Transported convict Edward Anquetil

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Edward Anquetil in his brewery fire service uniform

Edward Anquetil was one of 199 convicts transported on the John Calvin on 9 May 1846 having been sentenced to seven years transportation by Jersey’s Royal Court for theft.

Invented story

He later invented a different story about his arrival in Australia in order to conceal his unsavoury past. He was sentenced when about 15 years old, but had first been before the Court charged with theft at the age of eight, and several times after that.

He claimed that he jumped ship after working his passage to Australia and that was why there was no official immigration record of his arrival. He also told his family that he had been to Rome to try out for the priesthood, did not like it so went to Australia.

Edward Anquetil was born in St Helier on 25 December 1830, the son of Bertrand Anquetil, born in France in 1809, and his Jersey-born wife Ann Billot, born in 1803.

A Jersey Archive record shows that he was first arrested in St Helier on 8 September 1839 at the age of eight for theft. When he appeared before the Court the following month he was ‘liberated’ by Judge Le Quesne.

Three years later in September 1842 he was again presented in Court by the Constable of St Helier for theft and sentenced by the Bailiff, Sir Jean de Veulle, to eight days solitary imprisonment. This does not seem to have had the desired effect because only three weeks after being discharged he was brought back before the Court by Centenier Chevalier, again for theft, and on this occasion, he was ‘liberated’ and ‘taken to the Hospital’.

He had similar good fortune in January and June 1843, when he was ‘liberated by the Petty Jury’ on charges of theft, ‘sent to the Hospital’ on the second occasion. The following month it appears that the Court was becoming tired of Edward’s constant offending and presented before them by Centenier de Veulle of St Clement, again for theft, he was sentenced by the Bailiff to three months hard labour. He was also ‘whipped and sent to the hospital’.

On 6 July 1845 he was back in court again at the age of 18, once more charged with theft, but Sir Jean de Veulle was surprisingly lenient and ‘liberated’ him.


His luck had run out by 7 October 1845 when he was back in Court before Lieut-Bailiff Jurat Edward Leonard Bisson on another charge of theft. This time the court showed no leniency and Edward Anquetil was sentenced to seven years transportation for burglary and theft in St Helier and taken to Millbank Prison in London to await a ship to take him to Tasmania. He left on 9 May 1846 with 198 other convicts on the John Calvin and arrived on 9 January 1847. He was recommended for pardon on 14 December 1850 and in June 1851 he was transferred to Norfolk Island on the Lady Franklin.

The brewery fire brigade members

Some time after it was founded in 1855 he is known to have been a member of the Carlton Brewery Fire Brigade in Victoria, Australia, and his picture appears, along with 64 colleagues, on a magnificent brigade poster, which has survived.

In September 1863 he moved to New Zealand, sailing on the ss Auckland, although he returned to Australia by 1875, when he was living in New South Wales. While in New Zealand he was in the militia during the Maori wars. He was with the 2nd Regiment, Waikato Millitia. He appears to have deserted on 26 December 1865, but this is another episode in his life which was concealed from his family.

Mary Jane Anquetil with her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandson

Edward 'married' twice, first to Harriet Thomas, who had three children, and then to Mary Jane Gray, with whom he had six children.

The birth certificate of their first daughter records that he and Mary Jane married on 3 November 1875 in Deniliquin, NSW.

However, only five months before, Harriet married a man called Ebenezer Willmore, and when Edward got wind of this later on, he had her charged with bigamy. If Harriet was a bigamist, she and Edward must have still been married at the time.

His first child with Mary Jane was a son, born in 1876, and along with his many other ‘inventions’ concerning his past, he probably invented the date of the marriage to make the birth of his son seem respectable. Family members now believe that he and Mary Jane were never actually married. Edward was many years older than his second wife, Mary Jane, and died a long time before she did.

It is only in recent years that his descendants have established the truth about Edward’s history, and as is so often the case in families, they are left wondering whether any earlier relatives ever knew the truth. Perhaps first wife Harriet may have? But what of Mary Jane and her children? And where did these stories start? Were they what Edward told his family, or were they made up by his children?

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