Joseph Birt was born in Iron Acton about 1785.  He married Mary Littlejohn and they had several children all baptised in Thornbury.  Eliza born on 27th August 1808, Susanna baptised on 11th October 1810, James baptised on 7th March 1813, Betty baptised on 19th February 1815, George baptised on 16th February 1817, Joseph baptised on 14th February 1819, William baptised on 27th December 1820 and who was buried a few days later on 1st January 1821, Charles baptised on 17th February 1822, Alfred baptised on 26th October 1823 and who was buried on 26th March 1824 aged 5 months, William baptised on 1st May 1825 and Matilda baptised on 26th February 1827 and who was buried on 26th September 1827 aged 7 months.

Mary died aged 49 and was buried on 25th June 1828.  Joseph married again on 10th July 1836 – this time to Mary Hopkins, a widower.  It looks likely that Mary was Mary Tayler who was born on 6th May 1783, the daughter of William Taylor, a gardener and his wife, Sarah.  Mary had married Thomas Hopkins on 31st December 1804 and Thomas died aged 49 and was buried on 20th August 1814.

We know from the Mayor’s Accounts Book that Joseph was living in St Mary Street and paying £1/year rent to the Corporation from as early as 1820.  This house stood on the site where the public conveniences now stand.  It never had a number so on the website we have called the house ‘the Birt House’ because the family occupied for so long.  Click here to read more

Although the 1840 Tithe Map shows that Joseph living in the ‘Birt House’, he had in fact moved away about 1837 and the Birt House was taken over by Joseph’s son, George.  In the 1841 census Joseph and Mary were living in Castle Street, we think it was in one of the buildings in the court at the back of the present number 28 Castle Street.  They continued living there until their deaths.  In 1851 he was described as an agricultural labourer and in 1861 as a gardener aged 76.  In the 1861 census Mary was described as ‘late laundress’ aged 77.  Mary died aged 89 and was buried on 29th January 1871.  The 1871 census shows Joseph was sharing the house with William Hopkins a labourer aged 60, who was described as his son-in-law, but we assume him to be Joseph’s stepson.  Joseph died aged 89 and was buried on 15th October 1871.

Of Joseph’s children:

James Birt – baptised in 1813.  When James was aged 17 he was arrested on 6th January 1831 charged with ‘violently assaulting and feloniously taking 16/9d from Thomas Phillips and found guilty of  highway robbery.  He was sentenced to 14 years and was one of 220 convicts transported to Tasmania on the ship ‘Elizabeth’.  We note that the record mentions ‘Death recorded’ but we don’t know when or where this took place.  He was described as a labourer, height 5ft 3 inches, having dark brown hair, dark brown brows and hazel eyes, a rather short face with a scar over the left eye and other scars on left eye brow and left cheek bone with several other scars and moles over his body.  We note that there was a James Birt who was reported in the Hobart Town Courier of December 1833 as ‘Absconded and Apprehended.

Eliza Birt – born in 1808, she married Edward Trayhurn on 22nd June 1835.  In 1851 they were living in Mutton Lane. Edward was a journeyman tailor and they had Elizabeth aged 13, Mary Ann aged 6 and Thomas aged 3.  Eliza died in 1863 and Edward married again in 1864.  Read more about Eliza and Edward

George Birt – born about 1817.  George took over the occupation of the house in St Mary Street from his parents when they moved to Castle Street.  He continued to live there with his family all his family.  Click here to read more

Charles Birt – born in 1822 he became a plasterer and seemed to travel the country in search of plastering work.  In 1851 in Wolverhampton and in 1861 he was lodging in Burton on Trent with his wife, Ann from Cavan in Ireland and their son: Joseph aged 6 months was born in Stourbridge.  They were later known to have lived in Yorkshire.

William Birt.  Baptised 1st May 1825.

Joseph Birt – Joseph was born about 1819.  He was aged 16 when he got into trouble.  Together with a friend, George Trayhurn who was aged 17, he was charged at Gloucester Summer Assizes on 13th July on suspicion of a felony.  The charge involved stealing on 9th July one ewe sheep of the value of twenty shillings, the property of John Mucklestone Key Esq.  Read about Joseph’s and his life after being transported to Australia