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.


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.







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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].