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, 13,500 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 seminars.
When you register with 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.
Next Publication from Convict Women's Press
Call for Submissions
Convict Women's Press has decided that their next book will be Young Female Convicts in Van Diemen's Land. Many female convicts were under the age of sixteen. What was their experience of convict life? How did they cope, forcibly separated from their families and everything that was familiar? What was their post-sentence experience? You can write about one convict, or a group (for example sisters, girls on the same ship, from the same place), or an aspect of this topic.
You are invited to submit a story for the book of up to 2000 words. I'll be looking for interesting stories or biographies, but no fiction – this is a factual book. Please include a list of sources.
Contact me directly by 30th September at email@example.com
Alison Alexander (editor)
Vandemonians: The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria
By Janet McCalman
From award-winning author and historian Janet McCalman, the engrossing tale of Tasmanian convict settlers in colonial Victoria.
It was meant to be 'Victoria the Free', uncontaminated by the Convict Stain. Yet they came in their tens of thousands as soon as they were cut free or able to bolt. More than half of all those transported to Van Diemen's Land as convicts would one day settle or spend time in Victoria. There they were demonised as Vandemonians Some could never go straight; a few were the luckiest of gold diggers; a handful founded families with distinguished descendants. Most slipped into obscurity. Burdened by their pasts and their shame, their lives as free men and women, even within their own families, were forever shrouded in secrets and lies.
To be published 28th September 2021. Pre-orders available. Available in paperback or ebook. Pages: 352
Cascades Female Factory Historic Site is temporarily closing to the public on 26 May
The Cascades Female Factory Historic Site is temporarily closing its doors on Wednesday 26 May 2021 in order to begin construction on a NEW History and Interpretation Centre. An entirely new experience, the History and Interpretation Centre will be a world-class facility that emotionally connects you to the stories of triumph and tragedy of Australia's convict women and their children. Construction by Hansen Yuncken will commence in early June, with a view to reopening to the public in December later this year. Read more...
Latest Publication from Convict Women's Press
Convict Lives: Female Convicts at the New Norfolk Asylum
The latest publication from Convict Women's Press Inc was launched on the 1st May 2021, by Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania.
The sixth publication in the series of Convict Lives in Van Diemen’s Land has been edited by Dianne Snowden and Jane Harrington.
Initially opening as an invalid hospital in 1829 at New Norfolk, the hospital was shortly renamed the New Norfolk Asylum for the Insane. It housed both convict and free men and women, and its inmates included hundreds of convict women.
Recounting the lives of 15 women using archival material and family records, the book’s 22 authors reconstruct the lives of individual convict women, the reasons for their admission and their treatment in the Asylum.
The stories highlight there is much more to the life of a convict than a crime, trial and sentence. Seven of the authors are descendants of these women and share family stories of fractured and fragmented lives.
Copies of the book can be bought from selected book stores or online through the CWP website at https://www.convictwomenspress.com.au
Save The Date:
FCRC's 2022 Seminar: Young female convicts in Van Diemen’s Land
- Special Recognition for FCRC Committee Members
- Cascades Female Factory Historic Site is temporarily closing to the public on 26 May
- Peter MacFie, Tasmanian Historian, Writer and Musician
- Norah Cobbett's story marks Fifty great Female Convict Stories from Don.
- From the Shadows: Installation of their first statue, 'Martha Gregory'.
- Transcribing Tasmanian Convict Records by Susan Hood
- TEMPLETON, Grace (per Hector 1835). By Helen Menard.
- BRAYSON, Margaret (Gilbert Henderson, 1840). By Don Bradmore.
- HARFORD, Mary per Royal Admiral 1842. By Don Bradmore.
- BRAID, Mary per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard.
- CUNNINGHAM, Hannah per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard
- BARNES, Sarah per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard.
- COPLEY, Mary and Sarah per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard.
- CALLAGHAN, Elizabeth per Providence (II) 1822. By Don Bradmore (29/05/2021).
Ships - Tory 1848 - Transcript of Surgeon's Journal (Transcribed by Colleen Arulappu 20/08/2021). Charles Smith included brief remarks about each of his patients. His General Remarks described the voyage and he shared his philosophy of the positive effect on the mind when the prisoners were occupied and feeling more cheerful about their prospects ahead. The women on the Tory made 500 shirts during the voyage and were busy with knitting and regular schooling in the morning and evening.
Ships - Earl Grey 1850 - Transcript of Surgeon's Journal (Transcribed by Colleen Arulappu 7/06/2021). The surgeon wrote up the fatal cases and those of the patients sent to Hospital on arrival. He said that the children who died came from the Union Work Houses in emaciated states and had little hope of surviving illness. The women sent to hospital suffered mostly from Dysentery . In the General Remarks the surgeon noted that bloodletting aggravated the degree of debility of his patients. No post mortems were carried out due to lack of privacy and the prejudice against it by the prisoners.
Resources: Books: Vandemonians by Janet McCalman (13/08/2021)
Launceston Female Factory - Image of the Launceston Female Factory from 1914. Source and permission Tasmanian Archives (Weekly Courier 1914). (Updated 18/06/2021)
Image Gallery - Grace McIntosh per Tasmania 1844; (source and permission: Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives); Helen Brown per Tory 1845; Anastatia Kenny per Martin Luther, Jane Campbell per Waverley, Isabella McCall per Martin Luther, source PROV. https://vagrantsandmurderesses.com (8/04/2021)
Punishments - Solitary Confinement (23/09/2021), Transportation Extended, Existing Sentence Extended (13/08/2021), Committed to Trial, Fined (11/07/2021), Transportation (3/07/2021).