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.




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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].

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