The New Town Farm, located outside Hobart adjacent to the north of the Queen's Domain, was a productive government-owned farm established in 1826 with the clearing of the land. The farm's initial intention was to produce food - mainly vegetables and milk - for distribution to government establishments, for example: the gaol, hospital, barracks and Female Factory. The idea of the government using prisoner labour to produce its own food was initially met with controversy by settlers making a living by tendering and supplying their produce to government establishments. It was also controversial that government funds were diverted to the running of the farm, taking labour and funds away from much needed government infrastructure such as roads and bridges. With the establishment of the nearby orphan school, the government decided the farm could provide boys at the Orphan School with agriculatural instruction. Over time, the farm had many supplementary uses: probation station, 'Boys Establishment', hiring depot and military barracks.
New Town Farm Probation Station
When the Bowdens arrived in Van Diemen's Land to take up their positions as Superintendent and Matron of the female Probation Station (around 1843), the Anson was not yet ready and the female convicts were housed temporarily at New Town Farm Probation Station, near the Orphan Schools.
New Town Farm was again used temporarily as a probation station and hiring depot for females after the Anson was disbanded late in 1850.
From 1850, for the next two years, the New Town Farm Station became known as the New Town Farm Female Hiring Depot.
New Town Farm Riot, 1844
On Friday, 26 January 1844, nine women who had arrived on the East London on 21 September 1843 were involved in a riot at New Town Farm. They were about half way through serving their six months probation. The female convicts were:
- Mary Brady, police number 632, sentence 7 years
- Catherine Kemp, police number 230, sentence 7 years
- Catherine Shaw, police number 585, sentence 10 years
- Mary Dooley, police number 397, sentence 7 years
- Eliza Moran, police number 475, setnence 7 years
- Mary Connell, police number 600, sentence 7 years
- Ellen Cronon (or Cronin), police number 599, sentence 7 years
- Mary Hannon, police number 506, sentence 7 years
- Mary Ann (or Margaret) Smith, police number 563, sentence 7 years, tried at Chester
They were charged by Dr Bowden, Superintendent, with insubordination in resisting in a turbulent manner and with violence opposing the lawfully constituted authorities on 26 January 1844 at New Town Farm Station. All pleaded not guilty except for Catherine Kemp, Ellen Cronon and Margaret Smith. The evidence given at the hearing was as follows (reference TAHO, AC480/1/1).
Mr George Hestell sworn states, I am one of the free warders who accompanied Dr Bowden the Suptt of the female Penitentiary from England in the ship Woodbridge for the purpose of taking charge of females placed under Dr. Bowden’s management. I was directed by Dr. Bowden to take charge of the New Town Station as male Warder, but Miss Carr is the responsible person as Assistant. I have been at the station from the 10th of January instant and the whole of the women have known me as male Warder there. I have assisted in mastering them and in their general management. The whole of them know that I am placed as one of the officers in charge. In the forenoon of yesterday it was reported to me that Catherine Kemp had absconded. I immediately left the stores and went into the day room and found the women in a state of excitement and disorder. I found Kemp in the room the generality of the women in that room were in a state of mutiny and making a great uproar. I spoke to Kemp I called to her three or four times to come with me and she refused I called to the Constable to take her into custody. The Constable came and endeavored to take her. She resisted in being taken by the Constable. Mary Connell and Mary Ann Smith assisted Kemp in resisting the Constable. Miss Carr came into the room before the Constable and I left, and altho’ Kemp would not allow herself to be taken into custody I persuaded her to be quiet, which she did for sometime. There were in that room at that time the major part of the women. I left the room and went to other duties the women appearing to be a little quelled and not so riotous as at first, but still without having affected the object in taking Kemp into custody. I about ten minutes afterwards one of the cooks named Edwards reported to me that two of the women were making their escape. Connell and another woman were the two, and while these two women were in the bush having left the station, another row took place among the women in consequence of Mr District Constable Eskdale who had been sent for, coming to take Kemp into custody. Moran Dooley, Cronon & Smith were prominent on this occasion assisting in the resistance offered to the district Constable. Mary Dooley had a shovel in her possession with which she threatened to split my head open, I saw the District Constable’s face it was bleeding from a woman. It was not so wounded before he went in the room among the women. Miss Carr the principal female officer in my presence attempted to get the women quiet by advising them not to resist but they refused to attend to her after being spoken to and warned by Miss Carr they continue in their riotous behaviour the sashes and windows in the day room were broken by the women during the riot. I cannot say whether any of the nine women present took an active part in breaking the windows excepting Kempt but the whole of them were in the riotous crowd. I saw Kemp with a piece of board in her hand about four feet long smashing the windows. During my absence outside the station the bread store was broken into and through the interstices of the paling I saw the women in the bread store. The bread is under my charge and there is the quantity of about fifty four loaves missing in consequence of the store being so broken into, the Watch Box which is placed inside the yard was also broken in pieces during the time I was absent from the yard. Mr Eskdale had two or three Constables to assist him but was unable to take them into custody. In consequence of the open and riotous conduct of the women we were obliged to go away from them and leave them in possession of the yard, the door leading into which was fastened on the inside by the women. We were therefore obliged to send off to Hobart Town for more assistance and the women were in a turbulent and disorderly state yesterday when the Principal Superintendent came to the Station.
Xd by Brady
You left your bed about half past ten and I saw you in the yard when the disturbance first commended after the Constable came I saw you exciting the other women against the English women. I was outside at this time and saw you distinctly through the palings.
Xd by Dooley
I saw you one of the most active among the women excepting Kemp and I saw you trying to rescue Kemp from the District Constable.
Xd by Connell
After you were brought back from the Bush I distinctly saw her smashing the windows and throwing about pots and plates.
Miss Eliza Carr sworn states, I am the Principal female officer in charge under Dr. Bowden at the female station and the females now present are under my orders. Yesterday at the station there was a riot among the women they generally refused to obey my orders. Kemp in particular, it was in consequence of her riotus behaviour that I desired her to sit down, which she did for a short time and she afterwards became as tumultuous as before. The major part of the women openly resisted my authority. I cannot particularise any of the women now present excepting Kemp and Connell they were two of the worst in the tumult their conduct being calculated to excite others to a disturbance. None of the women offered me any personal violence but Connell was very impudent. During the time of the riotus conduct of the women yesterday I was in the day room I was present there when the windows were broken, they were broken by the women throwing pannicans and various other missiles. I saw Kemp standing on the forms and tables and throwing pannicans and plates. I saw the District Constable on his arrival at the station and he then had no wound on his face but after he had been among the women his face was bleeding. I did not hear of any actual bad language made use of, with the exception of Kemp. She made use of very bad words, words which I do not like to repeat and which no female of common decency ought to hear. From their riotus conduct I lost all authority over them and Moran, Dooley & Brady were worse than the others during the day.
Xd by Moran
I spoke to you several times and you set me at defiance and so did Kemp and Dooley after the Constables came.
Xd by Brady
I saw you exciting others by your conduct and manner.
Miss Mary Wills Stroud sworn states, I am one of the female officers under Dr. Bowden in the New town Station. The women at the station yesterday were very riotus, they disobeyed the orders which were given to them, the major part of the women were in an open state of mutiny. I perceived the whole of these women excepting Cronan in the riot and tumult and as busy as any of the rest of them Kemp was worse than any of them. She struck me in the face with a tin plate and gave me this injury on my mouth Kemp striking me was a consequence of her resistance to the Constable and my going up to her to endeavour to persuade her to go with the constable. I was present when Mr Eskdale the District Constable wished to take Kemp into custody and she openly resisted him. Mr Eskdale was wounded on the face and the wound was caused by some of the women. In consequence of the violent conduct of the women the officers of the station were obliged to go outside excepting Miss Carr and I was obliged to go outside for my personal safety. Kemp in particular threatened to take my life. All the women now present excepting Cronan were forward in the riot. I saw Brady in the yard among the other women after the Constables came I saw the windows smashed in by the women but I cannot particularize and particular woman there was such a riot and confusion at the time. During the time the Constable was there I beckoned to Hannon to come away she called me very bad names and said she would dor for me, and this could be heard by the other women. After the women commenced the riot I know the bread store was broken into.
Mr Joseph Eskdale sworn states, I am District Constable at New Town, I was called on duty to the female Establishment at New Town yesterday in consequence of the disturbance which had taken place on the station. When I got there I found the women very noisy. I went with Mr Heskitt among the women and he pointed out Kemp. He stated that one of the female officers had been struck by Kemp and he directed her to be taken into custody. I attempted to take her into custody and she resisted, the whole of the women now present I recognise as assisting in that tumult when I was prevented taking Kemp into custody, particularly Smith, Cronan and Dooley they were more riotus than the rest and were the principals one that first came to the rescue of Kemp. It was in the execution of my duty yesterday among these women that I received this wound in my face. I cannot particularize the woman that wounded me because there were a great many round at the time but I believe it to have been done by a stone. I recalled that Smith & Cronan were among the women round about me at the time of my receiving the wound and I recollect seeing Dooley with a shovel in her hand which she flourished round her head threatening to strike the first that came near her. I could not do my duty in taking Kemp into custody in consequence of the women’s violent conduct fearing some further personal violence would take place. A large body of Constables were eventually obliged to be sent for. I saw the windows broken and identify Kemp as being principally concerned. I saw her strike two blows at the windows with a stick. The riotus conduct of the women continued about half an hour after my arrival.
Xd by Connell
I am not quite certain that you were not of the prominent ones, on reflection I do no recollect seeing her in the riot. I am quite confident as to all the rest.
George Ross Constable sworn states, I accompanied Mr Eskdale on duty yesterday to the New Town Station when we got there the women were kicking up a row, it was a riot. I went inside the station. I took hold of Kemp and took her outside and several of the other women surrounded me. Mary Dooley had a spade in her hand and she struck at me but missed me. I got this black eye among the women from a stone after we came out having been regularly stoned out they set too & broke the windows. I did hear some woman call out don’t throw stones but I don’t know whether it was Hannon or not.
Ellen Cronan states in her defence she was scolding and talking as well as any other but did not take any weapon.
The rest of the prisoners state they have nothing to say in their defence.
Sentences: Catherine Kemp & Mary Dooley – their existing sentences of transportation extended for two years with a recommendation that they be moved from the Establishment and placed on probation in the Female House of Correction; Mary Connell & Eliza Moran – their existing sentences of transportation extended for one year with the same recommendation as above; Mary Ann Smith, Mary Hannon & Catherine Shaw – each to be placed six months to hard labor with a recommendation that they serve such period in the separate working rooms in the female House of Correction; Ellen Cronan & Mary Brady – each to be placed ten days solitary confinement.
James Simmons JP, J Spode