Baptised in 1831 in St Philips & Jacob Church, Bristol, he first appeared at the age of 12 at the Bristol Assizes in 1843 for stealing fruit, and went on to become a regular visitor to the courts. “The Bristol record office holds transcripts of many of the cases heard at the local assize court as well as the quarter sessions throughout the Victorian period,” says Robert. “Sometimes the cases are described in detail, and members of the Castle family appear many times. Charles Castle was in court on at least 20 occasions, and served prison sentences ranging from a few weeks to 10 years.
“In July 1852 he was ‘transported’, although by this date this did not mean Botany Bay, but rather imprisonment on a hulk moored in Portsmouth Harbour.”
The National Archives, Ancestry and Findmypast hold records for the prison hulks – old ships converted into floating prisons – including prisoner lists, and detail offences committed and sentences served.
“The National Archives has details of Charles’s early release ‘on licence’ in November 1855, his condition described as ‘wanting’,” says Robert. “The British Newspaper Archive ( britishnewspaper archive.co.uk and also available at findmypast.co.uk) is also a brilliant
I never knew that my great uncle killed his brother – it was a family secret that no one talked about