In January 1846, Elizabeth Chadwick was convicted at Nottingham, England, of stealing money from her employer.[1] Sentenced to transportation for seven years, she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) in the following August. Her convict documents show that she was only sixteen years old upon arrival. However, she was not the timid and fearful prisoner that her tender years might have suggested. Assigned to settlers as a housemaid, she was feisty and troublesome. Charged with offences on eleven separate occasions during the years of her servitude, she was punished frequently for misdemeanours including gross disobedience of orders, behaving in a disorderly manner at church, using obscene language, being out after hours and absconding from her assigned service. On one occasion, she was gaoled for six months for ‘living in a state of adultery with George Murray’, a twenty-seven-year-old Irish-born convict, to whom she claimed to be married. Her strength and hardiness of spirit, however, were sorely tested after the completion of her sentence. In 1866, now legally married to former convict Richard Coultass, she witnessed the tragic deaths of her two eldest children - daughters Ellen and Jane, eight and five years of age respectively - who were burnt to death when their long dresses caught fire inside their home. Some years later, it is believed, her third child died from an illness. He was sixteen. With a hardiness that was astonishing in one for whom life had not been easy, Elizabeth herself lived on into her late sixties. She passed away at Launceston in 1897.

This is her story:


[1] Elizabeth Chadwick: conduct record: CON40/1/10, image 25; description list CON19/1/5, image 175; indent: CON15/1/3, image 317 and 317; police no: 790; FCRC ID: 10914; her conduct record and indent show her age as sixteen but in a Nottingham (England) newspaper report of her crime in 1846, she was said to be seventeen.






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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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