The profiles below have been provided mostly by descendants. If you have information on a descendant who was an employee at a female convict institution in Van Diemen's Land, please consider providing details to us for upload to this page.
Currently, we have profiles for:
Ringrose Austin Atkins and Susan Casey Wigmore
Information provided courtesy of Val Date, an excerpt from her book "Castles in the Sky".
Ringrose was born on 28 October 1825 in Tasmania, the second son of Lieutenant Atkins and Bertha Luttrell. He was a cousin of Edward Hungerford Luttrell, the husband of Georgiana Graves who is mentioned in the article concerning Robert Graves. Ringrose died at Armadale, Victoria on 9 August 1892.
On 18 August 1892, the Hobart Mercury published the following obituary which gives details of his life as a public servant. The article stated:
The death is announced of Mr Ringrose Austin Atkins, a very old servant of the colony at his residence where he had retired on his pension full of years and honour. From his earliest years he had been connected with the public service, first under the Imperial then the Colonial Governments.
In 1842 he was junior clerk at Port Arthur in the storekeeper’s department, from which he worked himself up until he was entrusted with the management of the gaol for females at the Cascades.
He was twice married; first to Miss Frances Boyd daughter of the late stipendiary magistrate at the Franklin, and again to Miss Susan Wigmore who survived him and mourns her loss. Since leaving the service he has paid a benefit trip to Europe but soon returned to the colonies where he has lived quietly until the last fatal illness overtook him. He was universally liked and respected for his kindness and disposition and uprightness of character, as well as for his sterling business abilities and the able way in which he carried out business of the various offices he held from time to time.
Susan Wigmore was superintendent and gaoler at the House of Corrections for Females from 1877-1878. She was also matron of the female prison at Brickfields. Some of her other positions included the Hiring Department of the Convict Department in September 1848, warden of the Female House of Corrections in 1852 when Ringrose was the storekeeper there, and matron at the Cascades Factory from 1865-1868. Ringrose and Susan were married in January 1871.
Following is a summary of the positions held by Ringrose Austin Atkins:
- Superintendent's Clerk at Port Arthur (September 1841 to December 1844)
- Storekeeper at Port Arthur (1845 to 1851)
- Registrar of Contracts at Port Arthur for contract between settlers and the Convict Department (1848 to 1849)
- Storekeeper at the Female House of Correction at Cascades and Brickfields (1851 to 1857)
- Storekeeper at the Cascades Establishment (1856 to 1864)
- Superintendent of the Cascades Pauper Establishment (1856 to 1864)
- Gaoler and Superintendent at the Gaol and House of Correction for males at Hobart (1874 to 1878)
- Superintendent at the Hospital for the Insane and the Male Invalid Depot at Cascades (April 1877)
Sadly, neither of the wives of Ringrose Atkins provided him with children.
Information provided courtesy of Suzanne Karakyriakos, his great great great granddaughter.
Isaac Briggs arrived in Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land on 28 July 1829 per Lady Harewood along with 207 convicts from England. He was originally from the Halifax area of Yorkshire & probably worked in one of the numerous woollen mills there. According to his convict indent, assignment & appropriation records his occupation was variously recorded as a wool sorter/comber & carder. Soon after his arrival he was of course sent to the Male House of Correction/Penitentiary in Hobart. Then, in August 1829 he was assigned to the Female Factory where he instructed, assisted & inspected the wool spinning process by the female convicts. He was transported to Maria Island in November 1829 and was employed there as a weaver in the cloth factory that had been set up by Major Daunt Lord. 100 yards (91 metres) of cloth was woven each week at Maria Island and the cloth was made into prison garments and blankets.
Isaac was recommended for assignment in March 1832 but in April he was one of the 24 convicts detained on Maria Island during its closing down process. In November 1832 he was transported to Port Arthur. It is not yet known what purpose he served there or whether he was there as punishment for some misdemeanour.
Elizabeth and William Cato
Information provided courtesy of John Kumm, a great great great grandson, sourced from "Growing Together" edited by UB Porter.
William Cato arrived in Hobart Town in March 1831. His wife and surviving children had preceded him by some three months. He immediately applied to Jeremiah Spode, the civil servant in charge of the dispersal of convicts, for the position for himself of Overseer and for his wife Elizabeth as Deputy Matron at the Female House of Correction, Hobart.
The appointments were made on 16 April 1831. In May 1835, Elizabeth was also appointed as mid-wife for the Cascades Female Factory.
During his time as overseer, William outlined the nature of duties, which provides an interesting insight into life at the time in the Cascades Female Factory:
||Tubs out of wards.
||Muster. Wool weighed out, yarn weighed in.
||Rations weighed out for breakfast.
||Prayers, after which women go to work. Women in cells attended to, women at work supervised.
||Rations for dinner weighed.
||Women to work—attendance on them, arrival of rations. Rations weighed out for supper and supper attended to. Tubs, wool, etc. occupy the whole of the afternoon, and muster in the evening.
Many of the women coming to Cascades Female Factory were pregnant on arrival, and it was Elizabeth's duty to deliver and care for their babies and supervise their children. The only playing-space available to the children was a wet flagged yard, sunless for four months of the year, and the children's wards were overcrowded.
Governor Franklin on his arrival in Tasmania seemed to look less favourably on the administration of the Female Factory than had Governor Arthur, and an enquiry into conditions in March 1838 reported unfavourably.
In April 1841, the Catos were suddenly dismissed from their positions on the grounds that they had accepted parcels brought in from outside by prisoners. The 'parcel' named was a fowl that was discovered 'plucked and trussed' in Elizabeth's kitchen.
Information provided courtesy of Marlene Peters, a great great great granddaughter.
William Fawcett was born in Benburb, County Tyrone, Ireland to Joseph and Elizabeth on 18 June 1784. William, a weaver, joined the Armagh Regiment of Militia at Arklow on 14 July 1804, transferring to the 28th Regiment of Foot on 14 February 1808. He was made Sergeant on 24 July 1825 and served in the Peninsular War from 1809 to 1811. Present at the Siege of Badejos, wounded in the left hand in the Battle of Albuera and was present at the Battle of Waterloo 16-18 June 1815. Afterwards, William served in the Mediterranean for 12 years from 1817 assisting in quelling the insurrection by the natives on the Island of Santa Maura under Lieutenant Colonel Sir Frederick Stovin. During his final years on Corfu he was the school master for the Regiment being helped by his wife.
William was discharged on 11 August 1830 at Buttevant and received a pension of 1s 8p per day. He commuted his pension to a free passage to Australia with the promise of a free grant of 200 acres. He arrived with his wife Bridget and two children, Robert and Caroline, on the Cleopatra which departed from Dublin on 4 December 1831 and arrived in Hobart Town on 4 May 1832.
William was recommended for the position of gatekeeper at the Female House of Correction by the Principal Superintendent of Convicts and the appointment was made on 1 July 1832 - he served there for 9 years. He was next made the Officer in Charge on Slopen Island in February 1843 before being transferred by the Department of Convicts Discipline on 1 May 1843 to take up duties as Assistant Superintendent in charge at the Deloraine Station. In 1845 he was sent to the Westbury Police Station where he retired. William retired after serving the Crown for 40½ years due to his failing health and advancing years on 30 September 1853, and he may have received a pension, however no amount was recorded on the document.
William's grant of land was at Summerleas on the Brown's River (Kingston) and the Registry of Deeds show that William and Bridget Fawcett mortgaged 200 acres to Mr C Swanton on 28 September 1837. William, a starchmaker, died at his home in New Town Rd, Hobart on 26 May 1854 from inflammation of the lungs. His wife Bridget Ellen (Tierney) predeceased him; she died in the Colonial Hospital on 29 June 1849.
William and Bridget had another son after they arrived in Australia. Samuel was born in Hobart on 8 March 1833; he married and settled in Daylesford, VIC. Robert married and settled in Geelong, VIC. Caroline married William Irving Lawrence and settled in Richmond, TAS. They had the general store and post office in Richmond until 1862. William died in 1857 and Caroline in 1874. Another son, Joseph, came out with the 28th Regiment of Foot and was stationed at Parramatta, NSW, where he died in 1840. Lastly, a daughter Eliza was married to William Brittain, also with the 28th Regiment; they settled in Geelong, VIC.
Information provided courtesy of Cec Quinnell, a great great grandson.
Robert Graves was born about 1798 in, presumably, England. Many searches have failed to find his true origins. Robert arrived in Hobart aboard the Regalia as a free man on 30 November 1819. This means Robert was 21 years of age. His arrival was noted in a supplement of the Hobart Town Gazette on 4 December the same year. What would induce a single young man to travel to the other end of the world? Why would he stay in Hobart? This was a pretty uncivilised place in 1819, only 15 years after settlement. Robert was booked to go onto Sydney but he was destined never to sail through those majestic heads. At some point the decision was made to stay in Hobart. Why? He was to gain employment as a Gauger of Spirits in the Bond Store. In February 1821 he married Sophia Morgan, daughter of 1st fleeter Richard Morgan. Sophia was born c1801 on Norfolk Island and was a twin to Margaret. This is a disputed claim but is true. The fact that he married only 14 months after his arrival may account for his not travelling on to Sydney. The lure of love was stronger.
In 1825 their first child was born in Hobart. This was Richard, named most likely after his grandfather. His birth is not registered. Also in 1825 Robert was appointed as Superintendent of the Female Factory at George Town. How did a bloke that apparently had no training in this line of work obtain such a position? Who was pulling the strings?
On 18 December 1827, in George Town, Sophia gave birth to twins, Georgiana Harriett and George Hull. Then in 1829, most likely August, another son, John Alexander. Whilst the birth of the twins was registered, not so for John. This was to be a bad year for the Graves family.
In 1827, Robert wrote to the Civil Commandant at George Town, E Abbott, regarding his position in the Female Factory. Robert stated that when appointed to the job he was promised a pay rise should the number of inmates increase and they most certainly had. His current rate of pay was £25 per annum. He also complained that he no longer received candles free and that his servant, a convict, had been taken off stores. "My salary has never been raised, my assigned servant struck off the stores and the allowance of candles stopped for a considerable time".
In the same letter he applied for the positions of Post Master and Inspector of Stock. He maintained that these jobs would not interfere with his role at the Factory and that he held out no hope of a salary increase. At this point Sophia would have been heavy with child. Abbott was successful in obtaining the extra work for Robert with the help of Captain J D'Arcy. A Lieutenant Edward Abbott had been the Commander of the Garrison on Norfolk Island during the time of Robert's father in Law, Richard Morgan. This may explain how Robert got the job in the first place. It would seem though that his appeal for candles and his servant fell on deaf ears. He would have to pay for these pleasures himself. Lousy bloody candles and tucker. User pays I guess. The rates of pay for various positions in George Town are interesting. The Superintendent of police received £100 per annum, a constable £10, the Gaol Keeper £30, the Clerk of The Bench £25 and the Flagellator £10. Not forgetting that Sophia was meant to help out but was not recompensed for her work.
Things were to get worse. It would seem that Robert took to the grog and was soon in strife. The pressure was getting to him. I would guess the behaviour of the inmates would not have helped either, nor the state of the building that apparently needed a lot of maintenance, which Robert could not afford. Perhaps he was a very sick man and the alcohol was a pain relief.
On 29 August 1829, Captain D'Arcy found it necessary to write to the Civil Commandant, still Mr Abbott, advising him of Robert being in a "constant state of drunkenness" and the Female Factory was not able to be "kept in any state of regularity or proprietary". The letter is interesting in that it would seem that John Alexander had just come into the world and that D'Arcy really had some feelings for Robert and Sophia. He asked Abbott if he had any ideas on how they might assist Robert. Abbott was compelled to write to Hobart regarding this situation and the upshot was that Robert and Sophia were to be immediately dismissed from their positions. Burnette states that "this situation does not surprise him". How would he know? Perhaps he based his judgement on the character of Sophia's father, Richard. Robert does the right thing and writes to the Post Master at Launceston telling him of his inability to carry on as Post Master in George Town. It is noted that Robert has a beautiful handwriting which indicates a very good education. His spelling and English was first class. As all letters I have copies of show the same hand writing and signature it is impossible for someone else to have written them for him.
On 11 December 1829, Robert and his family boarded the Speculator, bound for Hobart. Robert was never to leave. Before the ship sailed he passed away and his body taken ashore and interred—where is not known. No record exists to show his burial. Maybe in the writings of either Abbott or D'Arcy a clue may be found.
Sophia and the kids carried on and on 29 August 1833 she married Peter Buchanan of Kangaroo Point. She had two further children to him. Sophia passed away on 15 January 1844 and was interred at Rokeby. Sadly this was the day that her daughter, Georgiana, was married.
Of Richard, no trace has been found. George was to become very successful in his line of work as a Master Mariner and left a great legacy and family. He unfortunately drowned in the Yarra River on 6 February 1875 and is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery. He was married to Rebecca Gaylor (of the Custom House Hotel, Hobart) in 1852 and had 8 children. Georgiana married Edward Hungerford Luttrell in 1844 and had 12 children. She passed away on 4 October 1891. John Alexander Graves married Elizabeth Turnbull, daughter of convict Jacob Turnbull of Kangaroo Point, on 2 December 1863 in the Manse of St John's, Hobart. John and Elizabeth had 7 children, 2 born in Hobart and the others in Sydney. John, like his brother George, was a Mariner and in April 1887, off Eighty Mile Beach on the far north coast of WA, he and his son, also John, were drowned when caught in a hurricane whilst pearling. John was the Master of the Osprey. Neither body was ever found and as such John has neither a birth nor a death certificate. Another hard man to trace.
Edward Cowell Hawson
Edward Cowell Hawson worked as a clerk in the Convict Department, appointed 4 June 1841. In 1844 he was clerk at Cascades Female Factory. He continued to work as a storekeeper and clerk in the Convict Department at least until 22 April 1845.
On 16 September 1843, Edward married Elleanor Hignett at Hobart. He died on 8 October 1850 at Hobart aged 31.
Elleanor or Ellen Hignett married Edward Cowell Hawson on 16 September 1843 when she was a minor. They had five children: William Henry (1844), Edward (1846), Elizabeth (1848), and twins Francis and Charles Gregory (1850).
Just before Edward died, Elleanor was employed by the Government as a seamstress, on 1 April 1850, and worked as instructress of needlework at Cascades Female Factory from 1851 to 1858, until she remarried.
Elleanor married George Strutt on 8 January 1859 at Hobart. George had worked as a stone cutter at new Government House from 11 April 1842 and acquired 18 perches of land in Hobart in 1845. From 13 April 1852 he worked as a foreman of works at Port Arthur.
Information provided courtesy of Ian Brown, a descendant.
John Knox and his wife Elizabeth arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1821 on Jessie as free settlers. John was granted land in 1823 and 1824 at Harrington near Sorell. From 1829 to 1830 he was employed as a gate keeper at Cascades Female Factory. John died in 1835 and Elizabeth died in 1843.
John and Elizabeth had four children who stayed behind in England when their parents emigrated, and were possibly cared for by John's brother and sister-in-law who were childless.
Their son, James Knox, arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1832 on Duckenfield. He was employed in the colonial government from 1833 to 1857 before returning to England. He wrote articles for the Hobart Town Gazette and published a book of poems (Poetic Trifles) in 1838.
Mr Lavender succeeded Mr Pearson as Superintendent of the Launceston Female Factory in 1844. TheLaunceston Examiner of 15 June 1844 reported:
THE FACTORY.-Mr. and Mrs. Lavender have been appointed to succeed Mr. and Mrs. Pearson, as superintendents of the female factory. The cause which led to the removal of the former superintendent was the ill health of his wife, which occasionally disqualified her for the performance of the duties of the situation.
Anne MacLaren arrived free in Van Diemen's Land on the Garland Grove 2 on 28 January 1843. It is believed she was one of the two ladies sent out on the ship by the English Government to teach and read to the convicts on board, and their children. Anne was later hired by the Principal Superintendent's Department as an instructress to female convicts, school mistress and catechist, at the Cascades Female Factory and Brickfields, serving from 1843 till 1854.
A convict, Eliza Wheeler, who was transported per Garland Grove 2, married George Walker in 1855 after having had three children with him prior to their marriage — in 1849, 1852 and 1854. George Walker bought a cottage in Arthur Circus, Battery Point in 1853, and Anne MacLaren lent him half of the purchase money (to be paid back in 2 years).
A link between Eliza and Anne is yet to be determined - can anyone help?
Susan Kendall McLeod
Susan McLeod was Matron of the Launceston Female Factory. She died on 2 December 1846, aged 47 at Launceston. Her death notice in the Launceston Examiner of 5 December 1846 reads:
DIED—On the 2nd instant, deeply regretted by her family and friends, Mrs McLeod, the respected matron of the Launceston Female Factory, aged 47 years.
Edward Morris worked as a clerk at Cascades FF from 27 November 1853 on and off until he absconded from there on 18 December 1855. He was apprehended at Port Sorell three months later. Edward was originally transported in 1845 per Pestongee Bomangee aged 16 years. He was reconvicted in 1853 for burglary. Edward was accidentally killed at North West Bay on 1 November 1857 after receiving his ticket-of-leave. Whilst employed at Cascades FF, on 26 April 1855, Edward was charged with 'misconduct in being with two absconders and improperly bringing into the Establishment a communication of an improper nature'. For this offence he received 9 months hard labour.
Margaret Power worked as a Warder on the Anson probation station from the time it began operation in 1843 until it closed in 1849. She had charge of the hospital on board and in 1847 she gave evidence at the inquest into the death of Mary Gilgan per Arabian.
I am a Warder and have charge of the Hospital ... last witness [convict Jane Miller] sat up with her during the night for 3 or 4 nights; every attention and kindness was shown her; she had wine and brandy and all that was requisite for her to have as Dr Bowden ordered it ... I made them up—he gave me directions as to how they should be made up ... I have charge of the dispensary, the bottles are labelled, some in Latin, some in English. If they are labelled in Latin I take them up for Dr Bowden to see before I make them up. If ever I take up a wrong bottle, Dr Bowden tells me to bring him another and I do so until I get the right one. The women who complain of sickness come to me first. If I think they only require a simple dose of medicine I give it to them myself without reference to Dr Bowden ... I take up two or three at atime to Dr Bowden, I am sure I never make a mistake in carrying them back again ... I sometimes leave the wrong bottles behind me on purpsose that I may make no mistake.
Miss Elizabeth Richardson was for many years the housekeeper of the Anson female penitentiary. On Wednesday, 11 July 1849, Elizabeth married Stephen Aldhouse, BCL, at St John's Church, New Town. (ref:Cornwall Chronicle 14 July 1849)
Henry Schofield was a convict transported for 14 years on the John Barry in 1834. He was born in Rochdale, England circa 1814. As he was a blanket weaver (by hand), when he arrived in Van Diemen's Land he was appopriated to work at the Public Works at Cascades Female Factory. A blanket factory was set up adjacent to Cascades Female Factory at this time. The female convicts spun the wool and the men employed at the factory wove the blankets. It is likely, then, that Henry Schofield was one of these weavers.
(Refs: TAHO, CSO 1/740/16012; The Female Factory Historic Site, Cascades: Historical Report by Lindy Scripps and Audrey Hudspeth, October 1992)
Harriett Slee (nee Taite)
Harriett Slee was matron at the Cascades Female Factory from June 1838 until 1850. A brief history is available in pdf, by Ken Slee (gg grandson). The image below is thought to be Harriett Slee.
Information provided courtesy of Nicole Reeves.
Francis Smith was born at Kill, County Cavan, Ireland and served in the 99th Foot Regiment and the 11th Foot Regiment from 1831 to 1853, having enlisted in the 99th Foot at Cootehill, Ireland. Francis served in Ireland and Mauritius until his deployment to the colonies in 1843. He arrived on the North Briton at Sydney in 1843.
Francis married 15-year-old Ann Sales at Bathurst in 1850. Ann had recently arrived from England with her sister Sarah and Sarah's husband and their three children. Immediately after their marriage, Francis and Ann left for Hobart, where they had thirteen children, the last taking the surname Smyth. Since then the family has been known as Smyth or Smythe.
By 1853, Francis was considered unfit for the duties of a soldier, suffering from the effects of climate and long service. He was aged 39 when he was discharged in 1853.
Francis gained employment as an overseer at Cascades Female Factory in July 1854 and worked there until 1878. He died of old age on 5 March 1891 at Sandy Bay, Hobart, a pensioner aged 75 years.
Robert Spearman was transported on the Emperor Alexander arriving in 1833. He was sent to work as a clerk at Cascades Female Factory. On 28 April 1834 he was charged with being absent from Sunday Muster and sent to the Tread Wheel for 6 days, then returned to the Female Factory. Then on 25 September 1834, he was charged with absconding and remaining illegally at large until approached on board the brig Dorothy's in which vessel he had engaged as a seaman. His original sentence of 14 years transportation was extended three years and he was removed to Port Arthur.
Whilst in the colony as a prisoner, Spearman wrote letters home to his family, asking them to petition for a reduction in his sentence. One of these letters is contained with his petition.
(Refs: Celia Cartwright, ";A Miserable Place for Prisoners'? NIneteenth Century Convict Letters from Tasmania", in THRA P&P 60(2), August 2013, pp.75-80; TAHO, CON31/1/40 p.13 image 15)
Information and photo provided courtesy of Pam Carmichael.
William Whitaker was employed as an Overseer at the Fulling Mill at Cascades Female Factory, being appointed on 1 October 1849.
William, a woollen stuffer, had arrived in Sydney with his wife, Hannah, and six children, per Harbinger on 12 February 1849. William and most of his family later travelled to Hobart per Emma in 1849 and 1850.
William died on 26 March 1875 and an obituary appeared in the Cornwall Chronicle on 29 March 1875. Part of it read:
Mr William Whitaker, sen., for upwards of ten years Town Missionary of Launceston, died at his residence, Cumberland-street, at 6 o'clock on Friday morning aged 71 years ...
... He has been a local preacher of the Wesleyan denomination for 43 years ...
Mr Whitaker was employed by the Tasmanian Government in 1850 to establish a woollen manufactory at the Cascades, Hobart Town, and in this he was so successful that he was the manufacturer of the first tweeds and blankets produced in this colony; the former were of so superior a quality that they were deemed worthy of being forwarded to the first great industrial exhibition in London in 1851 ...
William was buried in the Charles St General Cemetery, Launceston.
Information provided courtesy of Helen Mitchell.
John Windeatt was appointed to a position at Launceston Female Factory in June 1836. He had arrived from Devon, via Fremantle, to Hobart in 1831 with his wife and four children to take up a position at the Hobart Gaol. He resigned from his position at the Launceston Female Factory in 1838 for family reasons, but later tried to get his job back.
Information provided courtesy of Kathy Withrington.
John Withrington was born in London in 1821 and joined the army in 1842. He first visited Van Diemen's Land in 1843 where he arrived in charge of 300 convicts and served with distinction in the New Zealand Maori War during 1846-47.
In 1848, John married Margaret Quinn from Armagh, Ireland. The following year he retired from the army and returned to Van Diemen's Land, entering the Imperial Civil Service.
From February 1852 to December 1859 he was overseer at the Female House of Correction at Cascades, seeing it through its transition from a female factory to a gaol. In December 1859 he was appointed Superintendent of the Brickfields Establishment. Then in June 1879, John was appointed Superintendent of the combined male and female New Town Charitable Institution.
John retired in 1889 and moved to Melbourne where he died in 1905. On his retirement, he was presented with a gold Albert chain and pendant. Inscribed on the pendant was:
J. Withrington presented by the officers of the
N.T.C.I. Oct. 4, 1889
This chain and pendant has been passed on to the eldest son in successive generations. The present owner is Leon Withrington, the GGG Grandson of John Withrington, the Superintendent, and the GGG Grandson of Mary Carsel, a convict imprisoned at Cascades Female Factory.
John Withrington and Margaret (nee Quinn) had 6 children. John's wife, Margaret, died in 1888. The children were: John Charles (1849-1871), Edward (1850-1886), Henry (1853-1901), Margaret (1855-1871), William (1857-1915) and Thomas (1861-1930).
It appears that John Withrington's two eldest sons both died before their father and either did not marry or had no sons. The third son, Henry James, who married Mary Carsel's daughter, Jane Cranston, died in 1901, four years before his father, and the chain and pendant were given to Henry's only son, Henry Jonas Withrington.