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...


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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: 


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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.


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]

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[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.






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.


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[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.




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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].