Introduction

Elizabeth was born in Birmingham, England in 1825 and the fourth of eight children to Elizabeth (Stretton, 1796-) and Joseph Village (1796-1836).[1] Why or when she adopted the name Woodcock is unknown. It also appears than none of her surviving siblings followed her path into crime and transportation.[2] What happened in Elizabeth’s life that set her on a convict voyage to the other side of the world? Did the death of her father when she was only 11 years old impact on her life? As a teenager she had one previous conviction for theft and, by the time she was 21, her second conviction landed her a sentence of 7 years’ transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL).[3]

 

Yet, even though she had five children of her own, ultimately, she would be separated from all of them and not only isolated from her family network in England but also her family in Australia. Was she the architect of her own misfortune? Why did she return to the UK and depart again for Victoria a few years later leaving her two eldest children behind? Why, once back in Australia, when her new family moved from Victoria to NSW, did she return to Tasmania alone?

 

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Petty crime was a central part of life in the Watt family in Aberdeen. Isabella was one in a family of four children, all of whom ultimately ended up being transported from Scotland to Van Diemen’s Land as punishment for their criminality – two, including Isabella, for life. Were they simply victims of clearly stated government policy to remove ‘the unsightly poor’ from the streets of Britain[1] or did they collude with one another to discover a better life in the colonies?

 

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In December 1850, Sarah Wood was convicted of theft at Edinburgh, Scotland, and sentenced to transportation for ten years. She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict per Aurora II (2) in August 1851.[1] She was thirty-two years old. In England, thirteen years earlier, she had married a man by the name of James Burrows but that marriage was short-lived and she and her husband were living apart at the time of her conviction. Two years after her arrival in VDL, she married again. Her new husband was a former convict, John Ganfield, who had been granted a conditional pardon just six months before the marriage.[2] For the next two or three years, all appears to have gone well for Sarah. In August 1854, she was granted a ticket of leave and, in June 1855, a conditional pardon. She was a free woman again. But six months later she took her own life. Reportedly, she had been ‘labouring for some days under temporary insanity’. What might have caused her to become so deeply disturbed?

This is Sarah’s story:

 

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Crime was clearly not a novelty for the Watt family. Hannah was the youngest in a family of four children, all of whom ultimately ended up being transported from Scotland to Van Diemen’s Land as retribution for their criminal transgressions. Were they simply victims of clearly stated government policy to remove ‘the unsightly poor’ from the streets of Britain[1] or did they collude with one another to find a better life in the colonies?

 

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The story of convict Jane Woods (also known as Jane Grove or Groves) is a most depressing one.[1] She led a miserable life. Born in County Derry, Ireland, she was about eighteen when the Great Famine, which caused mass starvation and disease, struck in 1845. In October 1846, she was convicted in Londonderry of stealing money and sentenced to transportation for seven years. After her trial, she was taken to Grangegorman Female Penitentiary, Dublin - over-crowded, at that time - to await a ship to take her to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL). She was kept there for three and a half years before being put aboard Duke of Cornwall which sailed on 8 July 1850 and reached Hobart in late October that year. Shortly after her arrival, she met former convict James Sexton. By the time she was granted her certificate of freedom in 1853, she was co-habiting with him and had given birth to a daughter. In 1854, she followed Sexton to Ballarat on the Victorian goldfields. Her years there were wretched ones. Physically and emotionally brutalised by Sexton, she turned to alcohol and became a nuisance to herself and the police. In 1874, while heavily intoxicated, she wandered away from the bush hut in which she lived, fell into a deep waterhole and drowned. She was forty-seven years old.

This is her story:

 

[1] Conduct record: CON41-1-28, image 204; Description list CON19-1-9, image 54; Indent; Police No: 875; FCRC ID:3574.

 

 

 


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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].