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Family find signs of ancestor in York Castle Museum
Three generations of the Naylor family, from left, Rachel, 43, Laura, five5 and Pamela, 74, in a prison cell at the Castle Museum.
Australian relatives of a man transported half way around the world after being caught with a boiled egg in his pocket have visited York Castle Museum to see where he was imprisoned.
Pam Naylor, her daughter Rachel and granddaughter Laura, from Melbourne, were there yesterday to find out more about their ancestor Simon Hargreaves, who was held in 1829 for stealing food.
Simon – then 18 – was committed to York Castle Gaol charged with breaking into a house and stealing bread, butter, one glass bottle, one pint of elderberry syrup, dripping and eggs.
He was found guilty of house-breaking, although a report of the trial indicates he was arrested with just “a boiled egg in one pocket”. He was sentenced to death, but that was commuted to transportation for life.
After three unsuccessful escape bids Simon became a successful business owner and raised a family, including Pam’s great grand-dad.
While at York Castle, he wrote his name on the exercise yard wall, and it is still visible today.
The museum also chose Simon as one of the projected characters appearing in the cells to help tell the story of the type of people once imprisoned there.
Pam said: “Thanks to the research York Castle Museum has passed on to us, I know much more about Simon than I did. He had such an interesting life and I think it will be a great experience for us to see where he was held before transportation.”
Katie Brown, assistant curator of history, said: “It is always fascinating to meet direct descendants of the people who were imprisoned in York Castle. We are delighted that Pam got in touch with us.”