By Helen Ménard
Elizabeth was born in Glasgow but moved to Edinburgh as a young child. She was one of four children and when the family moved into the infamous Grassmarket area in Edinburgh, unsurprisingly, most of them ended up in a life of crime including her mother Mary. Ultimately, Elizabeth and her brother John were transported for their misdeeds – she to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) and he to New South Wales (NSW).
The horrors of life in the Grassmarket area were legendary and it is quite reasonable that Elizabeth saw relocation to an unknown colony in the antipodes as the lesser of two evils. While, undeniably, daily survival left her with little choice but to beg, borrow or steal, the idea of transportation might well have been a brighter light on a distant horizon. After all, many sought the relative comforts of prison – basic shelter and daily food – over their existences in the wynds of Edinburgh.
As it transpired, even though her early years in VDL were troubled and her marriage did not endure, Elizabeth eventually settled into a quiet life in Green Ponds, Tasmania where she died aged 72. Her two surviving children and their families lived in the same area and, in all probability, provided her with some contentment in her later years.
JANE POLLARD (Tasmania, 1844)
by Don Bradmore
In April 1844, eighteen-year-old Jane Pollard, a servant, was convicted of stealing clothes from the home of her employer and sentenced to transportation for ten years. While she was at Millbank Prison, London, awaiting a vessel to take her off to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL), her fifteen-year-old sister, Charlotte Pollard, was also convicted of theft. She, too, was sentenced to transportation and joined Jane at Millbank to await transfer to VDL. In late July 1844, both young women were put aboard the convict ship Tasmania as it was being prepared to sail for the Australian colonies. Within days of their embarkation, however, the surgeon-superintendent aboard the vessel, greatly alarmed at the younger girl’s state of health, sent her back to Millbank for treatment. Sadly, she passed away there a week later. Consequently, Jane arrived alone at Hobart and, not surprisingly, had much difficulty in adjusting to her new circumstances. In her first five years in the colony, she was gaoled frequently for new offences. For one of her offences, her original term of transportation was extended by a year. For eighteen months, she was confined in the Lunatic Asylum at New Norfolk. Nevertheless, by 1853, she had been granted a ticket of leave and, in the following year, she married. There is no record of children. In 1854, her conditional pardon was approved and, in 1857, she received her certificate of freedom. Disappointingly, what happened to her after that remains a mystery.
This is Jane’s story:
Ann Powell and Martha Shaw were friends, best friends in fact. They had found each other on the streets of London where they loved to roam and play. Playing helped them to forget about their struggles and pain. One of their favourite games was ‘Nick the Hat’. It was their game of grabbing the hat from kids and then running away with it. They would then toss the hat away in a passage or alley then keep on running and playing, not giving it another thought. This game would change their lives forever in 1823 and see them parted for good.
This is Ann's story.
In July 1851, Jane Preece, a twenty-seven-year-old mother of four, was convicted at Swansea, Wales, of the theft of a shawl and sentenced to transportation for seven years. That crime had not been her first. Earlier, she had served a two-month gaol term for stealing a watch. Whilst in gaol in Wales awaiting transfer to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL), she was described as ‘a dissolute drunkard’. In January 1852, she arrived in the colony aboard the vessel Anna Maria (2) and, not unexpectedly, was an unsettled and troublesome prisoner. By the time her sentence had expired in July 1858, she had been charged with eleven new offences and had been punished harshly for them. Even after she had regained her freedom, her troubles were not over. In 1860, she was very fortunate to be acquitted when tried in the Supreme Court at Hobart with ‘unlawfully stabbing with intent to kill’ a man with whom her partner at the time, former convict Michael Kennedy, had had a falling-out. Although she had a number of minor charges laid against her in later years, that was to be her last serious brush with the law. In poor health towards the end of her life, she passed away at the age of fifty-six in 1881.
This is Jane’s story:
My great-great-grandmother Ann Paget's journey from Birmingham UK to Newcastle NSW started on 13 December 1845 when, aged sixteen, she was committed to a 'House of Correction' for 'disorderly conduct' at Solihull.
Less than a year later, on 19 October 1846, aged seventeen, she was '... convicted of stealing a chemise and other linen from a house in Park-Street, Birmingham ...'. Several previous convictions, and a list of summary punishments showing a history of petty crime ensured that she was sentenced to be transported for seven years.
Still aged seventeen, Ann arrived in Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land on the fifth voyage of the convict transport Asia on 21 July 1847. The surgeon's report on her conduct during the voyage was 'Bad'. In her description as recorded in her convict record she had a 'large mouth'. This is a physical attribute, but it may well have also referred to her penchant for insolence to her superiors.
Read more: Ann Paget, Biography of Ann Paget,