Declining a pardon

Prisoners, undated but believed to be 1808 (HO 13/18 folios 299-300)


Extract from the Home Office Criminal Entry Books. These books record details of pardons and reprieves. This volume covers 1806 to 1808 (HO 13/18, folios 291-292)

I do hereby Certify that the following Convicts Pardoned on Condition of serving in the Army Abroad, were not delivered on Board the Grace Transport, on the 19th March 1808 for the reasons specified opposite each Convicts Name.
[Signed] George Meed
NameFrom what GaolReasons assigned for not going
Retribution [name of prison hulk]
Charles Ballanger Gloucester Thought it best to decline, having served nearly half his time
David Arthur Brecon David Arthur Brecon Very desirous of going, but incapable by sickness
Edward Larkin Maidstone Edward Larkin Maidstone Persuaded by his friends to decline, they having some hope of obtaining his Pardon
William White York Received a hurt in his leg & was objected to, but willing to go
William Goddard Colls Newgate Persuaded by his friends to decline they being in hope of doing something better for him
James Bowler DoHas a wife & 4 children in the Parish of Limehouse, who have promised him to obtain his pardon if he will decline the Army
Thomas Mopps DoDeclined having served 4 ½ years of his term (being for 7 Years)
Joseph Anderson DoDeclined, his term being so near expired, having only 2 ½ years to serve
James Bedwin Oxford His health being impaired, became subject to fits
John Boydell Liverpool Declined, his term being within 2 years expired
Prudentia [name of prison hulk]
Matthew Whitney Hereford Dead
James McCall Newgate Willing to go but is now sick at the Hospital
James MaslinDoDo
Matthew Merritt Reading Do
John Fenner Maidstone Declined, having served great part of his time
John Pryor Hertford Declined, having served nearly 5 Years
William Porter Newgate Persuaded by his friends to decline
James Walker Surrey Not willing to go (no particular reason)
Thomas Hovell Norfolk Dead
William Davis Hereford Has a wife & 4 children & the Parish persuaded him not to go, but is still willing if called for
John Smith Chelmsford Not willing to go for fear of disobliging his friends


1. This extract sheds more light on the reasons behind refusing the offer of a pardon, including the role of petitioning and the degree of optimism that prisoners had of securing either a full or conditional pardon. It is also interesting that many of the prisoners expected to serve out their sentences on the prison hulks, which were intended to be short term transitory points of detention whilst transportation to the Southern Hemisphere was arranged.

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