Joseph Forrester, a silversmith, was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1828 after being caught stealing diamonds from a West End London jeweller.
Charles Brentani was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1834 after being caught stealing silver from a Sheffield clergyman.
Brentani was was assigned to various employers and eventually set up his own business in Launceston before marrying and moving to Melbourne in 1846 where he established a business as a retail jeweller and watchmaker.
Forrester, on a life sentence, worked as a silversmith in Hobart until he was granted a conditional pardon, set up his own business, then moved to Melbourne where his did work for Brentani.
This is the story of how they tried to put their convict past behind them and establish new and respectable lives.
This book is based upon a Master of Arts thesis successfully submitted to Monash University. The examiners of that thesis had this to say:
This study ‘represents an impressive research achievement … [and] … makes an important contribution to a growing body of work that has linked the experience of prisoners under sentence to their post emancipation lives’.
Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, The University of Tasmania
‘The pursuit of these two former convicts has been carried out with determination, insight and persistence. He has uncovered a fascinating sub-culture of metal smiths and artisans and the networks of support that operated in the colonial and post-penal environment … admirable life writing…’
Professor Janet McCalman, The University of Melbourne
A reader of the book subsequently read the article Frankenstein, Convicts and Wide-Awake Geniuses: The Life and Death of Charles Brentani, and commented:
‘My late husband was a great great grandson of Charles Brentani. One of my brothers-in-law bought numerous copies of Douglas Wilkie’s book last year as Christmas gifts for all the cousins. Thank you for researching and publishing the book.’ – Judith Toohey
1. Research Methods 5
Forgotten Gentlemen & Convicts 8
Rediscovered Convicts 10
The Deconstruction of a Convict Past 12
2. Crime, Punishment and Rehabilitation 22
The Crime 22
The Punishment 32
Joseph Forrester 34
Charles Brentani 44
3. Entrepreneurship 53
Joseph Forrester 54
Charles Brentani 60
4. Exodus to Port Phillip 68
Joseph Forrester 76
Charles Brentani 82
5. Settling Down – Moving On 94
Charles Brentani 100
Joseph Forrester 124
6. Conclusion 142
Select Bibliography 153
Purchase this book
The Historia Incognita version of the story will be longer and more detailed than the original thesis and has an expected publication date of late 2015 or early 2016, however the original thesis (ISBN: 9781320639064) can be purchased from the following link: The Deconstruction of a Convict Past
This book is available in several libraries including the State Library of Tasmania.