(John William Dare, 1852)
One of the most tragic stories of those of the 13,500 (approx.) women who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853 is that of Mary Sullivan who, in December 1850, was convicted of stealing a quilt in County Cork, Ireland, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She arrived at Hobart per John William Dare on 22 May 1852. Just six weeks later, assigned as a servant, she strangled to death a two-year-old child in her care. On 5 August 1852, she was hanged at the Murray Street Gaol, Hobart. She was seventeen years old.
By Helen Ménard
There are many missing pieces in the jigsaw of Elizabeth’s life. The pieces we do have tell the story of a somewhat recalcitrant yet often resourceful woman who married several times and moved throughout the states in the colony masquerading under her different identities at will. At times she also demonstrated a propensity to manipulate reality and for the years under sentence posed a challenge for those for whom she worked and who had authority over her.
Like many of her contemporaries, details on Elizabeth’s early life are sketchy and her ultimate demise appears to be unrecorded. Again, as with many others, she grew up during a particularly difficult and unpleasant period in English history which undoubtedly shaped the life she was forced to lead and the decisions she made. Ultimately, her transportation to a foreign colony for a relatively minor crime may well have been the result of a decision to seek a better life. For those with links to the criminal justice system, few would have been unaware of the relative ease with which removal to another country could be achieved. With a partner and brother already transported was it Elizabeth’s plan to follow them?
Anne Smith was born Rose A Montague in 1823 at the Cape of Good Hope, now a province in the Republic of South Africa. She was one of eight children born to Bernard and Rosanna Montague, six of whom were born in Manchester, England. Anne operated under a variety of aliases during her lifetime, most of which had obvious derivations, but, apart from the possible desire for commonality and anonymity, there’s no indication where the name Anne Smith originated.
Anne’s first recorded encounter with law, as Rosannah Montague, was when she was 17 and six years later, after several convictions for theft of clothing, found herself on the high seas headed for Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) under a 7 year transportation sentence. Over the next six years in the colony Anne only accrued a couple of minor conduct offences and, not long after her sentence expired in 1852, made her way back to England. Shortly thereafter in November 1854, Anne and her team of aliases picked up where they had left off and the resumption of her criminal activities found her in prison for the best part of the next twelve years. By the time she left Parkhurst Prison in 1866 – possibly for the last time - she was 43 years old and, in amongst her litany of personas, disappeared into the mist.
This is the story of Anne Smith.
Note: Many FCRC researchers have generously provided an enormous amount of detailed research in relation to Anne and her family that has made this story possible. Thank you. Much of the material in this story can be found on the FCRC database /research notes and has been collated from a variety of sources including ancestry.co.uk; findmypast.co.uk; familysearch.org; freebmd.org.uk; findagrave index; various national census records and military records from England; birth, death and marriage records from church registers and state records in England and Ireland; prison records from National Archives, Kew. Where there are discrepancies between sources the most consistent or reliable information has been cited. For ease of reference individual citations have not always been provided but are available in the research notes. The author holds copied extracts of the originals of many of the military and prison records for those who want further information.
 FMP/GRO Regimental Birth Indices and Overseas Births and Baptisms / 55th foot. Volume 1088 Page 24.
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON 41/1/9 DI 134
 UK, Licences of Parole for Female Convicts, 1853-1871, 1883-1887;
Jane Smith was convicted of theft at Knutsford, Cheshire, England, on 7 January 1846 and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She was a sixty-five-year-old widow with five children. Unwell on arrival at Hobart, she was taken immediately to the hospital and, as a result, very few personal details were entered on her convict records. Of particular relevance to her story is the fact that her native place was never recorded and the lack of this piece of information makes researching her life difficult. Compounding the difficulty are her very common surname and the knowledge that, before she was transported, she is known to have used a number of aliases including ‘Margaret Wallace’, ‘Ann Jones’ and ‘Ann Smith’. It is even possible that ‘Jane Smith’ was not her real name. It had been as ‘Margaret Wallace’ that, four years before the theft that had led to her transportation, she had committed an unusual offence against the Registration Act by falsely registering the deaths of children for monetary gain in the form of sympathetic donations. Sadly, her life in the colony was short. In March 1853, just weeks after the completion of her term of transportation, she passed away at Hobart. She had done nothing out of the ordinary and, apart from occasional episodes of drunkenness, had not troubled the colonial authorities. It is likely, however, that she will be long remembered for the poignancy of her last recorded words, ‘I want to go home’ - a sad lament which was undoubtedly expressed by many of the 13,500 (approx.) other women who were sent as prisoners to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) between 1812 and 1853. In Jane’s case, regrettably, there is still uncertainty about where ‘home’ was.
This is her story:
In itself, the story of Mary Smith is unremarkable but it highlights a serious problem that existed in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) in the first half of the nineteenth century – that is, the common but very dangerous practice of giving infants opium-based preparations to pacify them. In July 1829, Mary had been convicted of theft at Norwich, England, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She arrived at Hobart per Eliza III (2) in February of the following year, Upon arrival, she was described as a thirty-year old widow and a ‘cripple’. Assigned to free settlers as a ‘housemaid’ between 1831 and 1835, she was returned to the authorities on three occasions when, because of her physical disability, she was unable to do the work required of her. In 1835, she married former convict John Cawthorne (Medina, 1825) and, in March 1836. gave birth to a son, also named John. When the child died suddenly eleven months later, suspicion fell upon the parents. A subsequent inquest cleared both Mary and John of any deliberate wrong-doing. In doing so, it helped to raise public awareness of the too-easy availability of opium-based concoctions and of the often poorly-educated and ill-trained people who prepared them and advocated their use.
 Conduct record: CON40-1-9, image 83; description list; CON19-1-2, image 354; police number: 166; FCRC ID: 4230.
 CON40-1-9, image 83.