HL Deb 12 February 1863 vol 169 cc256-8

Return Convicts (Tickets of Leave) delivered (pursuant to Address of 4th of August last).—(Parl. P. 6.)


said, he would remind the noble Earl the Lord President that before the close of the last Session he had asked for the production of any papers that might exist with reference to the grant of a ticket of leave to the convict Gilbert, who afterwards committed rape upon and murdered a young woman named Hall, at Fordingbridge. It appeared that Gilbert had none of the endearing manners which were supposed sometimes to prevail upon gaol chaplains and other persons to procure the remission of prisoners' sentences. On the contrary, he was known in the village to which he belonged as a sullen, ferocious and brutal man. The Government had not yet been able to furnish the information for which he had asked last year as to the circumstances under which Gilbert obtained his release from his original term of punishment, but he trusted they would be good enough to procure it.


said, he also wished to repeat his Question relative to the convict Redpath, who was sentenced in 1857 to transportation for life. He desired to know, whether Red-path was at large upon a ticket of leave either in this country or in Australia; and also, whether, if he was at large in the colony, the terms of his release were such as would enable him to return home?


said, that he would make inquiries in reference to the Question of the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury); and as to the second Question, he might say that Redpath, having been convicted in 1857, was in 1858 transported to Western Australia. Some time afterwards rumours reached this country that he was at large, and thereupon the Home Office made inquiries upon the subject, and the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) sent to the colony to make inquiries there, but had not yet received an answer. He might, however, observe, that as to Redpath's return to this country, that was not possible unless he first obtained a pardon from the Crown.


stated that Redpath was released, not contrary to existing regulations, but in virtue of new regulations established four or five years ago in the Colonies. Under the rules existing at the time he was transported, he would not have been entitled to a ticket of leave until the present year. Some years ago, however, on the recommendation of the Governor of the Colony, sanctioned by Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a system of marks was introduced, and under that system Redpath obtained his release about two years sooner than he would have procured it under the old regulation. By good conduct he acquired a number of marks which entitled him to be set at liberty in 1861. He understood that an attempt had been made to charge Sir George Grey with carelessness in connection with this case. The truth was that Sir George, as Home Secretary, had nothing to do with it, except this—when Redpath applied for advantages additional to those conferred upon him by his ticket of leave, he (the Duke of Newcastle) referred to the Home Office, Sir George Grey, so far from acceding to Redpath's request, asked how he had obtained his release, and it was that question from the Home Secretary which led to all the inquiry into the case.


was anxious to know the utmost degree to which the leave extended. He understood that a ticket of leave in Western Australia was a very different thing from a ticket of leave in England. A ticket-of-leave man in Western Australia was not lost sight of by the authorities; on the contrary, he was kept under the strictest surveillance and employed upon public works. It would not be far wrong to say, in fact, that an Australian ticket of leave was the second stage of penal discipline.


said, it was quite true that a ticket of leave in Western Australia was not the same thing as a ticket of leave in England; but the person holding it was not employed on public works. When a convict received a ticket of leave in Western Australia, if he were the servant of any other person in the colony, he could not quit his master's house after ten o'clock at night, while, if he were in a position to have a house of his own, he was not entitled to leave it after the same hour, and he was under the surveillance of the police of the district. Redpath, he believed, resided in his own house, receiving through the Australian Bank from his wife in this country an annual remittance of £200.