Risk, John

Risk on Jan 1858 Muster
John Risk on January 1858
Muster Roll & Pay List

In 1858, when the complement of 20th Company soldiers dwindled to 67, a top-up arrived on the convict ship Nile on 1st January 1858. It had been a long and difficult voyage with the military men and warders being responsible for the good behaviour of the convicts on board. John Risk (marital status unknown) was among the 27 sappers, 13 wives and 29 children on the ship.

No WO97 Chelsea Pension discharge documents were issued for Sapper John Risk #2446, neither is there any record of this man in the usual local sources. The only record of the man in Western Australia appears to be on the Muster Rolls & Pay Lists from his arrival to departure to England in April 1862 on Lincelles. [WO11-158 to WO11-207].

In August 1858 Risk was sentenced to 12 days in jail at a District Court Martial. There is no indication of the nature of his crime. However, he lost pay while serving his sentence at the rate of 1/2½d. per day. In April 1860 he spent several days in ‘civil confinement’; if this was for a civil crime, it was not reported in the newspapers. Military Prison was again his ‘home’ for 41 days throughout August and September; for another offence he was tried at District Court Martial and again in Military Prison during most of October and November (55 days).

Risk Surname Distribution
Click to enlarge this Surname Distribution Map 1881


Throughout 1861 and up to April 1862, not a Muster went by without Risk losing pay owing to time spent in the Guard Room or Barracks Cells – mostly short periods, but frequently.

John Risk was a mason by trade. His work in Western Australia as an Instructing Warder is not recorded in any of the Convict Depots outside Fremantle. Perhaps this was because he had a poor record and judged to be unreliable.

Tracing John Risk after his departure from Western Australia has proved impossible without any record of his origin or birth date. In the 1881 census, the name John Risk occurs 31 times in Scotland and only five times in England and Wales (see Map).