Joanna Flindell (1842-1876)

Joanna, the fourth child of Francis Bassett Shenstone (FBS) and Joanna Elizabeth Flindell, was somewhat of a mystery lady. Earlier family historians make little mention of her. More than a century later, her life has been difficult to trace. We know that Joanna was born in Birmingham, England on April 7th 1842 and was baptised at St Martin’s Church three days later with her older sisters Mary Ann and Louisa. The next reference is 15-year-old Joanna on the manifest of the Nile bringing the family to the Swan River Colony where they arrived on January 1st, 1858.


Joanna married Alfred James Carlton Jarratt in Perth on 18th May 1864.[1] At the time her father was employed in Fremantle by the Customs Service as a Tidewaiter. Family tradition has it that her parents strongly objected to the marriage, possibly because of Jarratt’s criminal status “a Lifer”[2], although he was granted a conditional pardon on October 23rd 1865. Thereafter there was little communication between Joanna and her parents, although the siblings may not have been so bound.

Family tradition also has it that the Jarratt family migrated to the USA. Both the International Genealogical Index for North America and the 1880 United States Census confirm this. If the Bicentennial Dictionary note of Jarratt being an expiree is accurate he would not have needed permission to leave the Colony, but how did he attain that status when he was serving a life sentence? Certainly the Jarratt family was in California by 1973 where their fifth child Ethel was born. Further the 1920 USA Census listed Jarratt’s age 87, occupation bookkeeper, year of immigration 1871.

When did Jarratt leave the Swan River Colony?

One could assume their departure was not common knowledge and probably they could only afford to travel steerage class in which case they are unlikely to be registered on a ship’s manifest. There is reference[3] to Alfred Jarratt taking passage on the “Kestrel” departing Fremantle on January 12th 1867 bound for the Eastern Colonies. An examination of shipping records held by the State Records Office, Perth shows that the 170-ton Kestrel, under Captain Davis, sailed from Fremantle on 13 January 1867 bound for Sydney. In addition to general cargo Kestrel carried 32 passengers in steerage. The records also list two newspapers[4] the Shipping Intelligence section of which has more detail. There they were in a simple statement listing A. Jarratt, wife and child among the passengers. It may be assumed that at this stage Jarratt’s ultimate goal was to escape British Colonial supervision and start a new life in America. Perhaps they needed to spend three to four years in the Sydney working to fund their passage, which they took to California. As will be seen from the deaths of her children in Sydney, Joanna too would have wanted a new start.

Their Joy and Their Grief

As already indicated, Joanna and Alfred suffered the highs and lows of growing their family more than most; even for those times. Five of Joanna’s nine children did not survive her, nor indeed for more than a few hours or days. There are Western Australian Justice Department records for the births of:

  • An unnamed child born in Fremantle in 1865 surviving one day[5]; and
  • Alfred James Carlton II born in Perth in 1866[6]

The Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS), One World Tree provides other clues, albeit without sources recorded to validate this data. However, the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages include:

  • Amy Elizabeth Jarratt was born and died in Sydney, New South Wales in 1868[7], but the LDS record the date as February 15th.
  • Ernest Arthur Jarratt born in Sydney March 26th 1869 in Australia[8]
  • Eva Joanna C. Jarratt born in Sydney July 28th 1870 and died in Sydney in 1871[9]
  • Ada E. H. Jarratt was born and died in Sydney, New South Wales in 1871[10].

From the 1880 USA Census and LDS online data we find records of:

  • Edith Francis Jarratt born 1872, in California[11].
  • Ethel Jarratt born 1873 in California[12]
  • Edgar Jarratt born 1876 in California[13]

It is likely that Joanna died as a result of, or shortly after Edgar’s birth as her death was recorded in San Francisco on February 5th 1876[14], two months short of her 34th birthday. The 1880 census also shows that Alfred Jarratt remarried, his wife simply recorded only as A. Jarratt[15] the mother of Harry Jarratt born 1879 in California. She was in fact Abigail Mather Elsworth and they married in California about 1877.

Alfred James Carlton Jarratt

The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australia Pre-1829 to 1888 has one short entry on Jarratt:

JARRATT, Alfred, b. 1835 (expiree), arr 11.7.1857 per Clara. Clerk. To Eastern colonies 12.1.1867 per Kestrel with wife & chd. Lit. Prot.

Jarratt, an unmarried clerk, was convicted at the Central Criminal Court (London) on October 22nd 1855 of uttering forged bank notes. He was found guilty and given a life sentence. He arrived in Fremantle aboard the “Clara” on July 3rd 1857. On 9th November 1859, two years after his arrival in Fremantle, he was granted a ticket of leave and subsequently a conditional pardon seven years later on 23rd October 1865.

Convicts destined for the Swan River Colony appeared to be chosen for the skills they had and the new colony required. A ticket of leave was often granted on arrival, so it is noteworthy that Jarratt waited 2 years. The more trustworthy received a conditional pardon soon after, but in Jarratt’s case this was seven years. A ticket of leave freed convicts from periodic reporting to the local Resident Magistrate, but they could not leave the district without permission. A conditional pardon removed the latter restriction, but they could not return to England until their sentence had expired. As with Jarratt, many conditionally pardoned convicts went to the Eastern Colonies, albeit this became a contentious issue between the Swan River and Eastern Colonies.

Alfred’s surname has been recorded as Jarratt and Jarrett. Alfred’s given names have also been variously recorded as Alfred John Carlton, Alfred James Carlton and Alfred James Cobham. British records list his christening on August 11th 1833 in Buxted, Sussex, England the son of John and Harriet Jarratt[16]. North American records give his birth as May 17th 1833; his spouse as Joanna and interestingly, stated their place of marriage as Amador Mines, California on 18th May 1864. Jarratt was a literate man and therefore would have been aware of the need to retain important documents, so it could be concluded that he and his family arrived in the United States without papers such as their marriage certificate and possibly papers associated with his criminal record, and therefore had to be re-registered.

At the time of the 1880 census the Jarratt family lived in Alameda, Alameda County, California and Jarratt was described as a reporter (commercial).[17]

We learn a little more from other United States records, including:

  • 1889-91 California Directory lists Jarratt as a reporter for Pickens, Fulton and Co, San Francisco.
  • 1910 Census lists his age as 76-status married, plus son Hindell E. Jarratt age 26[18], labourer.
  • 1920 Census lists his age as 87, occupation book keeper and year of immigration as 1871.

It is not known when or where Jarratt died.

[1] Marriage certificate 2133/1864.

[2] Fremantle Prison Convict Database

[3] The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australian pre-1829 – 1888

[4] The Inquirer and Commercial News of 16 January and the Perth Gazette of 18 January

[5] Birth certificate 8705, death certificate 1865

[6] Birth certificate 9333 – WA Pioneers Index 1841-1905

[7] Birth Certificate 416 and Death Certificate 1475

[8] Birth Certificate 774, Family History Library File 1254062, NA Film No T9-0062 gives March 26th

[9] Birth Certificate 4597 and Death Certificate 2238

[10] Birth certificate 4772 and Death Certificate 2197

[11] Family History Library File 1254062, NA Film No T9-0062

[12] 1880 United States Census

[13] 1880 United States Census

[14] Church of the Latter day Saints, without source data to validate.

[15] This was Abigail Mather Elsworth, also known as Abba.

[16] IGI batch number J152024, source call number 1067366. His parents were John Robert Henry Jarratt and Harriet Hodge Carlton Lewis.

[17] Family History Library Film 1254062, NA Film Number T0-0062, page 659A

[18] Could this have been Flindell E Jarratt? Unless he was Jarratt’s grandson, it may seem fanciful given that he was born 20 years after Joanna’s death, but perhaps this shows Jarratt in a different light.