This is not a story about a Tasmanian female convict. It is a story about one woman who was transported to New South Wales (NSW) as a convict and, after the expiration of her sentence, as a free woman chose to move to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL).

In the nineteenth century thousands of women were transported from the United Kingdom and its colonies to NSW and thousands more to VDL. Some built lives in their initial ports of transportation – others did not. Many female convicts in NSW who reoffended and women who were free settlers to NSW who fell afoul of the law were transported to VDL. After the expiration of their sentences some stayed in VDL and others moved back to the mainland.[1] A small number of female convicts transported to VDL were later transported as secondary punishment to Newcastle and Parramatta, NSW.[2] Some women who settled freely in VDL ended up in the criminal system. Most did not.


Elizabeth Glynn

Elizabeth Glynn (aka Glyn or Glinn) was born around 1785 and, after being convicted in Tipperary, Ireland in 1809,[3] at the age of 26 was transported for 7 years arriving in NSW aboard the Providence in July 1811.[4] Records suggest she married Henry Smith at Parramatta, NSW on 10 October 1811[5] and they had at least one child, Mary Ann, born in 1815.[6] There is no other information available about Elizabeth’s time in the NSW penal system, but her sentence would have expired, making her eligible for a certificate of freedom, in about 1816. In 1822 she was registered as living in Liverpool, NSW as ‘Elizabeth Glynn the wife of H.[…]’.[7]

However, by the end of 1822, she had made her way across the Tasman and on 18 November the same year, as Ellin Glyn (convict, Providence, 38), she married Pryce Pritchard (free, 40).[8] What motivated her to leave NSW? Did she leave her daughter Mary Ann behind? Had Henry died in the interim? Her marital status was not recorded on the Hobart marriage certificate.[9]


Ellen and the law in VDL

If Elizabeth’s aim was to leave her criminal past behind her, reshape her identity and escape to anonymity, she mostly succeeded. Her only contact with the law in VDL occurred in January 1832 when it was alleged by John Stanley (her husband’s assigned servant) that she had falsely accused him of stealing two bottles of rum.[10] The court records showed her as Ellen Pritchard, wife of Pryce Pritchard of the Black Brush, free by servitude and having arrived on the Providence in 1821.[11] Ellen also gave evidence that, over time, Stanley had frequently been insolent to her but her husband had not wanted her to report Stanley to the police as he needed Stanley’s services on the farm.[12] The charge against Ellen was dismissed but, at the same time, Stanley was charged by his master (Pryce Pritchard) with gross insolence. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 lashes and to be returned to his master’s service.[13] While Ellen may have finally gotten her wish for the insolence charge, would she have been comfortable with such a brutal sentence?


Ellen and Pryce at Black Brush

Ellen and Pryce spent most of their lives at the Black Brush, a rural area about 40 kilometres north of Hobart where Pryce was a property owner and farmer.

Pryce Pritchard arrived in Hobart Town, VDL in 1804 as a free settler and a private in the marines.[14] In 1812 he was granted 60 acres of land by Governor Macquarie at Blendon, Black Brush.[15] Pryce (free, 37) married Mary Absolom (convict, Northampton, 42) in September 1816 at Hobart.[16] In 1815 Mary had been transported from Southampton, England to NSW for 7 years aboard the Northampton and was later transported to VDL in February 1816 aboard the Emu.[17] She died as Mary Pritchard aged 50 in July 1821 at Hobart.[18] A year later Pryce married Ellen Glyn.[19]

In July 1840 Price (Pryce) Pritchard as a ‘grey headed old man’ appeared before the Supreme Court charged with shooting (attempted murder) and wounding with intent one John Jay (his assigned servant) when, after several glasses of wine, he had taken aim at Jay with a shotgun. Price pleaded not guilty and was acquitted of the attempted murder charge but found guilty of wounding.[20] With no evidence of prior disagreement between the master and his servant, testimony before the court suggested that

… the prisoner is habitually a sober man, but when he gets liquor, from the effects of an old wound received while in the Marines he is deranged … the prisoner's general character was peaceable - but that he had, when under the influence of his malady, twice attempted his own life.

Mr. James Murdoch, and Mr. Alfred Luttrell, gave the prisoner an excellent character, but that when in liquor he was almost a madman.[21]

The jury found ‘under the circumstances of the case, we beg strongly to recommend him to the merciful consideration of His Excellency.’[22] The Chief Justice stated

… it was a sad thing to see a man so advanced in years brought up to receive sentence of death for a crime of this nature … he had no power to mitigate the sentence which the law pronounced against the crime of which he had been convicted. He could only be the bearer of the recommendation of the Jury to the Government.[23] 

Price was sentenced to ‘death recorded’[24] which was later commuted to a pardon.[25]

In January 1842 Pryce was recorded as living at his property with one married female (presumably Ellen), one single male and one single female.[26]

Ellen and Pryce were together for twenty years before Price (Pryce) Pritchard, farmer, died in June 1842 aged 67 at Black Brush from ‘gravel (kidney stones) and dysentery’.[27] Did she manage to escape the worst of his ‘madness’ when he was ‘in liquor’?

Ellen Pritchard, housekeeper, died on 5 October 1856 aged 80 at Black Brush from ‘decay of nature’.[28] Had she ultimately found a better life as a free woman in a colony away from where she would always have been a convicted criminal? Or did the ‘convict stain’ follow her?




[3] New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008; Original data: New South Wales Government. Musters and other papers relating to convict ships. Series CGS 1155, Reels 2417-2428. State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.


[5] New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 5, 19-20, 32-51); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.

[6] Reference Number: REG/COMP/1; Description: Vol 01, Baptisms, 1790-1825; Marriages, 1789-1823; Burials, 1790-1825; Parish: St. John's Anglican Church Parramatta; see also NSW BDM Birth records 217/1816 V1816217 156 and 4049/1816 V18164049 1B

[7] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia; Population musters, Dependent settlements; Series: NRS 1264; Reel: 1253; Elizth Glynn wife of H. People C’Town - Class: HO 10; Piece: 19  

[8] LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD36/1/1 N581 DI 116

[9] Ibid

[10] Brighton Lower Court Records (1831-1832) LC53/2/2: DI 1-97 P193-195 DI 36-38;

[11] Ibid; the refence to the Providence 1821 in the court record is obviously incorrect based on the NSW records, the fact that there is no record of her on the Providence 1821 and that she would not have been free to travel from NSW in 1822 with an unexpired sentence. See also

[12] Brighton Lower Court Records (1831-1832) LC53/2/2: DI 1-97 P193-195 DI 36-38;

[13] Ibid



[16] LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD36/1/1 N233 DI 50

[17] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/1 p3 DI 7;; no offence is shown in either of these records.

[18] LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD34/1/1 N 514 DI 22 

[19] LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD36/1/1 N581 DI 116

[20]; AustLII R. v. Pritchard [1840] TASSupC 34 (18 July 1840); TROVE, Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas.: 1828-1857), Tue 21 Jul 1840, p5, Supreme Court – Criminal Side; LIB TAS: Names index: SC32/1/4 DI 52 TPP; LIB TAS: Names Index: SC32/1/4 DI 53 TPP

[21] AustLII R. v. Pritchard [1840] TASSupC 34 (18 July 1840)

[22] Ibid

[23] Ibid

[24] Death recorded meant a formal sentence of death, without an intention that the sentence would be carried out. Under (1823) 4 Geo. IV c. 48, s. 1, except in cases of murder, the judge had considerable discretion where an offender was convicted of a felony punishable by death. If the judge thought that the circumstances made the offender fit for the exercise of Royal mercy, then instead of sentencing the offender to death, he could order that judgment of death be recorded. The effect was the same as if judgment of death had been ordered, and the offender reprieved (s. 2).

[25] Ibid; LIB TAS: Names Index: SC32/1/4 DI 54 TPP

[26] LIB TAS: Names Index: CEN1/1/4 Brighton; Census Brighton Jan 1842 Price Pritchard (45-60, arrived free, CE, landowner) residing at his own property with one married female (21-45, OFP, RC, no trade) and a single male (OFP, CE, gardener etc) and single female (45-60, TOL, CE, domestic servant)

[27] LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD35/1/18 N26 DI 28

[28] LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD35/1/25 N2 DI 8



Initiatives of the Female Convicts Research Centre Inc.

Female Convicts Research Centre Convict Women's Press Female Convicts Database Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary


Terms of Access     Privacy Policy    Copyright     Disclaimer     Contact us     Search    Sitemap

Find Us on Facebook

FCRC is a registered charity.

ACNC Registered Charity Logo RGB

Hosted by Red Rook

© Female Convicts Research Centre Inc.