Rachael CHAMBERLAIN is reputed to have been one of the most notorious women ever transported to Van Diemens Land (VDL).[1]

Chamberlain (nee BERRY) was born at Bristol, England, about 1796.[2]  Nothing is known of her early life. At the age of eighteen, she married a 32-year old widower, Abraham CHAMBERLAIN (aka CHAMBERLYN, CHAMBERLAYNE, CHAMBERLYNE), at St Mary’s, Newington, London.[3] Two years later, her husband was convicted of larceny and transported for seven years. He arrived at Hobart on 11 June 1818.[4]

In 1821, Rachael, who had been supporting herself through prostitution since her husband’s conviction and transportation, was herself convicted of larceny.[5] She had stolen a quantity of bedding, valued at forty shillings, from a room in which she had been lodging with a man by the name of Joseph NIXON.


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[1] Tardiff, Philip. (1990). Notorious Strumpets and Dangerous Girls: Convict Women in Van Diemen’s Land. North Ryde: Angus and Robertson; Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser (HTG), 11 May 1822, p.2.

[2] Year of birth calculated from age 28 given on arrival at Hobart.

[3] Marriage Entry No. 858 in “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921, Southwark, St Mary, Newington, 1814”, via ‘Ancestry.com’, accessed 18 January 2017.

[4] CON31/1/6, Image 44 (name shown as ‘CHAMBERLYN’.)

[5] Chamberlain’s convict documents mention that she had been ‘on the town’.


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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 online [date].

For academic referencing (suggestion only) Website:  Female Convicts Research Centre Inc., accessed online [date] from [http address].




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