‘Out of sight, out of mind: Ex-convict female paupers incarcerated in Queensland's benevolent asylums’, by Jan Richardson.
Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol. 24, 2022, pp. 133-156.
'The establishment of Queensland's first establishment for paupers, the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on Stradbroke Island, led to over 18,000 males and 3,000 females being transferred by ferry
from Brisbane's bayside to their island exile between 1865 and 1946. Among their number were at least 148 male and nineteen female ex-convicts who had once served sentences of transportation in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land.'
'In this article I am concerned mostly with the emancipist women, and some of the men, who can be identified as being admitted to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. These stories form
an underexplored and underrated aspect of Queensland's colonial history.
Indeed, the registers of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum provide a treasure trove of genealogical and historical clues to the backgrounds of female ex-convicts, revealing maiden names, as well as details about parents, husbands and children, and some account of each woman's 'History' prior to admission.'
Complete article available here:
Jan Richardson, ‘Out of sight, out of mind: Ex-convict female paupers incarcerated in Queensland's benevolent asylums’,
Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol. 24, 2022, pp. 133-156.
Department of Archaeology, Classics and History
University of New England
Armidale NSW 2351
“…ninety-seven female Convicts, and twenty-three children, together with twenty-one free women (passengers, and forty-nine of their children), embarked on Board the Lord Sidmouth in September 1822 for passage to Van Diemen’s land and New South Wales.
Surgeon & Supt.”
The Lord Sidmouth arrived at the River Derwent on the 10th February, 1823. Fifty-one convict women were disembarked over the following days before the ship continued its voyage to NSW with the remaining passengers.
Mr Robert Espie R.N. was a surgeon on eight convict ships. The journal of Robert Espie while surgeon on the Lord Sidmouth had the rules to be observed during the voyage hung up in the prison and his journal showed that he applied the rules to all on board the ship.
‘Throughout the journal the instances of offense and punishments were numerous but fell within the rights of a surgeon to discipline those he had in his charge. But Robert Espie was unhappy when the boatswain struck one woman because she was insolent. He said the “unfortunate creature” did not possess her right faculties and took care to prevent the recurrence of any similar incidents.’
Espie's journal from the Lord Sidmouth's voyage is an interesting read; it has a very detailed look at what happened before the ship left, the daily routine, the punishments and disembarkation. Espie’s journal also gives a daily report of the ship’s location co-ordinates and weather reports as you follow the voyage from Woolwich on the River Thames, to Van Diemen's Land and on to New South Wales. Another interesting read is the story of Robert Espie, as written by Colleen Arulappu.
'On Wednesday morning the female prisoners per the Lord Sidmouth were inspected on board of that vessel by His Honor the Lieutenant Governor; and on Thursday the number destined for this Settlement were landed. The remainder of them, now on board the Lord Sidmouth, proceed to Port Jackson'. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser Saturday 15 February 1823 - Page 2
 Colleen Arulappu, The Surgeons and their Voyages - Tales from Transcribers, Robert Espie (Lord Sidmouth, 1823)
Following on from our previous Blog post of sending convicts by boat to England to await their transport ship, the advantage of the railway system is discussed in the following article:
Fifeshire Journal 13 th December 1849 – Removal of Convicts – On the 5 th instant, seven Fife convicts were removed from Cupar and Dunfermline Prisons by Mr Cook, the Governor of the County Prison, per Railway, on their way to Millbank Penitentiary. London. Their names and sentences were as follow: - From Cupar – George Ross for life, John Small for 10 years, John Hamilton or King for 7 years, Mary Hutchison for 7 years; from Dunfermline, William Hay for 14 years, Andrew Adam Young for seven years, Helen Connell or Scott for 7 years. The convicts will remain in Millbank until their ultimate destination be directed by the Secretary of State.
The rapidity with which Mr Cook and his assistants effected the transfer of the seven convicts, and returned himself to Cupar, is worthy of record, as showing the advantage of the railway system in dispatching the public
business of the country. Mr Cook, with his party – 11 in all – left the Cupar station at a quarter past ten on Wednesday, reached London at half past eleven the next morning, got his prisoners off his hands at Millbank Penitentiary, left London by the Train of the same evening, and reached Cupar, and was again upon duty in the County Prison on the following afternoon, - in a little more than two days.
Working on the Court of Quarter Sessions, Registers of Cases has revealed some very interesting characters and information about the Court systems especially when it comes to sentencing. Trying to decipher and read the names of the prisoners has taken us into a range of resources and situations and this has been especially so with a register from 1843. The sentencing has plunged us back into the world of convicts, penal settlements and transportation and the opening up of the police records and histories of thirty four men just in box 2919.
In this register we found thirty four men all receiving sentences of transportation beyond the seas. Their condition prior to their conviction can usually be found in the gaol admissions registers, recorded as CF [Came Free], Bond or FS [Free by Servitude]. Only seven of the thirty four had arrived in New South Wales as free immigrants and in their cases, this would have been their first experience of transportation. For the Twenty seven other transportees this was usually their second transportation sentence; however for six in this group, it was their third or fourth transportation sentence. Many of the prisoners went on to further trials and often received numerous transportation sentences, each time moving to another penal settlement.
|After their trials at the Aberdeen Court of Justiciary in April 1844, five women were loaded onto the City of Aberdeen steamer for the journey down to London and Millbank Prison, in preparation for the voyage to Van Diemen’s Land. The City of Aberdeen steamer left Aberdeen on Sunday 6 May 1844 only to flounder off Flamborough Head on Monday 6 May. The women finally made it to Millbank Prison on 7 May 1844. Interestingly the colonial scribes mis-recorded all the women’s trials as taking place at Ayr and not Aberdeen. The women who endured this frightening voyage were Grace McIntosh, Christian Farquhar, Margaret Robb, Ann Craig and Eliza Graham.||
City of Aberdeen (July 1836)
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Flamborough Head is on the Yorkshire Coast, the chalk cliffs are some of the highest in Britain, over 300ft high, with treacherous rocks and powerful currents there have been frequent and numerous shipwrecks over the centuries. The unfortunate steamer en-route from Aberdeen still had quite a distance to travel in a damaged state.
Below are newspaper reports of the incident.
Accident to the CITY of ABERDEEN STEAMER.
An unfortunate accident happened to this splendid vessel, on her last journey from Aberdeen to London, and which might have been attended with fatal consequences, had it not been for the indefatigable exertions of the crew in keeping the pumps going. It appears from the statement of the captain on Monday last the vessel struck when nearly of Flamborough Head, and with such violence as to cause her to spring a leak. The pumps were kept continually working until the vessel arrived in the river, when it was found that the leak was increasing very rapidly, and three additional pumps were procured form the shore. With assistance, the cargo was got out of the forehold, where the water was rushing in, on to the starboard bow, close to the stern. The pumps, six in number, were kept at full work until Wednesday, by which time the valuable cargo was removed out of the forehold, and the leaks partly stopped by caulking them, and during the early part of the evening the vessel was towed by one of the dugs to dry-dock to undergo a thorough repair. Source - Shipping and Mercantile Gazette [Thurs 9 May 1844]
The damage done to the City of Aberdeen (s), off Flamborough Head, on Monday night, (reported in the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette of Thursday), was of a more serious nature than was at first apprehended. Since she was placed in the dry dock, at Limehouse on Wednesday afternoon, she has been surveyed, and it has been ascertained that part of the stern was knocked off, the whole of her forefoot, and nearly twenty feet of her keel carried away; her bottom planking and bolts on the starboard bow were started, and a great portion of the copper was chafed off. The vessel is insured by the London and Aberdeen Marine Insurance Companies. The shipwrights are employed upon her, but her repairs will not be completed before the middle of the next week. The weather at the time she struck on the rocks, off Flamborough Head, was thick – at least this was the cause assigned to our reporter for the accident. Source: Shipping and Mercantile Gazette [Sat 11 May 1844]
D Hoole and C McAlpine
On the 200th anniversary of the arrival in Van Diemen's Land of the female convict transport ship Mary Anne, a memorial 'The voyage of the Mary Anne 1(2) 1822' has been written by Rhonda Arthur. Forty-five female convicts were disembarked at Hobart Town before the ship continued to Port Jackson, New South Wales, with the remaining sixty-two convicts and passengers.
‘a set of more abandoned characters never were sent out of the country’
Statesman (London) 11 December 1821, p3
The Mary Anne under the command of Captain Warington slipped her moorings near Woolwich on 25 December 1821. One hundred and nine female convicts embarked (one was relanded and one died at sea), also on board were passengers Mr and Mrs Phillips and Dr Moran, 11 free women at the expense of the government to join male relatives and upwards of 70 children.
The ship touched at Rio de Janeiro and reached Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land on 2 May 1822. Forty-five female convicts were landed and the ship continued to Port Jackson New South Wales with the remaining 62 female convicts and passengers arriving on 20 May 1822.[i]
‘On Tuesday morning (4 December 1821), at half-past six, forty-four female convicts were removed from Newgate, under a proper escort, in hackney coaches, conveyed to the Dundee Arms, Wapping, and forwarded in a Gravesend boat to the receiving ship, lying at the Nore, preparatory to their being sent to New South Wales... many of them are banished for life; among them the notorious Bill Soames’ wife, together with Amey Steel, the young woman who was ordered for execution on Tuesday se’nnight. The ship takes out 200, and will sail in a few days.’[ii]
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