Owen Hargrave Suffolk "The Convict Poet"

Owen Hargraves Suffolk bushranger

Owen Hargrave Suffolk was born April, 4th 1829 in Middlesex, England. His father was William Johnson Suffolk and his mother was Ann.  He was born into a middle class family and was both well spoken and literate. In the 1841 England census an older child was in the same house as Owen named William.

Owen Hargrave Suffolk was transported to Victoria, Australia in 1847, on the Joseph Somes, for petty crime in the County of Middlesex:
7 years for Forgery of an Order of the payment of money with intent to defraud Robert Wilson; also for unlawfully obtaining 2 sovereigns, 1 half-sovereign, 1 crown, 1 half-crown, 2 shillings, and 1 sixpence, and other monies, of Robert Wilson, by false pretences*

He wrote many poems including those about prison and bushranging e.g. For Frank Gardiner, (below) and was dubbed 'The Convict Poet'.

Suffolk spent more than sixteen years in colonial goals. He was incarcerated in both England and Australia for a total of 5 terms but this never seemed to deter him from leading a life of crime. When he finally returned to London he continued in his life of crime - he became a bigamist, faked his own death and escaped to America with a widow's money. In March, 1867, he married a widow, Mary Elizabeth Phelps. In 1880 he married Eliza Shreves.

"For Frank Gardiner.

It is not in a prison drear
Where all around is gloom,
That I would end life's wild career,
And sink into the tomb,
For though my spirit's ever bold
Each tyrant to defy;
Still, still, within a dungeon cold,
I could not calmly die.

It is not that my cheek would pale
Within a lonely cell;
It is not that my heart would quail
To bid this world farewell.
For if oppressed by tyrant foe
I'd freely be the first
To give my life, and strike the blow
To lay him in the dust.

But place me in a forest glen
Unfettered, wild and free,
Wtih fifty tried and chosen men
A bandit chief to be.
'Tis there, when fighting with my foes
Amid my trusty band,
I'd freely leave this world of woes,
And die with sword in hand. "

He started writing  his autobiography in 1858, describing his life as bushranger, horse thief, prisoner and con man, called Days of Crime and Years of Suffering, published in 1867.

1841 England Census about Owen Suffolk
England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892
England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837-1915 about Owen Hargrave Suffolk
Convict Records of Australia
* The proceedings of The Old Bailey from 1674 to 1913

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