GEORGE RYDER OR RIDER 1824 – 1889 Convict No. 972
Written by Maggie Speak – Speak of the Past https://speakofthepast.com
Before George Ryder was convicted of breaking a window and stealing a watch from Timothy Wakefield’s shop in Lancaster, he had been imprisoned a staggering 32 times in his young life (1). It was the 1st. January 1849 and he was 24 years old when he was sentenced to 7 years transportation to Australia for stealing the watch.
George was born in Dublin, Ireland about 1824. His father Henry Ryder had served 21 years in the Royal Artillery, in the West Indies and elsewhere during King George 3rd reign (2). George had worked a trouble free life as an agricultural labourer in Ireland with his uncle and cousin until about 1846, when the potato crop failure forced him to seek employment in England. He stated in a petition for mitigating his sentence, that he was “driven to do things for which I am now ashamed of and for which I have been many times in prison.” Until his latest incarceration, the longest he had been in prison was 3 months in Guiltspur St. London. The remaining prison time being 1 month and 14 day sentences. The crimes committed were to “quench the terrible pangs of hunger”.(3)
While awaiting transportation to Perth, Western Australia, George was moved from Lancaster Prison, to Millbank Prison in London on 30th November 1849 (4) and then to Shorncliffe Convict Station in Kent. He was then incarcerated in Dartmoor Prison on 31st October 1850 (5) until his departure from Plymouth,Devon on the ship Minden on the 16th. July 1851 (6).
The Minden arrived in Fremantle on the 14th. October 1851 (7) where upon George Ryder, convict number 972, was issued his Ticket of Leave.
George was described as single, 5′ 10″ tall with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He had a long, fresh face and was of stout appearance, with a scar on his right cheek. His occupation when convicted was a shepherd (8).
He married Wilhelmina Munro at the Wesleyan Chapel Fremantle on the 3rd November 1856 (9). Wilhelmina had left Plymouth on the ship Victory on the 28th. Dec 1853 and was listed as a single women aged 37 years (10).
George and Whilhelmina had 2 children; Henry Dawson Ryder born in Fremantle in 1858 (11) and Jane Ryder born in 1859 (12). Although the children survived into adulthood, sadly both pre deceased their parents. Henry had married Eliza Ann Harvey in 1882 but died of measles later that year (13). Jane also married in 1882 to David Guthrie, but died in 1888 (14) possibly in childbirth. Her daughter Eliza Jane survived just 3 weeks.
By 1869, George had set himself up as a general dealer and had a shop in William St. Perth, where he and his family also resided (15).
By the early 1880s, he had become a bit of a philanthropist, supplying bibles, books and papers to the Old Men’s Depot (16) and bibles and second handclothing to the Protestant girls orphanage. He also presented a silver thimble to each of the girls (17).
George was also the instigator of erecting two drinking fountains for travellers and horses in Perth and also one in Fremantle. He was recognised by the Governor in a ceremony where a plaque attributed to him was fixed to the fountains (18).
George died suddenly of colic at his home in William St on 30 January 1889 (19) and was buried in East Perth Cemeteries. His widow Wilhelmina died from senile decay on 27 October 1906 (20). She was buried in the same plot as her son and husband.
© Maggie Speak 2019