“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:


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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.


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)


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). 


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)




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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].