Seventy-five thousand convicts arrived in Van Diemen’s Land before transportation ended in 1868 and Van Diemen’s Land became Tasmania. Many convicts obtained tickets of leave after seven years but remained in exile for the terms of their natural lives. However, their families were often able to join them, and they could purchase land. Given opportunities never available to them in Britain, many prospered. 

Photo: State Library Tasmania
John Goodall

John Goodall (1804 – 1874) was born in the parish of Gatcombe on the Isle of Wight to John and Jane Goodall. It was a small village on the river Medina with only about 40 houses and a population of 200. He lived there as a ploughman until his conviction in the Southhampton Quarter Session court for the felony of poaching. John, along with his mate Isaac Lewis had stolen twelve hams from William Way, one sheep from Lord Yarborough and some clothes from David Pollard at Calbourne.  He was sentenced to seven years transportation on 20 April 1830.

John left Portsmouth on 25 June 1830 aboard the convict transport ship Royal George along with 215 other convicted men.

Conditions on board ships were horribly tough, in chubby looking wooden ships with square sterns. They sailed badly and tended to ride like corks. Convicts were squeezed into small barred enclosures below decks, sleeping on hammocks, with buckets for lavatories, no privacy and unappetising food. Occasionally they were allowed on deck for some exercise and for the cells to be cleaned out. When this didn’t happen, disease would spread and deaths aboard convict ships were not uncommon.   By the time the Royal George arrived at Van Diemen’s Land on 18 October 1830 four men had died.

Defence Hulk
Prison Hulks Portsmouth 1810

On arrival convicts were given a physical check. John was not a tall man, with a height of five feet, five and a half inches. It was also recorded that he had a dark complexion, dark whiskers and a crucifix tattooed inside his right arm. His farming experience provided him with the opportunity to avoid the road gangs and John was assigned to Henry Clayton of Norfolk Plains. Clayton too had once been a convict and after serving his time, he was appointed District Constable at Norfolk Plains before resigning his post to take up pastoral pursuits.

John was given his Ticket of Leave in February 1835 and his Ticket of Freedom in March 1837. This freedom provided John with the opportunity to purchase property at Carrick. It is likely he purchased the property with the intention of marrying and settling down with Anne Rowland. Although the official ‘Permission to Marry Register’ indicates no outcome to their request to marry, their unofficial union appears to have produced a daughter, Ellen born on 26 October 1838. Ann registered John as the father. The partnership didn’t work out as John left Tasmania alone for Port Phillip aboard the schooner Enterprise, on 1 October 1838. He was also granted land in Hobart which was sold by the government when he hadn’t paid his fee because he was then in Victoria.

William Elton, who had arrived from Van Diemen’s Land too, had been running the Ironbark Forest pastoral run since 1841. Like John he was a licensed woodcutter. They formed a partnership in 1843 the same year he married Ann Mahon. John and Ann welcomed their first child Maria the following year. Raising their family in Geelong, John worked as a wood cutter and doing maintenance jobs in the area. The 1849 Port Phillip electoral list records him as living off Fyans Street, Geelong, and the following year on Barwon Terrace.

In 1857 John purchased the 101 acre, allotment 69, on the northern banks of Spring Creek in the parish of Puebla. Today the area is identified as that bound by Spring Creek, Grossmans, Duffields and Eton Roads. John called the farm Springvale and it is where his youngest child Henry was born the following year. As John and Ann aged, two acres was fenced off around his three roomed weatherboard house and garden with the rest of the property leased to Andrew White for grazing.

Maria, the eldest child, was thrifty and frugal and could see potential investing in Torquay property at the first land sales in 1866 before she married William Shields at Springvale in 1875.

John Goodall Headstone


  • Hampshire Chronicle, 22 March 1830
  • Colonial Times, Shipping Intelligence, 9 October 1838, page 4