Up until the opening of the Cascades Female Factory, convicts were assigned from the ship when they arrived, or in the very early years, left to find their own accommodation! From the beginning of 1829, starting with the Harmony, when convict ships arrived, the women were sent to Cascades Female Factory for assignment (or punishment if they had been difficult on the voyage).

 

From the arrival of the Gilbert Henderson in May 1840, this practice was discontinued. The new process is described below in the section titled 1840–1843. Disposal of convicts changed again in 1844 when they were sent directly to the Anson probation station upon arrival (unless they were nursing infants, in which case they were sent to Dynnyrne Nursery).

 

After the closure of the Anson in 1849, arriving female convicts were sent for a short time to New Town Farm probation station, and then again directly to Cascades Female Factory.

 

Descriptions of the disposal of the convicts arriving on the Borneo in 1828, Nautilus in 1838, the Royal Admiral in 1842, the Margaret in 1843, and the Martin Luther in 1852 are provided below.

Borneo

According to GP in his newspaper articles 'Backward Glances', the female convicts were disembarked from the Borneo and removed to a temporary female factory on the Government Domain, then known as the 'Paddock'. The Hobart Town Female Factory was too overcrowded to receive them, so a temporary stockade was built on the Government Domain to house them until the building of the Cascades Female Factory was completed. These women were the first to move into the new female factory at Cascades, getting it ready for those housed at the Hobart Town Female Factory to be removed there in January 1829.

 

Nautilus

The Principal Superintendent of Convicts, Josiah Spode, wrote to the Colonial Secretary on 14 September 1838 (AOT, CSO 5/140/3376 p.285) detailing the distribution of 133 female convicts received from England per ship Nautilus. 120 were assigned (from Hobart), two were forwarded to Launceston for assignment, five were not fit for assignment, three were sick, one died on board (Jane Brown) and two were unassigned (vacant).

 

Royal Admiral

On 24 September 1842, the Royal Admiral arrived in Hobart carrying 200 female convicts. The Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Sir John Franklin, wrote the following despatch to Lord Stanley regarding its arrival on 1 January 1843 (AOT, GO 33/44 pp.1–7).

I have the honor to report to Your Lordship that the ship "Royal Admiral" arrived here on the 24th September last with 202 Female Convicts, two of those who were received on board in England, and who are named in the margin [Susannah Harvey, tried at Stafford 19 Oct 1841; Mary Jackson, tried at Launceston 6 Dec 1841] having died on the passage. The remaining Females have been distributed in the usual manager.

Having reason to believe that it is the intention of the Owners of this ship to make an application for compensation on the score of demurrage, I deem it right to put Your Lordship in possession of all the facts connected with the passage and arrival of the "Royal Admiral".

Mr. Roberts the Surgeon Superintendent states that he received the Despatches for this Colony and the Master's instructions to proceed, on the 4th May, and that the Vessel sailed from Woolwich on the 5th. They were compelled to put into the Cape of Good Hope by the deficiency of water, which Mr. Roberts attributes to the very leaky state of the Casks and arrived here on the 24th September.

Owing to the crowded state of the Female penitentiaries here, some little delay occurred before the women could be landed – those however who were intended to remain on this side of the Island were landed on the Seventh day after their arrival – and the remainder were trans shipped as soon as a Vessel was at liberty to convey them to Launceston, which was on the 8th October.

When therefore Your Lordship takes into consideration the great and rapid increase which has taken place in the number of the Female Convicts under the charge of this Government, an increase with which it has been quite impossible for the provisions of extended accommodation to keep pace, Your Lordship will perceive that every despatch was used by the Officers upon whom that duty devolved, to discharge the ship here without delay.

I  may add that at the time when the "Royal Admiral" entered this Port, the workmen of the Royal Engineers Department were actively engaged upon an additional building in this Town (the Brickfields Barracks) for the reception of Female Convicts which was completed on the 1st October, and that in the Female House of Correction there were at that time confined Seven Hundred Females and Children.

It will be recollected that more than the accustomed number of Lay days had been expended prior to the "Royal Admiral" leaving the last English Port, after which the detention at the Cape originated in a defect on the part of the Owners of the Ship and was not in any manner occasioned by the Officers of the Government.

A further cause of delay was the disorderly conduct of the Crew who rendered it necessary for the Master to obtain assistance from the Police of this Town before he could bring the Ship up the River.

Under these circumstances which can in part be corroborated by Mr. Roberts the Surgeon Superintendent I think Your Lordship will arrive a the conclusion that the Owners can have no claim upon the Government for demurrage. I would however venture to submit for Your Lordship's consideration the propriety of causing express provision to be made in all future charter parties for reserving a certain number of Lay Days after each Ship's arrival in this Port, in order that time may be allowed for the discharge of the Convicts after their arrival.

I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient
Humble Servant,
John Franklin

Margaret

On 21 April 1843, the Courier (p.2) reported on the disposal of the female convicts arriving on the Margaret on 19 July 1843.

PRISON DISCIPLINE.—We alluded in our last to some chances of importance which, it is understood, will shortly be made. Already has an order been issued prohibiting the assignment of the convict women upon their first arrival here. The women by the Margaret, daily expected, will be sent to a house in Liverpool street (the nursery) opposite the hospital, where they will be classed, and undergo a probationary term of imprisonment prior to being allowed the privilege, for such it may be considered, of being sent to private service. The mode of employment has not yet transpired, and will, in its practical operation, be found far more difficult than is that in the management of the men. We do not augur much good from the new arrangements with respect to the prisoner women, until the Government are better prepared with a penitentiary or place of confinement, and employment remote from the incidental and accidental temptations of a populous town.

 

 

Martin Luther

The Martin Luther arrived in Hobart on 1 September 1852 carrying 212 female convicts. By this time, the Anson was no longer in service as a probation station and female convicts were being hired into service upon arrival.

Just two weeks after its arrival, the Comptroller-General's Office notified the public in the Hobart Town Gazette:

that the Female Convicts who arrived by the Martin Luther, eligible for private service, can be hired at the Brickfields Depot on Friday next, the 17th instant, at 11 o'clock A.M.

It will be necessary that parties desirous to hire any of these women should obtain an order from this Office.

1840–1843

The following is a transcription of Appendix D from the Inquiry into Female Prison Discipline held 1841–1843 (TAHO, CSO22/1/50 pp.420–422).

When was the practice of sending females direct from the ship to the Factory discontinued?

As a general practice on the arrival of the 'Gilbert Henderson' in May 1840.

 

To what places were they sent?

 

Such as could be conveniently sent to the services to which they had been assigned in Town were so—the remainder to the factory excepting those for Launceston who were placed on board a Government vessel in order to their immediate removal to that place.

 

What was the number of women in each ship who went direct into assigned service?

 

Ship
Gilbert Henderson
Navarino
Mary Ann (Irish)
Rajah
Garland Grove (1)
Mexborough (Irish)
Emma Eugenia
Hope (Irish)
Royal Admiral
Waverely (Irish)
Garland Grove (2)

Number Hobart
42
55
49
47
52
36
72
28
43
none
40

What number went to the Brickfields or Receiving House?

 

Ship
Gilbert Henderson
Navarino
Mary Ann
Rajah
Garland Grove (1)
Mexborough
Emma Eugenia
Hope
Royal Admiral
Waverley
Garland Grove

Number
95
124
71
54
47
50
58
109
78
149
68

What number went from each ship to Launceston?

 

Ship
Gilbert Henderson
Navarino
Mary Ann
Rajah
Garland Grove (1)
Mexborough
Emma Eugenia
Hope
Royal Admiral
Waverley
Garland Grove (2)

Number
47
none
none
79
80
57
60
none
81
none
77

How many of those went at once into assigned service?

 

Ship
Gilbert Henderson
Navarino
Mary Ann (Irish)
Rajah
Garland Grove (1)
Mexborough (Irish)
Emma Eugenia
Hope (Irish)
Royal Admiral
Waverley (Irish)
Garland Grove (2)

Number Launceston
47
none
none
73
69
41
31
none
28
none
24

Were the women sent to Launceston kept separate in a ward, or mixed with the others?

They were always kept separate until once assigned.

 
   

Josiah Spode
Principal Superintendent