I've been trying to trace the steps of a Richard Talent from London, who is rumored to be the progenitor of the Tallants of Anson County, North Carolina.

With the limited resources I can access in Texas, I have a confusing outline:

20 Feb 1695: Richard Talent acquitted of pick-pocketing. [ Lists of prisoners in Newgate, Public Record Office, C 110/71-72), referencing trial (t16950220-1) at the London Metropolitan Archives, LSP/1695/2, http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t16950220-1 ]

29 Jan 1696: Richard Tarrant convicted of pick-pocketing (different case). [ Ordinary's Account, http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/images.jsp?doc=OA169601290002 . Cannot find Old Bailey records corresponding to this, but many are missing in this timeframe. ]

28 May 1697: Richard Talent reprieved for transportation to Barbados or Jamaica. [ Complete Book of Emigrants 1661-1699, p.673, referencing PRO C 66/3390/13). I've asked the UK National Archives to scan this for me. ]

03 Nov 1697: Richard Tallent executed for pick-pocketing (the 1696 case above) [ Ordinary's Account, http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=OA16971103n26-1&div=OA16971103#highlight ]

All of these records relate to Newgate Prison. I haven't been able to find any evidence of another Richard Talant (or any similar last names) in the Old Bailey records or Ordinary's Accounts, so while these accounts are far from complete, the weight of the evidence is that all of these point to the same individual.

The problem is, if this man was reprieved for transportation in May 1697, why would he have then been executed in November 1697? Was it common for someone to be reprieved and then literally "miss their boat" and be executed?

  • 2
    How do you know these are all the same person? You say they all relate to Newgate prison but other than your belief do you have any evidence that the 3 different last names in your 4 sources above are the same? They may well be 3 different people.
    – Colin
    Sep 29 '13 at 6:20
  • 1
    Events 2 and 4 definitely relate to the same case. Event 1 is a different case, but also pick-pocketing. Event 3 is my main concern, and since it is documenting a reprieve for a prior conviction and I can only find one case (the one that events 2 and 4 are referring to), that's my working theory. I'm hoping that when I refer to the actual document for event 3, it will at least mention the crime, date of conviction, etc. that would conclusively tell me if it is the same case as events 2 and 4. Sep 29 '13 at 7:35
  • Is this Richard supposed to have had children before or after his transportation/execution?
    – user104
    Sep 30 '13 at 12:09
  • @ColeValleyGirl, the family tradition is that he came over single, was bound to a Mr. Carter, and married and had at least 4 sons (Moses, Jack, Thomas, and Aaron) here in the States. But that is based mostly on some conjecture by a family researcher several decades ago, there is little to tie the Richard Talent of Newgate prison with the Richard Tallant of Mr. Carter, or from that one to the three men other than Jack. Sep 30 '13 at 22:58
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    Geez, being hanged for pick-pocketing seems a bit harsh........
    – Jack
    Aug 27 '17 at 2:06

LondonLives may prove fruitful for you... Richard shows up a few times. He's in Bridewell at the beginning of October 1697, "under security for Transportacon" with a note that he's to be sent back to Newgate.

The same site, in one of its background articles, states:

Transportation dates from the seventeenth century, but the number transported was relatively low, because the cost of the voyage had to be paid for either by the convict or a merchant or shipowner.

One possibility is that he could not raise the funds for his journey, nor find a merchant to buy his indentured labour (and pay for jail fees, paperwork etc.) He'd be most attractive as an investment if he had useful skills and/or was young and healthy.

I do note that the Ordinary's Account of 3 November 1697 doesn't explicitly mention him being hanged, although the deaths of others are mentioned. Perhaps the Ordinary wasn't present at the death. Or perhaps Richard wasn't actually hanged. From a description of the Ordinary's Accounts:

Most of the Accounts follow a similar format. They include a short summary of the names and crimes of those sentenced to death (including convicts subsequently reprieved), [emphasis mine] accounts of the Ordinary's sermon and his visits to the condemned prisoners, short biographical sketches of each criminal, and a description of their final confessions and behaviour at their executions.

  • Thanks, I thought I searched that site before, but apparently I hadn't! Oct 4 '13 at 7:41

If we accept the assumption that all four references are to the same person (and I would like to see stronger evidence of that) then there are grounds for believing that the man in question was an habitual criminal.

It is quite feasible that, at some time between the reprieve and the scheduled date of departure, he committed a further offence while being held in Newgate. Might that be sufficient to over-ride the "leniency" previously shown to him?

I would be looking for records of further proceedings (in the window May-Nov 1697) that might explain the change. In particular, I would look for something that links Tallent and Exon to the other 7 men executed at the same time. It seems odd that a horse thief and a pickpocket would go the gallows as a job lot with highwaymen and counterfeiters. Was there another connection?

  • I don't believe the pattern of prisoners being executed on the same day has any significance. The Ordinary's accounts before (Sep 15) and after (Dec 22) show similar collections of criminals.
    – user104
    Sep 30 '13 at 11:35

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