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 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.




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FCRC Seminar 2020:  Sunday, 5th April, Call for Papers.

Topic:  THE EARLY YEARS 1803-1828

Two hundred years ago, the Morley sailed from London to Hobart Town. This was the first time that convict women were sent to Van Diemen’s Land directly from England. The convict women on the Morley arrived at a time before the Hobart Town Female Factory was established, raising the question of how they were managed. The Morley disembarked 50 of its cargo of 121 women; the reminder sailed to Sydney. This pattern of shared voyages continued for some time and it was not until the Providence in 1826 that a female convict ship disembarked its entire shipment of convict women in Hobart.
Our Seminar for 2020 will explore the experience of those convict women who came directly to Hobart Town and compare it with those who came via Sydney. Why was the system changed? What impact did it have on the lives of the convict women?  

Would you like to give a 15-minute paper on any aspect of the experience of convict women in the early years? If you are interested, please contact Victoria Hadley at submissions@femaleconvicts.org.au by 30th November 2019.

Registrations for the seminar will open early January.  The venue will be the Hobart Town Hall.


Women in the Gaol project

In August this year the Carrickfergus and District Historical Society began a research project under the ‘women in the archives’ programme researching women and children who were incarcerated in Carrickfergus gaol from c1779 to the closure of the gaol in 1850 or who were sentenced to death or transported to Tasmania during the period in question.

‘Women in the Archives’ is a strand within the new cross border cultural programme ‘making the Future’ which will empower people to use museum collections and archives to explore the past and create a powerful vision for future change.  ‘Women in the Archives’ is a Peace IV initiative between the Public Records Office Northern Ireland, the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, the Nerve Centre and National Museum Northern Ireland designed to bring people together and provide unique access tro archived documents, objects ad records and develop research skills in community groups.


Carrickfergus is a town on the north shore of Belfast Lough about 10 miles from the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland.  It is much older than Belfast and up until the 19th century was the principle town in Co Antrim and as such the Assizes and county gaol was located there.  Belfast Lough was previously known as Carrickfergus Bay.  The town of Carrickfergus grew around a Norman Castle built around 1180 which is one of the best preserved Norman castle in Ireland.  The historical walled town originally occupied an area of around 97,000 square metres and segments of the town wall are still visible in various parts of the town and in various states of preservation.

Carrickfergus and District Historical Society

The aim of the Society aim is to promote knowledge and understanding of the past by means of education, recording and dissemination, especially of the history of the Carrickfergus area.  It seeks to develop an interest in their past and generates a curiosity of their history.  It holds regular monthly meetings / talks on topics of local historical interest.  Meetings programme is delivered in partnership with the Carrickfergus Museum which is part of the Mid and East. Carrickfergus & District Historical Society has a Facebook page - Heritage Carrickfergus


VDL Convict Women featured in Publications

Ros Escott has recently updated our list of Van Diemen's Land convict women who have been featured in a selection of books including all Convict Women's Press books.  There are about 730 individual convicts covered, briefly or in a chapter, in 15 books, on the FCRC Convict Stories website page, and Convict Women's Press Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary website. The list is available as a pdf resource and will be updated periodically. 


Live History presents ‘Her Story’

a dramatised tour about one convict woman’s life within the Cascades Female Factory in 1833

When: Saturday 26 October 2019

Tour starts: 1.30pm and lasts about 50 minutes  

The tour leaves from the Visitor Centre of the Cascades Female Factory,

16 Degraves Street, South Hobart.

Please meet there 10 to 15 minutes before the start time.

Tickets: $25 Adults, $15 Children (under 12 years)

Booking and pre-payment required: https://www.trybooking.com/BFFZY

Enquiries: Sandra 6225 0499 or Dianne 0409 140 657

Please Note: Site entry tickets, to tour the rest of the historic site following the performance, may be purchased separately at the Visitor Centre.

A fundraising event for From the Shadows: https://fromtheshadows.org.au


State of the Factories

Introducing a new FCRC web page - State of the Factories. Each fortnight from 1832 to the late 1840s the Hobart Town Gazette published a column recording how many women and children were in the factories and the nurseries. The status of the convicts was also recorded: for example, Available for hire, solitary confinement, lying-in, in the sick ward, in first, second and third class. There was also a category for the number of women under sentence who were employed as staff – laundresses, nurses, servants and cooks.

One of our volunteers, Geoff Riddiford, worked with us to capture these details and enter them into spreadsheets so that we can better understand the state of each factory and some of the hiring depots at specific times. (6/09/2019)


James Hardy Vaux’s 1819 Dictionary of Criminal Slang

and Other Impolite Terms as Used by the Convicts of the British Colonies of Australia.

by Simon Barnard

Complied by thrice-transported convict James Hardy Vaux, the book provides an insight into the language and lives of colonial Australia’s criminal underclasses. Recognised as Australia's first dictionary, this year marks its 200th anniversary.

It’s a lavish hardback packed with illustrations, etymological information and remarkable tales of convicts’ lives and crimes. Numerous historic sites feature in the text, including Adelaide Gaol, Cascades Female Factory, Cockatoo Island, Hyde Park Barracks, Melbourne Gaol, Norfolk Island, Parramatta Female Factory, Penitentiary Chapel, Port Arthur, and Richmond Gaol.

You can can preview the book here.

Published by Text Publishing.

Dict of slang


FCRC AGM 2019 Update

At our August AGM, we gave a snapshot of what is happening on our website and in our database, highlighting the work of our exceptional volunteer team which has grown our website to become an internationally recognized resource.  Read more....


Save The Dates:


20th October

Spring Seminar:  "A more hopeless class of subjects?": Convict Women at the New Norfolk Asylum
2019 9th November From the Shadows Colonial Dance, Venue: New Town High School hall.
2020 5th April The Early Years.



Whats new?

Recent Updates

  • Ships - Letter from the Secretary’s Office dated 16th May 1820 - with list of prisoners on Janus 1820 - who were transferred on Princess Charlotte 1820 to VDL, also mentioning the names &c of two male convicts, viz Thos Crougham and John Popjoy  who were also on the Princess Charlotte.  (Transcribed by Rhonda Arthur)   
  • Petitions - Mary Meaghar (or Maher) per Tasmania 1845 (Courtesy of Colleen Arulappu 16/10/2019)
  • Featured in Publications - An updated list of Female Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land, who are mentioned in a selection of publications, by Ros Escott (10/10/2019).
  • Ships - Baretto Junior 1850. (courtesy Colleen Arulappu 9/10/2019). The surgeon described ten cases  which showed his treatment and gave a glimpse of the difficulties of keeping up clean linen when his patients were very seriously ill. Included is a newspaper report of the terrible gale the ship went through on the voyage and the surgeon’s remarks about how frightened the women were and how many of them helped bale water despite being thrown about and bruised.
  • Convict Stories -   2 new additions written by Don Bradmore (6/10/2019): Sarah Bennett per America 1831 and Elizabeth Jones per Siren 1835.
  • Petitions - Alice McDermott per Blackfriar 1851: a successful petition for a prior conviction (courtesy Colleen Arulappu 17/09/2019).
  • Genealogy - A Recent Find: Ann Barrow per Elizabeth and Henry 1848
  • State of the Factories - Introducing a new website page.  Each fortnight from 1832 to the late 1840s the Hobart Town Gazette published a column recording how many women and children were in the factories and the nurseries. The status of the convicts was also recorded: for example, Available for hire, solitary confinement, lying-in, in the sick ward, in first, second and third class. There was also a category for the number of women under sentence who were employed as staff – laundresses, nurses, servants and cooks.

    One of our volunteers, Geoff Riddiford, worked with us to capture these details and enter them into spreadsheets so that we can better understand the state of each factory and some of the hiring depots at specific times.  (6/09/2019)

  • Petitions - Ellinor Magee per Mexborough 1841 (courtesy of Colleen Arulappu 6/09/2019).
  • Ships - Sovereign 1827 - Surgeon's Journal. (Courtesy Rhonda Arthur 26/08/2019.

    The General Remarks record the surgeon’s humane and sympathetic observations about the plight of female convicts being transported. Several cases of scarlatina were considered in detail. Rough seas caused casualties - a convict fractured her leg which was set in a splint but the bone was displaced twice and a child was severely scalded by a kettle full of boiling water. A convict of ‘harmless imbecility’ was closely monitored after she jumped off the bow port but the quick actions of the officers and crew saved her life.