In a nutshell John killed his wife on 27 November 1842. He was convicted of manslaughter at Lincoln assizes on 8 March 1843 and sentenced to 10 years transportation.
In fact John never left the country and he served his sentence aboard a prison ship the Warrior hulk at Woolwich.
In the 1851 census John was back living in Lincolnshire. So he must have been released early from his prison sentence.
In the last few weeks I found the evidence of his early release – a free pardon granted by Queen Victoria.
Below are the document images from Find My Past.
John Williams et al
Whereas the following persons are under sentence of transportation on board the Warrior Hulk at Woolwich they having been convicted of felony at the times and places hereafter mentioned. Viz
John Williams at Welchpool in March 1843, Hy Biggs Horn Gardener at Hereford in March 1843, Wm Martin, Geo Jarvis, Chas Martin and Hezekial Folkes at Chelmford in March 1843, Morris Thomas at Haverford West, Edward Lilburn and John Britcliffe at Lincoln in March 1843, Edward Shenton, Jas White and Thomas Johnson at Stafford in March 1843, Neil Mc Gilvary at Glasgow in September 1842 and Jas Whistow at Chester in April 1843.
We in consideration of same circumstances humbly represented (?) unto us are Graciously pleased to extend our Grace and Mercy unto them and to Grant them our free pardon for the crimes of which they stand convicted.
12 April 1848
To be honest I could hardly believe it when I first found details of the pardon. Despite Internet searches I haven’t been able to find any other information about what seems to have been a whole raft of pardons granted by Queen Victoria around that time. Perhaps there was a need to create space for new prisoners – who knows. I would appreciate any information anyone might have to help me understand what was going on here.
I had wondered what became of the ten children of John and Sarah and believe I have been able to trace them all.
Thomas (born 1822 – my wife’s 2x great grandfather) – married Jane Johnson on 29 January 1848 at Waddingham, Lincolnshire They had eight children. Thomas died on1 July 1870 and is buried at All Saints, Wrawby, Lincolnshire.
John (born c1826) – married Sarah Lancaster in 1849. They had ten children. John died in 1901 in Wrawby.
Elizabeth (born 1828) – married William Greenwood on 23 June 1849 in Waddingham. As far as I can tell they didn’t have any children. Elizabeth died in January 1912 and is buried at Ulceby, Lincolnshire.
George (born c1828) – died at the age of 18 in November 1846 and is buried at St Mary & St Peter in Waddingham.
Robert (born c1831) – married Elizabeth Rhodes in 1856. They emigrated to Australia on 26 September 1859. They went on to have at least eight children. Robert died on 8 May 1907 in St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia.
Ann (born c1834) – married Gilbert Tyson on 23 October 1852 in Waddingham. They had ten children. Ann’s death is registered in Knaresborough, Yorkshire in the September quarter of 1914.
Mary (born c1836) – married John Risen on Christmas Day 1860 in Pocklington, Yorkshire. They had seven children before emigrating to Australia on 3 December 1880. Mary died in 1907 in Toora, Victoria, Australia.
William (born 1839) – married Hannah Girdam on 3 May 1866. They had two children before Hannah sadly died at the age of 24 in 1868. William remarried to Eliza Brader in 1883 and they had one son. William died in Waddingham in 1913.
Jane (born 1839) – married Thomas Hardy (no, not that one!!) at the age of 50 on 9 February 1890 at Holy Trinity & St Mary, Old Clee, Lincolnshire. Jane died at the age of 91 – her death is registered in the March quarter of 1930 in Glanford Brigg, Lincolnshire.
Joseph (born c1840) – married Charlotte Lacey in 1871. They had two children before emigrating to New Zealand on 18 September 1874. They had four more children in New Zealand. Jospeh died on 30 June 1906 at Southbridge, Canterbury, New Zealand.
So despite the terrible events of 1842 the children for the most part went on to have families of their own. Three moved to the Southern hemisphere and built lives far away.
Given the wonders of the Internet and my blog I have been contacted by descendants of Robert Britliff who live in New Zealand and the family continues to thrive.