentence was “9 months in chains” – note on Brief VPRS 30/P0029/41]
[c. 1861, Annie Tracey born, no birth registered.]
[July/August, 1861- James Tracey due to be released from prison.]
[Jan 1862, William Tracey born, Butchers Gully.]
24 May 1862, Scarlet Fever in Fryerstown
[James Tracey is witness to his eldest daughter’s burial.]
Mary Ann Tracey; female 8 years; Scarlet Fever, Typoid Fever, 10 days, Certified J. B. Malcolm 24 May 1862; [Father and Mother:] James Tracey storeman,
Johanna Tracey formerly Hieron; [Informant:] William Rowell, Occupier of house; …[Burial:]26th May 1862 Vaughan Cemetery [by] William Rowell; [Witnesses:] James Tracey, James Gray; [How long in the Australian colonies?] Jerusalem Tasmania, 7 years in Victoria.
[27May 1862, William Tracey (died Scarlet Fever, aged 4 months) buried Vaughan Cemetery, by William Rowell, “occupier of house”. James Tracey does not witness the burial.]
[31 May 1862 Michael Tracey (died Scarlet Fever aged 21/2 years) buried Vaughan Cemetery, by William Rowell, “occupier of house”. James Tracey does not witness the burial.]
[Between 1863 – 1878, 7 children born to William Rowell and Johanna Tracey.]
4 Oct 1881, Victoria Petty Sessions Registers
James Tracey sues Moses O’Sullivan (a publican of Fryer’s Creek),for £13 wages owing.
[12 May 1887, marriage of Cath Eugenie Tracey to William James Laws, South Yarra, Melbourne.]
[3 Dec 1891, marriage of William Rowell (bachelor) and Johanna Ahern (widow, “decease of former husband 1887”). Officiated by the Rev. Albert Edward Arthur Cherry at the Victorian Free Church, Moor St, Fitzroy. This independent church performed both Roman Catholic and Protestant marriages and could provide both rings and witnesses for a small fee. It had a reputation for asking few questions regarding marital eligibility.]
James Tracey’s date and place of death are unknown.
Gold was found at Castlemaine in 1851 and became the richest alluvial goldfield in the world. Twenty thousand diggers swarmed to Forest Creek in the first days of the rush, and their numbers kept expanding as news of richer finds was heard almost on a weekly basis. Ten years after the first rush over 7000 ounces of gold were still being despatched each week to Melbourne via the heavily guarded Gold Escort… Between Fyerstown [which sits along Fryer’s Creek] and Vaughan is historical lead and alluvial workings on Grogshop Gully which is part of a declared Historic Goldfield. Vaughan is in Spa Country where a number of mineral water springs are located along the Loddon River.
Begin in Castlemaine…The route now follows Spring Gully past mining relics and ruins. A short loop track heads off to the Duke of Cornwall Mine and its Cornish engine house at Fryerstown. The Duke of Cornwall Company spent a fortune on state-of-the art technology but went broke through lack of gold. Fryerstown, now almost deserted, one supported a 15,000-strong mining community and boasted 25 hotels, five breweries, three schools and 37 quartz mines. From Fryerston the trail flanks Chewton Road, heads into the forest as it passes old gold workings at Murderer’s Flat and Grogshop Gully before arriving at Vaughan.
Vaughan was opened up as a mineral spring in 1912 and has two operating springs…
Cross the Lodden River below the weir and head to a ridge separating Butchers Gully and Sailors Gully…
(from Walks, Tracks and Trails of Victoria by Derrick Stone, 2009)
Parents(?) & siblings(?)
Nov 28 1807 William Tracy and Mary Kinsela; Parish Tullow; Diocese Kildare and Leighlin; County Carlow
William Tracy; 12 Mar 1814; Tullow; Kildare and Leighlin; Carlow; William Tracy; Mary Tracy
Thomas Tracey; 3 Apr 1816;Tullow; Kildare and Leighlin; Carlow;William Tracey; Mary Tracey
James Treacy; 22 Sept 1822; Tullow; Kildare and Leighlin; Carlow;William Treacy; Mary Treacy
5 Aug 1852; District of Richmond; James Tracey, 32, free by servitude, bachelor & Johanna Ahern, 18, free, spinister; Married at Jerusalem according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Catholic Church by William J Dunne. Witnesses: Francis Fox and Ellen Leary.
James Tracey & Johanna Ahern
birth 1079/1853 (F) Mary Tracey; James Tracey &Johanna Cochrane; Richmond, Tasmania, Australia. [Cochrane - middle name? creative spelling?]
death 5628/1862 Mary Ann Tracey; Age 8; Johanna Hieron & James
birth 8543/1855 (M) James Albert Treacy; James Treacy & Joanna Herron; Fryers Creek, Victoria
death 1460/1856 James Albert Tracey; Age 6 months; James & Jonah; Victoria
death 8219/1912 (F) Katherine Eugenie Laws; Age 55; Tracey Jas Albt &Johanna Rowell Ahern
birth 4816/1860 (M) Michel Treacy; James Treacy& Johanna Hieron; Vaughan, Victoria
death 5631/1862 Michael Tracey; Age 2; James& Johanna Heiron; Butchers Gully
death 11612/1892 (F) Annie Tracey; Age 31; Jas; Prahran, Victoria
William Rowell?/James Tracey? & Johanna Ahern
birth 11384/1862 William Tracey; James Tracey; Joanna Hieron; Vaughan, Victoria
death 5629/1862; William Tracey; Age 4 months; James; Johanna Heiron; Victoria
The next child, William Rowell (b. 1863) lists the father as James Tracey on his birth certificate, but William Rowell on his marriage and death certificate.
- 6 other Rowell children. Births/marriages/deaths do not mention James Tracey.
marriage8587/1891William Rowell (Cambridge, England) & Johanna Tracey (Tipperary, Ireland), Fitzroy, Melbourne [see comments above]
Catherine Eugene Tracey & William James Laws
marriage 3102/1887 Tracey, Cath Eugene& Laws, William James; Vaughan, Victoria.
birth 14598/1888 (F) Laws,Hilda Florence Eugine; William James Laws &Cath Eugine Tracey;Prahran,Melbourne.
birth 6037/1891 (M)Laws,Hector Leslie Gunton; Wm Jas Laws& Cath Eugine Tracey; Prahran, Melbourne.
birth 23542/1894 (F)Laws,Ida Muriel; Wm Laws & Cath Eugenie Tracey,Prahran, Melbourne.
birth 31244/1897 (M)Laws,Eric Francis; Wm Jas& Cath Eugene Tracey,South Yarra, Melbourne.
Gravestone Transcription St Kilda Cemetery
Catherine Eugene Laws Died 7 July 1912 Aged 55 years
and her sister Annie Tracey died 5 Sep. 1892 Aged 31 years
William James Laws Died 16 Jan 1934 Aged 75 years
Modern Family Members
Last update: 20 September 2018