Tattoo meanings - Samuel DINNER of Bristol, England convict transported to Australia<script src=""></script> :: Genealogy
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Tattoo meanings - Samuel DINNER of Bristol, England convict transported to Australia

Journal by allycat

Trying to find out the meaning of all the tattoos that one of my 3g grandfathers had. Information sourced from ships' indent and his Ticket of Leave.

His name was Samuel DINNER born 1820 Bristol, England, his trade was an Engine Smith where he began an apprenticeship at 12 years of age. He was charged with 'picking pockets', trial was at the Bristol Quarter Sessions on 8 January 1839 where he was sentenced for 10 years to the colonies. He was transported to Australia via ship 'Barossa' which arrived in New South Wales with 336 male convicts. Samuel Dinner was No. 11 on the Indent List, Prisoner No. 39/1234. The 'Barrosa' arrived from England on 8th December 1839.

Occupation in Australia is listed as being a Blacksmith.

Two wreaths, man, woman, SPSD on breast, SP and Fame on upper, crucifix, heart pierced with two darts, SD two fish, anchor, two smoking pipes, crown, two flags, bird on branch on lower right arm, blue ring on middle finger of right hand, woman on upper, man, woman, MDSD on lower left arm, SP on back of left wrist, SD seven dots on back of left hand.

Can anyone help with the tattoo meanings please?

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by allycat Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2010-06-11 07:59:11

allycat , from sunny Queensland, Australia, has been a Family Tree Circles member since Mar 2006. is researching the following names: VOSS, DENNER, DINNER and 610 other(s).

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by ngairedith on 2010-06-11 15:11:39

Hello allycat,

TATTOOING has been a Eurasian practice since Neolithic times
Tattooing spread among the upper classes all over Europe in the nineteenth century, but particularly in Britain where it was estimated in Harmsworth Magazine in 1898 that as many as one in five members of the gentry were tattooed. There, it was not uncommon for members of the social elite to gather in the drawing rooms and libraries of the great country estate homes after dinner and partially disrobe in order to show off their tattoo

In England, tattooing flourished in the 19th century and became something of a tradition in the British Navy

This is an excellent site TATTOO HISTORY
It is very informative about the hows and whys of tattoos through the ages, don't know if it will explain your symbols but happy hunting ...

7 dots on the hand seems rather unusual - the ususal (now) is 5 dots and nearly always applied in a prison, having a code system (could mean how many years served or any other number of things relevant to that person)

Tattoos have been found on mummies of 5,200 B.C. so the meaning of tattoos are speculative

It seems that his tattoos all had a personal theme (as opposed to religious, political etc) - knowing what the flags were of would help tell his story, Britain and ? - are they beside the crown I wonder

I'm thinking, as you probably are too, that the SD stands for Samuel Dinner and therefore the SP and MD were loved ones

A heart with darts usually symbolises being shot by cupid (two darts may be SP & MD ??) however he was 19 at time of transport so may even have represented his parents
Does the 2 wreaths indicate the loss of his two loves?? - parents perhaps
Very unusual for a man to have a man tattoo, could have been his father or if together with the woman may have represented himself and a woman

An Engine Smith made parts for and repaired engines using the tools of a Smith - similar work to that of a Blacksmith so Samuel's trade does not seem to be depicted

A crucifix on the chest used to mean the wearer was a thief

Depending what type of bird is on the branch changes the meaning, as does a bird sitting on a branch instead of in flight (or, he may just have liked birds !!)

The ring on the middle finger? - I know someone who has their wedding ring tattooed on their left hand as they did not want to wear a gold ring

The two smoking pipes fasinates me - hope we can find out the meaning of that one. If he was from America we would of course assume a Calumet

Hope other readers can be of help

by allycat on 2010-06-11 20:00:29

Thank you Ngairedith, much appreciated. Very interesting to read about what his tattoos meant. He was a smithy only in Australia.

I wonder if my Samuel Dinner continued his 'thieving' ways in Australia as I've found numerous records of horse stealing, larceny etc. Oops.

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