Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
TheBotanical

Francis Fearn

Recommended Posts

"Who?" you might ask.

I've been running a little history site on Facebook and one of it's members posted a picture of some documents he had recently purchased from ebay. The document was a letter from a man in York gaol to his Father.

This is what the letter said;

"York Castle march 1st 1843

Dear Parents,

As you wanted to know what the witnesses swore, that are coming against me. I now seize the opportunity of making your acquaintance with the particulars - the women that swears says they were all standing together, but they cannot any of them swears to me except one, as it was dark and it looks very curious to me that one woman can swear positively, and the rest cannot. When they were altogether the other woman says that the clothes that I then wore was very like those worn by the person they saw, but they could not say it was me. When I was taken to Rayners on Sunday morning office I was taken in company with other two men that were charged with horse stealing and when the woman was brought to swear to me they did not know which of us it was. I had my working clothes on at the time, so Rayner went and and brought my other suit and made me put them on and then took me up by myself so that the woman might have a fair view of my person ; they swear to the place being robbed between half past 8 and 9 o clock and you know as well as can be that I was in bed at 9 o clock the same night. Joseph Thorpe has got a letter from his wife stating that she is coming on Saturday, you must be kind enough to send the things that I want along with her, and as for Roy it is is no use asking him anything about it as it will neither do me good nor harm , I forgot to say that I was at home from my journey at half past 8 o clock on the night of the robbery and in bed at 9 .

I am yours affectionate son

John Fearn"

Now I thought that the son, John Fern would be quite well known but I've done some searching and it appears he's not known of in Sheffield. John Fern was sent to Australia for imprisonment for his crimes. He was let out after 7 years I believe for good behaviour. He then travelled to America where he helped the injured of both sides during the Confederate War. He was to become known as a hero of the American Civil War.

He had changed his name to John Fearn Francis as so he would not bring shame on his family back in Sheffield, apparrantly they were quite well know in the Steel trade. He has several books written about him.One I have purchased is called "A Stranger in Dixie" and is written by his Great-Grandson James Fearn.

As I am a second year mature History student studying at Hallam, I thought this unsung hero of Sheffield may be of some interest to the lecturers, it appears not so. I believe that John Fearn should be recognised in memory by Sheffield and the person who bought the document also believes this. We have been contacted by one of Fearns relatives in America who has given us his blessing with going public with his story. The author of the book "Stanger in Dixie" is a line of his family from Australia.

Well there you have it, there have been some other connections with the name of Fearn but these didn't seem to match our guy. Also, to be honest, I do not yet have the skills or research ability that you guys on here possess and I also have another project on the go trying to revive the Holberry Society. I hope you can pick and dig at the story and find any new information on him, for instance there seems to be a descrepancy as to what he was actually jailed for.

Here is a link regarding Mr John Fearn;

http://www.findagrav...r&GRid=42641560

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a John Fearn pickpocket in,

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Saturday, January 06, 1844; pg. 6; Issue 1247. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

Seems to match.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.geocities.ws/Pentagon/Quarters/5361/john_f_francis.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John Oxleys life was radically changed after his trial and conviction on contrived charges. So much so that, to minimise the disgrace to his family, he changed his name to John Francis.

The plot thickens http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stranger-Dixie-Odyssey-Lieutenant-ebook/dp/B004VNMA2I

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.americanaustralians.org/index.php/archived-news

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.civilwaralbum.com/louisiana/francis1.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John Oxley’s life was radically changed after his trial and conviction on contrived charges. So much so that, to minimise the disgrace to his family, he changed his name to John Francis.

The plot thickens http://www.amazon.co...k/dp/B004VNMA2I

Great stuff RichardB. I bought the book a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I'm upto my eyes in reading German and Japanese History so will post as soon as I'm able. A big thankyou for what you have found. I hope we find more out as there seems to be different accounts of what he was jailed for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a John Fearn pickpocket in,

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Saturday, January 06, 1844; pg. 6; Issue 1247. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

Seems to match.

Sentenced

Edited by SteveHB
published on 13th

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a John Fearn pickpocket in,

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Saturday, January 06, 1844; pg. 6; Issue 1247. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

Seems to match.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only person with the surname "Fearn" showing in 1837 Trade directory is John Fearn, Cutlery founder, Leicester Street. "Our John" would only have been about 12.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only person with the surname "Fearn" showing in 1837 Trade directory is John Fearn, Cutlery founder, Leicester Street. "Our John" would only have been about 12.

There is a John Fearn in the 1841 that could match age 15 at Green Lane saw handle maker.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great finds Steve, Neddy and Richard, thankyou. I'll try and look more at the book this coming weekend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great finds Steve and Richard, thankyou. I'll try and look more at the book this coming weekend.

And neddy !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And neddy !

Sorry, only just stepped in from Uni, now ammended! ^_^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the book John is regarded to as 'John Oxley', he has a brother, George and a sister, Eliza. He was 'the youngest son of Sir Richard and Lady Oxley, a prosperous middle-aged couple from the midland city of Sheffield, a centre famous for its fine cutlery since the seventeenth century'.

He was also engaged to a 'Charlotte Hedley, the daughter of one of Sheffield's most influential businessmen.'

Also in the book it seems to be a child's coat he has purchased from a gypsy. The constabulary arrested John almost immediately after he had entered The Blue Pelican Tavern and arrested John, the gypsy was nowhere to be seen.

According to one of the websites 'John Fearn was arrested and later tried on January 4th 1844 and convicted at 19 years of age in York, Sheffied, England for 'supposedly receiving stolen good without knowing they were stolen''.

The letter we have refers to horse stealing. Also there is a John Francis who was arrested for pick-pocketing in Sheffield 30th December 1843. He was sent to Hobart Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). The book also mentions Van Dieman's Land. Do you think the author has combined the stories?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blue Pelican, no such boozer, probably a romantic version of the Blue Pig (1833 onwards) - either Workhouse Lane or the one on Cross Burgess Street (1825 onwards)

... The constabulary arrested John almost immediately after he had entered The Blue Pelican Tavern and arrested John, the gypsy was nowhere to be seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Blue Pelican DID exist (in the book anyway), unfortunately for us Sheffielderionians it was in the centre of Lancaster (page 53).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=sWaZLIeRFxwC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=%22sir+richard+oxley%22&source=bl&ots=I2SSrEwr3x&sig=ouipofhPm__bAAuTJ9mfVZ4d3aM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2GOmUL-6K-zc4QSR5ICACg&sqi=2&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

I'm sure Steve will be along to make that link work ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"The two men had been lost in discussion for at least an hour when they reached the old mill on the River Don. The conversation continued intensely as they made their way back along the shorter river path past the Shrewsbury Estate and home through the industrial area of North Sheffield."

Crofts anyone ... ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"The two men had been lost in discussion for at least an hour when they reached the old mill on the River Don. The conversation continued intensely as they made their way back along the shorter river path past the Shrewsbury Estate and home through the industrial area of North Sheffield."

Crofts anyone ... ?

Possibly.

I'm also wondering who "Sir Richard and Lady Oxley" (Fearn were. We did find evidence that somebody sent us which was this; http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D6%26ved%3D0CEsQFjAF%26url%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.sheffield.gov.uk%252Fdms%252Fscc%252Fmanagement%252Fcorporate-communications%252Fdocuments%252Fleisure-culture%252Flibraries-copyright%252FCutlery-and-Silverware--PDF--645-KB-.pdf%26ei%3Drt2GUN_eC-PO0QXZq4HoBA%26usg%3DAFQjCNGY9AbZpZp-mmL8Lph-SCNf0jMd5w%26sig2%3Dq3_Fx3OFFZPGoYZoi9twtQ&h=tAQG2hW1nAQHFL8zOvl3XmwornSX_mIXqy8UTMAWTi9kY1g&s=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for the messy link, can I not cut and paste in here? Anyway it shows a "John Fearn Limited (Later Sheffield Cooperage Limited), Malleable Iron Founders and Cutlery Casters, Corn Hill and Leicester Street Foundry, Leicester street, Sheffield." From the Cutlery and Silverware Records of Sheffield Archive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×