James Kerton alias James Winkfield was sentenced to seven years transportation at King's Lynn, Norfolk Quarter Sessions on 13 April 1807. He was sent to the Retribution Hulk at Woolwich where his crime was recorded as grand larceny. He was transferred from the hulk to the convict ship Admiral Gambier on 27th May 1808. 
James Kerton was a carpenter by trade which could have seen him live a comfortable life in his new world however a run of back luck and some disastrous decisions saw him existing precariously on the edge of the law for years and ultimately resulted in his incarceration in the most notorious penal colony of New South Wales.
He had been in the colony for ten years before he was first punished for a serious offence and afterwards there were interludes where his fortunes changed for the better however after 1818 he was in and out of various gaols where he was punished severely several times over.
In his first transgression in 1818 he was convicted at the Criminal Court of purchasing a shirt from a prisoner, and passing upon him a forged bill for 2s 6d in payment. For this crime he was sentenced to two months in the gaol gang . However his real troubles began after he married widow Mary Dial in August 1820. Mary had been sentenced to transportation for 7 years at Nottingham Town Assizes on 22 October 1818. She arrived on the Janus in May 1820. Mary was accompanied by Elizabeth, her daughter with former husband Daniel Doyle who was a soldier of the 48th regiment. There was also another daughter Caroline who was sent to the female orphanage in July 1820.
In 1821 James was sentenced to transportation to Newcastle for two years and fined £50 for keeping a disorderly house and selling liquors without a license, a crime he denied . He was later described by the Judge Advocate as a most infamous character and was to remain in gaol until the fine was paid. His wife Mary and her daughter Elizabeth applied to join him at Newcastle.  Two children Eliza and James Henry were also granted permission to live with him at Newcastle in 1821. 
At Newcastle James leased for a time a cottage in the township which interestingly he described as being made of cedar. While at Newcastle he was accused of another crime brought about by some illegal dealings of his wife. He again denied the charges however was punished and sentenced to work at the lime burner's gang near Newcastle. When he was released from his sentence he found that Mary had taken up with another man and she and the children returned to Sydney. In 1823 when his term of imprisonment at Newcastle was ended, a petition on his behalf allowed that he could be released even though the fine had not been paid. At first he was incarcerated in Sydney Gaol however by December 1823 he had been released.
He was afterwards assigned to Edward Close at Morpeth where he states he built a house before being given a ticket of leave one month before he was awarded his Certificate of Freedom which was granted in September 1824. The house that he mentions may have been the first house built for Edward Close.
The first issue of The Monitor was published in May 1826 by Edward Smith Hall and Edward Hill. Edward Smith Hall was a champion of convicts, campaigner for social justice and for freedom of the press. Through The Monitor, he opposed Gov. Darling's oppressive laws including allowing constables to be rewarded with the fines of those convicted of breaches of Licensing and Gambling directives.
James Kerton's correspondence published in The Monitor in 1826 reveals the precarious situation of many ex-convicts and also gives his account of the personal persecution he endured. It may also have been carefully compiled under the watchful eye of Edward Smith Hall to underline the injustice of the laws in general.
To the Editor of The Monitor
I am a free man, and have been so about twelve years,
and am now a shop-keeper in Parramatta, and besides
woollens and linens, I supply the people with bread and
The overseer of the road gang on the
Windsor road, a soldier, is an acquaintance of mine, and
on Sunday the 25th ultimo, he requested me to let him
have a joint of the pig I was about to kill on Saturday
the 1st instant, and he would send a man for it. On
Sunday the 2nd instant, the overseer and his gang came
in to mass and to church. Mass is over before church,
and one of the gang came to my house before the church
service was ended, and said, he had directions to wait till
the overseer called for him. At the time the man came
in, I had two visitors (native lads) in the house, free
men. My own family consists of my adopted son and
myself, and a woman servant, free.
Presently, five assigned servants of Mr. G. Blaxland with passes, and who
had been at mass, called on their way home. One wanted
bread and the others came with him by chance. Immediately afterwards a native of the name of Hussey came
in to enquire after a waistcoat which he had previously
ordered. In about a quarter of an hour, we heard a
violent rap at the door, and a loud voice as if in some excitation was heard,
"I insist upon your opening the door
or I'll burst it in."
I, thinking it was some drunkard,
replied that I should not open it. Immediately afterwards, Mr Thorn, Chief Constable, looked in at the window, I instantly directed the door to be opened. The
moment the door was opened, Mr. Thorn and Wells the
Constable entered the house, and searched it, without
shewing a warrant - and an officer belonging to the
Bench, stood at the gate shouting for more constables,
who ran from all quarters, and the front of my house
became like a fair.
Hand-cuffs being sent for, Thorn
secured all the government-men, (notwithstanding they
shewed him their passes) and took the free men to the
watch-house. It appeared to me that these rude invaders of my house, wanted to justify their outrage by
pretending we were drinking, for Mr. Thorn taking
down a tumbler from the chimney-piece in which were
the remains of some spruce-beer, said, "there's rum in
this," - but the other constable Wells, on tasting it, said,
"Oh no - there's no rum in this - but there's pepper - it's
pepper-beer." Thorn then said to me, "do you keep a
public-house, " I said no. He answered "why then
allow so many people here? I replied "they are all here
on innocent business - the men are well dressed, clean and
peaceable, and have passes, and this is my own house?"
AFTER this, the overseer above mentioned, called, and
seemed surprised that Thorn should have put hand-cuffs
on his man, for although he had no pass, none was required, seeing that he came in with his overseer to
mass. The overseer then took the joint of pork and
went his way. In the course of the day, as my neighbours were not allowed to come to me, I went and consulted with the most experienced of them as to the probable issue. The bench being like all the country
benches, in the habit of levying fines, they one and all
told me that I should be fined 10 dollars for each of the
visitors, and myself 100. If I had known as much as I do
now, I should not have believed them; but at that time
being greatly agitated, and in fact in the utmost dread,
as much so as any poor Spaniard is of the inquisition, I
pondered all night on the best method I could pursue to
save my little property from the fangs of the law.
rose early next morning, sold my two pigs at a loss of
30s. and removed all the goods - and lest the magistrates'
bailiff should find out the great bulk, I deposited a few
here and a few there. In carrying them to different
neighbours, I was bid an under-price for some, which I
considered it prudent not to refuse. And as I expected
I should be compelled to leave the neighbourhood (for
I had resolved to abscond rather than go to jail) I also
sold some chairs, maize, pumpkins, and flour, being
On Monday morning, all the men were carried before
, and Mr. Thorn stated he had entered my
house on a private information being given him that I
had men drinking in my house, but that he found nothing but the sediments of some ginger beer. You
will of course expect to hear, Mr. Editor, that the
magistrate severely reproved the chief constable for daring
to search my house without a warrant - and for the still
greater outrage of imprisoning three free native lads
who were sitting quietly in my house on the sabbath
day, and to whom I had (after shaving one of them as
a friend, for I'm no barber) read a chapter or two in the
Bible, as they can testify. But the magistrate made no
such remarks. In the first instance, he ordered a constable to go for me.
I was not at home, being busy in
stowing my goods among my neighbours. The constable returned and told the magistrate that I was off to the
Hawkesbury, and had left the town altogether. I am
told he replied by addressing himself to the men in
charge, saying, that it was a good thing for them I had
gone away, as it would save the Convict prisoners from
being flogged, and the free prisoners from being fined.
The latter were then bound over to appear before a full
bench next Saturday, (the 28th inst.) and the former ordered to attend at the same time. But upon what charge
we do not know, as no depositions were made against
them that I could hear
Norfolk to Sydney
Now, sir, you have often in your public character
spoken of the oppressions which the prisoners of this
country have endured from those whom you call the
. I should never have made my wrongs known,
but being again ruined under the appearance of law, I
feel that tho' this letter, and the disclosures therein, may be
my ruin, I had better be ruined and perish, than continue
to drag on an existence which has been one of inquisitorial terror, ever since I was free.
To go on then,
sir, with my history. In the year 1807, on the 13th of
April, I was sentenced, at Lynn, in Norfolk, to 7 years'
transportation, for marrying two wives. I do not acknowledge the justness of that sentence, because my
first wife was an adulteress. But it was no easy matter
for a poor man without counsel, and never in a court of
justice before, to prove that in mitigation of sentence.
In the year 1809, on the 21st of December, I arrived in
, (1st.) Reid, Master. I was first
assigned to the
Hospital, and afterwards to the Camp Gang - with my earnings I bought some geese which had been stolen - I knew not this at the time, but I knew, it afterwards - I concealed it - it was discovered, and Colonel Foveaux ordered me a hundred lashes, which I endured. I was sent to the road gang, afterwards to the lumber yard-for not going to church on Sunday, I received 25 lashes - this was in Macquarie's time.
I remained in the Lumber-yard till I was free. I then built
a house for Mr. Devine. I kept on working as a carpenter till I was married; and then I settled at Parramatta,
where I baked and kept shop. I lived comfortably at
Parramatta for 18 months. This was in the year 1821.
I then discovered my wife was intimate with a magistrate of the colony, whose name I will reveal at the
proper time and place. I discovered them together
under circumstances the most distressing to a husband
who has either any respect for his wife or himself. Soon
after this, I was summoned to appear before the Bench
at Parramatta, for keeping a disorderly house. Mr.
Garling defended me. Mr. Garling had to come up
three times before I could get a hearing, which was
expensive to me. The constables, swore they saw
men drinking in my house, and gambling, by tossing up
half-pence. They deposed to no other disorder, save
they swore generally, that there were noises in my house
in the night-time, and quarrels. The whole of this was
false ; and as long as the present system of allowing
fees and fines continues, so long will peaceable house-holders be subject to the new English inquisition, established in this colony, under the plea of preserving our
morals pure. It was holiday-time, and my neighbours
had played a game of cards at my house, for trifling
sums, but I declare before God, I never had real gambling
in my house.
My enemies, however, instigated by the
paramour of my wife, were too much for me. The accused can scarcely ever prove a negative. It is difficult
for a man to prove to the satisfaction of magistrates to
whom he is obnoxious, that there was no tossing up -
that there was not a noise at night in his house. It was
not even pretended that bad women were seen in my
house. Nevertheless, I was committed to take my trial
- and was afterwards sentenced by Judge Wylde, to be
imprisoned (not transported) for two years, and pay a fine
of 50l. to the King. Wells, the constable, the same
man who entered my house without a warrant last Sunday, said to me before my trial came on, "you think of
getting the upper hand of me, but in your sentence you will
be fined and confined." Mr. Garling, after I was sentenced, told me, I had not been dealt with according to
law, and left the court as it appeared to me indignant.
was transported to Newcastle. Governor Macquarie permitted my wife to accompany me; for, being broken-hearted, and having some bits of things which she
alone could take care of, I forgave her - she also had
two children (not mine) which I did not like to cast off.
On my arrival at Newcastle, I was not allowed to work
for myself, although Governor Macquarie had informed
my wife on account of her children, that I should be so
allowed - but
employed me in making bird-cages, tables, etc. for Mrs. Hayes, his concubine; and gave me the King's rations and slops with the rest of the prisoners.
I hired a little house with two rooms
and a skillen, letting the latter to lodgers. The houses
are built chiefly of cedar, and the carpenters who had
lived in the house previously, left on the tye-beams some
remnants of cedar, measuring 18 inches by 6¾ thick -
with these I made some trays for domestic use. My
wife made gowns. She was accused of purloining half-a-yard. My house was searched, and the trays were taken
to the Major. My account of them was not believed,
although I shewed the constable the place in the loft-
floor from which I had taken them. I received 50 lashes
and was ordered to the lime-burners for the rest of my
sentence, and to be worked in irons on bread and water,
which I endured.
The cat with which I was scourged,
was the same, or one of the same, which Mr. Bigge the
Commissioner took with him to England. It was called
the Rogue's cat, and was composed of nine thongs as
thick as the tip-end of the little finger. Each thong
had several knots. I examined one of the knots, and
found small pieces of lead in it. I received 25 lashes on
the back and 25 on the breech. I was much excoriated.
My shirt stuck to my back, and the only mitigation of
my sufferings was anointing my shirt with the slush
which the cook gave me. He also washed my back with
warm water every other day. My wife was not allowed
to visit me. It was a dark dungeon with a stone floor,
and I was allowed no bedding, blanket nor straw. There
was nothing to sit down upon. I had to sit on the cold
floor. The nights were very cold, it being in September. When I got out, I found my wife had made improper connexions - I felt I could no longer support her
and her children - I therefore consented to her going up,
I was then assigned to Lieutenant Close
and built him a house. He gave me a kind of ticket-of-
leave one month before I was free. I worked after I
was free for
and made furniture for him. I
was again apprehended and put into gaol by
, on the plea, that I had not paid the fine of £50, part
of the Judge Advocate's sentence. I was sent up to
Sydney with the other prisoners. I remained in the
Sydney gaol 17 weeks. I then memorialised Governor
Brisbane and was let out.
I went to work for Mr.
Crane and rented a house from him on the rocks. A
black man (free) lodged with me and helped to pay the
rent. One night I returned home from my work and
found two constables having two men in custody - they
took me in charge - next morning I was accused of harbouring bushrangers. It appears two men had run into
my kitchen and were there apprehended. I had seen the
men about the premises, but had paid no attention to
them. I was sentenced to pay a fine of £10. which not
being able to do, I was again sent to gaol. I laid there
three weeks ; and the bench by that time, thinking me
probably innocent, rescinded the sentence. I then
worked for Mr. Archbold. Mr. Bradley trusted me with
some tools. I did work for Mr. A. to the amount of £50.
but have only received £21. I then made boxes and sold
them in the Sydney market.
My wife, finding I was.
getting on, came back, and expressed great contrition.
I received her back - she stopt with me nine days, and
then took away tea, sugar and linen, and went back to
her paramour, with whom she now lives.
I then went
to live on the Parramatta road, and sold ginger beer,
bread, etc. like Mr. Swinton, and when I got the house
in good repair, I was hurried out by Mrs. Haslam, and
built a new skillen half-a-mile lower down. Three men
came one day and asked for ginger beer, but finding they
would not pay for it I dismissed them. I believe Haslam
from whence they had just come, sent them to get me
into trouble, for before the men had well gone away, he.
and a gentleman (who was riding by) seized the three
men. I appeared before my old friend
once more. I pleaded I lived by selling ginger beer, and
that I merely sold the men beer the same as other passengers. I was fined 20 dollars for harbouring bushrangers. An execution was put in my house. I paid
the money and hope it will be appropriated to the public
service. I then took a farm from Mr. Smith on the
Windsor road and lived there nine months and built a
house. Two soldiers came in and had their dinner and
robbed me - they were tried at Windsor. On the trial,
Mr. Howe and Dr. Harris questioned me if I had not
been to the Coal River. The soldiers were acquitted.
I was afterwards taken up and found guilty of selling
spirits without a licence, and not being able to pay the
fine, I was put in gaol for three months. The informers
hoped to get half the fine. I was entirely innocent.
Whilst in gaol my house was burnt down. I then
came and settled at Parramatta - this was about two
months ago. This is my history. A man who has
once been before the court is ever after the prey of every
villainous informer and constable. I have no rest for
the sole of my foot. If I go to the town I am pursued.
If to a farm I am still pursued.
I remain Mr. Editor,
A persecuted and oppressed Emancipist.
Two years later James Kerton is recorded in the 1828 Census as a dealer residing at Parramatta, age 54.
In August 1831 he was charged with receiving stolen goods - one blanket, value five shillings, and five other blankets, value twenty shillings, the property of Thomas Foster, Esq. knowing the same to have been stolen. 
The Sydney Gazette reported....The informer, Monaghan, who lately figured in the Supreme Court, was the principal witness in this case, and swore positively that, after the robbery, in which he bore a part, the blankets were taken to the prisoner's house, and received by him, with a knowlege that they had been stolen.
At the Parramatta Quarter Sessions James Kerton was sentenced to be transported to such penal settlement as His Excellency the Governor may think fit for seven years for receiving the above stolen property.
He was sent to Norfolk Island penal settlement, considered by many to be the harshest in the colony. Here he once again crossed paths with his old nemesis Colonel James Morisset who had been appointed Commandant at Norfolk Island in 1829 - 1834. Colonel Morisset was absent from the colony having returned to England, in the years 1825 - 1827, so perhaps he may not have read the above correspondence published in 1826 in which he was mentioned so disparagingly.
James Kerton would have been about 57 years of age when he was sent to Norfolk Island in 1831. He served his full sentence and returned to Sydney on the Governor Phillip in April 1838, one of ten men, all of whom would forever carry the ignominy of being a Norfolk Island Expiree.
He was discharged from Hyde Park Barracks on 28 April 1838 however his life of servitude was not quite over. Just three months later in July 1838 aged around 65 years, he was sent to Parramatta Gaol under sentence of 3 months on the treadmill in the House of Correction. 
It may have been James Kerton who died at Parramatta on 11th August 1839. His name was recorded as 'Kewerton' in the burial register of St. John's Church, however he had been known by many names over the years including Kerton, Kirton, Katon, Keaton, Keating, Winkfield and - curiously - in 1831 the Goose Doctor.