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The Female Convicts Research Centre promotes interest in the female convicts of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), by encouraging and facilitating research.
From 1803 to 1853, 12,500 female convicts were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), as punishment for crimes, mainly theft. After serving their sentences they were released into the community. Their transportation left a lasting legacy.
The Female Convicts Research Centre encourages research into these female convicts, mainly through its database, website and twice-yearly seminars.
When you become a member of the FCRC, you gain access to our database where you will find information entered by our volunteers as we attempt to reconstruct the life course of each female convict.
We update this website and our database regularly and sometimes daily, as our volunteer transcribers continue to provide new information. Please bookmark this page and return soon.
This is Eden, created and performed by Emily Goddard and directed by Susie Dee, opens on 27 April - 7 May at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
It is set in 1839 at the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart Town. In a solitary cell, on the edge of survival, a ‘sleek little savage’, waits alone in the darkness. Left for dead, ten thousand miles from home, she plots escape and reveals, wit biting mockery, the untold tales of her captors. This is Eden is at once an examination of our dark past, a parody of the way we perceive it and a vital call to arms.
From performer and theatre maker Emily Goddard (You Got Older, the Boy at the Edge of Everything, The Lonely Wolf) and director Susie Dee (SHIT, The Long Pigs, Savages) comes a dark, humorous and provocative anti-bonnet drama inspired by the rebellion and resistance of the female convicts of Van Diemen’s Land.
How did convict women bringing children from Britain cope - with travelling, with nurturing, with keeping in touch with their children?
We would like to say a very big thank you to our volunteer team. We have almost completed transcribing the description lists, indents and conduct records currently available to us online and we are well into the process of checking the veracity of our data. At this stage, we have checked about 15% of the material in our database. This ongoing process is only possible because of the generosity of our amazing team.
Terry Creaney, a member of the Leigh branch of the Liverpool South West Lancashire Family History Society, volunteered with the Liverpool-based team researching convict lives for the FCRC. Terry researched the lives of over 600 convict women before they were transported. His knowledge of village history in Britain and Ireland was invaluable as we tried to locate the women's native places. Sadly, Terry passed away on New Year’s Eve. We would like to acknowledge his work and the respect that we had for him as a member of our volunteer team. He will be sadly missed.
Convict Women's Press have launched their latest book: Repression, Reform & Resilience: a history of the Cascades Female Factory
Repression, Reform & Resilience: a history of the Cascades Female Factory tells the story of the Cascades site: its beginnings as a whiskey distillery, through its grim time as a prison for female convicts, then as an institution for poor and unfortunate people ranging from orphans to lunatics and the elderly. From 1905 it was used for activities such as tennis and making aloe boxes and wine, but from 1977 the crumbling ruins were protected and restored. Today the Female Factory is a World Heritage site, popular with tourists and greatly prized for its historic importance.
Repression, Reform and Resilience: a history of the Cascades Female Factory is compiled by Female Convicts Research Centre members and edited by Alison Alexander.
Books are available for purchase from the CWP website http://www.convictwomenspress.com.au or selected Tasmanian book stores.
We are interested in any old photos you may have of the Cascades Female Factory or female convict ancestors - please contact us if you have some images you would like to donate to FCRC.
Following the November 2015 Launch of their latest paperback "From the Edges of Empire: Convict Women from beyond the British Isles", Convict Women's Press have now launched the book's companion website: Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary. with accounts of over 160 female convicts who were tried or born outside the British Isles, compiled by Female Convicts Research Centre members.
This project is a fully searchable edition of 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to 3.35 million names. You can access it by following this link. http://www.londonlives.
has just aired in the UK. It tells the story of three sisters tried in the 1830s and traces their descendants.
One of the Gadbury sisters arrived in VDL on the Majestic in 1839 as Sarah Cope (ID7910 in our database). Her aliases included Sarah Cape, Caroline Gadbury, Bradbury, Gadley and Gantry. She married Charles Chapman in 1854 and he died in 1855. The couple had had three daughters, two of whom died in infancy.
In 1860, Sarah married George Ogilvie, a blacksmith and a widower with one surviving son, James. George’s first wife, and the mother of his two sons, was also a convict named Caroline Justin. (ID9720) She arrived on the Navarino in 1841. She died in 1855.
Sarah Cope died as Caroline Cissy Ogilvie, at the home of her daughter, Sarah Ann, in New Town, in 1895. George Ogilvie died in 1894.
The work of FCRC is praised in an article by Janet McCalman et al: 'Building a Life Course Dataset from Australian Convict Records: Founders & Survivors: Australian Life Courses in Historical Context, 1803–1920' in the recent release of Gerrit Bloothooft et al. (eds), Population Reconstruction, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2015. The article is a great overview of how the FCRC gather data and how it's used by the Founders and Survivors project.