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Certificate of free pardon

2004.0010.0001

Certificate of free pardon

Object information

Physical description

Certificate of free pardon granted to Owen Suffolk, alias Charles Vernon. Granted by Sir John Manners-Sutton, Governor of Victoria. Signed 29 August 1866. Consists of one page of grey-green paper, with printed header, footer and left margin. Rest of paper has faintly ruled lines, completed in black ink. Some phrases underlined in purple ink. Red wax seal with blue paper on top in the bottom left corner.

Statement of significance

Owen Suffolk's Free Pardon was purchased at Peter Arnold Antiquarian Booksellers auction from the collection of Dr John Chapman, 25 February 2004. The Pardon was granted to Owen Suffolk by the governor of Victoria, Sir John Manners Sutton in 1866. Owen Suffolk was the 'Australian Prison Poet', transported for forgery in 1847. The Free Pardon was given to Suffolk on the basis that he never return to Australia.

The convict period is a significant part of Australian history. More than 160 000 convicts were transported to Australian colonies from 1788 to 1868. Although the system of convict transportation officially ended in New South Wales in 1840, conditional pardons were used to deal with the problem of Britain's overflowing goals. Owen Suffolk, for example had served less than a quarter of his original sentence when he was exiled to Australia 1847. Offending again in Australia, Suffolk spent more than sixteen years in colonial goals. During his last sentence he began his autobiography. Days of Crime and Years of Suffering which was published in the Australasian in 1867.

Object information

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