Our Convict Connection:

The life of David Ottolangui aka David Langley

born 1812, London, England

by Merle Langley





David Ottolangui was born on the 27th October 1812 in Aldgate, London, England. His father Israel Ottolenghi was born in Livorno, Italy in 1774 and married Amelia (Miriam) HaLevy on the 31st October 1792 at the Bevis Marks Synagogue. David was the youngest of nine boys. His Godparents were Isaac and Sarah Nathan.


By 1818 Israel and his family were living at Wood Street, Tabernacle-Walk, London. Israel states his occupation as a 'Confectioner'.


As a small trader and given the harsh conditions in London at this time, Israel must have struggled to provide for such a large family. The Industrial Revolution undoubtedly intensified class distinctions and contrary to expectation, the Napoleonic Wars bought economic depression and mass unemployment.


In a law report of the Court of King’s Bench, Westminster, of February 10, 1823, Israel Ottolangui, who was also known as Israel Langley, and now living at Catherine Street, Tower Hill, was charged with assaulting an excise officer who was pursuing him for a fine of £10. He was held in custody from December 1822 until his trial in Feb 1823 and then given a further sentence of three months imprisonment in the House of Correction, at Cold Bath-Fields. He was also required to pay £40 security for good behaviour and a further two sureties of £20 each for three years.


The imprisonment of Israel for six months and these added costs would have placed immense strain on the already fragile family income.


In September 1828 Amelia was dealt another blow when Israel passed away and she was left to provide for her four youngest sons still living at home.


Eight months after the death of his father, young David now 17 years old was indicted on 1st May 1829 for stealing screw caps and confined for three months. After his release and in December that same year David was in trouble with the law again and apprehended for theft. This time he was sentenced to 14 years and transported to Australia for life!


Document 1


Evidence for the offence tried on 16th January 1830.

David Langley was indicted for stealing, on the 14th Dec, 1 cheese, value 12s, the goods of Thomas Davidge; and that, at the Delivery of His Majesty's Gaol of Newgate, Holden on Thursday, the 11th of June, in the 10th year of his Majesty's reign, he was convicted of felony.


Thomas Davidge: I am a cheesemonger, and live at No.48 Minories.

On the 14th of December I went to my tea at a quarter before six o'clock, and the cheeses were safe under my portico, on a pile up to the top of the doorway; I came from tea in about 20 minutes, and said to my shopman, “Richard, there is a cheese gone”; he had not missed it...this is the cheese; it has my mark on it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Barry: Q. Do you know whether this cheese was on the pile? A. Yes...they were all marked No.2, being of one particular dairy; I had sold some that day, but this is marked 24, which no other was...the shopman could not sell a whole cheese without my knowledge; there were eight of them, part of which I had put up.

James Fogg: I saw the prisoner in Rosemary-Lane, with the cheese, on the evening of 14th December; it was in a small green bag, on his head, about a quarter of a mile from the prosecutor’s. I asked where he got it; he hesitated sometime, and then said 2 men gave it to him at the corner of Four Awl-court, and I might go and see them. I put him into a shop and handcuffed him; as we were going along he saw two men, and said, “They have just cut down the lane now;” he afterwards saw his brother, and told him to go with me and show me the persons, and said one of them was named Phillips; I went with his brother to the City of Carlisle public house...he went in, and two young men ran out; one of them we took, but the other, whom he called Phillips, got away. When I had that young man before the Magistrate the prisoner said it was not him, but Phillips gave it to him.

Prisoner’s Defence: The young man gave it to me to carry, and I was to have 6d. for it.

John Cuthbert. I produce a certificate of the conviction of the prisoner in June last...I know he is the person.

GUILTY. Age 19. Transported for Life.

Sentenced to 14 years.


We can imagine the emotional distress David must have endured as he realised the severity of his situation. Unless David was granted an absolute pardon in Australia he would never be allowed to return to England.


The Voyage:


David Langley (convict number 45181) was detained in Middlesex until he was assigned to the convict ship the “David Lyon” that set sail for Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (later Tasmania) from Sheerness, London on 2nd May 1830.


Document 2

DAVID LYON - Captain/Master: James Bury/Berry from Sheerness/London on 2 May 1830 carrying 220 male convicts for Hobart Town (3 prisoners and 1 Seaman died on the way). Guard: Captain McPherson, 17th Detachment and Families. Ship Surgeon Royal Navy - Charles Cameron. Type & Tonnage:  Ship/CT 275 (?), 2 guns, 475/476 - (CT = Convict Transport).


The duration of David’s voyage onboard the ‘David Lyon’ was about three months and two weeks. Prisoners were chained up for the entire time at sea. Disease, dysentery and scurvy were rampant and convict deaths were common. Prisoners were confined below the deck in cells separated into compartments, often as many as fifty convicts were crammed into one compartment.
David’s behaviour on the ship was noted as “Orderly”


The Arrival:




The “David Lyon” arrived at its destination on the 19th August 1830. Hobart’s docks were the disembarkation point and prisoners still chained were bought ashore a day or two after their arrival.


David’s first impression of Hobart most certainly would have been the bustle and commotion of this newly settled town, with an abundance of people going about their business in the midst of a cluster of warehouses, taverns and shops.


The convicts were marched to the Government Lumber Yard, where they were stripped, washed, inspected and had their vital statistics recorded.




                   Figure 0: Hobart Town circa 1830


From David’s Description List “CON 18/2” we can ascertain the following:

David was a man of small stature, 5 feet 2 inches. His complexion was ‘dark’ so quite possibly he inherited his father’s Italian skin tone.  He was clean-shaven with an oval face, perpendicular wrinkled forehead, short nose and a medium wide mouth with thick lips and medium chin; his eyes were black, eyebrows dark brown and hair black.


Figure 0: Artist’s impression of David Langley as he may have looked according to his convict description

Imagination and Art by Tony Langley.


Convict Life:

Once assessed a convict was “classified” and “appropriated”.


Document 3

David Langley’s Appropriation List ‘CON 27/4’:

532 Langley, David, 20, Carter, Middlesex, Life, London. W Wood (crossed out) and P. W. (inserted).


We can derive from this David was assessed as a “Class 3” convict and appropriated to “Public Works”.  David would have been housed in the prisoners barracks penitentiary known then as “The Tench” located in Campbell Street.  Convicts were taken out on daily work parties for road building and construction. On later documents David gives his occupation as “Stonemason” - we can presume that this is where he learned his profession.


Figure 0: Prisoner Barracks – Campbell Street, Hobart.


Document 4

David’s Conduct List 'Con 31/28':

532 - Langley, David, 'David Lyon' August 1830, Middlesex 14 January 1830 - Life.

Transported for stealing 24 pounds of cheese. Goal Report “here before”. Hulk report “Orderly”. Single. Stated this offence: Stealing 24 pounds of cheese.
Once for Screw Engine Caps, 21 days House of Correction. Single/Jew

Little is known about David’s movements while serving his time.

Apart from the above, his conduct record is completely bereft of detail! We can deduce that David was a model prisoner of good character. He was never punished or in trouble of any sort.

David was promoted to Constable on 31 July 1836, Police number 339, rate of pay 1/9, so some position in society - although this did not mean that he had an easy life, constables were viewed with suspicion by the settlers, because of their convict status, and with suspicion by the convicts because they had crossed the line to join the establishment.

He resigned as a Constable on the 31st January 1839.


Document 5

David’s Application for Permission to Marry ‘CON 52/1’ p. 106, 1836.

Name                         Ship                                                     Decision

532 Langley, David - 'David Lyon' - 2 Aug - 8 September - Yes

258 Skinner, Phillis - 'Edward'

David Langley married Phillis Skinner on 26th September 1836 in Hobart, Tasmania.


Marriages solemnized in the Parish of Trinity in the County of Buckingham in the Year 1836 -Number 299

David Langley of this parish - Bachelor and Phillis Skinner of this parish – Spinster were married in this Church by Banns with the consent of both this twenty sixth day of September in the year 1836. By me P. Palmer HM Chaplain - Rural Dean.

This marriage was solemnized between us) X mark of David Langley

Phillis Skinner (signed)

In the presence of: Many Ann Albury and Francis Woolmore of Hobart Town

From the marriage entry we can see David was unable to write making his mark with an X.

Phillis was also a convict, and at the time of her marriage to David she was 22 years old.


Document 6

Skinner, Phillis, Ship: 'Edward' 4th September 1834. Middlesex Goal 28th November 1833. Sentence: 14 years.

Transported for stealing sheets, Goal Report not known, 4 indictments – Age 19 years –Spinster. Single. Stated this offence, pawning a coalscuttle from my lodgings, tried on 4 indictments, acquitted on two - Single - 1 child, 6 months old on board.


Figure 0: Newtown, Hobart circa 1835



A Free Man!


David and Phillis lived in New Town, Hobart and on the 2nd September 1837 Phillis gave birth to their first daughter Amelia Langley.  David named her after his own mother.


1839 was an eventful year for David. In January he received a “conditional pardon” and became a free man. Although pleased to have finally served his sentence, the disappointment of not receiving an “absolute pardon” (which he tried so hard to get) must have saddened him immensely. The realisation that he would never be able to return to England and see his mother must have been emotionally heartbreaking for him.


Later that same year on the 3rd of June, Phillis gave birth to a son. He was named David Langley and baptised at St Johns Church, Newtown, Hobart, Tasmania on the 18th May 1840.


By 1841 the marriage began to deteriorate. Phillis was still unsettled, and perhaps not fully committed to the marriage. She was in trouble often with the authorities for drunkenness and indecent language. David had done well for himself, he had good prospects - the marriage was possibly not a good love match. It was the way the system worked, marriage was the only way that Phillis was going to advance herself, but on 2nd May 1841 Phillis was found to be absent from her husband’s house all night and “keeping company with another man”. Phillis would have been about two months pregnant with David’s third child at the time.


Document 7

3 May 1841 - Wife of D Langley / absent from her husbands house at night and keeping company with another man. Three months hard labour, House of Correction, then return to her husband / P.J.


David remained with Phillis and on the 5th December 1841, Sophia Langley was born, the family now lived on William Street, New Town and Sophia’s birth record gives David’s occupation as Bricklayer.

Sadly in November 1842, David’s mother Amelia (Ottolangui) Langley passed away.

Another son, Richard Langley was born about 1843, no birth registration or baptism found.  Richard died on 11th September 1861 from Diphtheria in Argyle Street, Hobart at the home of his sister Sarah and her husband John Edmonds.  His death was reported by John Jones, friend, of Melville Street, Hobart.

Sarah Langley was born on the 31st January 1844 and Rachel was born on the 21st December 1846.  Rachel died on 10th August 1861 from diphtheria also at the residence of Mr John Edmonds (her sister Sarah's husband), Argyle Street, Hobart.

Unfortunately David’s marriage was still in disarray and unable to tolerate the situation any longer David made the decision to quietly leave.



David’s Secret Voyage:


David left Phillis and his children behind, departing Hobart on the ship 'Magusha' on the 26th December 1849.  He arrived in San Francisco, California on the 6th May 1850.


David had befriended a young man named Richard Pinnuck who was also a convict. He was born in 1826 in London. Richard would have been welcome in David’s home and known the family well.


Richard Pinnuck is listed as a passenger on the ship 'John Bull' which left Van Diemens Land on the 26th June 1849. The ship was destined for New Zealand and then on to San Francisco. Richard Pinnuck returned to Hobart from San Francisco on the ship 'Eliza' in 1850 and only three weeks later married David’s daughter Amelia Langley, who had just turned 13 years old!



A New Beginning:


The Californian Gold Rush between 1848-1858 led to a boom in population, including extensive immigration. The peak of the rush was in 1849 and immigrants from this period were called the “49ers”.


We can speculate David travelled to San Francisco at this time with the intention of seeking his fortune on the gold fields! In 1849 the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000 and as in many early mining towns the social climate of San Francisco was chaotic. The need for increased housing, clothing and supplies paved the way for employment and bought an influx of ships carrying cargo into the harbour. According to family lore, David worked on the waterfront in the early 1850’s as a 'Teamster'; he drove a wagon with horses and made deliveries.


Figure 0: San Francisco Waterfront taken from Telegraph Hill


By 1854 David had met Esther Harris who was born about 1826 in England. According to census records David and Esther were married, however no marriage record has been found and David did not divorce his first wife Phillis.


In 1855 Esther gave birth to a son, Louis Langley and on the 13th March 1860 a daughter Amelia Langley, both born in California. Why David named the baby Amelia when his oldest daughter to Phillis also named Amelia was still alive is a bit of a mystery, unless of course David had not yet told Esther about his 'other family'.


The family were now living at 112 First Street, San Francisco and on the 12th June 1866 another daughter Cecilia was born. By 1870 David was employed as a Stone Mason and his net worth was estimated at US$300. Esther stayed home and kept house, son Louis was a Store Clerk and Amelia attended school.


At the age of 67years, David’s unswerving work ethics and determination to succeed finally yielded results. David moved the family to 12 Louisa Street and established a business at 311 Commercial Road, San Francisco in the Central City business area.


Figure 0: Kearny Street, Commercial Street corner 1870.


In 1880 David is listed in the California General and Business Directory as a Merchant and General Dealer - exactly what type of shop he owned is yet to be discovered. Son Louis, still living at home and now 25 years of age had also done well for himself and established a business as a 'Trunk Maker' -  trading under the name 'Behrandi & Co'.


Two years later on the 22nd July 1882 David passed away age 70 years.


Document 8

Obituary: David Langley: The funeral will take place TODAY [Friday] at 2 o'clock from his late residence 12 Louisa Street. No flowers.