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].