Benjamin Ratty was a repeat juvenile offender in his native parish of Merton and nearby Newington, Surrey, England. Though the authorities attempted to set him on a different path by sending him to the benevolent Marine Society, BENJAMIN escaped and offended again, earning himself a sentence of seven years transportation, which he spent on the hulks. Four months after release, he was again charged with theft, convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation. This time, he did in fact get transported per Somersetshire (1814).
In the colony, however, BENJAMIN RATTY turned over a new leaf and was even appointed as a constable of Parramatta. He was even officially rewarded for his meritorious conduct in capturing bushrangers. Another encounter with bushrangers a few years later proved to be fatal. Whilst attempting to capture a gang of bushrangers at the Great Western Road close to the Western Road toll-bar house, Parramatta, BENJAMIN was shot in the back, the victim of friendly fire. He died from his gunshot wound two weeks later and was mourned by his local community who raised the funds to pay for his headstone and a suit of mourning for his wife.
- Born: c. 1792, likely in Merton, Surrey, England
- Tried alongside (probable sibling) JAMES RATTY for stealing a watch and a gun from a store: 1805, Lent Assizes, Surrey, England
- Outcome of trial unknown, but both RATTY boys may have been sent to the Marine Society: 1805, Lent Assizes, Surrey, England
- BENJAMIN escaped from the Marine Society: > 1805, Deptford, England
- JAMES RATTY on trial for housebreaking and sentenced to death: 26 March 1806, Lent Assizes, Surrey, England
- JAMES RATTY’S sentence commuted to transportation for life: > 26 March 1806, Surrey, England
- BENJAMIN RATTY tried alongside JOHN HAMLEY alias HAMPTON for stealing various items: 13 October 1806, Newington, Surrey, England
- JAMES RATTY transferred from hulks to convict transport ship Duke of Portland (1) (1807): December 1806, Woolwich, England
- BENJAMIN sentenced to seven years transportation at the next session of the Court: 13 January 1807, Surrey Assizes, England
- JAMES RATTY sailed for the Colony of New South Wales per Duke of Portland (I): 19 February 1807, Portsmouth, England
- Two young children named GEORGE and ANN RATTY, possibly BENJAMIN’s siblings, died in BENJAMIN’s recorded parish: 27 December 1807, Merton, Surrey, England
- Having received His Majesty’s pardon for the final six months of his seven-year sentence BENJAMIN left the hulks: 13 June 1813, Woolwich, England
- BENJAMIN allegedly stole clothing from a poor woman: 27 October 1813, Merton, Surrey, England
- Though he plead not guilty BENJAMIN was convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation: 11 January 1814, Surrey Sessions House
- BENJAMIN sailed to the Colony of New South Wales per Somersetshire: 10 May 1814, Spithead, England
- BENJAMIN arrived per Somersetshire: 16 October 1814, Port Jackson, Colony of New South Wales
- Forwarded to the “Hawkesborough” for distribution: 25 October 1814, Winsdor, Hawkesbury, Colony of New South Wales
- Successfully appealed for mitigation of his sentence due to good behaviour and service to his master and his family: c. 1819
- Appointed town constable: August 1820, Parramatta, Colony of New South Wales
- Married ANN ARNOLD (née ANN BODGER): 29 October 1821, St. John’s Church, Parramatta
- Rewarded for meritorious conduct in capturing bushrangers: August 1822, Sydney, Colony of New South Wales
- Received 50-acre grant: 1823, Castle Hill, Colony of New South Wales
- Involved in a sting to capture bushrangers and is shot in the back, the result of friendly fire: 23 September 1826, Great Western Road, near the toll-bar house, Parramatta, Colony of New South Wales
- Died from his gunshot wound sustained two weeks earlier during the sting to capture bushrangers: 7 October 1826, Parramatta, Colony of New South Wales
- Buried: Parramatta Burial Ground, Colony of New South Wales
- Section 3, Row I, No. 16, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta
- Calico Printer (c.f. convict indent)
- Shoemaker (c.f. Petition for mitigation of sentence)
- Height: 5’6”
- Complexion: sallow
- Hair: brown
- Eyes: hazel
- Probable sibling and accomplice: JAMES RATTY
- Accomplice: JOHN HAMLEY alias JOHN HAMPTON
- Possible sibling: GEORGE RATTY
- Possible sibling: ANN RATTY
- Spouse: ANN ARNOLD per Lord Wellington (1820), wife of SAMUEL ARNOLD per Glory (1818). (née ANN BODGER) later known as ANN SMITH wife of EDWARD SMITH
Abstract: Benjamin and James Ratty were no more than around thirteen and fifteen years old respectively when they were tried at the Surrey Lent Assizes in 1805 for ‘Stealing a Watch and a Gun in a store.’ The lads, likely brothers, would go on to have multiple brushes with the law, do time on the disease-ridden hulks on the Thames, and eventually be transported as convicts to the penal colony of New South Wales—and neither of them would make old bones. But the reasons for their premature deaths could not have been more different. James would die the ignoble death of a condemned con before a sea of hardened spectators in Sydney; Benjamin would leave this world a decorated and communally mourned constable of Parramatta. How could a lawbreaker like Benjamin Ratty become such a highly regarded law enforcer? more>>
- John Bowring (ed.), The Works of Jeremy Bentham: Now First Collected, Vol. XI, (Edinburgh: William Tait, 107 Prince’s Street, 1843).
- Jonas Hanway, Prudential Instruction to the Poor Boys, fitted out by the Corporation of the Marine Society, with moral and religious advice adapted in a Sententious manner to their Condition, and to every one who is a Candidate for Happiness on Christian Principles, (1788).
- The Marine Society, Instructions to Every Boy of the Marine Society, Given by their Secretary when the Boys set out from the Seamens Office on Thursdays, [London, England: The Marine Society, c.1770], held at the British Library.
- The Marine Society, The Bye-laws and Regulations of the Marine Society, 7th Edition, (London: A. & R. Spottiswoode, New-Street-Square, 1829).
- James Hardy Vaux, Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, written by himself in two volumes, (Northumberland-Court, Strand, London: W. Clowes, 1819).
- Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
- Michaela Ann Cameron, “Stop 4: St. John’s Cemetery, ‘God’s Acre,’” in “Convict Parramatta,” Dictionary of Sydney Walks, (2015).
- Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991).
- London Lives 1690 to 1800: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis https://www.londonlives.org/, version 2.0), “Boys Recruited into the Marine Society, 1770–75, 1780–83, 1792–93, 1800–04,” https://www.londonlives.org/static/AHDSMAR.jsp, accessed 22 May 2019.
- John Farquhar McMahon, (Ph.D. Diss.), “External and Internal Security in the Australian Colonies from their Founding to the End of the Macquarie Era,” (Hobart: University of Tasmania, 2004), https://eprints.utas.edu.au/20579/1/whole_McMahonJohnFarquhar2004_thesis.pdf, accessed 23 May 2019.
- New South Wales Government, “Former Great Western Highway Alignment,” New South Wales State Heritage Register, (Sydney: Office of Environment & Heritage, 1999), https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=1140283, accessed 23 May 2019.
- New South Wales Government, “Mays Hill Gate House,” New South Wales State Heritage Register, (Sydney: Office of Environment & Heritage, 1999), https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=4681025, accessed 23 May 2019.
- Roland Pietsch, “Ships’ Boys and Youth Culture in Eighteenth-Century Britain: The Navy Recruits of the London Marine Society,” The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord, Vol. XIV, No. 4 (October 2004): 11–24, https://www.cnrs-scrn.org/northern_mariner/vol14/tnm_14_4_11-24.pdf, accessed 23 May 2019.
# Trial Place: Surrey Assizes
# Punishment: Seven Years Transportation
# Ship: Somersetshire (1814)
# Convict Constable
# Grave: marked