Recent Additions to Convict Stories
Older Stories

 

These stories have been submitted by members of the Female Convicts Research Centre, researchers and descendants of female convicts.  We hope the selected stories help to put the women's lives in perspective and give the readers some understanding of the factors that might have affected their circumstances and the decisions they made.

The stories provide some historical background to shine a light on the lives of their subjects either before or after transportation. This contextual material could include prevailing social conditions, political ideology or geographical history relevant to the existence of the particular convict women and their families.

All stories are subject to copyright.

+ - Submit a story

We welcome all stories about female convicts. However, in order to protect the integrity of this site and the quality of information provided, it is necessary to maintain certain standards of research and writing.

 

Writers are encouraged to incorporate into their stories, where appropriate, some historical background to assist in shining a light on the lives of their subjects either before or after transportation.

 

All such material should be factually based and referenced accordingly. As a general rule, stories should be limited to approximately 2500 words or less.

 

If you would like to contribute an interesting female convict story, please complete a submission form and ask about our style guide. Stories will be selected for publication on the basis of historical interest and quality of research and writing. 

 

For those writers who also have photos they would like to share, database storage limitations prevent these being incorporated into the stories. However, please complete an image and document submission form for separate storage of photos in the database.

 

All stories are subject to copyright.

Recent  additions:

ELIZABETH TOOGOOD

(Sea Queen, 1846)

by Don Bradmore

 

Very few of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as convicts between 1813 and 1853 returned home after their sentences had expired. For the vast majority, the fare was simply too expensive. Most were poor when they arrived and had had no opportunity to earn money as unpaid servants in the colony. Many had married, had started families and were making new lives for themselves in a far-off land. However, one who did manage to go back home to resume her former life was Elizabeth Toogood. A married woman of forty-two when she arrived in VDL per Sea Queen in August 1846, she had been convicted of theft in the previous year and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] By October 1852, she had served her time and was a free woman again. By 1861, she was back in England. What makes her achievement quite remarkable is that she had been extremely deaf since childhood. How she managed to do it remains a mystery but the available evidence seems to point to a most surprising solution.

This is Elizabeth’s story:

Read more ...

 

Sarah Whitby

(Sir Charles Forbes 1837 to NSW, Louisa 1846 from NSW)

By Helen Ménard

Introduction

Various records suggest Sarah was born between 1784[1] and 1792.[2]  She was probably born in Kings County, Ireland before moving to Dublin and having the first of her many children, possibly as young as 12. Sarah travelled under a number of aliases generally connected to the current ‘man in her life’ and, in most cases, they were also her partners in crime. Her will in 1859 suggested her family name might have been Lynch but there are no verifiable records of her birth under that name.

Sarah’s transportation records stated that she had no previous criminal convictions but her own evidence in court in Dublin in 1834 testified otherwise. On transportation, Sarah stated her trade as a midwife but there is little indication that this was her means of earning income. Given she allegedly had 24 children in about thirty years - spending at least two of those years in prison in Dublin - ran a thriving business as a ‘receiver of goods’ and frequently managed houses of ill repute, her opportunity to work as a midwife would seem to have been rather limited.

Inducted into a life of crime at an early age and eventually transported to the other side of the world for her transgressions, Sarah was either unable to or chose not to lead a different life. In the end, she died a few days after being released from prison and her life epitomised the maxim ‘live by the sword and die by the sword’.

Read more ...

Elizabeth Paterson

(Harmony 1829)

By Helen Ménard

 

Introduction

Elizabeth was born in Glasgow but moved to Edinburgh as a young child.[1] She was one of four children and when the family moved into the infamous Grassmarket area in Edinburgh, unsurprisingly, most of them ended up in a life of crime including her mother Mary. Ultimately, Elizabeth and her brother John were transported for their misdeeds – she to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) and he to New South Wales (NSW).

The horrors of life in the Grassmarket area were legendary and it is quite reasonable that Elizabeth saw relocation to an unknown colony in the antipodes as the lesser of two evils. While, undeniably, daily survival left her with little choice but to beg, borrow or steal, the idea of transportation might well have been a brighter light on a distant horizon. After all, many sought the relative comforts of prison – basic shelter and daily food – over their existences in the wynds of Edinburgh.[2]

As it transpired, even though her early years in VDL were troubled and her marriage did not endure, Elizabeth eventually settled into a quiet life in Green Ponds, Tasmania where she died aged 72. Her two surviving children and their families lived in the same area and, in all probability, provided her with some contentment in her later years.

 

Read more ...

CONVICT SISTERS

CHARLOTTE GRAHAM (Phoebe, 1845) and SARAH GRAHAM (Blackfriar, 1851)

by Don Bradmore

Sisters Charlotte and Sarah Graham were both convicted of theft in Ireland and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] Apart from that, their stories have little in common. Charlotte, the younger of the two, had had no previous convictions. She was nineteen years old and single when she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) per Phoebe in 1845.  In 1847, she married and, in the following year, gave birth to a son. It soon became obvious, however, that she was mentally disturbed and, in 1848, she was committed to the New Norfolk Lunatic Asylum where she remained until her death forty-four years later. Her sister Sarah, on the other hand, thirty years of age and unmarried when she arrived in VDL per Blackfriar in 1851, had been convicted of four felonies and more than eighty misdemeanours in Ireland. Remarkably, she managed to avoid further trouble and, by 1855, had been granted a conditional pardon. What happened to her after that is unclear. No record of her marrying, death or departure from the colony has been found.

This is the story of the Graham sisters:

Read more ...

 

FRANCES FRANCIS (Tasmania, 1844)

by Don Bradmore

The story of Frances Francis is not a pleasant one to read. In March 1843, she was convicted in England of ‘stealing from the person’ and sentenced to transportation for ten years.[1] She was married and about thirty years old. On board the ship which brought her to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL), the surgeon-superintendent was so appalled by her physical condition that he described her as ‘a beastly, disgusting, dirty woman’. Not surprisingly, she was an unsettled prisoner in the colony and, even after regaining her freedom in 1854, her troubles with the law continued. In 1859, she was referred to in a newspaper report of one of her many court appearances as ‘a wretched-looking object’. Her last documented offences - for using obscene language and begging in the streets – were in 1878 when she was about sixty-five. Frustratingly, nothing more is known of her. What happened to her in her final years? Did she eventually find a place where she could be properly cared for?

This is her story:

Read more ...

JANE POLLARD (Tasmania, 1844)

by Don Bradmore

 In April 1844, eighteen-year-old Jane Pollard, a servant, was convicted of stealing clothes from the home of her employer and sentenced to transportation for ten years.[1] While she was at Millbank Prison, London, awaiting a vessel to take her off to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL), her fifteen-year-old sister, Charlotte Pollard, was also convicted of theft. She, too, was sentenced to transportation and joined Jane at Millbank to await transfer to VDL.[2] In late July 1844, both young women were put aboard the convict ship Tasmania as it was being prepared to sail for the Australian colonies. Within days of their embarkation, however, the surgeon-superintendent aboard the vessel, greatly alarmed at the younger girl’s state of health, sent her back to Millbank for treatment. Sadly, she passed away there a week later. Consequently, Jane arrived alone at Hobart and, not surprisingly, had much difficulty in adjusting to her new circumstances. In her first five years in the colony, she was gaoled frequently for new offences. For one of her offences, her original term of transportation was extended by a year. For eighteen months, she was confined in the Lunatic Asylum at New Norfolk. Nevertheless, by 1853, she had been granted a ticket of leave and, in the following year, she married. There is no record of children. In 1854, her conditional pardon was approved and, in 1857, she received her certificate of freedom. Disappointingly, what happened to her after that remains a mystery.

This is Jane’s story:

Read more ...

EMMA WELLS (Tasmania, 1844)

by Don Bradmore

 At the time of her conviction in England, Emma Wells, twenty-eight years old and single, was employed as the ‘friend and travelling companion’ of Mrs. Ann Elizabeth Earnshaw, a woman of independent means, almost ten years her senior.[1] In April 1844, both were found guilty of shoplifting and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. They arrived together in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) aboard Tasmania in December 1844. Of the two, Mrs. Earnshaw had more difficulty in adapting to their new circumstances. She was gaoled twice for new offences in the colony and, within five years of her arrival, had passed away. Emma, on the other hand, managed to serve out her time without being charged with any new offence. In 1849, she married forty-five-year-old Edward Desmond, a former convict, who was working as a police constable at that time. A couple of years later, however, she was convicted in the Supreme Court, Launceston, of the theft from a shop of a roll of fabric and was imprisoned for eighteen months. Soon after her release, the marriage, which had been troubled from the start, disintegrated completely and she and her husband separated. There were no children. What happened to Emma after that remains a mystery. Did she remarry? Did she leave the colony? Frustratingly, there are no answers to these questions yet.

This is Emma’s story:

Read more ...

ANN ELIZABETH EARNSHAW (Tasmania, 1844)

by Don Bradmore

Ann Elizabeth Earnshaw was the middle-aged mother of an eight-year-old daughter when, in April 1844, she was found guilty of shoplifting in England and sentenced to seven years’ transportation.[1] Her story is an unusual one. Whereas the vast majority of the 13,500 (approx.) women transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1813 and 1853 were uneducated and from impoverished backgrounds, she had been brought up in refined and comfortable circumstances. At the age of twenty-one, she had inherited a very substantial sum of money and, at about the same time, she had married. However, the marriage was an unhappy one. Within eight years, she had parted company with her husband, alleging not only that he had mistreated her but also that he had squandered more than half of her inheritance. Afterwards, she had hired a young woman named Emma Wells as a salaried ‘friend and travelling companion’.[2] Later, she was to claim that it was this trusted friend who had been solely responsible for the thefts of which both of them had been convicted. Not unexpectedly, as one who had never had to do manual work, Ann had difficulty in adapting to life as a convict servant in VDL. Within five years of her arrival, she had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away. She was forty-one.

This is Ann’s story:

Read more ...

 

Older Stories

Please note:  There may be links in the stories below for conduct record, indent and description list  which will take you to the Archives Office of Tasmania website.

 

A   |   B  |  C   |  D  |  |   F  |  G |   H  |  I-K  |  L  |  M  |  N-O  |  P-Q  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U-V  |  W  |  X-Z

A

  • ACTON, Mary per Tory 1845. By Judith Cross (29/07/2020). Open or Close

     

    Mary Acton was well known to the police in Warrington, Lancashire, with the authorities finally managing to have her convicted in 1844 for a crime committed five years earlier. She was transported on the Tory arriving in Van Diemen’s Land in July 1845. Despite marrying early in her sentence, she did not have a settled life and spent most of her sentence at Hobart and Ross Female Factories.

    This is Mary’s story ….

  • ADAMS, Catherine per Sir Robert Seppings 1852 (The Dean Poisoning Case). By Colette McAlpine (17/11/2019). Open or Close

     

    Not many convicts appeared before a Royal Commission, not many were sketched as often as Catherine, and few had photographs taken due to giving evidence. This woman's story also shows how convicts kept in touch with each other, changed partners, names and identities, but also how the past caught up with some of them in the strangest ways.

    Read more about Catherine Adams and The Dean Poisoning Case.

  • ARMISTEAD, Hellen Copeland (arrived free). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

    Between 1803 and 1853, approximately 75,000 men and women were transported to Van Diemen's Land (VDL) as convicts. Of these, roughly 67,000 were shipped from British and Irish ports. The remainder were either from other British colonies or had arrived in the colony as ‘free’ immigrants and had been convicted later.[1] While poor documentation in the early years makes it difficult to be precise about the number of those convicted locally, about one hundred and twenty-five females in this category have been identified to date. Hellen Copeland Armistead was one of them.[2]

    Believed to have been from a respectable family, but possibly one that had fallen on hard times,  in England, Hellen, had arrived ‘free’ at Hobart, single and alone, in 1837. She was thirty-eight years old. Four years later, while employed as a governess at Hobart, she was accused of stealing a tablecloth. Although she denied the charge, she was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for six months. After serving her time, she left the colony and never returned. For some years a teacher at Port Macquarie, New South Wales, where she was highly admired, she died at the age of seventy-one in 1870. She had never been in trouble with the law again.

    This is her story:

     

    Read More
  • ARNOTT, Jane per Margaret 1843 (The Cook and the Blacksmith). By Jan Westerink Open or Close

     

    The story of Jane Arnott per Margaret in 1843 and John Dunn, per Waterloo, 1835.

     

    Read more about 'The Cook and the Blacksmith'.

  • ASHLEY, Sarah (Margaret 1843). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Introduction

    Sarah was the oldest of five children born in Nantwich, Cheshire, England to William Davenport and Ann Ashley.[1] Sarah’s mother died in 1836 when Sarah was only twenty and, around this time, it seems Sarah left home and went to live in Liverpool, Lancashire[2] where she ended up ‘on the town’ for several years.[3] Within a year of her mother’s death Sarah’s father remarried and, in 1840, emigrated to the USA with his new wife and Sarah’s three younger sisters. Sarah was never to see her father – and most probably her sisters – ever again.

     

    What prompted Sarah to leave home, change her age and her name from Davenport to Ashley, her mother’s maiden name? What type of relationship – if any - did she have with her father and step mother? How did she feel about her father and younger siblings moving to America? Was she ever invited to join them?

     

    Sarah’s crimes were typically trivial and she was young – as such, she was one of the thousands of females who became victims of the prevailing British government economic policy to populate the colonies with ‘tamers and breeders’.[4] Evidently no one petitioned on Sarah’s behalf to mitigate her sentence. Conversely, did Sarah see this as an opportunity to escape the social ravages of the industrial revolution in England? Did her family in America ever know she had been transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL)? Did any of them care?

     

    This is Sarah's Story...

     

    Read More
  • ATTWOOD, Elizabeth per Tory 1848. By Geoffrey Court Open or Close

     

    Elizabeth Attwood was born at Pinfold St, Birmingham on 27 December 1813 to parents Thomas and Hannah Attwood. Thomas Attwood was born in 1766, was a jeweller and died in 1823. Hannah was born in 1785 and died in 1821. Thomas and Hannah were married circa 1808 and had three other children – John died as an infant, Thomas Jnr born in 1815 and Maria. Thomas and Hannah both died young, with Elizabeth being only 8 when her mother died and 10 when her father died. We do not know how the children were raised, but can assume that things were very tough for them.

    We can find no trace as to what happened to Maria, but we do know that Elizabeth started a relationship with Charles Spratt around 1832, with a daughter, Emma Attwood, being born in 1833. In April 1835 Charles and a pregnant Elizabeth, were living in Birmingham when they robbed a man of two shillings and five pence.

     

    Read more of the story of Elizabeth Attwood, and the voyage of the Tory in 1848.
    (conduct record, indent, description list)

B

  • BARNES, Sarah per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Introduction

    Approximately 12,500 female convicts were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1803 and 1853.[1] Of these 782 were transported for life.[2] Sarah was one of these women. Ten percent of the women in this cohort had no offence recorded and, of the remainder, roughly thirty percent were convicted for serious violent crimes. The balance was convicted largely for property offences.[3] Sadly, many of those transported for life did not commit what today would be considered serious offences nor were they repeat offenders.[4]

    Was it fair that murderers, arsonists, rapists and recidivist offenders (some of whom had been pardoned from execution) were lumped into the same basket as those who committed non violet crimes of theft, burglary, house breaking and the like, often for reasons of survival and many of whom were first time offenders? Of course, this is consistent with the prevailing government policy to populate the colonies with young women of child bearing age,[5] but unjust nonetheless.

    As far as we know, Sarah was a first time offender and was convicted of stealing £12 and a hat valued at 20 shillings.[6] At the time, this represented the cost of two cows or eighteen stone of wool or sixty days pay for a skilled tradesman. It is the modern day equivalent of approximately £725.[7] For this she was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in a developing and often brutal colony thirteen thousand miles away from her home and family. Was it not slavery?

     

    [1] Alexander, Alison, ed., The Companion to Tasmania History, Snowden, Dianne, “Female Convicts” (2005), Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania.

    [2] FCRC database

    [3] FCRC database

    [4] Alexander, Alison, ed., The Companion to Tasmania History, Snowden, Dianne, “Female Convicts” (2005), Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania.

    [5] Ibid

    [6] Old Bailey t18350406-1007

    [7] https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter/

     

    Read More
  • BARRINGTON, Theresa Charlotte per Emma Eugenia 1851. By Don Bradmore (13/02/2021) Open or Close

     

    Theresa Charlotte Barrington, nineteen years old and single, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) aboard Emma Eugenia in March 1851, one of 13,500 (approx..) females to be transported to the colony as convicts between 1812 and 1853.[1] A great many of these women never recovered from the loss of the parents, husbands, children and friends from whom they been torn and led sad, often tragic, lives. Others saw their transportation as an opportunity to escape from the circumstances which had led them to their crimes. They settled down, worked hard, became good citizens and made a significant contribution to the development of their new country. While some chose to live their lives in relative obscurity, others were prepared to take advantage of the freedoms that they had not previously enjoyed, to hold their heads high, and to embrace all that came their way. Theresa was certainly in the latter group. Within two years of her arrival, she had married. Less than a year later, she had given birth to a daughter, the first of six children she would have with four different men. In the early 1860s, after being granted a conditional pardon, she left VDL and never returned. For the next eight years, she travelled widely in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, appearing on stage with her third husband, a well-known comedian, as a much-admired vocalist, actress and dancer. After the death of that husband, she married again but was widowed once more when her new husband died a year later. Sadly, her life seems to have fallen apart somewhat after that. She was gaoled twice in Sydney in the 1890s, once for theft and once for being drunk and disorderly. Afterwards, she struggled on until her death, at the age of eighty-five, in 1915. The death certificate shows the cause as ‘senile decay’.

     

     

    [1] Conduct record CON41-1-29, image 22; description list CON19-1-9, image 62; indent CON15-1-6, images 292-293; police no. 1084; FCRC ID: 5074: 

     

    Read More
  • BECK, Ann per Sea Queen 1846, A Journey to New Norfolk Asylum. By Stephanie McComb (26/11/2020) Open or Close

     

    The known life of Ann Beck is a tale of hardship, personal suffering and one of desperately poor mental health. Such was the extent of her mental health problems that she was admitted shortly after her arrival on the shores of Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) to New Norfolk Asylum, VDL.

     

    This is her tale.

     

    Read More
  • BENNETT, Sarah per America 1831. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    At her trial at the Old Bailey, London, on 28 October 1830, Sarah BENNETT was found guilty of stealing a watch, two seals and a key (total value of £7.0.6d) from the person of a working-man by the name of John NEWTON. She was sentenced to transportation for life.

    Read more on Sarah Bennett 

  • BIDWELL, Elizabeth (Emma Eugenia 1846). By Geoff Jarvis. Open or Close

     

    Elizabeth Bidwell was born in 1825, the first daughter and second child of Nicodemus Bidwell and Melley Chamberlain. She was christened on 23 October 1825 at Nether Exe, Devon, England. Nether Exe is a small parish beside the river Exe, 5 miles from Exeter. In 1831 it had a population of 97.[i]

     

    Nicodemus was a 25 year old farm labourer at the time of Elizabeth’s birth. His ancestral roots however were far different. He was a descendent of the Bidwell families of Newton St Cyres. Members of the family had once been landholders. Bidwell Barton at Newton St Cyres still carries their name. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries some land near Newton St Cyres was given to Thomas Bidwell, presumably for services rendered. The custom was that land passed from the eldest son to the eldest son, but Thomas Bidwell only had daughters. Richard Quicke married Thomas' daughter Elizabeth and the land passed to the Quicke family. The Quicke family still own the land and are well known for their cheesemaking today.[ii]

     

    Read More
  • BLACKWOOD, Jean (per Nautilus 1838). 'A tough way to get a new start' by Elisabeth Hannelly Open or Close

     

    A TOUGH WAY TO GET A NEW START

     

    Just over 180 years ago, my two times great aunt, Jean Blackwood and her two sisters were living on the streets of Edinburgh, 90 kilometres from their Renfrewshire home. Within a year of each other they were convicted and serving time in Australia. Arguably, chances of survival in a big city were greater than a rural town.  However, with the economic turmoil and industrialisation there were little opportunities for her agricultural family. Jean and the friends she was arrested with records show many other brushes with the law prior to being arrested and sentenced to transportation.[1] [2]

     

    Jean Blackwood’s time in the city of Edinburgh was a litany of brushes with the law and the company she kept were no better. While her convict indent lists her residence as Edinburgh she was originally from the highlands and Mary Matheson from Kilsyth near Glasgow.  Jean was arrested with three other friends, Janet McLean, Mary Matheson (or McDonald) and Mary Gillespie (or Ferguson), the first three were found guilty of robbing one Andrew Ramsay of £9 - half his years wages. [3] [4]

     

    This is the Story of Jean Blackwood.

     

    [1] http://www.electricalscotland.com/history/australia/scotaus3.htm viewed 23 December 2021.

    [2] Blackwood, Jean. Conduct record CON4012 Page 60.

      http://search.archives.tas.gov.au/ImageViewer/image_viewer.htm?CON40-1-2,266,58,F,60 viewed 10 October 2016.

    [3] Precognition and execution of sentence papers from National Records of Scotland, with permission.

    [4] Anon., High Court of Justiciary, Newspaper coverage of the trial - The Scotsman, 31 January 1838, column 5 on page 3.

  • BLEARS, Charlotte per Woodbridge 1843. By Kath Graham 2016 Open or Close

     

    Charlotte Blears was a local girl baptised on the 26th October 1822 at St Mary the Virgin, Leigh who was to lead a quite extraordinary life. Her mother, Elizabeth Blare, was described as a singlewoman and although no father’s name is given on the baptismal record, many years later Charlotte herself names him as Henry Cordwall. This is the first and only mention of Henry who doesn’t seem to have played much of a part in Charlotte’s life.

    Read more of the Charlotte Blears story.

  • BRADLEY, Margaret per Sea Queen 1846. By Don Bradmore (21/03/2020) Open or Close

     

    Margaret Bradley arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) aboard Sea Queen in August 1846, one of 13,500 (approx.) female convicts who were transported to the colony between 1812 and 1853.[1] While some of these women served out their time without great discomfort and eventually became good and useful citizens, others found their term of servitude humiliating and difficult in the extreme. Margaret was in the latter group, some of whom tried to escape from their island prison. Few were successful. In 1852, after having served only six years of her ten-year sentence, Margaret absconded from her assigned service and was missing for three months. She managed to get to Melbourne but soon after arriving there was apprehended and returned to VDL, where she served out the remainder of her time. But what happened to her after that is a mystery! She seems to have simply vanished from all records. Did she leave the colony? If so, where could she have gone? Still only twenty-six years of age, and probably alone, would she have tried again to make a new life for herself in Victoria? Or one of the other Australian colonies? Or New Zealand, perhaps? Would she have dared to return to her native England where the penalty for doing so was death?[2] Her story is a most interesting one but, frustratingly, it has no satisfying ending.

    This is her story:

     

    [1] CON41/1/10, image 13; Description List: CON19/1/5, image 172; Indent: CON15, image 312; Police No: 803; FCRC 1D: 10904.

    [2]  See ‘Tickets of Leave, Certificates of Freedom, Pardons’ at https://www.nla.gov.au/                                      

  • BRAID, Mary per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Mary Braid could hardly have imagined the dramatic turns her life would take and the social controversy that would emanate from some of her life choices. First born in a large family, her father died when she was only twenty. She married three years later, had a daughter and then her husband died in a work accident before she was thirty. She returned, with her daughter, to live with her widowed mother in the family home. Thereafter, Mary’s life embarked on a path of self-destruction and tragedy that would result in permanent banishment from her homeland.

     

    Read More
  • BRASH, Jean (Sir Robert Seppings, 1852). By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    One of the most extraordinary stories among those of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported as convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 is that of Jean Brash.[1] In January 1852, at the age of twenty-seven, she had been found guilty in a Scottish court of stealing half a sovereign and sentenced to transportation for ten years. She had arrived at Hobart aboard Sir Robert Seppings later that year. Before her transportation, she had been a most notorious character in Edinburgh’s seedy underworld where and had had more than twenty convictions for offences including disorderly conduct and theft. She had been dubbed the ‘Princess of Pickpockets’ and the ‘Queen of Thieves’.[2]

    It had been the legendary James McLevy, Edinburgh’s first official detective, who had finally put an end to Jean’s criminal ways. He had pursued her doggedly before being able to bring her to justice but, even while doing so, he admitted to having had a grudging respect for her. She had been able to outwit him frequently. After he had retired from the police force, he became a widely-published writer of crime stories, most of which were based on cases in which he had been involved during his career. In some of them, Jean Brash appears as his wily antagonist.[3] More recently, Scottish novelist David Aston has used the McLevy stories as the basis of a highly-acclaimed BBC Radio 4 series in which a character named Jean Brash plays a leading role. The same character is also the subject of a series of books, ‘The Jean Brash Mysteries’, which Ashton is presently writing.[4]

    Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, Jean settled down quickly after her arrival in VDL and, after overcoming some mental health problems initially, was of little trouble to the authorities. In 1860, she married former convict William Apsey (Pestongee Bomangee, 1852) and lived quietly. She passed away at the age of seventy in a Launceston hospital in 1894.  

    This is Jean’s story:

     

    Read More
  • BRAYSON, Margaret (Gilbert Henderson, 1840). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

    In 1839, Margaret Brayson was convicted of theft at Liverpool, England, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She was seventeen years old when she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) the following year.[1] Three years later, she married emancipist William Jackson, a fifty-nine-year-old widower who had been married twice previously. Despite the big difference in their ages, the marriage appears to have been harmonious, and, between 1844 and 1854, Margaret gave birth to five children. Very shortly after Jackson passed away at the age of seventy-six in 1860, however, Margaret was co-habiting with a former convict Charles Frost, a man with a disreputable past. In 1865, then forty-three years old, she was found dead in her home, her body naked and badly burnt. Frost, who was alleged to have bashed her around the head just hours before she died, set fire to her body and left her to die, was charged with her murder. Some weeks later. to the astonishment of many, he was discharged before trial, the police prosecutor claiming that there was insufficient evidence of his intention to kill.

    This is Margaret’s story:

     

    Read More
  • BRODIE, Margaret per Emma Eugenia 1842. By Don Bradmore (22/05/2020). Open or Close

     

    Surely one of the saddest stories of those of the 13,500 (approx.) females who were transported for their crimes to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 is that of Margaret Brodie. She was nineteen years old when convicted at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1841, of ‘stealing money from the person’ and sentenced to transportation for ten years.[1] As a prisoner in VDL she was troubled and troublesome. She was gaoled frequently for offences ranging from disturbing the peace and drunkenness to theft, prostitution and absconding from custody. She committed her most serious offence, however, just a few months after she had completed her ten-year term of servitude and had received her Certificate of Freedom. In 1852, she was found guilty of the manslaughter of a young police constable. Although sentenced to ‘fifteen years transportation’ for that crime, she spent two only years in a Hobart gaol before being released as a prisoner ‘on probation’. Her bad behaviour continued unabated. Except for a brief period in the mid-late 1860s when, possibly, she found a little happiness with the man she had married shortly after her arrival in VDL, she was in and out of prison for the rest of her life. A vagrant, destitute, and described in a newspaper in the late 1870s as ‘a wretched-looking woman’, she died in Hobart Gaol, in 1883. She was in her early sixties.     

    This is her story:   

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON40-1-2, image 104; Description List: CON19-1-3, image 93; Indent: CON15-1-1, images 8 and 9; Police No: 544; FCRC ID: 4561.

     

     

     

C

  • CALLAGHAN, Elizabeth per Providence (II) 1822. By Don Bradmore (29/05/2021). Open or Close

     

    One of the most interesting of the stories of the 13,500 (approx.) female convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 is that of Elizabeth (or, more commonly, Eliza) Callaghan.[1] In September 1820, at the age of seventeen, she had been convicted of passing a counterfeit banknote in London, England, and sentenced to death.[2] Later, the sentence had been commuted to one of transportation for fourteen years and she had arrived in Hobart the following year. In 1823, she met (and later married) John Batman, soon to  hailed as a hero for his capture of the notorious bushranger Matthew Brady and afterwards to become even more prominent for his role in the infamous ‘Black War’, the violent conflict between settlers and aborigines in VDL from the mid-1820s to 1832, and for the establishment of the settlement at Port Philip, which was to become the city of Melbourne in the neighbouring colony of Victoria. Unfortunately, the marriage was to end acrimoniously.[3] After Batman’s death, reportedly from syphilis, in 1839, Eliza married his clerk, William Willoughby, but that marriage, like the first, ended in sadness. In 1852, described then as ‘a somewhat abandoned character’, she was murdered at Geelong, Victoria. She was forty-nine years old. Although she has been mentioned frequently in books and articles about Batman, relatively little has been written about her exclusively.

     

    [1] CON40-1-1, image 256; FCRC ID: 1126.

    [2] https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18200918-57-defend705&div=t18200918-57#highlight

    [3] See ‘Eliza Batman’, Geelong Cemeteries Trust at https://www.gct.net.au/eliza-batman/

     

    This is her story:

     

    Read More
  • CASCADES, May 1847. By Maureen Mann Open or Close

     

     

    "I had already come across several very interesting women. I found I could link them all to Cascades during a single month – May 1847. It would have been possible to choose another month in another year and discover other interesting lives. Serendipity"  ....Maureen Mann

     

    Read Cascades May 1847

     

  • CAVANAGH, Rosannah per Abercrombie 1841. By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

    A small number – probably fewer than 120 - of the 13,500 (approx.) females who were transported to Van Diemens Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 were convicted in one of the other Australian colonies. Rosannah CAVANAGH was one such. She was convicted in New South Wales (NSW) and arrived in VDL per Abercrombie on 16 April 1841. She was twenty-three years old.

    Cavanagh (seen also as Rosanna CAVANAGH, Rosannah CAVENAH, Rosanna CAVANNAH and similar variants) was born at Liverpool, about sixteen miles (26 kms) west of Sydney in 1818. There, she lived with her Irish-born mother, Mary Ann ATTWOOD and her step-father, James ATTWOOD, a farmer. Both were former convicts. Mary Ann Attwood had been eighteen when she arrived in NSW (as Mary Ann PRENDERGAST) aboard Experiment II to serve a seven year sentence in 1809. English-born James Attwood had been sentenced to transportation for life and had arrived on Lady Castlereagh in 1818.

    Read more of Rosannah Cavanagh's story.

  • CHADWICK, Elizabeth per Sea Queen 1846. By Don Bradmore (13/12/2020) Open or Close

     

    In January 1846, Elizabeth Chadwick was convicted at Nottingham, England, of stealing money from her employer.[1] Sentenced to transportation for seven years, she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) in the following August. Her convict documents show that she was only sixteen years old upon arrival. However, she was not the timid and fearful prisoner that her tender years might have suggested. Assigned to settlers as a housemaid, she was feisty and troublesome. Charged with offences on eleven separate occasions during the years of her servitude, she was punished frequently for misdemeanours including gross disobedience of orders, behaving in a disorderly manner at church, using obscene language, being out after hours and absconding from her assigned service. On one occasion, she was gaoled for six months for ‘living in a state of adultery with George Murray’, a twenty-seven-year-old Irish-born convict, to whom she claimed to be married. Her strength and hardiness of spirit, however, were sorely tested after the completion of her sentence. In 1866, now legally married to former convict Richard Coultass, she witnessed the tragic deaths of her two eldest children - daughters Ellen and Jane, eight and five years of age respectively - who were burnt to death when their long dresses caught fire inside their home. Some years later, it is believed, her third child died from an illness. He was sixteen. With a hardiness that was astonishing in one for whom life had not been easy, Elizabeth herself lived on into her late sixties. She passed away at Launceston in 1897.

    This is her story:

     

    [1] Elizabeth Chadwick: conduct record: CON40/1/10, image 25; description list CON19/1/5, image 175; indent: CON15/1/3, image 317 and 317; police no: 790; FCRC ID: 10914; her conduct record and indent show her age as sixteen but in a Nottingham (England) newspaper report of her crime in 1846, she was said to be seventeen.

     

     

     

     

  • CHAMBERLAIN, Rachel per Mary Ann 1822. By Don Bradmore (15/08/2020) Open or Close

     

    Rachael CHAMBERLAIN is reputed to have been one of the most notorious women ever transported to Van Diemens Land (VDL).[1]

    Chamberlain (nee BERRY) was born at Bristol, England, about 1796.[2]  Nothing is known of her early life. At the age of eighteen, she married a 32-year old widower, Abraham CHAMBERLAIN (aka CHAMBERLYN, CHAMBERLAYNE, CHAMBERLYNE), at St Mary’s, Newington, London.[3] Two years later, her husband was convicted of larceny and transported for seven years. He arrived at Hobart on 11 June 1818.[4]

    In 1821, Rachael, who had been supporting herself through prostitution since her husband’s conviction and transportation, was herself convicted of larceny.[5] She had stolen a quantity of bedding, valued at forty shillings, from a room in which she had been lodging with a man by the name of Joseph NIXON.

     

    Read more of Rachel's story...

     

    [1] Tardiff, Philip. (1990). Notorious Strumpets and Dangerous Girls: Convict Women in Van Diemen’s Land. North Ryde: Angus and Robertson; Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser (HTG), 11 May 1822, p.2.

    [2] Year of birth calculated from age 28 given on arrival at Hobart.

    [3] Marriage Entry No. 858 in “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921, Southwark, St Mary, Newington, 1814”, via ‘Ancestry.com’, accessed 18 January 2017.

    [4] CON31/1/6, Image 44 (name shown as ‘CHAMBERLYN’.)

    [5] Chamberlain’s convict documents mention that she had been ‘on the town’.

  • COBBETT, Norah per Persian 1827. By Don Bradmore (19/02/2021) Open or Close

     

    Those who are interested in the stories of the female convicts who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 may already be familiar with that of Norah Cobbett who arrived in the colony aboard Persian in August 1827.[1] Her extraordinary tale is inextricably bound with that of the fascinating adventurer, pirate, farmer, painter, police constable, newspaper editor and author Jorgen Jorgenson (Woodman, 1826), who, before his conviction in England and exile to VDL, had sailed to Iceland where he had proclaimed himself that country’s ‘King’.[2] This present account adds little to the several outstanding works about his life that have appeared in recent years.[3] It differs from them, however, in taking as its main focus the astonishing life of Cobbett, a woman who, while being referred to as ‘liquor-addicted’, ‘violent’, ‘disreputable’ and ‘notorious’, was also seen as ‘charismatic’ and ‘celebrated’. It may serve, too, as a useful introduction to the important historical events in which the pair were involved in the colony, describing the way in which Cobbett’s association with Jorgenson led, as one of his friends had predicted, to his eventual ruin.

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON40-1-1, image 278; Police No: 96; FCRC ID: 9999.

    [2] Conduct record: CON31-1-23, image 124.

    [3] Bakewell, S. (2006). The English Dane: From King of Iceland to Tasmanian Convict.  London: Vintage; Sprod, D. (2001). The Usurper: Jorgen Jorgenson and His Turbulent Life. Hobart: Blubber Head Press; Hogan, J.F. (2018). Being the Life and Adventures of Jorgen Jorgenson. Trieste Publishing @ www.triestepublishing.com; Dally, J. (1967). ‘Jorgenson, Jorgen (1780-1841)’ in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol.2, pp. 26-28; ‘Jorgenson, Jorgen’ in Companion to Tasmanian History at https://www.utas.edu.au/tasmanian-companion/biogs/E000534b.htm.

     

    Read More
  • CONNOLLY, Mary - Lord Auckland 1849. By Don Bradmore (1/03/2021) Open or Close

     

    ‘The Convict Who Never Was’

     

    In mid-May 1847, brothers Michael and John Connolly brutally murdered a man named Thomas Dillon in the small village of Kilmakil, County Tipperary, Ireland.[1] On 22 April of the following year, they were hanged for their crime. A few months after their execution, their elderly widowed mother Mary Connolly and two of their brothers were arrested and charged with their involvement in same grisly crime.[2] At their trial, the court heard that the bloody slaying of Dillon, a bailiff, had been in retribution for his eviction of the family from their small rented farm. These were difficult times in Ireland. It was the time of the ‘Great Famine’ when a potato blight had led to the failure of crops throughout the country. Poor tenant farmers such as the Connolly family could scarcely find enough food to keep themselves alive, let alone to sell to earn an income. When they were unable to pay their rents, their heartless English landlords were quick to force them off the lands on which they had lived and worked for generations.[3] Nevertheless, this was no justification for murder, and Mary was found guilty and sentenced to death. Later, the sentence was commuted to transportation for life.[4] Described then as ‘wretched’ and as ‘an old, emaciated-looking woman, nearly eighty years of age’, she was put aboard the convict ship Lord Auckland for the long voyage to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL). On 3 March 1849, a New South Wales (NSW) newspaper reported that Mary had been shunned by her fellow prisoners on the ship for the blood-thirsty nature of her crime.[5] They had refused to sit with her to eat, or to have anything else to do with her. But, as it happens, when Lord Auckland arrived at Hobart on 20 January 1849, Mary was not aboard. Her name is not listed among the 13,500 (approx.) female convicts known to have been transported to between 1812 and 1853. What had happened to her?[6]

     

    [1] A report of the trial at Nenagh, Ireland, of Michael and John Connolly has not been located but see The Warder & Dublin Weekly, August 12 1848; see also http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/ir1835.html.

    [2] Freeman's Journal (Dublin), 9 Aug. 1848. British Library Newspapers at https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?p=BNCN&u=61sltas&id=GALE|Y3204569414&v=2.1&it=r&sid=BNCN&asid=6e7b4e35; Gale Document Number: GALE|Y3204569414, accessed 14 Feb.2021.

    [3] Smith, C. E. (1993). ‘The Land-Tenure System in Ireland: A Fatal Regime’ in Marquette Law Journal, Vol. 76, Issue 2, Article 6.

    [4] As for Note 2, above.

    [5] The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW), 3 March 1849, p.4.

    [6] www.femaleconvicts.org.au

     

    Read More
  • COPLEY, Mary and Sarah per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     Introduction

    As sisters, Mary and Sarah would have shared experiences in their early years as part of a large family and possibly when they were transported together to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL). However, once they reached foreign shores their lives took very different paths. A clue may be found in the ship records relating to their characters: Mary was recorded as being ‘indifferent’ although ‘believed to be good’[1] while Sarah was ‘very well conducted’.[2] In the colony, Mary committed a series of behavioural offences for which she spent some time in the House of Corrections,[3] whereas Sarah had a completely clean record.[4] Neither, it seems, had previous convictions but each had spent time ‘on the town’ in England, presumably, to earn an income. Given their one and only conviction in England involved the theft of food and clothing, was this a crime of necessity?

    Read More
  • CORFIELD, Susan per Mary III 1823. By Don Bradmore (21/02/2020) Open or Close

     

    Convict Susan CORFIELD had been in Van Diemens Land (VDL) for only a little over seven years when she was brutally murdered at Hobart by a jealous lover.  She had just received her certificate of freedom after having completed her term of servitude. She was twenty-eight years old and single.

    Of course, Susan did not ask, or deserve, to be murdered. She was the victim of a monstrous attack by an enraged, vicious killer. It was he who was solely responsible for her death and he was executed for his crime. However, based on evidence presented at his trial, some would think that Susan’s behavior in the years before her death had been imprudent, rash and duplicitous.

    This is the tale of her short, pathetic life.

     

  • COTTERELL, Mary (per Elizabeth and Henry (2), 1847. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    Many of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported as convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 lived miserable lives in a society where females had few rights and were usually denied the means and opportunity to succeed and prosper. Some, unable to adjust to the circumstances of their new lives, continued in their criminal ways and were severely punished by having to spend long years in gaol. Others ruined their lives with alcohol or made bad choices in the company they kept and the men they married. The majority of those transported, however, soon came to realise that they had been given a chance to put behind them forever the evils that had brought about their convictions in the countries from which they had been banished. A few managed to establish and operate successful businesses. Most settled down, worked hard, became good wives and mothers and, in that way, made significant contributions to the development of a new and vibrant nation. One of those in the latter group was Mary Cotterell who, at the age of sixteen in 1845, had been convicted of theft from her employer in England and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] In VDL, her behaviour was exemplary; she was never in trouble with the law again. By 1852, she had been granted a certificate of freedom and was a free woman again. She married twice and had nine children. However, while her life appears to have been a comfortable and contented one in the main, it was not untouched by sorrow. Her first husband was killed in a tragic farm accident. One of her daughters died at the age of five when her clothing caught fire in the home. A son died of an illness at the age of three. Her second husband passed away while in his mid-sixties. When Mary died at the age of sixty-six in 1895, she was a well-respected and highly regarded member of her local community. Her convict past had been long forgotten.

    This is her story:      

     

    Read More
  • CUNNINGHAM, Hannah per Hector 1835. By Helen Menard Open or Close

     

    We are only able to get but a small glimpse into Hannah’s life. There are far more questions than answers in her story. More shadow than light; more illusion than definition. What we can piece together of her life's journey resembles an unfinished and tattered jigsaw. Nonetheless, her place in society, albeit elusive and ill defined, deserves its mark on the map of history.

    Read More
  • CUTHBERT, Isobel per Margaret 1843 ('Do not use me so'). By Ian Billing Open or Close

     

    Reclaimed by her father at the age of five, we know little of Isobel's life until she became step-daughter to Cecilia Thornton in marriage to her father, William Cuthbert, in 1827. Isobel would gain a step-sister and step-brother from this union, and then lose them as both succumbed to the misery, disease and poverty of marginal life on the fringes of rural Scotland during the early 1830's, her father's trade and income fell into decline under the onslaught of mechanisation in the textile industries, the rise of machines was destined to eradicate the craft of hand-weaving which was William's occupation. Eventually Cecelia was to fold into the grave also, reducing family Cuthbert back to where it had started, approximately fourteen years before, just father and daughter.

    Closing the curtain on any hope of a normal family life and ushering in the darkness, William Cuthbert now dropped his moral torch and instead lit a flame for his teen-aged daughter. There would come years of distress and abuse, a perpetual nightmare of manipulation and molestation from the mid eighteen-thirties until Isobel’s arrest at the age of twenty-one in the dawn of the following decade.

     

    Read more of the story of Isobel Cuthbert “Do not use me so”

D

  • DAWSON, Ann per William Bryan 1833. By John Peck (2016) Open or Close

     

    Ann became embroiled in a Beverley body-snatching gang (she was considered by some to be the leader of this gang). “Bodies used to be unearthed and conveyed to the garden known as Rattle Garth at the south-eastern corner of Jack Taylor’s Lane in Beckside, Beverley. A shed which stands just by Jack Taylor’s Lane and another shed at the bottom of the garden where the sights were horrible, the cutting up of bodies by this gang. The gang also at times have said to have used (a) shed on Queensgate Road in (a) field till lately occupied by (Mr.) Whisker.” One of the gang members was a notorious William Ware (known as “Edinburgh Bill”) who, along with other gang members, was caught and arrested at Cottingham Churchyard. Ware tried to escape but fell into a heap of lime and was temporarily blinded.

    Read the story of Ann Dawson.

  • DOCKERTY, Mary per Hydery 1832 ('Destinies plan for Mary Dockerty'). By Kay Buttfield (16/10/2017) Open or Close

     

    Questions of destiny and the future may not have ever been considered by young Mary Dockerty, seemingl y her concerns were more immediate and centered around the daily here, and now of her existence. However, in 1832 when Mary stood in the dock of the Old Bailey her destiny was to change forever. With no family for support, seventeen-year-old Mary lived on the streets of London. She was one of many trying to survive in that ancient city awash with a teeming mass of souls all striving to stay alive amidst a changing landscape mostly etched with hopelessness. Information on Mary's earlier years has not been uncovered but she may have been living on the streets for some time. Where, and when she was born we will never know but anecdotal information passed down to her twice great granddaughter suggests she was Irish or at least her parents were born in Ireland.

     

    Read the story of Mary Dockerty Destinies plan for Mary Dockerty, 

  • DONOVAN, Ellen per Martin Luther 1852 ('Campbell Town Nell'), by Diane Honan (12/01/2020) Open or Close

     

    Ellen PRATT nee DONOVAN (per Martin Luther 1852) alias ‘Campbell Town Nell’

    It is the truth of war that the history is written by the survivors. Convict histories are largely the same, written by their descendants. Those that managed to obtain their freedom marry and enjoy, if only in a small way, the security of work and family. Over time, with the status of wife and mother, they obtained a respectable place in society. For many others who never married or obtained a settled life, their history is told only from their struggles with the law.

    This story is of Ellen, who partially succeeded. She did indeed marry and had a family of six children. For reasons unknown (although a liking of alcohol may have been the reason) Ellen was not able to grasp the opportunity marriage had given her.

    Read the story on Ellen Donovan alias 'Campbell Town Nell'

  • DONOVAN, Margaret (Hector, 1835) by Helen Ménard. Open or Close

    Margaret DONOVAN

    (Hector, 1835)

    By Helen Ménard

     

    Introduction

    Records suggest that Margaret was born in County Cork, Ireland between 1818 and 1820.[1] As a young teenager she made her way to England and by the age of 15 was before the Central Criminal Court in London facing her first criminal prosecution. Whether or not her situation was orchestrated to escape the harshness of life in London is a matter for conjecture. Nonetheless, Margaret’s actions resulted in her being transported to a colony half a world away – for life.

    While, sadly, her sentence was well within the scope of the law at the time, it is difficult not to wonder, as a young first time offender, what it was about Margaret’s particular circumstances that invoked such a heavy handed application of the law. Was it the nature of her offence? Was it because she was Irish? Or was it simply the prevailing legislative political and social imperatives to remove the ‘unsightly poor’ from the streets of Britain and populate the colonies with ‘breeders and tamers’.[2]

    Maybe she should have considered herself lucky to have escaped the hangman’s noose. After all, while shoplifting ceased to carry the death penalty in 1823, under ‘The Bloody Code’, theft from a dwelling house remained a capital offence until 1837.[3] The English Penal Code in the period from 1723 to 1820 became increasingly severe, mandating the death penalty for an ever increasing number of offences. By 1810, 222 offences were capital offences[4] - including pickpocketing goods worth one shilling and stealing a rabbit![5]

     

    Read More
  • DONOVAN, Mary per Rajah 1841. By Erica Orsolic (16/10/2017) Open or Close

     

    A letter to Mary Donovan 1819 - 1891 by great great great great granddaughter, Erica.

    'You were born in late 1819 in Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland. I’ve seen pictures of it on the internet. Lush green hills and fields. I read that it was a British Army barracks. One of the largest in all of Ireland at the time.

    At age 20, for reasons unknown, you had travelled to London living “on the street” as they politely put it when you were arrested for larceny alongside Matilda Everdon. Was she your friend, Grandmother? Perhaps a roommate? Or just an acquaintance? I wonder what you were thinking when you pawned the stolen jacket of David May, upon Matilda’s request. Did you have any idea that one small action would have changed the course of your life forever? While you were drinking with your ill-gotten funds, at the back of the pub on that Thursday in March 1841, did you ever imagine you would be sent across the sea to the other side of the world to serve out your 7 year sentence and never return?'

     

    Read the story of Mary Donovan 1819 - 1891

  • DORE, Eliza per Duchess of Northumberland 1853. By Barry Files Open or Close

     

    ELIZA’S STORY: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ELIZA WEBB DORE 1829 –1875

    Eliza was convicted of the crime of wilful murder in 1852, narrowly avoided the death sentence, and was transported for life to Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen‟s Land, arriving in April 1853.

    She died on the 15 July 1875, aged 47, in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

     

    This story tells how her life unfolded.


    (conduct recordindentdescription list)

  • DOVE, Mary per William Bryan 1833 ('A letter to my great great great granddaughter'). By Margaret Walsh (16/10/2017) Open or Close

     

    A LETTER TO MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER,

    My dearest Margaret

    This letter is written to you by my son, Samuel, who can read and write, whereas I never learned to do so. Samuel urged me to tell my story, so that future generations know from whence they came.

    I was born in Galway, Ireland on 1 August 1811, and was a nursemaid/needlewoman. You would probably think me to be quite a brave young girl when I tell you what happened next. I went over to London to try to make a living, as life in Ireland had no future for me. I also had a child, and on 27 February 1833 I left my child with a friend, Bridget Key, and told her I was going to sell some fruit, but I never went back. I never saw my firstborn again. If I’d known what was about to happen, I would never have gone. On 28 February, I met up with Mary Lee, who was a stranger. I asked her for lodgings, and she said I could stop with her, which I did for four nights. The next day, a cold winter’s day on 1 March 1833, Mary Lee met up with a journeyman silk-weaver, John Carlier. Mary asked him if he would give her anything to drink, so they went to a house on Bunhill Row and had some gin. Mary asked him to come to our house, which adjoined Chequer Alley. I was at home in bed when they arrived. Mary leaned over John Carlier and took something from his pockets, and before he realised what had happened, Mary had rushed downstairs talking in Irish. She’d taken a quarter of an ounce of pigtail tobacco, four sovereigns and some silver.

    Read more of the story of Mary Dove 1811 - 1865

  • DOWLING, Esther per Currency Lass 1834. By Don Bradmore (6/01/2020). Open or Close

     

    The story of convict Esther DOWLING is an intriguing one. When reading the story, it is not difficult to get the impression that she wanted to be a convict – and that she wanted to remain a convict forever!

     

    Read more.

  • DRAKE, Maria, (Margaret 1843). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

    The story of Maria Drake, one of the 13,500 (approx.) females who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as convicts between 1812 and 1853, is an unhappy one.[1] In November 1842, she was convicted of the theft of a watch and watch-stand from a house in London, England, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She was twenty-three when she arrived in VDL aboard the vessel Margaret in 1843. Soon after her arrival, she was living in a de facto relationship with a former convict by the name of John Thompson (Asia, 1, 1823) and, by 1854, had given birth to three children by him. During this time, she was never in trouble with the law. However, when Thompson was convicted of a felony in Hobart around 1855, and sent off to serve four years imprisonment in New South Wales, her life changed dramatically. In 1858, she was charged with the attempted murder, by poisoning, of a twelve-year-old boy and his mother. At her trial in the Supreme Court, Hobart, on 29 July 1858, she strongly protested her innocence. Although it was made clear to the jury that she had not acted with malice towards the boy and his mother, and that she had no motive whatsoever for wanting to harm them, she was found guilty as charged and sentenced to death. Later, the sentence was commuted to a term of imprisonment for life. It is believed that she was released around 1870 but what happened to her after that remains a mystery.

    This is Maria’s story:

     

    Read More
  • DUESNAP, Elizabeth per Maria to NSW, 1818; Elizabeth Henrietta to VDL, 1818. By Don Bradmore (23/01/2020). Open or Close

     

    The fascinating story of a resilient convict woman. Born at Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, around 1797, Elizabeth led a long, difficult - and, at times, sad - life but was in her late eighties when she passed away at Longford, Tasmania, in 1883.

    Read the story on Elizabeth Duesnap.

     

  • DYER, Elizabeth per Royal Admiral 1842. By Don Bradmore (13/02/2020). Open or Close

     

    On 3 May 1845, after Elizabeth Dyer had served only three years of her ten year sentence, she was granted a conditional pardon for the role she had played in rendering assistance to the Master of Royal Admiral and his officers when mutinous members of the crew had been preparing to take over the ship whilst at sea in 1842.

    Read More about Elizabeth Dyer.

     

  • DYKE, Ann (Angelina, 1844). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

    In October 1843, Ann Dyke was convicted in Staffordshire, England, of the theft of a few small items of clothing and sentenced to transportation for fifteen years. She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) aboard Angelina in August 1844.[1] Like many of the 13,500 (approx.) females who were exiled to VDL between 1812 and 1853, she was young, single, uneducated, and from a poor family.

    After a brief period of probation, she was hired out to free settlers as a servant and, although she was charged again with a number of relatively minor misdemeanours, she was of little trouble to the authorities for the first eight or nine years of her penal servitude. During that time, she had formed a relationship with William Johnson, a former convict, had given birth to two of his children and had been granted a ticket of leave.

    In 1855, however, her life changed dramatically.

    In May of that year, she and Johnson were arrested on suspicion of their involvement in the murder of elderly Thomas Axford, a well-respected resident of the district in which they were living. Fortunately for the couple, the murder charge was dropped when, shortly after the killing, a man who had been staying with them at the time of the murder, confessed to the crime. He told the police that he had acted alone. That man was John ‘Rocky’ Whelan, a notorious bushranger and one of the most infamous criminals in Australia's colonial history. He is known to have committed at least five cold-blooded murders. He was hanged for his crimes at the Hobart Gaol in June 1855.

    Although the details are unclear, it is believed that Ann spent a short time in gaol at Oatlands, accused of being an accessory to the murder but eventually that charge was dropped also. After her release, she gave birth to two more children by Johnson but little more is known of her. In 1864, she surrendered all four of the children to the Queen’s Orphan School at Hobart and, with Johnson, faded into the pages of history. The last mention of the pair appears to have been in the Tasmanian Police Gazette in 1866 when an appeal was made for information as to their whereabouts. Where did they get to? Were they ever found?    

    This is Ann’s story:

     

    Read More

E

  • ELLIS, Elizabeth (Hector 1835). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Introduction

    Was Elizabeth really only 15 when she faced court for the fourth time in Scotland in 1834? Or was she 20 on arrival in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) in 1835 as her transportation records stated?[1] 

    It is likely that the court records are more accurate as many men and women transported to the Australian colonies frequently altered their ages and marital status to suit their circumstances – mostly to improve their prospects of marriage or employment. Record keeping was poor and not compulsory in many jurisdictions in the United Kingdom in the eighteenth century and many records were lost or destroyed over time making it difficult to verify personal details.[2]

    In any event, Elizabeth was no stranger to petty crime as she already had three prior convictions for stealing clothes for which she had served two terms of imprisonment of thirty and sixty days.[3]

    After a further conviction for theft, and recorded at trial as only 15,[4] Elizabeth found herself on a ship with 133 other female convicts bound for a developing, and often brutal, colony half a world away. Did she have any idea what this new life would hold for her? Was she looking to escape a life of misery and poverty in Scotland?


     

    Read More

F

  • FARQUHARSON, Elizabeth (Arab 1836). By Don Alcock. Open or Close

     

     

    Elizabeth McKerracher’s life story is one of hardship and survival. She was born in the small market town of Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland, in 1812, and grew up with little to no education. The coastal town lies on the Kintyre peninsular in western Scotland.

     

    Elizabeth, daughter of John McKerracher, a tailor, was unable write and could barely read. At 19, she was caught stealing from Ralph Langland’s house in Kirk Street, Campbeltown.  She was tried for theft at Inveraray Court on 16 September 1829[1] and sentenced to seven years transportation by Lord Justice Clerk[2], the second most senior judge in Scotland.  There were appeals against the severity of her sentence, due to her age and circumstances, as she was the mother of three small children, at least one to a man named John Maxwell. She remained in jail, next to the court, for several years, as the wheels of justice slowly turned.

    This is Elizabeth's story...

     

    Read More
  • FENTON, Sarah per Mary Ann 1822. By Don Bradmore (15/08/2020). Open or Close

     

    Arguably, Sarah FENTON was one of the most notorious of the 13,500+ female convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853. She arrived at Hobart aboard Mary Ann, 1 (2) on 2 May 1822.[1]

    The voyage had been relatively uneventful. However, the ship’s surgeon, James HALL had not enjoyed it.[2] While this was not his first voyage as surgeon-superintendent on a convict vessel, it was the first time he had had responsibility for female prisoners and he had found the task extremely taxing.[3]

    Read more of Sarah's story...

     

     

    [1] Convict ships to Tasmania: http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/shipsTAS.html; Hobart Town Gazette (HTG), 4 May 1822, p.2.   

    [2] Hall was surgeon-superintendent aboard Agememnon which landed 178 male prisoners at Sydney in September 1820: http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/shipNSW2.html

    [3] James Hall: Medical and surgical journal of the female convict ship Mary Ann for 27 October 1821 to 25 May 1822.  The National Archives (U.K.) Reference: ADM 101/52/1.

     

     

     

     

  • FERRIS, Louisa (Cadet, 2, 1848). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

     

    Louisa Ferris, twenty-nine years of age and married with two children, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict per Cadet in January 1848.[1] On 5 April of the previous year, she had been tried at the Gloucester Assizes, England, for the murder of a man with whom she had been cohabiting after her husband had left her. After hearing how she had cut the throat of her victim with his own razor and then surrendered herself to the police, the jury had found her not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. In sentencing her to transportation for life, the judge had told her that she had had a very narrow escape. Incredibly, in VDL just four years later, she used a razor to cut the throat of another man. This time, fortunately, her victim lived. Louisa was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment but did not complete her sentence. On 26 February 1854, she passed away at the General Hospital, Hobart. She was thirty-five.

    This is Louisa’s tragic story: 

     

    Read More
  • FINDLATER, Margaret per Cadet 1848. By Arthur Davidson Open or Close

     

    Margaret Findlater or Ower – ID 3528 – Cadet

    Early Life:

    Margaret Findlater was born in Perth on 15 December 1810 to parents James Findlater and Janet McLauchlan. She was the eldest of 12 known children. Her father's occupation was described variously over the years as 'Wright', 'Coal Merchant' and 'Shipowner'. Little is known about her early life though it would appear she received some form of education as she signed her own Declaration to the authorities prior to her trial in 1847, and declared she could read and write when she arrived in VDL. Three of her siblings died very young, the oldest being only 9 years old.

    Read more of the story of Margaret Findlater


    (conduct record, indent, description list)

  • FISHER, Ann per Mary III 1823. By Don Bradmore (25/02/2020). Open or Close

     

    Ann Fisher arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) as an impoverished nineteen year-old convict per Mary III in October 1831 and died there in 1872. She had been a prisoner of the crown for seventeen years and, even after she had gained her freedom, her life was a continual struggle against hardship and the law. It is impossible to read her story without feeling great sympathy for her.[1]

    Ann was born in London about 1812 but little is known of her early life except that, apparently, she had been caring for herself from her early teenage years.[2] Whether she had been orphaned, or abandoned by her parents, or had run away from them, is unknown. What is clear, however, is that she had been a regular recipient of ‘out-door relief’ from a London workhouse before her conviction and transportation.

     

    Read more of the story of Ann Fisher.

     

    [1] CON40-1-1, Image 189; Police Number 98; FCRC ID: 8632. Ann’s age is shown in Old Bailey records of her trial as seventeen. In VDL some months later, she stated that she nineteen.

    [2] CON40-1-1, Image 189.

  • FITZPATRICK, Ann per Sea Queen 1846. By Don Bradmore (13/03/2020) Open or Close

     

    Ann Fitzpatrick’s story is of a life of courage and resilience.[1] She arrived as a convict in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL), alone and unsupported, at the tender age of fifteen in 1846 and died in New Zealand, happy and successful, at eighty in 1911. In the intervening years, she gave birth to at least seven children - two of whom died in shockingly tragic circumstances in childhood - and outlived two husbands. After serving her time as a prisoner in VDL, she left the colony and made a new life for herself as the proprietor of a popular boarding house at Invercargill, New Zealand. At the time of her death, she was mourned as a respected pioneer settler of that town and one of its oldest inhabitants. It is unlikely that many, if any, of her friends and acquaintances knew of her convict past.

    This is Ann’s story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-10, image 49; description list: CON19/1/5, image 180; indent: CON15/1/3, image 320.

G

  • GODWIN, Mary per Sea Queen 1846. By Don Bradmore (28/03/2020) Open or Close

     

    Mary Godwin arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) as a convict per Sea Queen on 29 August 1846.[1] Two years earlier, she had been convicted of stealing a hen and some chickens in Monmouthshire, Wales, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. Although there is contradictory evidence in her convict documents about her age upon arrival, it is believed that she was somewhat older than the majority of the 13,500 (approx.) females who were transported to VDL for their crimes between 1812 and 1853. There is also a discrepancy in her convict documents about her marital status. Upon arrival at Hobart, she told the authorities that she was married and that she had left her four children with her husband, Thomas Godwin, in England – but when she married again in VDL two years later, she stated that she was a widow. In the colony, her behavior was exemplary – she was not charged with any new offences as a prisoner. However, soon after she had served her time, she and her new husband, John Blagg, were involved in a scandalous Supreme Court case which involved their refusal to return to its natural mother a young child for whom they were caring. Although the Blaggs had not been charged with the abduction of the child, they emerged from the trial with their reputations tarnished. Thereafter, nothing more was heard of Mary (Godwin) Blagg until she passed away at Bothwell, Tasmania, on 27 July 1868. Her death certificate shows that she was sixty-five years old.

    This is her story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-10, image 59; Description List: CON19/1/5, image 182; Indent: CON15/1/3, images 324/325; Police No: 415; FCRC ID: 10943.

     

     

     

     

     

  • GOULD, Jane per Baretto Junior 1850. By Don Bradmore (4/02/2020). Open or Close

     

    Although the story of convict Jane GOULD (or GOLD) is a cheerless and depressing one, it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for the woman herself. She seems to have been endowed with very few of the natural female advantages and her long life was one of poverty, ill-fortune, and sadness.

     

    Read more on Jane Gould

     

  • GRADY, Jane per Emma Eugenia (3) 1844. By Don Bradmore (29/11/2020). Open or Close

     

    Although there is some uncertainty about aspects of Jane Grady’s life – both before and after her arrival in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict in 1844 - it is fair to say that it was an unhappy one.[1] She had been convicted of theft at Liverpool, England, and sentenced to transportation for ten years in December 1842. Put aboard Emma Eugenia, which sailed from London in November 1843, she had been fortunate to survive the journey. While handcuffed at the time as a punishment for an assault upon the ship’s chief officer, she had flung herself overboard in mid-ocean in an apparent attempt to take her own life and had been saved only by some quick-thinking on the part of the surgeon-superintendent who had managed to grab her by the hair and pull her from the water. Not surprisingly, she was a troubled and troublesome prisoner in the colony. Between her arrival in April 1844 and the completion of her ten-year sentence in December 1852, she was charged with offences - most of which were committed while she was drunk – on no fewer than thirty-four occasions. In 1848, she gave birth to an illegitimate child, the father of whom remains unknown. Just prior to her release in 1852, she married former convict, George Evans (Agincourt, 1844). Frustratingly, very little more is known about her. Did she manage to curb her drinking? Did she live a happy life with her husband, avoiding further trouble with the law? Did she have more children? Did she leave the colony? Unfortunately, there are no answers to these questions yet.

    *****

    This is Jane’s story …

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-1, image 60; description list: CON19-1-4, image 17; indent: CON15-1-2, image 276 and 277; Police No: 348; FCRC ID: 4779.

  • GREEN, Ann (2) per America 1831 by Don Bradmore (6/01/2020) Open or Close

     

    Ann Green and her husband were both sentenced for the same offence and both transported for seven years, ending up in Hobart.  Ann Green was assigned to a house at Hamilton described as  a ‘debauched house’ and a ‘most improper place’ in which to live.

    Read more

  • GURNEY, Ellen (Hector, 1835) by Helen Ménard Open or Close

     

    Ellen GURNEY

    (Hector, 1835)

    By Helen Ménard

     

    Introduction

    While we know nothing about Ellen’s early years or her family life, as an adult in the colony of Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) it appears she was, at the very least, a feisty and independent woman. Whereas many women dissolved into society once they set foot on the shores of VDL or after their sentences had been served, Ellen was not one of them! In spite of a tumultuous ten years at the start of her marriage, she was still married to her husband John after 36 years when he died leaving his entire estate to her. Evidence suggests they may have been kindred spirits, both demonstrating volatile and provocative personalities that apparently fuelled varying levels of conflict in their community.

    But Ellen’s life was not without significant trauma which almost certainly contributed to her lifelong battle with the ‘demon drink’ and doubtless was both her relief and ruin at different times. Facing a sentence of transportation for life she knew she could never return to her homeland – yet did she ever want to? The fifty years she spent in a foreign country was peppered with suffering, alcohol dependence, incarceration, personal loss and conflict. Was Ellen ever really happy?

    Read More

H

  • HALDANE, Mary Ann per Borneo 1828 ('A Lucky Escape'). By Victor G Malham Open or Close

     

    A Lucky Escape – Mary Ann Haldane

    On Thursday 28 June 1827, Mary Ann Haldane was arrested for housebreaking and stealing at the property of Dr Thatcher in Elder Street, Edinburgh. At her trial on 9 November 1827 at the High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh she was sentenced to fourteen years transportation. Historically, transportation has been seen as a harsh punishment. Families were torn apart, never to see each other again. But for Mary it may have been an escape from a worse fate.

    Mary was born to Elizabeth Haldane about 1810 in Glasgow, father is unknown nor is it known why or when they moved to Edinburgh. Mary’s mother, Elizabeth (or Betty), and sister, Margaret (or Peggy), became victims of the notorious Edinburgh murderers (also known as West Port murderers), Burke and Hare. William Burke and William Hare were Irish immigrants, and their accomplices, Burke’s defacto, Helen (or Nell) McDougal, and Hare’s wife, Margaret, were responsible for at least 16 murders between November 1827 and 31 October 1828. The victims were to provide cadavers for dissection by Dr Robert Knox, a lecturer on anatomy at Edinburgh Medical College.

     

    Read more of A Lucky Escape – Mary Ann Haldane


    (conduct recorddescription list)

  • HANLEY, Ellen (Greenlaw 1840). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

    Surely one of the most depressing stories among those of the 13,500 (approx.) women transported as convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 is that of Irish-born Ellen Hanley, one of a number of convict women who were sentenced to transportation on more than one occasion.[1] She had arrived in the colony aboard Greenlaw as a much-troubled youthful offender in July 1844 and died in a Victorian gaol in her sixties in May 1893. Described then as ‘dirty and debilitated’, her entire life had been one of almost unrelieved degradation and misery.[2]

    This is her story:

     

    Read More
  • HARFORD, Mary per Royal Admiral 1842. By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

    Between 1812 and 1853, 13,500 (approx.) women were transported as convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL). Most of them were young, poor and uneducated. Torn from their families and friends with little hope of ever being re-united with them, many lived wretchedly unhappy lives. Ill-treated by disdaining masters and mistresses to whom they were assigned as servants, humiliated and abused by cruel gaolers and subservient always to the whims and mandates of a patriarchal society, some made hasty marriages which they soon regretted. Others sought the companionship of unruly acquaintances and reverted to crime or turned to alcohol to ease the pain of their existence. In doing so, they were locked away in prisons for lengthy periods, lost whatever dignity remained to them, and died before their time in misery and poverty. There were still others, however, who were prepared to make the most of their changed circumstances and took the opportunity to make better lives for themselves than ever they could have hoped for previously. While a few went into business for themselves with great success, most became ordinary and peaceful citizens - good wives and mothers - and, in doing so, helped to forge a new nation. Among this latter group was Mary Harford who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) aboard Royal Admiral in September 1842.[1] She was twenty-four years old and single. She married twice, first in VDL in 1845 and later in the neighbouring colony of Victoria after her first husband had passed away. She gave birth to seven children, lived a blemish-free, unostentatious but comfortable life and died at the age of sixty-seven, a much-loved and seemingly-contented woman. But who could ever have imagined that her life would have turned out so well? A year before her transportation, she had been convicted of stealing a watch from a man in a brothel - and then attempting to cut his throat! She had been sentenced to ten-years of penal servitude

    This is Mary’s story:

     

    Read More
  • HARRINGTON, Martha (Royal Admiral 1842). By Helen Ménard. Open or Close

     

    From a palace to penal servitude – could Martha ever have imagined this would be her fate? Having secured, at the time, what must have been considered a highly sought after position with English aristocracy, what circumstances inspired Martha to throw it all away by repeatedly stealing from her mistress? Did she think that being in the service of the diplomatic circle would provide her with immunity from prosecution? Surely, the fall from grace that found her in the confines of a convict ship with two hundred other prisoners headed for the antipodes must have been both devastating and frightening.

     

    Read More
  • HARRIS, Charlotte, per Anna Maria 1852 (The Orange Woman). By Rhonda Arthur (4/12/2019). Open or Close

     

    Charlotte Harris was convicted of murdering her husband at a time when there was a groundswell of people calling for the abolition of capital punishment as being cruel and immoral.  Charlotte was to be hanged but the sentence was suspended until she gave birth. In the meantime, an abolitionist, Charles Gilpin, was active in organizing  petitions for clemency on behalf of Charlotte and on 8 November 1849 he presented petitions with 15,000 signatories to Sir George Grey at the Home Office.

    Read more about Charlotte Harris 'The Orange Woman'.

  • HEATH, Hannah per Majestic 1839. By Don Bradmore (2/02/2021) Open or Close

     

    Hannah Heath was a fifty-two-year-old widow when she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) on 22 January 1839.[1] On 10 March 1838, she had been convicted of the murder by poisoning of her infant grandchild and sentenced to death. However, Lord John Russell, Britain’s Home Secretary, after receiving information about the case, including a report from the judge who had presided at her trial, saw fit to commute her sentence to transportation for life. While some of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported to VDL for infanticide in the years between 1812 and 1853 were indubitably guilty and deserved harsh punishment for the crime, Hannah appears to have been treated unjustly.[2] After the child had died, she had admitted to having given it ‘something from a vial’ in ‘the hope of doing it some good’ when it was ill. She had thought that the substance was a toothache remedy that her son had bought from a travelling ‘quack doctor’ some time earlier but it was discovered later that it was a corrosive acid that had been stored in the house in a similar vial. Neither vial had been labelled. The evidence indicates that she had always been a kind and caring mother and grandmother. It seems probable, therefore, that the child’s death was the result of a terrible accident rather than a case of a murder. In the colony, Hannah’s behaviour was excellent; she is known to have committed only one, quite minor, indiscretion. In 1844, she had married convict Thomas Judd (Augusta Jessie, 1834) and the pair seem to have lived peacefully together until Hannah herself passed away, at seventy-nine, in 1859. Torn from her loved ones for a crime of which she may not have been guilty, she had been exiled in VDL, without hope of a pardon, for twenty years.   

    This is her story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON40/1/6, image 27; description list: CON19/1/14, image 20; police no: 331; FCRC ID: 7942.

    [2] The number of women transported to VDL for infanticide was relatively small; see Cowley, T., ‘Crimes of Transportation and Crime Families’ at https://www.femaleconvicts.org.au/fcrc-seminars/research-seminars

  • HEMBLEN, Elizabeth (Royal Admiral 1842) by James Cosgrave Open or Close

     

    Elizabeth Hemblen was born in Bath, Somerset, England about 1824, the youngest of four children of Isaac and Mary Hemblen. Her mother died young and her father remarried in 1832 to Elizabeth Rose, with whom he had another four children.

     

    Family stories passed down through the generations suggest that Elizabeth Hemblen did not get along with her step-mother, and rebelled. On 11 October 1841, 16 year old Elizabeth Emblin appeared before a judge at the Bath City Sessions, charged with larceny, for stealing a pair of boots. She was convicted and sentenced to one month in prison.

     

    Elizabeth obviously fell in with bad company, as soon after her release from prison, she appeared before a judge at the Bath City Sessions on 29 December 1841, along with Mary Ann Elmes and Elizabeth Stokes, charged with stealing a frying pan worth 12 pence, property of William Pullen, on 20 November 1841. As all three of the accused had previous convictions, they were each sentenced to 7 years transportation.

     

    This is Elizabeth's story.

     

    Read More
  • HOLLEY, Sarah per Majestic 1839. By Peter Brennan (16/10/2017) Open or Close

     

    In the early 19th Century Exeter, ‘by the standards of the time [it] was a large and important town’, however, the industrial revolution largely by-passed the town as the ‘traditional industries of wool manufacture and tanning declined’ and moved north. Exeter, despite the efforts of the Improvement Commissioners in 1810 ‘to pave, clean and light the streets’, still remained dirty and unsanitary.’ The slums were appalling and ‘in 1832 a cholera epidemic killed 440 people.’ This was where Sarah Holley was born in 1817, grew up and plied her trade as a servant and who undertook some extracurricular activities ‘on the town.’

    Sarah was 21 years old when she was sentenced to ten years goal and transportation at the Devon/Exeter Quarter Sessions for stealing a watch on 2 July 1838.There is little doubt that this five foot two inch, freckled-faced brunette was resentful and very unhappy about the severity of her sentence – although it was just slightly more than the average of nine years. The gaolers reported her conduct was ‘bad’ before she was sent off to London to board the Majestic.

    Read more of the story of Sarah Holley 1817 - 1895.

  • HORE, Mary per Duchess of Northumberland 1853. By Don Bradmore (9/08/2020) Open or Close

     

    The story of Mary Hore – also known as Mary Kennedy, Mary Hoar, Mary Hoare, Margaret Hoare, Margaret Dougherty, Bridget Cosgrove and Bridget Riley – is one of the most remarkable (and in some respects one of the most puzzling) among those of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as convicts between 1812 and 1853.[1]  She had already served two gaol terms for theft in England when, at the Bristol Quarter Sessions in January1852, she was convicted of stealing a petticoat and sentenced to transportation for seven years. Twenty-six years old, married, and the mother of two boys, she arrived at Hobart aboard Duchess of Northumberland (2) - the last ship to bring female prisoners to VDL before the cessation of transportation - on 21 April 1853. A seemingly incorrigible prisoner, she was charged with a number of offences in the colony before absconding after serving only five years of her sentence and – incredibly – making her way back to England. There, she resumed her life of crime but, in January 1861, only a few months after her return, she was convicted of stealing again and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. In March 1866, still with twenty months of that sentence to serve, she was released, probably on the grounds of ill-health. A short while later she was gaoled again for a month after being charged with vagrancy. What happened to her after that is unknown. She was then about forty years old. 

                                                                              

    This is Mary’s story....

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41/1/37, image 96; description list CON19/1/11, image 139; indent CON15/1/8, image 80; Police no: 968, FCRC ID: 274

  • HUDDERSFIELD FOUR per Sea Queen 1846. By T C Creaney 2015 Open or Close

    The Huddersfield Four

    This is the story of four women, friends, from Huddersfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire, who lived a life of crime and prostitution, and were eventually transported to Van Diemens Land for “larceny from the person”, ostensibly plying a young man with alcohol and robbing him of his cash. They were: Lydia Clay (born 1809); Elizabeth Quarmby (born 1822); Mary Ann Wentworth (born 1824); and Ruth Richardson (born 1817).

    The offence took place in August 1845, they were tried in December that year, found guilty and sentenced to 10 years transportation, finally arriving in Van Diemens Land on 29 August 1846 on the vessel “Sea Queen”

    Written by  T C Creaney – September 2015

     

    Read more:  Huddersfield Four, The.

     

     

  • HUNT, Mary Ann (per Baretto Junior 1850). By Debra Norris. Open or Close

     

    Mary Ann Hunt was born in Hampshire New England[1] and arrived in Van Diemens Land in the August of 1850 after months at sea on board the convict transport ship Baretto Junior. [2]She was one of 186 female convicts destined to serve time for their convictions across the seas. Many of the women travelled with their young children and young two-year-old son George accompanied his mother.[3] Mary left behind her brothers George and James and sisters Eliza and Jane. [4]

     

    This is a story like many others of the trials and tribulations of the stories of those convicted to transportation in the colonies. But 34 year old Mary Ann Hunt very nearly did not board the ship to sail to Van Diemen’s Land, albeit she had been convicted of a heinous crime.

     

    This is her story:

     

    [1] England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892

    [2] TAHO, CON41/1/27, Mary Ann Hunt Conduct Report

    [3] ADM 101-007-06, Baretto Junior Ship’s Surgeon Report

    [4] TAHO, CON41/1/27, Mary Ann Hunt Conduct Report

  • HUNT, Mary per Emma Eugenia 1851. By Diane Munro Open or Close

     

    Mary Prior 1813 - 1863

    By 1838 however life began to take a turn for the worse. In October Mary wasindicted for stealing a black silk neckerchief the property of G. Reynolds. She was found guilty and sentenced to six weeks' hard labour at the Bath Gaol.

    Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette11 October 1838

    BATH MICHAELMAS QUARTER SESSIONS Mary Hunt, a married woman, having an infant with her at the bar, was indicted for stealing a black silk neckerchief, the property of G. Reynolds. Guilty. Six weeks' hard labour at the Bath Gaol.

    In 1838 their twin daughter Sarah died aged 4 years.

    In 1843 their other twin daughter Mary Ann died aged 8 years.

    In 1844 their son William Henry died aged 2 years.

    In May 1849 Mary was charged with stealing a silk dress in the shop of Mrs.Hornby and Mr. Tucker.

    On 26 Oct 1849 a warrant was issued for the arrest of Mary and she was admitted to Shepton Mallet Gaol, Somerset, England. Mary gave birth to a daughter Mary Ann in October 1849 whilst on remand.

    Read more: Mary Prior 1813 - 1863  (Mary Hunt)

  • HUNTINGDON, Jane per Atwick 1838 ('Why my great great-grandmother is my heroine'). By Lorraine Roberts Open or Close

     

    'Why my great great-grandmother is my heroine I wondered what it meant when in The Preston and Lancashire Chronicle Advertiser, dated Saturday July 1, 1837, they wrote, “Jane Huntington, age 21, an interesting looking girl, pleaded guilty to stealing. To be transported for seven years”. Was there something about her looks or the way she dressed? Or just an attitude she had? Seven years, and transportation? Was this forced migration? The prosecutors were determined to punish her, even if the cost of doing so amounted to being ridiculously higher than the value of the item she had stolen. Why did she steal a cloak? Was it to sell or did she just want it because she liked it? In any case, I have a feeling she was a proud person, and being guilty of having committed the crime, she would rather be transported than stay in the horrible prison in Preston. Seven years, and she would come home again! Coming from a large farming family, and having pleaded guilty, her family must have been devastated, but could do nothing to help her.'

     

    Read more: Jane Huntingdon, Why my great great-grandmother is my heroine

  • HUTCHINGS, Sarah per Providence II, 1826. By Don Bradmore (12/01/2020). Open or Close

     

    Sarah, sentenced in England in 1825 to transportation to Van Diemens Land (VDL) for seven years,  was a convict when she died at Hobart thirty-two years later.

     

    Read more.

     

I-K

  • JENNINGS, Elizabeth per Lord Sidmouth/Lusitania 1823. By Don Bradmore (1/01/2020). Open or Close

     

    Elizabeth Jennings became a servant to Miss Bromley, accompanying her between Sydney and Hobart Town.  Elizabeth's life in Van Diemen's Land was not a happy one; according to her husband's Will she was  'afflicted in her mind'.  She died, at the age of 81, at the New Norfolk Asylum on 12 June 1876. In the story of Elizabeth Jennings, Don Bradmore looks into inconsistencies in various historical records. 

    Read more.

  • JOHNSTON, Eliza (2) (Sir Robert Seppings, 1852) by Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    ELIZA JOHNSTON (2)

    (Sir Robert Seppings, 1852)

    by

    Don Bradmore

     

    Eliza Johnston arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict per Sir Robert Seppings in July 1852.[1] She was twenty-three years old. In the previous year, she had been convicted in her native Scotland of the theft of clothing and sentenced to transportation for seven years. That had not been her first offence. In fact, she had been convicted of shoplifting three times previously, for the last of which, five years earlier, she had narrowly avoided transportation and had served two years in prison. She was not so fortunate when convicted for the fourth time. Despite these offences, however, it is difficult to think of her as bad person. Rather, her convict documents suggest that she was simply an immature and silly young girl. In VDL, she was a well-behaved prisoner and, within three years of her arrival, had been granted a ticket of leave. In 1855, she married a former convict, Joseph Bateman, and was never in trouble with the law again. By 1865, she had given birth to four children. Sadly, she passed away soon after the birth of her last child. She was only thirty-seven.

    This is Eliza’s story:

    Read More
  • JONES, Elizabeth per Siren 1835. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    Jones (or Nowlan) aged 18, first came to the attention of the general public when this report appeared in The Australian [Sydney] on 5 December 1834:

    On Sunday last a barbarous murder was committed at Wilberforce [about thirty-eight miles (sixty kilometres) north-west of Sydney], by a female named Elizabeth NOWLAN, on the person of one Charles MULLINS, with whom she cohabited. ... A Coroner's Inquest sat on the body [and] returned a verdict of wilful murder against Elizabeth Nowlan. She was committed to prison on the Coroner's Warrant.

    In the first week of February 1835, Nowlan was tried for the murder of Mullins before Mr. Justice BURTON and a military jury in the Supreme Court, Sydney. In the dock with her were Susannah DAVIDSON and William REYNOLDS, both of whom had been present at the sly-grog shop when Mullins was killed and had also been charged with his murder.

     

    Read more:  Elizabeth Jones, ‘The Morning Star of Liverpool’

  • KENNY, Bridget (Duke of Cornwall, 1850). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

    At Limerick, Ireland, in early 1850, Bridget Kenny was convicted of larceny and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] She was twenty when she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) later that year. While most of the 13,500 (approx.) females transported between 1812 and 1853 eventually realised that there were better opportunities for success and happiness in their new land than they could ever have hoped to find in the countries from which they had been banished, Bridget appears to have been unable to adapt to her new circumstances. Almost continually in trouble with the law throughout her life, she was gaoled several times for new offences. When she died in her seventies in 1907, it could have been said of her that she had lived an unfortunate life. She, however, might have considered herself to have been very lucky indeed – in one respect, at least. When, in 1854, a Supreme Court jury in Hobart had acquitted her of the murder of her illegitimate child, the judge had told her that never in his life had he witnessed so narrow an escape.

    This is her story:

    Read More
  • KING, Ann per Elizabeth Henrietta 1817. By Don Bradmore (21/06/2020). Open or Close

     

    Ann Bass, also known as Ann King, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict in August 1817.[1] Although there is some doubt about her exact age at that time, she is thought to have been in her early twenties. Two years earlier, she had been convicted in Dublin, Ireland, of the theft of money from a man in a public house and sentenced to transportation for seven years. Two months after her arrival in VDL, she married John Gwynn, a twenty-eight year old free settler, but there are indications that their life together was not a happy one. Little else is known about her. She passed away of natural causes at Sorell, Tasmania, in 1854. She was fifty-eight years old. Her death certificate described her as a ‘labourer’s wife’. In most respects, her story is unremarkable; like many of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported to VDL between 1813 and 1853, she served her time as a prisoner and then disappeared from the pages of history. However, what makes Ann’s story different from the stories of others is the severe and unusual punishment to which she was subjected when, soon after her arrival in VDL, she was charged with ‘behaving in a riotous and disorderly manner to her mistress and attempting to quit her place without leave’.

    This is Ann’s story....

     

    [1] Conduct record (as Ann King): CON40/1/5, image 226; indent CON13/1/1, image 82; Police No: 3; FCRC ID: 4501.

L

  • LAIRD, Mary (Woodbridge, 1843). By Don Alcock. Open or Close

     

    “Mary Laird or Mackay was convicted of stealing a brown silk umbrella, the property of Captain Grove, R.N., aggravated by being habit and repute a thief, and sentenced to seven years' transportation”. Caledonian Mercury - 23 June 1842.

     

    This is her story:

     

    Read More
  • LANDER, Agnes per Lloyds (3) 1845. By Don Bradmore (23/01/2021) Open or Close

     

    Agnes Lander arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict on the vessel Lloyds in November 1845.[1] She was nineteen years old. Six months earlier, she had been found guilty of the theft of clothing in her native Glasgow, Scotland, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. Blighted by continuing epileptic fits during her early years in the colony, she was admitted to the New Norfolk Asylum on a number of occasions. There, she was described as ‘violent and noisy’, ‘a very-ill-disposed woman’ and ‘a moral maniac of the worst kind’. On one occasion, she attempted to take her own life by slashing her throat with a pair of scissors. Eventually, however, she overcame her illness and, when finally discharged ‘in good bodily health’ in 1853, she was never re-admitted. In 1849, during a period away from the Asylum, she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Jane, but, soon afterwards, was in trouble with the law again and confined at the Female Factory at Ross. While there, she gave birth to a second illegitimate child but when that child perished in a fire at the prison, she and six other women imprisoned at Ross were charged with infanticide. As it happens, however, neither Agnes nor any of the other women ever faced trial, perhaps because the child’s body, totally consumed by the flames, could not be examined. Not long after her release from Ross, she married former convict Charles Thomas Lewis (Lady East, 1825) and, over the next several years, had three more children - Mary Ann (born 1854), Ellen (born 1856, died 1859) and Charles Thomas (born 1859). But the tumult in Agnes’s life continued. She often broke the law and was punished for her offences by way of goal or fines. Her two older girls – Jane and Mary Ann – were unruly from a young age. As they grew up, Agnes sometimes aided and abetted them in their crimes. Destitute, neglected and sometimes physically abused by family members, Agnes passed away at Hobart, at the age of eighty-six, in January 1912.

    This is her story.

     

    [1] CON41-1-7, image 92; Description List: CON19-1-5, p.70; Indent CON15-1-3, image 205; Police No: 350; FCRC ID: 7571.

  • LATHAM, Mary (Emma Eugenia, 3, 1844) by Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    Mary Latham

    (Emma Eugenia, 3, 1844)

    by Don Bradmore

     

    Mary Latham was twenty-two years old when she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) per Emma Eugenia in early April 1844. In July of the previous year, she had been convicted at the Nether Knutsford Quarter Sessions, Chestershire, England, of stealing some items of clothing and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] That offence had not been her first. In fact, she had been imprisoned in England seven times previously for transgressions including drunkenness and larceny. While in gaol awaiting transportation, she had been described as ‘bad’. Not surprisingly, she proved to be a recalcitrant prisoner in the colony. She was, in fact, incorrigible. Before the expiration of her sentence in 1850, she had been charged with new offences on no fewer than twenty-five occasions and had spent most of her seven-year term in prison. While some of her offences were relatively minor, together they exhibit an extreme form of rebelliousness and insubordination. Her case is illustrative of the utmost difficulty the authorities in VDL had in dealing with female prisoners who displayed an obstinately uncooperative attitude. Quite remarkably, however, by the time of her death at sixty in 1886, she had transformed herself into a good wife and mother and a useful citizen. What had brought about this change?

    This is Mary’s story:  

     

    Read More
  • LAYSHAW, Ann (Mary III, 1823) by Don Bradmore. Open or Close

    ANN LAYSHAW

    (Mary III, 1823)

    by Don Bradmore

     Ann Layshaw alias Sarah Wardle, a forty-three-year-old mother of three, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict aboard Mary III (I) in October 1823.[1] In the previous year, she had been convicted at Chelmsford, England, of ‘disposing of a forged banknote of five pounds’ and sentenced to transportation for life. Referred to in English newspapers at the time as ‘the notorious Mrs. Wardle’, she had been convicted of a similar offence almost five years earlier. On that occasion, she had been sentenced to imprisonment in England for fourteen years but had managed to escape, in seemingly impossible circumstances, six months later. Continuing to pass forged notes, she had remained at large until re-arrested in 1822. However, for one who had arrived in VDL with such notoriety, she was of surprisingly little trouble to the authorities. She was charged with only two new offences in the colony, both relatively minor. In 1825, she married former convict Charles Sefton and lived quietly until her death by natural cause six years later.

    This is her story:

    Read More
  • LEGGATT, Sarah per Providence II 1824. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    On 27 October 1825, Leggatt was convicted at the Old Bailey, London, of the theft of two sheets, two blankets, two pillows, and a table-cloth - valued in total at about nineteen shillings - from the lodging house at which she was living at the time. The court heard that she had sold the goods to a nearby pawnbroker and then replaced them in her room with cheaper substitutes. When the owner of the boarding house discovered the ruse, the police had been called and Leggatt had been arrested. She was sentenced to transportation for seven years.

     

    Read more: Sarah Leggatt

  • LYNCH, Johanna per Janus and Princess Charlotte 1820. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    At the Lent Assizes in County Waterford, Ireland, in 1819, Johanna Lynch, a twenty-one year old country servant, was convicted of larceny. She had been found guilty of stealing ‘two cloaks and a petticoat’, the property of Maurice Connery of Ballyrusa, her employer.

    Sentenced to transportation for seven years, she was put aboard Janus which, with Thomas Mowat as master and James Creagh as surgeon-superintendent, left Cork with a cargo of 105 female convicts on 5 December 1819. Also aboard were a small number of passengers, including two priests, Father Philip Connelly and Father John Joseph Therry, both of whom had volunteered to migrate to New South Wales after the authorities had consented to have Catholic chaplains stationed at Botany Bay.

    Making its way via Rio de Janeiro, Janus reached Sydney Cove on 3 March 1820, a passage of 150 days. Although Captain Mowat had been instructed to call first at Hobart, he had chosen to disregard this order following the sudden death of Creagh as the ship neared Van Diemen’s Land. Instead, he had proceeded directly to Port Jackson.

    In Sydney, 104 prisoners were disembarked; one had died on the way.

    Read more: Johanna Lynch
    (conduct record)

  • LYONS, Catherine per Nautilus 1838. By Geoffrey Court Open or Close

     

    Catherine Lyons was born circa 1821 in London and was arrested on 28 August 1837 when she was 15 and charged with stealing a watch.

     

    Catherine’s conviction is recorded in detail and is quite amusing as she would have been an inspiration for a female villain in a Dickens’ novel. She was tried on 18 September 1837 for stealing a watch and ring, convicted and sentenced to 7 years transportation. From the records of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, comes the following account...

    Read more: Catherine Lyons


    (conduct record, description list)

  • LYONS, Eleanor per Blackfriar 1851. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    On 9 July 1850, Ellen stood trial in County Wexford, charged with arson. Found guilty, she was sentenced to transportation for fifteen years.

    The circumstances under which Ellen had decided to burn someone’s property are unknown as official transcripts of her trial have not been located. However, family sources have always believed that she and other members of her Catholic family had become involved in some way in the political troubles in Ireland at that time. Encyclopedia Britannica explains this situation by claiming that the Orange Order (popularly called the Orangemen), which had been founded in 1795 to defend the Protestant Ascendancy, were increasingly excluding Catholics from holding favourable properties, forcing them to subsist on poorer lands which had to be subdivided continually to cope with population increase. This situation became even more intolerable when a potato blight hit their crops and a long and devastating famine ensued.

     

    Read more: Eleanor Lyons (Blackfriar 1851). 

M

  • MacCARTNEY, Jane per Hindostan 1839 ('The relative in the cupboard'). By Stephanie McComb Open or Close

     

    The Relative in the Cupboard

    The story of Jane Sefton alias Jane MacCartney

    There are 3 creased and torn letters which tell a piece of my family’s history and speak of a woman’s life lived in South Australia and Van Diemen’s Land during the mid-19th century. Letters which had been kept neatly folded in a jar and are known to have been kept in a cupboard for over 100 years. The story of those letters was told to me many years ago by my Great Aunt Rebecca. My Aunt was born in Liverpool in 1898. She would recall to me how her close knit family had spoken of the relative who had left Liverpool for Australia, with a black mark, in shame, and with a stain on her character. The family through the years had spoken that they knew their relative had done something wrong, had caused a family scandal, that she had left for Australia. But as with all skeletons in cupboards through the course of the subsequent years the story as too why and what happened was no longer discussed and in time all but forgotten.

    Read more: Jane MacCartney
    (conduct record, indent, description list)

  • MAGEE, Ellinor per Mexborough (1) 1841. By Don Bradmore (10/05/2021) Open or Close

     

     

    In March 1841, Ellinor Magee was convicted of theft in Ireland and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) in December of that year. She was twenty-one years old. Two years later, she married convict James Allen but the marriage was not a happy one and, while they appear to have stayed in contact with each other, they were soon living apart. In 1847, Ellinor gave birth to a son by another man. That said, her conduct during the years of her servitude was unremarkable. She was charged with only three minor misdemeanours, for two of which she was merely reprimanded and, for the other, sent to the Female House of Corrections for the relatively short period of fourteen days. By 9 March 1848, she had served her time and was issued with a Certificate of Freedom. However, the next year was to see her in very serious trouble. In August 1849, she was found by a Coroner’s jury to have aided and assisted in the wilful murder of a man by the name of James Gosling, with whom she had been living for the previous three or four weeks. On the day of the murder, she, her husband James Allen, James Gosling and some of their acquaintances had been drinking together when an argument had started. A bitter fight ensued and Gosling, who had been stabbed through the neck, dropped to floor and died. The police were called and Ellinor, her husband and one of the acquaintances – a soldier of the 99th Regiment of Foot, then stationed at Hobart – were arrested. All were fully committed for trial at the next session of the Supreme Court. Two weeks later - to the utter astonishment of the citizens of Hobart - the Attorney-General decided not to proceed with the matter and all three were discharged from gaol. Afterwards, Ellinor seems to have disappeared from the pages of history. Frustratingly, nothing more is known of her life. She was still only twenty-nine. 

    This is her story:

     

    Read More
  • MANNING, Mary per Persian 1827. By Don Bradmore (February 2020) Open or Close

     

    There are many heartbreaking stories among those of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported to Van Diemens Land (VDL) as convicts between the years 1812 and 1853. One of the saddest, perhaps, is that of Mary Manning, a young Irish woman, who arrived per Persian in 1827.[1]

    An unmarried mother when she arrived, she had brought her small child with her. Two years later, she married a free settler and gave birth to twins early the following year. Five months later she and her babies were brutally murdered inside their hut in a remote part of the bush by a small party of aborigines apparently intent on taking revenge on settlers in the vicinity for the atrocious treatment they had long been receiving at their hands. Mary was twenty-three years old. She had been in the colony for only four years.[2]

     This is her story …

     

    [1] CON40-1-7, Image 35, FCRC ID: 10017; Police Number 61.

    [2] See report of inquest: The Tasmanian, 18 June 1830, p.5.   

     

     

     

  • MARKHAM, Essy (John William Dare, 1852) by Don Bradmore. Open or Close

    ESSY MARKHAM

    (John William Dare, 1852)

    by Don Bradmore

     

    Essy Markham arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict in May 1852.[1] In the previous year, she had been convicted at Wicklow, Ireland, of stealing wearing apparel and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She was twenty-seven years old and single. Her life had not been easy. Her convict documents reveal that she had been born in a foundling home in Dublin and had grown up without family support. She had come to adulthood at the time of the Great Famine in Ireland, the terrible catastrophe which led to the deaths of over a million people and saw more than two million flee the country. By the time of her transportation, she had been ‘on the town’ – that is, working as a prostitute – for four years and had been arrested more than a dozen times for offences including theft, drunkenness, destruction of property and threatening to do bodily harm. Not surprisingly, she was quite troublesome during her early years in VDL. However, soon after the expiry of her sentence, she met a man with whom she appears to have lived happily, gave birth to a son and was never in trouble with the law again. She died at Irish Town at the age of seventy in 1896 when, possibly frail and ill, she fell into a shallow stream and drowned.

    This is Essy’s story:

    Read More
  • MARTIN, Mary per Canada to Sydney, 1810; Emu to VDL 1815. By Don Bradmore (1/01/2020). Open or Close

     

    The fascinating story of Mary Agnes MARTIN (nee HALLETT). She had outstanding success as a schoolmistress. Sadly, however, her life ended in misery. She died in poverty at the age of fifty-five in 1831, her achievements largely forgotten.

     

    Read More.

     

  • McCABE, Catherine per Siren 1836. By Don Bradmore (18/12/2019). Open or Close

     

    Catherine McCabe was one of the oldest females sent to Van Diemen's Land.  In 1825 Catherine, along with at least three children, arrived in NSW on the ship Thames to join her husband.  Her husband had previously been transported to Sydney for life in 1821.   Census records show that the family was reunited, but only a short while. In 1836, along with her son, Edward, Catherine was convicted and transported to Van Diemen's Land. Read Catherine's story.

  • McDEVITT, Eliza per Phoebe 1845. By Don Bradmore (7/03/2020) Open or Close

     

    Convict Eliza McDevitt arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) at the age of thirty-two in 1845.[1] She was a married woman, apparently childless, who had left behind in Ireland – without regret - a husband who had treated her badly. Although little is known about her life, either before her conviction and transportation or afterwards, one thing is very obvious: she was a strong-willed woman who seemed to know what she wanted in life and might have achieved it eventually. While still a prisoner in VDL, she married again but that marriage, like her first, was not a success and so, after serving her sentence, she fled from it, too. There are no further sightings of her in VDL. Where did she go? Did she leave the colony? There is some (slight) evidence that her husband tried to find her in the neighbouring colony of Victoria but without success. It is frustrating to find that – as with many females sent to VDL as convicts between 1812 and 1853 - she simply vanished from the pages of history soon after serving her time.

    This is her story

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-5, Image 91; Description List: CON19-1-4, Image 197; Indent: CON15/1/3, Images 124, 125. Police Number 229; FCRC ID: 10127.

  • McLAREN, Martha per Tasmania 1844 ('Martha's Shawl'). By Lyn Horton Open or Close

     

    On a cold winter night in July 1874 Martha McLaren’s red woollen shawl went missing. Martha believed Sarah Ladds stole it. The story was reported on 10 July 1874 in The Mercury. At the time Martha was a resident of Kangaroo Point (now named Bellerive), and had come into town on the previous Saturday ‘to receive some money due to her’. During the afternoon she had a drink at the New Market Hotel on Macquarie Street, Hobart. After going outside she met Sarah and went home to Sarah’s house in Watchorn Street, Hobart. It was here Martha discovered her shawl was missing and asked Sarah for its whereabouts, whereupon Sarah proceeded to hit Martha on the head with an unknown object and pushed her out onto the street. Sarah told the court she had taken the shawl to wash Martha’s head with it, but Martha denied this was true. Who then was telling the truth? Could Martha or Sarah be believed? After all Martha’s background would have been said by some as being rather dubious. Sarah’s story until, and after the shawl incident, is unknown.

     

    Read more: Martha McLaren, Martha's Shawl


    (conduct recordindentdescription list)

  • McSTAY, Mary Ann (Waverley 1842). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Why did Mary Ann say she had ‘no relations’?[1] After all, every child has at least a mother even if the father’s identity is unknown. Did her mother die in childbirth or leave her at an orphanage? Was she abandoned as a young child and left to survive on the streets of Belfast? If she had a family, did they desert her or was she forced to leave home under difficult circumstances?

    In any event, by her early twenties Mary Ann had already served six months in prison for theft and had been ‘on the town’ for six years.[2] After another conviction for theft Mary Ann, aged 25, was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) and in the years that followed her pattern of offending continued. Her behaviour could best be described as feisty and it was almost as though she might have derived some comfort from institutionalisation. During this time she also lost two infant children and some years later ended up back in gaol after a dispute involving her daughters. Mary Ann displayed all the hallmarks of a troubled soul.

     

    Read More
  • MILLER, Janet (Emma Eugenia, 1851) by Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    ‘Lady’ Janet Miller

    (Emma Eugenia, 1851)

    By Helen Ménard

    Introduction

    Surely Janet’s story is a love story.

    Of the thousands of women who made their way to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) under sentence of transportation in the nineteenth century, many dissolved into society once their sentences had been served, some returned to the United Kingdom (UK) and others continued a life of crime; but for many their life was miserable, steeped in poverty and brutality with their only possible escape to breed and seek shelter in confines of family life. Few seemed to find a long lifetime of happiness.

    While Janet’s life started, as many others did, with a history of petty crime undoubtedly contrived to survive the harshness of life in Glasgow at the height of the industrial revolution, transportation to the colonies just may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When her husband William died 48 years into their marriage, a year after his death she said of him ‘One sad year, and still I miss you, Never shall your memory fade; Sweetest thoughts shall ever linger round my dearest husband’s grave.’[1]

     

    Read More
  • MILLS, Julia per Providence 1826. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    Julia MILLS was only seventeen when she arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) as a convict on 16 May 1826.

    Although there are still some large gaps in Mills’s life history – which, hopefully, further research will be able to fill – her story is surely one of the most intriguing of those of the 13,500 (approx.) females who were transported to the colony between 1812 and 1853.

    Mills was born in Ireland about 1809 – but it was at the Lancaster Assizes, Lancashire, England, on 15 May 1825, that she was convicted. Why had she left Ireland to go to England? That is still one of the unanswered questions. The crime of which she was found guilty at Lancaster was ‘stealing from a dwelling house’. A sentence of death was recorded against her but, as was the general custom at that time, it was later commuted to transportation for life.

     

    Read more: Julia Mills (Providence 1826)

  • MOORHEAD, Jane per Blackfriar 1851. By Don Bradmore (7/05/2020) Open or Close

     

    Jane Moorhead arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) aboard Blackfriar on 29 May 1851.[1] She was thirty years old and single. On 25 February 1850, she had been found guilty of arson in Ireland and sentenced to transportation for fifteen years. Although she committed relatively few offences in the colony, the crime for which she was transported as well as her subsequent conduct suggest that she harboured a deep sense of hostility and resentment. During the early years of her servitude, she was gaoled twice for threatening violence against people with whom she worked. Her most serious offence, however, occurred in late 1864 - nine years after she had been granted a conditional pardon – when she was convicted of manslaughter in the Supreme Court at Hobart and sentenced to another six years in prison. After her release, she moved to a quiet country town in the neighbouring colony of Victoria where she passed away at the age of sixty-four in 1885.

    This is her story …

     

    [1] Conduct Record: CON41-1-30, image 179; Description List: CON19-1-9, image 150; Indent: CON15-1-7, images 50, 51; Police No:254; FCRC ID:2863

     

     

     

     

  • MORGAN, Ann, per Sea Queen 1846. By Don Bradmore (8/04/2020) Open or Close

     

    Ann Morgan arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) per Sea Queen on 29 August 1846.[1] She was twenty years of age and single. In November 1845, she had been convicted in England of the theft of a large quantity of woollen cloth and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. Within three years of her arrival, she had married a former convict, Patrick Connor, but the marriage was not a happy one. After only a few months, she charged Connor with preparing to desert her, leaving her destitute. A year later, she charged him again, this time with a brutal assault on her. Two years later again, she absconded from the colony and fled with Connor to Sydney. Once there, however, he went off with another woman and completely abandoned her. Apprehended as an escaped prisoner a short time later, Ann was returned to VDL where it is believed that she served out the rest of her term. What became of her after that remains a mystery! Frustratingly, she seems to have vanished from all records. Although it is unsatisfying in its conclusion, Ann’s story highlights two issues – wife-beating and desertion - that were of very considerable concern in VDL in the convict era.

    *****

    This is Ann’s story …

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-10, image 98; Description List: CON19/1/5, image 194; Indent: CON15/1/3, images 334 and 335; Police No: 684; FCRC ID: 10980.

     

     

     

     

  • MUNSLOW, Harriet, per Tasmania (I) 1844. By Don Bradmore (2/03/2020) Open or Close

     

    Harriet Munslow arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) as a convict per Tasmania (1) in 1844.[1] She was twenty-one years old. Her life in England had been a troubled one.

    Two years later Harriet married a former convict, William Kingsbury and, shortly afterwards, had settled down with him on his small leased farm on the big ‘Adelphi’ estate near Westbury. But it was not a happy marriage and, when Kingsbury, an alcoholic, died in 1855, Harriet soon remarried. Her second husband was Thomas Wildgust, also a former convict, a young labourer on a neighbouring property. This time, Harriet found the happiness that had eluded her for so long. By the time they passed away - Harriet in 1890 and Thomas a decade or so later – they had not only achieved financial security but had become highly respected members of their community. Seemingly, their convict pasts had been quite forgotten.

    This is Harriet’s story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-4, Image 121; Description List: CON19-1-4, Image 156; Indent: CON15-1-3, Image 78.

N-O

  • NEALE, Harriot per Friendship to NSW 1818, Duke of Wellington to Hobart 1818 ('Skirting the Law?'). By Fiona MacFarlane Open or Close

     

    Who was Mrs Harriot Davis, and was she guilty of harbouring one of the most notorious bushranging gangs in Tasmanian history?

     

    Read more: Harriot Neale, SKIRTING THE LAW? Mrs Harriot Davis, nee Neat: Bushranger harbourer or innocent bystander?

     

    (conduct record)

  • NIGHTINGALE, Sophia per Janus to Sydney 1820, Princess Charlotte to Hobart 1820. By Geoffrey Court Open or Close

     

    Sophia Nightingale was born 17 March 1789 in England, married somebody Graham circa 1809 and then married John Nightingale on 31 August 1818 at St Annes, Liverpool, UK. The marriage record shows Sophia was a widow. On 26 April 1819 Sophia was tried for larceny at Lancaster (Liverpool Borough) Quarter Session, found guilty and sentenced to 7 years transportation. Her police number was 7, she was a housemaid and could not write.

    After arriving in Sydney, Sophia and sixty of the other convicts were transferred to the “Princess Charlotte” for the trip to Van Diemen’s Land. Sophia was one of the very early female convicts to have arrived in Hobart Town. The population in 1810 was about 1,300 and this had grown to about 10,000 by 1823.

    Sophia’s convict number was 52959, she was 30 years of age and is recorded as having a child with her. The child is Mary Ann Nightingale, born 10 August 1819 whilst Sophia was in prison in England.

     

    Read more:  Sophia Nightingale,
    (conduct record)

  • NOTTINGHAM, Jane per Duchess of Northumberland 1853. By Don Bradmore (10/09/2020) Open or Close

     

    While it is not difficult to feel sympathy for almost all of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported as convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853, the stories of some of the women evoke more pity than others. One of the most pitiful, perhaps, is that of Jane Nottingham.[1] Born at Brimfield, Herefordshire, England, around 1820, she was only six or seven when her mother died and afterwards seems to have had to fend for herself. Before she was in her twenties, she had turned to crime, often with violence. She was imprisoned frequently. Unattractive, unloved, unmarried and unwanted, she was wretchedly unhappy when, in 1851, she was convicted of arson. Sentenced to transportation for her crime, she admitted to being pleased that she was about to be sent away because she would be better off anywhere else than where she was presently. In late 1852, she was put aboard Duchess of Northumberland, the last ship to take female prisoners to VDL before the cessation of transportation, but, tragically, did not even get to set foot on the land to which she had been banished. On 15 February 1853, after only forty days into a voyage that was expected to take about one hundred and fifty, she passed away and was buried at sea.[2]

    This is Jane’s story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41/1/37, image 164; Indent 15-1-8, image 100; Police No. 137; FCRC ID: 131653.

    [2] Death, age: Medical journal of Mr. Charles Smith, surgeon aboard Duchess of Northumberland in 1852/53 at www.femaleconvicts.org

  • OGILVIE, Agnes (Hector, 1835). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

    Introduction

    Tragically, Agnes’ story is not unique. If a society’s morality is to be measured by the way it treats its most defenceless members, Agnes’ story highlights a society at its lowest moral ebb. The fact that her case was not an isolated one makes her society’s actions even more heinous.

    Agnes was an elderly woman (most probably in her sixties) when she was transported to Van Deimen’s Land (VDL). Of the 12,500 female convicts transported to VDL between 1803 and 1853,[1] approximately 34 were 60 or older and only four were over 70.[2] Why would any government subject its elderly and vulnerable citizens, guilty only of minor crimes, to such a fate?

    Swiss argues the Transportation Act of Great Britain[3] had a very clear economic motive.

    The British wanted to beat the French to colonise Australia because it was rich in timber and flax.  It was also social engineering in that the British government wanted to remove ‘the unsightly poor’ from their streets.

    The convict men were transported first and soon outnumbered women nine to one in Australia.  You can’t have a colony without women so the female convicts were specifically targeted by the British government as ‘tamers and breeders’.[4]

    Agnes was dragged away from her fundamental social responsibility of caring for her aged and infirm husband and sent to a colony half a world away simply, it would appear, because she was poor.

    We are not privy to the beginning or the end of Agnes’ life but, by recounting her short story in between, it may light up one more star in the night sky. 

     

    Read More

P-Q

  • PAGET, Ann per Asia 1847 ('Biography of Ann Paget'). By David Edwards (16/10/2017) Open or Close

     

    My great-great-grandmother Ann Paget's journey from Birmingham UK to Newcastle NSW started on 13 December 1845 when, aged sixteen, she was committed to a 'House of Correction' for 'disorderly conduct' at Solihull.

    Less than a year later, on 19 October 1846, aged seventeen, she was '... convicted of stealing a chemise and other linen from a house in Park-Street, Birmingham ...'. Several previous convictions, and a list of summary punishments showing a history of petty crime ensured that she was sentenced to be transported for seven years.

    Still aged seventeen, Ann arrived in Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land on the fifth voyage of the convict transport Asia on 21 July 1847. The surgeon's report on her conduct during the voyage was 'Bad'. In her description as recorded in her convict record she had a 'large mouth'. This is a physical attribute, but it may well have also referred to her penchant for insolence to her superiors.

     

    Read more: Ann Paget, Biography of Ann Paget,

  • PICKETT, Ann per Cadet 1849. By Don Bradmore (31/01/2020). Open or Close

     

    Ann Pickett was a troubled and troublesome prisoner who re-offended many times. Although she seems not to have been a particularly likeable person - and to have brought a lot of her problems on herself - it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for her. These were not easy times to be a woman, especially one who was single and alone in a male-dominated penal colony.

     

    Read more on Ann Pickett.

  • POWELL, Ann (Brothers, 1824) – 'From Childish Games to Transportation and Hard Labour'. By Ann Williams-Fitzgerald Open or Close

     

    Ann Powell and Martha Shaw were friends, best friends in fact.  They had found each other on the streets of London where they loved to roam and play.  Playing helped them to forget about their struggles and pain.  One of their favourite games was ‘Nick the Hat’. It was their game of grabbing the hat from kids and then running away with it. They would then toss the hat away in a passage or alley then keep on running and playing, not giving it another thought. This game would change their lives forever in 1823 and see them parted for good. 

    This is Ann's story.

    Read More
  • PREECE, Jane (Anna Maria 1852) by Don Bradmore. Open or Close

    In July 1851, Jane Preece, a twenty-seven-year-old mother of four, was convicted at Swansea, Wales, of the theft of a shawl and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] That crime had not been her first. Earlier, she had served a two-month gaol term for stealing a watch. Whilst in gaol in Wales awaiting transfer to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL), she was described as ‘a dissolute drunkard’. In January 1852, she arrived in the colony aboard the vessel Anna Maria (2) and, not unexpectedly, was an unsettled and troublesome prisoner. By the time her sentence had expired in July 1858, she had been charged with eleven new offences and had been punished harshly for them. Even after she had regained her freedom, her troubles were not over. In 1860, she was very fortunate to be acquitted when tried in the Supreme Court at Hobart with ‘unlawfully stabbing with intent to kill’ a man with whom her partner at the time, former convict Michael Kennedy, had had a falling-out. Although she had a number of minor charges laid against her in later years, that was to be her last serious brush with the law. In poor health towards the end of her life, she passed away at the age of fifty-six in 1881.

    This is Jane’s story:

     

    Read More

R

  • RENSHAW, Isabella per Hydery 1832. By Don Bradmore (3/06/2020). Open or Close

     

    One of the most remarkable of the stories of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as convicts between 1813 and 1853 is that of Isabella Renshaw.[1] She was nineteen years old and single when she arrived at Hobart in August 1832. In November of the previous year, she had been convicted of ‘compounding the felony’ of an acquaintance by the name of Edward Jones who had been sentenced to transportation for fourteen years for theft. For her participation in that crime, she was sentenced to transportation for seven years. After less than a year in VDL, she married James Kerr, a free settler, and went to live with him on a property on the Nile Rivulet in the northeast of the colony. There, on 18 June 1836, they were attacked by the bushranger Henry Hunt, a cold-blooded murderer. Heroically, Isabella saved her husband from certain death and together they over-powered and captured Hunt. For her meritorious conduct, she was granted a free pardon by Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur. In the following year, she and her husband left VDL and settled at Carcoar, 150 miles (about 250 kms) west of Sydney, New South Wales. There, survived by her husband and nine children - and with her convict past seemingly forgotten – she passed away in 1856. She was forty-three years old.

    This is Isabella’s story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON40-1-7, image 289; description list: CON19-1-13, image 126; Police No: 106; FCRC ID: 6628.

     

     

     

  • RICHARDSON, Margaret and Ann. 'Convict Sisters' by Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

    Despite the many thousands of hours spent by researchers in trying to uncover the often-complex stories of the 13,500 (approx.) females sent to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as convicts between 1812 and 1853, there are still significant gaps in the body of knowledge, and there are facets of the lives of many of the women which are not well understood. Historical records which have been lost or destroyed account for some of the gaps. In other cases, accurate information is hard to find because many women used aliases or fabricated new identities when convicted in order to hide their own shame or to avoid bringing dishonour to their families. Some apparent fabrications, however, are more difficult to explain. A case in point is that of sisters Margaret and Ann (or Hanah/Hannah) Richardson who, in November 1838, were convicted together of shoplifting in London and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] A contemporary newspaper report of the trial gives the ages of the siblings as ‘about fourteen and thirteen’.[2] Moreover, a petition seeking clemency for the younger sister, Ann, while she was in an English gaol awaiting transportation to VDL, seems to confirm that she was only thirteen at that time.[3] If these sources are accurate, the sisters were among the youngest female convicts ever to be transported to VDL. However, there is considerable doubt about their true ages. Were they really as young as those records suggest? When they arrived in VDL – Margaret in September 1839 and Ann in April 1840 – the former stated that she was seventeen and the latter that she was sixteen.[4] Were the earlier records of their ages incorrect? If not, why did they claim to be older? What was to be gained by that? 

    This is their story:   

     

    Read More
  • ROONEY, Sarah, per Mexborough 1841. By Don Bradmore (8/11/2020). Open or Close

     

    The story of convict Sarah Rooney is a remarkable one.[1] She was twenty-five years old when she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) on 26 December 1841. Earlier that year, she had been convicted of stealing money in her native Sligo, County Fermanagh, Ireland, and had been sentenced to transportation for seven years. Assigned to free settlers as a house servant upon arrival, she was soon in trouble with the law again. Between February 1842 and November 1846, she was charged with a number of new offences and punished severely for them. In 1847, however, two circumstances changed her life completely. First, she was granted a ticket of leave and, now able to find her own employment, was never charged with an offence again. Second, she married. Although the marriage was not a success – her husband deserted her after ten years – she emerged from it with a new sense of purpose and became a successful businesswoman. By the time she passed away, at the age of sixty-three in 1879, she was a relatively wealthy woman. In her will, she left £550.00, an astonishing sum for one who had arrived as a convict, single, penniless and alone, forty years earlier. 

    This is her story:

     

    [1] Conduct Record: CON40-1-8, image 214; Description List: CON19-1-3, image 78; Police No: 246; FCRC ID: 9234.

S

  • SAVILLE, Elizabeth per Sir Robert Seppings 1852. By Geoffrey Court Open or Close

     

    The Elizabeth Saville Story:

    Hers was a truly remarkable life - a product of the disrupted social conditions in England and cast aside with other women of the times to the horrific conditions forced upon convict women on the other side of the world. Elizabeth’s early years in both England and Hobart were indeed turbulent. However, given a stable home and a steady relationship, she raised a fine family of children whose many descendants are typical of the strength which has built this country. Another amazing woman!!

     

    Read more: Elizabeth Saville


    (conduct record, indent, description list)

  • SMITH, Anne (Emma Eugenia 1846). By Helen Menard Open or Close

    Introduction

    Anne Smith was born Rose A Montague in 1823 at the Cape of Good Hope,[1] now a province in the Republic of South Africa. She was one of eight children born to Bernard and Rosanna Montague, six of whom were born in Manchester, England. Anne operated under a variety of aliases during her lifetime, most of which had obvious derivations, but, apart from the possible desire for commonality and anonymity, there’s no indication where the name Anne Smith originated.

     

    Anne’s first recorded encounter with law, as Rosannah Montague, was when she was 17 and six years later, after several convictions for theft of clothing, found herself on the high seas headed for Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) under a 7 year transportation sentence.[2] Over the next six years in the colony Anne only accrued a couple of minor conduct offences[3] and, not long after her sentence expired in 1852, made her way back to England. Shortly thereafter in November 1854, Anne and her team of aliases picked up where they had left off and the resumption of her criminal activities found her in prison for the best part of the next twelve years.[4] By the time she left Parkhurst Prison in 1866 – possibly for the last time - she was 43 years old and, in amongst her litany of personas, disappeared into the mist.

     

    This is the story of Anne Smith.

     

    Note: Many FCRC researchers have generously provided an enormous amount of detailed research in relation to Anne and her family that has made this story possible. Thank you. Much of the material in this story can be found on the FCRC database /research notes and has been collated from a variety of sources including ancestry.co.uk; findmypast.co.uk; familysearch.org; freebmd.org.uk; findagrave index; various national census records and military records from England; birth, death and marriage records from church registers and state records in England and Ireland; prison records from National Archives, Kew.  Where there are discrepancies between sources the most consistent or reliable information has been cited. For ease of reference individual citations have not always been provided but are available in the research notes. The author holds copied extracts of the originals of many of the military and prison records for those who want further information.

    [1] FMP/GRO Regimental Birth Indices and Overseas Births and Baptisms / 55th foot. Volume 1088 Page 24.

    [2] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON 41/1/9 DI 134

    [3] Ibid

    [4] UK, Licences of Parole for Female Convicts, 1853-1871, 1883-1887;

  • SMITH, Elizabeth, per Morley 1820. By Don Bradmore (21/03/2020) Open or Close

     

    Convict Elizabeth SMITH had been in Van Diemens Land (VDL) for almost fifty years when she passed away at Hobart on 20 September 1868. In the fifteen years before her death, she had managed to stay clear of the law but her first three decades in the colony had been turbulent ones. As a prisoner she was troublesome. She was charged with drunkenness on a number of occasions. She kept bad company. While assigned as a servant to free settlers, she frequently absented herself without leave. She was disorderly, disruptive and rebellious - and, on at least one occasion, violent. She absconded once and was missing for ten days before she was apprehended. More seriously, she narrowly avoided being hanged for murder![1]

    This is her story …

     

    [1] Thirty-one prisoners named ‘Elizabeth Smith’ were transported as convicts to VDL between 1812 and 1853.  Two of them arrived on Morley in 1820. This Elizabeth Smith has been given ‘Identifier 2’. Upon arrival at Hobart, she was allocated Police Number 27; see CON40/1/9, Image 14.

  • SMITH, Jane per Sea Queen 1846. By E. Crawford and Don Bradmore (19/01/2021) Open or Close

     

    Jane Smith was convicted of theft at Knutsford, Cheshire, England, on 7 January 1846 and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] She was a sixty-five-year-old widow with five children. Unwell on arrival at Hobart, she was taken immediately to the hospital and, as a result, very few personal details were entered on her convict records. Of particular relevance to her story is the fact that her native place was never recorded and the lack of this piece of information makes researching her life difficult. Compounding the difficulty are her very common surname and the knowledge that, before she was transported, she is known to have used a number of aliases including ‘Margaret Wallace’, ‘Ann Jones’ and ‘Ann Smith’. It is even possible that ‘Jane Smith’ was not her real name. It had been as ‘Margaret Wallace’ that, four years before the theft that had led to her transportation, she had committed an unusual offence against the Registration Act by falsely registering the deaths of children for monetary gain in the form of sympathetic donations. Sadly, her life in the colony was short. In March 1853, just weeks after the completion of her term of transportation, she passed away at Hobart. She had done nothing out of the ordinary and, apart from occasional episodes of drunkenness, had not troubled the colonial authorities. It is likely, however, that she will be long remembered for the poignancy of her last recorded words, ‘I want to go home’ - a sad lament which was undoubtedly expressed by many of the 13,500 (approx.) other women who were sent as prisoners to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853. In Jane’s case, regrettably, there is still uncertainty about where ‘home’ was.

    This is her story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-10, image 133; indent CON15-1-3, image 344; description list CON19-1-5; police No: 800; FCRC ID: 11016.

  • SMITH, Mary per Eliza 1830. By Don Bradmore (6/12/2020) Open or Close

     

    In itself, the story of Mary Smith is unremarkable but it highlights a serious problem that existed in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) in the first half of the nineteenth century – that is, the common but very dangerous practice of giving infants opium-based preparations to pacify them. In July 1829, Mary had been convicted of theft at Norwich, England, and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[1] She arrived at Hobart per Eliza III (2) in February of the following year, Upon arrival, she was described as a thirty-year old widow and a ‘cripple’.[2] Assigned to free settlers as a ‘housemaid’ between 1831 and 1835, she was returned to the authorities on three occasions when, because of her physical disability, she was unable to do the work required of her. In 1835, she married former convict John Cawthorne (Medina, 1825) and, in March 1836. gave birth to a son, also named John. When the child died suddenly eleven months later, suspicion fell upon the parents. A subsequent inquest cleared both Mary and John of any deliberate wrong-doing. In doing so, it helped to raise public awareness of the too-easy availability of opium-based concoctions and of the often poorly-educated and ill-trained people who prepared them and advocated their use.   

    This is Mary’s story …

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON40-1-9, image 83; description list; CON19-1-2, image 354; police number: 166; FCRC ID: 4230.

    [2] CON40-1-9, image 83.

  • STEWART, Mary Ann per Elizabeth & Henry 1848. By Don Bradmore 28/04/2020. Open or Close

     

    Mary Ann Stewart arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict aboard Elizabeth and Henry (3) on 30 June 1848.[1] She was twenty years old. On 23 July of the previous year, she had been convicted of an assault and robbery in Edinburgh, Scotland, and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. That crime was not her first. She had been a troubled and troublesome young woman in Scotland and had already served a number of short gaol terms. In VDL, she was just as troublesome. During the years of her penal servitude, she fell foul of the law continually. While many of her offences were relatively minor in nature – being drunk, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and so on - some were serious and she was punished for them by being confined for lengthy periods at the Cascades Female Factory. She married twice in the colony but neither marriage seems to have brought her happiness. There is no record of her having had children. There is considerable uncertainty about her circumstances in her final years as a prisoner. A note on her conduct record, dated February 1857 – four years after transportation of convicts to VDL had come to an end – seems to indicate that the unexpired portion of her original sentence was to be remitted but there is some doubt about whether this actually happened. The last entry on her conduct record – a charge of disturbing the peace – is dated 10 August 1858. She was then about thirty years old. What happened to her after that remains a mystery. The date and place of her death have not yet been located.

    This is Mary Ann’s story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON 41/1/17, image 146; Description List: CON19/1/6, image 120; Indent: CON15/1/4, image 318/319; Police Number 805; FCRC ID: 4394.

  • SURRIDGE, Elizabeth per Baretto Junior 1850. By Don Bradmore (2/09/2020). Open or Close

     

    Elizabeth Surridge (aka ‘Emma Surrage’) had a shocking childhood.[1] The daughter of a notorious thief, she grew up in Wapping, one of the poorer parts of London. In 1847, at the age of twelve, she was convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation for ten years but pardoned because of her age. She was sent to live at London’s Refuge for the Destitute but two years later she was convicted of theft again and once more sentenced to transportation for ten years. This time the sentence was carried out. She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) aboard Baretto Junior on 25 July 1850. In the colony, she led a remarkable life. Often in trouble with the law, she was gaoled several times. In 1859, she married former convict Samuel Longbottom and gave birth to a number of children before her husband deserted her, forcing her to support herself. In 1870, she sought a divorce – a rare and bold thing for a woman to do at that time - in order to protect her assets from creditors who might have wished to claim upon Longbottom. In 1871, now calling herself ‘Elizabeth Kenworthy’, she applied successfully for the license of the Golden Cross Hotel in Murray Street, Hobart. It was another audacious thing for a young woman to do – especially one who not only had a convict past but was also without the support of a male. That venture, however, may not have been a happy one and within a year or two she had relinquished the license. For the next thirty years, she lived quietly at New Town, Hobart, where she passed away in September 1907. She was in her early seventies.

    This is Elizabeth’s story:   

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-27, image 165; indent: CON15-1-6, images 216-217; description list: CON19-1-8, image 216, Police No: 940; FCRC ID: 2672

T

  • TAYLOR, Johanna per Mexborough 1841. By Don Bradmore (29/01/2021) Open or Close

     

    Johanna Taylor was one of 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported as convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853.[1] All of the women are important and every one of them deserves to be remembered. The stories of their lives are all different. A few are joyous, most are heart-wrenching, some downright tragic. Some of the women will be remembered for new crimes committed in the colony, some because of the way in which they resisted the cruel treatment of the colonial authorities, and some because they did their best to escape the often-harsh manner in which they were treated by the free settlers to whom they were assigned as servants. Others are of women who were pleased to be away from the abject poverty in which they had lived before their convictions and transportation, who made the most of their opportunities, who saw their servitude as a means of changing their condition, who became model citizens and made laudable contributions to the development of their new country. Lamentably, Johanna Taylor was not one of the latter group. Just twenty-two years of age when she arrived in VDL on Mexborough in December 1841, she had been found guilty of theft in her native Cork, Ireland, earlier that year. It was not her first offence and she had been sentenced to seven years’ transportation. Although troublesome at times in VDL, she did nothing that was particularly unusual or bad. In 1846, she had married and, later, had left the colony, probably with her husband, to reside in the neighbouring colony of Victoria. Little is known about the way she lived there but it is thought that her life must have been a difficult one. Described as ‘idle and disorderly’ and ‘a vagrant’, and listed as one who had been in-and-out of prison for the previous six years, she passed away at the Melbourne Gaol in 1889. She was sixty-five years old. What adds poignancy to her story - and certainly makes her memorable - is one of several petitions forwarded on her behalf to the authorities in Ireland whilst she was awaiting transportation in 1841. Whereas most petitions for prisoners who had been sentenced to transportation pleaded for clemency, this one, written by the step-mother with whom Johanna had lived at one time in Cork, begged that the powers-that-be show her no mercy whatsoever, that they send her far, far away and that they never allow her to return.  

    This is Johanna’s story:  

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON40-1-10, image 127; description list: CON19-1-3, image 82; police no: 184; FCRC ID: 9249.

  • TEMPLETON, Grace (per Hector 1835). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Grace’s partnership with crime started early. By 18 she had prior convictions for drunkenness and theft of a watch and had spent at least four months in prison.[1] At 19, she had been ‘on the town’ for three years.[2]  However, despite the pervasive stereotype that all female convicts were prostitutes, it was far from true. The annotation ‘on the town’ on a woman’s conduct record, usually indicated the amount of time spent working as a prostitute. But, sometimes ‘on the town’ simply meant that the woman was living on the parish.[3]

    After another conviction for theft, and still only 19,[4] Grace found herself on a ship with 133 other female convicts bound for a developing, and often brutal, colony half a world away. Did she have any idea what this new life would hold for her? Was she looking for a better life? When she faced the court in Scotland for the last time, was she aware of the government’s legislated policy to populate foreign colonies with mostly poor, young women of child bearing age?[5]

     

    Read More
  • TUCKER, Ann per Anna Maria 1852. By Glenda Stapley Open or Close

     

    Ann's Story

    'My great great grandmother was Ann Tucker. While researching her history, it became increasingly obvious that given her family, time and circumstances, it was almost inevitable that in 1851 she would be on a convict ship bound for Van Dieman’s Land (VDL) with her infant son, never to see her homeland or her three older children again. Ann began life as Ann Dimmock, then through marriage, Ann Tucker, and again through marriage, Ann Sonners. Here is her story.'

     

    Read more:  Ann Tucker, (Anna Maria 1852)
    (conduct record, indent, description list)

U-V

W

  • WATT, Hannah (Gilbert Henderson 1840). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Crime was clearly not a novelty for the Watt family. Hannah was the youngest in a family of four children, all of whom ultimately ended up being transported from Scotland to Van Diemen’s Land as retribution for their criminal transgressions. Were they simply victims of clearly stated government policy to remove ‘the unsightly poor’ from the streets of Britain[1] or did they collude with one another to find a better life in the colonies?

     

    Read More
  • WATT, Isabella (Hector, 1835). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Petty crime was a central part of life in the Watt family in Aberdeen. Isabella was one in a family of four children, all of whom ultimately ended up being transported from Scotland to Van Diemen’s Land as punishment for their criminality – two, including Isabella, for life. Were they simply victims of clearly stated government policy to remove ‘the unsightly poor’ from the streets of Britain[1] or did they collude with one another to discover a better life in the colonies?

     

    Read More
  • WELL-TRAVELLED CONVICTS per Emma Eugenia 1842. By Margaret Jones Open or Close

     

    'Over the many years of researching my family and convicts lives of the women of the Emma Eugenia(1842) I have met many brick walls, like us all. Having now looked at over 60 female convicts off the Emma Eugenia I have started to see a common theme when I hit such barriers. What is emerging from all this research is the amount of travel that emigrants and convicts to Australia have been involved in and the need to explore all possible beginnings and destinations of these people.'

    Read more:  Well-travelled Convicts, (Emma Eugenia 1842).

  • WICKS, Elizabeth per Brothers 1824. By Don Bradmore Open or Close

     

    On 25 June 1823, Elizabeth WICKS was convicted at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing 2¾ yards (about 2.5 metres) of bobbin lace, valued at five shillings and sixpence (about $1.10), from her master, a draper. She was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. She was 21 years of age, and single. She could both read and write.

    The voyage of Brothers to the colonies had been a particularly troubled one. When the ship eventually reached Sydney, the events that had occurred at sea were the subject of a celebrated series of court actions. Brothers had sailed under the command of Charles MOTLEY. In charge of the health and welfare of the prisoners was Surgeon-Superintendent James HALL – and it was Hall who was at the centre of the trouble that had occurred at sea.

     

    Read more: Elizabeth Wicks, and the trouble on the Brothers convict transport ship, 1824.

  • WILLIAMS, Maria Louisa per Mary III 1831 ('Maria Louisa Swinchatt transported for life to Van Diemen’s Land in 1831'). By Suzan A L Swinchatt (2019) Open or Close

     

    Maria Louisa Swinchatt transported for life to Van Diemen’s Land in 1831

    On 12th May 1831, a 15-year-old girl calling herself Maria Williams was standing in the dock at the Old Bailey accused of stealing a dress worth seven shillings, from a pawnbroker’s shop in Old Street Road, Shoreditch in the East End of London. The case was just one of hundreds during a regular four-day session with each hearing lasting only a matter of minutes. William Bird is called as a witness. “I am in the employ of Mr. John Burgess, a pawnbroker, in Old Street. I was behind the counter on the 9th of April - I came round and saw the prisoner... putting this gown into her apron”. Now Maria’s version of events. “I met my sister; we were both at the door and my sister took this gown and looked at it; when she saw him coming, she threw it on my arm and ran away”. Then a man named George Osterman stands up and tells the court “ I have a certificate of the conviction of Maria Swinchatt, on the 8th of July last. I attended and know the prisoner is the person who was convicted by that name.”

    The verdict was ‘Guilty’. This being her second offence, Maria Swinchatt recorded under her alias “Maria Williams” became the youngest woman that year to be sentenced to transportation for life at the Old Bailey.

     

    Read more:  Maria Louisa Williams (Swinchatt)
    (conduct recorddescription list)

  • WOMACK, Jane per Aeolus 1809 & WOMOCK, Jane per Maria 1818 ('a twist of fate'). By Rhonda Arthur (07/02/20). Open or Close

     

     

    The possibility that they were one and the same person emerged and it transpired that Jane and her husband, William Womack, were transported twice. Their daughter, Mary Ann Womack, born in Hobart Town accompanied Jane on the Maria 1818.

    Read 'a Twist of Fate'.

  • WOOD, Sarah (Aurora, II, (2), 1851). By Don Bradmore. Open or Close

     

    In December 1850, Sarah Wood was convicted of theft at Edinburgh, Scotland, and sentenced to transportation for ten years. She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict per Aurora II (2) in August 1851.[1] She was thirty-two years old. In England, thirteen years earlier, she had married a man by the name of James Burrows but that marriage was short-lived and she and her husband were living apart at the time of her conviction. Two years after her arrival in VDL, she married again. Her new husband was a former convict, John Ganfield, who had been granted a conditional pardon just six months before the marriage.[2] For the next two or three years, all appears to have gone well for Sarah. In August 1854, she was granted a ticket of leave and, in June 1855, a conditional pardon. She was a free woman again. But six months later she took her own life. Reportedly, she had been ‘labouring for some days under temporary insanity’. What might have caused her to become so deeply disturbed?

    This is Sarah’s story:

     

    Read More
  • WOODCOCK, Elizabeth (Angelina 1844). By Helen Menard. Open or Close

     

    Introduction

    Elizabeth was born in Birmingham, England in 1825 and the fourth of eight children to Elizabeth (Stretton, 1796-) and Joseph Village (1796-1836).[1] Why or when she adopted the name Woodcock is unknown. It also appears than none of her surviving siblings followed her path into crime and transportation.[2] What happened in Elizabeth’s life that set her on a convict voyage to the other side of the world? Did the death of her father when she was only 11 years old impact on her life? As a teenager she had one previous conviction for theft and, by the time she was 21, her second conviction landed her a sentence of 7 years’ transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL).[3]

     

    Yet, even though she had five children of her own, ultimately, she would be separated from all of them and not only isolated from her family network in England but also her family in Australia. Was she the architect of her own misfortune? Why did she return to the UK and depart again for Victoria a few years later leaving her two eldest children behind? Why, once back in Australia, when her new family moved from Victoria to NSW, did she return to Tasmania alone?

     

    Read More
  • WOODS, Jane per Duke of Cornwall, 1850. By Don Bradmore (15/10/2020) Open or Close

     

    The story of convict Jane Woods (also known as Jane Grove or Groves) is a most depressing one.[1] She led a miserable life. Born in County Derry, Ireland, she was about eighteen when the Great Famine, which caused mass starvation and disease, struck in 1845. In October 1846, she was convicted in Londonderry of stealing money and sentenced to transportation for seven years. After her trial, she was taken to Grangegorman Female Penitentiary, Dublin - over-crowded, at that time - to await a ship to take her to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL). She was kept there for three and a half years before being put aboard Duke of Cornwall which sailed on 8 July 1850 and reached Hobart in late October that year. Shortly after her arrival, she met former convict James Sexton. By the time she was granted her certificate of freedom in 1853, she was co-habiting with him and had given birth to a daughter. In 1854, she followed Sexton to Ballarat on the Victorian goldfields. Her years there were wretched ones. Physically and emotionally brutalised by Sexton, she turned to alcohol and became a nuisance to herself and the police. In 1874, while heavily intoxicated, she wandered away from the bush hut in which she lived, fell into a deep waterhole and drowned. She was forty-seven years old.

    This is her story:

     

    [1] Conduct record: CON41-1-28, image 204; Description list CON19-1-9, image 54; Indent; Police No: 875; FCRC ID:3574.

  • WRIGHT, Ann Margaret per Providence II 1826. By Don Bradmore (11/12/2019). Open or Close

     

    In 1825, Ann Margaret Wright was convicted in England of stealing money from her employer and transported to the colony - and she was still a prisoner there thirty four years later!  In that time, she had been sentenced to death on two separate occasions, had absconded from the colony and fled to India where she had suffered terribly before being recaptured and returned to VDL, had married twice and had spent many years in gaol.

    Read more about Ann Margaret Wright.

  • WRIGHT, Rachael per Friends 1811 and Lady Nelson 1812 ('Stealing an infant of tender years'). By Christopher Riley, PhD Open or Close

     

    Rachael Wright was born in Glasdrumman, County Down, Ireland,in around 1790. In May 1808 she sailed to Scotland and travelled to Glasgow in search of an uncle and aunt who were living there. Her trial documents best describe how her journey would eventually lead to Van Diemen's Land. In court she stated:

    that she only remained in Glasgow for about a week, and left it upon Friday last the eighth ... without being able to find out her uncle and aunt, that having happened to go into the house of Michael McMillan spirit dealer in Glasgow, she there met with two women whom she had never seen before, and who had a little child in their arms, and which they gave to the charge of the declarent, along with six pence to purchase bread for it, and after purchasing two pence worth of bread, she set off to Ayr with the child in company with the said two women but who left her on this side of one of the bridges of Glasgow that after getting out of Glasgow a little space she went into a field of cut hay and wrapping herself and the child into a cloak, slept there among the hay till after sunrise next morning.

    She also stated that she intended to keep the child and bring it up herself.

     

    Read more:  Rachael Wright, Stealing an infant of tender years. 

X-Z

Back to Top

 

Further stories:

Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary: 

Edges of Empire is a Biographical Dictionary offering accounts of nearly 200 female convicts who were tried or born outside the British Isles. All were transported to the Australian colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land between 1788 and 1853. Their life stories have been tracked from numerous sources around the world, sometimes in detail and sometimes with the merest trace of their existence.

Our Genealogy page also contains some interesting female convict stories researched and written by our genealogists, transcribers and researchers.

The Founders and Survivors project newsletters also contain interesting stories on convicts.
(Scroll down toNewsletter subscription and Previous issues on the left hand side of the page.)

 


 

 

 

 


Please acknowledge our work, should you choose to use our research.  Our work may be subject to copyright therefore please check our Copyright Policy, and Disclaimer policy.

For academic referencing (suggestion only) Database: [http address], FCRC Female Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land database, entry for xxxx ID no xxx, accessed [date].

For academic referencing (suggestion only) Website:  Female Convicts Research Centre Inc., accessed [date] from [http address].