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Felon to Farmer: Thomas Harrison and his family
of Greenough, Western Australia

Minor Thesis for Diploma in Family Historical Studies
conferred by the Society of Australian Genealogists
15th May 1985

104 pages, illustrations, bibliography, appendices, index,
contents page,unpublished mss.

The right of Bruce Baskerville to be identified as the moral rights author of this work is hereby asserted in accordance with the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000 of the Commonwealth of Australia.

This thesis was written over 1983-1984, using research that began in the mid-1970s.

The Sections

The original document has been scanned chapter by chapter and uploaded to this website on 6th June 2008 to make it available to a wider audience of family members and researchers.

None of the text has been altered. Although much research has been subsequently undertaken over the 25 years since it was completed, particularly regarding details of Thomas' original conviction, and the growth in further genealogical knowledge and descendants, the thesis is retained in its original form as a historical document of its time.

The sections of the original thesis are arranged below in their original order. Click on any section to open the document in a PDF format.

When you have finished viewing a chapter, click on your browser 'back' button to return to this page.

Scroll to the end of the table of the chapters to find two links to contemporary and historical images.

  • Acknowledgements and Introduction, pages i - iii
    includes description of Thomas Harrison upon his arrival at Fremantle at the age of 19 years.
  • Chapter 1: Arrival of a New Australian, pages 1 - 10
    covers Thomas Tanner's birth in Manchester, his arrest and conviction in 1862 and transportation to Western Australia in 1863.
  • Chapter 2: Second Class Citizen, pages 11 - 17
    this is the period of Thomas' imprisonment as Thomas Harrison rather than Tanner, with details of the prison regime at Fremantle Prison, his progress through the grades of convict constable, his transfer to the Victoria District Convict Depot at Geraldton and attaining a ticket-of-leave to work as a farm labourer on the Greenough Flats.
  • Chapter 3: Northward Bound, pages 18 - 28
    a story of the colonisation of the Victoria District and the settlement there of William and Elizabeth Criddle and their children.
  • Chapter 4: A Family Settlement, pages 29 - 35
    charts the gradual settling of the Criddle family at the Bootenal or North Greenough area.
  • Chapter 5: Free at Last, pages 36 - 45
    sets out Thomas' different ticket of leave engagements around the North Greenough area up to his working for the Criddle's eldest daughter Ann and his eventual cohabitation with her and the beginning of their family at 'Rock of Ages' farm.
  • Chapter 6: Arrivals and Departures, pages 46 - 53
    covers the period from the marriage of Thomas and Ann, the birth of more children, the accidental Guy Fawkes Night death of one of the children, and the arrival and departure of Thomas' sister or daughter Annie Tanner.
  • Chapter 7: A Great Flood, pages 54 - 60
    a vignette of The Great Flood of 1888 and the role of 'Rock of Ages' as the ark of the district during that time.
  • Chapter 8: Consolidation, pages 61 - 74
    the expansion and consolidation of 'Rock of Ages' during the late colonial period, including extracts from Thomas' evidence to Commission on Agriculture in 1890, and the election of Thomas to the local council and his terms as chairman.
  • Chapter 9: An Old Settler, pages 75 - 86
    the last period of Thomas life, including the sudden death of Ann, the birth of a third generation, Thomas' gradual retirement to Geraldton, his third marriage, and his death.
  • Appendix 1: Genealogical Tables, pages 87 - 92
  • Photographs: nine pages un-numbered, between pages 92 and 93
  • Appendices 2, 3 and 4: Change of Name laws, Farm Journal extracts and notes on farm machinery, pages 92 - 98
  • Bibliography and Index: pages 99 - 104

  1. For a selection of recent photographs, click here
  2. For a selection of historical images, click here