Tipper, Thomas

Name Variations: Thomas John
Birth date and placeAug 1838 Staffordshire, England [GRO Reg. Burton upon Trent Qtr. 3 Vol. 17 p.5].
Baptism date and place19 Aug 1838 St Werburgh Church, Hanbury, Staffordshire – See Additional Details below.
Civil Census Residences1841 Coton, Hanbury, Registration District of Burton on Trent, Sub District Tutbury, Staffordshire (age 2 years) [HO107-976-1].
1851 Coton, Hanbury, Registration District of Burton on Trent, Sub District Tutbury, Staffordshire (age 12 years) [HO107-2011-134].
Note: There are no subsequent census records for a person of this description.
Occupations pre-WAHouse Servant (1851).
Physical DescriptionHeight: 5 ft. 9½ ins. Complexion: fresh. Eyes: light blue. Hair: light brown. Face: oval. Build: stout [DPS]. 
Distinguishing marks: D [deserter] on left side. Spots all over back. Several moles on right arm, 8 moles on left arm. [PCom2-1].
Marriage date and placeSingle.
Death date and place11 Dec 1868 Upper Irwin, Western Australia  [as John, IRWIN-1868-007].
Cause of Death: ‘supposed to be Consumption’ [tuberculosis]. [Midwest WA Heritage].
Burial date and place11 Dec 1868 Shire of Irwin Cemetery, Dongara, Western Australia [Midwest WA Heritage].
Will and ProbateNone.
Death Notices and ObituariesNone.
Regiment(s)39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment.
Regiment No. and Rank#3629. Private.
Attestation date and placeBefore Dec 1854. Not extant in Australia.
Service/CampaignsCrimean War from Dec 1854.
Medals, Clasps and BadgesCrimea War Medal clasp Sebastopol.
Turkish Crimea Medal.
Regimental Courts MartialNot known [PCom2-39].
District Courts MartialNone.
General Courts MartialMontreal, Canada [WO90-3-44].
Charge: Desertion and theft – stealing £100 15s. 1d. [PCom2-39].
Trial: 19 May 1857.
Sentence: Penal servitude 7 years.
Prisons and Registers #Montreal from 19 May1857, 1 month.
On Board Ship 8 days.
Kirkdale, Liverpool 14 days.
Millbank 11 Jul 1857 to 24 Mar 1858. Parchment Certificate of Discharge issued 15 Jul 1857.
Chatham #1720. 25 Mar 1858 to embarkation on convict ship.
Edwin Fox sailed 26 Aug 1858 Plymouth, arriving 20 Nov 1858 – a passage of 86 days.
Chelsea Pension ReferenceNot eligible.
Post Discharge ResidenceWestern Australia.
ShipEdwin Fox.
Departure and Arrival26 Aug 1858, Plymouth; 20 Nov 1858 Fremantle.
Bricklayer on own account.
WA Convict #Fremantle Prison #5105.
Perth Gaol 8 Dec 1858. One of 45 prisoners transferred [Acc 1156 RD1-RD-2].
Dates and Details13-29 Dec 1860 Police Court: J Scully (tol), T Jones (tol) and J Tipper were dealt with in the usual manner for being out after hours [Perth Gazette 4 Jan 1861].
WA Ticket of Leave30 Nov 1860.
WA Certificate of Freedom
WA Conditional Pardon1 Jan 1863 Perth.
Tipper’s Medals and Sebastopol Clasp
St Werburgh’s Church in Hanbury


With no Army nor prison documentation to give a place of birth, Thomas Tipper’s origins may have remained a mystery but for the visit of his father, John Tipper, to Millbank Prison. The prison record indicated that Tipper senior lived in Tutbury, Staffordshire and from that small start came a back-story for Thomas.

The 1851 Census of England and Wales indicated that John Tipper and his wife Lydia were living in Burton Street, Burton upon Trent (registration sub-district of Tutbury), Staffordshire. The census shows three daughters aged 11, 6, 3 years, and one son aged seven months; certainly Thomas was not living at home – and a bit young to have joined the Army at this time as his prison records show he was born in 1838. I then looked for John, Lydia and Thomas and Elizabeth (the 11-year-old) as a baby in the 1841 Census but could not find them as a family. Next step was to look for John and Lydia’s marriage … not surprising that this union took place in St Mary’s Church, Tutbury, but the date was a surprise – 4 Oct 1844. This implied that Thomas and his sister Elizabeth had been born out of wedlock.

I then looked again in the 1841 Census and saw that a Thomas aged 2 was living with a family named Archer, along with a Sarah Tipper, in the township of Coton, Staffordshire. What did that mean, I wondered. Had John Tipper been married prior to his marriage to Lydia? No marriage records turned up in Staffordshire, but I did find a marriage between John Tipper (father James, shoemaker) and Sarah Archer (father Thomas, occupation joiner) in the bordering county of Derbyshire. They were bachelor and spinster, both living in Derby in May 1838 at the time of their marriage and -unusual for the time – they could both sign their names. Back I went to the ‘Archer Census’ where the head of household was Thomas Archer, occupation joiner. So our infant Thomas Tipper was living with his mother and grandparents in 1841. Finding a Thomas Tipper born in 1838 with a connection to a John Tipper, potentially his father, I then looked for Thomas’s baptism – and there it was in St Werburgh’s Church in Hanbury 19 Aug 1838, parents John and Sarah Tipper. But what of prison visitor John’s wife Lydia, married in 1844? Was she his second wife? Yes of course, another St Werburgh’s Church record shows the burial of Sarah Tipper (Thomas’s mother) on 16 Jun 1841 aged 27. Perhaps poor Sarah was sick and went back to her parents’ home with her baby just a few months before she died. What was John senior up to while she was away?

Is all that proof of Thomas’s origin? Maybe not, but it is certainly a coincidence.