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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree December 2018 > Criminal or victim?

Criminal or victim?

Julie Watkins investigates the life of a 19th century convict ancestor who was transported to Australia for a series of burglaries but made a good life down under


Reader story

Morcott Church in rural Rutland, where Jacob’s parents were married and he was baptised, and Oakham Castle, where he faced trial

What would cause a normally hardworking middleaged man to turn to a life of crime, resulting in his transportation to the other side of the world? I wanted to find out whether Jacob Cliff was really a criminal or simply a victim of circumstance.

Jacob the ag lab

Born in January 1806, the ninth of 13 children born to Isaac Cliff and Elizabeth Andrew, Jacob Cliff spent the first half of his life working on the land in the small rural county of Rutland. By 1850, he was aged 44, just 5ft 3.5 ins, middling-stout in build, with grey eyes and an oval face. By this time, his hair had gone grey.

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