James Hasleby

James Hasleby

James Hasleby (born 1833, date of death unknown) was a convict transported to Western Australia. He was one of only 37 convicts transported to the colony to overcome the social stigma of convictism to become schoolteachers, and one of only four convicts to be elected a member of a local Education Board.

Little is known of James Hasleby's early life. Born in 1833, he worked as a clerk but was convicted of embezzlement in 1864 and sentenced to eight years penal servitude. Hasleby was transported to Western Australia on board the "Norwood", arriving in July 1867. After receiving his ticket of leave, he taught at the Greenhills school in Northam until receiving his conditional pardon in 1868. He then resigned from teaching and some time afterwards leased the Avon Bridge Hotel. He advertised himself as a storekeeper, and employed a number of ticket of leave convicts in his businesses. In 1873 he married Eliza Barlow, with whom he would have seven children. Hasleby served as honorary secretary of the Northam Farmers' Club, and in 1874 was elected a members of the local Education Board. A prestigious and respected body, only three other convicts achieved membership of a local Education Board: Daniel Connor, Malachi Meagher and Herman Moll. He also became involved in a venture that intended to establish a Northam Flour Mill, but when his Hotel was sold by the owner he was forced to abandon his plans and return to teaching. He taught at Dumbarton and later at Gwalla (now Northampton) until his retirement in 1893.

Hasleby was one of a very small number of convicts in Western Australia to overcome the social stigma of his conviction and obtain a respectable position in society. Although most respectable occupations were closed to ex-convicts, the colony was desperately short of teachers, yet unable to pay a sufficient wage to attract them. Whereas educated people of the "free" class were not attracted to teaching positions, the positions were attractive to educated ex-convicts, for whom the salary was no lower than other vocations open to them, and the job offered a degree of respectability. In total, 39 ex-convicts became school teachers in Western Australia. Erickson (1983) has suggested that the use of ex-convict school teachers played an important role in the gradual breaking down of the social stigma of convictism.



NAME=Hasleby, James

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