The fascinating story of Norah Cobbett marks a great achievement for our prolific story writer Don Bradmore. This latest contribution is the 50th story Don has written for FCRC. In each of the stories on the lives of our female convicts Don has woven a background of historical context which gives the reader a glimpse into 19th century life in Van Diemen’s Land.   Norah Cobbett, a convict described as both notorious and charismatic, is immortalized, with her husband Jorgen Jorgenson (self-proclaimed King of Iceland), in the carvings on the famous convict-built Ross bridge.  Norah's life story, like that of many other convict women, has previously been overshadowed by the tales of her adventurous husband, who was very much involved in VDL’s ‘Black Wars’.  Now Don’s work has shone a spotlight on her short and troubled life.

Don’s stories for the FCRC have featured meticulous research on diverse topics such as opiate use on babies. The women he portrays cover the spectrum of convict experience, from those who became successful businesswomen, to those who married and settled down to raise a family and those whose troubled circumstances prompted a descent into intoxication and dereliction.  One of Don's stories features a memorable convict woman who gained her freedom by saving her husband from being killed by a bushranger  - and also captured the bushranger!  Many thanks to Don and our wonderful team of transcribers and volunteers, who contribute the threads that get woven into these great stories.  We look forward to many more stories from Don.

Noral Cobbett opt

Norah Cobbett immortalised on the convict-built Ross Bridge, Macquarie River, Ross, Tasmania.

Source:  Debra Cadogan-Cowper




 The From the Shadows Committee is pleased to announce the successful installation of their first statue, female convict ‘Martha Gregory’. The statue was installed in Degraves Street, South Hobart, opposite the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site. On Tuesday 16 February 2021, limited by COVID-19 restrictions, a small, ticketed event took place in glorious sunshine.


Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania with Brydie Pearce unveiled the statue to the delight of the small gathering. Brydie, a descendant of Martha Gregory, was chosen by Rowan Gillespie as the model for the statue. Martha Gregory was tried in Warwick, England, on 24 March 1806 and sentenced to transportation for 7 years for 'stealing printed cotton in a dwelling house'. Martha arrived in Van Diemen's Land via Sydney, as did so many early female convicts. She was the wife of Thomas Beames, District Constable at Port Dalrymple. Her statue represents all convict women, especially convict mothers.


 From the Shadows website.


From the Shadows:  first unveiling.

 FTS Martha sm

FTS Her Excellency and Brydie Pearce sm


Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority are glad to announce that the publication Transcribing Tasmanian Convict Records by Susan Hood is now available for purchasing on Kindle/Amazon.


The book has been updated and the new electronic version of this helpful resource will make transcribing Tasmanian convict records a more efficient experience and reach to more audiences in need.

The link to purchase and download the e-book is


Tasmania has the most thorough and complete set of records of transported convicts in the world, in the custodianship of the Tasmanian Archives. Now digitized and indexed, these records are a data source for intense academic research and family historians.  This excellent guide by Susan Hood will assist anyone who has attempted to decipher and interpret Tasmanian convict records.


Isabella Hutchinson, a 44-year-old woman from County Tyrone was sentenced, along with her 14 year-old son, Thomas Ford, for receiving stolen goods. Isabella, a widow, took the journey on the Kinnear 1848 with three of her children: Jane aged about 15, Isabella aged 6 and James aged 4. The oral history is that the family were allowed to bring two baskets on board with their belongings. Only one basket has survived.

Isabella’s story was presented at the 2018 seminar A Great Blessing? Convict Women and Orphan School Children: Second Generation Orphans: Isabella Hutchinson’s children by her 3x great-granddaughter Caroline Haigh.

The surviving basket with lid

basket and lid


Clements Hall Local History Group’s current project, ‘Making ends meet on Nunnery Lane: revealing local poverty in the Victorian period’  investigates poverty and hardship in the mid-19th century in a part of the area of York to the south of the City Walls, Nunnery Lane. 

Dick Hunter has written an update report for the Poverty Project: April 2020 'Paupers and York Poor Law Union, 1837-42'.  His research provides a case study of Ann Shipton, 43 and single, who lived in Swann Street. She was unable to support herself as a char and washerwoman due to an accident in 1841 and applied for welfare, or relief as it was known. She was awarded four shillings a week for eleven weeks; and two shillings for the twelfth week. Relief was then discontinued as she had improved sufficiently to earn again. This account looks at how she applied for relief. Who was responsible for its provision? And how did the system work? 

The article provides a background to the circumstances affecting the lives of many convicts transported from all parts of Britain in the 19th century. It researches circumstances that would have eventually contributed to transportation, and the affect transportation of the wage earner would have had on those left behind.



The Family and Community Historical Research Society (FACHRS) is based in the U.K. with membership mainly coming from England.  It aims to help those who wish to discover more about the day-to-day lives of their ancestors; to promote research by professional and nonprofessional historians into family and community history; and encourage links between institutionally based and independent researchers. FACHRS membership consists of both amateur and academic historians.

Over the years, major projects have resulted in books on the Swing Riots (agricultural riots 1830 and 1832), 19th century Allotments, and Almshouses and a number of mini-projects based around a different occupation each year alternating between male and female occupations. 

The latest FACHRS newsletter has featured an article on transportation of convicts to the Swan River region of Western Australia.  The author, Christine Seal, has followed convict  life stories from one part of Britain to Australia.  After convict transportation ceased in the eastern states of Australia, transportation to Western Australia continued for another 15 years with the condition that no female convicts be sent there. FCRC have been given permission to share the extract from the FACHRS newsletter with our readers.  The FACHRS newsletters are available to paid-up members.  For more information please visit their website at


Our Criminal Ancestors is a public engagement project, led by the University of Hull in collaboration with Leeds Beckett University, that encourages and supports people and communities to explore the criminal past of their own families, communities, towns and regions.  This website is a wonderful source for family historians and researchers.

The Assizes and Quarter-sessions.

Our Criminal Ancestors website gives an explanation of the different court systems, with links to archives and other great resources.

Read more: Our Criminal Ancestors

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York

The Clements Hall Local History Group was founded in 2013, following a series of local history events at Clements Hall in York. They are a group of people with wide-ranging interests in the local history of their neighbourhood - the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York, to the south of the city walls and west of the River Ouse.

You can visit their interesting website here:

Their website has some interesting blog pages, including an excellent article Dick Hunter has written on: Petitioning for mercy in mid-19th century Yorkshire: The case of Sarah Ann Hill, convicted of infanticide at York Assizes.

Read more: Clements Hall Local History Group


Two Hundred years ago the Morley sat at Gallions Reach on the River Thames and female convicts from various prisons in England and Scotland commenced embarking in April.  On the 20th May the ship set sail on a voyage to New South Wales and arrived in Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land on  29th August 1820. Two days later, fifty women disembarked, forty-four were immediately assigned positions. The six remaining women were placed in safe comfortable lodgings until ‘proper places could be procured in which to employ them'.

Read more: The Morley's arrival in Hobart Town 200 years ago.


The Local Historian contains articles and features for the general reader that may be of a wide, perhaps national, application or may reflect a local subject.

There is emphasis on applying principles and methods to local research and study, so that you can benefit from the work of others. Family historians can learn about the local world in which their forebears lived and worked. There are extensive reviews and lists of publications. Published in January, April, July and October.

Of interest to FCRC readers is the following article: The Local Historian Volume 41, Number 1 February 2011

Petitioning For Mercy In Mid-nineteenth Century Yorkshire

By Dick Hunter

Read more: The Local Historian. Journal of the British Association of Local History




Please acknowledge our work, should you choose to use our research.  Our work may be subject to copyright therefore please check our Copyright Policy, and Disclaimer policy.

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].