Brothers Richard and John Carman

Some transported convicts rejected their imposed exile and found a way to return to England. However, they faced serious, fatal consequences if they were caught returning before their sentences were served. In the summer of 1758, two brothers, John Carman, about 30, and Richard Carman, described as “a bit older,” were convicted of stealing sheep in Norfolk, England. They were sentenced to 14 years transportation to the colonies. The brothers were shipped out on the St. George and arrived in Baltimore in late July 1759.

On July 31, 1759, the brothers sought their freedom from Benjamin Young of Hunting Ridge, Md. They must have been found, and their indentures resold to managers at the Baltimore Iron Works. Just nine months later, they sought their freedom again. Richard Croxall, the manager of the Baltimore Iron Works ran advertisements for several weeks in both the Maryland and the Pennsylvania Gazettes, describing the men as wearing very dirty clothes as they were colliers, who did the hot, dangerous job of making charcoal.

There is no more information about Richard, however John made his way back to England. In early June 1764, John Carman was arrested for a series of house robberies in the Honningham neighborhood of Norfolk. A farmer suspecting two men who were “lurking about”  organized a search party in the nearby wood to “find their retreat.” They found John and another man “regaling themselves with a five-pint bottle of rum.” When it was discovered that John had “returned from his Transportation before his time,” he was sentenced to death. He was hanged on the castle hill at Norwich Castle in the fall of 1764.


The Carman brothers seek their freedom for the second time in Maryland, this time from the Baltimore Iron Works. Maryland Gazette, April 28, 1760. Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives.


John made his way back to England, but was caught stealing again before his sentence was served. Ipswich Journal, June, 2, 1764. Courtesy of the Suffolk Archives.


John Carman is sentenced to death for housebreaking and returning before his sentence was served. Ipswhich Journal, August 18, 1764. Courtesy of the Suffolk Archives.