The journey of one man from London to the gold fields in Australia and from incarceration to freedom

Convict 35/583 provides an in-depth study of the society which spawned so many of the poor and starving who were later to become ‘convicts’ and transported to the other side of the world as retribution for their sins against that society.  The life and times of a convict following sentencing is put under a microscope, including life on the ‘Hulks’, the voyage to Australia, and their treatment once they arrived in their new homeland. Life in the remote settlement of Moreton Bay, including the outpost of Ipswich and the townships which grew around the vast estates claimed by the squatters is also detailed, before closely examining the Western and Southern goldfields of New South Wales.

Although one man is the connecting link between the various sections of the book, Convict 35/583 contains a wealth of valuable information for family historians interested in the Australian convict story, the development of the colony of Queensland, and the rich goldfields which funded the development of a nation.


This book begins with the conviction of a young thief in the slums of early 19th Century London and ends with the death of a respectable farmer and gold miner in the town of Young, a flourishing agricultural centre in the Riverina District of the State of New South Wales, Australia.
Along the way it provides a detailed insight to the life of Londoners in the early 1800s; the judicial and penal system of the time, including the gaols and prison hulks; and the hardships and routine of life on board a transportation ship.
From there the reader is taken to the shores of Sydney Town and exposed to the excesses of colonial society, including the life of Australian convicts and the many rules and regulations by which that life was governed, before being relocated to the frontier towns of Brisbane and Toowoomba, major settlements in the exploration and taming of a wilderness that would later become the State of Queensland.
The discovery of gold, the most prized and coveted of all metals, caused an explosion in the colony’s population and the results of that explosion focus the reader’s attention on the lawless lands of the goldfields, with detailed accounts of the life of the miners and the hardships they faced, not only from the violent extremes of weather and climate, but also disease and the other ravager of their hard work – the bushranger.

All of these historic and dramatic episodes in the transformation of the penal colony of New South Wales into the nation of Australia are connected through the examination and detailed exposure of the life of one man – Convict 35/583.  Within the pages of this book family historians will not only find answers to many questions about the life and times of their own Australian convict ancestors but will also achieve a greater understanding of the events and people which shaped the building and psyche of the nation of Australia because, in many ways, it is also tells their story.

Author's comments

The genesis of this book was a personal quest to learn about the life and times of my convict forebear, Thomas Deadman – otherwise known as Convict 35/583. 
When I began my search I had no idea it would become a pocket history of the development of Australia, from a penal colony to the flourishing nation it is today as well as the whole convict saga.  All I wanted was some answers – who was he?  What crime did he commit?  Where was he tried and what was his sentence?   Where was he imprisoned and what were his living conditions, his prison life like?  Did he serve any of his sentence on the notorious hulks?  What happened to him when he arrived in New South Wales, where was he employed?  Again, what were his living conditions, his sentence engagement conditions like?  What did he do when he was free?
The more I searched the more questions arose, and the more I had to search again.  Being retired I had the time, and, having been an Intelligence Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, I had the knowledge and skill to methodically plan and carry out my search and be able to analyse and collate the resultant mountains of bits of information into one cohesive and fascinating story – a story I soon realised had answers not only to my questions, but also to all those family historians who were faced with the same, seemingly impossible, quest – to learn what the life and times of my convict ancestor were like.
Like my other historical studies, the intention of this book is to help you, the family historian, find answers to many of your questions without having to go through the years of painstaking, and frequently frustrating, research I went through - research which involved many days perched on a stool with my eyes glued to the screen of a microfilm reader in the Queensland State Library, and even many more days with my attention focused on the myriad of open internet links cluttering my computer screen.  It is meant to help you explore the fascinating world of Australian convict family history research, not be the culmination of your personal quest.  With that in mind, I hope you enjoy the journey.