Richard Corbett was the man with whom my great, great grandfather was convicted of housebreaking. The pair received a Life sentence by being transported to Australia, arriving in May 1837.
The Stafford Advertiser ran the following notice.
“Worcester Assizes. – On Monday the business of the Assizes commenced, Mr. Justice Littledale presiding at the Crown Bar.
Fifteen county cases (five special juries), and one city, were entered for trial. None of them were of much public interest. It was thought that Mr. Justice Littledale would leave Corbett and Pye (or Corbett only) for execution. They have been convicted of robbing an old man named Halfpenny, of Mamble, of between 80l and 90l chiefly in gold – the fruits of his frugality – and using him in a very cruel manner. Corbett’s crime is aggravated by the circumstrance of his being Halfpenny’s nephew. They will be transported for life.”
It appears that Richard was fortunate in his early years in the colony, being assigned to the Ryrie brothers who moved south to what was later the State of Victoria and somehow Richard amassed enough wealth to purchase Rutherford Station situated on Western Port Bay. Richard’s wife, Mary, and children came out from England to join him.
When well set up on his successful Station, Richard wrote to his siblings in England to tell them of the opportunities they would have if they emigrated also. A letter, that he wrote to his sister Mrs E Pope, has survived (but it probably never reached her) and his first paragraphs show the vagrancy of the postal system of that time, 1853.
“I have root many letters both to you and my Brother John and James (piece out of letter). And likwis my sister Mary Lewis. But No hanswer have hever reached me from Any one of them sense you last be loved letter. I mad shoor you was all ded, or thought I was not worth riting to”.
Richard then goes on to say that he could pay family members expenses to come to Australia and to describe his circumstances, “I would give you and your family 40 pounds per yer and find you in every thing but catteing. I have A very larg station at hear wich you calls farms att ingland I have uperds of five hundred of ___ed cattle and 14 horses. I milk 30 to 40 cows the year round you wish to know wether (wethren) we have pertatoes here or not But I can ashure you that we grows Every thing that man can Eat or Beast we grow weet Barley mais oats potatoes Cabbages carots and every thing nesery for lif mor so ___then what you in ingland I have got A butful vineand wich we grood from 4 to 5 hundreds waight thes last 3 years and you ned not think any thing of this country for it is the finest country in the wool world.”
Richard answered his sister’s question about which language was spoken in the Colonies, perhaps she believed it to be a foreign heathen place like India. “Dear sister you wis to know wether we had the same langwig as you, our langwig is the sam and complectons. But there is all sorts and culing here sens the Golminds as Bin found There as been better the 30 thousand of pepol arrived this Colony this last twelve months we have got five in my sivies as left near to Eester. November we are giving 40 to 50 pounds per year for married caples 20 to 25 for single. Dear sister you no my Brothers need not be Afraid of riting to me for it is no disgrass to you for I ham ranked amongest the hed of this Colony.”
Though Richard Corbett’s material wealth improved he was to suffer emotionally from the death of his wife, Mary, on 19 January, 1862. Richard married his second wife, another Mary, in April 1862 and they had a daughter, Margaret. But it does not seem to have been a happy marriage, as three years later Richard took his own life by overdosing on laudanum. His suicide note read, “to Mary Corbett Cranbourne August 30 1865. My ever dear wif the words you spook to me this morning as caused my life. My hart is brook. I canot with stand it any longer. wen you reed this I shall be no mor. pray for me. be good to my dear Magey. Broken hart. RC.” He also left a note for his daughter, Jane Brann, “Dear daughter, Mrs Corbett request me rit to you requsting you to send for your daughter as she is quit tired of keeping her. yours most tender and efenct father R Corbett. dar child my hart is all most brook.”
Richard’s widow went on to marry her step-son, John Corbett (John had previously been married) and they had a daughter, Louisa Corbett, who married her first cousin, Reuben Brann.