The Female Convicts Research Centre promotes interest in the female convicts of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), by encouraging and facilitating research.
From 1803 to 1853, 12,500 female convicts were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), as punishment for crimes, mainly theft. After serving their sentences they were released into the community. Their transportation left a lasting legacy.
The Female Convicts Research Centre encourages research into these female convicts, mainly through its database, website and twice-yearly seminars.
When you register with the FCRC, you gain access to our database where you will find information entered by our volunteers as we attempt to reconstruct the life course of each female convict.
We update this website and our database regularly and sometimes daily, as our volunteer transcribers continue to provide new information. Please bookmark this page and return soon.
Forty South Publishing 'The Van Diemen History Prize 2018/19'
To foster quality writing about Tasmanian history, Forty South Publishing is initiating a biennial prize for non-fiction history articles written for a general audience. Entries open July 1, 2018 and must be lodged by September 24, 2018. The winning entry will receive a cash prize of $500 and publication in Tasmania 40°South magazine.
A selection of the best entries will be published in an edited volume, The Van Diemen History Anthology 2019
(publication estimated to be in mid-2019). For further details, Terms and Conditions and entry form, please visit https://fortysouth.com.au/tasmanian-writers-prize/
Spring Seminar, 28th October 2018: Call for papers
Topic: A Great Blessing? Convict Women and Orphan School Children
Lieutenant-Governor Arthur believed it would be ‘a great blessing’ for the children of convicts to be removed from their parents. Our next seminar explores the relationship between the Orphan School, the orphans and convict women. In 1828, women convicts transferred from the old Hobart Town Female Factory to the new Factory at the Cascades. In 1828, the King’s Orphan Schools opened. To mark the 190th anniversary of both institutions, our next seminar will be run jointly by the Female Convicts Research Centre and the Friends of the Orphan Schools and it will be held at the Orphan School, St John’s Avenue, New Town (http://www.orphanschool.org.au).
Would you like to give a 15-minute paper on any aspect of the lives of convict women and orphan school children? We are particularly keen to receive papers examining the relationship between convict women and their orphan school children. We are also interested in hearing about those convict women who worked at the Orphan School.
If you are interested, please contact Robyn Everist at submissions@femaleconvicts.
Registrations for the seminar will open late July 2018.
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
New Rowan Gillespie Statues
Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie has agreed to create a statue of a convict woman for the Cascades Female Factory and two statues, a boy and a girl, for the Orphan School site as part of a new Tasmanian project. More information will be provided as it comes to hand. Enquiries to email@example.com
Convict Lives at the Cascades Female Factory (Volume 2)
The Latest Publication from Convict Women's Press.
THE FASCINATING LIVES of 29 female convicts who spent time in the Cascades Female Factory, between 1829 and 1855, are the subject of this book. The women range from young offenders to prosperous matriarchs; from tough customers to those educated enough to write letters home. Some got through the convict system fairly easily; some struggled, committing offence after offence – insolence, neglect of work, theft. Some had children, some did not. Many saw their children die. Some died in childbirth.
The 24 authors of the stories come from Tasmania, the Australian mainland and as far afield as Canada. Some are descendants of the female convict they write about, and bring family knowledge to their story. Others are academics, general historians or just interested people. This is the fifth book in the Convict Women’s Press series of Convict Lives in Van Diemen’s Land’s female factories. It is a wonderful collection of stories, showing the ups and downs of Tasmania’s convict system, and the important role of the Cascades Female Factory.
Format: Paperback, (colour plates).
Pages: 200. ISBN: 978-0-9943859-1-8.
Edited by Alison Alexander and Alice Meredith Hodgson.
Published by Convict Women's Press
The Convict Letter Writer by Alice Meredith Hodgson
From Limerick to Campbell Town to Detroit, Meredith Hodgson guides us through the remarkable life of Eliza Williams, and adds a heroine to the pages of our history.In 1851 Eliza was found guilty of theft and transported to Van Diemen’s Land where she served at Rosedale, John Leake Esquire’s magnificent estate near Campbell Town. After gaining freedom, Eliza corresponded with the Leakes over many years from Detroit. Her letters tell an extraordinary tale of a convict woman’s journey to prosperity, status and wealth. Forty South Publishing.
Save The Dates:
Spring Seminar 2018: 28th October 2018
Autumn Seminar 2019: 28th April 2019
- Ships - Surgeon's Journal from the Gilbert Henderson 1840. Transcription courtesy of Rhonda Arthur (19/06/2018).
Sir John Hamett MD was Surgeon Superintendent and highly qualified for this command. 184 female convicts, 15 free women and 24 children embarked at Woolwich. 1 female convict died, 3 were sent to the Colonial Hospital on arrival and 1 infant was unintentionally given a fatal dose of Laudanum by her devoted mother. There were 9 deliveries of women on board: 7 were healthy and 2 were stillborn. These women and infants together with other bad cases repeatedly required Castor Oil, a “valuable medicine”, of which 2½lbs first supplied at Deptford was replenished by the surgeon when the ship anchored at Teneriffe (2lbs) and at Table Bay (1lb). Constitutional hysteria together with a few complicated cases were necessarily palliative and with these exceptions constipation was the most prevalent. The other complaints in general were not severe and treated with cathartics, sudorifics and tonics.
- Ships - Surgeon's Journal from the Atwick 1838. Transcription courtesy of Colleen Arulappu (22/05/2018). The General Remarks section at the end of the journal gives an excellent description of how prisoners were organized aboard ship. Their daily routine, meal times, bathing, schooling and measures to prevent scurvy are set out. Most interesting is the mention of dancing and other light entertainment to maintain health through exercise. The surgeon, Peter Leonard, undertook four voyages on convict transport ships, delivering over eight hundred, mainly male convicts, with only six deaths over all.
- The East London - Chapter 14: Emigration by Transportation? by Colleen Arulappu (16/05/2018). For the women with family transported there was a hope of continuing family ties. They knew relatives had sailed or would be on the high seas at the same time as themselves. In Chapter 14 Colleen looks at the family ties that through the grief there was hope of being reunited with family members on the other side of the world.
- Ships - Surgeon's Journal from the Hydery 1832 (Transcription courtesy of Rhonda Arthur 12/05/2018.
Allan McLaren MD was Surgeon & Superintendent. 150 female convicts aged between 16 and 60 were sent from various jails in England and Scotland. At Woolwich a case of Cholera Asphyxia appeared without any premonitory symptoms in a woman who was very much exhausted by her affectionate attentions watching over her sick daughter. The ship was placed in quarantine and towed to Standgate Creek where four more cases occurred. The clothing and bedding and other items used by the patients were destroyed and the ship was cleaned and aired by knocking out the lower deck ports fore and aft. The ports were not sufficiently caulked and on getting underway the weather turned foul and the ship leaked. The women alarmed by the outbreak of cholera were now despite best efforts in a wet and filthy state suffering from seasickness and other complaints. Nearly all of them were confined to bed and constantly vomiting. A scene which the surgeon said “I hope never to witness again”. His notes suggested improvements of the service including discontinuing the gratuity of £100 to Masters and Mates as being unnecessary and by reducing the quantity of peas issued being more than can be consumed. One woman suffered severe pains after eating a handful of raw peas. The surgeon detailed every case of any interest and his diligent supervision throughout the voyage ensured that most of the women arrived in good health.
- Convict Lives - Convict Lives Featured in Publications. A new page listing female convicts that have been featured in publications. (7/05/2018)
- Resources: Books - Convict Lives at the Cascades Female Factory (Volume 2) launched 22nd April 2018. For orders please visit the Convict Women's Press website. (11/04/2018)