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The East London

by Colleen Arulappu


The stories of the East London will be published below as a series of chapters.


The East London

  • Introduction Open or Close


    The East London stories came about through personal family connections. But they grew with my curiosity about what brought these women to the decks of a convict ship and how they endured the voyage. The mess lists provided a glimpse of the hierarchy on board ship.

    I looked at the family situation of each woman, the social and economic times, sectarianism and searched for newspaper reports of the trials. There are chapters on the children and their suffering and the children left in Ireland. I looked at resistance, mental health, violence and family transported. The individual stories are small snapshots of life after transportation for each woman.

    A few women from the East London welcomed transportation but most wailed their grief. Newspaper reports of their trials were not usually detailed but some described their cries and tears and also their feisty responses to the judges. The Constant and the East London sailed in the early mornings out of the harbour with not a word written in the press of the farewell. The grief was covered by silence.

    The journey was hellish and their numbers depleted. The women who survived the voyage arrived angry and resistant. They served their sentences, married or partnered, children were born. Some suffered mentally and others from childbirth or illness. Some mothers became grandmothers of new generations; quietly living out their lives while others faded away idle and drunk. There were women whose whole story remains untold. Perhaps they are ancestors of many more of us than we know and perhaps one day their story will be told. 

                      Colleen Arulappu                                               

  • Chapter 1: The Prison Ship Lies Waiting in the Harbour Open or Close

    The East London

    A barque, 409 ton, built at Sunderland 1839.

    four guns

    EL SJ

    Master, James Parley

    Surgeon Superintendent, Edward Caldwell

    Left Dublin 10 May 1843

    Sailed via Madeira

    Arrived Hobart 21 September 1843

    133 days on the voyage


    The Prison Ship Lies Waiting in the Harbour

    The East London left Deptford on 13 April 1843 having received all the necessary stores on board. It anchored that evening at Gravesend and, over the next week, sailed past the Isle of Sheppey, Dungeness and Beachy Heads, past the Owers Lights, the Isle of Wight, Portland, past The Lizard off the starboard bow, and Mounts Bay, on its short journey between England and Ireland. By 20 April the ship was in the Irish Channel within sight of the Saltees off the Coast of Wexford. The next day it anchored in Kingstown Harbour alongside the Constant which was hired to transport male convicts. The preparations for the accommodation of the female convicts had been completed in Deptford and the East London was ready for its first venture as a convict transport. It was almost new, a barque built at Sunderland ship building yards in 1839 and in good condition for the voyage.


    SAUNDERS NEWS-LETTER 22 April 1843

    Arrival of two convict ships to embark convicts. The Constant, Emery Master, Surgeon Superintendent, Mr Hampton, and the East London, Parley Master, Mr Edward Caldwell, Surgeon Superintendent. The first has a guard of the 99th Regiment; the latter has not any, as she is to embark females.


    Edward Caldwell, a Royal Naval surgeon, about fifty-four years of age, was on board in charge of the prisoners. It was his first voyage as Surgeon Superintendent on a convict ship but he had long experience in the Royal Navy where he was promoted to the position of surgeon in 1811. In his journal he gave the details of the preparation: the formalities of inspecting and receiving the female prisoners as well as a detailed description of the serious illnesses and deaths of those who died during the voyage.

    On Saturday 22 April, two days after the ship’s arrival in Ireland, Major Collingham, the Inspector of Prisons, visited and expressed himself pleased with every arrangement made for the reception of prisoners. On Monday, Edward Caldwell went to see Major Collingham at his office in Dublin Castle to organize the reception of the prisoners from Grange Gorman Depot.

    The following day, with its dark cloudy skies and heavy rain, Edward Caldwell visited the Depot at Grange Gorman and inspected sixty female convicts with nine children ready for embarkation. He had the assistance of Dr Harty and Surgeon Read, the Inspecting Physician and Surgeon of the Depot.

    The boisterous weather with heavy rains continued the next day but the ship was able to receive the stoves to be used daily between decks to avoid damp and secure the health of those about to embark.

    A week later fifty-nine of the women to be transported arrived on board with nine children. The remainder to be embarked had not yet all arrived from the prisons of their respective counties. Edward Caldwell arranged those already on board into ‘proper messes’, and appointed ‘proper mess women’, with a sufficient number of cooks, nurses and servants for the hospital.

    By 5 May the final seventy-four females assembled at Grange Gorman Depot. Edward Caldwell inspected them with Dr Harty and Surgeon Read and found all fit to embark with forty-one children. One woman, Mary Healy, was described to Edward Caldwell, as a very bad character and a confirmed malingerer. He examined her and felt satisfied with the sounds of the chest and concurred with the other doctors that she might derive great advantage from the sea voyage and advancing into a more temperate climate.

    On Monday 8 May everything necessary for the voyage was ready and Major Collingham went on board with the Lord Lieutenant’s warrant to discharge the ship in order to proceed upon her voyage. The Agent for Transports came subsequently. The crew of the ship was mustered and Edward Caldwell wrote to the Comptroller for Victualling HM Navy and to the Inspector General informing them of the immediate sailing date.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Bateson Charles; The Convict Ships 1787-1868, Chapter 6, The Transports.



    Kingstown Harbour 
    Let the reader who has never seen Kingstown harbour only imagine that he witnesses boat races and yachting matches in the inside of that harbour and he will be able to form some idea of its magnitude. The piers enclose an area of more than two hundred and fifty acres. The width of the entrance of the harbour is one thousand feet. A score of vessels of the largest size might safely enter it at once. The depth of the water at full tide is forty feet, and at low tide is thirty-three feet. Hence vessels can enter it with ease and facility every hour of the day, as well as every day of the year. The foundation-stone of Kingstown harbour was laid in the year 1817 by the Earl of Whitford, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

    Smiths Weekly Volume: Select Circulating Library for Town and Country Vol: 1 January to July 1845

  • Chapter 2: The Voyage of the East London Open or Close

    The Voyage of the East London

    Wednesday May 10th 1843. The ship sailed from
    Kingstown Harbour at 6 a.m. The weather was cloudy and hazy

                Pride in their ship, duty to their service, spirit of adventure, expectations of a new life, despair and heartbreak, all must have been there as that handsome little barque weighed anchor and left Kingstown Harbour to sail out into the Irish Sea and through the St George’s Channel. Sight of the Irish and English Coasts during the first few days provided a lingering farewell for those on board. What was in the hearts and minds of the women and children, especially those from the inland counties of Ireland and what fear faced the ones who had never seen the sea before? The noise and shaking of a ship pitching and rolling with huge waves breaking and wind buffeting, combined with the isolation far out at sea, must have made the first few days terrifying.

               On board the East London were 133 women prisoners from the Penitentiary at Grange Gorman in Dublin, many of whom were transferred there weeks or months earlier from county jails while some arrived just a few days before embarkation. Also on board were 50 children, 21 of whom were less than of two years of age. All were under the control of the Surgeon Superintendent, Edward Caldwell, and the ship was mastered by James Parley.

                At the beginning of the voyage, the weather was stormy and winds buffeted the ship and caused much sea sickness. On the first day Edward Caldwell treated fifteen patients and again, three days later, when the ship was off St David’s Head, he said the women and children were suffering from sea sickness. The distress of this nauseating illness, where food could not be kept down, was debilitating and would have kept the sick women prostrate and insensible to much of what was happening. But if such illness anaesthetized hysteria, it added to the loss of hope, the loss of health, and to despair. The weather with the heavy sea remained unsettled, with high winds and heavy rain, until the ship reached Madeira. Because of sea sickness and loss of appetite Edward Caldwell gave the women a supply of boiled oatmeal instead of tea or cocoa. It was only four days after sailing and as a response to the illness and the refusal of food offered to them. He said that all the women manifested a dislike to the tea and cocoa but perhaps severe sea sickness rather than deliberate revolt was the cause of their distaste.

                Many ships transported convicts from Ireland to Van Diemen’s Land and some carried female convicts. They too had prisoners from rural areas and small children, although, perhaps not so many very young children. Yet the voyage of the East London was different and the most significant difference was the number of women and children who died during the journey from Dublin to Hobart Town. Nineteen women died at sea and one woman about ten days after arrival in Hobart. Another woman, sent to the hospital, was listed as dead on the 1846 muster without any record of when she died. Twelve children died on the voyage and ten, probably eleven, young children, died in the weeks after reaching Hobart. Fourteen women were sent to hospital on arrival as well as seventeen of the children, some with their mothers. These are startling figures compared to other ships which carried women from Dublin about the same time. The Waverley, which arrived in December 1842, had no recorded deaths and the Garland Grove, January 1843, recorded eight deaths. In fact, in the decade between 1841 and 1850, the total number of female convicts dying on the way to Australia was 102 so nineteen deaths on the East London set that journey apart as a tragic voyage.

    THE COURIER HOBART 22 September 1843

       The East London, convict ship, sailed from Dublin on the 10th May, having 116 [actual 133] female prisoners on board, with l8 male and 23 female children, under the care of Edward Caldwell, Esq., Surgeon Superintendent. Although from the report there does not appear to have been any infectious disease on board, there has, nevertheless, been an unusual number of deaths, nineteen adult women and twelve children having died on the passage. There are six cases of scurvy and diarrhoea in the hospital, and eight cases of diarrhoea and debility in their own berths.

              It was such a shocking occurrence that the Principal Medical Officer, John M. Clark M.D., who received the sick from the East London after its arrival in September, wrote to the Colonial Secretary to ask His Excellency, the Governor, for authority to set up a Medical Board to inquire into and report on the causes of the unprecedented mortality. John Clark saw the state of health of those on board and arranged for the sick women and the sick and weak children to be taken to the hospital.   He was moved to write his letter to the Colonial Secretary the next day.

    The board was set up within two weeks and consisted of Andrew Sinclair, Esq, Surgeon R.N., President of the Board, William Sercombe Esq, the Colonial Assistant Surgeon and Brook T. Townsend Esq, Staff Assistant Surgeon. The Board assembled for three days in the first week of October to examine the necessary documents and hear such testimony as was deemed relevant. The Colonial Assistant Surgeon, W. Dermer Esq. M.D. who was in charge of the Nursery Hobart Town, was one of the people whose opinion was sought. He mentioned his six years of experience in that position and what he saw of the sickly state of children under the age of five who accompanied their mothers to the colony. His account was of the children admitted to his care in the nursery and he said that, generally, half of them died. He attributed it to the mothers having salt provisions during the long voyage and the resultant lack of nutrition in their milk as well as the women becoming ‘reckless in their minds’ which caused them to be careless in everything connected with their children.

    The Board returned their report to the Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, John Clark M.D. Its findings put the mortality on board the East London to being 133 days at sea on salt provisions and that, as the first deaths occurred after 66 days, it was scurvy which was the common cause. The want of nourishment was worsened by the women obstinately refusing pea soup, cocoa, tea, pudding and lime juice, particularly during the early part of the voyage. The women were blamed for contributing to the cause of the deaths by depositing faeces and urine on their decks at night in spite of every attempt made to prevent it, and to stop them from spilling water over the decks when they were locked up. The berths and decks were always wet. The report stated that deaths during the last part of the voyage had become less as the prisoners reconciled to the diet. The high number of deaths was also given as a reason for not putting in at the Cape of Good Hope.

           ‘It has been seen that 19 female adults perished among 133. I find that no less than 12 of them were mothers and four lost their children. Eight left 16 orphans, of them 5 were infants under 2 years, admitted into the nursery at Hobart Town. One has since died and there is every appearance that other deaths will follow’.

    When Dr Clark forwarded the report of The Proceedings of the Medical Board to the Colonial Secretary, he remarked that scurvy was an unusual disease on female convict ships which he attributed to greater cleanliness, more liberty of exercise and less anxiety about their future than those on male ships. He stated that a diet of salt pork and ship biscuit were the chief cause of scurvy. He pointed out that other ships sailed from Ireland after equally tedious voyages without suffering from scurvy and without the prisoners refusing tea, cocoa, pea soup and lime. He also believed that, because many of the women came from rural areas, they had no knowledge of the foods and rejected them when offered. He suggested oatmeal with a little salt butter, potatoes and perhaps a bit of boiled rice would better suit prisoners. He thought an English diet did not suit females who had not been exposed to it.

                He commented on the filthy habits of the prisoners and, although he said it was difficult to preserve cleanliness on board an Irish convict ship, felt that a strict and stern discipline should have been established on the first instance of such a violation of decency. If it had, such practises as dirtying the decks would not have prevailed throughout the voyage. However, the bad weather and sea sickness which caused so many women to be ill would have made it difficult to keep the prison decks clean. The water closets were very few in number, as low as two on some ships. With many infants to care for, the women had little choice but to use the decks and, if discipline lapsed and no extra means were provided for the care of the sick and the babies, then hygiene would have failed.

                Contrary to the report of the Board of Enquiry, Dr Clark found that there were three deaths in July, eight in August and eight in September; the last four in the final week of the voyage. In his comments he wrote, ‘If the women really took more nourishment in the last part of the voyage it was then that the mortality occurred’. He said the ship ought to have put in at the Cape of Good Hope. It was an error which had fatal consequences. The reasons given for not putting into port varied, from the prisoners’ state of health as they came within sight of the Cape and the deaths of three women and three children, to the time taken in turning back into the port. It was felt advisable not to put in for refreshments and what Edward Calwell himself wrote in his General Remarks:- ‘I thought it advisable to proceed on our destination without delay as several days would be lost in bearing into the Cape as the Wind is N.W. Made all sail for Hobart Town’.

    It seemed as if expediency was the reason for not putting into the Cape rather than the wellbeing of the people on board the ship. Edward Caldwell and James Parley must have agreed upon that decision.

                John Clark’s final recommendation was to do with the terrible mortality amongst the children. He said that scanty and unhealthy food, foul air, cold, wet and maternal neglect was the source of diseases against which infant life could not struggle.

    ‘Of the 12 deaths among the children all were under 2 years. These are melancholy but most important medical statistics. They all died of Atrophy with its attendant bowel complaints. Scanty and unhealthy food, foul air, cold, wet and maternal neglect are sources of disease which infant life cannot long struggle against. That a mother, could have maintained an infant on the breast and brought it alive to this Colony, whose own nourishment, derived solely from a small portion of salt pork and ship biscuit daily appears indeed extraordinary. I am sure His Excellency will agree with me that infants of this tender age ought not be victims of transportation to this Colony and that it is imperative the Government at Home should learn the fact, I presume not yet known, that if this system be preserved, it will be one of infanticide at the ratio of at least 75 per cent’.

                A letter, dated three weeks later, from Dr Dermer, Colonial Assistant Surgeon at the Nursery, Dynnyrne House, said seventeen children were landed from the East London and received into the nursery in a very sickly state and that five had since died. He expected other deaths would follow.

                The surgeon, Edward Caldwell, wrote extensive notes about the illness and deaths of the women. The notes gave the symptoms and the treatment each received and showed that some of the prisoners were not in a fit state of health to undertake the voyage. When Edward Caldwell inspected the women at Grange Gorman in Dublin he was told that some were feigning illness and he passed them as able to be embarked. He also conferred with the doctors on the benefits of a sea voyage for the health of some of the women.

    Mary Healy was diagnosed as feigning disease of the chest by the physician and surgeon in the Penitentiary at Grange Gorman. ‘She has given a great deal of trouble to the Matron and to the Medical Superintendant at the Penitentiary at Grange Gorman, having so far succeeded in feigning disease of the chest’. She was quickly removed from prison to the ship where she became the first hospital patient on board ship and the first prisoner to die. Mary Healy's character brought forth a long list of descriptive words. She was called dishonest, dissolute, riotous and bad. She rebelled against the authorities in the Penitentiary at Grange Gorman where she refused to eat any food but that which was, ‘pleasing to the palate’. To add to the woes of the prison authorities Mary Healy was in ‘collusion’ with other prisoners.

                In the General Remarks at the end of the journal, Mr Caldwell wrote that Mary Healy was a ‘confirmed malingerer’, and, having examined her chest with doctors from the prison, they all ‘concurred in opinion that this female might derive great advantage from the sea voyage and advancing into a more temperate climate’. He noted that she had attempted suicide before boarding ship and that once on board her conduct was ‘silent and dogged’. She did not co-operate with taking any medicine until well into her illness. The prison authorities at Grange Gorman in Dublin must have been relieved to see her accepted for transportation.

    ‘April 27th. finding that all her efforts were fruitless to be left behind she made an attempt to commit self destruction, but was prevented by the vigilance of the nurses, and other attendants at the Penitentiary.’

                On June 30th Edward Caldwell wrote of Mary Healy's failing health, ‘she continues to live in hope of reaching her destination’. Mary died of phthisis on 16 July, the first of the adults to die on the voyage. Mary Healy had protested vigorously while others more timid bowed to the inevitable fate of transportation, but, perhaps with hearts just as badly broken.

                One prisoner, Mary Spillane, was seventy years old. She too was inspected and passed as healthy enough for the voyage. In the early weeks she suffered from severe sea sickness and her health declined. Edward Caldwell managed to restore her to a reasonable state of health after the first bout of illness but she eventually died of debility before the end of the voyage.
             Three of the women were in such advanced stages of pregnancy that their babies were delivered during the voyage. Less than a week after sailing, Mary Harrowhill, was, ‘safely delivered of a fine full grown female child after 4 hours of labour’. Mother and child both survived the journey. Another mother, Eliza Higgins, delivered a female child in July, but the child died the next day. In the later stages of the voyage, Mary Deane gave birth to a female child and both mother and daughter reached Hobart.

                Although there were a few cases of women chosen to be transported who were unsuitable for such a long voyage, the majority of the women were no more or less suitable than those transported from Ireland on other ships. Illness and scurvy were present throughout the convict voyages. Many surgeons kept a vigilant watch for outbreaks of scurvy and were usually able to treat it quite successfully. Charles Cameron, Surgeon Superintendant of the Midas, 1825, wrote in his General Remarks ‘I had so many cases of scurvy...... I am happy to say that all of them rapidly recovered under the use of Lemonjuice and Nitrate of Potass...... and all were sent on shore in good health at the end of the voyage’.

                One of the chief causes of the scurvy on the East London was said to be the refusal to eat the food provided for the voyage. The women from the rural areas were blamed for their lack of awareness and co-operation with such a diet, but other factors affected that situation, not least the severe seasickness in the first weeks and early symptoms of scurvy. The initial stages of scurvy cause great lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and irritability. All those symptoms were frequently described in the cases in the medical journal.

    Ellinor Curreen, aged 37 years, on board with her three children, suffered much during the early part of the voyage from sea sickness and not taking the food from the ship. 4 June allowed her children and herself an allowance of oatmeal by checquing their salt provisions’. It is hard to imagine that after days of severe seasickness that eating any food would be palatable but an unfamiliar diet would be even more unappealing. Although the surgeon offered Ellinor oatmeal she did not survive the journey. She suffered extreme poverty in her native county before her imprisonment and was in a weakened physical condition when she boarded the ship. Seasickness, diarrhoea and scurvy sealed her fate. Women who had been in prison for many months or who were from impoverished backgrounds were perhaps already in the early stages of scurvy when they boarded the ship.

    While at the Grange Gorham Penitentiary, Mary Healy, the confirmed malingerer, led a revolt against the prison diet. Edward Caldwell wrote in her medical notes about her behaviour in prison before embarkation. ‘She entertained hopes of eluding the sentence of the law, what with voluntary abstaining from all food but what was agreeable and pleasing to the palate and by the collusion of those in confinement’. Was there any sign of similar protest once she was on board ship and did she still influence others? In the Nosological Returns, Edward Caldwell wrote only four days after sailing: ‘I have gratified the convicts this morning with a supply of boiled oatmeal instead of tea or cocoa which they have manifested a dislike to’. From the beginning of the voyage there was dislike of the food, but it was also the time many suffered from seasickness in the stormy weather. Mary was in hospital before the ship sailed and so was separated from her shipmates. However because Mary and others in Grange Gorman Penitentiary refused food Edward Caldwell was led to believe that the women were deliberately being fussy and uncooperative.

                Edward Caldwell wrote of buying water and fresh vegetables for the hospital with his own money while the ship was berthed in Madeira.

    ‘received 15 tons of Water purchased for the use of those confined in the Hospital my own expense, Vegetable sufficient to last for a fortnight’.

                Other cases where food was mentioned as an issue included Bridget Carey, 40 years old, who came on board, ‘with a bad character as a malingerer with a view to evading her sentence.’ He later wrote of her as, weakened from the effects of sea sickness and the loathing of food’. Joanna Wilmott, 25years old, also suffered much from sea sickness and refused to eat at all, ‘Never tasting any of the provisions allowed by the government’. Severe sea sickness seemed to be linked in these cases of refusing food. In the case of Joanna Wilmott, the surgeon wrote that she suffered from the severe weather and was unable to take any food and became ‘indolent, lazy and regardless of her life’.

                The refusal to eat the food in the early part of the voyage hastened the onset of scurvy which caused problems even before the disease was evident. Among the early signs of the scurvy is loss of appetite, diarrhoea, irritability and as the disease progresses there is fever, exhaustion, ulcerated gums, oedema and swelling in legs and haemorrhages under the skin. Most of the women admitted into the hospital had similar symptoms and many, who were accused of neglecting their children, must have been utterly exhausted from seasickness and the lethargy associated with the early stages of scurvy. Edward Caldwell remarked on several occasions about querulous nervous or disagreeable and slothful patients; symptoms caused by the onset of scurvy.

    The women were blamed for the refusal to eat and were labelled ignorant rural women who had no knowledge of the English diet and needed oats and potatoes instead. Perhaps they were not used to shipboard diet, but the same revulsion to the food did not occur on other ships, at least to such an extent. Lack of discipline and poor judgement was part of the criticism of the Board of Inquiry towards Mr Caldwell. Edward Caldwell wrote in his journal about his decision regarding lemon juice despite Government instructions. June 12th. I have given them lemon juice and sugar Ship arrived Madeira to be discontinued except to the most deserving the others having declined their allowances prescribed by the printed instructions.

                There is a suspicion of stubbornness on both sides in the row about rations. Mr Caldwell served out lemon juice to those who were, ‘deserving’, but not to those who were unco-operative, despite regulations which were meant to prevent scurvy. The women who manifested a dislike for lemon juice and refused to drink it were simply ignored. The issuing of lemon juice to prevent scurvy was well known and necessary to survive a long voyage at sea. Other surgeons’ journals describe the handing out of lemon juice, where the women were supervised and watched while it was consumed. What happened on the East London was a breakdown in discipline in the issuing of the lemon juice and it caused a terrible loss of life.

    The lack of discipline probably extended to the cleanliness on board. The large number of children, many of whom were very sick, and the number of women so ill, must have been a burden on the hygiene. The surgeon and the Medical Board accused the women of filthy habits but the inadequate water closet facilities would have been overwhelmed by the urgent need of so many severely ill women and children. When Edward Caldwell came down in the morning he found a filthy mess on the prison floor and he held the women responsible. He also accused them of washing below decks, a forbidden activity aboard the convict ships, but the needs of infants probably meant that washing could not be limited to the two days a week, weather permitting. Perhaps too they were trying to wash away the faeces and urine which had been deposited on the prison deck.

                Edward Caldwell was on his first voyage as Surgeon Superintendent in charge of convicts. It was to be his one and only journey in such a capacity. In his journal he wrote: ‘I can imagine it to be possible to keep the deck of the male convict ship as the lower deck of a ship of the line but the females will wet the deck at night requiring my attention at the earliest hour possible in the morning to dry scrape the deck and to get all bedding on deck as soon as possible. My presence among them was understandably required for that purpose’. Washing below decks was a point of contention. On June 1st the journal entry reads: ‘Weather moist wind west. I have great difficulty in inducing the women to keep the deck dry having detected those persons washing below today’. Edward Caldwell was a naval surgeon and didn't appear to relish dealing with a shipload of females. He was far above the convict women in the social order and of the class that viewed their falling from grace as being brought about by weakness of character and morals.

    Mothers and infants’ needs and routines perhaps defy naval discipline. The infants, being without their fathers, became dependent upon the good will of others if their mothers were ill or died. Mr Caldwell accused the mothers of indolence and neglect and not knowing how to nurture their young. The women were from the jails of Ireland and before that, the slums of Dublin and Belfast, or the poverty of the rural counties. Some were ill in their prisons before embarkation and several had not long given birth. Perhaps the sentencing magistrates were attempting to re-settle these young families and give them a chance of a better life, but the weakened constitutions, the tempestuous weather and ill-judged decisions required more strength than many possessed.

    The very young age of the children was a contributing factor in the mortality rate. Edward Caldwell at times made attempts to save the infants’ lives by taking them from their ill mothers. He took Margaret Cowan's baby from her. He wrote of Margaret, a convict from County Down:

    ‘of repulsive appearance, obstinate and indolent had she been permitted would have polluted all those contiguous to her......... ....she has been the cause of her own illness refusing proper regimen..... ...... she still persists that she is getting better daily and that if I have patience with her she will be able to get upon deck in a few days but I see that she is worse every day’

    Margaret Cowan's child, who was only one month old when the ship left Ireland, did not survive. ‘This child was received on board May 5th with its mother (now dead), just one month old was very much reduced by the scarcity supply and support from its mother. I was obliged to take it away and place it under my own care in the Hospital’. The date the baby was received into the hospital was the day after the mother had died. The care and solicitude of the surgeon was rather tardy.

    There were other cases of mothers and children dying while the ship was at sea and further deaths, particularly among the children, after the ship arrived in Hobart. There were children left orphans following the deaths of their mothers. The care of children of sick or dead mothers was apparently left to those nearby until a baby’s health became critical. When Alice Brady was taken into the hospital she left her four young children, aged six, four, two and under one year, to care for themselves or to the kindness of the messmates. The record of the death of her youngest child, Catharine, showed a little of the care given. The surgeon referred to Alice’s ‘sons’ as neglecting the baby very much, yet the eldest was a six year old girl. Were the children so dishevelled as to be unrecognizable as girls or boys?

    Catharine Brady
    Aged one year July 4th
    This infant....... was under necessity of being separated from her mother during her long illness in the Hospital was placed under the care of her sons who neglected the child very much. I was obliged to take the child under my own care and place it in the hands of a careful proper nurse supplying it with such food as I thought suitable to it from the Hospital.
    On the mothers discharge from the Hospital July 2nd the child was very much reduced from diarrhoea with apthous ulceration of the mouth, without my knowledge she attempted to put the child to breast again. On receiving this information I removed it away entirely. Died July 14th 1843

                The extremely cramped conditions, the illnesses, and the severe weather would have made conditions for the women and children almost unbearable. At times the weather was hot and at other times, miserable, wet and cold as they sailed through southern waters; there was even a snow storm noted in the journal. Only once, however, did the surgeon note any cases of hysteria and then gave it little importance, ‘suffering occasionally from hysteria and constipated bowels’. The same woman was reported as having daily fainting fits and having had to be brought upon deck. Many from an improvised or vagrant life might not have had much strength or domestic skills but evidence shows they did care for their children. The case of Ann Read and her younger daughter Eliza, aged one year, show that despite accusations of complete neglect and indifference there was a bond between mother and child and that the mother showed some concern and attachment for her child.

    Ann Read
    Aged 33 years
    A native of the city of Dublin who has to all appearances led a very irregular life, was received on board with her two children, from the time of her embarkation she never ceased daily either to consult me for herself or her children....This woman suffered much in the early part of the voyage from seasickness. She became very indolent and filthy in her habits having lost all interest in her children.........The death of her child I had occasion to find fault with her, her conduct so annoying to others.
    Earlier, Ann Read had refused to allow her child to be taken away from her until she and the child had become so sick that she, with some reluctance gave up the child to the care of the hospital nurses’.
    August 23rd. She shows the greatest reluctance to leave her berth without force as soon as a vacancy may occur in hospital. She expresses herself to me how happy she feels in the loss of her child.

    August 30th. I received her into the Hospital ordered a warm bath, removed all the hair from her head, cleaned out and fumigated her berth, clothing and bedding, committed her surviving child now 3 years to the care of a proper person.

    Edward Caldwell wrote detailed accounts of his treatment and medication given to the seriously ill or injured and seemed pleased with his successes. One was Eliza Cinnamond who: whilst sitting on the booms the weather and the sea heavy the ship pitched and threw her with great force against the bulwarks of the ship that form the hammock nettings. She was taken up in a state of insensibility vomiting large quantities of clotted and frothy blood. I saw her immediately, the skin cold, the pulse almost imperceptible. She pointed to the seat of pain along the margin of the 6th 7th ribs on the left side of the chest...

                After hospitalization for twenty-four days, Eliza was discharged fit enough to return to her berth. She completed the voyage to Hobart. Three year old William Lyons, who fell down the main ladder and broke his arm, was treated successfully. Mr Caldwell directed the blame for the accident to the, ‘carelessness of his mother Mary Lyons’.

               Cases of syphilis were also confidently treated using the treatment of the times. A couple of these patients were probably foistered upon the surgeon. Mary Donnelly, who was the second hospital case, was admitted within the first week and Mr Caldwell wrote, ‘She never acquainted the medical attendants of that Penitentiary with her disease’. Another in a more advanced state did not fare so well but had been surely slipped past his guard.

    Mary Holland Age 29
    ........ at the time she was surveyed at Grange Gorman Depot she was considered equal to undergo the voyage..........

    May   She informed me that she had been a patient in the Belfast Infirmary with secondary symptoms of Syphilis for six months and that she had been under treatment while in the Depot.
                Prison Authorities, who passed a troublesome or sick convict as fit to be transported, probably had the compliance of the convicts who hoped for better health or life in Van Diemen's Land. Several who reported their illnesses to Edward Caldwell after sailing may have held such hopes.

    Edward Caldwell noted little about punishment and yet in those few instances mentioned in his journal implied that it took place. On some female convict ships punishment included being put into the coal hole or confinement for several hours in a box with only the head protruding.
    Catharine Murray. She was repeatedly put into confinement for quarrelling and swearing contrary to all rules.

    Many complaints against Bridget Carey for using improper language having suffered from Scrofula and Diarrhoea since her embarkation I have not put her in confinement.

    Ellinor Cooney. She was so disorderly in complying with the rules laid down to ensure the health of those between decks that I was obliged to have her removed into three different messes.

    Rose Carroll. Punished for having been detected smoking tobacco in bed.

    Mary Gilbride. I had occasion to punish her for purloining the fat from the coppers contrary to all orders in destroying health.

    The crowded conditions and the ‘broken down’ state of health made it uncomfortable and unpleasant for all on board. The surgeon wrote of the querulous temperaments of some of the women. He moved Ellinor Casey and Ellinor Cooney several times to different messes because they caused annoyance to the women nearby. There were complaints of bad language against Bridget Carey, and Joanna Wilmott had such disgusting and filthy habits that she was a nuisance to those around her. Every one of those women mentioned as being punished for bad behaviour, died. Dying women, despairing women who attempted suicide, and querulous women, added more suffering to the frustrations and petty squabbles of cramped life on the prison deck.

    Only on one occasion were the men on board mentioned and that was in the General Remarks on May 18th when Catharine Carroll, ‘having been accused of levity of conduct towards one of the men made an attempt to destroy life by hanging. She was immediately released before she was exhausted. She is doing well’.

    Another unsuccessful suicide attempt was made on 19 July by Catharine Murray who tried to hang herself but was rescued. These cases along with the attempt by Mary Healy before embarkation indicated enormous mental anguish by some of the women.

                The bad weather and contrary winds had a bearing on the length of the voyage and the fact that the ship did not call in at the Cape of Good Hope for fresh water and supplies. The length of the voyage to Van Diemen's Land could be as short as 94 days, but the journey of the East London was 133 days, a month longer than many of the ships making the trip at that time. This very long time on salt provisions would have been a major factor leading up to the advent of scurvy in the latter part of the voyage.

    July 31st.... the health of the convicts has been tolerably good having a good supply of water Wind S.E. being 10 degrees Longitude of the Cape of Good Hope I thought it advisable to proceed on our destination without delay as several days would be lost in bearing into the Cape as the wind is N.W.

                The decision to save time by not calling in at the Cape of Good Hope was strongly criticised by the Board of Inquiry. Edward Caldwell must have agreed to that decision as he was in charge of the convicts and had the authority to insist on stopping the voyage for their health. The decision would have been difficult bearing in mind the bad weather and the desire to finish the contract in as short a time as possible.

                Edward Caldwell wrote in detail of diagnoses and medication as well as other methods of treatment. He used a lancet, which the women could not bear, a catheter, warm baths, blister treatment and shaving the hair of fever patients. He lamented the lack of leeches. He had a full chest of the medicines of the day which included Ipecac, Opium, Sulphate Quinine, Chalk Mixture, Peppermint Water, Magnesium Sulphate, Antimony Powder which could be applied as an antiseptic, castor oil, Collyrium, Bitter Almond and Mercuric Chloride, a type of antiseptic which contained mercury. According to his journals, he liberally supplied his patients in hospital with lemonade and wine with gruel and, usually, a better diet. In Madeira, he wrote of buying, with his own funds, a sufficient quantity of water and fresh vegetables for the hospital patients. He appeared to have been conscientious in his efforts to treat the women and his notes were detailed. His interest in medicine and the recovery of his patients seemed to be of importance, but, as a man of his time, he felt far superior to his charges on board the East London.

    In a response to the Enquiry Sir William Burnett wrote a reply dated 10th August 1844.

           I have carefully, perused Mr. Caldwell's Medical Journal for this Ship and have also had several conversations with him on different points which appeared to me to require explanation and though the mortality has undoubtedly been very great the more so as no contagious diseases existed in the Ship. The mortality amongst the women appeared greater in proportion amongst those who were received direct from the different gaols than amongst those received from the penitentiary and the deaths amongst the children were chiefly occasioned by their mothers from their own state of health being unable to nourish or attend to them.        I do not find that neglect or improper treatment can be fairly charged against the Surgeon.


              Yet, on the voyage there was a love story between a young woman convict and a mariner that resulted in marriage. Rules and regulations must have been swept aside and, perhaps, not just in one instance. Edward Caldwell had shrugged his shoulders and allowed the women to refuse lemon juice and probably other foods and there was loss of control of the cleanliness on the prison deck and at least one liaison between a woman and a mariner. The women were perhaps choosing their own rules and, without a strong hand to enforce discipline, the outcome was a disaster for so many. The prison deck was filthy, often wet, with soiled bedding, and very sick women who were lethargic and irritable. Those who had the opportunity to spend time elsewhere would certainly have taken the chance to have some comforts.

                The women on the East London had many stories to tell about their lives and the events which brought them together on board a convict ship bound for Van Diemen’s Land.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Medical Journal of the Midas AJCP ADM 101 56/6

    Medical Journal of the John William Dare (General Remarks) AJCP ADM 101 Piece 254

    Bateson, Charles. (11988) The Convict Ships 1787-1868. Library of Australian History, Sydney. Appendix ll

    Newspapers: The Trial of William Jarvey



    SJ PG1

    The first page of Edward Caldwell’s Medical Journal from the voyage of the East London 1843

  • Chapter 3: The Women Who Died At Sea Open or Close

    The Women Who Died At Sea


    Picture Melbourne Museum

    Mary Healy

    Joanna Wilmott

    Bridget Carey

    Catherine Murray

    Mary Spillane

    Margaret Cowan

    Alice Fitzsimons

    Anne Rea

    Ann Gannon

    Catherine Manly

    Ellinor Curreen

    Ellinor Cooney

    Rose Quinn

    Mary Farrell

    Rose Carroll

    Anne Read

    Mary Gilbride

    Susan Whittle

    Mary Ann Holland


    Died after arrival

    Ann Connors

    The Women Who Died Aboard the East London

    The women who died at sea came from the most unfavourable circumstances of those who were aboard the East London. Nineteen women died during the voyage and at least one other soon after arrival. Four of the women who died gave birth in prison; a couple only a few weeks before leaving Ireland and others had infants with them. There were signs of poverty in these women’s stories and the surgeon noted one case of ‘extreme poverty’ and another as suffering ‘great debility from poverty and want’.  One woman was described as a vagrant and others as having led ‘irregular lives’ or addicted to the use of ardent spirits and tobacco. Absolute starvation caused one woman, in a prior crime, to deliberately break a street light so she could go to gaol. Most of those who died had been many months in prison. Several showed signs of previous ill health and debility and had spent time in prison hospitals. Some had symptoms of secondary syphilis and one had tuberculosis. Two of the most serious cases were described by the authorities at Grange Gorman Prison as malingers. The surgeon examined them and passed them fit to embark. He concurred with the other doctors that a sea voyage might improve their health. None of those women survived the journey.

    Stormy weather in the first weeks of sailing led to widespread seasickness. Nausea and loss of appetite left some women with no desire for food which further weakened constitutions already shattered by their way of life. Frequent mention in the medical journal of patients with of irritable, indolent and careless behaviour probably indicated early symptoms of scurvy. Fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, feeling irritable and miserable are symptomatic of the early stages of scurvy and as the disease progresses it leads to swollen gums and black blotches on the skin. The surgeon wrote that he served lemon juice only to the ‘deserving’ and as many of the women who died were described as bad characters with disgusting habits and irritable manners, perhaps they did not receive enough of the lemon juice to prevent scurvy.

    The onset of diarrhoea also indicated scurvy being present before being identified as the cause of the illness. The women, weakened by nausea and loss of appetite, and with constitutions which were far from strong, developed scurvy. Although the surgeon believed the women deliberately refused the diet of pea soup, cocoa, tea, pudding and lime juice, the actual cause may have been seasickness and the beginning of scurvy.

    One of the women, addicted to alcohol, was said to have a repulsive appearance and another had a severe facial skin infection and would looked disfigured. One young woman who died had an infant accompanying her. A Dublin newspaper article referred to her as pretty and well dressed at her trial but her home was a crowded room shared by several people. The surgeon described several women as bad characters, riotous and dissolute, impertinent, and some were accused of quarrelling and swearing. But the most usual comment was the women became indolent, lazy and careless of their health and neglected their children, some having filthy habits which caused complaints among their companions. There were only a few water closets to adequately cater for the needs of those suffering from seasickness and diarrhoea.

                Depression and fear of venturing on a voyage to the other side of the world and leaving their homeland caused very low spirits. The women were confined below on the prison deck at night and during wet and stormy weather. Some were prone to fainting and hysteria. One woman said she wished her infant dead but was very reluctant to allow others to care for the baby when she was too ill to do so herself. Her low spirits, depression and ill-health were manifest when she declared that she was happy her infant had died.  Diarrhoea, pain, scurvy and debilitating ill-health worsened their indolent and careless behaviour. Their mess mates endured terrible conditions, particularly when dying women remained in their berths until a place became available in hospital. The care of their children was left to those around them.

                The Principal Medical Officer, John M Clark M.D. who received the sick after the East London arrived in Hobart wrote immediately to the Governor seeking an enquiry into and report on the causes of the deaths. It found that the ‘mortality on board has arisen in the greater number of cases from Scorbutic diseases and from having been 133 days on the passage and during that time on salt provisions and no deaths during the first 66 days shews that the common cause of scurvy having been in this case more than usually active’.

    The high number of deaths was attributed in part for not putting in at the Cape of Good Hope. There were four deaths when the ship was not far from the Cape and it was considered a poor decision not to turn back into the Cape. Edward Caldwell wrote in his General Remarks:-

                ‘I thought it advisable to proceed on our destination without delay as several days would be lost in bearing into the Cape as the Wind is N.W. Made all sail for Hobart Town’.

                It seemed as if expediency was the reason for not stopping at the Cape rather than the wellbeing of the people on board the ship. Fresh provisions could have been acquired and the women would have had a rest from the pitching and rolling of the ship. The surgeon and Master must have agreed upon that decision.

                Within three weeks there were another seven deaths and a further nine before reaching Hobart.

    A lack of discipline was referred to by Dr John Clarke in his letter to the Colonial Secretary of Van Diemen’s Land.

                Another cause of disaster in the opinion of the Board, ‘existed in the filthy habits of the Prisoners”. It is difficult to preserve cleanliness on board an Irish Convict Ship. Still, I cannot but think that if a strict and stern discipline as in the first instance of this shameful violation of decency, they would not have prevailed as it seems they did throughout the voyage.

                                                    John Clark M.D.

                                                    Dept of Insp. General of Hospitals V.D.L.

    What happened on the East London was a breakdown in supervision in the issuing of the lemon juice and it caused a terrible loss of life. The lack of strict discipline probably extended to the lack of cleanliness on board although the bad weather and sea sickness which made many women ill must have made it very difficult to keep the decks clean. Twenty-six children accompanied the mothers who died. Nine of those children died aboard ship; due to bad nursing and neglect according to the surgeon. Five more died in hospital after reaching Hobart (including Francis Gilbride, presumed dead). Twelve children, whose mothers died, survived and were sent to the Orphan School. With many infants to care for on board ship the women had difficulties if there was not strict discipline and no extra means provided for the care of the sick and babies. The hygiene failed and the decks became soiled.

    Edward Caldwell’s voyage as Surgeon Superintendent on the East London was his first and only journey on a female convict ship. He was an experienced Royal Naval Surgeon who was used to dealing with men and had to contend with women from the slums of Dublin and Belfast or the poverty of rural counties, some of whom were ill before embarkation.  His journal extensively detailed the illnesses and deaths aboard and he used all the known methods to treat his patients.   He blamed the deaths of young children on the carelessness and bad nursing by their mothers, most of whom did not survive the voyage.  However, it appeared he was at a crossroads in his life and might have found it challenging caring for the convict women on a long and stormy voyage.  According to a British newspaper he intended to quit England and had disposed of his family residence, household goods and livestock in the two years before he embarked on the East London.   His wife, who had moved to Sydney, died two years before this voyage and perhaps his plans were thwarted by her untimely death.  He eventually returned to England.

    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    British Newspaper Archives; Edward Caldwell, Hampshire Advertiser 14 March 1840; 1 August 1840; 30 January 1841;17 July 1841;14 May 1842.

    The Norfolk News, Eastern Counties Journal 9 May 1863

    Mary Healy-a riotous bad character

    b c1820 County Mayo

    tried Castlebar County Mayo 19 July 1842

    died 16th July 1843

    Nature of Disease Diarrhoea, Phthisis


                Mary Healy did not want to be transported and did everything in her power to avoid being put aboard the convict ship, even attempting to destroy her life many times. She was twenty-three years old and according to the surgeon had led the life of a vagrant travelling around the country. The authorities caught up with her, not for any theft of goods or livestock or for bad behaviour but for being a vagrant which meant she was an inconvenience, a nuisance, and a threat to the property of those who lived near her wanderings. Or perhaps she was a prostitute on the streets. The admission page from Grange Gorman Prison stated that she no prior convictions.

                The Judge sentenced Mary to transportation for seven years unless she gave security by paying £30 as well as two securities of £20 each. Any one of those amounts was far more than a servant girl could earn in a year and impossible for Mary who had no occupation.


    Castlebar Courthouse where Mary Healy was tried

                The life Mary led exposed her to damp, wet, cold and desperately poor living conditions. She had tuberculosis which was well-advanced by the time she was taken on board the East London. She was probably suffering from venereal disease as her child had syphilis.

                The Prison Authorities at Grange Gorman knew Mary well as she was there for eight months and they labelled her a dishonest, dissolute, riotous, bad character. She was admitted to the prison hospital for a month, but the doctors in charge said she was feigning disease of the chest. They said she led a revolt against the food and abstained from eating anything but that which was agreeable and pleasing to the palate. As she got others to collude with her she was marked as a troublemaker. According to the surgeon’s journal, by the time the women were to be embarked, Mary had reduced herself to a great state of debility and her life before prison left her in a weakened state. The doctor and surgeon from the prison encouraged Edward Caldwell, the Surgeon Superintendant of the East London, to think that a sea voyage would do Mary good, and so he was persuaded to allow her to be on the list of those who were to sail. The prison authorities were relieved of a troublesome prisoner.

                Ten days before boarding, Mary realized all her efforts to elude the sentence of the law had failed and she attempted to kill herself. The surgeon, Edward Caldwell, did not say how it happened; merely that she had been saved by the vigilance of the attendants at the penitentiary.

                Although the surgeon described her as travelling the country she gave her native place as Swainsford, near Ballina, and she was tried in County Mayo.  But Mary was not alone. Her son, Patrick Caudley, was with her. He was eighteen months old and described as a victim of gross neglect with a tumid abdomen, wasted limbs and was unable to walk.

                Mary and her son were in pitiful conditions of health, certainly as a result of poverty and months of incarceration in Grange Gorman Penitentiary. The surgeon diagnosed Mary as having tuberculosis and Patrick with all the wasting childhood diseases as well as rickets and syphilis. As soon as Mary was received on board the East London she was admitted into the hospital suffering from diarrhoea. She was dogged and silent and showed a repugnance to take any medicine whatsoever. Co-operating with authorities was not for her and it was the only means she had of resistance.

                Mary continued to suffer from diarrhoea and seasickness during the bad weather of the first weeks of sailing. She recovered a little by early June, had a better appetite and even improved conduct. She was allowed a short time on deck for some recreation, but on 11 June when it was 72°, she stayed longer than permitted. In the mid-afternoon she was seized with rigors and from then her health began to decline. She suffered night perspiration, languor and fainting. Edward Caldwell said that the sound in her lungs indicated a great extent of disease in her left lobe. He wrote that she continued to live in hopes of reaching her destination, but in mid-July she became the first woman to die on board. She had rebelled and was able to lead others, but was unable to overcome the ravages of disease.

                Mary was a young woman who lived on the very rough and ragged edge of society. She had a child, a terminal illness and, fought desperately to stay or to die in Ireland. With the law, the force pushing her down even further than the poverty of her life, she had the courage to defy those in control of her. That was the only resistance such disadvantage offered.

                Her son, Patrick Caudley, was on board the East London by order of the Government. Edward Caldwell said he complied with the order but kept the child away from his mother whom he said was an improper person to take care of him. In reality, Mary was placed immediately into the hospital after boarding so was in no position to take care of Patrick.

                Patrick, eighteen months old, had several large ulcers of a syphilitic character on his face, neck and arms, and a large unhealed ulcer from being vaccinated at the Depot before embarkation. During the first part of the journey, the warmer weather and salt-water bathing helped Patrick and he began to walk. But in the colder weather of the Southern latitudes his health gave way and he lost his appetite. He had oedema, an enlarged abdomen, oppressed breathing and could barely take the few spoonfuls of gruel and wine offered to him. Although Edward Caldwell wrote that he had hopes of landing Patrick safely, the child died on September 10, eleven days from Hobart Town.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 – Mary Healy 1843




    Joanna Wilmott – sea sick

    b. 1820 County Limerick

    tried Rathkeale, Limerick 20 October 1842

    died 21st July 1843

    Nature of Disease Debility Fever Diarrhoea


                Joanna Wilmot was from Limerick, but she shared her mess with women from Cork and all were Catholics. She was the only woman from that mess group who died. The surgeon said that Joanna suffered severe seasickness in the bad weather they faced from the moment the ship first proceeded out to sea. He said that she became indolent and careless of her life and was utterly unable to take any sustenance whatsoever.

                He had to induce her to leave her bed and she manifested the ‘utmost repugnance’ to any exertion or to any cleanliness unless under strong compulsion. Although Joanne’s seasickness ceased on arrival in Madeira, she lost all her desire for food and her habits were disgustingly filthy and irregular. She was a nuisance to the other women in her berth and to those in nearby berths; the surgeon indicated that ‘strong compulsion’ was used to improve her habits.

                Joanne was twenty-three years old, married, and had a one year-old baby, Mary Wolfe, with her. Grange Gorman Prison entry book, noted that she had no occupation but she could read. She was a native of County Limerick and its main city, Limerick, was the fourth largest town in Ireland at that time, an important port and trade centre. However, there were many people whose part in the manufacturing of small handicrafts disappeared with the import of cheaper mass-produced goods from England. The census of 1841 showed that, out of a population of people aged fifteen or more, half were listed as having no occupation.

                William Roche M.P. for Limerick, in his submission to the Poor Law Inquiry of 1835, wrote that he had to, ‘represent an almost unmitigated mass of poverty and destitution arising from the want of steady employment, of adequate remunerations when employed, and the almost total absence of trade or manufacture even to the poorest community’.

                The Rev O’Grady, in his submission said, ‘I have seen whole families with no other covering than an old broken blanket and a torn rush mat to lie on, and the children perfectly naked... the rain coming in through the roof, not a spark of fire, nor any article of food in the room. The windows were without glass, and the wind kept out by an old mat – every indication of the most abject poverty.... The smell and filth is so shocking that I think not only a human being but... a pig could not endure it’

                Was that the poverty of Joanne’s life before conviction? She was severely ill from seasickness and complete loss of appetite and energy, but the problems seem compounded by her habits which perhaps were caused by living in conditions described by the Rev. O’Grady. Scurvy too added to the feelings of lethargy. Her daughter, Mary Wolfe, was in poor condition even before starting the journey. The many months in jail, depression on leaving her husband and her native land must have added to her despondency and complete loss of motivation to help herself.

                Joanna was tried in Rathkeale, a town about thirty kilometres from the city of Limerick. On the same day, 20 October 1842, and in the same court, three other women were sentenced to transportation. Mary McMahon, Mary Garvin and Mary Hannon had various charges, but there is no information about Joanne’s crime of larceny. Mary Garvin was an older woman, married with six children while Joanna, Mary McMahon and Mary Hannon were all twenty years old, the latter two women were prostitutes. It was a tough day in Rathkeale with four sentences of transportation being handed down. The four women arrived together at Grange Gorman Depot on the 20 April at midday. Despite the six months of shared imprisonment and journey to the depot together, the women did not share a mess with Joanna. Two of the women stayed together, but Joanna joined the Cork group. Problems between her and her fellow inmates may have already caused a rift.

                By 15 June Joanna’s health became worse with harsh dry tongue, pains in her back and limbs, and constipation. She complained to the surgeon about the loss of her milk. Being unable to feed her child, the little girl began wasting away due to lack of nourishment. The surgeon made arrangements to have the baby weaned, but when he discovered that Joanna was still trying to suckle the baby, had it removed and put under the care of a nurse.

                At the beginning of July, Joanna complained of abdominal tenderness and could not take any sustenance at all; she was nauseous and vomited. When a vacancy occurred in the hospital, she was admitted and given a warm bath, had her head shaved and was allowed sago and barley water. The chloride and opium, used as a treatment, was not of any advantage and she vomited the sulphate of magnesia. The surgeon applied blistering to her abdomen which gave her a more tranquil night and a relief from pain. However her diarrhoea continued and she became weak and although again given an enema, she sank lower and died on the 21 July 1843.

                Her child, Mary Wolfe, just one year old, was admitted into the hospital at the end of June suffering from diarrhoea, wasted limbs and tumid abdomen although she had a voracious appetite. She was very fretful and had an ulcerated mouth. The diarrhoea continued and the little girl was given small quantities of thin sago and a little wine. She became weaker and began to sleep much of the time. By 13 August she suffered convulsions and coldness of the extremities and died on 15 August. She survived her mother by a little more than three weeks and for some of her time in hospital she would have been near her mother.

                Joanna’s life was probably lived in squalor and without comforts and her health compromised even before conviction. The nausea and vomiting of the seasickness she suffered worsened whatever problems she had and must have added to the despair of her situation and her neglect of herself and her baby. Yet, in spite of her helplessness, she did try to suckle her child, a human behaviour she understood. Her little girl, Mary Wolfe, was ill and wasting away, but survived for three months of the journey, perhaps due to the care given by other women on board who nursed her.          


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139,4082,en.pdf; -The Old Limerick Journal 1. First report of inquiry into conditions of the poorer classes in Ireland supplement to appendix B, 1835, part11, p. 740               2. Poor laws pg. 124

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 - Joanna Willmot, 1843.




    Bridget Carey - a trifling offence

    a nuisance in the neighbourhood

    b c1810

    tried Tullamore, King’s County 18 October 1841

    died 31 July1843

    Nature of Disease   Scrofula Diarrhoea Anasacra Debility

                Bridget Carey and her two children boarded the East London on 5 May 1843. The surgeon’s notes described Bridget as a bad character and a malingerer who was trying to evade her sentence. Edward Caldwell was advised of these facts by the doctors from the prison and, when he examined Bridget and viewed the enlarged ulcerated glands in her neck, was persuaded that a sea voyage would benefit her health. Perhaps such a journey would do no worse than being locked in a cold and crowded prison in Ireland. Did the men understand it was the only chance Bridget had of improvement in her health, or did they just want to be rid of a problem?

                Bridget was a thirty-four year old Catholic woman from the area around Portarlington on the border of Queen’s and King’s Counties. She was convicted in 1839 and sentenced to transportation but the sentence was commuted. At that time, she stole potatoes from the property of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Moore of Lawnstown, Portarlington.   He prosecuted her as he said the stealing of potatoes had ‘much increased’ in the neighbourhood, but he had not expected her to be sentenced to transportation for such ‘a trifling offence’. She was in confinement for seven months when he sent a letter asking for consideration in her case or, if it was necessary to have the sentence carried into effect, that her children would be able to accompany her. In a reply from Dublin Castle, it was noted that Bridget Carey was an old offender who had been repeatedly convicted of similar offences and was considered a nuisance in the neighbourhood. However, if there was safety for the residents in the neighbourhood from further offences by the prisoner, she could be spared without carrying out the sentence of transportation; perhaps ‘Lieutenant Colonel Moore, who had so humanely interfered might be able to protect himself and his neighbours in case the prisoner should be set among them’.

    TullamoreCourtHouse resized

    Tullamore Court House Built 1833


                In her own petition in 1839, Bridget Carey said she pleaded guilty to stealing the potatoes, but she was a poor, wretched and distressed woman with three helpless infants, the eldest a female not more than nine years old, the second a boy about four years old and the youngest a boy of about one year four months. She said if she was sent abroad her unfortunate and wretched orphans would starve having no person to take care of them. No mention was made of her husband. Grange Gorman prison entry book listed her as married, and when her children were put into the orphan school in Hobart, the father’s name was given as John Delaney rather than the usual note of ‘father dead’. None of the letters of petition described her as a widow, an unusual omission when asking for clemency. There was a John Delany from Queen’s County, sentenced to transportation in 1837 and sent to New South Wales. Was Bridget on her own with her children because her husband had been transported, or was he dead?

                Bridget’s first sentence of transportation was commuted but she was arrested again in 1841 when she took turf from the property of John Dunn. She appealed, but her reputation and the fact that she had a similar sentence commuted meant no mercy was granted and her papers were marked as ‘the law must take its course’. When Bridget boarded the East London she only had the two eldest children with her, the youngest was probably among the nine children who died in Grange Gorman in 1843.

                Bridget was not well and was put on the sick list the day after sailing, given sulphate of quinine and a small quantity of wine daily. She suffered from seasickness and loathing of the food and her constitution was weakened. The surgeon wrote that there were many complaints against Bridget for using improper language, but he did not put her into confinement. Perhaps her frequent use of bad language as well as her ill health discouraged too much intervention.

    In mid-July Bridget was seized with diarrhoea and was admitted into the hospital where she required constant attention. Her legs were swollen and she lost control of her bowel; she was givenenemas and doses of opium. The surgeon was pleased that the ulcers on her neck, present before embarkation, were nearly healed and had lost their odour. He said the Chloride of lime had been a very useful application in their healing.

                The diarrhoea continued to be very troublesome as well as oedematous swelling of her legs and feet and coldness. The surgeon wanted to give her digitalis, but said the great prostration of her strength prevented him from administering it; instead he gave her small doses of sulphate of quinine in a little wine. She became delirious, but could be roused up when spoken to and had no pain. She died on the 29 August 1843. Bridget was the second woman from her mess group to die.

                Her two children, Ann Carey, aged twelve and, Henry Carey, aged eight, survived the voyage. Ann was sent to the Orphan School with the first group of children and Henry was moved to the Orphan School three weeks later. Ann stayed in the Orphan School until old enough to be discharged to a master and once she married had her brother discharged to her care. Although Bridget Carey did not live to see Van Diemen’s Land her descendants settled and made Australia their home.

    Petition – see appendix



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 – Bridget Carey, 1843.

    Orphan School Records, Ann & Henry Carey, SWD 7, 28.

    Irish Transportation Records, Bridget Carey, CRF 1841 C88

    Catherine Murray (2 #471) - led a dissolute irregular life

    b c1811

    tried 24 July 1842 Trim, County Meath

    died August 2nd 1843

    Nature of Disease   Dyspepsia

    Catherine Murray and her husband, John Murray, were sentenced to transportation in County Meath, July 1842, for burglary. They broke into a house and took a purse from around the neck of the owner, Katherine Markey, who was in bed and, stole household goods and little children’s clothes. The police found the children’s clothing on Catherine Murray. Three weeks later John Murray faced another trial with Thomas Fields, on the same day as Mary Rowe, another of the women aboard the East London. When Mary Rowe gave her family information for the indent record she said she was ‘tried with John’. John Murray gave his occupation as an imperfect tailor and Mary Rowe was a cap maker and needlewoman. Perhaps they acquainted through their employment. Thomas Fields was a quarryman and lime burner. All were Protestants.


    Trim Court House Built 1810

    In a petition seeking a commutation of sentence, Thomas Fields claimed that John Murray was a deserter from the 14th Regiment of Foot. Thomas said that the brands of desertion could be seen on John Murray’s back. Thomas Fields also accused the Stipendiary Magistrate, Captain Despard, of visiting him in gaol and offering him hope if he made disclosures which would be accepted as Queen’s evidence. He said that it all went against him as Captain Despard accepted the testimony of John Murray instead and the evidence given went against him.

    Perhaps John Murray became a crown witness to ensure that his children would accompany them on the voyage. Catherine Murray had four children and the two youngest were the children of John Murray. Three children, Ann Smith, ten years old, Catherine Smith, six years old and Mary Murray three months old, accompanied Catherine and four year-old James sailed with John Murray aboard the Navarino 1842/1843.

    Catherine Murray applied to the surgeon before the East London sailed with symptoms of dyspepsia and constipation. The surgeon said that she appeared fit to undertake the voyage at the time of embarkation even though she had led a dissolute irregular life before her conviction, and noted that she was addicted to the use of ardent spirits and tobacco and suffered delirium tremens. Catherine’s Irish prison records gave her age as thirty-two but the surgeon said she was forty years old; possibly the age she looked. She was tried at Trim in County Meath and had no prior convictions. Her gaol report said she was very bad.

    On board ship Catherine shared a mess with seven women from six different counties. It was the last group listed by the surgeon. Some of the women were described as riotous bad characters, so the reputation of the group was perhaps a troublesome one, certainly with the surgeon.  Catherine suffered from sea sickness in the first week but recovered. During the voyage she was put repeatedly into confinement for quarrelling and swearing. It may have been a cupboard-like enclosure or even the coal hole as was sometimes the practice. She attempted to hang herself on 19 July, but was cut down and her life saved.

    A week later Catherine complained to the surgeon about her diarrhoea and the loss of her former energy. She was not able to keep her berth clean. The surgeon found the berth offensive when he inspected it and had the bedding and clothes removed and the boards taken up and sprinkled with chloride of lime. Catherine complained of great abdominal tenderness and her tongue was a deep red colour. She was admitted into the hospital. Her head was shaved, she was given opium and an unguent made from mercury and camphor rubbed across her abdomen and a flannel roller applied as a poultice. But the diarrhoea worsened and all bowel control was lost. She gradually became weaker, although she was sensible and able to have a few drops of sulphur quinine in a little wine. She remained conscious until the beginning of August and died in the evening of the 2 August 1843.

    Two other women from the mess group died and two children. After arrival in Hobart Catherine’s eldest daughters, Ann and Catherine Smith, were sent to the Orphan School where they stayed until old enough to be apprenticed. The youngest, Mary Murray, died in the Dynnyrne Nursery four weeks after arrival. Catherine’s husband, John Murray, was transported aboard the Navarino, with their son, four year old James. James Murray was admitted into the Orphan School but died there two months later of dysentery. Catherine’s husband, John Murray, was sent to the Lunatic Asylum on two occasions during his years of sentence. His conduct record stated he died at Port Arthur in August 1858. The registered death record gave the name as James Murray but the information matched John Murray.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Catherine Murray (1843)

    Irish Transportation Database, Catherine Murray

    Orphan School records Ann and Catherine Smith and James Murray SWD 7 28

    John Murray, CON 33/1/34, CON 14/1/16

    John Murray, Departure, Royal Shepherd, Launceston to Melbourne, 5/9/1854, POL 220/1/3 p674

    Thomas Fields, CON 33/1/34, CON 14/1/16

    Thomas Fields, Petition, CRF 1842 F17

    Mary Spillane - an old thief

    b c 1774

    tried Clonmel, County Tipperary 1 April 1843

    died 4th August 1843

    Nature of Disease Old age & Debility Anasarca

                Mary Spillane was not a young woman; she was seventy years old according to the surgeon although gaol records said sixty-eight. When Edward Caldwell inspected Mary Spillane in the prison before embarkation he said she was in good health and he saw no objections to accepting her. However he did say he was agreeable to Article 8 of the Surgeon Superintendants Instructions when he made his decision which perhaps he offered as a defence for taking such an elderly woman.

    Her story is in The Gang From Clonmel



    Anne Read - to all appearances led a very irregular life

    b c 1811

    tried Dublin 17 April 1843

    died 18th August 1843

    Nature of Disease Opthalmia Diarrhoea Gastric Enteritic Scurvy


                In his notes Edward Caldwell described Anne Read as a native of the City of Dublin who, to all appearances, led a very irregular life; she was in prison at least three times before her sentence for transportation. An excerpt from The Freeman’s Journal 29 July 1842 gave some glimpse of Anne Read’s life.

    Dublin Police Head Office - yesterday

    Case of Destitution – A poor woman, named Anne Read, was yesterday before the magistrate of this office, by Police Constable William Rafter A146, with having broken a gas lamp in Thomas St. The poor creature admitted that she had done so for the purpose of being imprisoned as she was in a state of absolute starvation, and had not tasted food for some days. The Magistrates felt themselves compelled to send the unfortunate woman to Newgate for a week.

    Anne was tried on 17 April 1843 for the theft of a carpet bag and sentenced to seven years transportation. She was thirty-two years old and embarked on the 2 May with two children, Mary, three years old, and Eliza, one year. Once on board the surgeon said she consulted him every day for herself or for her children.

                Anne was seasick in the early part of the voyage and became indolent and filthy in her habits and lost all interest in her children. The surgeon said that those who were in the same berth complained constantly about her want of cleanliness. He ordered her into confinement because of the complaints and for her impertinence, but did not describe the type of confinement used. Perhaps Anne was confined somewhere dark, because on the 20 June, she was put on the sick list with eye problems. She was treated with mercury chloride and antimony and a small quantity of opium. Blistering powders were applied and the discharge kept up.

                Anne weaned her child, Eliza, and it was some relief not to have to breastfeed the baby. The surgeon said that baby Eliza became very weak due to illness and negligence by her mother. He ordered the child removed, but Anne would not consent until an attack of diarrhoea and tonsillitis wearied her. She gave up her daughter reluctantly to the care of a ‘proper person’ to see to her food. The little girl was eventually admitted to hospital and, although she improved slightly with the care given, died on 18 August. Edward Caldwell said that, as Anne suffered from diarrhoea and became very indolent, she wished daily for the death of her child. He had great difficulty in managing her and her conduct was annoying to the others around her, especially after the death of her child. He wrote that every day she expressed herself happy that her child had died. By August 20 the symptoms of scurvy became obvious. Anne had acute pains in her legs, large livid black spots several inches in diameter, swollen gums which were discharging blood and her diarrhoea continued.

                Although ill, Anne’s appetite was good and she constantly complained of the quantity and quality of the provisions. She remained in her berth and was very reluctant to leave it unless forced. The surgeon intended to move her to the hospital as soon as there was a vacancy. After the deaths of two other women a place became available and Anne moved into hospital on 23 August.   She had a warm bath and her head was shaved.   The berth place she vacated was cleaned out and fumigated and all her bedding and clothing thrown away. Her older child, three year old Mary, was given to another person to be cared for.

    Severe weather caused Anne much suffering and she became weaker and lost control of her bowels. Her skin was bathed with tepid water and vinegar. It made her a little more comfortable, but the poor weather continued to worsen her suffering. The surgeon ordered clean swinging stoves used in the hospital daily to help alleviate the effects of such bad weather, but Anne continued to become weaker and died on the 14 September 1843.

    Anne’s daughter, Mary, was sent to hospital on arrival in Hobart and, at the beginning of February 1844, was admitted into the Orphan School. She died of a fever at the school in June 1853 and was buried at St John’s Cemetery, New Town.

                In his brief description of Anne Read’s death, Edward Caldwell said that she suffered great debility from poverty and want in Dublin and that her health and habits improved in the penitentiary, but seasickness and loss of appetite worsened her health.   Another of her messmates, Susan Whittle, died on the voyage. Three others in her mess were among the worst rioters at the New Town Farm Station four months after reaching Hobart. The dead women and the rioters were city women from Dublin. They were messmates who endured filthy conditions and suffering on the voyage and those who survived were most reactive when they reached Hobart.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Ann Read (1843)

    Irish Transportation Database, Ann Reed

    Orphan School Records, Mary Read, SWD7, 28

    British Newspaper Archives; Freeman’s Journal 29 July 1842

    Anne Rea

    b c 1813

    tried Belfast 6 January 1842

    an unfortunate though respectable girl

    died 25th August 1843

    Nature of Disease Erysipelas Ophthalmia Debility

                Anne Rea was from Belfast, aged somewhere between twenty-eight as the Irish Transportation Database stated and thirty-three as she told the surgeon. Anne gave her occupation as a servant but she was probably a pick-pocket or even a prostitute. She was caught putting her hand into the pocket of Edward Leary and grabbing three shillings and a sovereign which accidently fell to the ground. Edward, who realized that he had been robbed, instantly accused her of the theft which she denied and ran away. He went after her, caught her and took her to the Police Office where it was discovered she had more of his money. In a letter on her behalf, it was said that, rather than Anne putting her hand into her accuser’s pocket, it was he who put her hand into the pocket and the money fell out.

    CrumlinRoadCourtHouse Belfast

    Inside Crumlin Road Courthouse, Belfast

    Anne was charged with theft and, at her trial in Belfast, was sentenced by Assistant Barrister Gibson to seven years transportation. She had prior convictions for receiving stolen goods and was imprisoned for six month so little mercy shown at her trial on the 6 January 1842. Newspaper reports of trials in Belfast revealed Anne’s two prior charges and terms in prison were the result of theft of articles of clothing and receiving a stolen watch and money. In one case Anne had two accomplices but she was the only one found guilty.

                A petition was written begging the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to release her or, at least, overrule the sentence to one which could be served in her own country. She was said to be an unfortunate, though respectable girl and her weeping parents would forever pray for those who helped influence the decision. However, once the Assistant Barrister wrote to Edward Lucas, the Under Secretary of State, with information about what happened and the prior charges, it was ruled that the law must take its course. She was sent to Dublin and arrived at Grange Gorman Prison on the 25 April in the early afternoon.

                She was convicted of robbing a man whom she was with and her version of what happened was doubted. As she had prior convictions, her appeal as being a respectable girl was not believed. She had syphilis which strengthened the notion that perhaps she had been ‘on the town’.

                Anne had a further health problem. She was treated for erysipelas and opthalmia in the Infirmary of Belfast prison for a month. The erysipelas is a bacterial infection of the skin and underlying tissues and possibly the infection spread to her right eye. The surgeon said she had lost the sight of that eye. It would have made her face red, swollen, hardened, and very unsightly. Perhaps the disfigurement and the paralysis in her right hand prompted the sympathy of the ten men who signed her petition. Anne applied to the surgeon on 9 May, the day before the ship sailed, and he treated her in her own berth for the skin problems and for the severe seasickness she suffered during the first few weeks sailing.

                On June 15 Anne was received into the hospital and the surgeon directed his attention to restoring her shattered constitution. She was allowed preserved meats in the form of broth, barley water, boiled rice and sago. She was discharged to her own berth on July 20 but saw the surgeon again on August 5 because she could not pass urine which she had kept quiet about for four days. She was admitted into the hospital and the surgeon used a catheter to draw off three pints of urine. He suspected the kidneys were at fault.

                Anne remained in the hospital and was treated with silver nitrate for her eye and enemas to keep the bowels open. She was given wine, sago and broth, but she grew weaker daily and suffered much from the severity of the weather and being tossed about in the night. By morning of the 25 August during a gale of wind and rain and sleet, she slipped into a state of insensibility and died.

                Anne did not arrive at Grange Gorman with the others from Belfast and there was only one other from that county in her mess. Her disfigured face and paralysis in her right arm may have caused her to be shunned by the other women from County Antrim who had gathered together in another mess.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Ann Rea, 1843

    Irish Transportation Records Ann Rea CRF 1842 R1

    British Newspaper Archives;

    Belfast Newsletter 10 July 1838;

    Northern Whig 25 October 1838;

    Belfast Commercial Chronicle 15 January 1843

    Margaret Cowan

    b c1812 Rathfriland County Down

    tried Newry, County Down 21 October 1842

    addicted to the vice of drinking ardent spirits

    died 22nd August 1843

    Nature of Disease Debility Diarrhoea Scurvy Anasarca

                Margaret Cowan, alias Kearney, age thirty-one, was a native of Rathfriland in County Down and tried at Newry, on the 21 October 1842. The Newry Telegraph 25 October 1842 reported the trial.

    Margaret Cowan, for stealing a blanket at Rathfriland, on 16th July, the property of Ann Anderson

       Mary Morrison, examined by MR.RUTHVEN, - lives with her aunt, Mrs Anderson, in Rathfriland; recollects taking a blanket out into the garden to dry; took it out about 12 o’clock, and missed it about 3; was watching it, as the garden had been robbed before; did not see anyone take it, but saw the prisoner at the foot of the garden; went down to the hedge, and missed the blanket; went up to the prisoner, and saw the blanket under her cloak; took it from her; that produced is the same; it is the same witness laid out on the hedge.

       Cross-examined by prisoner, - Does not know whether she (prisoner) was tipsy or not. - Guilty; to be transported for 7 years.

       The prisoner had been tried four times before for larcenies, and convicted each time. Her cries, on sentence being pronounced, were appalling.

    Another woman, Ann Kinney, was tried in Newry on the same day and, together, the two women were admitted into the Grange Gorman Depot on 25 April 1843.  

    Margaret gave birth to a child one month before embarkation and arrived on board ship with two children, seven year-old Margaret Alexander and the new born, Eliza Alexander. The surgeon, Edward Caldwell, described Margaret as having a repulsive appearance.   She was in a weakened state he said and had the appearance of a person addicted to the vice of drinking ardent spirits and smoking tobacco. He said she was obstinate and indolent and, if permitted, would have polluted all those near her. She needed constant attention to see she attended to personal cleanliness and to the cleanliness of her bedding and that of her children. He did not describe the methods used to enforce the cleaning and personal washing.

                The surgeon again referred to Margaret’s disagreeable and slothful manner. He felt that she was the cause of her own illness because she refused the proper regimen prescribed for her. She required double the attention of any other convict on the ship.

                Margaret was on the sick list from the end of June. The diarrhoea she suffered was not relieved by the chalk mixture and her feet were swollen; she had palpitations and oedema in the chest area. On August 10 she insisted that she was getting better daily, and that, if the surgeon had patience with her, she would be able to get back on deck in a few days, but he could see she was getting worse every day. Signs of scurvy appeared; her gums were swollen and spongy and large black patches appeared on her upper and lower extremities.

                The surgeon removed her to the hospital in order to give her more attention but it was against her will. She was able to leave her bed every day but, on 2 August 1843, she became comatose and died later that night.

    Her baby daughter, Eliza, died a week after her mother. The little girl was in a weakened state when brought on board; due to a scarce supply of milk from her mother. The surgeon said he had the baby taken away, given to the care of a nurse and kept in the hospital, but the date of admission to hospital was after the mother’s death. The baby was not well, with diarrhoea and apthous ulcers in her mouth and her whole body had the appearance of malnourishment. The surgeon ordered thin sago and a little port wine and water, but the baby was in pain and crying. The diarrhoea continued and the babe required constant attention to keep the mouth moist with barley water and a little port wine. She gradually sank and died on 29 August 1843.

    Margaret Cowan’s older daughter, Margaret Alexander, was seven years old. She stayed in the care of the messmates, and one of whom was Ann Kinney, sentenced on the same day as Margaret Cowan. Another woman from County Down, Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, was also in the mess group and made the third of the group who arrived from their county gaol to Grange Gorman together. These women, although also said to be polluted by Margaret Cowan’s behaviour, must have looked after the seven year-old girl and kept her well enough to be able to be sent straight away to the Orphan School in Hobart. Margaret Alexander stayed at the School until 1852 when she was discharged to a master in Launceston. There is no official record of a marriage for her, but there are birth records for children believed to be hers. Margaret Cowan descendants survived and grew in the new land.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Margaret Cowan, 1843.

    Orphan School Records, Margaret Alexander SWD7,28

    British Newspaper Archive; Newry Telegraph 25 October 1842




    Alice Fitzsimons (Brady)

    b c 1808

    died 23rd August 1843

    her story told in the chapter on the women from Cavan

    Nature of Disease Continual fever




    Ann Gannon

    b c1821 County Meath

    tried 24 February 1842 Trim, County Meath

    - shows the greatest reluctance to leave her berth

    died 28th August 1843

    Nature of Disease Debility Diarrhoea

    (swollen gums & black patches on legs – scurvy)

                Ann Gannon, a native of County Meath, embarked on the East London on the 5 May with her small daughter, Mary Gardiner. Ann was sentenced to seven years transportation for larceny on the same day, in the same court, as Anne Webb was sentenced to seven years transportation for receiving stolen goods. Both were servants and each was accompanied by a child. Ann Gannon was twenty-two and Anne Webb twenty-nine. Anne Webb said her prosecutor was Mr Gardiner. Was this the same Mr Gardiner who was father to Ann Gannon’s child, Mary Gardiner?    Ann Gannon did not have an indent record to state the reason for her transportation so there is no answer, but prison records listed her as single. Ann Gannon and Anne Webb did not share a mess. Ann Gannon’s conduct in gaol was ‘bad’ and that reputation went with her as she boarded the East London and may have even caused problems amongst her fellow prisoners.

                She was ill in the county prison but recovered in the Grange Gorman Prison. When embarked she was healthy, but suffered severely from seasickness and the surgeon said she gave way to indolence and carelessness of her person. She had no appetite, was under the care of the surgeon for a week in June but recovered quickly with attention to her diet. He said that she did not consult him for herself but repeatedly for her infant who had chest problems.

                Towards the end of July Ann developed diarrhoea and, although she had no pain, she was languid and her tongue was dry and furred. The surgeon treated her with rhubarb, ginger and laxatives and admitted her into the hospital on 26 July where she had warm poultices applied and was given a starchy diet, perhaps rice. The diarrhoea continued to cause great prostration of Ann’s strength and the surgeon advised her to wean her child. The little girl was given to the care of another person and Ann appeared to gain some strength.   Symptoms of scurvy in the swelling gums and black painful patches on her legs appeared and she was ordered lemonade with a little wine and a small quantity of quinine with wine. By 5 August she was sufficiently well enough to be discharged to make room for another patient.

                Within two weeks the diarrhoea returned and Ann became very weak and did not want to leave her berth. There was abdominal tenderness and involuntary diarrhoea. The nursing staff applied flannel poultices around her body, camphor rubs and mercury ointments as well as blistering powders. There was little relief and Ann became weaker and had no inclination for food. But she was quite sensible and was allowed wine and expressed confidence in making a recovery. But she continued to become weaker and there was a great alteration in her appearance. She lost all strength with the continual purging and became insensible. Ann Gannon died on the 28 August 1843.

                Ann’s daughter, Mary Gardiner, born in the county gaol, was ten months old when they left Ireland and breast fed by her mother, but as Ann suffered from sea sickness, the little girl suffered. Her mother became careless and lacked energy and the milk supply dwindled. Although the surgeon found another woman to care for Mary, the child had chest problems and found it hard to breathe. A small blister was applied which appeared to give relief. However, in the first week of August, Mary was seized with diarrhoea and her lower legs became oedematous. She was given a little sago and wine but she grew weaker daily. Mary Gardiner died on the 15 August 1843

                Ann Gannon was reasonably healthy at the beginning of the voyage and the surgeon noted that she was clean and orderly in her berth. But within a short time, after the severe seasickness, he accused her of being careless and indolent. Her health had not stood up to the nausea and loss of appetite due to the seasickness and, once diarrhoea struck her, she became very weak. Scurvy quickly took hold and she had no resistance. Her daughter, Mary, was admitted into the hospital while Ann was dying and she must have been able to see the little girl during her last days.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Ann Gannon, 1843,Ann Webb, 1843

    TAHO, Ann Gannon, CON 40/1/4 image 216 position 3

    TAHO, Ann Webb, CON 40/1/10 image 239 position 1

    TAHO, Ann Webb, CON 15/1/2 image 208-209 position 4


    Catherine Manley

    - an imposter and malingerer

    b c1811 County Tyrone

    tried Omagh, County Tyrone 6 July 1842

    died 29th August 1843

    Nature of Disease Liver Complaint Diarrhoea Ascetis

    (swollen gums -symptoms of scurvy)


    Catherine Manley, alias Garretty, was tried at Omagh in County Tyrone for larceny and sentenced to seven years transportation; a tough sentence, but she had a prior conviction. She gave her native place as Omagh and was married. In the Irish prison records her age was given as thirty-two but the surgeon wrote thirty-nine, which she may have told him herself. Did she have children? Possibly, but none was on board with her.


    Court House Omagh

    During the voyage she told the surgeon that she was ‘much addicted’ to the use of ardent spirits before conviction and was in the hospital at Grange Gorman for a month with a chronic affection of the liver. However, when the East London arrived in Dublin and the women were inspected by the medical attendants of the prison prior to embarkation, Catherine was considered an imposter and malingerer. The doctors from the prison and the surgeon agreed that she was, to all appearances, able to undertake the voyage and she was received on board the ship the week before sailing.

    As with many of the women in the severe weather of the early weeks, she suffered from sea sickness and constipation. She went to the surgeon at the end of the first week with pain and tenderness in the upper abdominal area and extending to the right shoulder and nape of the neck. Among the treatment she received was mercury which caused soreness and drooling in the mouth, a sign for the surgeon that the medicine was doing its job. By June 1 Catherine considered herself well enough to be discharged and continued tolerably well until 12 July.

    Again the symptoms put her back into the care of the surgeon. He used the same treatment and felt she derived great advantage judging from the soreness of mouth caused by the mercury. But she developed diarrhoea with pain in her abdomen and sides and was given blistering treatment and digitalis because of her shortness of breath. Slight symptoms of scurvy appeared in the swelling of the gums, the oedematous swelling of the feet, distended abdomen and loss of appetite. The surgeon took her off salt provisions and allowed her thick gruel made with rice and a little of the preserved meat as well as syrup.

    Catherine continued getting weaker as the diarrhoea continued; she refused food but was able to have a little opium twice a day which gave her great relief. In his notes Edward Calwell said she had a habit of opium. Towards the end of her life she lay in a state of insensibility and died on the 29 August 1843. Catherine was the only woman to die from her mess group.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Catherine Manley, 1843.



    Ellen Curreen - appeared to have suffered extreme poverty

    Tried County Galway 2 January 1843

    b c1806

    died 30th August 1843

    Nature of Disease Diarrhoea

    (swelling of the Gums, black patches upon the legs – scurvy)


                Ellen Curreen was thirty-seven and her husband Hugh Curreen was forty when they were charged in County Galway with the possession of three sheep belonging to Mr Blake. They were both sentenced to transportation for fifteen years. Ellen sailed first aboard the East London with her three children and Hugh sailed three months later on the Orator, a ship which made the journey in 101 days, a month shorter than the journey of the East London.

                Edward Caldwell said that Ellen Curreen appeared to have suffered extreme poverty in her native county. He accused her of filthy habits and a querulous nervous temperament. Ellen and her husband Hugh were of the peasantry written about by visitors to Ireland in the 1830s, describing ragged women and idle and worn men who living under shockingly poor conditions without adequate clothing or warmth.   Ellen would have had no knowledge of life beyond the hovel she probably lived in and was in the prison in Dublin for less than two weeks before boarding the East London. Ellen and Hugh Currren were Irish speakers which added to the lack of understanding of some of the events around them. Ten years later in the Oatlands Court when Hugh Curren was giving evidence about money stolen from him, he asked for an interpreter.

    The report of the board of enquiry into the deaths wrote of the women soiling the decks at night by depositing their urine and faeces over them in spite of every attempt made to prevent it, and from the women spilling water after being locked up at night. The report called it a shameful violation of decency and said it was difficult to preserve cleanliness on an Irish ship. Ellen Curreen’s life before conviction with its poverty, lack of education and material comforts of any kind did not prepare her for life aboard ship and the effects of very bad weather and severe seasickness. The water closets on the ship would not have been adequate with so many sick women and the number of very small children requiring changing and cleaning.

                Edward Caldwell said that he allowed Ellen and her children oatmeal and limited their salt provisions.   Ellen and her youngest child, Michael, aged eighteen months, suffered from diarrhoea and the surgeon advised Ellen to wean the infant. She continued in her own berth, but was much reduced in strength. On the 18 August the surgeon said she had the utmost reluctance to being moved, but she was moved and her bedding and clothes were cleaned. The sick woman and her child, suffering from diarrhoea and lying in the filth, must have caused shocking conditions for those berthed around her and for her older children, eight year old John and three year old William. The surgeon noted her nervous temperament and fits of hysteria. With her illness and debility, she was not able to care for her children who must have been left to the care of the messmates and those in nearby berths.

                Ellen was received into the hospital on the 23 August, when a vacancy occurred because of the deaths of Alice Fitzsimons and Margaret Cowan. Once she was moved to the hospital, her berth was cleaned and swing stoves placed near it and all bedding washed and aired. Within three days the surgeon wrote of symptoms of scurvy which appeared and said that Ellen had swollen gums and black patches on her legs and great debility. She was given a wine in sago but the diarrhoea continued and she lost all her appetite. As her health deteriorated there was delirium and incoherent talking although when roused she was coherent. She died on the 30 August.

                Her youngest child, eighteen month-old Michael Curreen, was a victim of poor living and neglect. The surgeon said Michael’s health improved after he was taken away from his mother. In August, the child suffered from a prolapsed anus which had to be returned to its proper position by the surgeon, but the problem reoccurred, and the little boy, suffering from diarrhoea, became weaker and weaker. Although he was given a little port wine to help support him, he lay in a state of great exhaustion and died on the evening of the 4 September 1843, five days after his mother.

                Ellen Curreen’s two older children survived the voyage, and were admitted into the Orphan School in Hobart on 20 October. Both boys were cared for in the orphanage and once they turned fourteen were discharged to work for masters. The spelling of the surname varied from Curreen to Curren or even Curran and their fate difficult to trace, but Ellen Curreen did have descendants who lived to grow in Van Diemen’s Land.

                Her husband Hugh Curren finished his sentence and lived in Hobart where he died in 1870 when his shirt caught fire and he burned to death. The inquest into his death described him as a labourer who kept an unlicensed lodging house frequented by the lowest characters. Hugh had suffered from some paralysis and was not able to help himself in the fire.  


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Ellen Curreen.

    TAHO, Ellen Curren, CON 40/1/2 image 255

    TAHO, Hugh Curren, CON 33/1/47 image 23

    TAHO, Hugh Curren, CON 14/1/27 image 132-133 position 4

    Orphan School Records, John Curreen, William Curreen, SWD7, 28

    TROVE, Hugh Curren, The Colonial Times, 7th April 1853



    Mary Farrell a delicate girl

    b c1824

    tried 8 April 1843 , Maryborough, Queen’s County

    died 7th September 1843

    Nature of Disease Sea Sickness Debility Fever Diarrhoea

    (swollen gums – scurvy)

                Mary Farrell was a native of Queen’s County and was described as a delicate girl of nineteen yet Irish prison records put her age at twenty-nine. She had an infant about a month old on board with her. She was convicted at Maryborough on the same day as Catherine Farrell who admitted that she was ‘tried with Mary’ on her indent record. They were sisters. Their crime was committed one month before embarkation when Mary’s child was only a few weeks old. On board ship Mary and Catherine shared their mess with two other women from Queen’s county, three from Limerick and one from Clare.

    Like so many other women, Mary was very seasick in the first two weeks and, because of the nausea and vomiting, lost all the means of supporting her baby, John Fitzgerald. Her appetite was affected and she refused all kinds of food offered to her. By the end of May, she was on the sick list, treated for constipation with mild laxative drinks and, given small doses of quinine to recover the tone of her stomach, as well as a little wine to help her recover. The surgeon constantly insisted on her leaving her berth, but she had the greatest disinclination to do so. She and her child became very weak. Eventually, on 20 July, the surgeon separated the baby boy from Mary and gave him to a ‘proper person’ to care for him, but he suffered from diarrhoea and died on the 2 August 1843, aged four months.

    Mary had diarrhoea again and lost her appetite, but she had no pain. She was given rhubarb, ginger, magnesia and chalk mixture to treat the diarrhoea and her diet was boiled rice and sago in a little wine. She partially recovered from the attack and continued to improve, but on the 22 August she suddenly developed headache, pain in the back and loins and chest, abdominal tenderness and thirst. She was received into the hospital, given a warm bath and had her skin sponged with tepid vinegar and water. She had blistering treatment to the upper chest area which the surgeon felt had given considerable advantage. But she could eat very little and her gums became a little swollen. Her strength rapidly declined and she was much weaker but still sensible and perfectly satisfied to take the surgeon’s advice. She became drowsy with cold swollen feet and loss of bodily control until she became delirious and died on the 9 September, 1843.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Mary Farrell.

    Eleanor Cooney & Mary Gilbride

    b. c1812                       b. c1807

    tried 19 October 1842, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

    Eleanor died 9th September 1843

    Mary died 17th September 1843

    Nature of Disease

    Eleanor Cooney-: Scurvy Diarrhoea Fever

    Mary Gilbride -Coma Dyspepsia Constipation Diarrhoea Scurvy Gastro Enteric


                Eleanor Cooney and Mary Gilbride were tried at Enniskillen on the same day and both were sentenced to seven years transportation. The Irish Transportation database listed them as having stolen sheets and clothes, although prison records have Eleanor Cooney stealing shirts and other such items and Mary Gilbride stealing sheets and similar items. They must have worked together in the theft and stolen quite a few articles.

    The Enniskillen Chronicle & Erne Packet 27 October 1842 gave an account of their crime.

    Eleanor Cooney and Mary Gilbride for feloniously receiving table linen, sheets, etc on the 30th September at Enniskillen, the property of Mr Jones. Transportation 7 years.

    The same parties were convicted in three other cases of similar charges.

    Eleanor was thirty-one years old and had two children with her. Mary was thirty-six years old and also had two young children with her on board ship. They shared the same mess and both women died during the voyage. Their mess group had eight children, the largest number of any of the mess groups. It was made up of women from various counties. In his notes on the women who died, Edward Caldwell said Eleanor and Mary had similar temperaments and were nervous, irritable and liable to fainting and fits of hysteria.

    Eleanor Cooney was the first of the two to become ill at the beginning of August. The surgeon said she had a weak constitution and indolent habits. He had great difficulty in inducing her to keep her berth, her clothes, her person and her children clean and had to inspect her bedding daily. He said she was so disagreeable a person that he had to charge her often, but he made no reference to what discipline or punishments he ordered. Eleanor suffered from fever and diarrhoea and they yielded to the usual remedies. By 20 August signs of scurvy were obvious and Eleanor became debilitated and unwilling to leave her berth, unless by force. Her gums were swollen and large black spots appeared on her legs, thighs and arms. She was so weak she was unable to give support to her sixteen-month old child, Ann, who was very weak. The surgeon separated the infant from Eleanor and placed her under the care of a “proper person”. He said it was a great relief to Eleanor.

    Within days Eleanor had rigors, headache, diarrhoea and a feeble pulse and the surgeon ordered boiled rice and sago with a little wine. He also gave her chalk mixture and opium drops. On the 31 August she was received into the hospital, complained of abdominal tenderness, had poultices applied to the area and her body sponged with warm vinegar and water. A little mercury and opium helped somewhat, but Eleanor continued to become weaker and lost control of her bowels. An enema did not help; she became delirious and died on the 9 September, 1843.

    Mary Gilbride was apparently in good health when she boarded the ship but began fainting every day, even when there was a free circulation of air below decks. The surgeon compelled her to be carried up on deck whenever the weather permitted and returned in the evening when all went below. He said Mary Gilbride had ‘supposed epilepsy’ in prison but it was believed to be feigned. Once the ship sailed she suffered from seasickness until they reached Madeira but felt herself better as the ship advanced into a more temperate climate, only occasionally suffering from hysteria. Constipation was a problem as it was for many who were so seasick.

    Mary was punished for purloining the fat from the copper tub, contrary to all order, as it was described as ‘destroying health’. The surgeon mentioned punishments at times and confinement, but not where or how confined or if punishment meant handcuffs or simply a change of mess. Mary continued tolerably well until later in July when she became the first woman in which scurvy manifested itself aboard ship. She had pains in her limbs and back, swollen gums which were spongy and discharging blood, but the surgeon said her appetite was very good.

    By the beginning of August, Mary had diarrhoea, lost all her former energy and became careless and indifferent. The surgeon worried about the state of her bowels. He directed an alteration to her diet by allowing her an additional pint of thick gruel daily, good fresh soup, boiled rice with sweetened wine added to it. He ordered her throat to be well washed with vinegar and water and all debris and crusts removed from around her mouth and teeth. He supplied a toothbrush himself. On the 30 August, Mary was admitted into the hospital. The surgeon noted in his brief remarks that she had an old ulcer on her leg for which she was admitted into the hospital; probably related to some of the black patches. Mary continued to get weaker, crusts formed about her mouth and she had difficulty in swallowing. She slipped into a state of torpor and died on the 17 September 1843, in sight of Van Diemen’s Land.

    Michael Gilbride was eighteen months old when he boarded the East London and Francis Gilbride was four months old. Although the surgeon said that their mother, Mary Gilbride, was careless and indolent, she managed some care for her children as there was no record of death for either of them aboard ship. The younger child, Francis, was weaned at the beginning of August and must have survived the voyage, but probably died in the hospital as he was not admitted into the Orphan School. Michael Gilbride was admitted into the Orphan School at the beginning of February, 1844, after four months in hospital. He was discharged from the Orphan School in 1856 to work for Hugh Cassidy, a well-known landholder in the Richmond area.

    James Cooney was eight years old and his sister, Ann, was seven months old.   Both children survived the voyage. Much of their care must have fallen to the women on board who were healthy enough to be able to attend the needs of such young children amid the limited diet available on a long journey at sea. Ann was sent to hospital on arrival and died there three weeks later. James Cooney was sent to the Orphan School in late October.   He was ten years old when he went to the Orphan School and stayed there until 1849 when he was discharged to work for a master in Launceston.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Mary Cooney, Mary Gilbride.

    Female Convicts Research Group –Infant Deaths;- Ann Cooney, 12/10/1843

    Orphan School Records, James Cooney, SWD7, 28

    Orphan School Records, Michael Gilbride, SWD7, 28

    Rose Carroll

    addicted to the immoderate use of tobacco

    b c1820

    tried 18 October 1842, Tullamore, Kings County

    died September 10th 1843

    Nature of Disease Ulcerated leg Scurvy Diarrhoea


                Rose Carroll and her husband, John Carroll, were tried at Tullamore in Kings County in October 1842, for stealing a hand saw from a house. They were sentenced to seven years transportation. Rose left on the East London in early May with their only child, a baby girl, Bridget, aged about eight months old, and John sailed three months later in August aboard the Orator.

                Although John Carroll was convicted in Kings County, he gave his native place as County Louth and said that he worked for Lord Louth as a ‘perfect cook’ for eighteen months. What had caused the pair to leave, or be dismissed, from the position at the estate of Lord Louth is unknown, but Rose Carroll had bad health and suffered from syphilis before her imprisonment and John Carroll’s Conduct Record noted that he had for a long time ‘schemed’ sick in prison. Rose and her husband, John, may have not led settled or healthy lives and perhaps their work practices were not good enough to remain in Lord Louth’s employment.

                Rose went to the surgeon three weeks into the voyage with a livid looking ulcer on her left leg. The surgeon applied poultices and said there were also several spots on different parts of her leg. The deep, copper colour marked them as the vestiges of a former attack of syphilis. She was confined and treated with mercury which affected her mouth but the surgeon wanted to keep up the resultant mouth drooling as it was regarded as indicating successful treatment.

                The surgeon accused Rose of having a very indolent, lazy habit and said she neglected her personal cleanliness. She was addicted to the immoderate use of tobacco and was punished for smoking in bed. The surgeon wrote that her general health was giving way and he recommended that she keep up on deck as long as her strength would permit. She complied with that order and appeared daily on deck, but, by the 14 August, was unable to go up and applied to the surgeon. He found her lying in bed and immediately ordered her on deck with her bedding, but she was unable to do that. He had the bedding put up and the berth and boards underneath well aired and sprinkled with chlorides of lime. Rose had large livid black spots of scurvy on her arms and legs, pain in her joints and swollen spongy gums, diarrhoea and tenderness in the abdomen. She was allowed fresh soup made with preserved meat and rice with a moderate supply of wine, lemon juice and sugar instead of the usual salt provisions, but an irritable bowel caused problems with that diet.   She was given chalk mixture and opium drops.

                Rose continued to suckle her baby, but, as there was no milk, the child was constantly at her breast and the surgeon strongly recommended her weaning it. Rose was given a pint of wine with sulphate of quinine in it and a gram of opium every night. Poultices were applied to her legs and she improved a little, especially after she weaned her child. Once more the surgeon accused her of being indolent and lazy and said he had great difficulty in directing her to leave her berth. Her bedding was so filthy he had it removed and the boards sprinkled again with Chloride of lime. She was unable to assist herself so the surgeon selected two women to keep her clean in her berth, but the purging continued and she lost control of her bowels. There was no room in the hospital until the end of the first week in September when Rose was admitted at last and given a warm bath and clean linen. She continued to become weaker but was able to respond and say how she felt. She was despondent and gradually slipped into a delirious state and died on the 10 September 1843. She was the second woman from her mess group to die.

                Rose’s daughter, Bridget (name given in the Irish Prison records) died in the Dynnyrne nursery less than three weeks after arrival in Hobart (name on death record was Margaret Carroll). John Carroll, Rose’s husband, served his time and gained his freedom. His name was a common one and difficult to trace, but he could have been the John Carroll who died of a heart attack in Hobart in 1853 as the age matched his birth information.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Rose Carroll (1843)

    Irish Transportation Database, Rose Carroll & John Carroll

    TAHO John Carroll CON 33/1/47 image 41, CON 14/1/27 images 138/9 position 4

    TAHO, Inquest SC 195/1/33 Inquest 3068, possible death, John Carroll

    TAHO RGD 35//1/1 1843/1906 Hobart, death Margaret Carroll



    Mary A. Holland in tolerable health

    b c1814

    tried 12 April 1842 Belfast

    died 13th September 1843

    Nature of Disease   Dyspepsia Syphilis Rheumatism Diarrhoea Scurvy

                Mary Holland, twenty-nine years old, from Belfast, was tried for larceny of a scarf, the property of Nancy Marshall, and sentenced to seven years transportation. She had a prior charge for the theft of a five pound and a twenty pound note and was three months in prison. She treated for six months for symptoms of secondary syphilis at the Belfast Infirmary and again at the Grange Gorman Depot for a month.   The treatment was helpful as the surgeon said she appeared in tolerable health when surveyed in prison and was considered to be well enough to undergo the voyage. Once under sail with the bad weather she suffered from dyspepsia, constipation of her bowels, seasickness and loss of appetite.

                Mary was in prison at Grange Gorman for a year before she boarded the East London where she shared her mess with a mixture of Protestant and Catholic women. In June she went to the surgeon and complained of pain in her ankles and knees and in the joints of her arms and said that her nights were restless. The surgeon ordered laxatives and bled her up to twelve ounces. But the laxatives made her bowels very loose so they were stopped and a gum mixture was given to her without any advantage. Mary became gradually weaker and the surgeon ordered mercury which affected her mouth but alleviated the pains a little.

                She was allowed a small quantity of wine and sulphate of quinine twice a day. On July 30 when the surgeon examined her knees to ascertain the extent of the pain and swelling in the joints, he discovered large livid spots several inches in diameter on both legs and her knees were swollen and painful. There were old syphilitic chancres which looked red and painful, ready to ulcerate again and the gums were spongy and swollen.   The surgeon said that she was perfectly indifferent and that all she wanted was not to be disturbed. He immediately removed her to the hospital and directed poultices to be applied. Her throat and tonsils were much inflamed and she found swallowing difficult and was given mercury, opium and the ulcers were treated with nitrate ointment.

                Mary was very restless and weak and there was little improvement to her throat. The surgeon prescribed a more liberal diet of wine with a small quantity of sulphate of quinine lemonade.   She had pain and difficulty swallowing because of the highly inflamed tonsils and the ulcers which had a slough on them. The surgeon fumigated them with the vapour of baking vinegar and treated Mary with a blistering powder. Her health improved a little, but bad weather and a gale of wind as well as severe coldness caused chest problems and her feet became cold and oedematous. The surgeon continued her treatment and issued her with a new toothbrush and a gargle to help clear the mouth and relieve the painful tonsils. The symptoms of scurvy cleared a little, but the diarrhoea continued and she was given chalk mixture and opium and warm flannels poultice to help with the pain around the tonsil area. The surgeon administered more blistering powders and enemas but Mary became insensible and died on the 13 September 1843, just a week before the end of the voyage.

                Mary was from Belfast and, although she put her occupation down as servant, she already had secondary syphilis and her health was poor. Her life before imprisonment was possibly that of a prostitute and, perhaps, of long standing to have such serious health problems. She would have lived in poor and wretched conditions in the least salubrious part of town. Theft had helped her survive. The ocean voyage did not.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Mary Holland (1843)

    Irish Transportation Database, Mary Holland

    British Newspaper Archive :

    Belfast News-Letter 10 July 1838

    Belfast News-Letter 25 February 1842

    Rose Quinn - worn out constitution

    b. c 1815 County Antrim

    tried with Mary Quinn 13 April 1843, Belfast

    died 16th September 1843

    Nature of Disease Syphilis Dyspepsia Diarrhoea Suppression of urine Debility

    (black spots on legs and arms – scurvy)

                Rose Quinn was tried in Belfast on the same day as Mary Quinn and both were sentenced to seven years transportation for receiving stolen goods. They were either sisters or sisters-in-law and shared a mess aboard the East London. Rose died on board so her indent papers had no information and Mary only gave names of living members of her family.

    The Belfast News Letter 31 January 1843 gave an account of the trial of Rose and Anne Quinn.

    Stealing clothes from the Union Workhouse

    On Thursday last, Mary and Rose Quinn were committed to Carrickfergus Jail, to take their trial at the Assizes, for stealing clothes and bedding from the Belfast Union Workhouse. Part of the property, and a great number of pawn tickets, were found to be in possession of the prisoners. Some of the inmates are suspected of being in collusion with the prisoners.


    Belfast Workhouse

                Two weeks after their trial Rose and Mary Quinn were sent to Grange Gorman in Dublin to prepare to embark on the East London ten days later. The day the ship sailed, Rose consulted Edward Caldwell because she was suffering the effects of secondary syphilis and told him that she had been a patient in the Belfast Infirmary and at the Depot at Grange Gorman. The surgeon said she had no syphilitic symptoms but had a worn out constitution. She was treated for syphilis, had obvious signs of ill health and debility even though she was only twenty-eight years old.   She was single and her prison record in Dublin gave her occupation as a servant. She had no prior convictions and her health showed signs of a difficult life. Perhaps she had been an inmate of the workhouse herself at one time. She certainly had dealings with the residents there

                The bad weather, in the first week of sailing, caused sea sickness and loss of appetite. The surgeon gave Rose half a glass of wine daily with a small dose of sulphate of quinine in it to support her health. He had great difficulty in forcing her to go up on deck because he said her habits were so indolent and intolerably lazy and dirty. She paid no attention to comfort and cleanliness of her berth or in the smallest degree made any achievement to improve her health. By June she had ulcers on her tonsils and syphilitic tumours around her anus. The surgeon treated Rose with mercury chloride and gentian which healed the ulcers but left her with a sore mouth from the medicine. She became weaker and was unable to leave her berth. The surgeon ordered a glass of port wine every day. Signs of scurvy appeared and she had pains in her limbs and large black spots on her legs and arms. She had diarrhoea, no appetite and, was unable to have any meat diet so allowed sago and oatmeal instead with a little wine to make a thick gruel.

                Rose’s diarrhoea rapidly increased and the surgeon had great difficulty in inducing her to leave her bed. He treated her with chalk mixture and opium drops and had poultices applied to her legs and abdomen to relieve the pains. She improved slightly and was allowed preserved meat with rice and sago, but the diarrhoea returned and she was admitted into the hospital on the 28 August. She continued to suffer from abdominal tenderness and could not pass her urine. However two days later, the surgeon said she passed a considerable quantity of urine without mention of using a catheter. He said she was given lime and potassium nitrate as a drink.

                Her health declined and she lost control of her bowels, became delirious and insensible. She died on the night of the 16 September 1843 within sight of the coast of Van Diemen’s Land.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Rose Quinn (1843), Mary Quinn (1843)

    Irish Transportation Database, Rose Quinn, Mary Quinn.


    Susan Whittle

    a bad character

    b c 1822

    tried 3 January 1843 Dublin

    died September 17th 1843

    Nature of Disease   Dyspepsia Constipation Diarrhoea Gastro Enteritic Scurvy

    Susan Whittle was twenty-one years old, a native of Dublin City and, had the reputation of being a bad character. She was on board with her infant son, Patrick Whittle, who was in a poor state of health from neglect, at least according to the surgeon’s notes. Newspaper reports at the time of her trial described Susan as young, pretty and well dressed and gave detailed accounts of her crimes. She had an accomplice, Eliza Hanlon, and they were reported to be notorious characters and the most expert pick-pockets in Dublin. The Inspector who arrested them said he received private information about them. The witness in their trial was Biddy Magrath, who was employed as a lookout at shop doors for Susan and Eliza when they were about their business of theft. Biddy turned against them and gave evidence at their trial.

    Susan and Eliza went into Mr Hendrick’s shop in Clare St. Susan roughly passed by a customer, Mrs Mathews, brushing her pocket and reached across her shoulder to the assistant behind the counter. Mrs Mathews soon realized a five pound note had been picked from her pocket. Inspector O’Connor went to Susan’s dwelling where he found six people in the room and Susan and Eliza in bed. One newspaper identified them as mother and daughter and described Eliza Hanlon as old and poorly attired. The inspector found parcels of money sown into Eliza’s petticoat, a pass book with one hundred pounds in it and some jewellery. Susan said the money and rings were hers and that she was going to lodge the money. She said she had it for a year. She even asked the inspector if there were owners for the money. Susan claimed the money and rings as her property perhaps to deflect blame from her mother.

    Susan and Eliza were tried for the theft of the money but were acquitted as proof of the ownership of the notes was not conclusive. However they were charged immediately with the theft of the rings and money, picked from the pocket of Ayre Powell, Esqre, while he was in a shop in Grafton St. Inspector O’Connor testified that he found the rings in Susan’s possession and Mr Powell was able to identify his jewellery. Susan, ‘an old offender’ was sentenced to transportation for seven years and Eliza was given twelve months imprisonment. Susan and her mother were part of a gang and had money in their passbook. Mother and adult daughter worked as a team with a history of such offences. Crime was a way of life for them and pick pocketing was well practised.

    In the medical journal Edward Caldwell wrote that Susan led a very irregular life travelling around the country, a statement he made about several of the women who died. He said Susan’s health suffered because of it but improved when she was in the Grange Gorman Prison. However Susan was pregnant at the time of her trial in January 1843 and gave birth not long after to her son, Patrick. The child was only three months old when they embarked on the East London. Edward Caldwell said Susan had very careless filthy habits and required constant looking after. Her health may have been very poor after giving birth in prison and undertaking a long sea voyage on salt rations soon after.

    In the early part of the voyage, Susan suffered severely from seasickness but recovered as the weather became finer. Her son, Patrick, was described as a sickly diminutive child but he, too, improved in the warmer climate. The surgeon said that attention to his food regimen and keeping a check upon his appetite as well as bathing in salt water helped him to better health. But he accused Susan of not following his directions and orders regarding the food regimen and said she became indolent and inattentive to her child. On August 20, he ordered Patrick removed to the care of another person because Susan, suffering from diarrhoea and scurvy, had kept her son too long with no milk supply. The surgeon said it was difficult to find a person to care for the infant because of the dislike of Susan, her lack of cleanliness and attention to the food regimen. The child, Patrick, although sickly, had a voracious appetite. His health improved with taking small doses of rhubarb and mercury. But he developed diarrhoea and his abdomen became hard. He was given a warm bath and chalk mixture to help stop the diarrhoea, but he continued to weaken and died on the 7 September 1843.

    Susan was admitted into the hospital the week before her son died. She had her skin bathed in warm vinegar and water and was given warm baths. She suffered pains in her lower legs, her abdomen was tender and she slowly weakened. The surgeon said that Susan expressed herself perfectly happy amid the delirium which she had at intervals. Perhaps for the first time in her life, she was being cared for by others and given wine and probably opium drops to help with her pain.   She died in the afternoon of the 17 September 1843.

    Susan’s prison record said that she had one prior conviction, was married and, had no occupation. She could read which perhaps as a native of Dublin she had been able to learn from those around her as she grew up. Her child, born in prison, was undernourished and sickly and weaned far too early, but Susan’s poor health would have meant no milk supply to sustain the child properly.     

    Susan and her child, and Anne Read and her child, died from their mess group which was made up of women from Dublin, of whom two admitted to being prostitutes. Some of the women were later to riot in Hobart including Catherine Shaw, who may have spent time away from the group with the mariner who later became her husband.

    Newspaper accounts of the trials are in the appendix.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Susan Whittle (1843)

    British Newspaper Archives:-

    Dublin Morning Register Wednesday 4 January 1843

    Dublin Morning Register Thursday 5 January 1843

    Freeman’s Journal 13 December 1842

    Died after arrival in Hobart


    Ann Connors

    b c1821

    tried 22 April 1843 County Limerick

    died 3rd October 1843


    Ann Connors, a native of County Limerick, was tried in the City of Limerick on the 22 April 1842, the same day as Ellen Sheerman, also transported. Ellen was tried for the theft of potatoes. Were the two women partners in the crime or was it just a coincidence that they were tried and sentenced to transportation in the same court and on the same day? In the Irish prison record at Grange Gorman Gaol, they gave their occupations as servants. They travelled together from Limerick to Dublin and were next to each other on the mess list, but may have been in neighbouring messes; the surgeon’s notes are not clear. The women were convicted on the 22 April 1843 and were admitted into the Grange Gorman Depot on the 2 May to board the East London on the 5 May. The time between trial, conviction and embarkation was just two weeks.

    Ann was only twenty-two years old and was treated for syphilis in her county prison, but, as the time in prison was very brief, the treatment was far from complete. On board ship she applied to the surgeon within the first week and he wrote that she did not make her condition known to him before sailing. She had ulcers on her tonsils and on her private parts and was given mercury, nitrate, magnesium sulphate and cinchona bark to help the healing. After five weeks she left hospital at her own request, but Edward Caldwell considered her fit and free of the disease and discharged her cured.

    On arrival in Hobart, Ann was sent straight to hospital where she died two weeks later. There were fourteen women who were sent to hospital from the ship. Ann was the only one whose death was recorded at that time. Her health was compromised by syphilis and she was described as indolent and filthy and careless of her person. Was her health not only compromised by syphilis, but also by scurvy? She lacked any energy to care for herself. Two other women in her mess, Ellen Curreen and Ann Gannon, died during the voyage. These women had damaged health through great poverty or existing health problems. The women of the mess group who survived were for the most part, older, married or widowed with grown-up children in Ireland. Were they older and wiser or did they have better health to withstand the voyage? The only younger woman was Margaret Smith who later rioted in Hobart.

    Ann Connors died in Hobart on the 3rd October 1843


    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853, Ann Connors (1843)

    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139               

    Scurvy on Convict & Emigrant Ships




    Chapter 3 Appendix

    The Women Who Died At Sea

    Bridget Carey

    The Petitions and Letters – Bridget Carey


    Dec 27th 1839



                I beg to state for the information of His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant that the petition of Bridget Carey which I have the honor to enclose is in my respect perfectly correct.

    The potatoes were stolen from me and as the crime of potato stealing had much increased in this neighbourhood lately I thought it my duty to prosecute but I had no idea when doing so that she would have been sentenced to transportation for so trifling an offence as I concurred the [ends] of justice would have been satisfied by a short imprisonment after her conviction and before the sentence as passed I made a representation to that effect to assistant Barrister and other Magistrates on the bench of whom I was [on?] my recommendation – alas not attended to as she had been confined previously for a similar offence. Bridget Carey has now been confined for seven? Months and if His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant would be pleased to take her case into consideration I will feel most grateful

    Should His Excellency deem it necessary to have her sentence carried into effect will her children be allowed to accompany her?

                                        I have the honor to be


                                        Your obedient Servant

                                        Robert Moore Lieut. Col.

    Thomas Drummond

    Dublin Castle


                                                                            Abbeyliex Quarter Sessions

                                                                                           January 2nd 1840


                I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 31st December, enclosing the accompanying Memorial of Bridget Cary, and requesting me to report the particulars of her case, for the information of His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant.

                The prisoner pleaded guilty to a larceny in stealing Potatoes. The information on which in such cases, the court acts, is not here, but can be had from the office at Maryborough if required.

                I think, however, that I can, from recollection, give His Excellency the information he desires. The court on inquiry, found that the prisoner was an old offender – repeatedly convicted of similar offences, and one who was considered as a nuisance in the neighbourhood. – It appears too, that the offence of stealing potatoes as becoming very frequent, and was thought that the example, made at the beginning of winter, might operate as a protection to the poor industrious farmers, who are obliged to leave property of this description, much exposed during the long dark nights.

                At the same time I should say for myself, and I do believe my brother magistrates would agree with me, that if the safety of the neighbourhood of Portarlington from further offences by the prisoner, could be spared, without carrying the sentence of Transportation into effect, it would be very desirable to remit it. And perhaps, Lieut. Col. Moore, who has so humanely interfered, might be able to protect himself and his neighbours, in some way, in case the prisoner should be set at large among them – If he can ensure her future good conduct, on removal from that place, I should be rejoiced to hear of her libration; otherwise I fear the ends of justice would not be attained by it.

                                                                            I have the honor to be


                                                                Your very obedient Servant

                                                                  John Schoales          

    Thomas Drummond Esq.          


    To His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland etc. etc. etc.

    The Humble Petition of Bridget Cary a Prisoner confined in the Gaol of Maryborough.



                The your Excellencys most humble Petitioner was tried before his Worship the Barrister of Queen’s County at Maryborough on the 28th October last for having been guilty of stealing Potatoes when his worship was pleased to sentence her to seven years Transportation.

                Your Excellency’s most humble Petitioner is a poor wretched and distressed woman with three helpless Infants the Eldest a Female not more than 9 years old the second a Boy about 4 years old and the youngest a Boy in or about 1 year and 4 months now if your Excellency’s Petitioner be sent abroad her unfortunate wretched and distressed Orphans will be forced to starve having no person to give them food She therefore most humbly hopes your Excellency will be graciously pleased to take her into your humane consideration and grant her a mitigation of her sentence.

                                                                            And in Duty

                                                                            She will ever pray


    27th Dec 1839


                                                                                                                Harcourt Nov 11th 1841


                In reference to the Memorial of Bridget Carey I had the honor to inform you that the Prisoner having been indicted for stealing Turf the property of John [Dunn]   pleaded guilty she so thereupon sentenced to 7 years Transportation. The severity of the sentence as caused by the circumstance of her being an old offender she having been already on a former occasion sentenced to Transportation which sentence was commuted.

                            I have the honor to be

                               Sir your obt. Servt.

                                        Wm N? Barron             

    1. Lucas Esq

    Sec. of Ste.


    Bridget Carey

    Stealing Turf 7 yrs tr

    The law must take its course


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 – Bridget Carey, 1843.

    Orphan School Records, Ann & Henry Carey, SWD 7, 28.

    Irish Transportation Records, Bridget Carey, CRF 1841 C88

    Ann Rea

    Petition for Ann Rae CRF 1842 R1


                                                                                        11 Upper Fitzgibbon Street

                                                                                        Jan 31/ 42

    In reply to your letter of 29th Inst respecting the accompanying memorial on behalf of Anne Ray, I have the honor to acquaint you for the information of the Lord Lieutenant that by the insistence on the wish of Prisoner it appears that on the night of the 24th Dec she was in company with one Edward Leary/Long? who having put Prisoner’s hand in his pocket and a sovereign having dropped on the ground he instantly charged her with having robbed him. This she denied and ran away, she was hence pursued and been over taken, and on being brought to the Police officer some more of the Prosecutor’s money dropped from her

    In Antrim 1838 The Prisoner was convicted of receiving stolen goods and sentenced to six months imprisonment.

                                        I have the honour to be


                                        Your Obdt Servant

                                        John Gibson

    1. Lucas


    Belfast Jany 13th 1842

    Honoured Sir,

    This memorial forwarded by a number of your warmest constituents and friends in the Town of Belfast on behalf of an unfortunate though respectable girl, named Ann Ray, who having in her possession a sovereign the property of the prosecutor , was at the last session tried before John Gibson, Asst Barrister, and sentenced to 7 years transportation, this poor convict has had for many years past an infirmity which renders her incapable of doing anything for herself, her right hand being useless from infection of (rase/rash?), we pity her distracted mother and friends, and hope that as you have ever acted for our interests, that your influence with the Lord Lieutenant will be the means of releasing the unfortunate prisoner, or of overruling the sentence of Transportation to time in her own Country, where from her delicacy her friends may have the happiness of seeing her remains interred.

    Your kind interference on this occasion will merit the prayers of the weeping parents, perhaps restore to well doing the convict, and doubly bind the interest of your warm and numerous friends.

                                                                for which we the undersigned remain

                                                                Your very humble servants      



    You will please when you write Direct to F Pinkerton 82 Cransac St Belfast           


    Susan Whittle

    Dublin Morning Register Wednesday 4 January 1843

    City Sessions yesterday

    Susan Whittle was indicted for stealing a £5 note, property of Mrs Maria Mathews, and Eliza Hanlon was charged with receiving the same, knowing it to be stolen.

    Mrs Mathews – went into shop of Mr Hendrick, Clare St, had note and 2/6 in purse – saw prisoner Hanlon there. Whittle came in as if for a sheet of paper, passed roughly by witness

    Sand passed her hand over shoulder of witness to person behind the counter – missed note then. Mr O’Connor, inspector of police – produced large bundle of notes found on prisoner. Mrs Mathews picked her note out

    O’Connor got prisoner in Hanlon’s room in Thomas Court, 5 or 6 people there at time – prisoners were in bed, told Whittle he came to look for stolen money – both prisoners said they had none except a savings bank book for 100L and one pound note, found 3 pound notes sown up in Hanlon’s petticoat – counted notes and got 44 in it. Whittle said money and rings were hers and that she was going to lodge the rest, and that she had it for a year; she asked if there were owners for the money – acquitted. They are to be tried on other charges.

    Dublin Morning Register Thursday 5 January 1843 (notes from article)

    Susan Whittle and Elizabeth Hanlon (mother and daughter) stole two rings property of Ayre Powell Esqre. The rings were picked from his pocket with some notes when he was in a shop in Grafton St.

    Inspector O’Connor deposed that he found the rings in possession of prisoners.

    Whittle, an old offender, seven years transportation

    Hanlon, twelve months imprisonment

    Freeman’s Journal 13 December 1842

    College St office –

    Apprehension of a Notorious Pickpockets – Two women, the one, named Susan Whittle, young, pretty, and well dressed, the other named Biddy Hanlon, old poorly attired, and what the ladies call, “ordinary” in feature, were brought before the magistrates of this office, yesterday, in custody of Inspector O’Connor, who charged them with having in their possession the sum of 44/- sterling with two valuable gold rings, and other property, all of which he suspected to have been feloniously obtained.

    From the statement of the inspector it appeared that, having obtained private information to the effect that there was a probability that the sum of £11, which had been stolen in Sackville -street a week since from Mrs Billing, of 41 Upper Mount-street, might be found in the possession of the prisoners, he procured a warrant, and proceeded on Sunday morning to search their lodgings in Thomas-court, off Thomas–street. He informed the prisoner Whittle of the purport of his visit, and having apprised her that he had received information to the effect that she had a quantity of stolen money in her possession, advised her to surrender at once all the property which was concealed. Mrs Whittle denied having any property in the house, with the exception of a £1 note, a few shillings in silver, and a bank book on the Meath-street Savings Bank, in which she was given credit to the amount of £109, but declared her willingness to surrender those treasures notwithstanding that they were her own property. The inspector having searched the premises ineffectually for some time, bethought him of instituting an investigation on the persons of the prisoners, and accordingly began with Biddy Hanlon, the mother of Mrs Whittle, in the band of whose petticoat he found a sum of £44 in notes. The money was sowed up in distinct parcels. He also discovered in the same retreat two very valuable gold rings, which have been since identified as the property of Mr Powell, of Fitzwilliam-square, who states that they were stolen from him last Monday in a shop in Grafton-street. Mrs Mathews, of Merrion-square, had also identified a five pound note as being her property, and recognises Hanlon as the person who pressed up against her in Hendrick’s shop, in Clare-street, where she was robbed of the money. No one has yet appeared who is able to identify the remainder of the property, though mainly claimants hourly present themselves.

    The prisoners were fully committed to stand their trial at the city sessions. They are known amongst the police as the most expert pickpockets in Dublin, and it is said they have accumulated a large property by their depredations.

    Their servant, a girl named Biddy Magarth, who used to watch at the shop door, in order to prevent detection while her employers were engaged in pillaging the customers within, is admitted as Queen’s evidence.

    Catherine Murray #2

    Petition of Thomas Fields CRF 1842 F17 (included information re Catherine & John Murray)


    Jany 13 1842

    Sir, I had the honor of receiving your letter dated the 6th Inst enclosing a memorial of Thomas Field a Prisoner in the Gaol of the County of Meath and requesting my opinion whether the Prisr is a proper object of Mercy. In reply [here] by have to say that I do not think him a proper object of mercy – I enclose a report of the trial of the Prisr & have stated at the end my reasons for not thinking him an object of Mercy to which I [send? ....] to refer you.

                                                    I have the honor to be


                                                    Your Obedient Servant

                                                                John Plunkett

    1. Lucas, Castle


    John Murray & Katherine Murray pleaded guilty (written along the side)

    John Murray

    Katherine Murray

    Thomas Field

    Indicted (at the Quarter Sessions held at Navan for the Co. of Meath on the 24th June 1842) for Larceny of the monies & property of Catherine Markey – on the 10th May 1842 at Lisnagreen.

    1st Witness. Katherine Markey – states that on Tuesday night the 10th May 1842 after she had gone to bed her house was entered by some people – she felt her purse being taken off her neck – she told her little girl to take her purse from the man he had lighted a candle to search the house this man (does not identify) came back & threat’ned her loudly – amongst other things some Oatmeal, Tin can, Reticule, a basket, a knife 2 Spoons, little children’s clothes (which they had worn the night before) some Rosin – woollen yarn [...] – Identifies Knife woollen yarn & Rosin saw them at Police Barracks.

    Anne Markey – Identifies clothes

    Terence Conolly – Police Constable – on the Morning of the 11th May before 4 o’clock saw the Prisoner Thomas Fields & Jn & Katherine Murray go into the house of one [Beilly/], witness took them into Custody, got on the Fields person The Knife – the Spoons & the Yarn Identified by Mrs Mackey, got the children’s Clothes on Katherine Murray’s person.

    The Jury found Fields Guilty –

    He was Indicted at the same Sessions with Thos Fitzsimons & others for stealing Potatoes – but was not tried – he was also under Commitmt for trial at the ensuing Assizes for a Burglary & it appears from his Memorial that he was tried & convicted at the Assizes of this offence & Sentenced to Ten years Transportation – at the Quarter Sessions we sentenced him to 7 years Transportation.


    Stamped Chief Secretary’s Office

    date unclear

    To His Excellency, Earl De Grey, Lord Lieutenant General, and General Governor of Ireland, etc etc etc

    The memorial of Thomas Field, at present a Prisoner in the Gaol of Trim, in the County of Meath, Laborer.

    Humbly Sheweth,

                            That poor, unhappy Memst lies at present in said Gaol, under sentence of Transportation, under the following very singular and distressing circumstances, Viz. He, with others, was arrested on the 11th of last May, on a charge of a petty Burglary, upon which occasion he was visited(sic), in prison, by Capt. Despard, Stipendiary Magistrate, to whom poor Memst actuated by his fears, made disclosures, under a hope entertained by him, from the attentions paid him, of being accepted as a Queen’s Evidence, but, Alas! that hope proved to be delusive, for his said disclosures were afterwards exhibited against himself, and the disclosures of another Approver preferred, the Said other Approver, John Murray, now, also, in said Gaol, under sentence of Transportation, being a Deserter from the 14th foot, as confessed by himself, and can be further proved by the testimony of an Individual in Sd Trim Gaol, who had served in Said Regiment with Murray, as, also, by the brands of Desertion with which Murray’s body is marked: which facts can be ascertained by examination at Said Gaol if so ordered by Your Excellency. For this offence poor Memst was sentenced to Seven Years Transportation by the Barrister at Qur Sessions. That secondly, Memst has been sentenced to Transportation for Ten Years, at the present Assizes, for another petty Burglary: in both of which instances he has not been Sworn against by the person who had been robbed, nor by any person, in direct evidence, as nothing but Documents read by Capt. Despard appeard against him at trial, Documents dictated by sudden fear and delusive hope, for the truth of which Memst respectfully refers even to Capt. Despard himself. Memst pleaded not guilty at both trials.

                            Under which unique and anomalous mode of effecting convictions in Ireland poor Memst, now languishing he most humbly implores Your Excellency’s mercy, to cause an Investigation as to Your Excellency’s clemency may seem meet; for which himself & his poor, helpless family will ever pray.

    July 25th 1842                                                               Thomas Fields

    P.S. Memst implores the favour of Your Excellency’s gracious reply.


    Thomas Fields

    Larceny 7 yrs Tn

    Let the law take its course

  • Chapter 4: The Women from Country Cavan Gaols Open or Close

    The Women


    County Cavan Gaols




    Cavan County Gaol

    Baileborough Bridewell

    Ballyconnell Bridewell

    Cootehill Bridewell





    The Women from the County Cavan Gaols

    ten servants


    There were ten women on the East London who were transferred from gaols in County Cavan to the Grange Gorman Penitentiary to await embarkation. None of them could read or write and most were Catholic. According to the Irish prison records 80 women out of the 133 women on board the East London had no occupation but every one of the County Cavan women gave her occupation as servant.

    Would they have been servants before their convictions? There was some possibility; it was one of the few choices for women of their class. It could also have been a hope of being engaged as a domestic servant in the colonies as it would have enabled them to work outside the confines of the prison.

    In the years from 1800 until the 1840s the population of Ireland increased rapidly and put pressure on the county’s economy. Landholders rented their farmland to small farmers who in turn rented small plots to the agricultural labourers for eleven months of the year in a system called conacre farming. The labourers worked for daily wages, if they could find it, and took potatoes from their land to keep their families fed. The increase in population made the system less reliable with every available piece of land rented out for conacre and competition among the labourers bidding against each other for the plots.

    By 1841, landless labourers were the majority of the rural society in Cavan.  A letter of petition written in 1843 by Ellen McKeon on behalf of her husband, Bartholomew McKeon, said that he was a labourer and was paid four pence per day if he could get the work. At the time of his arrest he had no other means to support a wife and two children. At the conclusion of his trial Bartholomew’s parting words to the Judge were, ‘thank God you can do no more’. He was duly found in contempt and sentenced to an additional five years. The judge’s decision was punitive but the ruling from Dublin Castle was that law must take its course. Poverty was thought by some members of the elite class to be a result of lack of character or idleness and that the poor had to take responsibility for their own plight.

    The linen industry was a cottage industry of home spinners and weavers and no longer in demand as industrial factories opened up in the north of Ireland and in England. The wives of the labourers who worked at home spinning, lost, or had reduced, that small income. The use of land was changing and beef cattle farming, which was less labour intensive, became more important as roads improved access to markets. Thus, agricultural labourers were plentiful but employment for them had lessened.

    Many of the labourers were trapped by desperate poverty. They had no education, a distrust of the English landowners and little hope of improving their lives. In some cases, in order to earn the money for conacre rent, the men went to work in England.  Most were married and needed to support their families. The majority of the labouring class were disadvantaged members of society and many were Catholics, whereas the ruling class was predominantly Protestant and they tended to be more prosperous members of society. Evictions of small farmers in favour of less troublesome Anglo-Irish tenants caused further poverty and resentment.

    Lack of employment or underemployment for the wage labourer meant families faced hardship without income to buy food or to clothe themselves. The homes of the poor were miserable, one-roomed mud dwellings, with a rough table and chair, perhaps a chest of drawers and beds made from straw laid on the dirt floor. Bedclothes were the daytime apparel and sometimes with only a single blanket for the whole family. In an account of his tour through the midland counties in 1836, Baptist Wriothesley Noel described the poor, ‘the women are moving about with bare heads and feet and the men are idle at their doors – many of them have all the lines and furrows of starvation and premature decay’.

    The Reverend Bernard Brady of Knockbride (Cavan) noted in evidence to the Poor Law Commission in the early 1830s that the smallest farmers and labourers ‘had everyday declined by poverty and wretchedness’. The Rev Hugh Fitsimmons testified that the destruction of the linen trade ‘put weavers and others into the field of labour (with) no (trade) no means to pay rent, to find food or clothing...all being thrown upon the land for support’.

    In 1845, two years after the women from Cavan left on the East London, Thomas Campbell Foster published his letters in The Times, London, and several of these letters were from County Cavan.

    Cavan 21 August

    In this town from which I write (Cavan) I am informed on the best authority, and from several sources, that the labouring men of the neighbourhood – those without land – are unemployed nine months in the year; and that there is general employment for them only during the spring, and at harvest time. I am told that, except during these periods, from thirty to fifty men may be seen at the market cross every morning, unemployed, waiting for a job and that there is no demand for their work.

    Thomas Campbell Foster

    For women, the lack of employment was extreme. Many of the jobs they performed in the weaving trade had gone and the traditional work on farms was performed by the vast numbers of unemployed men. Reports of high wages in America induced families to send their children out of the country. By 1841 ten percent of labouring families in Killashandra, County Cavan, had children who had emigrated.

    From the indent records of the women on the East London nearly a third had family members in England, America and Australia or enlisted in the army. There was a few with husbands or children in America. Most of the women from Cavan were of the landless labouring class living in devastating poverty.

    In order to survive these women committed crimes. Theft of animals, articles of clothing which could be pawned and, food to feed hungry children were typical of their offences.

    What brought these women to the gaols of Cavan?



    TAHO Convict Indents from the East London 1843

    O’Neill, Kevin. “Family and Farm in Pre-Famine Ireland, The Parish of Killashandra.” The University of Wisconsin Press Ltd. 1984

    Irish Transportation Records, Bartholomew McKeon, CRF 1845 C55

    Noel, Baptist Wriothesley. “Notes of a Short Tour through the midland counties of Ireland, 1836 with observations on the condition of the peasantry”,  London, James Nisbet & Co. 1837.

    Foster, Thomas Campbell; Letters on the Condition of The people of Ireland, Letter II



    Alice Fitzsimons and Catherine Cahill

    1. c 1803          b. c 1813

    tried Baileborough 27 June 1842

    Alice Fitzsimons and Catherine Cahill were sisters-in-law, sentenced on the same day, in the same court for involvement in the same crime. An account of what happened was revealed in the letter of petition sent to the Lord Lieutenant Governor of Ireland, on behalf of John Cahill, appealing for his wife not to be transported.

    Alice Fitzsimons and her husband, Owen Brady, broke into the house of Samuel Jones, local auctioneer, at Lisball, Baileborough, County Cavan, in June 1842 and stole, a coat, a shawl and other items. Perhaps there were others involved in the break-in, but Owen and Alice took their share of stolen goods and fled with the bundle and their four young children across the county border into Meath, to the village of Athboy. Alice was pregnant with her fifth child and the journey of about forty kilometres would have been made on foot. They arrived ‘in a very low condition’ at Catherine Cahill’s house where she lived with her husband, John, and their four children.  

    Catherine was Owens Brady’s twin and it was the first time in seven years he had visited her house in Meath. Catherine took the family in but she made a terrible decision in trying to help her brother and sister-in-law, Alice. She sold the shawl which Owen stole and then went with him to the nearby town of Navan. While her brother, possibly too poorly dressed, waited outside Mr Finnegan’s pawnbroker shop, Catherine went in and pawned the stolen coat. Their ploy did not succeed and the four, Owen, Alice, John and Catherine Cahill, were arrested and taken to Baileborough in County Cavan where they were tried by Mr Murphy, the Assistant Barrister of the county. John Cahill was acquitted because he was at work for the village minister on the day the goods were pawned. Owen pleaded guilty, perhaps to lessen his sister’s charge and to ensure his children would be allowed to accompany their parents. He and Alice received sentences of ten years transportation and Catherine seven years transportation. It was a sad outcome for Owen and Alice but a shocking punishment for Catherine who was a wife and mother of four young children. Her decision to aid her brother in his crime resulted in separation from her family forever. John Cahill was described by Mr Murphy, the Assistant Barrister, as a decent man but, his wife was an ‘abandoned creature’. Catherine must have been in a state of torment and anguish when she appeared in court and was probably even more desperate and uncontrolled in her grief inside the gaol. She did not receive any sympathy from the Judge who thought her husband would be better off without her.

    The sentencing of Alice Fitzsimons, Owen Brady and Catherine Cahill was swift. They were described as, ‘he and she and all her family most infamous characters’. The judge’s words implied they were well known to the authorities but should his remarks be more deservedly directed to Owen and Alice who had faced court several times previously. Owen had a prior charge for riot for which he received a three-month sentence. Prison records in Ireland showed Owen and Alice Brady and their three children held, from December 1838 until March 1839, in Kilmainham Prison, Dublin, as crown witnesses for County Monaghan. On the day of admission into Kilmainham Prison, five men were admitted for assault and riot but immediately bailed. One name amongst the five was Bartholomew McKeon; perhaps the man whose petition in 1843 described the lowly daily wage and lack of work.

    Owen and Alice were witnesses for the crown so a deal was done. Had they traded serious riot and assault charges for information about a robbery? A trial took place in August 1839 and Alice and Owen gave evidence in a case of theft which occurred in November 1838. Before dawn one morning Alice and two men went into the field and herded two cows out while Owen remained on watch on the road. The cows were sold to butchers in Shercock and Owen received four pounds which he divided between the four members of the gang; he and Alice having one share each. They kept the head, heart and tongue and breakfasted on some, cooked by Owen’s sister, Mary Ann, and laughed at the prospect of Mr Kenny, owner of the cows, buying the flesh at the fair that day. Almost a year later Owen and Alice became informers and gave evidence against the other men involved in the theft of the cows. One of the gang, James Halfpenny, was found guilty and sentenced to transportation. His conduct papers noted that he was prosecuted by Owen and Alice Brady. The butchers, receivers of the stolen cows, were also arrested and the indictment stated they were prosecuted by Alice and Owen Brady. The Brady evidence against the butchers was contradictory and uncorroborated and they were labelled characters of the worst description. The butchers were discharged. In March 1840, Owen and Alice were informers again when three men were indicted for the theft of sheep in County Monaghan. Counsel for the defence at the trial stated of Owen Brady that he, “does good by stealth, and blushes to find fame”. Owen had made enemies in his own class and life in his community must have become very difficult for him.

    The authorities knew Owen and Alice, across three neighbouring counties, so the judgement was quick when they appeared in court at their own trial. Owen Brady and Bartholomew McKeon’s stories are detailed in petitions and show desperate action by men with wives and children and not enough work to support their families. They were about the same age and were both tried in the Baileborough Court only months apart. Their stories reflect the economic and social conditions in the county. Owen and Alice’s solution had led them to be part of a ‘knot of robbers’ who authorities said had ‘infested the country for years’.

    What brought Owen to the situation he was in? His father was dead and his two brothers had left Ireland, one to the Army and the other to England. On his army papers, Owen’s brother, Patrick, gave his profession as weaver and the collapse of that cottage industry would have been the reason for the family’s lack of employment. Owen did not have the education to improve his chance in life nor the means to leave, particularly with four young children and another on the way. No work and no income made for distressful living conditions and led to unlawful measures.

    The Drogheda Conservative Journal reported the trial of Alice and Owen and Catherine Cahill and included Alice’s plea for her children.

    After passing of the sentence, the female prisoner, Alice Fitzsimons, entreated that his worship would permit her to take her two youngest children with her, saying, “I’ll allow him”, meaning the male prisoner, Ode Brady, “to take the other two”.

                The worthy and really humane Barrister, stated his regret that it was not in his power to accede to her request, but added, that if the application was made in another quarter, he had no doubt but that it would be complied with.

                Mr Gillogby (the gaoler) then stated that he could give her liberty to take any child with her, provided it was under seven years of age.




    Baileborough Court House where Alice Fitzsimons and Catherine Cahill were tried.


    Alice Fitzsimons, Catherine Cahill, and two other County Cavan women, Eleanor Duffy and Ellen Keoghan were transferred from Cavan Gaol to Grange Gorman Prison in August 1842. Whilst in prison Alice gave birth to her fifth child on 27 September 1842. She named her child Catherine, perhaps after her sister-in-law, Catherine Cahill. Three of the Alice’s older children were admitted with her into the penitentiary at Grange Gorman and held there for more than eight months before their ship sailed. They were listed on the same page as many women who sailed on the Waverley but were moved to another section perhaps waiting for an outcome of Catherine Cahill’s petition.

    Matters had to be settled as about who would travel with Owen and Alice to Van Diemen’s Land. The eldest child, Terence Brady, aged eight, was sent with Owen aboard the Navarino in September 1842 and, after arrival in Hobart in January 1843, was placed in the Queen’s Orphanage. Alice, the remaining four children and Catherine with her youngest child, Thomas, aged three, were put on board the East London on 5 May, 1843.

    GrangeGormanPenitentiary web

    Grange Gorman Penitentiary Dublin where Alice Fitzsimons gave birth September 1842



    Alice Fitzsimons

    b c 1806 (Irish Prison Records)

    tried Bailieborough, County Cavan, 27 June 1842

    Alice and her children embarked on the East London in the second group on 5 May. They shared a mess with five young women, one of whom was pregnant. There was one other child. Catherine Cahill and her son were in a nearby mess group.

    Alice was admitted into the ship’s hospital on the 28 May, a little more than two weeks after sailing. The surgeon said she was a person of delicate constitution, constipated habit of body and liable to a great depression of spirits on leaving her native land. She was employed in washing for herself and her children in the two days before admission to hospital. She became ill with rigors, pains of the head, back and lower extremities and nausea and the surgeon diagnosed continual fever. He treated her with Magnesium Sulphate and allowed her lemonade. She was given medicines which induced vomiting and purging and over the next few weeks suffered much from abdominal tenderness and debility. She drifted into stupor and occasional delirium and lost control of her bladder and bowels. Her head was shaved and the surgeon treated her with enemas of starch, opium and blistering. She was given broth, gruel and barley water and gradually recovered enough to spend some time on deck. Although weak she was treated with small doses of sulphate of quinine in wine or water. By the beginning of July she was sufficiently recovered to return to her own berth to take care of her young family.

    While Alice was in hospital, her children, Ann aged six, James three, Judith, two years and baby Catherine, were left to take care of themselves or by others on board. Catherine, not quite one year old, was, in the surgeon’s words, ‘placed under the care of her sons who neglected it very much’. The surgeon accused the sons of neglecting the baby but the first child, Ann, was a girl who had just turned six years old. Perhaps she was so raggedly clothed to be not recognizable as a girl. The surgeon eventually placed the infant Catherine in the hands of a, ‘proper nurse’ and supplied her with food he thought suitable from the hospital. He prescribed for the baby on 2 June but the little girl was already much reduced with frequent loose white evacuations, her abdomen was hard and her limbs tumid. When Alice returned to her berth she tried to put the baby to the breast again but the child had aphthus ulcers in her mouth and failed to suckle. Baby Catherine died on the 14 July 1843.

    The day Alice was admitted to the hospital was the day that Edward Caldwell supplied the eldest five boys and twelve girls with suitable clothing. Her eldest daughter, Ann, should have received some clothing.

    On August 20 Alice was readmitted into the hospital and the surgeon accused her of disregarding his advice when leaving the hospital in July. She had diarrhoea, great weakness and a tongue of a deep red colour. She had no control of her bowels and became insensible and lay in that state for three days until August 23 when she died. She was buried at sea and a prayer said for her as she was lowered into the ocean not far from the Island of St Paul.

    Three of her children survived the voyage but the youngest, two year-old Judy, sent to hospital on arrival at Hobart Town, died in the first few days. Six year-old Ann was admitted into the Queen’s Orphan School, as was three year-old James, three weeks later. They were reunited with Alice’s eldest child, Terence, who arrived with their father on the Navarino in January 1843. The children eventually saw their father again and, after he was given his ticket-of-leave, he took Terence and Ann out of the Orphan School. James stayed a little longer until he was thirteen and, was apprenticed to Mr Anstey of Oatlands. Ann married and had many descendants. Terence disappeared in Victoria; probably changed his name after some trouble with his employer. James drowned when he was twenty-six, while crossing a creek on his horse. Owen Brady, Alice’s husband, went to Victoria, changed his name, faced two charges for stealing horses and spent many more years in jail. He died as a poor and elderly former convict.


    Catherine Cahill

    b c 1813 (Irish Prison Record)

    tried Bailieborough, County Cavan, 27 June 1842

    Catherine Cahill and her son, Thomas Cahill, were sent to hospital after the ship arrived in Hobart. Three year-old Thomas died six weeks after his admission to hospital. Catherine recovered and was assigned to work and began serving her sentence in the Hobart area. Mr Solomon charged her with neglect of duty in November 1844 and she was put into solitary confinement for seven days. It was the anniversary of her son’s death.

    She may not have met up with her brother, Owen, who was in Fingal, but perhaps she saw her nephews and niece at the Orphan School. There was more trouble two years later when Catherine was charged with having a man under her bed and various articles belonging to her master found in her room. She was convicted and sentenced to six months in the Female House of Corrections at Cascades. The man must have been in the bed at some time because Catherine was pregnant and stayed at the Factory after her sentence to deliver her child.

    Catherine was admitted into the prison hospital on Friday 20 March and her waters broke in the early hours of Saturday. The delivery did not go well. The nurse, Anne Stevens, stayed with her that night and Dr Casey visited but Catherine became very weak. She was in pain which she found hard to bear and the doctor ordered brandy and water. On Sunday Dr Casey sent for his colleague, Dr Edward Bedford, and the two doctors used instruments to deliver the baby, but it was stillborn. Catherine passed away the next morning, Monday 23 March 1846. The autopsy confirmed that there were ruptures in the uterus caused by the large size of the baby. Catherine left her family in Ireland and death ended any chance of another.

    See Appendix Cavan Women

    Letter of Petition for clemency for Catherine Cahill – to the Lieutenant General & Governor General

    Newspaper Accounts of Trials

    Inquest for Catherine Cahill



    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 –Alice Fitzsimons, 1843 & Catherine Cahill, 1843.

    Irish Transportation Records Catherine Cahill CRF 1843 C69

    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Orphan School Records, Terence, Ann & James Brady, SWD7, 28

    TAHO Catherine Cahill CON 40/1/2 image 251

    TAHO Thomas Cahill RGD 35/1/1 No. 1907 image 208


    CatherineCahillsInquest web

    Inquest, Catherine Cahill, SC195/1/17 Inquest No. 1413

    Foster, Thomas Campbell; Letters on the condition of The People of Ireland, Letter II



    Margaret Beale, Catherine Sheridan, Mary Reilly, Mary Dean

    stealing livestock-a family business




    2nd January 1842 – Stole pigs

    Matthew Dean – age 55 (father of the Dean family)                     Prince Regent 1842

    Thomas Dean – age 16  (brother of Mary Dean)                            Waverley 1841

    Matthew Hyland – age 22, (husband of Mary Dean)                    Waverley 1841


    31st January 1843 – Stole fowls

    Bernard Dean – age 19 (brother of Mary Dean)                           Constant 1843

    Michael Dean - age 15 (brother of Mary Dean)                           Constant 1843

    Catherine Sheridan – age 28 (sister of Margaret Beale)               East London 1843

    & her son, John McNamee                                                               Constant 1843

    Margaret Beale - 23 (sister of Catherine Sheridan)                        East London 1843

    Bernard Reilly- age 18                                                                       Constant 1843

    Mary Reilly – age 20                                                                          East London 1843


    31st March 1843 - Stole fowls & ducks

    Matthew Dean - age 13 (brother of Mary Dean)                          Constant 1843

    Mary Dean – age – age 22                                                               East London 1843


    27th March 1844 – Stole 3lbs bacon

    Patrick Dean- age 13 (died Point Puer Hospital 1845)                  Emily 1844


    28th February 1847 - Stole hens

    Ann Sheridan – age 38 (sister of Margaret & Catherine)              Kinnear 1848

    Ann Lee – age 40 (?sister-in-law)                                                     Kinnear 1848

    The Deans and Matthew Hyland were related by marriage. Margaret Beale, Catherine and Ann Sheridan were sisters. The Dean boys said their mother’s name was Bridget but Matthew, the father, said Sheddan – was her maiden name Bridget Sheridan? It would explain the connection between the Deans and the Sheridans. Were the Reilly’s also related- perhaps cousins? The name Bernard appeared in both families. Ann Sheridan was convicted with Ann Lee in 1848. Ann Sheridan’s child had the surname Lee so perhaps the two women were sisters-in-law.




    Margaret Beale, Catherine Sheridan, Mary Reilly, Mary Dean

    1. c1817            b. c1814                   b. c1823            b. c 1822

    These four women were connected by family and place and their story cannot be separated from the men who were with them in their crimes. Margaret Beale and Catherine Sheridan were sisters, a relationship both acknowledged on their convict records. They were part of a group of seven involved in the same crime and tried on the same day. The group stole 24 fowls belonging to Mr Brownlee, although Margaret Beale said she took a petticoat, but her prosecutor was also Mr Brownlee and the others charged in the theft of the fowls named her as one of the party. Perhaps she grabbed a petticoat as well as the fowls. Mary Reilly was part of the group of seven charged with the theft of the fowls. All were sentenced to transportation.

    Catherine Sheridan’s son, fourteen year old, John McNamee, was among the group and Bernard and Michael Dean, probably nephews of Margaret Beale and Catherine Sheridan. On the indent records of the Deans, the boys gave their mother’s name as Biddy, but their father, Matthew, said it was Sheddan, probably a spelling of Sheridan. Was the mother of the young Deans called Bridget Sheridan and sister to Catherine Sheridan and Margaret Beale? Probably brother and sister, Bernard and Mary Reilly, were related to the group as they were with them and the name Bernard appeared in both the Reilly and Dean Families. The 1821 census of Killashandra put Matthew and Bridget Dean and their infant son in the townland of Corglass. The Sheridan and Reilly names were common in the area.

    The four men, Bernard and Michael Dean, John McNamee and Bernard Reilly, were transported on the Constant while the women, Catherine Sheridan, Margaret Beale, and Mary Reilly, were on the East London. Also on board was Mary Dean, sentenced with her brother, Matthew, to seven years transportation for larceny of fowls and ducks. Their trial was eight weeks after all the others were sentenced and so sister and brother were able to join their relatives on board the East London and the Constant. The two ships were in Kingstown Harbour together and sailed a day apart.

    In 1844, the youngest Dean boy, Patrick, was charged with the theft of bacon and transported in the Emily. He was sent to Point Puer where he died the following year. Three years later Anne, the last Sheridan sister left in Ireland, was charged with the theft of two hens and sentenced to seven years transportation. She brought her child, Ellen Lee, with her aboard the Kinnear in 1848. Anne Sheridan was sentenced with Anne Lee. Anne Sheridan’s child was fathered by James Lee so the women were probably sisters-in-law. Years later the two women went personally to collect their certificates of freedom on the same day. The people from the family and community retained their links. Was theft a means of living for these families? Or was it a means of getting a passage out of the country?

    The women from Cavan Gaol stayed together on the East London, and the family group of the Beale, Sheridan, Dean and Reilly women were messmates. Only one woman of the mess group was not from Cavan; Mary Donnelly, from Mayo, was a cook, so the women chose their mess mate well. They were all in their twenties with Catherine Sheridan the eldest at twenty-eight, or so she said; very young to have a fourteen year-old son. Irish prison records said she was thirty. All the women survived the voyage without appearances on the sick list except for the birth of a child to Mary Deane two weeks before reaching Hobart. None of the group was sent to hospital on arrival. There were no comments as to their behaviour on board, but Catherine Sheridan had a reputation for being quarrelsome in gaol. The three children who made the journey with the mess group survived the voyage.



    Above: Cavan Court House built 1824


    Catherine Sheridan

    1. c1814

    tried Cavan 3 January 1843

    Catherine Sheridan, who was married, said her husband, Frank, was a butcher in New York. Catherine and her son, John McNamee, aged fourteen, were sentenced to seven years transportation for the theft of the fowls. In Hobart, she only had one charge during her sentence and it was at the Brickfields Probation Station not long after arrival. She was accused of using bad language and served six days solitary confinement. Her sister, Margaret Beale, was involved in the same incident and received the same punishment. Catherine’s son, John McNamee, transported on the Constant in 1843, was sent to Point Puer on arrival. He served his sentence without any trouble and at one time was sought after to be assigned to John Bales (Margaret Beales husband). The request was refused but John McNamee received his ticket of leave in July 1849, in time for his mother’s marriage to Henry Marsden (Anson 1844) at St George’s Church of England, Hobart, on 28 August 1849. Henry was a farm labourer who served his time with few charges. One of the witnesses at the wedding was her sister Margaret Beale (spelt Bales on record).

    John McNamee died of dysentery in 1852 and his death was registered by his mother, Catherine. Two years later on the 17 January 1854, Catherine Marsden (Sheridan), aged fifty, labourer’s wife, of Macquarie St, Hobart, died of a lung disease. Her death was registered by her sister, Margaret Russell (Margaret Beale).


    Margaret Beale

    1. c1820

    tried Cavan 3 January 1843

    Margaret Beale was in prison previously in Cavan for stealing gooseberries. In 1843, she stole a petticoat and fowls, or received such stolen goods, and was given a sentence of seven years transportation. The gaol report from Ireland labelled her ‘quarrelsome’. Once she reached Hobart she served her sentence with few incidents. However, in the early weeks after arrival in Hobart, she was charged with insolence, on the same day as her sister. It happened during their time at the Brickfields Probation Station and they both received a punishment of six days’ solitary confinement. The only other charges against Margaret involved being absent without leave and, on those occasions, she served two months and four months hard labour in the Female House of Correction.

    Margaret was married and her husband, John, was a soldier in the 96th Manchester Regiment of Foot. Margaret’s convict indent, filled in on arrival, said he was ‘out here’.   In 1848, Margaret’s older sister, Ann, was transported and also mentioned the brother-in-law in the 96th Regiment. The 96th Regiment was in Ireland in 1838, stationed in Dublin and Enniskillen and, the road between those cities went through County Cavan. Was husband, John, a local lad who signed up in Ireland, or an English soldier who fell in love? He could read and write so perhaps was not a local village lad. In 1839, back in England, his regiment was broken into separate detachments which sailed on convict ships as guards to New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land. There was no man with the surname Beale in the pay books and muster lists of the regiment, but there was a John Bales, a private, with many good conduct comments noted on the muster list. Margaret was illiterate, and in court perhaps not able to confirm the correct spelling of her surname and her husband had been gone for nearly four years. In Hobart Margaret used the surname Bales.

    John Bales sailed on the Barossa to Sydney in 1839, served at Norfolk Island and in New Zealand during the Maori Wars in 1844. The company returned to Van Diemen’s Land in August 1846 to rejoin the rest of the regiment which was due to move to India in 1849. John Bales was discharged at the end of December 1847 with a gratuity of six months’ pay and became a messenger with the Commissariat in Hobart. In August 1848 he applied to have John McNamee, Catherine Sheridan’s son, in his service. But John McNamee was still under sentenced and the authorities said he was ‘not yet capable of gaining his living’. In March 1851 John Bales, aged 38, died, and John McNamee was the informant who registered the death.

    Witness names on certificates gave further clues that the surname was Bales and that Margaret and John were together in Hobart after eight years apart. They met after taking such different paths to Van Diemen’s Land. Margaret Bales was a witness at the wedding of Catherine Sheridan in 1849. John Bales was a witness to the wedding of Margaret Beale’s sister, Anne Sheridan, also in 1849. John Bales signed with a clear signature; the women all signed with a cross. On Anne Sheridan’s indent record she said her sisters were at Norfolk. Was she referring to Norfolk Island where John Bales had served? Most of the records put the sisters in Hobart at that time.

    By the time of Catherine’s death Margaret had the surname Russell when she registered her sister’s death. The trail to that name had several steps. Margaret Bayles, widow, married Henry Hughes, a shoemaker, on 19 July 1852, at St George’s Church, Hobart. Henry died less than a year later in May 1853. Margaret Hughes, widow, married William Russell, labourer, on 14 November 1853 at St George’s Church, Hobart. Witnesses at that marriage were her brother-in-law, Thomas Morgan, and niece, Ellen Lee, husband and daughter of Anne Sheridan. The Catholic Sheridan women had changed their allegiance to the Church of England. There were no records of births for Margaret in any of her marriages.

    On 3 March 1872, a Margaret Russell died suddenly as she picked hops in New Norfolk. An inquest into the death gave the cause as apoplexy. Although the name was common, her age, 54, fitted the information about her birth year given in prison records.



    Mary Reilly

    a. c1823

    tried Cavan 3 January 1843

    Mary Reilly said that she stole the fowls from James Fitch and Margaret McGuire, and the others said they stole the fowls from Robert Brownlee. They were all charged and they stole together so perhaps they raided several houses and took as many fowls as they could. Mary and her brother, Bernard, were part of the large group which stole the fowls and probably closely related to the Deans and Sheridans. The Dean and the Reilly Families both had young men named Bernard. Twenty year-old Mary Reilly had prior convictions for stealing fowls and Bernard for stealing potatoes. All were illiterate.

    In Hobart Mary served her sentence with two charges of absconding and several of being absent without leave as well as one for insolence. She was at the Female Factory at Cascades when she gave birth to a stillborn child in 1849 not long before she received her ticket of leave. Two weeks before the birth, Mary was charged with having a ‘torn up shift’ and spent seven days in the cells. Was clothing and size a problem for her at that stage or was she preparing for the arrival of a baby? She did not marry under sentence. Her certificate of freedom was issued at the beginning of 1850. The name Mary Reilly was common and spelling varied so proof of marriage was difficult to confirm.

    Mary’s brother, Bernard, who was described as quiet and orderly by the Surgeon Superintendant on the Constant, served his sentence with little trouble and received his ticket of leave in 1847. There was a charge of burglary against him in Bothwell in 1880, but he was acquitted.



    Mary Dean

    b c1820

    tried Cavan 31March 1843

    Twenty year-old Mary Dean was not involved with the others in the theft of the fowls, but eight weeks later she and her thirteen year-old brother, Matthew, were charged with the theft of two ducks. Mary embarked on the East London with the other members of her family. Stealing poultry was the downfall of most of the family members. They were rural people and probably among the underemployed agricultural poor. Mary Dean’s husband, Matthew Hyland was convicted three years earlier with her father, Matthew Dean, and her brother, Thomas Dean, for the theft of pigs at Cross Keys. Matthew Dean said it was his son-in-law, Matthew Hyland’s fault and he did not know the pig was stolen when it was salted in his house. All were sentenced to transportation. Matthew Hyland and Thomas Dean sailed on the Waverley in 1841 and Matthew Dean on the Prince Regent in 1842. The departure of the senior Matthew Dean and Mary Dean’s husband, Matthew Hyland, must have been a great loss to the ability of the family to support itself. The absence of Margaret Beale’s husband away in the army and Catherine Sheridan’s husband in America added to the disruption and put a burden of survival onto the women and young men left at home. Matthew Hyland’s conduct record stated his only prior charge was for riot. The dispersal of the men, a riot and the theft of livestock indicate difficult economic and social conditions, unemployment and poverty for the family. All the women had prior charges for theft of potatoes, hay or small livestock.

    The four women, Margaret Beale, Catherine Sheridan, Mary Dean and Mary Reilly, gave their occupations as servants on their prison records, the men in their families said they were labourers or shoemakers and the senior Matthew Dean was a ploughman. The surgeons’ reports said the men were quiet and well-behaved. They were of the agricultural labouring class, with little education and like many men at that time, probably under-employed.

    Mary Dean’s husband, Matthew Hyland had no offences under sentence in Van Diemen’s Land. He was commended for ‘metorious conduct’ in preventing a robbery and gained his ticket of leave early. He died in 1845 in hospital at Westbury.

    After her husband’s departure from Ireland, Mary Dean lived with a man named Thomas Royals (sic) who was the father of her child born aboard ship. She was pregnant when she embarked and two weeks before arrival in Hobart was safely delivered of a baby girl after a six hour labour despite the gale that was blowing. The surgeon described Mary as a healthy woman and she recovered well. A Susan Dean, fifteen months old, died in Dynnyrne Nursery in January 1845. The convict record also noted that Mary Dean had a daughter, Mary, aged four. Matthew Hyland said he had a child. The Grange Gorman Prison records do not list Mary Dean’s four year-old child as being with her. Edward Caldwell gave a total of 50 children boarding the East London but Dr John Clark, the man who called for the enquiry, said there were 49 children. The whereabouts of Mary Hyland remain a mystery. She did not enter the Orphan School but she did have relatives in Van Diemen’s Land who could have looked after her.

    Mary admitted five prior convictions before the sentence of seven years transportation; stealing potatoes and stealing hay were among the charges. Her trouble with the law begun at an early age as had motherhood. In Hobart she completed her sentence without any offences. She gained her ticket of leave in February 1847 and her certificate of freedom in December 1850. On 1 August 1848, she married James Smith at St George’s Church of England in Hobart. James, who was sentenced in Dublin, faced the lash twice during his years as a prisoner. Trace of the couple as Mary and James Smith has been lost.

    The men in the family completed their sentences. The senior Matthew Dean, transported on the Prince Regent, eventually married Isabella Todd, who was most likely the convict woman of that name from the East London. The younger boys were sent to Point Puer where Thomas Dean was labelled a bad character, bore many punishments and was sent to Port Arthur. He did receive a certificate of freedom. The youngest, Patrick Dean, who arrived three years after his father, was the only one who did not survive his sentence. The family would have made contact as they completed their sentences. Michael Dean said on his indent papers on arrival that he wanted to get out to see his father. The young Dean men eventually went to Victoria.

    The 1821 census of Killashandra, County Cavan, is among the few Irish census documents which remain for that year. Matthew and Bridget Dean and their young son Bernard lived in house No 7 in the townland of Corglass, Parish of Crosserlough. Matthew was a labourer and Bridget a flax spinner. There were Sheridans in the same location and Hylands and Sheridans in nearby parishes. All the women listed their occupations as spinners and the men as farmers or linen weavers. By the 1840s their work as spinners and weavers was no longer needed.

    The beautiful Corglass Lough was in a rural area close to the town of Killashandra.



    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 –Margaret Beale, Mary Dean, Mary Reilly, Catherine Sheridan.


    Convict Records.

    Margaret Beale, East London, 1843.                  CON 40/1/2 image135   CON 15/1/2 image180 & 181 pos 6

    Catherine Sheridan, East London, 1843             CON 40/1/10 image 99   CON 15/1/2 image206 & 207 pos 4

    Mary Reilly, East London, 1843                            CON 40/1/8 image 235   CON15/1/2 image 204 & 205 pos5

    Mary Dean, East London, 1843                           CON 40/1/8 image 72     CON 15/1/2 image 186 & 187 pos 9

    Bernard Dean, Constant, 1843.                          CON 33/1/41 image 52   CON 14/1/21 image 87 & 88

    Matthew Dean, 55, Prince Regent 1842.           CON 33/1/15 image 3     CON 14/1/11 image 14 & 15 pos 4

    Matthew Dean, Constant, 1843.                        CON 33/1/41 image 54   CON 14/1/21 image 89 & 90 pos1

    Michael Dean, Constant, 1843                           CON 33/1/41 image 53   CON 14/1/21 image 87 & 88

    Thomas Dean on the Waverley 1841                 CON 33/1/12 image 58   CON 14/1/9 image 18 & 19 pos 4

    Matthew Hyland, Waverley, 1841.                     CON 33/1/12 image 91   CON14/1/9 images 26 & 27 pos 5

    John McNamee, Constant, 1843                       CON 33/1/41 image 142, CON 14/1/21 images 121 &122 pos

    Ann Sheridan, Kinnear, 1848                              CON 41/1/19 image 126   CON 15/1/5 images 53 & 54

    Patrick Dean, Emily, 1844                                   CON 33/1/60 image 50, CON 14/1/29 Images 22 & 23 pos 4

    Bernard Reilly, Constant, 1843                           CON 33/1/41 image 180, CON 14/1/21 images 135 & 6 pos 2


    Mary Dean & James Smith, RGD 37/1/7 1848/1732 Hobart

    Catherine Sheridan & Henry Marsden, RGD 37/8 1849/231 Hobart

    Ann Sheridan & Thomas Morgan RGD 37/1/8 1849/802 G&K 7270


    Death Margaret Beale/Russell G&K 541435

    Catherine Sheridan/Marsden G&K 512105

    John Bales G&K 503673

    AJCP, 96th Regiment, Pay Books & Muster Lists, Reels 3089-3094.

    Martha Reilly

    b c1823


    tried Cavan 4 March 1843


    Martha Reilly joined the messmates of the Sheridan, Dean and Reilly family group. She was a Church of England follower, unlike the others, who were Catholic. However, she was of a similar age to the Catherine Sheridan, Mary Dean, Mary Reilly and Lucy Magaughran. She was tried on the same day as Lucy and arrived at Grange Gorman with Mary Deane so there were links between the women. Martha was a laundress and was probably employed at the time of her crime as she lived in lodgings rather than her family home. She had a mother, four brothers and three sisters in Cavan. She was transported for perjury. Through the letters of petition and the response from the judge, we have the events which led to her conviction.

                A stack of hay and oats belonging to the Reverend Thomas Carson was set on fire in a deliberate and malicious act, possibly by the Ribbonmen. A little time afterwards Martha came forward as a witness to testify that as she walked home from Naleelis to Cavan in the night she saw three men; she left the road and climbed over the style close to Mr Carson’s hay yard to hide. It was then she saw John and Thomas McGinnell and William [Doholme?] set fire to the hay.   She said John McGinnell was carrying the can of fire with him. Martha was sent to the Castle in Dublin as a crown witness to await the Assize Court in Cavan which would try the men.

                Martha was the only witness to the act for which the three men were tried. However there were several witnesses who gave evidence for the defence which cast doubt on Martha’s testimony. The defence called a woman, lodged in the same house as Martha, who swore that Martha, far from being out on the night of the fire, was ill at home. The witness said that the next morning, on learning of the fire, Martha said, ‘I suppose it is some of the Cullis boys did it and that there will be a handsome reward’. Another witness, Samuel Moore Esquire, believed by the judge to be the Treasurer of the County, came forward and said that he had employed John McGinnell for ten or twelve years and that John was with him in Dublin on the night in question and he was not mistaken. On that evidence the three men were acquitted.

                The day following the acquittal the Counsel for the Crown sent up bills of Indictment for Perjury against Martha Reilly. She was advised that she could postpone her trial to the next Assizes if she wished but she preferred to stand trial. The judge, Justice Doherty, said that he considered the number of witnesses who contradicted Martha’s oath and particularly the respectability of the gentleman, Mr Moore, who established the alibi for John McGinnell. The judge found Martha guilty of perjury and said her conviction was ‘unclouded by doubt’. She was found guilty of swearing against three innocent men and deposing to facts of which she could have no knowledge. She was sentenced to transportation for seven years.

                Petitions were written asking for mercy and a commutation of the sentence of transportation. One petition was from Marcus Gervais Beresford, Archdeacon of Ardagh and the Reverend Mr Carson whose hayrick had been burned. The two men were clergy from the Irish Anglican Church. Marcus Gervais Beresford later became the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland and the Reverend Thomas Carson became a bishop. They were senior clergymen and asked for Martha’s sentence to be mitigated to a period of confinement. They said she was the daughter of honest and industrious parents who lived in the neighbourhood of Cavan and she had certificates to show that nothing occurred previously to hurt her character.

                The judge, John Doherty, replied to Edward Lucas, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, who had asked for the particulars of the case. It is from his letter that the events of the trial and the statements of the witnesses are known. He said he was astonished that two clergymen of high character and station certified that they had no hesitation in recommending Martha Reilly as a fit and proper object of mercy. He was even more surprised that one of the clergymen was the Reverend Mr Carson whose hayrick had been burned. He said that if they were ‘persons who sought an ignominious popularity by recommending convicts to mercy without any knowledge of the facts or circumstances he would have passed it over without notice. But, as the Rev Mr Carsons and the Archdeacon of Ardagh were not persons who recommended a mitigation of punishment under the circumstances as he detailed without good grounds, he suggested that his letter should be forwarded to them and that they should be called on to state the grounds on which they felt justified in recommending Martha Reilly as a fit and proper object for His Excellency’s merciful consideration’.

    To clarify his request, Marcus Gervais Beresford, Archdeacon of Ardagh, wrote to Dublin because he did not believe Martha Reilly to be innocent, but said he had information which led him to doubt her guilt. There was a man called Pat Brady, wanting to be hired by Archdeacon Beresford, who lived and worked as a ploughman at Cullis previously. While talking with the Archdeacon’s steward, Pat Brady told him that the McGinnells had tried to induce him to leave the country lest he should give evidence against them. He gave the steward to understand that the McGinnells were guilty as Martha had sworn.

                On the other hand, Thomas Carson, whose hay was burned, was entreated by Martha’s mother to sign the petition. He changed his mind on mature consideration and wrote to Edward Lucas in Dublin that her crime ought to be severely punished. He feared that it prevailed to a fearful extent in the county and, if not checked by fear of the present punishment, it may spread more widely.

                Martha did not have her sentence commuted and her file bore the statement, ‘the law must take its course’. She sailed for Van Diemen’s Land and carried two certificates in her favour. She shared her mess with the other women from Cavan who appeared to be among the first to select a mess. There were no deaths from the mess group and all remained healthy throughout the voyage.

    Martha reached Hobart, served her sentence with few charges; an absence without leave, a misconduct charge and one for being drunk and disturbing the peace. The last one saw her given two month’s imprisonment with hard labour in the Female House of Correction. However her wedding was only five days away so it was allowed to take place. Martha married John Brown, a former convict, in St George’s Church, Hobart, on 16 June 1845. John Brown was forty-five, had lost most of his teeth and was deeply pockmarked. He had been tried in County Meath for stealing a pair of trousers, transported to Norfolk Island in 1840 and arrived in Hobart aboard the Maitland in 1844. He was sent to the Colonial Hospital as an attendant and when he married was working as a constable. Before his conviction he was in the 22nd Regiment but bought his discharge. Martha and John Brown faded from records; their names were too common to accurately confirm identity. Two children were born to a John and Martha Brown at Evandale in 1851 and 1854 but the mother’s maiden name was not recorded.

    See Appendix for the Letters of Petition


    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 235 pos 3

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 204/5 pos 6

    Tasmanian Marriage Record, RGD 37/1/4 Hobart, 1845/1616


    Lucy Magaughan

    1. c 1822

    tried 4 March 1843

    Lucy Magaughran, twenty-one and a Catholic, was tried in County Cavan on the 6 March, 1843. Lucy, who had not been convicted before, was charged with housebreaking and the theft of bread, and sentenced to seven years transportation. As she received such a harsh sentence, perhaps she had been a suspect in other thefts.  Her parents were alive and she had two sisters, one of whom was in Manhattan. She lived with Thomas Breslin for three years and had two children, James and Mary Ann Breslin, with her on board the East London. Was her theft of bread a desperate act of a mother with two small children?

    Lucy and her children shared the mess with the young women from County Cavan. She was tried on the same day as Martha Reilly and so the mess mates had something in common. There were no deaths among the women from her mess group nor were any sent to hospital after they reached Hobart. Lucy and her children were not on any of the listings for the sick during the voyage but the younger child, Mary Ann Breslin, aged eighteen months, died in the Dynnyrne Nursery on the 15 November 1843, a few weeks after arrival. The older child, James Breslin, was admitted into the Orphan School on the 2 October 1843 with the other children who had survived the journey without any serious illness or danger to their health. He stayed there for nearly four years until his mother received her ticket of leave in June 1847 when he was discharged into her care.

    By the time Lucy was reunited with her son she had married Thomas Ball (Egyptian 1839) at the St George’s Church of England, Hobart, 18 May 1846. At the time of their marriage Thomas was a servant and the couple may have met when they were both working for John Dunn’s family in Hobart. They left that service around the time of their marriage.

    Lucy’s life in the colony can be followed through newspaper articles. Thomas, fifteen years older than Lucy, became a groom and coachman. Lucy was a laundress and she gave birth to six more children. Lucy and Thomas were living at the Upper end of Macquarie St when two thieves stole the shirts that Lucy had hung out to dry. The thieves were spotted and Thomas gave chase and captured them. The men were charged, tried and sentenced to seven years transportation.

    There were times when Lucy did her laundry work but did not receive payment. A report in the Colonial Times in 1851 told of her bringing charges against the coxswain of a ship for non-payment of the laundry done for the crew. Lucy refused to hand over the linen and the crew refused to sail. The matter was settled when the coxswain said he would pay. Lucy gave up the linen and the coxswain just laughed about her expecting him to hand over the money. Eventually the case was settled in her favour and the captain of the ship had his name cleared. Lucy also appeared in court charged by her servant girl with violent and abusive treatment and beating her with much cruelty. Lucy was said to have been drunk. There were other instances of quarrels with neighbours, threats and drunkenness throughout these years.

    By 1856 Thomas Ball was in the insolvency court. He owed over sixty-six pounds and had assets of only seven pounds. He blamed his troubles on having to support a wife and a family of six children. Despite being described as being a very industrious woman by Mr Symons, the Chief Constable, in a case where Lucy was a witness, problems began to grow.

    In 1857 Thomas Ball brought civil charges against James Alfred Dunn for payment owing to Lucy. James Dunn was a son of the family that Thomas and Mary worked for before they were married. James had returned from study in England and was a Member of Parliament. Mary did his washing and the argument was about payment. Lucy said James owed a large amount which had built up over two years, but he denied owing it. There was no doubt that the washing had been done and that some payment had been made. The Dunn family was an important family with influential connections and Lucy was a laundress and former convict. Lucy had only one serious offence while under sentence which was for making a false statement. Her husband was declared insolvent the year before and, the reason he was transported was for forgery of a ten-pound note. Their history was not a good one. Lucy gave a detailed account of what she was owed and when and how she was paid as well as the numerous times she pleaded for the money. The defence questioned why she waited so long and let such an unpaid bill mount up and accused her of altering her account book. Lucy told of part payment given by James Dunn before the argument about the washing fee.

    As the trial moved along Lucy accused James Dunn of owing payment for a child, a little girl called Mary he gave over to her care in May 1854 and who was suckled with her own child. James Dunn denied knowledge of the child. The lawyers looked at birth records and found that Lucy gave birth to a little girl called Mary Ann, not in 1854, but 1853, and so her account was not believed. The jury delivered with their verdict in thirteen minutes. Lucy was found guilty of perjury. (A very detailed account of the trial was written in The Courier (Hobart, Tas 1840-1859), Saturday 20 June, pages 2 &3). The case was a fascinating story of a handsome young man of wealth and influence, with a powerful father, amid the desperate ploy of two former convicts who were very poor. The defence lawyers accused Lucy of making up a concoction to extort money, supported by wilful and corrupt perjury. The judge called it a most impudent attempt at extortion. Lucy certainly went after some money, but perhaps she did have knowledge that she thought could be a bargaining point. The story of the child was a strange addition to the case of non-payment of laundry bills and there was no evidence given in court that the child existed. The judge even questioned why no-one asked Thomas Ball how many children he had. Lucy and Thomas failed badly in their action against James Dunn.

    Lucy was sentenced to four years imprisonment. She burst into tears on hearing the sentence and implored the mercy of the court, as she had six little children dependant on her. She asked if she could take the youngest with her but was refused. After Lucy went to prison the five youngest children were put into the Orphan School. Thomas Ball was not a well man and his health was declining despite Lucy stating during the trial that he was healthy. Thomas petitioned the Governor on behalf of Lucy in 1858 but the Governor declined to interfere. Thomas Ball died in early 1859 while Lucy was still in prison. Lucy was released in October 1860 and had her children discharged to her in 1862.

    She was a widow with a large family. Life would not have been easy with only her ability to bring in any income. Her reputation as a woman who had been in gaol again would not have given her a chance of being employed by reputable people. She had many appearances in court, once as a witness, when an employer charged her daughter for a breach of the Servants and Masters Act. The girl was only twelve and Lucy demanded her return as she expected the employment to have been only for one week. Lucy argued that the family employing her daughter really wanted to adopt her as they had no daughter of their own and hadn’t let her come home to visit on Sunday. The charge against the child was dismissed. Another time Lucy was assaulted for being late with her rent, but gradually the charges grew worse, drunkenness, disturbing the peace, theft and stealing from the person. One judge accused her of preying on drunken men outside public houses. She served another sentence of one year in 1864 for stealing a shawl, another for three years in 1869 for theft of money from the person, and once again, a month’s imprisonment in 1875 for larceny.

    After that date Lucy disappeared from public records. Perhaps she left the state as she had mentioned in court of needing money for that purpose. She spent much of her life in poverty, endued a terrible journey and had many years in confinement. She worked hard and had, at times, been taken advantage of and, learned her own tricks about taking advantage of others. She had many children and possibly her final years were with some of them.

    See Appendix for the Letters of Petition



    TAHO -Lucy Magaughran CON40/1/8 image 84 position 3

    TAHO -Lucy Magaughran CON42/1/1 image 16

    TAHO -Lucy Magaughran CON15/1/2 image 200/201 position 6

    TAHO -Thomas Ball CON31/1/3 image 295

    Death of Mary Breslin - 15/11/1843, Female Convicts Research Centre, Infant Deaths Hobart Nurseries.

    The Tasmanian Colonialist 4 November 1852

    The Hobarton Mercury 22 December 1856

    The Courier (Hobart Tas: 1840-1859), Friday 19 June 1857

    The Courier (Hobart Tas: 1840-1859), Saturday 20 June 1857, page 2,3

    The Mercury (Hobart Tas: 1860-1954) 11th February 1869


    Ellen Duffy

    a. c 1804

    tried Cootehill County Cavan 28 March 1842

    unfortunately married a Catholic

    Eleanor (Ellen) Duffy was thirty-nine years old when tried on larceny charges at Cootehill, County Cavan and was sentenced to seven years transportation. It was Barrister Murphy who sentenced her and her daughter claimed that Mr Murphy was very sorry he had to pass such a sentence. He could not avoid it as so much was sworn again Ellen.



    Above:  Cootehill Court House


    Cootehill Court House


    (from our reporter)

    Cootehill, Thursday, March 31, 1842

    Eleanor Duffy, of Cootehill, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging her with stealing a quantity of linen in the month of February last, the property of Surgeon McGahan, of Baileborough, which was drying on a hedge in the garden in the rear of his house; and, in consequence of her being an old offender, she having been repeatedly convicted of larceny before his worship in this county, he sentenced her to be transported for seven years. She made a very feeling and affecting appeal to him for mercy on account of her children, that would, she said, be left desolate; but his reply was, that, as much as he commiserated her situation, he felt he had a paramount duty to perform to the public, and it was the opinion of his brother magistrates that she should be sent out of the country, as, notwithstanding the leniency they had heretofore displayed towards her, they found her incorrigible. She then commenced the most vociferous lamentations, and was removed to the bridewell. This unfortunate woman was once very respectable, her brother being at present a Stipendiary Magistrate, in the South of Ireland.

    The Northern Standard 9 April 1842


    It was a tough judgment upon a woman with six children and it meant she had almost no hope of returning to Ireland to see her family again. However, she had three prior convictions and had served long terms in jail. Ellen was transferred to Grange Gorman Prison in Dublin with Alice Fitzsimons, Catherine Cahill and Ellen Keogan in August 1842 to await the arrival of the ship to take her to Van Diemen’s Land.

                It was during that time that her daughter, Mary Ann Duffy, and Ellen Duffy herself, sent petitions to Earl De Grey. Mary Ann Duffy left her service and used what little money she had to travel the fifty-two miles to lay the petition, on behalf of her mother, before the Lord Lieutenant. It was from the letter of petition, begging to have the sentence repealed, that the story of Ellen’s crime was revealed. Mary Ann Duffy said her mother committed the crime through poverty and intoxication. She took clothes off a neighbour’s fence in the middle of the day and the neighbour prosecuted her. Ellen was held until the Cootehill Quarter Sessions when her trial took place. Mary Ann Duffy petitioned Barrister Murphy for clemency for her mother, but he told her that a reprieve had to come from the Lord Lieutenant and so she had made the journey to Dublin.

    From Ellen’s own petition more of her story is revealed. She was a Protestant who ‘unfortunately’ married a Catholic man and that decision cut her off from her family. She said that she was from a respectable family. The signatures on her petition testified that her late father possessed considerable property in County Fermanagh and was a well-connected man. Ellen said she had six children and four were boys, the youngest being only three years old. She felt completely deranged by the thought of leaving her small helpless family.

    Ellen was not among those written about in the surgeon’s journal. Towards the end of the voyage she must have been ill as she was admitted to the hospital when the ship arrived in Hobart. The conduct and indent records have little or no information of her. The gaol report said she was very good but also noted on her conduct record were prior convictions. Ellen recovered and served her sentence without any charges and obtained her ticket of leave in June 1847 when she was forty-six years old.

    Ellen was a tall woman, a dress maker and could read and write. Did her separation from her relatives because of marriage to a Catholic bring about her poverty? Was she considered an outsider by the Catholic community? Not included in the same mess as many of the others from Cavan, Ellen shared her mess with seven women all Protestants. The trouble caused by her marriage to the Catholic Frank Duffy probably came from both her family and the Catholic community she married into and may have led her to favour the company of the Protestant women. There were no deaths from her mess group but Ellen and one other woman were sick and sent to hospital on arrival in Hobart. Ellen’s decision to marry outside her religion seemed to have had consequences she could not have imagined. By the time of her transportation she had a habit of theft and intoxication. She was a troubled woman.

    What became of her in Van Diemen’s Land? No charges were laid against her during her sentence. She gained her ticket of leave in 1847 but no certificate of freedom was recorded. Possibly she was the Ellen Duffy who married James Stewart, a carpenter, on 10 July 1849 at St John’s Manse, Church of Scotland. Ellen Stewart died 1 April 1851. The death record is the correct age for Ellen Duffy.

    See Appendix for the Letters of Petition



    Convict conduct record, Eleanor Duffy, CON 40/1/4 image 69

    Journal of the surgeon superintendant, East London, Adm101/22 Reel 3139

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond(Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    Register of marriages, Ellen Duffy & James Stewart, Tasmanian Marriage Records Hobart 1849/453

    Register of deaths, Ellen Stewart, Tasmanian Death Records Hobart 1851 Reg No. 635

    Irish Transportation Records CRF 1842 D21




    Ellen Keogan

    b c1824

    tried 7 April 1842 County Cavan

    thief & prostitute

                Ellen Keogan was nineteen when she stole a shawl from a shop in Cavan. She had a prior charge for stealing potatoes but was acquitted. Although she was tried in Cavan, she gave her native place as County Meath. She came from a large family, six brothers and two sisters. Her father was alive at the time of her transportation but no mention of her mother.   She said she was a house servant or maid and a country servant. The other note on her papers said that she was ‘on the town’ for twelve months. What would have led a girl from a family with so many brothers and sisters to a life where prostitution and stealing became a means of livelihood? Her given occupation as a country servant indicated a rural background and possibly her family were agricultural labourers.

                A glimpse into the lives of the labouring class in Meath and Cavan throughout the 1830s and 40s showed unemployment to have been the burden under which they lived. The testimony of Rev. James Rickard P.P in the Union of Athboy and Rathmore, County Meath, in the 1830s gave a clear view of the status of the labouring class. Of the 900 labourers in the district only 250 had constant work. Just how many of Ellen’s brothers and father had employment and did they earn any more than eight pence a day in winter or up to ten pence to a shilling in summer? How did they survive the days and weeks when there was no work or not enough work? Ellen worked as a prostitute and maybe even that was not enough to survive or it was such a degrading life that she turned to theft, first potatoes and then the shawl from the shop in Cavan.

                Ellen belonged to the Church of England and that separated her from most of her Cavan fellow prisoners. She was tried in Cavan on the 7 April 1842 and was transferred with Alice Fitzsimons, Catherine Cahill and Eleanor Duffy to Grange Gorman Prison the following August. Not one of the three joined the main mess group from Cavan. Ellen Keogan joined a mess where three other women were Protestants. She remained in sufficient health throughout the voyage not to be admitted into the ship’s hospital, nor to be sent to hospital after arrival. She was able to finish her sentence and claim her certificate of freedom. The only troubles she brought upon herself were because of drunkenness for which she was usually fined but on one occasion received three months hard labour at the Female Factory in Hobart.

                While under sentence she married Isaac Watkins, a convict from the Strathfieldsay 1831. They married in the United Church of Ireland and England, Hamilton, in 1845, when Ellen was twenty-one and Isaac thirty-two years old. He was working as a constable at the time of their marriage. Newspaper records from the Argus in 1848 show that Isaac made the journey across Bass Strait as early as 1848 before Ellen had her certificate of freedom. However, in 1849 they were free to go together as Ellen had received her certificate of freedom. They sailed aboard the Flying Fish at the end of March 1850, travelling steerage, but must have gone back to Tasmania for they left again aboard the Flying Fish in March 1852 and the Olinda in September 1852 when they travelled as cabin passengers. A newspaper advertisement in The Argus, Melbourne 23 September 1852, from the passengers aboard the Olinda during that voyage, thanked the Captain for his kindness.

    23rd Sept, 1852. Dear Sir,

    We, The Undersigned, Cabin and Steerage passengers of the Barque Olinda, from Hobart Town to this port, cannot leave you without expressing our heartfelt thanks for the manner in which you have treated us during the voyage, your extreme kindness and your earnest desire to promote the comfort and happiness of all on board call forth our warmest approbation, and our earnest desire is that you may long live to enjoy the approbation of all who sail with you

    We beg to remain,

    Dear Sir

    Yours, very truly, To Capt. George Sinclair,

    Barque Olinda.

    Among the signatures -Isaac Watkins & Ellen Watkins


    There are no records of birth for any children to Ellen and Isaac. The only reference to Isaac comes from the Amherst Hospital Admission Book in 1873.   He was a miner and farmer in the Amherst area which, because of a discovery of gold during the Gold Rush of 1853, had become known as an extremely rich goldfield, and tens of thousands of miners had flocked there. Perhaps Isaac was one of those miners who sought gold at Amherst.

                The hospital record was dated July 1873 and gave Isaac’s wife’s name as Ellen. He was said fifty-eight years old rather than sixty-eight, his actual age. In 1875 there was a death record for Isaac Watkins, aged seventy-four, which gave his wife’s name as Ellen. She probably remained with Thomas during the years in Victoria but what happened to her after widowhood?

                Did Ellen return to Tasmania after Isaac died? There was one reference to a police case in Hobart in 1876 where Ellen Watkins was charged with being idle and disorderly and having no means of subsistence. Was that her? Ellen Watkins was in jail in Hobart in July 1882, serving a seven-day sentence, when she died suddenly from heart disease. There was an inquest into the death.  A newspaper report of the inquest described what happened.


    INQUEST.-An inquest was held yesterday at 11:30 o'clock in the Bird-in-Hand Hotel, before Mr. Coroner Tarleton and a jury of seven, to enquire into the cause of the death of Ellen Watkins, who expired on the 7th Inst:, in the gaol, whilst undergoing a sentence of seven days imprisonment. Mr. Thos. Whiteside was the foreman of the jury

    Annie Williams, a prisoner in the gaol, who had occupied the same ward as the deceased, deposed that she remembered Saturday last, the 7th inst,, when she had tea with the deceased, and at the same table. During that day Watkins had complained of pain near her collar bone. She ate sparingly at tea, and afterwards went into the sleeping ward, and lay down upon her bed. She was then suffering from pain, and shortly afterwards removed her clothing and went to bed. About five minutes after this she vomited some frothy matter. Mrs. Paull was then called, and she brought some liniment with her, and witness and Mrs. Paull rubbed Watkins chest and back. Mrs. Paull then left to get the attendance of a doctor, and during her absence the deceased died in witness' presence. The woman died before the doctor arrived, and being so informed, he did not see her. Cecilia Eliza Paull deposed that she had on the evening in question been called to the assistance of the deceased. She applied various medical restoratives. From the time when the deceased first took violently ill till her death could not have been more than 90 minutes. She believed the deceased had died in her presence. George Washington Turnley, a legally-qualified medical practitioner, and visiting surgeon to the gaol, deposed that he had made a post mortem examination of the body of the deceased. The body was well nourished, and bore no signs of violence. The cause of death was fatty degeneration of the heart, from which death would result suddenly, and the pain complained of by her would be consistent with this cause of death.   The Coroner explained that the law required an inquest should be held into the death of all persons dying within the walls of the gaol-a law which no doubt had its origin at a time when prisoners were not so well treated as at present. In this case, however, there was an additional reason in the fact that the deceased had died suddenly. A verdict was returned in accordance with the medical testimony that deceased died from disease of the heart.


    The death record noted that Ellen Watkins was born in Ireland and that is the only clue to the death being the correct one for the woman of that name transported on the East London. She had survived nearly forty years away from her homeland and her family. She had not fallen seriously ill with scurvy or diarrhoea on board ship, but had been able to finish her sentence and look to a new life. She went with her husband to the gold fields, making one trip as a cabin passenger, which was quite a step up from the prison decks of her journey to Van Diemen’s Land. She endured the hardships and the hard work of being a woman on the goldfields. It is not certain how long she stayed in Victoria, but, perhaps by the end of her life, she was in Hobart, the place at which she had landed in her early days and sadly to end her days once again in prison


    Notes of a Short Tour Through the Midlands of Ireland in the Summer of 1836 With Observations of the Condition of the Peasantry,(Testimony of Rev James Rickard P.P. Union of Athboy and Rathmore P128.)

    TAHO Ellen Keogan CON 40/1/6 image 200 position 1

    TAHO Ellen Keogan CON 15/1/2 image 196&197 position 4

    TAHO Isaac Watkins CON 31/1/46 image 143 position 1

    TAHO Isaac Watkins CON 18/1/5


    Isaac Watkins   “Red Rover” 11/4/1850 POL 220/1/1 p214

    Isaac & Ellen Watkins “Flying Fish” 30/3/1852 CUS 36/1/217

    Isaac & Ellen “Olinda” 1/9/1852 CUS 36/1/404

    Isaac Watkins “Yarra Yarra” 31/3/1853 POL 220/1/3


    The Argus 22 September 1852

    The Mercury (Hobart, Tas: 1860-1956) 14th July 1876 p.2

    The Mercury (Hobart, Tas: 1860-1956) Wednesday 11 January 1882 p.2

    Amherst Flat - Wikipedia


     Appendix (pdf)

  • Chapter 5: The Rioters at New Town Farm Station Open or Close



    The Rioters at New Town Farm Station

    26 January 1844



    To the Right Hon. Lord Standley, Secretary of State for the Colonies etc.

    Two years having elapsed since your Lordship was pleased to appoint Mrs Bowden and myself to superintend an establishment in this colony for the reformation of female convicts,


    On the 9th January the female prisoners who had previously arrived in the colony by the ships EAST LONDON and MARGARET were placed under our charge and removed to a station at New Town in the vicinity of Hobart Town, to a building in a state of the utmost discomfort and dilapidation, some of our officers were immediately placed in charge, but no effective [cover] would be obtained over these women, and their conduct, whilst under inspection was altogether the reverse of satisfactory. No other result could have been anticipated from the circumstances attending their passage out, the neglected moral training prior to our arrival, and the wretched accommodation assigned to them.




                The women from the East London who survived the long and stormy journey reached Hobart Town on 21 September 1843. They witnessed sickness and death during their months at sea. Nineteen women died and fourteen were transferred to hospital as soon as the ship docked. They watched the suffering of dying children and others close to death sent to hospital on arrival.

    During the voyage there were sick and dying women who were not able to be admitted to hospital because of lack of room and remained in their berths until someone’s death freed a space. The surgeon ordered the berths to be cleaned and soiled clothes to be disposed of. Those suffering from diarrhoea with no control over their bowels and others ill with scurvy would have found it impossible to carry out those tasks. Small children, distressed and crying, aggravated the dreadful conditions on the prison deck and the weather, too, added its fury to the long voyage.

                There were hints of tension between the women and the surgeon. A month into the journey, Mr Edward Caldwell, Ship’s surgeon wrote that only the ‘deserving’ were to be given lemon juice as the others ‘declined taking the allowances prescribed by the printed instructions’. In Grange Gorman Prison in Dublin, before the women embarked on the East London, they protested about food. Edward Caldwell was informed that Mary Healy would not eat except for what was agreeable and pleasing to the palate and encouraged others to join in her the revolt. Mary was in hospital from the time she embarked but there might have been others who continued to refuse food they did not like. However, the depleted health of some of the women even before boarding, the seasickness or the loss of appetite caused by the onset of scurvy, are more likely the culprits in the refusal of food.

                The surgeon’s attitude and his decision to give the lemon juice to those he considered were ‘deserving’ and disregard the others may have been his usual manner to other situations arising on board. The Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals in Van Diemen’s Land, Dr John Clark, strongly criticized the lack of discipline on the East London. Despite so much illness, one hundred and two women arrived in September fit enough to disembark and provide information for their indent records. They were then sent to the probation stations. How did the women having been through such a terrible journey under conditions where discipline was not strongly enforced?

                On Friday 26 January 1844, three months after arrival in Hobart, women from the East London rioted at New Town Farm Station. The riot and turbulence started after one of the warders, George Heskell, heard that Catherine Kemp had absconded. He went directly to the day room and found the women, ‘excited and disordered’. He said Catherine Kemp was in the room but the general group of women were in, ‘a state of mutiny and making a great uproar’. He called Catherine Kemp three or four times to go with him but she refused. A constable was asked to take her into custody but Mary Connell and Margaret Smith went to her defence and the three resisted the arrest. Miss Carr, the Assistant, went to the room and the women quietened a little after she and George Heskell spoke to them, but Catherine Kemp was still not taken into custody. Describing an attempt to get the women to stop the riotous behaviour and quieten down, Miss Carr said the unrest continued with windows being broken and Catherine Kemp, who had a piece of board about four feet long, smashed windows.

                About ten minutes into the disturbance, Mr Edwards, one of the cooks, reported that two of the women made their escape into the bush. One was Mary Connell. A row began when District Constable Eskdale made another attempt to take Catherine Kemp into custody. Eliza Moran, Mary Dooley, Ellen Cronin and Margaret Smith became prominent in their resistance to the constable. Mary Dooley had a shovel and threatened to split the constable’s head open. Somehow during the affray, the constable received a slight wound to his face which drew blood. District Constable Eskdale and two or three other constables tried to take some of the women into custody but had to withdraw and the women were left in control of the yard which they locked from the inside. The bread store was broken into, fifty-four loaves taken and, the watch box in the yard was smashed into pieces. More assistance from Hobart was requested and the Police Superintendent arrived at the station to take charge.

    Eventually, the authorities took control and the women who absconded were returned to the station. The rioters faced charges of insubordination, resisting in a turbulent manner and with violence opposing the lawfully constituted authorities. Most of the women pleaded not guilty except Catherine Kemp, Ellen Cronin and Margaret Smith, who pleaded guilty. During the hearing and cross examination, George Heskell accused Mary Brady of exciting the women from the East London against the English women prisoners. He said Mary Dooley was one of the most active of the rioters and tried to keep Catherine Kemp from being taken into custody and, after being brought back from the bush, Mary Connell smashed windows and threw pots and plates.

    Miss Carr, in her evidence, said the women refused to obey her orders, particularly Catherine Kemp, who, although she sat quietly for a short time after being spoken to, quickly became as tumultuous as before. She said that none of the women had offered her any personal violence but she was present when they were throwing pannikins and other missiles. Catherine Kemp stood on the forms and tables and threw pannikins and plates. The only woman accused of bad language was Catherine Kemp who used ‘very very bad’ words no female of common decency should have heard.

    Miss Mary Wills Stroud, another female officer, testified that most of the women were in a state of mutiny. She accused Catherine Kemp of being the worst and said Catherine struck her in the face with a tin plate when she tried to persuade her to go with the constable. Miss Stroud went outside in fear of her safety, particularly after Catherine Kemp threatened to take her life. Mary Hannon too, had called her bad names when she beckoned her to come outside and then threatened to ‘do for her’.

    Joseph Eskdale, the District Constable at New Town, was at the station after being called upon because of the disturbance. In his evidence, he said Margaret Smith, Ellen Cronin and Mary Dooley were more riotous than the rest and had come to the rescue of Catherine Kemp. He described how Mary Dooley had a shovel in her hand and flourished it around her head threatening to strike the first person to go near her. She struck at George Ross, a constable, but missed. Constable Ross said he received a black eye from a stone which had been thrown although some women called out not to throw stones.

    Did the trouble start before the riot?

    Sarah Greene was charged with disorderly conduct four days before the riot. Mary Ronayne faced the same charge the day before the riot. Both women received sentences of six days solitary confinement. They were in confinement when the riot broke out on 26 January 1844. The reasons for Sarah’s actions may have stemmed from the same cause as the rioters and their punishments may have added to the anger felt by all the women prisoners.

    Sarah Green’s story is in the In and Out of the New Norfolk Asylum.


    Mary Ronayne

    b. c1825

    tried 19 September 1842 County Cork

    faced charges in Hobart on the 25 January 1844

                Mary Ronayne was tried in County Cork for stealing a pair of boots. It was not her first offence because she faced court on earlier occasions for stealing corduroy and for stealing a shawl. She spent two months in prison for each of her prior crimes so the theft of the boots resulted in a sentence of seven years transportation. Her father, brother, and sister were in Cork.

                On the East London Mary shared her mess group with four women from Longford and three from Antrim, Kings and Leitrim. Her fellow cell mates from the Cork Gaol were in the nearby mess group. The eldest woman in the group was Dolly Douragan, thirty-six, who had her two year old child with her. Although the women in the group were young there were three deaths; Mary Holland and Rose Carroll and her infant child. Neither woman was in good health but scurvy aggravated their illnesses and they both died in the week before the ship reached Hobart. Mary Holland was in hospital from early June, but Rose Carroll stayed in the mess group until mid-August. Mary Ronayne saw suffering and death and must have had to help care for the very sick women before they were admitted into the hospital.

                In Hobart, Mary was at New Town Farm Station serving her probation period when she was accused of disorderly conduct the day before the riot. She was sentenced to six days solitary confinement and was well away from the rioters the next day. The conduct records do not describe the actions in the offence of disorderly conduct, but it warranted the immediate tough penalty of solitary confinement. Perhaps the punishment fuelled resentment amongst the other women.

                Mary finished her sentence of transportation with one charge of misconduct, another of disorderly conduct and, on six occasions, of being absent from her residence or work place and, on the last occasion, using improper language. James Collins (Maitland) applied to marry her in April 1845 and George Harper applied in February 1846. Approval for marriage was given on each occasion but there are no marriage records. Mary’s conduct record stated that she was married and was absent from her place of residence (presumably her husband’s dwelling) so a marriage may have failed before it was registered.

                Mary gave birth to two children, a little girl, Mary Ann, born at the Female Factory Launceston in 1846. The little girl died at the Factory in March 1847 and an inquest was held. Mary Ann was very small, had syphilitic eruptions and was under medical care. On the night she died, she was very restless and nursed by Mary who fell asleep, but when she woke found the little girl dead. The inquest ruled that the little girl was accidentally suffocated by her mother. Among the evidence was a statement from Catherine Fitzgerald, nurse, who slept in the next bed. Catherine Fitzgerald, an East London woman, travelled to Grange Gorman with Mary Ronayne.   Mary Quinn (2), another woman from the East London, gave a statement to confirm the events on the night the little girl died. Among these women was a bond from their journey together and, when they found themselves in the same prison, grouped near each other.

    A child, Edward Ronayne, was born to Mary in April 1848, in the Female Factory Launceston. Although healthy, he suffered a severe attack of diarrhoea in January 1849 and, despite treatment and the nourishment advised by the doctor, died within two weeks. Another inquest was held and the doctor and nurse described the illness and the methods used to treat the little boy.

    Mary Ronayne received her ticket of leave in May 1849 and her certificate of freedom in October 1849. She was charged with disturbing the peace on two occasions in the same week in October 1869 and fined five shillings and ten shillings. These final charges were the last records found of her.



    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 236 position 1 (Mary Ronayne)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 204/5 position 7 (Mary Ronayne)

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 page 294 (permission to marry Mary Ronayne & James Collins)

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 page 374 (permission to marry Mary Ronayne & George Harper)

    TAHO SC 195/1/20 (Inquest 1645) Mary Ann Ronayne

    TAHO SC195/1/23 Inquest 2006, Edward Ronayne

    The Mercury, Hobart, Saturday 20 February 1869, Tuesday 23 February 1869 (Police Court & Mary Ronayne)


    The Riot at New Town Farm Station 26 January 1844


    Nine women were charged for riot on the 26 January1844, but records showed many others receiving punishments for offences which occurred during the affray. The women were charged with insubordination, for resisting in a turbulent manner with violence and, opposing lawfully constituted authorities. All pleaded not guilty except for Catherine Kemp, Ellen Cronin and Margaret Smith. Catherine Kemp and Mary Dooley’s sentences of transportation were extended for two years. Mary Connell and Eliza Moran’s sentences of transportation were extended for one year. Margaret Smith, Mary Hannon and Catherine Shaw were sentenced to six months imprisonment in separate working rooms. All were sent to the Female House of Correction. Ellen Cronin and Mary Brady were each given ten days solitary confinement.

    Margaret Smith was charged with breaking into the bread store. Mary Wickham was also named as a culprit in breaking into the bread tore and both received six days solitary confinement; added to which, was six months in the Female House of Correction at Cascades. Susan McKenna received six days solitary confinement on the same date as Mary Wickham and Margaret Smith. The charge wasn’t specified, but possibly it was the same offence of breaking down the room divider. In the days following the riot Jane Lamb and Mary Ann Tumney received six days solitary confinement for disorderly conduct and Mary Burns and Ann Lee were reprimanded.

    Did the women revolt because they were traumatised by their experiences on the voyage and in no emotional or mental state to cope or did a new and stricter discipline at New Town Station lead them to wilful and resistant behaviour? George Heskell, the male warder in charge of the females at New Town Station, started in the position two weeks prior to the riot. In his description of his role as warder he said, ‘I have assisted in mastering them’. A new and strict routine may have ignited the anger and violent behaviour of the women. At Brickfields Station during January 1844 there were ten women charged with disorderly conduct, insolence, gross insolence or misconduct. Adjustment to prison life on land was not easy for the women of the East London.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm


    Catherine Kemp

    age 18 from Dublin

    tried 24 October 1842 Dublin

    pleaded guilty

    Catherine Kemp, from Bow Bridge, Dublin, was seventeen years old when sentenced to transportation and eighteen by the time she arrived in Hobart. She said her real name was Thorpe and later her younger brother, Thomas Thorpe, was transported and his family information confirmed Thorpe as the family name. The reason for the use of Kemp as a surname has been lost. Perhaps it was to evade authorities as she was charged previously with stealing cotton velvet in Dublin under the name Thorpe and served three months in prison. Catherine earned her sentence of transportation when she stole a pair of trousers. By coincidence, or perhaps by usual method employed by family, Thomas Thorpe faced exactly the same charge. Thomas was only thirteen when convicted and fourteen when he reached Hobart aboard the Samuel Boddington in 1846. He was sent to Point Puer.

                Information Catherine provided, named her parents, brothers and sisters and she said that her brother William was transported on the Isabella Watson in 1842. He was not on board that ship under that name but fourteen year-old John Thompson from Dublin had the same family members as Catherine Kemp. At the baptism of Catherine’s first child in 1847, William Thorpe was a sponsor so he was in Hobart. Catherine said that the man she lived with for six months, Thomas Lester, was ‘believed transported’. He was not found in any transportation records. The description of younger brother, Thomas Thorpe, included the tattooed initials of his family members on his inner arm. The poverty of the sister and brother, from the slums and crowded tenements where ‘cheerless rooms swarmed with inhabitants’, had not destroyed the family bond. Thomas Thorpe carried the indelible reminder of his family on his arm.

                Although Irish Prison records listed furrier as Catherine’s occupation, her indent record stated that she lived for three or four years by shoplifting. Earlier convictions reported her as having no occupation. She had short prison sentences for stealing a bale of silk and shawls. Thomas Thorpe faced the court quite a number of times; on three occasions was acquitted, twice served two months, once six months and once twelve months. He was thirteen when he received the sentence of transportation so his criminal career began at a very young age. Catherine and Thomas’ childhood in the filthy, crowded slums with little or no sewerage and dingy rooms in which to dwell, provided the pair with a toughness and knowledge of crime and resourcefulness to survive. Theft was a means of income and the trade of clothing and cloth was probably a quick and easy way to have something to sell to earn money.

                Aboard the East London Catherine messed with three other women from Dublin, Catherine Shaw, Susan Whittle and her child, and Anne Read and her child. Sharing the mess were two prostitutes, Margaret Duffy from Fermanagh and Ellen Keogan from Cavan. The last member was Mary Dooley from Kings. The Dublin women were from the slums, some of whom were described by the surgeon as having led irregular lives, and one, Susan Whittle, very ill, was disliked by the other women for her lack of cleanliness. Ellen Keogan, prostitute, did not join any women from her county and Mary Dooley had a ‘very bad’ report from gaol. Was it the tough, street wise girls group? They had four deaths from their mess, two women and two children. Despite that trauma there was a romance between fellow mess woman, Catherine Shaw, and one of the mariners. Perhaps some of them found ways to find comfort and escape from the illness and filth around their berth.

    Catherine Kemp had the ability to push back against the authorities and was protected by those around her. Whatever it was that happened to cause the disturbance at New Town Station, the other women supported her.

                Catherine’s sentence was extended for two years and she had to serve her probation in the Female Factory. Her conduct record showed that she did not lose her feisty nature. In 1845, she was charged with disorderly conduct and fighting, and spent three months in prison, one month of which was in the separate cell. Later, there were charges of drunkenness, neglect of duty and absconding, for which she served twelve months in the Factory, but once returned to her work place she took off again and received an extra three months in prison.

                In January 1846, John West applied for permission to marry her. Permission was given but the marriage did not take place. A few weeks later Catherine absconded and, as a result, was jailed so marriage was not possible. In November 1847, she had a baby daughter, Rebecca Clark, who was baptised at St Joseph’s Church. The little girl died aged fifteen months and Catherine, who registered the death, called herself Catherine Clark. Catherine gained her ticket-of-leave 17 October 1848 but it was marked not to reside in Hobart. Her certificate of freedom was not issued until 4 May 1853.

    On 16 January 1850, Catherine gave birth to a little girl, Ellen Buxton, and on 13 February 1851, she had a son, John Buxton. The children were born in Hobart and the father was William Buxton, a labourer. Possibly he was the man of that name transported on the Layton. Catherine was flexible about surnames, using both Thorpe and Kemp on the birth records, as well as the surnames of the men in her life. However life with William Buxton was brief. Catherine appeared in records again when she gave birth to a daughter, Harriet, in Oatlands in 1852.   The father was Daniel Ellis, transported aboard the Manilus in 1840. Baby Harriet Ellis and a two year old child, John Ellis, were baptised on the same day at St David’s Church, Hobart, in September 1853. John Ellis’s birth date was given as 16 February 1851. Was this John Buxton, (born 13 February 1851), renamed and christened? Perhaps it was Catherine’s way of adopting the Ellis surname or even registering the correct one?  Although there was no official marriage record Catherine stayed with Daniel and they three more children and lived in Oatlands and Longford. A newspaper item in 1862 mentioned Daniel Ellis and his daughter Ellen in a case at the Oatlands Police Court. Ellen Buxton had become known as Ellen Ellis.

    Did Catherine meet up with her brother Thomas – probably. They both received certificates of freedom; Catherine in May 1853 and Thomas Thorpe, a couple of weeks later, in June. From the poverty and squalor of life in the Dublin slums, the horror of her journey to Hobart, the unrest of the early days after her arrival, Catherine settled into domestic life with Daniel Ellis, raising her family without any further breaches of the law. She lived a long and fruitful life raising a large family and ended her days at Longford in 1906 aged eighty-one.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town farm

    Google Books; Dear Dirty Dublin: A City in Distress, 1899-1916

    TAHO CON40/1/6 image 200, (Catherine Kemp)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 196-7 position 5, (Catherine Kemp)

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 p 393 PMO 14231 (Permissions to Marry John West)

    Tasmanian Birth Record Hobart, 1847, Reg No 391, (Rebecca Clark)

    Tasmanian Death Record Hobart, 1848, Reg No 2316, (Rebecca Clark)

    Baptism Record, St Joseph’s Church, Hobart,30//8/1848 (Rebecca Clark)

    Baptism Record, St David’s Church, Hobart, (Ellen Buxton)

    Baptism Record, St David’s Church, Hobart, (John Buxton)

    Baptism Record, St David’s Church, Hobart, (John Ellis)

    Tasmanian Birth Record, Oatlands, 1856, Reg No. 1287, (Mary Ann Ellis)

    TAHO CON 33/1/75, image 130, (Thomas Thorpe)

    TAHO CON 14/1/35 image 56&57 last position (Thomas Thorpe)

    TAHO CON 14/1/15 image 177&178 position 3 (John Thompson)

    TROVE: The Mercury Friday 1 August 1862 Ellen Ellis


    Mary Connell

    a. c 1823

    tried 9 December 1842 Cork City

    pleaded not guilty

    Mary Connell was twenty years old when she arrived in Hobart. She was prosecuted in Cork for stealing linen sheets and received a sentence of seven years transportation. She faced court on the same day as Mary Calnan but there was no evidence they were thieves together. Before the sentence of transportation, Mary Connell was two weeks in prison for assault. She admitted that she stole the linen in order to be transported. A newspaper report from the Cork Examiner, Friday 9 September 1842, showed the thinking of some sentenced to transportation.

    There cannot be a doubt of one of the most mischievous belief prevalent among the peasantry of this country – namely, that transportation is not so much a punishment as a change of condition—not for the worse, but for the better.

    Mary Connell had brothers and sisters in Cork and lived with John McCarthy, a farmer, for twelve months. Nevertheless, she must have wanted to get away and the prison ship was the means. She said she was a house maid who could wash and iron. Mary shared her mess with her fellow inmates from County Cork, all young women. The only other woman was Joanne Wilmott and her child, from County Limerick, neither of whom survived the voyage. Mary Connell was beside the two very ill and dying souls during the voyage.

    Mary was in trouble for disorderly conduct at Brickfields Station in November 1843 and was put into solitary confinement for ten days. In January 1844, she played a prominent role in the riot at New Town Station when she helped Catherine Kemp resist being taken into custody. She was accused of being very impudent and one of the worst in the tumult. In the midst of further uproar, Mary escaped into the bush with another woman. They were brought back, but Mary continued to smash windows and throw pots and plates and that landed her in serious trouble. She had her sentenced extended for one year and placed on probation in the Female House of Correction. During the remainder of her sentence she had few charges, once for being absent without leave for which she served two months hard labour, one charge of obscene and abusive language which saw her in solitary confinement for two days, and a fine for drunkenness.

    In June1846 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Launceston, Mary married William Brown who was transported on the Canton in 1840. Mary said she was twenty-one, a slight lower adjustment in age, and William was twenty-five. Mary received her ticket of leave 4 July 1848 and her certificate of freedom 10 December 1850. The couple left Tasmania aboard the City of Melbourne in October 1851 for Port Phillip. There are no records of children born to the couple and they had no children accompanying when they left. William and Mary Brown sailed into life in Victoria as Mr and Mrs Brown.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions; Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    CON 40/1/2 image 256, Mary Connell

    CON 15/1/2 images 184-5 position 6, Mary Connell

    CON 31/1/3 image 312, William Brown

    TAHO RGD 37/1/5 1846/380, marriage of William Brown & Mary Connell

    TAHO Departures, POL 220/1/1 p455

    British Newspaper Archive: Cork Examiner Friday Evening 9 September 1842


    Mary Dooley

    1. c1814 Kings County, Ireland

    tried 24 October 1842 Tullamore King’s County

    pleaded not guilty to riot in Hobart


    Mary Dooley, was transported as a result of stealing 10/6 from a person. She served a prior six-month sentence for stealing meat and, on another occasion, was acquitted of stealing cashmere. She had two brothers, one of whom was in the army, and two sisters in Ireland. She was single and she could read.

    On board ship Mary was a messmate of Catherine Kemp and Catherine Shaw, two of the main rioters, and was prominent in the resistance to the constables who came to take Catherine Kemp into custody. One of the district constables, George Ross, was threatened by Mary as she flourished a shovel and accused her of saying she would split his head open. She swung at him but missed She was said to be among the more riotous of the group. Her part in the riot earned her an extension of two years to her transportation sentence with a recommendation to be placed on probation in the House of Correction.

                Mary continued to resist authority by absconding on two occasions, and receiving further terms in the Female House of Correction. She had a misconduct charge for which she was in solitary confinement for six days and several charges for drunkenness, disobeying orders, disturbing the peace and obscene language. Once she received her ticket of leave she was not allowed to reside in Hobart or Launceston. Her certificate of freedom was issued in November 1851.

                During the years of her sentence there were three requests for marriage. John Doherty, transported on the Ratcliffe, applied for permission to marry her in 1848 but the application was refused. John Jenks applied in July 1849 and Joseph Broadhurst in September 1850. Both applications were approved but no marriages took place.

    Mary Dooley was imprisoned again in 1854. A report from the Police Office in the Cornwall Chronicle said she was charged with stealing a coat from the house of William Snell, Bathurst St. Launceston. Snell was chopping wood in his yard and, when he went inside, he found his coat was gone. A witness said Mary Dooley, a single woman, walked by with a coat over her arm. Mary was traced to a lodging house and the coat found and identified. She was committed for trial.

    She was in the Female Factory Launceston when she died on 12 April 1857. An inquest was held into her death and the Coroner’s verdict was death by visitation of God, to wit, she died in a natural way; she had consumption.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON40/1/4 image 71, ( Mary Dooley)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 186-7 position 7, (Mary Dooley)

    Permissions to Marry

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 p 30 PMO 4760

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 p 111 PMO 4761

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 p 236 PMO 4762

    TAHO SC195/1/41 Inquest 4232 (Mary Dooley)


    Cornwall Chronicle 11/2/1854

    Launceston Examiner 9//2/1854

    Eliza Moran

    1. c 1818 King’s County

    tried 3 January 1843, Tullamore, King’s County

    pleaded not guilty to riot in Hobart


                Eliza Moran was a twenty-five year old widow and a Protestant. She could read and write and gave her occupation as a dressmaker and needle woman. She was charged with Francis McGuinesss, possibly her husband, for stealing post bills to the value of £31, but Francis McGuiness died before he was tried. Eliza had a prior conviction for stealing £100 and served two months imprisonment and on another occasion tried for stealing a post bill and threatening to burn it and was again imprisoned. She was taller and better educated than most of the other women and had skill as a dressmaker, all of which placed her higher on the social scale. Her crime of theft from the public post was more sophisticated than many of the shoplifting or even livestock thefts so common among the women.

                In the information given on arrival, Eliza Moran said her mother, Margaret, was at their native place, but her three brothers, John, William and Patrick and her sister, Harriet, had emigrated to Port Phillip.   Harriet Moran, aged sixteen, a Protestant who could read and write, arrived in Australia aboard the Elphinstone in 1840. She was a nursemaid brought out by Mr Capper. Her sister, Anne, was aboard ship also but died on the voyage. Eliza must have known that fact as she did not include Anne’s name among her living siblings. Harriet named their father as Edward Moran, a farmer from Goren, Kilkenny. Possibly her brothers were John Moran, aged twenty-five, who arrived on the Argyle in April 1841 and Pat Moran, aged thirty-four, who reached Port Phillip in December 1841 on the Alexander. Eliza’s brothers and sisters had left Ireland for Australia. Did Eliza and Francis steal to raise funds to make their journey to join the family at Port Phillip?

                On board ship, Eliza shared her mess group with two others from Kings County, two from Meath and one from Tyrone; two of the women in her mess were in their fifties, one of whom had her ten year-old daughter with her. There was one death from the mess group, Catherine Manley, who had a liver disease and was in the mess group for much of the journey before her removal to the ship’s hospital. The other women and the young girl reached Hobart safely.

                In the riot at New Town Station Eliza Moran was said to have been one of the main women involved in aiding Catherine Kemp and preventing the district constable from taking her into custody.   The principle female officer, Miss Eliza Carr, named Eliza Moran as being defiant when spoken to and among the worst of the women during that day. Whatever the incident or incidents which instigated the riot the women protected Catherine Kemp. Eliza was prominent in that incident and insolent to those in charge. Eliza’s anger and rudeness reflected the anger which was widespread in the women held at New Town Station. Eliza had her existing sentence of transportation extended for one year with recommendation that she be moved and placed on probation in the Female House of Correction.

                Eliza worked through her sentence and had several charges for absconding, insolence and misconduct, drunkenness, and, on one occasion, when drunk, administering intoxicating liquor to her master’s infant children which must have been her way of ensuring the infants were quiet and did not disturb her

                Eliza was married on the 22 August, by the rites of the Catholic Church, at Port Arthur to Thomas Williams, transported on the Lotus in 1833. Thomas was tried at London Central Court for the theft of police clothing and sentenced, with several others, for receiving the stolen goods. He said he was a law stationer’s clerk, although his trial record said that, on the night of his crime, he was assisting the waterman. During his sentence, Thomas Williams was further committed for embezzling money and sent to Port Arthur to serve out his sentence; hence the wedding at the chapel there.

                Eliza received her certificate of freedom in January 1851, but, in March 1854, she was indicted for stealing a cask of pork and of receiving. She was found guilty and again sentenced for seven years transportation. She served probation and was allowed to enter private service, at her own request, in December 1855. A notice in the Victorian Police Gazette in March 1856 reported that Eliza had absconded to Port Phillip but was returned to Hobart.

                There are no registered births of children for Eliza Moran and Thomas Williams. An Eliza Williams, aged 70, housewife, born in Ireland, died 15 June 1886 at the New Town Pauper Establishment.



    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 85 position1 (Eliza Moran)

    TAHO CON 42/1/1 page 206 (Eliza Moran)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 200-1 position7 (Eliza Moran)

    TAHO CON 31/1/46 image 209 (Thomas Williams)

    TAHO CON 18/1/13 image 61 (Thomas Williams)

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 p399 PM18955 (permission to marry)

    Tasmanian Marriage Record RGD 37/1/6 1847/1372 Tasman Peninsula Port Arthur

    Tasmanian Death Record; Hobart, 1886, Reg No. 3192

    Colonial Times 6/4/1854

    The Mercury, 13/9/1876

    Victorian Police Gazette; index 1853- 1858 (Eliza Moran)





    Mary Brady

    1. c1815 Dublin

    tried 25 October 1842 Dublin

    pleaded not guilty to riot in Hobart

                Mary Brady was from Britain St., Dublin. She was twenty-eight, single and, a Catholic. She was a needlewoman and could read and write. The women from Dublin seemed to fare better in literacy than many of the rural women. Mary had a history of theft. She stole sheets for which she received her sentence of seven years transportation. Previously she had had three terms in prison; once for stealing blankets which put her in prison for three months, once for stealing clothes, two months, and a six-month imprisonment for stealing money. Her report from the jail in Ireland said her behaviour was very good. Her mother, brother and two sisters were in Ireland.

                On board ship Mary shared her mess with four others from Dublin, a woman from Leitrim and one from Fermanagh. There was an eight year-old boy with the mess. No death occurred in the group but one woman was sent to hospital on arrival. Mary and the other mess women were well enough to be sent to the probation station.

                During the riot at New Town Station, Mary was accused of inciting the women against the English women. She left her bed about half-past ten when the disturbance began and was observed through the paling fence by Mr Eskdale. The principal female officer, Eliza Carr, put Mary Brady among the worst of those who displayed riotous conduct. For her conduct in the riot Mary was given ten days solitary confinement.

                Mary completed her sentence with one or two charges each year, some for drunkenness, being absent without leave, absent from her workplace or out after hours. There were no further charges of insubordination or insolence. Her charges related to bidding for freedom. She married Samuel Lee (Lay) on 24 July 1846, at St Joseph’s Church, Hobart. Samuel Lay was transported aboard the Nautilus 1840 to Norfolk Island and the Maitland to Hobart 1844. He was member of the 75th Regiment and was convicted of desertion, his second such charge. He was twenty-six at the time of his marriage, a servant, and, according to his conduct record, could wait at table or serve as a laundry man.

                There are no records of children to Mary and Samuel Lay. The name could have various spellings, particularly as Samuel Lay was illiterate.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON40/1/2 image 133 position 3, (Mary Brady)

    TAHO CON15/1/2 image 180-1 position 2, (Mary Brady)

    TAHO CON 33/1/51 image 201 (Samuel Lay)

    Tasmanian Marriage record, (Samuel Lay & Mary Brady) RGD 37/5 1846/228



    Catherine Shaw and Ellen Cronin

    pleaded not guilty

                Catherine Shaw was a messmate of Catherine Kemp and Mary Dooley. She was a Dublin girl who was nineteen years old when she reached Hobart. Although her name was not mentioned in the report of the accusations when the constables and officers described individual offences, she must have been named and actions detailed because she was ordered to be placed in the separate cells of Female House of Corrections for six months.

    Her story is in the chapter Violent Deaths.

    Ellen Cronin, messmate of Mary Connell, was twenty-eight years old and from Cork. In giving evidence in court about the behaviour of the women during the riot, Miss Mary Wills Stroud said that she saw a majority of the women being in the riot and tumult except Ellen Cronin. Perhaps Ellen was the woman who absconded with Mary Connell and then returned to the Station. Mr Joseph Eskdale swore in his statement that, after he arrived in consequence of the disturbance, Ellen Cronin was one of the women to rally around Catherine Kemp and prevented him from taking her into custody. He said she was one of the women around him at the time when he was struck on the face. Ellen pleaded guilty to the offences, but said she only scolded and talked as well as any other woman but did not take up any weapon.

    Her story is in the chapter Violent Deaths.




    Mary Hannon

    1. c 1823 Limerick

    tried 20 October 1842 Rathkeale, Limerick

    pleaded not guilty to riot in Hobart


                Mary Hannon, a young woman from County Limerick, was ‘on the town’ for two years before her sentence of seven years transportation. She stole a watch from James Fitzgibbon. It was not her first offence as she had been before the court on similar prior charge. She also had a vagrancy charge, a charge often used against prostitutes. Her brothers and sisters were at her native place, although one brother had joined the army.

    She was one of four women who were on trial on the same day in Rathkeale; Mary Garvin was an older widow with six children and the other three women were all aged twenty. Of the young women, Mary Hannon and Mary McMahon, were ‘on the town’, while the other, Joanna Wilmott, died during the voyage and information about her offences was not recorded.   It was a dramatic day with four tough sentences being handed down by the court.

                Mary Hannon shared her mess with Mary McMahon, the other prostitute from Limerick prosecuted on the same day. Others in the mess were women from Limerick, Queen’s County and County Clare. There were two deaths, Joanna Wilmott and her child, from among the group. The remainder of the mess group did not have children and survived the journey without any being sent to hospital on arrival in Hobart.

    Mary Hannon was in trouble at Brickfields while undergoing her probation. She was charged with trafficking (possibly tobacco) in December 1843 and was put in solitary confinement for ten days. Once the punishment was over, she went to New Town Farm Station and was present when at the riot on the 26 January 1844. In her testimony, Miss Mary Wills Stroud, a female officer, described the women milling in the yard and being riotous. She said she beckoned Mary Hannon to come away, but Mary responded by calling Miss Stroud very bad names and threatened to ‘do for her’. Miss Stroud said the threat was heard by all the other women. Constable George Ross mentioned Mary in his evidence and said he was not sure that it was Mary Hannon who called out, ’Don’t throw stones’.

    When Mary faced the magistrates, she received a six month sentence in the Female House of Correction with hard labour. During the remainder of her sentence Mary was charged with being absent without leave on two occasions, absconding in one instance, and insolence and misconduct. Her last charge was using indecent language.

    In July 1847 Mary married Henry Wheatley, a former convict from the Lord Lyndoch 1836, at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Launceston. Five days later on 24 July 1847, Mary Ann Wheatley, brickmaker’s wife, died as a result of a miscarriage.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 85 position 2, (Mary Hannon)

    TAHO CON 31/1/47 image 175 (Henry Wheatley)

    TAHO, Marriage (Mary Hannon & Henry Wheatley), RGD 37/1/6 1847/1272 Launceston

    TAHO, Death Mary Wheatley, RGD 337/1/6 1847/1272 Launceston



    Rose McQuade

    1. c1808 Fermanagh

    tried 15 July 1842 Fermanagh

    pleaded not guilty to riot in Hobart


                Rose McQuade, from Lowtherstown (Irvinestown), County Fermanagh, was the widow of George Armstrong.   She was prosecuted for stealing a cow belonging to James Wood and received a sentence of ten years transportation for her crime. The jail report from Ireland stated that her behaviour was bad. Perhaps being arrested, imprisoned and worried about the separation from her son made her position unbearable and her grief overwhelming and angry. She sailed aboard the East London with her nine year old son, Thomas Armstrong.

    On board ship she shared her mess with five women from Dublin and another from Leitrim, all of whom were in their late twenties or early thirties, except for Ann Hill who was thirty-eight. The only child amongst the group was Rose’s son, Thomas Armstrong. The women from Dublin all listed an occupation when entering Grange Gorman Prison in contrast to many of the women, from rural areas or small towns and villages, who had none. They were more literate with some were able to write as well as read. Rose McQuade was the only woman in the group from Fermanagh and she too said she could read. There were no deaths from the mess group, but the oldest woman, Ann Hill, was sent to hospital as soon as the ship reached Hobart. Rose’s son, Thomas Armstrong and the older boys were sent to the Orphan School on 20 October.

    Rose was in trouble soon after disembarking and entering Brickfields Probation Station. She received six days solitary confinement for insolence and disobeying orders and, within days of her release from that punishment, was again in trouble for gross insolence and had another ten days in solitary confinement. Perhaps her insolence was caused by anger at the separation from her son. She was transferred to New Town Farm Station and faced a disorderly conduct charge for her part in the riot and was reprimanded. That was the last occasion on which Rose McQuade was in trouble. She served the rest of her sentence without any brushes with the law. Rose claimed her son from the Orphan School in January 1846, before she received her ticket of leave.

    On 30 August 1847 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Hobart, Rose married Joseph Hagen, a former convict, who was transported aboard the Marquis of Hastings 1839. He was convicted of murdering his wife in Scotland by hitting her with a stick while drunk. His jail report stated that he was good in every respect. There were no children from the marriage. Rose received her ticket of leave 20 February 1849, a conditional pardon April 1950 and a certificate of freedom 11 October 1852.

    Rose died in Warrnambool, Victoria, in 1859, aged forty- nine. Her son, Thomas Armstrong, married and lived his life in Warrnambool. Rose has many descendants.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 176 position 2, (Rose McQuade)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 202 position 4 (Rose McQuade)

    TAHO CON 31/1/22 image 105 (Joseph Hagen)

    TAHO Marriage (Rose McQuade & Joseph Hagen), Hobart, 1847, Reg No 1047

    Orphan School Records, Thomas Armstrong, SWD 7, 28

    Victorian Death Record (Rose Hagen) 11859 Reg No 4260


    The round-up of offenders



    Mary Burns

    1. c 1825 Tyrone,

    tried 28 October 1842 Castleblayney, County Monaghan

    faced charges Hobart 29 January 1844

                Mary Burns was eighteen years old when she stole some dimity in Monaghan and was charged with theft, found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation. She had a prior charge for stealing clothes and was three months in prison.

    The Northern Standard 29 October 1842 reported her offences.

    Mary Burns was indicted for stealing a coat, shawl and a pair of shoes from Anne Reilly in the parish of Tyholland, on the 25th August last – convicted of similar offence committed in the same place as the last sessions – Sentence was reserved until tried at Castleblayney for another larceny – 7 years transportation.

    Mary’s native place was County Tyrone, where her father Michael lived but she and her brothers and sisters were all in Monaghan. She said that she lived with a man for six months. After her trial, she travelled to the Grange Gorman Penitentiary in Dublin with several other women from Tyrone and Monaghan and they stayed together in a mess group; one had a three year old child. Two women from Roscommon completed the mess group. It was a healthy group and all survived the journey fit enough to be sent to the probation station and the little boy to the Orphan School.

                Three days after the main group of rioters was charged, Mary Burns faced the magistrate and was charged with disorderly conduct. It did not state if it occurred on the day of the riot or, as dated on the conduct record, two days later. Five women from Mary’s mess group were among women charged for disorderly conduct at New Town Station during the riot or in the days following. They had formed bonds of friendship and support during their months at sea. Mary Burns only had two further charges during her years under sentence and both were for being absent without leave. Each of the charges earned her a month of hard labour in prison.

                In May 1848 Mary married William Mayfield, who was transported on the Asia in 1840. They were ticket-of-leave holders and married on 24 May 1848 at St Joseph’s Church, Launceston. Mary was twenty-three and William, who gave his occupation as a pastry cook, was twenty-six years old. They left Tasmania for Melbourne in 1852; William in January and Mary, as a cabin passenger, in May. They both had their certificates of freedom, Mary having just received hers.

                William Mayfield became a hotel keeper in Melbourne, but the marriage between Mary and William may not have lasted as they appeared to live apart. There were no children from the relationship. Mary lived until 1910 when she died, aged 85, at St Vincent’s Hospital. She lived the last years of her life in Richmond, enrolling to vote when women were given the opportunity to do so. She had lived in Victoria for nearly sixty years.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON 40/1/2 image 134 position 2, (Mary Burns)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 180/1 position 4 (Mary Burns)

    TAHO CON 31/1/31 image 175 (William Mayfield)

    TAHO Permission to Marry CON 52/1/2 p415 ( Mary Burns & William Mayfield)

    TAHO Marriage (Mary Burns &William Mayfield), RGD 37/8 Hobart, 1848, Reg No 2062

    Vic Death Record 1910 Reg No 5295 (Mary Mayfield)


    Bridget Ryan

    1. c 1813 Dublin, tried Londonderry 11 October 1842

    faced charges in Hobart 29 January 1844

                Bridget (Biddy) Ryan, a country servant, was tried in Londonderry for theft. She stole tartan and was prosecuted by Mr Mulholland. Previously she stole a pair of boots and because of her prior offence her sentence was transportation for seven years. She left her sisters in her native home which Bridget said was Dublin.

                Once on board the East London, she shared her mess with women from Londonderry, Fermanagh and Roscommon. Bridget and Anne Moore travelled together from Londonderry and were admitted into Grange Gorman Penitentiary towards the end of April. The women from Roscommon and Fermanagh arrived five days earlier. The other member of the group was Catherine Cahill from Cavan who had been in Grange Gorman for eight months. The mess group saw much suffering and death among its members. Mary Gilbride and Ellinor Cooney, from very impoverished backgrounds, died during the voyage. Both had two children with them and one child of each also died. Eliza Cinnamond had a fall and was hospitalised for many days leaving her child to the care of the mess group. Ann Golden, another member of the mess, had a child who died during the voyage and she was sent to hospital on arrival. Catherine Cahill and her son were sent to hospital; her son died. The mess group witnessed great suffering.

                In Hobart, Bridget served her probation at New Town Farm Station. She was charged three days after the riot with breaking open the bread store and taking fifty-four loaves, an event which took place during the riot. It may have taken some investigation to find the culprit who broke open the store for the women to enjoy extra bread. Bridget was sentenced to a year in prison with hard labour for her act.

                Bridget served the rest of her sentence without any reactive accusations against her but she did face charges of being absent without leave on two occasions and once for absconding. In November 1847, Bridget married Patrick Lynch, a boot maker, at the Baptist Chapel in Launceston. Patrick Lynch was transported aboard the Egyptian in 1840, leaving a wife and three children in Ireland. His conduct record said his behaviour was ‘very good’. A daughter, Anne, was born to the couple in January 1849 in Morven.

                In January 1865, eighteen years after their marriage, Bridget and Patrick remarried at the Catholic Church in Deloraine. Bridget died in June 1874. Her husband, Patrick, placed a notice in the Cornwall Chronicle which read, ‘On the 12th June at the post office, Elizabeth Town, the beloved wife of Patrick Lynch; much regretted, aged 59 years’.   Patrick Lynch survived his wife by just three months.



    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 236 position 3, (Bridget Ryan)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 204/5 position 9 (Bridget Ryan)

    TAHO CON 33/1/3 image 108 (Patrick Lynch)

    TAHO Permission to Marry CON 52/1/2 p259 (Bridget Ryan & Patrick Lynch)

    TAHO Marriage (Bridget Ryan & Patrick Lynch) RGD 37/6 Launceston, 1847, Reg No 1318

    TAHO Marriage (Bridget Ryan & Patrick Lynch) RGD 37/6 Launceston, 1847, Reg No 1318

    TAHO Birth Record (Anne Lynch) Morven, 1849, Reg No 12372

    TAHO Tasmanian Death Record (Bridget Lynch) Deloraine, 1874 Reg No 123

    TAHO Tasmanian Death Record (Patrick Lynch) Deloraine, 1874 G&K 543092



    Jane lamb

    1. c1803 Tyrone

    tried 28 March 1842 Dungannon County Tyrone

    faced charges in Hobart 30 January 1844

                Jane Lamb, a Catholic woman, from Dungannon in County Tyrone, was tried in March 1842. She was prosecuted by Mary Ann Kelly for theft of a coat, but it was not her first offence as earlier she served a six month sentence for stealing a table cloth. Jane was married with three children and, when sentenced to seven years transportation, left her husband, Thomas, and her three children at home in their native county. Her gaol report described her as very bad, but the sentence of transportation which separated her forever from her husband and family must have made her behaviour desperate and angry.

                On board the East London Jane shared her mess with four others from County Tyrone, and one woman from Monaghan. All were admitted into Grange Gorman on the same day. The last member of the group was from Roscommon and had been in Grange Gorman Prison for eight months. Four were very young women, two were older and one was fifty. There was only one child, a three year old boy. There were no deaths among the group and no one admitted into hospital on arrival; the three year old was sent to the Orphan School. It was one of the few mess groups without serious health problems.

                There was no mention of Jane lamb in the report of the riot at new Town Farm on the 26 January but she was one of the women charged with misconduct in the days following the riot, probably as the authorities sought out all involved. Jane received six days solitary confinement for her behaviour.

                Jane completed her sentence with seven other charges mostly for insolence or not carrying out orders and duties; she was even in trouble for breaking out of her bedroom after being locked up. There were occasions of absence or not returning to her depot. An illegitimate child, James, was born in January 1846, but he died eight months later in the Dynnyrne Nursery.

                In October 1849, Jane married James Rigden, a man transported aboard the Emily in 1842, after surviving the sinking of the Waterloo at Table Bay, Cape Town. James, a labourer, was twenty-eight years old and Jane who had not aged at all in Hobart was still forty years old. They married at St Joseph’s Church in Hobart. They had no children.

    Jane faced another charge in February 1851 at the Hobart Quarter Sessions when she was accused of stealing a quantity of cloth, lame, neck tie, a yard of cashmere and a dress. She received a two year sentence to be served at the Cascades and was freed at the end of June 1852.

                There was little time left for Jane as she died in Hobart from a liver complaint on 12 February 1854. Her death certificate gave her age as 56 years old which added, perhaps, a few years to her age.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 251 position 3, (Jane Lamb)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 196/7 position 9 (Jane Lamb)

    TAHO CON 31/1/31 image 175 (James Rigden)

    TAHO Permission to marry CON 52/1/2 p379

    TAHO Marriage (Jane Lamb & James Rigden), RGD 37/8 Hobart, 1849, Reg No 411


    Anne Lee

    1. c1826 County Cavan

    tried Monaghan3 April 1843

    faced charges in Hobart 31 January 1844

    Anne Lee was prosecuted for the theft of eight shillings from a woman at a fair in Monaghan; it was stated that she was a pickpocket from nearby County Cavan. Ann, a Catholic, and illiterate, said she was a house maid. She had been acquitted of theft several times previously. Letters of petition were sent to the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin castle asking for a commutation of her sentence. Her lawyer said Anne was tipsy and under the influence of whiskey at the time and should not have been put on trial so immediately. It was requested that she be allowed to go to America where she had family and the means to go. Then there was a question of what her name was – Honora (Ony) or Anne? She was in court several times as Anne Lee so a change of name to Honora Lee was probably to mask the knowledge of those former appearances. When the Governor of Monaghan Gaol was asked about her character and he said, ‘a worse character has never come across me since my time as Governor of Monaghan Gaol’. The judge, James Major, said that although she was young she was a ‘very hardened and old offender’. Anne was well known amongst the police and in her petition she said that Head Constable Brady, at the market the day of her crime, had threatened to, ‘send her over the water before night’. The jail report from the county prison noted her behaviour as bad.

    After her sentence of seven years transportation she was sent to Dublin to board the East London leaving her three sisters in County Cavan. On board ship she shared her mess with the women from County Tyrone and it was those women, Jane Lamb, Mary Burns, Susan McKenna and Mary Ann Tumney, whose conduct records show they were part of the trouble at New Town Station on or around the time of the riots. It was a strong and supportive group of women who all survived the voyage.

                The charge of disorderly conduct was brought against Anne four days after the main group of rioters. She was reprimanded and ordered to serve further probation. Perhaps her conduct was the result of another incident, but it could have been a follow-up of the events of the 26 January as culprits were identified.

                During the remainder of her sentence Anne had three charges of being absent without leave, one of neglect of duty and two of being drunk. In 1845, John Tidings sought permission to marry Ann and it was granted, but the marriage did not take place. Anne married Phillip Hart, a former convict, transported aboard the Waterloo in 1835, who was lashed on three occasions during his sentence. Anne and Phillip married at the house of Rev William Waterfield in Port Sorell in August 1846; Phillip was an overseer and Anne was a servant. Six weeks later, a daughter, Dorothy, was born to the couple.

                Phillip Hart left Launceston for Melbourne in 1851. He died in Victoria in 1860, leaving Anne a widow. Even during the time of her marriage Anne was in trouble with the law in Victoria for drunkenness, vagrancy and indecent conduct, and served many periods in prison. She became known as ‘drunken old mother Hart’.

    Bendigo Advertiser 24 June 1856

    An Old Hand.—Ann Hart was charged by the police, with having been found drunk and using obscene language in a public place in the vicinity of Commissioner's Gully. The apprehending constable; stated, that he had to tie her down to a wheelbarrow and bring her to the watch-house.

    The unfortunate woman, who has only been out of gaol six weeks, promised to take the pledge for two years, if his Worship would only be good enough to let her go this time. The Bench gave her one more opportunity of becoming a respectable woman and discharged her on payment of one shilling.

    There was a court case in 1865 when Anne charged a man with assault. The argument had arisen because he said Hobarton women did not stay with their husbands. Anne got excited and said she stayed with her husband for thirteen years before he died. A slap followed. Anne lived in the Bendigo area and had more court appearances for drunkenness and obscene language. A newspaper note told of her death in 1868.

    Bendigo Advertiser 15 July 1868
    Death in the Hospital.—A woman named Ann Hart, aged forty-five years, who has been an out-patient at the hospital for some months past, was admitted to that institution on Monday, and died shortly after her admittance from disease of the chest.


    The daughter born in 1846 to Anne and Phillip probably did not live. There was no trace of her in Tasmania or Victoria


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 252 position 3, (Ann Lee)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 198/9 position 2 (Ann Lee)

    TAHO Permission to Marry, Ann Lee & John Tidings CON 52/1/2 p203 PM 29333

    TAHO Permission to Marry, Ann Lee & Phillip Hart CON 52/1/2 p377 PM 15105

    TAHO Marriage (Ann Lee & Phillip Hart) RGD 37/1/5 Port Sorell, 1846, Reg No 549

    TAHO Birth Record (Dorothy Hart) Port Sorell, 1846, Reg No 647

    TAHO Departure Record, Phillip Hart, CON 40/1/6 image 252/3 pos 2

    National Archives of Ireland; Petition for O. Lee (Ann Lee) CRF 1843 L15


    Bendigo Advertiser 24 June 1856

    Bendigo Advertiser 15 July 1868


    Mary Ann Tumney

    1. c1825 County Tyrone

    tried 12 January 1843 County Tyrone

    faced charges in Hobart on 31 January 1844

                Mary Ann Tumney was sentenced to seven years transportation because she stole a coat. It was her second charge as she had a prior conviction for stealing potatoes. She was a Catholic, seventeen years old at the time of her trial and, was ‘on the town’ for two years. She had a mother and five brothers in Tyrone.

                She was one of the five messmates from Tyrone who shared their mess with a woman from Roscommon and one from Monaghan. Mary Ann Tumney, Jane Lamb, Mary Burns and Ann Lee from the mess were among the rioters. On the voyage the group was healthy with no deaths or serious illness and in Hobart they stood up against the authorities together.   Mary Ann was charged with disorderly conduct four days after the main group of rioters. Did it take several days to establish her role during the riot? Or did the unrest continue for days?

                Mary Ann‘s conduct record only showed two other charges, once for being drunk and once for being absent without leave. In 1845 Mary Ann married William Knibbs/Nibbs, a former convict, who was transported aboard the Proteus in 1831. They married in the Uniting Church of England and Ireland in Launceston. William was transported for machine breaking and served his time with very little trouble.

    Mary Ann and William had a large family of ten children. Mary Ann died on 22 February 1867 giving birth to the youngest daughter who only survived a few months. She was described as the ‘wife of a farmer’. She has many descendants.


    TAHO CON 40/1/10 image 138 position 3, (Mary Ann Tumney)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 208/9 position 1 (Mary Ann Tumney)

    TAHO Permission to Marry, (Mary Ann Tumney & William Knibbs/Nibbs) CON 52/1/2 p99 PM

    TAHO Marriage (Mary Ann Tumney & William Knibbs/Nibbs) RGD 37/1/4 1845 Launceston Reg No 2055

    TAHO Tas. Death Record, 1867, Port Sorell, Reg No 384



    Margaret Smith (or Kelly), Mary Wickham, Susan McKenna

    faced charges 16 February 1844

    breaking down the room barrier



    Margaret Smith

    age 30, born County Down, Ireland

    tried Newtonards County Down 29 January 1842

    faced charges in Hobart and pleaded guilty

                Margaret Smith was one of the women around Joseph Eskdale, the district constable, when he received the wound to his face although it was Mary Dooley who had the shovel in her hand. The constable was unable to identify the culprit. The report on the rioters who faced the magistrate on 27 January included Margaret Smith, but her conduct record put the date of her charge at the 16 February. Mary Wickham and Susan McKenna also faced the magistrate on 16 February. Margaret Smith and Mary Wickham were charged with breaking down the room divider for unlawful purposes. Margaret was given six months imprisonment at the Female Factory at the Cascades and Mary Wickham received six days solitary confinement.   Susan McKenna’s conduct record did not state her charge, but she was also given six days solitary confinement. Was she involved in the breaking up of the room divider?

                Margaret Smith, alias Kelly (married name?), was a married woman from County Down Ireland and her husband, John, was in Belfast. Margaret was a Catholic, could read and, was charged with larceny of £2 from a woman. She was found guilty and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She had trouble with the law previously and was imprisoned for the theft of money. There was no mention of children, just her husband and four sisters at her native place. During her sentence she had two charges of absconding and various charges of insolence and misconduct or for being absent from her workplace.

                An illegitimate child, Eliza, was born in October, 1846. Margaret received her certificate of freedom on the 21 June 1849. The name Margaret Smith was common and, although there are newspaper references to minor misdemeanours and even an inquest into a death of a female servant of that name, there is no definite proof of her life after freedom.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON40/1/10 image 99 position 2 (Margaret Smith alias Kelly)

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 206 & 207 position 5 (Margaret Smith alias Kelly)


    Mary Wickham

    age 45 from County Tyrone,

    tried County Wexford 11 January 1843

                Mary Wickham, a widow, sentenced in Wexford but born in County Tyrone, sailed with her ten year-old daughter, Hannah, who was sent to the Orphan School. Mary was a little older than most of the others who travelled with her. She faced a specific charge of breaking the room divider which caused her to have six days of solitary confinement.

    Her life can be followed in the chapter, In and Out of the New Norfolk Asylum.



    Susan McKenna

    1. c1810 County Tyrone

    tried Cloger, County Tyrone 21 October 1842

                Susan McKenna, a native of County Tyrone, may have helped Mary Wickham and Margaret Smith to break down the room barrier during the riot as she was charged on the same day and received the same sentence as Mary Wickham. Breaking down the wall enabled the women to group together easily and support each other in the resistance to the authorities. However it brought punishment upon them and Susan spent six days in solitary confinement for her activity during, or around, the riot.

    Although Susan was single, she had a son, William Kilpatrick, with her. His father, William, was a labourer in Tyrone. Susan received two sentences of seven years transportation for receiving stolen goods so was serving a term of fourteen years. She stole sheets and served two months once before for stealing a turkey and three months for stealing a coat. She was a Catholic, a country servant and illiterate. After arrival, three year-old William Kilpatrick was sent to the Orphan School. He was admitted with the first group of children from the East London so William and Susan survived the voyage in quite reasonable health. William was discharged from the Orphan School to his mother in March 1847.

    Susan married Thomas Taylor, transported aboard the Masquis of Hastings 1839.   Thomas Taylor was thirty-six years old and had his ticket of leave when he and Susan, still a convict, married in the St David’s Church, Hobart, on the 22 September 1845. They had two children, a son, John, born in November 1847 and a daughter, Emma, born in February 1851. Between the births of her children Susan faced two charges; one for obtaining goods under false pretences which was discharged and another for larceny under £5 in February 1849 for which she received twelve months imprisonment with hard labour. Thomas Taylor sent a petition for a mitigation of Susan’s sentence in October 1849, but it was refused.   Perhaps Thomas was concerned as, by that time, Susan was pregnant with their second child, Emma.

    The only record of Susan’s death was written on her conduct record which noted that she died in the general Hospital Hobart on the 28 March 1854. Thomas Taylor married again soon after, probably because of the small children. There was a Thomas Taylor who married Catherine O’Brien, widow, in 1854 and married her again, in 1866.   The Taylor family story has been lost in many records in that surname. William Kilpatrick probably took the name Taylor once he joined his mother and Thomas Taylor.

    Many years later in 1905 and 1907 notices were placed in The Mercury and The Examiner seeking heirs of Thomas Taylor, stonemason, and his wife Susan McKenna, particularly looking for William Taylor born in 1843 (perhaps that was William Kilpatrick). The advertisement said he would hear something to his advantage if he applied to a Sydney accountant or to De Bernardy & Co, Bedford Row, London.


    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm.

    TAHO CON40/1/6 image 200 position 3, (Susan McKenna)

    TAHO CON15/1/2 image 196-7 position 6, (Susan McKenna)

    TAHO CON33/1/44 image 82,(Thomas Taylor)

    Kilpatrick, William, Orphan School SWD 7, 28

    Tasmanian Marriage Record RGD37/1/4 1845/1933

    The Mercury, 5/7/1905; 29/7/1905

    The Examiner 28/9/1907


    Chapter 5 Appendix - pdf


  • Chapter 6: Violent Deaths Open or Close

    Women who met Violent Deaths


    Inquest, George Town

    Bridget McElligot

    The Murder of Mrs Jarvey

    Catherine Shaw

    Horrible Murder Near Glen Dhu

    Ellen Cronin

    Inquest, Hobart

    Sally McDonagh


    There were a few women from the East London who met terrible fates by the hand of others. In some reports of their deaths we hear the women’s own words. Bridget McElligott, a quiet and sober woman, accepted a marriage request and her married life was one of brutal cruelty. Her neighbours told of her asking for some flour because she was hungry. Catherine Shaw took a step which led her to a comfortable life, far from the poverty of her youth in Dublin. She became a wife and mother and her husband prospered. She had a home and the love of her family, but her husband had a dark heart and decided to rid himself of an inconvenient wife in order to have his mistress at his side. Her last words were of the love for her children. The other women, Ellen Cronin and Sally McDonagh, did not walk any path in life that improved their lives; their stories are full of the hopelessness of alcoholism and the pain of abuse at the hands of violent men. The horrors of their journey to Hobart continued in the poverty of their lives in their new land.


    Bridget McElligott

    b c.1813

    tried 13 April 1843 Bruff, County Limerick

    drowned in a well, 28 February 1858

    Bridget McElligot was a thirty year-old farm servant who had no relatives except her cousin, John Nugent, a labourer in her native place, Limerick. Bridget was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing cloth and prosecuted in Bruff, County Limerick. Her previous brushes with the law caused her to spend only a few days in prison. The sentence of transportation was quite tough, but Bridget did not have close family to rally support or plea for any mitigating circumstances to soften the verdict. She was a Catholic woman and illiterate.



    Old Bruff Courthouse

    On board ship she shared her mess with two other young women from Limerick who travelled with her to Grange Gorman Depot. For Bridget, the time between trial and leaving for Dublin was less than two weeks and, once in Dublin, she was aboard the East London within the next two weeks. Most of the women in her mess group were from Queen’s and Limerick Counties and one from County Clare. There were two deaths from among the group; Mary Farrell and Mary’s child who died because her mother was not capable of feeding her. Another woman from the mess group was ill and admitted to hospital in Hobart. Bridget and the others would have helped care for the sick woman and children. They witnessed suffering throughout most of the voyage.  

    Bridget was healthy enough to be sent ashore to the probation station after arrival. She served the years of her sentence with only one transgression when she was charged with disorderly conduct at the Hiring Depot and received ten days solitary confinement. After that punishment, soon after her arrival, she did not face any further charges. She was issued her ticket of leave in April 1847 and married James Ringrove (Ringrose) on 11 October 1847 at the Church of England, Parish Church, George Town. Bridget said she was thirty-seven and James was thirty three. Although, according to their convict records, the ages were reversed. James, a shoemaker, was sentenced in County Clare for stealing pigs and transported on the Augusta Jessie 1840 to Norfolk Island and the Maitland to Hobart in March 1844. The couple lived in George Town in the north of Tasmania. There were no children from the union.

    Bridget died on Sunday 28 February 1858 as she fetched two buckets water from the well.   She ended up in the well, ‘suffocated and drowned’. Excerpts from a newspaper report on Bridget’s death and on the results of an inquest into the death described her life with James Ringrose. There was speculation in the district about circumstances around the incident. James Ringrose faced a murder charge following that Sunday, but not for Bridget’s death.


    Hobart Town Mercury, Monday 8 March 1858 page 2

    SUPPOSED MURDER AT GEORGE TOWN.-A boatman named Phipps, in the service of Mr Pilot Thompson, has been missing for several days under strange circumstances. He was last seen in the company of a shoemaker named Ringrose, who has been apprehended on suspicion. Strange to say, the wife of Ringrose was drowned on Sunday last in a well.-Launceston


    Cornwall Chronicle, Wednesday 10 March 1858 page 4 (excerpt)

    This inquest (Bridget Ringrose) recalled another of those disgraceful and disgusting instances of habitual drunkenness, which are the curse of the land. Deceased it appears was a quiet, industrious and sober woman, whose fate it was to bear the most cruel and unmanly treatment from a drunken husband. Deceased was in the habit (Ringrose said in his evidence) of leaving her husband’s house when she noticed that he had been drinking, and throwing herself on the protection of the neighbours, to avoid his brutality, which, it is said upon several occasions, has been of a most outrageous character; he has often discharged a loaded gun at the poor creature in his drunken excesses and in one of them he broke her wrist, on another scalped her, and left her within an ace of eternity. On the day previous to her death, she begged a little flour from a neighbour ‘to mix up with an onion' (as she said) 'to keep her from starving.' Poor creature!   Under so cruel and revolting a treatment, death must have been a happy release.

    People who knew Bridget and James Ringrose, neighbours, local people and the police, had their suspicions about Bridget’s death. James Ringrose was charged with the murder of a boatman, Samuel Phipps, who disappeared after being last seen at the Ringrose house. Many believed Bridget was murdered to cover up her knowledge of what James Ringrose had done to Samuel Phipps.

    The Courier Friday 12 March 1858 page 3 (excerpt)

    The darkest surmises are afloat respecting the death of Ringrose's wife, who, it will be remembered, was found dead in a well contiguous to his premises a few days subsequent to the disappearance of Phipps. It is conjectured that be had of necessity entrusted her with the secret in order to avail himself of her services in clearing away the traces of his crime; and then made away with her as a dangerous depository of his guilt. He was known to use this poor woman during her life time with great cruelty, beating her and even shooting at her, so that she was often compelled to seek refuge at a neighbour's abode from fear of her life. The interior of his house was riddled with shot fired off in the course of his violent and drunken orgies.

    James Ringrose was acquitted of the murder of Samuel Phipps because one of the witnesses was found guilty of perjury between the charge and the trial. Another item from the Launceston Examiner showed just how grim was the suspicion of James Ringrose’s character.


    Launceston Examiner Tuesday 9 March 1858 page 3

    The Supposed Murder at George Town. We hear that some clue has been obtained to the mysterious loss of Phipps, the boatman, and also the equally extraordinary disappearance of a man four years ago at George Town. Ringrose, the shoemaker, to whom suspicion is said to point in both cases, remains in custody.

                When Bridget was sentenced to transportation she had only one living relative.   Her journey aboard the East London was amid sickness and death, bad weather and fear. Her marriage to James Ringrose brought further pain, hardship and death. Yet her reputation in her community was as a quiet, industrious and sober woman. Fate dealt her a cruel blow. James Ringrose ended his days in jail.



    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 –Bridget McElligot, 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image 109 position 3, Bridget McElligot

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 188-9 position 9, Bridget McElligot

    TAHO CON 33/1/51 images 278 & 279, James Ringrove

    TAHO CON 14/1/26 Images 103-4, James Ringrove


    Hobart Town Mercury, Monday 8 March 1858 page 2

    Cornwall Chronicle, Wednesday 10 March 1858 page 4 (excerpt)

    The Courier Friday 12 March 1858 page 3 (excerpt)

    Launceston Examiner Tuesday 9 March 1858 page 3


    Catherine Shaw

    b c1824

    tried Dublin 16 February 1843

    poisoned, 26th September 1864, New Zealand

    Catherine Shaw (alias Bridget Kelly) was tried in Dublin for housebreaking and highway robbery, but did not face the charges alone; Owen Kennedy and Edward Lynch were tried for the same crime in the Dublin Court and John Kellett in Trim, County Meath. They were a gang of armed robbers who broke into the homes of small farmers in districts, or held up men on country roads. A member of the police spotted Owen Kennedy in Island St, Dublin, and tried to arrest him but, Owen, aided by his wife, Margaret, escaped. The police followed him to his lodgings, searched them, found a little gunpowder and completed the arrest of Owen and his wife. It was his confession that named Catherine Shaw, Edward Lynch and John Kellett as accomplices. Margaret Kennedy was acquitted.

    The gang operated in districts around Dublin and in the nearby counties of Kildare and Meath. In one house, a gang member threatened to blow out the brains of the mistress. They stole pistols, wearing apparel, household items and asked for money. The judge’s notes of the crimes mentioned that Catherine made a confession but her words were not described in his notes. She was sentenced to ten years transportation for her part in the numerous robberies. Owen Kennedy was sentenced to transportation for life and Edward Lynch, fifteen years transportation for the same crime and ten years for highway robbery. John Kellett was sentenced to transportation but he hanged himself on Easter Monday 1843, in Kilmainham Prison. Owen Kennedy and Edward Lynch were older men in their forties; Owen Kennedy married with a wife and children and Edward Lynch was a widower. Catherine was tried the day before the men who asked to be tried together.

    In Kilmainham Prison, Catherine gave a statement to the magistrate, Mr Cottingham. She told how the men climbed a ladder and through the window of Mr Bond’s house at Dolphin’s Barn and how one of them dropped his shoe as he went up. She said she waited outside because the men didn’t want her inside in case she asked for a share of the stolen property. But it was Catherine who pawned the stolen carpet the next day. In court she denied that the magistrate had cautioned her before the statement and said, ‘Oh, my lord, at the time Major Cottingham asked me these questions I was in so great a fright I did not know what I was saying. There was a prisoner sick in the gaol with whom I am acquainted, and anything he told me I swore to’.

    The newspaper reported that Catherine moved into lodgings in White’s Lane with a man five weeks before the robbery. It was there that some of the goods were found and Catherine and the man with her were arrested. It must have been twenty-six year-old John Kellett, younger than the other men in the gang and, Catherine was known as Bridget Kelly (Kellett?). John Kellett was tried in the Trim Court on 24 February 1843. He hanged himself after he was transferred to Kilmainham Prison.

    During her trial a reporter for the Dublin Monitor described Catherine as a young woman of ‘very prepossessing appearance’. Another report in the Saunders News Letter, Wednesday 8 February described the aftermath of the verdict. On leaving the dock she exclaimed, ‘Must I leave my own country for nothing’, and accompanied her exclamation with a scream which was not discontinued by her until she was lodged in Newgate. From the information given in the statement and the petition, Catherine’s role was not active in the actual robbery but she associated with a member of the gang, waited for them outside the door and pawned the carpet the day after the robbery. However she did not consider her part a serious one.

    Catherine, a Catholic, was nineteen years old and the only family noted on her indent record was her sister, Ella, living at Rush, near their native place. Before the sentence of transportation, she had been sentenced to prison for seven years for stealing pigs, but served only twelve months. Her criminal activities started while she was a teenager so the authorities did not grant her any leniency.

    On the East London Catherine shared her mess group with Catherine Kemp and Mary Dooley and later the three were prominent among the rioters at New Town Station. Two other women in the mess were prostitutes. The group witnessed distress and suffering as two women and two children died. The surgeon’s accounts of the illness and deaths of the women described their filthy condition, including that of their bedding. He said those in the nearby berths complained of the lack of cleanliness and were annoyed by the behaviour of one, Anne Read, particularly after her child died. She was forcibly removed from her bed and died not long before the end of the voyage. The dying women spent most of the journey with the mess group, only removed to hospital in the last two weeks of their lives as the ship neared Hobart. Another young child, elder daughter of Anne Read, survived. Was that due to care given by the healthy women in the mess group?

    Catherine Shaw lived amid the foulness of the filth surrounding women who lost the energy to care for themselves and the stress of sick and dying children in the group. Perhaps in her disgust at the conditions, she saw injustice in the punishment dealt to women too ill to cope. But, Catherine was a young woman and beautiful, and caught the eye of a mariner, William Andrew Jarvey. They fell in love during the voyage. William was just a year older than Catherine and probably an officer as within four years he became a sea captain. Did Catherine have time away from the prison deck? A lack of discipline was one of the findings of the Board of Enquiry into the deaths on board ship. Regulations may have been ignored regarding relations between the women and the men as the surgeon was busy treating the number of very sick women and children. Catherine Kemp and the other women, who defied the officers during the riot, were all young and two were prostitutes. Did they find means of escaping the squalor around them on the prison deck? And were they used to lax discipline and more personal freedom than they faced on shore after arrival?

     After reaching Hobart, Catherine was at the New Town Farm Probation Station, and took part in the riot on the 26 January 1844. Although the report of the riot named and described the actions of her messmates, Catherine Shaw was not mentioned, except for her sentence of six months in the Female Factory, to be served in a separate cell. It was one of the toughest sentences handed out so Catherine was not in the background; she played a serious role in the riot.

    Catherine finished her sentence at Cascades and received her first class probation pass on the 19 July 1844. William Jarvey had returned to Hobart and married Catherine at the Trinity Church of England, on the 26 August 1844, a month after her release from Cascades. Catherine did not have any further brushes with the law as she settled into life as a wife and mother.

    Catherine and William’s first child, Elizabeth Ann, was born in April 1846, but William was away working on the Industry, in the South Seas on a whaling voyage. At the time, Catherine lived in a small hut in Campbell St and was attended to by a midwife and helped by neighbours. Many years later she took Elizabeth Ann there and described the conditions she lived in as ‘miserably poor’. William became the captain of the Matilda in 1847 and the Industry in 1848, sailing between Hobart and Port Phillip. After his return from the voyages, he opened a school at Cascades. He made another journey between Launceston and Melbourne as master of the Triton in May 1852. In 1854 he sold the school and became a pawnbroker and clothier in Murray St, a business he held until 1862. Catherine worked with William in his shop.

    The family moved to Wattle Hill, near Shipwright’s Point but their homestead and furniture were burnt in a fire in 1858. Catherine and the children were saved by William. At some time during those years William purchased Capital Farm on the Huon at Jarvey’s Bay and several of the children were born in the district. Life must have been much more comfortable for Catherine in a five-roomed house with verandas front and back and overlooking the Huon River. The family grew. Catherine gave birth to eleven children although not all survived infancy. By 1862 the pawn broking business was not doing well, and William decided to go to New Zealand enticed by news of gold discovered there. He sailed to New Zealand as captain of the steamer Titania which was then used to supply mining communities between Invercargill and Dunedin. Meanwhile in Tasmania, the sale of the farm, as a tenanted property, was arranged.

    In April 1864, William sailed to Tasmania as captain of the Jane, fetched Catherine and his six children and returned to Dunedin in New Zealand where he resumed command of the Titania. Three months after settling there, their four year-old daughter, Charlotte, died. But worse was ahead for Catherine. William Jarvey was not a faithful husband in Tasmania, where he had at least one illegitimate child, possibly by the maidservant. Now he had a new paramour, Margaret Little, and he wanted her to live with him and his children. Catherine refused a divorce. William was determined to have his way and set about poisoning his wife of twenty years. He carefully set up the story of her ill health and gave her a little of the poison in the weeks before the fatal dose.

    Catherine died of strychnine poisoning after William gave her a drink he mixed, telling her he added medicine to improve her health. Catherine’s death, on the 26th September 1864, was witnessed by her eldest daughter, Elizabeth Ann. When William installed Margaret Little as housekeeper and carer of the children, Elizabeth Ann went to the police. Catherine’s body was exhumed and William Jarvey was charged with murder. The sensational events were widely reported in newspapers in New Zealand and Australia and every detail and word spoken was published. There were two trials. The jury in the first trial was discharged after not coming to an agreement. The second trial depended in parts, on evidence of the strychnine poisoning by an expert doctor from Melbourne. The doctor died on his second journey to New Zealand which caused arguments about the evidence and the expertise of his assistant.

    Elizabeth Ann was one of the main witnesses against her father and reported her mother’s last words; words of forgiveness for her husband, praise for her daughter and begging Elizabeth to take care of little Katie, the youngest.

    “Oh William Jarvey I could call God to curse you but no, you are my husband and the father of my children, and may God forgive you. Oh Yes, may God forgive you for your cruelty to me this night”

    “Goodbye my faithful Lizzie; may God bless you my child. Mind my Katie, and tell everyone your father poisoned me, for the women with the big hat and cloak”

    Catherine, a convict woman of ‘prepossessing appearance’ from the slums of Dublin, married a free man who was educated and skilled. She stepped up into a more successful class in society, but fate dealt her a cruel blow when her beloved husband, ‘William my William’ committed a crime far worse than that of most of the transported felons. William Jarvey was hanged on the 25th October 1865; the first man to be hanged in Dunedin.

    (Refer to the Appendix 6 for newspaper reports)


    Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 –Catherine Shaw, 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/10 image 100 position 2, Catherine Shaw

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 206-7position 8, Catherine Shaw

    TAHO Permission to marry, CON 19/1/2 page 91 Catherine Shaw & William Andrew Jarvey

    British Newspaper Archive: Freeman’s Journal; 5 January 1843, 7 February 1843, 8 February 1843

    TAHO RGD 37/1/4 1844/1200 Hobart, marriage of Catherine Shaw & William Andrew Jarvey

    Trial of William Jarvey: www.teara.govt.nx An Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966 Notable Trials

    Hawkes Bay Herald, Volume 8, Issue 687, 30 September 1865

    Empire (Sydney), 3 October 1865

    Cornwall Chronicle, 8 November 1865

    Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle, 11 November 1865

    Freeman’s Journal Sydney, 10 June 1899

    Country Life Stock and Station Journal Sydney, Tuesday 29 April, 1924 page 4



    Ellen Cronin

    b. c1819

    tried 30 September 1842 Cork City

    murdered at Glen Dhu Sand Hill 17 October 1859

    Ellen Cronin, a Catholic, was twenty-four when sentenced to seven years transportation. She was tried in Cork City for the theft of a pair of boots and a pair of drawers, but it was not her first offence. She had two prior convictions for stealing boots and served fourteen days for the first offence and one month in jail for the next; there was also a charge for disturbing the peace. Her reputation was not a good one as she was ‘on the town’ for four years and known to the authorities. She had two brothers and her sister was in the Union Workhouse. It was a poor family and perhaps Ellen worked as a prostitute to escape the workhouse.


    Union Workhouse, Cork

    Ellen stayed in Cork Gaol until close to the time the ship was due to leave. She arrived at Grange Gorman Depot with the other women from Cork on 26 April 1843. They kept together and shared a mess, four women from Cork City and two women from Cork County; the only other member of the group was Joanna Wilmott, from Limerick. Two young children were with the group. Joanna Wilmott and her infant died. One of the Cork women, Bridget Henigan, had her child with her, and he died very soon after reaching Hobart. The mess group were close to the sickness and death of Joanna and the children.

    Trouble started for Ellen at the Brickfields Probation Station when she was charged with having tobacco and received a punishment of six days solitary confinement. After that, she was moved to New Town Farm Station and took part in the riot there on 26 January 1844. She was one of the three women who pleaded guilty to insubordination charges. She was said to be one of the most riotous of the women and was around Constable Eskdale when he got a slight wound on his face. In her defence, Ellen said she scolded and talked but did not take up any weapon. She received a sentence of ten days solitary confinement.

    The years Ellen spent serving her sentence were difficult. She had charges for disobeying orders and for insolence, and many for drunkenness. She was a prostitute in Ireland and, in Hobart, found her way to such a house. On one occasion she was charged with improper conduct in company with the watchman of the Female Factory while he was on duty. She was sentenced to nine months hard labour and sent to the Launceston Factory. William Ryan applied to marry her in 1846 and, although permission was given, the marriage did not take place. Ellen married Jesse Gibson (Norfolk 1835) at the Church of Christ, Longford in June 1847 and, so began an unsettled relationship. Jesse Gibson had been transported for life for ‘buggery’ so the marriage may have been one of convenience.   On two occasions Ellen was charged with refusing to live under her husband’s protection and for being absent from his premises. In 1849 she was charged with exposing her person and was in the cells for fourteen days. During her sentence she spent 75 days in solitary confinement and 49 days in the cells. She was issued a certificate of freedom in October 1849.

    In September 1852 ‘Ellen Cronan’, per East London, made the journey across Bass Strait from Launceston to Melbourne aboard the Shamrock. She returned to Tasmania and in early 1859 was in trouble for drunken behaviour. She was in custody for drunkenness on Saturday 15 October 1859 and released on Monday morning. Henry Baker, a farm labourer, met her outside the Police Office in Launceston. He had arrived in town only a few days earlier on the coastal steamer Titania.   Ellen was seen with him later that evening leaving the Brickmakers Arms Hotel. The last words heard from her as she walked away with Henry were, ‘Come drop that, I won’t have it’. The witness said that she agreed to, ‘go up the road a bit’ with Henry. Her husband, Jesse Gibson, said he saw her in the evening and tried to get her to come home, but she refused.

    Death came swiftly and violently that Monday night, 17 October 1859, when Ellen had her throat cut with a sharp razor. Early the next morning a man riding in Sand Hill, near Glen Dhu found her body lying in a pool of blood by the side of the road. At first Jesse Gibson was held for the murder but while the police were inspecting the crime scene Henry Baker came up and asked if that was where the woman’s body was found. The police had not mentioned the woman and arrested him on suspicion of murder. They found his bloodstained clothes and a clasp knife and were able to match his boots to footprints on the ground near marks of blood. Henry Baker was tried and found guilty of Ellen’s murder. He confessed before he was hanged at Campbell Street gaol on 9 February 1860.

    Ellen began life in the poverty in Cork. She stole, was tried for her crime and sentenced to transportation. She sailed on the East London amid the sickness and loss of many lives and in Van Diemen’s Land her path in life continued to be very troubled. She was described in a newspaper report as ‘intemperate’ and ‘a woman of loose habits’. Her forty-five years of life had few comforts.



    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 –Ellen Cronin, 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/2 image 255, Ellen Cronin

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 184-5 position 5, Ellen Cronin

    TAHO CON 31/1/16 images 180-position 1, Jesse Gibson

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Convict Institutions, Probation Stations, New Town Farm

    TAHO RGD 37/6 1847/1327; marriage of Ellen Cronin & Jesse Gibson


    Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 18 October 1859 page 2 (Brutal murder of Ellen Gibson)

    Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 19 October 1859 page 2 (Brutal murder of Ellen Gibson)

    Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 25 October 1859 page 2 (Report of the trial of Henry Baker)

    Hobart Town Mercury, 9 February 1860 page 2(Report of Execution of Henry Baker)



    Sally McDonagh

    b c 1803

    tried 5 January 1843 Castlebar County Mayo

    died from apoplexy caused by a fall or blow 6 June 1870

    Sally McDonagh was forty years old when sentenced to seven years transportation in Castlebar, County Mayo, on the 15 January 1843. On admittance to Grange Gorman Prison the Irish prison records noted her as married, illiterate and never convicted before. She was transferred from County Mayo with two other women, Mary Regan and Mary Donnelly and they arrived at the prison depot on 24 April 1843 ready to board the East London. Her name was left off the mess list the surgeon, Edward Caldwell, recorded and she was sent to hospital when the ship reached Hobart so there is little personal information about her.

    Sally completed her journey in poor health but recovered in hospital in Hobart and was able to finish her sentence. She had three charges during those years. Once for drunkenness, for which she served three months hard labour in the Female Factory, another for being absent from her residence and found in a disorderly house, so again was in the Female Factory for two months and she was fined on another occasion for disturbing the peace.

    Sally married William Barton in St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Hobart, on 10 April 1848. William, a labourer, was transported aboard the Earl Grey 1843. He was forty-seven and had a wife in England. He was convicted for gaining money under false pretences and had been imprisoned thirteen times in England. He was described as artful and rather impudent. Although there were several men named William Barton, it was most likely he was the one who died in 1867, aged eighty.

    At the time of her death Sally was known as Sally Fanning. She died on the 6 June 1870 and an inquest was held into the cause of her death.   Witnesses said Sally was abandoned by her husband three years before and supported herself by taking lodgers. Perhaps it was because he was dead or he abandoned her even before that time. In the last six months of her life, she lived with Thomas Hales and, in his words, ‘as man and wife’. Both Sally and Thomas were heavy drinkers.

    A witness saw Sally laying insensible on her bed on Saturday afternoon. On Monday morning Thomas called a neighbour because Sally was lying on the floor unable to speak. The neighbour gave Sally a drop of rum and she revived a little. Later that day, Sally was taken to the General Hospital and died soon after. Thomas Hales said he was off drinking and too drunk to remember anything. By the time he reached home, Sally was in hospital. In his evidence he told of being drunk from the Friday and the reason he did not go to see Sally in hospital was because he was too drunk to walk out of his house.

    Evidence from the doctor said Sally died of apoplexy caused by a fall or blow to the head. Her body was covered in bruises, many about five or six days old. The marks of violence to the head could have been recent or a few days old. The doctor could not decide. Neighbours told of drunken quarrels between Sally and Thomas and of threats of violence. One witness, Mary Loach gave a twisted piece of evidence. She said that she had never seen Hales ill-treat the deceased and denied that she ever said that if Mrs Fanning died she would have Hales hanged.

    The newspaper report of the inquest said the jury, after a few moments deliberation, returned a verdict that the deceased had died from the visitation of God, to wit, apoplexy, without any violence used on her whatsoever.

    The inquest found that Sally died of natural causes. However the bruises around her body and the marks on her head were not from a single incident; they showed that she had been subject to regular violence.   Although the neighbour, Mary Loach, denied she had said that she would see Hales hanged if Sally died, it sounded as if that was what she had threatened to do. Sally and Thomas Hales had a drunken and violent relationship and there was enough evidence of injury to cause the police to be suspicious of the cause of Sally’s death. The cause of her death was certainly hastened by the blows she received from Thomas Hales.

    Launceston Examiner Tuesday 14 June 1870 Page 5

    An inquest was held Tuesday touching the death of an old woman, named Sally Fanning, aged 72 years, who died in the hospital on Monday last. There were some half a dozen witnesses examined, whose evidence showed the existence of a deplorable slate of immorality amongst the class of persons to which deceased and her paramour belonged.



    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 –Sally McDonagh, 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/2 image 255, Sally McDonagh

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 184-5 position 5, Sally McDonagh

    TAHO CON 31/1/16 images 180-position 1, William Barton

    Marriage of Sally McDonagh & William Barton


    Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 14 June 1870, page 5

    Chapter 6 Appendix (pdf). 


  • Chapter 7: In and Out of the Lunatic Asylum New Norfolk Open or Close


    In and Out of the Lunatic Asylum

    New Norfolk

     WillowCourt NewNorfolk



    Willow Court, Former Insane Asylum, New Norfolk



    The Lunatic Asylum, New Norfolk, began as the Invalid Barracks for convicts.   By 1843 when the East London arrived in Hobart it was specializing in caring for people diagnosed with mental illness.  It was a grand old stone building with separate wings for men and women but the wards and cells were dark and gloomy with poor ventilation.  The atmosphere was prisonlike and there were cells allotted for solitary confinement.  The outdoor area was limited by space and too small for the number of patients using it.  In the 1840s and 1850s the treatment for mental illness was rudimentary.  Patients, who were loud, withdrawn, infantile, volatile, confused or with obsessive compulsive disorders, were housed together.  Treatments encompassed shaving patients’ heads, applying cold head baths or bathing them in cold water.  Straight–jackets restraints were common and medicines such as mercury and antimony were administered to alleviate symptoms of mental impairment.

    Some women from the East London were admitted to the Lunatic Asylum, New Norfolk, at various times and several spent the rest of their lives there.  A few of the women who were admitted suffered from illness or injury and others just suspicions of mental health issues.  One elderly woman had rheumatism.  She was transferred to the infirmary and later discharged as fit for duty.  Another woman, according to those she had contact with, was suspected to be of unsound mind and spent time in the asylum. She was later discharged and returned to the hiring depot to complete her sentence.  Perhaps being sent to the asylum was expedient in dealing with the women who had sudden outbursts of anger or who displayed odd behaviour.

    A couple of women had lingering health issues that required long stays in a hospital and were not always able to be cured.  Serious cases such as, a prolapsed uterus, lung infections or painful injuries which did not heal must have caused profound discomfort. Unpleasant odours, patients crying out in pain or coughing up blood would have been distressing for all concerned.  The treating doctors sometimes made accusations of patients malingering or exaggerating their conditions.  A few cases sent to the Asylum seemed to be linked with pregnancy and childbirth or the loss of a child.  In other cases mental health problems appeared to be only temporary and the women were discharged.

    One young woman was admitted to the asylum soon after disembarking.  Her indent record noted that she was of ‘unsound mind’.  She suffered from epilepsy and was considered to be simple-minded which perhaps resulted from the frequent severe seizures.  She lived out her days in the asylum.  Another case appeared to be senile dementia.  Three women from the East London spent decades in the asylum and their lives descended into insanity.  The trauma of being sentenced to transportation, despair at leaving children in Ireland and the physical toll of enduring a voyage to Hobart had terrible effects on fragile minds.



    Piddock, Susan; The New Norfolk Hospital for the Insane

    Ellen Byrne

    1. c1789( perhaps even a little earlier).

    tried 15 October 1842 Mullingar County Westmeath

    admitted for rheumatism August 1844

    Ellen Byrne, a widow, was prosecuted and convicted in Mullingar, County Westmeath, in October 1842.  Her crime was stealing a ‘loaf of sugar’.  She had a prior conviction for stealing clothes for which she served eight months in jail.  Ellen said she was 60 years old and a native of County Longford.  She had a wrinkled and pock-marked face, a tooth missing among her front top teeth and a mole on her forehead.  On her convict indent she ‘supposed’ her son, Thomas, whom she had not seen for three years, was transported.  She did not name any other children.

    Thomas Byrne was 25 years old when convicted in Longford in 1839 for stealing a harness.  His name was common and did not quite match men who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land but could have been the Thomas Byrne transported to Sydney on the Blenheim in 1839.

    On board ship Ellen shared her mess group with two other widows and an older woman who had left her large family in Ireland.  There were two younger women and no children in the mess group, but there was a mother and daughter, both prisoners.  There were no deaths and no one was sent to hospital after reaching Hobart.  The mature age of most of the group and no children to be responsible for may have helped them survive without serious illnesses.

    On 1 August 1844 Ellen was admitted into the New Norfolk Asylum but within weeks was transferred to the Infirmary in Hobart.  The doctors at the Asylum decided that Ellen’s illness was rheumatism and made no remarks about strange behaviour.  Rheumatism would have made working life difficult.  Possibly she was not believed and thought to be imagining illnesses and sent to the Asylum.  She received her certificate of freedom on 17 June 1850.  There were no other offences on her record and no court appearances mentioned in newspapers.

     Ellen Burns (Byrne) died aged 77 on 2 May 1853.  The death was notified by Patrick Gormley, an acquaintance, of Harrington Street.  He was an elderly former convict and perhaps a companion for Ellen Byrnes in the last years of her life.  



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    TAHO CON 40/1/2 image 134, Ellen Byrne

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 180/181 position 5, Ellen Byrne

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image 142, Ellen Byrne

    TAHO CON 31/1/13 image 164, Patrick Gormley

    TAHO RGD 35/1/3 Hobart 1853/2296 death Ellen Burns

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum.

    Catherine Murray (1)

    1. c 1822, Madras, India

    tried 26 June 1842 Mullingar, Westmeath

    of sound mind and fit to be at large

                Catherine Murray was 21 when convicted of stealing a teapot in Westmeath on 28 June 1842.  It was not her first appearance in a court room.  She had prior terms in prison; ten months for an assault, two months for being disorderly and 48 hours for drunkenness.  She had been ‘on the town’ for ten months.  Her father, Thomas, was transported to Sydney on the Asia in 1825 and she had four siblings in Galway.  A letter of petition written by Thomas’ mother, Sally, told of him being responsible for her care and that of his five children. Thomas’ wife must have been dead and Catherine, five years old at that time, would have been among the youngest of the children.  Catherine said her native place was Roscommon but her death certificate gave her birthplace as Madras, India, which hinted at an army background for the family.  Catherine, orphaned early by the death of her mother and the sentence of transportation for her father, must have lived in very poor circumstances as she grew up.

                Two months after Catherine’s trial she was transferred from the gaol in Mullingar to Grange Gorman Penitentiary, Dublin.  She remained in there for eight months with her infant daughter, Eliza Dunlop, who was about two months old at the time of her mother’s arrest.    

                Catherine boarded the East London on 5 May with 13 month-old Eliza and shared a mess group with seven other women and six other children. Illness and death were in the midst of them.  Two of the three mess women who died were described as bad characters by the surgeon.  The dying women were removed to hospital although one was there from the beginning of the voyage.  Seven children were left to be cared for and the three youngest died.

    Catherine Murray’s daughter, Eliza, was in a poor state of health even before the voyage.  Catherine had been in prison for almost a year and weaned her child five months before embarkation. The surgeon blamed her and said it was too early and deprived the infant of proper nourishment.  However the diet in Grange Gorman Prison may not have been adequate for mothers to have a sufficient supply of milk, especially if they were in prison for many months.  The decision to wean the baby was perhaps not by choice but by loss of breast milk.  A report in 1859 described the room designated for nursing mothers as ‘malodorous’ but what could be expected of people like that’.

                Baby Eliza was put into the ship’s hospital on 28 May, two weeks after leaving Dublin.   She suffered from diarrhoea and was very restless.  Despite a better diet she continued to weaken and died on 15 July.  In his notes about the illness and death of Eliza, the surgeon described the mother, Catherine, as a ‘careless indolent young woman’.  After being in prison for a year she may not have been in good health, particularly following childbirth before admission and nursing her baby in a crowded dank cell.  Perhaps her lack of energy was an indication of early stage scurvy.  Surgeon Robert Whitmore Clarke, (John William Dare 1852) noted that women, boarding in Dublin, “who had been imprisoned for very long periods, had symptoms of scurvy and that (according to their description) potatoes and vegetables seldom formed part of their diet”.

    Catherine and the surviving women in the mess group arrived in Hobart well enough to be sent to the probation stations. Two of those women were older, with one, Anne Lynch, being 60 years old.  Maturity and being without young children seemed to improve the chances of keeping healthy.

    Serving her sentence in Hobart, Catherine had difficulties, particularly in the first two years.  She absconded in August 1844 and was sentenced to four months hard labour in the Factory and, on the 23 September, was sent to the Asylum in New Norfolk because of a mental condition.  There she displayed occasional violence.  On 17 May 1845 she absconded, but was returned to the Asylum as she was still regarded as insane.  In June she was discharged as being of sound mind and fit to be at large but was readmitted from the General Hospital on 5 July.  The Police Magistrate was of the opinion that she appeared of unsound mind.

    Staff at the Asylum suspected Catherine was pregnant, but she said it was just a cold caught in the watch house in Hobart.  She was discharged from the Asylum on 20 August 1845 and a daughter, Mary Ann, was born in February 1846.  Catherine looked after her child well during that year and she did not appear on charges until September 1847 when admonished for insolence.  She had a further charge for misconduct and was imprisoned for a month.  In December 1847 she stole money and received a six-month term in the Factory.  While Catherine was at Cascades her daughter, Mary Ann, died in the Dynnyrne Nursery. 

    Catherine received her certificate of freedom on 1 November 1849.  She did not marry under sentence.  However, in January 1850, witnessed by East London connections, she married Edward Gegan at St George’s Church, Hobart.  The friendship from the time of their journey together remained as Margaret Bales (Beale) and her brother-in-law, Henry Marsden (Catherine Sheridan’s husband), put their crosses to the marriage certificate.  Edward Gegan, a butcher and sawyer, was transported on the Coromandel 1838.  Edward was a soldier, deserter, mercenary in Spain, a highwayman and an escapee. He had many adventures across England, Spain and France. After his escapee from the hulk, Fortitude, he admitted that he did it in consequence of the harsh treatment and made up his mind to be shot or sent to a penal colony.  He received the death sentence but it was commuted to transportation.  Born in County Meath, he was described as ‘a big man, upwards of six feet and very strong, displaying muscles of apparently immense strength’.

    The couple, Catherine and Edward, with a young baby, Rose, set off for Victoria aboard the Swift in January 1851.  Like many others they made their way to the goldfields and were in Buninyong where Edward purchased land.  Two more daughters, Margaret and Catherine, were born and the family travelled to Geelong for the baptism of little Catherine.   They had met Father Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan on the voyage from Tasmania and made trip to Geelong so he could baptise their daughter.

     Buninyong was only a few miles from the stockade where the Eureka rebellion took place and Edward and Catherine would have known the stresses the miners faced, certainly they would have had the same difficulties with paying for licences.  They moved to Avoca and a baby boy, Edward was born mid 1854 but the little boy died from dysentery eight months later.  Again Edward purchased land but the start they made faded.  In 1859 Edward, along with three others, planned a bank robbery in Deniliquin.  He provided at least one gun and trained the men on how to load and fire. While the masked gunmen took over seven thousand pounds in sovereigns and notes, Edward placed himself at a local hotel to provide an alibi. The police, aided by aboriginal trackers, searched for the culprits. Not far from the family tent on the banks of the Edward River in Deniliquin money was found, wrapped in Catherine’s shawl, inside the carcass of a dead bullock.   Townspeople identified the shawl as one Catherine was seen wearing.  Catherine and Edward fled to Moama and were said to have flashed sovereigns all over town. They absconded after the local police became suspicious of a family previously seen begging who were now flush with funds.  They were arrested in Castlemaine and Catherine was searched by the constable’s wife.  Stripped naked she tried to shield her calico belt but it was seized and the sovereigns found. Catherine was heard to say, ‘If you had asked me if I had money I would have given you twenty pounds to have said nothing about it’. Two of her small children were with her during the days in custody and she said she had no money to provide for them.

    Edward, who gave evidence against his fellow gang members, was sent to Darlinghurst prison for two years but Catherine was acquitted.  In the following September ‘widowed’ Catherine married Charles Turney at All Saints Church of England, Tumut.  Two days later he reported her as having a husband alive and she was charged with bigamy.  Catherine complained bitterly at being held for a long period awaiting trial and said because she was far from home she could not raise bail. She was found guilty and sent to Darlinghurst Gaol but only for a brief period.

    Following Edward’s release from prison, Catherine joined him and they moved north to Murrurundi where another son, William, was born in 1863.  By 1870, with their two eldest daughters married, Catherine and Edward and their younger children moved west to Ulamambri Station near Coonabarabran where work was plentiful.  It was there on 10 December 1870 that Catherine took her own life by drinking strychnine.  The Coroner’s inquest into her death stated it was “accelerated by intemperance”.  Catherine is believed to be buried on Ulamambri Station.

    Her death certificate shows she had given birth to eight children, not all of them surviving. Catherine’s three daughters had twenty-nine children between them and their descendants are spread throughout New South Wales.



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 82, position 3, Catherine Murray

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 198/199 position 9, Catherine Murray

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image 166 position 2, Catherine Murray

    Birth of Mary Ann Murray, Tasmanian births, Hobart 1846, Registration Number 1541

    Death of Mary Ann Murray, CON 40/1/8 image 82, position 3

    Marriage Record, RGD37/1/9 1850/161 Hobart, Catherine Murray & Edward Gegan

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum.


    Margaret Shaughnessy


    tried 15 October 1842 County Galway


    Margaret Shaughnessy, a nineteen year-old from Galway, was convicted of stealing handkerchiefs and prosecuted in her native place. She had a prior conviction for stealing a goose. Her parents were dead but she had four siblings.  Margaret remained in Galway until transferred to Grange Gorman two weeks before embarkation on the East London.

    She shared her mess with young women from Galway and Carlow, one of whom had a three year-old child and was seven months pregnant.  The last member of the mess was a woman from Cavan with her four children. The group had five young children to care for and a mother who, midway through the voyage gave birth to a baby who lived only two days.  The mother of the four children was in hospital for many weeks and returned weak to her berth.  She became ill again and she and her youngest child died so three orphaned children needed to be cared for.  The mess group would have been in charge of the food and bedding for them.  One died a few days after arrival but the four and six year old survived and that may have been because of the care given by the women in the mess. Providing for the orphaned children was an added burden for Margaret Shaughnessy and her messmates.

    Once in Hobart Margaret began to serve her sentence.    In December 1844, she was accused of having a man in her master’s kitchen.  She was sentenced to two months hard labour at the Female Factory. It was during that period of sentence that she was sent to the New Norfolk Asylum.  The report from the Asylum said she broke several panes of glass in the cell and struck several persons who were in the cell.  Margaret was pregnant and appeared angry at being punished and separated from the ‘man in the kitchen’.

    While at the Asylum Margaret gave birth to a little girl, Eliza, in May 1845 and both mother and child were well.  But within weeks she showed some inclination to injure or destroy her child staring at the child and shaking her and saying, “how could I get such a child, then I believe I could not hurt it for its father’s taken’. On another occasion Margaret seized her child by the throat and nearly throttled it.  The staff considered the child to be in danger and took her from Margaret who was confined to a cell.  She cried bitterly and promised never to ill use it again.  She was allowed to return to her ward and nurse her child who was ‘very delicate and always ailing’.  From that time Margaret seemed to take care of the baby well and its health improved.   Sadly the infant came down with bronchitis and died on 3 September.

    In January 1846 Margaret absconded but was immediately returned from the Police Office. After that time she recovered enough to be sent back and hired out to complete her sentence.  Her charges during the remainder of her sentence involved being absent without leave.  She served time in solitary confinement and time doing hard labour, some of which was in separate cells.  Margaret’s conduct record noted she was married and gave birth to a daughter, Catherine, at the Cascades on 3 May 1848.  The little girl was baptised two days later and Catherine Murray was the sponsor.  The father’s name was given as James Newman. There was no further record of that child.  Daniel Hand, (Tortoise 1842) applied to marry Margaret in July 1849.  Permission was given but no registered record exists for the marriage.   Margaret received her ticket of leave in May 1849 and a certificate of freedom in November 1849.

    Daniel and Margaret Hand (ship to the colony London) sailed in March 1852 as steerage passengers on the Shamrock from Launceston to Melbourne.  They were both thirty years old.   No records of Margaret after that date.  


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/10 image 98, position 2, Catherine Shaughnessy

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 206/207 position 2, Catherine Shauhnessy

    TAHO TAS BDMs Bap.CM_RC_2100, Baptism of Catherine Shaughnessy

    TAHO, Permission to marry; CON 52/1/3 page 208, PM 22761, Catherine Shaughnessy & Daniel Hand

    TAHO; Departures; POL 220/1/1 page 619; Daniel & Margaret Hand


    Bridget Hayes

    1. c1823

    tried 11 October 1842Clonmel County Tipperary

    Amentia & Epilesia

                Bridget Hayes was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary.  She was twenty years old when tried and convicted of the theft of a bundle taken from the counter of a shop. Although she denied ever being in jail, prison records noted three prior convictions.  Her parents were dead, her two brothers were in the army and she had two sisters in Clonmel. She was a needlewoman and illiterate.

                On board the East London she shared her mess group with other women from Tipperary and Kilkenny and one woman from Antrim.  There were three children with the group and a baby was born during the voyage.  One older woman, Mary Spillane, died.  Later medical records showed that Bridget had epilepsy and a ‘weak intellect’.  She would not have been in a fit state to help manage the care of the women in her group who were weak or ill.  She may have needed supervision and care herself when she had epileptic seizures.  The surgeons comment about the group when Mary Spillane was ill said , ‘I have had great trouble and pains taken to induce those of the same berth to be orderly and regular in keeping their berth clean they have been very tardy in complying with the orders given unless forced’.  Among the problems the group suffered were sick women, a death, seasick mothers caring for young children and the difficulties of Bridget’s affliction, all of which would have caused distress for themselves and those around them.  When they reached Hobart, two of the group were sent to hospital which left only four healthy enough to be moved to the probation stations; one of those was Bridget Hayes.

                Bridget’s health was an obvious concern in the first weeks after landing. Her convict record had the words ‘of unsound mind’ written across it.  At the end of November, 1843 she was sent to the Lunatic Asylum New Norfolk.  Her illness was recorded as Amentia with Epilesia.   Amentia was the term used to describe the condition of patients who showed a lack of intellectual development.  She had epilepsy and her frequent uncontrolled seizures probably diminished her mental capacity.

                The notes from Bridget’s time in the asylum described the method used to treat her seizures.  She had her head shaved and cold water poured over it every morning.  She remained in the asylum for many years having fits ‘more or less frequently’ and became increasingly mentally feeble and helpless. The report used the word ‘imbecile’. She died from a lung disease at the New Norfolk Asylum on 25 September 1860.  The death record said she was 42 but from early prison and indent records she would have been 37 years old.  She had spent the last seventeen years of her life at the asylum.  She had a poor and miserable life.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 87, position 2, Bridget Hayes

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 194/195 position 8, Bridget Hayes

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image 160, Bridget Hayes


    Mary McMahon

    1. c1823

    tried 20 October 1842 Limerick


                Mary McMahon was twenty when convicted in Limerick of stealing a cow and sentenced to ten years transportation.  She had prior charges for stealing clothes and one for vagrancy but all were discharged.  She had a brother and four sisters; one sister was in America and the others at their native place in County Clare.  She was ‘on the town’ for three months before her appearance in court.

                Mary was in a mess group with other single women from Queen’s, Limerick and Clare.  One woman, Mary Farrell, had a child with her and both she and her baby died during the voyage. Another woman, Mary Ward was sent to hospital on arrival in Hobart. The rest of the group survived the journey in reasonable health and were able to be disembarked to the probation stations. But they had seen illness and death amongst them during that long voyage.

                There was no information on Mary McMahon’s record to show where she was in her first year in Hobart.  Perhaps she was not sent out for service.  The available notes from New Norfolk show that she was admitted into the asylum on the 25 November 1844.   It was where she was to spend the rest of her life.  She was childlike in conversation and manners.  She was sometimes very noisy but never violent.  She slept all day and was awake at night.  In May 1850 she was described as a ‘very irritable imbecile’.  By March 1855 she was bedridden.  She died nearly twenty years later on 15 May 1873, at the New Norfolk Asylum.  The cause of death was dysentery.  She lived almost twenty-nine years at the asylum.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 82, position 2, Mary McMahon

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 198/199 position 8, Mary McMahon

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image 196, Mary McMahon


    Mary Lyons

    1. c1813

    tried 15 January 1843 Kilkenny County Kilkenny



                Mary Lyons was tried in Kilkenny City in January 1843.  She was thirty years old, married and had a three year-old child, William Lyons.  She was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing a candlestick.  She had prior convictions for drunkenness and stealing clothes and served six months in prison.  An earlier charge of contempt of court resulted in nine months in prison.  The report from the jail said she was ‘very bad’.  She said her husband, Dennis Lyons, was in the 31st Regiment.  Military records show several men of that name joining from southern counties in Ireland in 1839 and 1840.  None was listed as being in the 31st Regiment of Foot.  However, a Dennis Lyons from County Cork was in a unit which served in the East Indies and Afghanistan at the same time as the 31st Regiment.  A husband in the army meant Mary had little support at home.  Her parents were dead, but she had a brother and two sisters at her native place.

                On board the East London Mary shared her mess with another woman from Kilkenny, four from Tipperary and one from Antrim.  Mary had her son, William Lyons, with her and there were two other children and a baby born during the voyage.   The eldest woman, Mary Spillane, 70, died and, one child died.   Bridget Hayes, another of the mess, was subject to frequent seizures and was a little childlike.  By the end of the journey, two women, sick themselves or with sick children, were sent immediately to hospital. The members of the group would have struggled to cope with the tasks required of them on board.

    Only two weeks into the journey, William Lyons fell from the main ladder and fractured his forearm.  The surgeon said it was due to the carelessness of his mother. The little boy was treated by the surgeon, recovered and, completed the voyage.  He was sent to the Orphan School with the first group of children on 2 October 1843 and stayed there nearly twelve years before he was apprenticed to Dr Macnamarra in 1855.

    In Hobart, Mary Lyons must have been assigned to the New Norfolk Asylum.  Her conduct record listed a charge there in September 1844 for drunkenness for which she was sent to prison at the Female Factory for three months hard labour. However, in December of that year, she was admitted into the Asylum as a patient.  Her record stated that she was orderly and industrious, acting as a nurse at the Asylum and gave her age as 40 years.  A board was set up to examine the state of mind of a woman called Margaret Kerneny who was acting as a nurse.  Mary Lyons thought she had an equal right to be brought forward and responded violently when that did not happen.  Perhaps the decision of the board meant promotion or better conditions and Mary Lyons certainly expected an opportunity for herself if brought forward.  In her anger and rage she broke two windows and a door in a cell.  Her outburst caused her to be labelled as suffering from mania.  Despite her problems while at the Asylum she may have continued her work as acting nurse.  She was charged by the medical department with drunkenness in December 1845 and was off to the Female Factory for another two months.

     She was at the Asylum until another board was set up to examine her state of mind.  Once the board sent their report to the Principal Medical Office Mary was discharged on the 10 January 1846. During those years, Mary’s son was at the Orphan School and perhaps did not have had the opportunity to meet his mother.

    Mary served the remainder of her sentence with several charges of drunkenness and being out after hours.  She served time in solitary confinement on two occasions and at another time, when she received a six month sentence of imprisonment, served half of it in a separate cell.  Her bad behaviour had not improved in Hobart, yet she was described as orderly and industrious as a nurse.  In October 1849 she delivered an illegitimate child and was sent to the Cascade Factory to remain there at the disposal of the Comptroller General.  Her ticket of leave was revoked in November 1849, but her certificate of freedom was granted on the 15 January 1850.

    Mary did not marry under sentence and her name was common. There was an application to marry a Mary Lyons by James Johnstone.  He applied in January and July 1850, but was refused. His first application was just after Mary had received her freedom and two months after the birth of her baby.  Could he be the father of the baby?  He was transported for the murder of his wife so authorities did not easily grant him permission to remarry.

    Mary Lyons died of dysentery in Hobart on 19 April 1851. She was 44 and her occupation was given as dressmaker.  No are no records of the whereabouts of her younger child; presumed not to have lived.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 235, position 2, Mary Lyons

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 198/199 position 5, Mary Lyons

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image 165, Mary Lyons

    TAHO, Permission to marry, 28/1/1850,   CON 52/1/3 p238, Mary Lyons & James Johnstone

     TAHO, Permission to marry, 9/7/1850,  CON 52/1/3 p238, Mary Lyons & James Johnstone

    Tasmanian Death Record, Hobart 1851, Registered number 677


    Frances Warren

    1. c1803

    tried 28 June1841 County Roscommon

    prolapsed uterus


                Frances (Fanny) Warren was 40 when convicted in Roscommon on 26 June 1841. She was tried for larceny and was in prison for nearly two years before being transported.  Irish prison records listed her as single, a spinner and, born in Longford. In Hobart she was in hospital when the information was given for the indent records.

                On board the East London, Frances shared her mess with five women from Tyrone and two from Monaghan.  There was one child, three year-old James Kilpatrick who was with his mother, Susan McKenna. They were all Catholic women except for Susan Mullan, who, although a Protestant stayed with the others from Tyrone. With the exception of Frances, the mess group was healthy.  However four of them were in trouble in the early days in Hobart at Brickfields and during the riot at New Town Farm Station.

                Frances had a health problem even before embarkation.  The surgeon saw her in the Infirmary at Grange Gorman where she was under treatment from Dr Harty and Surgeon Read. The cause of her illness was a prolapsed uterus; from the notes it appeared to have protruded outside the vagina and was about the size of a large apple. Aboard ship Frances applied to the surgeon four days after boarding.  He immediately placed her in a recumbent position and returned the uterus to its proper position.  However, rough weather caused Frances to vomit severely, and the uterus prolapsed again.  It was accompanied by a foetid discharge which caused complaints from those in nearby berths.  Frances was admitted into the hospital, given enemas of sulphate solution and allowed a diet of gruel and barley water to drink.  By June she was well enough to be discharged to her own berth.  There were no further reports of her illness but she was sent to hospital when the ship arrived in Hobart. Her conduct record had no information about where she was sent or any charges.  She may have been under medical care in hospital from the time of arrival.  Perhaps her health problem made it difficult for her to be assigned to work.

                Frances was admitted into the New Norfolk Asylum from the General Hospital on the 29 April 1845.  The only note of her condition was that she suffered from a prolapsed uterus for many years.  She was transferred to the Infirmary Hobart in September 1846.

                Although Frances did not marry under sentence, the age and the name matched Frances Warren who married Joshua Henry Smyth on 11 January 1855 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Launceston.  Frances, 50, was a spinster and Joshua Henry Smyth, 39, a labourer. Joshua Smith may have been a former convict from the Augusta Jessie 1838. He served his sentence without further charges.

                Frances died of consumption on the 4 June 1878.  Her death in Longford was registered by her husband, J.H. Smith, carrier.  Joshua Smith remarried two weeks later.

    The medical notes from the voyage are available on the FCRC database.



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 239, position 2, Frances Warren

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 208/209 Frances Warren  

    Tasmanian Marriage Record, Launceston, 1855, Registered Number 847

    Tasmanian Marriage Death, Longford, 1878, Registered Number 353


    Eliza Cinnamond

    b.c 1815

    tried 1 March 1843 Belfast County Antrim


                Eliza Cinnamond, a 28 year-old widow, was sentenced to seven years transportation in County Antrim. She stole handkerchiefs and, had prior charges for stealing money, one for which she was imprisoned for three months and the other was discharged.

    The Vindicator Newspaper, Antrim reported her trial: Record Court – Crown Cases

    Eliza Cinnamond was indicted for feloniously taking a pocket-handkerchief from the person of David Caldwell, in Belfast, on 1st march, 1843 – Pleaded guilty – an old offender seven years transportation.   Eliza said her native place was Armagh and she was a country servant and could milk cows.  With her on board the East London was one of her four children, ten year old Eliza Martin.

    The surgeon described Eliza as a strong, healthy woman.  She shared her mess with two women from Fermanagh, two from Roscommon, two from Londonderry and one from Cavan.  Four of the women had children.  The eight children made it the group with the largest number of children on board.  According to the surgeon’s list, they were next to a group which had five young children, some of whom were related to one of the children in Eliza’s mess.  Two of the mothers from the Eliza’s mess group died and one of the youngest children.  Two, possibly three, children died not long after reaching Hobart. The group had a great deal to manage amid the illness and distress of the mothers and the difficulties of caring for children, especially the sick ones, during a long voyage.

    One day Eliza was sitting on the booms when bad weather and a stormy sea caused her to be pitched with great force into the bulwarks of the ship.  She was severely injured, became insensible and vomited large quantities of clotted and frothy blood.  Her skin was cold and she was unable to speak, although she could point out the site of the pain along her ribs.  She was taken to her berth but continued to vomit blood, almost suffocating.  The surgeon gave her hydrarg chloride and antimony tart and lemonade.  He took 20 ounces of blood from her arm and repeated the treatment the next day.  When she didn’t improve, he ordered her removed to the hospital.  He administered magnesium sulphate and acid sulphate and did further bleedings.  But she still had difficulty breathing and coughed up large quantities of frothy mucus mixed with blood.  After almost four weeks she was well enough to return to her own berth.

    Three weeks later when the ship arrived in Hobart, Eliza was sent to hospital and her daughter, Elizabeth Martin, was admitted into the Orphan School.   Eliza’s conduct record had no information about her being assigned to work.  Her injuries may have prevented it. She was in hospital after arrival and, on seven other occasions, before she was admitted to the hospital in August 1844.  In May 1845 she was sent to the New Norfolk Asylum.  The diagnosis was haemoptysis- the coughing of blood.  Eliza told the doctors that she received an injury to her right side while on board ship.  They said they had ‘every reason to believe she exaggerates her ailments’.  Her hospital records stated that she was, ‘at times very troublesome and impertinent’.  Eliza was discharged from the Asylum on 31 September 1845 and engaged to work as a paid nurse. But she must have soon  returned to the Asylum.

    Eliza Cinnamond died on 12 March 1846.  Her death was noted on her New Norfolk record.  Her daughter, Elizabeth Martin, stayed at the orphan school until March 1848 when she was discharged to Mr St John in Port Phillip. 

    The medical notes from the voyage are available on the FCRC database.



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Women who died under sentence

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 239, position 2,  Eliza Cinnamond  

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 182/183 position 8, Eliza Cinnamond  

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image145, Eliza Cinnamond  


    Mary Ward

    1. c1812

    tried 25 October 1842 Maryborough, Queen’s County


                Mary Ward was single and 31 years old when convicted of larceny at Maryborough, Queen’s County.  She received a seven year sentence of transportation.  She had at least two prior convictions.  She was in hospital when indent records were taken so no personal information was recorded.  On board the East London she shared her mess with three other women from Queen’s, three from Limerick and one from Clare.  Mary was the oldest and the only Protestant among the Catholic women in her group. There were two deaths among the mess group; Mary Farrell and her two month old baby. Apart from Mary Ward the remaining group members were in reasonable health.

       At the end of the voyage Mary Ward was sent ashore to hospital.  There was no information about assignments or hospital admission on her conduct record.  She may have been sent from hospital to the Asylum soon after arrival; possibly because of mental anguish and trauma rather than a physical illness. On her admission to New Norfolk Asylum on 13 May 1845, the record stated that Mary was formerly an inmate of the Lunatic Asylum and was discharged in February of that year. She had acted as a ‘wards woman’ and was regarded as very useful.   However back at Brickfields she became violent and was returned to the New Norfolk Asylum.

    Without any obvious cause Mary ‘became silent and morose refusing to assist in the care of her ward and conceiving the most violent hatred against certain individuals and on one instance restrained in a straight jacket’.  The notes continued with the remark ‘10 June 1845 the Board of opinion she is insane and removed to New Norfolk’.  At New Norfolk she was again a ‘wards woman’ and the notes said she was ‘perfectly rational and coherent’.  She was discharged to Brickfields on 26 February 1846.

    Mary married Thomas Cox (Lord Lyndock 1836) on 2 November 1846, at Christ Church, Longford. Mary, 33, was a pass holder and Thomas, 23, had his ticket of leave.  A daughter, Mary Ann was born in July 1847, Thomas in February 1849 and another male child in March 1852. 

    Mary Cox died from uterine disease in Longford on 9 January 1869.



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/10 image 240, position 2Mary Ward

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 208/209 position 8, Mary Ward

    TAHO permission to marry CON 52/1/2 page 300, Mary Ward & Thomas Cox

    Tasmanian Marriage Record, Longford1846, Registered Number 353, Mary Ward & Thomas Cox

    Tasmanian Birth Record, Mary Ann Cox RGD 33/1/27 1847/848 Longford

    Tasmanian Death, Longford, 1878, Registered Number 353, Mary Cox


    Mary Fitzgibbon

    1. c1800

    tried 13 September 1842 Killarney, County Kerry


    Mary Fitzgibbon was convicted of the theft of candlesticks in Killarney, County Kerry in September 1842.  Although she said she was 40, the Irish prison records had her age as 44 years old.  She was a widow and worked as a needlewoman.    She had six grown up children in Ireland and her native place was Tipperary. Mary remained in her county jail until transferred to Grange Gorman two weeks before embarkation.

    On board the East London she shared a mess with another woman tried in Kerry, three women from County Down and two from Cork.  Mary was a Catholic, as were all but one of her mess.  There were four children.  One woman, Mary Cowan, died and her very young baby also, which left a seven year old to be cared for by the mess mates. The group completed the voyage without serious problems and were disembarked in Hobart and sent to the probation stations. The children from the group who survived were well enough to go to the Orphan School as soon as arrangements were made.

    Mary Fitzgibbon had little information on her conduct record; no charges or punishments.  There was a note of an illegitimate child, John, born about 1844 or 1845.  No further records of that child and no evidence that he was ever in the Orphan School. He may not have lived.

    Mary was admitted into the New Norfolk Asylum in April 1845, perhaps following the events around the birth of her child. She remained there for a considerable time.  Notes from her record, October 1847, said that she ‘talks in a wild incoherent manner’ and that she attributed her illness to ‘evil influence and position’.  She refused to take any medication.  In November 1848 she was doing needlework and her health was tolerable but she was, ‘very irritable and somewhat incoherent manner and expression highly indicates mental disease’.  The report on 1 January 1851 said she was in good health, but noted the, ‘same incoherent maniac’.  July 1854 and April 1857 reports simply said ‘the same’.   She must have been discharged after the last date, but was readmitted 3 March 1862.

    Mary Fitzgibbon died at the New Norfolk Asylum on 31 August 1863.   The death was registered by the Surgeon superintendent of the Asylum.  She was a female pauper and the cause of death was lung disease, a low fever and disease of the brain. She had spent the greater part of eighteen years at the lunatic asylum.


    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image 155, position1, Mary Fitzgibbon

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 190/191 position 8, Mary Fitzgibbon

    Tasmanian death record, New Norfolk, 1863, Registered number 359


    Mary Wickham

    1. c1798

    tried 11 November 1842 County Wexford


                Mary Wickham was 45 years old when she was tried at Wexford in November 1842.  She stole a cloak and received a seven year sentence of transportation although a newspaper report said she stole a small bag containing two stone of flour. Her prior charges were for stealing two chemises, for which she served three months, and once for stealing flour which saw her in jail again for three months. She was a widow, born in County Tyrone and, the mother of six children.  An earlier newspaper in 1841 reported the findings of a coroner’s inquest into the death of Mathew Wickham from excessive drinking.  Evidence was given by his wife, Mary Wickham.  She was distressed when called but was able to tell how her husband had broken the pledge and drank whiskey. Her husband was described as, ‘always considered a little odd’.  It was likely that it was Mary Wickham who was transported.

    Mary claimed to be a house-maid and could bake and make pastry, perhaps that’s why she stole flour. Her daughter, Catherine, was transported two years before and another daughter, Nancy Kelly was transported on the Hope in 1842.  Catherine Wickham was on the Mexborough 1841.  There was no Nancy Kelly on the Hope but there was an Anne Kelly whose mother’s name was Mary. Often Anne was known as Nancy in Ireland.   Both of those girls said they were born in Belfast.  Mary’s son Patrick Wickham was in the 11th Regiment of Foot.  Mary Wickham had children with different surnames.

    On board the East London Mary shared her mess with three women from, Kings County, two from County Meath and a woman from Tyrone.  There were two ten year-old girls with the group. There was one death, Catherine Manly, who was ill for most of the voyage and remained in her berth with until the beginning of August. The women saw her suffering and must have helped care for her.  When the ship arrived in Hobart, Mary Wickham, the remaining mess members and the two young girls were able to be disembarked in reasonable health.  Hannah Wickham and Ann Roach, the ten year-old girls, were admitted into the Orphan School.

    In early1844, while at the New Town Farm Probation Station, Mary Wickham was in trouble for breaking down the room barrier.  Although the charge was dated the 16 February, it was almost certainly to do with the breaking down of room barriers on 26 January during the riot at the station.  George Harper applied to marry her in June 1845 but there was no marriage.

    In November 1844, Mary Wickham was charged with larceny of money under £5 and had her sentence extended and served eighteen months in the House of Correction. An account of the theft was in the Colonial Times.

    Mary Wickham, a probationer on wages, in the service of Mr. Richards, was charged with sweeping the clothes line of the Self-Supporting Hospital, and depositing in her apron sundry pairs of stockings, some "shimmies," and various other articles of wearing apparel. This foolish woman, whose age ought to have taught her bettor conduct, had, it appeared, received her wages on Friday, and, as is too common when permitted to go out to purchase some necessary clothing, she spent her money in drink, endangered the safety of her mistress's child, and then went away, and was detected in taking the linen from St. Mary's Hospital. She was summarily dealt with, and ordered to have her original sentence (only seven years) extended eighteen months, and to wash away the first six months at the Cascade Factory.

    In the following years she had six charges of drunkenness and being out after hours.  These usually found her back in the House of Correction for short periods of three or four months. She received her ticket of leave in October 1849 and her certificate of freedom in January 1851.

    Mary’s daughter, Hannah Wickham, stayed at the Orphan School until February 1846 when she was indentured for three years to Bernard McKever, in Port Phillip.  She was mistreated, absconded and was summoned before the magistrate.   Hannah wrote to the Mayor about her treatment and a young lawyer, who lived in the same building as her employer, wrote to the newspaper about her situation and described the cruel treatment she was subject to.

    To the Editor of the Melbourne Argus,

    .....Beaten severely, and otherwise treated with great harshness, which the neighbours can testify, if yelling, shouting, and the noise of blows, is any indication of ill usage kept for five months without shoes, covered with rags, etc,....

    1. HEANEY.

    Melbourne, 2nd November, 1846

     The lawyer and the landlord ended up in court over a tenancy dispute. Hannah Wickham disappeared from all records.

    Mary’s daughter, Catherine Wickham, married in 1848, and died in 1866.  Mary’s son, Patrick Wickham, was possibly the 15 year old of that name who was sentenced to transportation in Wexford in 1840 but had his sentence commuted.  By 1843, he was a private in the 11th Regiment of Foot.  In 1850, Sydney, a newspaper report, mentioned his name and his regiment when he was charged with burglary, but his case was dismissed.  Perhaps his days with the army came to an end at that time. Did he visit his mother in Hobart? A man named Patrick Wickham sailed from Hobart for Melbourne in October 1852.  It was just a month after Mary Wickham was admitted into the New Norfolk Asylum.

     The hospital notes from the Asylum, with the admission date 9 October 1852, showed Mary Wickham had slipped into a mental decline of old age.  The comment on her admission said she was, ‘labouring under symptoms of insanity’. The entry also said that there was little doubt of her condition and that,  ‘she seldom speaks when spoken to, sullen and stupid, violent, tears her clothes, does not sleep at night, mutters to herself, endeavoured to burn hospital clothing’.

    The notes said she was discharged from the Infirmary three months earlier without symptoms of insanity.  She was described as Irish, not able to read and write, accustomed to service, a widow, and had six living children.  However it went on to say she was supposed to have an intemperate habit, and that, on admission, she was emaciated, looked ill and was very filthy in person.   At first she would attack fellow patients without cause and was anxious to be discharged to her children in Hobart.  Her look and manner indicated imbecility.   But the note at the end of October said she was quiet and amendable.

    In September 1853 her health and strength were failing rapidly.  She was childish and helpless and could barely stand without assistance. In January 1854 she was, ‘feeble and quite imbecile’.  Mary Wickham died at New Norfolk Asylum 5 March 1855.

    Mary said two of her daughters were transported; the different surname made the connections difficult to prove.  Her son was in Australia and probably visited her.  Perhaps some of her other children also reached Hobart.



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    TAHO CON 40/1/10 image240, position 2, Mary Wickham

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 208/209, position 7, Mary Wickham

    TAHO CON 40/1/10 image211, position 2, Catherine Wickham

    Tasmanian death record, New Norfolk, 1863, Registered number 359

    TAHO Departures: Patrick Wickham, 7/10/1852, CUS36/1/558


    Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer Saturday 2 March 1850 page 3 (Patrick Wickham)

    Colonial Times (Hobart, TasL 1828 - 1857) Tuesday 19 November 1844 p 3
    The Argus 10 November/1846

    British Newspaper Archive:

    Wexford Conservative 14 January 1843, &15 January 1843: 5 July 1837; 17 March 1841


    Sarah Green

    1. c1817

    tried Belfast County Antrim  7 January 1843


                Sarah Green was born on the Isle of Man, brought up in Scotland and, arrested and tried in Belfast.  Her crime was stealing £9 from a man.  She faced four similar charges before; one of which saw her jailed for three months and three were dismissed.   The history of her appearances in court meant that even though a petition was sent to the Lord Lieutenant on her behalf, Sarah had to complete the full sentence of transportation for seven years.  Sarah was 26 years old and a widow with three children, although the petition sent by her cousin mentioned only one child, a son aged seven.  No children travelled with her to Hobart.  The Irish prison records gave her occupation as a cotton weaver and Sarah said house maid on her indent record.  She did not admit to being ‘on the town’; but so many charges of stealing money from men suggest she may have preyed upon them either through prostitution or by trickery. She had many letters tattooed on her arms; GCGHMAR on her right arm and IG on her left arm; reminders of loved ones in her life.

    On board the East London Sarah shared her mess with other women, Catholic and Protestant, from County Antrim.  A group of thirteen women from the county travelled to Grange Gorman in Dublin; eight of them shared a mess.  The other five were distributed among various mess groups.  Sarah Green’s mess group had no children and no entries in the medical journal.  All were able to give their details for the indent records.  Sarah was the only one of the group who caused trouble around the day of the riot at New Town Probation Station. She was charged with disorderly conduct four days before the riot and was in solitary confinement on the day of the riot.

    During the years under sentence, Sarah had two charges for misconduct, three for drunkenness, one for being absent without leave and two for disturbing the peace and indecent language.  Michael McDermott applied to marry her in October 1847.  The marriage was approved but did not take place.  Sarah married Charles Lewis at St Matthews Church of England and Ireland, New Norfolk, 24 September 1849.  He was a widower whose first wife had committed suicide, by drowning, six months earlier.  Sarah Green and Charles Lewis had no children.

    On 2 July 1853 Sarah was admitted into the Asylum from her husband’s residence.  She was said to be insane.   The report noted that her habits, ‘had for many years past have been most vicious’.  About a month before admission she was attacked by, ‘delirium tremors’, was ‘emaciated, incoherent and dirty in habit’.  On the 12 July 1853 she had two convulsive fits and was, ‘quite idiotic’.  Four days later she had a fit from which she never recovered and died.   Her death from ‘disease of the brain’ was registered by John Meyer, medical officer in charge, H.M. Lunatic Asylum. Sarah had serious mental health problems, but was with her husband until the last two weeks of her life.



    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Female Convicts Research Centre; Patients at the New Norfolk Asylum

    Irish Transportation Records CRF 183 G3 (Sarah Green)

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image217, position 3, Sarah Green

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 image 192/193, position 6, Sarah Green

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image , position 2, Sarah Green

    TAHO; Permission to Marry. CON 52/1/2 page 316 (Sarah Green & Michael McDermott)

    TAHO; Permission to Marry. CON 52/1/2 page 316 (Sarah Green & Charles Lewis)

    Tasmanian marriage record; RGD 37/1/8 1849/680 New Norfolk

    Tasmanian death record, New Norfolk, 1863, Registered number 359


    Appendix Chapter 7

  • Chapter 8: The Gang from Clonmel Open or Close


    The Gang From Clonmel


    Clonmel Court House

    Clonmel Court House


    Mary Spillane

    Mary Cavanagh

    Mary Harrowhill



    The Gang from Clonmel

    Mary Spillane, Mary Cavanagh, Mary Harrowhill

    & James Cavanagh

     Mary Spillane, Mary Cavanagh and Mary Harrowhill, Catholic women, were tried in Clonmel, County Tipperary, on 1 April 1843.  Charged with them was James Cavanagh.  The gang was accused of shoplifting various types of cloth and cottons from William O’Callaghan’s shop. They had faced similar charges previously.  James Cavanagh said stole a piece for a waistcoat for which he served six months and another nine month for stealing wool.  Mary Cavanagh said her prior charge was shop lifting.   Mary Spillane’s charge was for receiving a cloak and a shift and the judge told her she would be transported if the cloak was not given up by the next Friday.  A few days later the Cork Examiner reported that all four were sentenced to transportation for seven years.  After their trial and sentence they were sent to Dublin.  Within six weeks the women boarded the East London and James Cavanagh, the Constant.  The ships left Dublin a day apart, in May 1843.  The Constant made the journey in 112 days and the East London 133 days. 


    Old Main Gate Clonmel Gaol


    Mary Spillane was born in Templemore and at nearly seventy years of age was the oldest woman aboard ship.  Mary Cavanagh was thirty-one, Mary Harrowhill was twenty-eight and James Cavanagh was fifty years old.  Were they related?  James Cavanagh admitted that the woman who visited him in gaol before he left was Mary Harrowhill and that he lived with her.  In some prison records Cavanagh was used as a surname instead of Harrowhill.   Mary Cavanagh was a widow and her children had the surname Cavanagh.  She was probably related by marriage to James Cavanagh’s family.  Mary Spillane was old enough to be a parent or grandparent of either Mary Harrowhill or Mary Cavanagh but she died on the voyage so information was not recorded.  James Cavanagh said he was a farm labourer although he was prosecuted for shop lifting.  His behaviour in gaol and on board ship was quiet and orderly.  He had no charges while under sentence. Mary Harrowhill was also well behaved and had no charges during her sentence.

    In 1849 Anastasia Ryan and her daughter, Mary Burke, were transported on the Lord Auckland.   Anastasia named Mary Spillane as her mother and when she married in 1851, James Cavanagh and Mary Smith (Cavanagh) were her witnesses. Although the surnames varied all these people were connected and it is probable that they were related. Mary Spillane, Anastasia Ryan and Mary Burke made three generations of one family transported to van Diemen’s Land.

    Mary Spillane, Mary Harrowhill and Mary Cavanagh stayed together with  Mary Cavanagh’s two children, Patrick and Thomas Cavanagh, aged four and two years old.  They shared a mess aboard the East London with another young woman from County Tipperary, Bridget Hayes, who suffered from epilepsy and was childlike in behaviour. There were also two women from Kilkenny, one of whom, Mary Lyons, had a  little boy, and from County Antrim, Susan Cassidy, a prostitute. 


    When Edward Caldwell inspected Mary Spillane in the prison before embarkation he said she was in good health and he saw no objections to accepting her.  However he did say he was agreeable to Article 8 of the Surgeon Superintendents Instructions when he made his decision which perhaps he offered as a defence for taking such an elderly woman.  No doubt Mary herself wanted to go with the other women who were charged with her.

    Six days after leaving Kingstown Harbour, amidst stormy weather, Mary Harrowhill gave birth to a ‘fine full grown female child’.   Mary and her baby recovered from the delivery and returned to the berth on the prison deck.  But even before Mary Harrowhill was discharged from hospital, Mary Spillane was admitted.  She was in ‘apparent good health’ when received on board ship, but severe seasickness had ‘reduced her to a state of great debility’.  The surgeon treated her with quinine, a little wine daily and some preserved meat. She remained in hospital for almost a month until the surgeon considered her sufficiently recovered to return to her own berth. Meanwhile, three year old William, the young son of Mary Lyons, fell down the hatchway and fractured his forearm.  The group had to deal with a nursing mother and newborn child, an elderly sick woman, a woman who suffered from seizures and a child with an arm fracture, while two mothers had young children to care for and keep occupied during the day.

    Towards the end of July, Mary Spillane became ill with diarrhoea, loss of strength and appetite.  She was again admitted into hospital and put on ‘a more suitable regime’.  The surgeon said she had no pain.  He said he had taken great trouble to get those who were in the same berth to keep the berth clean and accused them of not complying with the orders unless forced. But the women were struggling with children who were becoming weaker and, even with their own health.  In hospital Mary Spillane did not improve.  Her hands and feet became cold and had spasmodic contractions.  She lost control of her bowels and needed constant attention.  The surgeon ordered wine and quinine but Mary became weaker and died 4 August 1843. 

    By the end of the voyage three of the children from the mess group were very ill and were sent to hospital in Hobart.  Mary Harrowhill and Mary Cavanagh were also sent to hospital.  Dr John Clark from the Colonial Hospital said twelve women and fourteen children from the East London were admitted to hospital.  The only child from that mess group fit enough to be admitted into the Orphan School in October 1843 was William Lyons whose arm had repaired from the fracture.

    Mary Cavanagh was a widow on board with her two children. Her indent record was not filled in so there was no family information but it did state that she was a laundress.  The crime for which she was transported was the theft of 4 ½ yards of material and her prior conviction was for shoplifting. The gang were practised thieves and clothing materials seemed to be their target.  Perhaps there was a ready black market for such items.

    At the end of the voyage Mary Cavanagh and her children were admitted to hospital care.  Mary and four year-old Patrick Cavanagh recovered  but the younger child, Thomas Cavanagh, died at the Dynnyrne Nursery on 17 November 1843.  Patrick was sent to the Orphan School in February 1844.   

    During the years under sentence, Mary was charged with insolence and spent ten days in solitary confinement and, on another occasion, received a sentence of three months in jail with hard labour for using threatening language.  An illegitimate child, Mary, was born on 7 November 1846, four days after the prison sentence was imposed.  Much of the period in prison must have been spent in the hospital and nursery.

    Mary Cavanagh married William Smith at St George’s Church, Hobart on 10 December 1849. One of the witnesses was Margaret Bayles (Beale), a friend from the days on board the East London.  Mary’s son, Patrick Cavanagh, was discharged to his mother in 1850 a month before she received her Certificate of Freedom.

    Mary and her husband, William, blended into the long list of people by the surname of Smith. 


    Mary Harrowhill was a widow, about thirty-six years old according to the surgeon on board the East London, although she said twenty-eight on prison records.  She was charged, with the others in her gang, in Clonmel on 1 April 1843.  Her indent record and description were not recorded because she was in hospital, however she was convicted with the man she lived with, James Cavanagh, and he admitted to shoplifting cloth and cotton. Mary had one prior conviction. Her jail report said she was quiet and orderly.

    On board the East London Mary gave birth to a little girl six days after sailing.   Both survived the voyage but were admitted to hospital on arrival in Hobart.  A baby girl, named Mary Cavanagh, aged three months, died on 12 November 1843.  Mary’s partner, James Cavanagh, transported on the Constant, did not reunite with her in Hobart.

     Mary Harrowhill had no charges during the years under sentence.  She married William Woods (Gilmore, 1843) on 10 November 1845, at St Joseph’s Church, in Hobart and one of the witnesses was Mary Cavanagh.  Mary and William Woods had a daughter, Charlotte, born in January 1846.  Mary received her certificate of freedom in June 1850.

    William Woods died in September 1854.  Mary then married Richard Bloomfield, labourer, at St David’s Cathedral, Hobart, in October 1855. They stayed near Charlotte and her husband, Thomas Richard Worsley, until Richard Bloomfield’s death in 1874.  The death was registered by Thomas Worsley, who referred to himself as Richard’s son-in-law.

    Mary and Richard Bloomfield had twenty acres of land and grew apples and small fruits. After she was widowed Mary’s rheumatism and poor eyesight enfeebled her and in 1875 she applied for charitable aid to ease her poverty.  The aid was withdrawn at the end of 1876 because she sold the land for fifty pounds.  She applied for aid again in early 1878 but was refused because she had money in the bank.  Mary was eventually allowed to move to the New Town Paupers Depot where she died in June 1882.  Her daughter Charlotte and husband, Thomas Richard Worsley, had a large family.




    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853 – Mary Spillane, Mary Cavanagh, Mary Harrowhill, James cavanagh1843

    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    TAHO, CON 40/1/10 image 100 position 1, Mary Spillane

    TAHO, CON 40/1/2 image 257 position 3, Mary Cavanagh

    TAHO, CON 19/1/2 image 148, Mary Cavanagh

    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 image 87 position 3, Mary Harrowhill

    TAHO, CON 33/1/41 image 34,  James Cavanagh

    TAHO, CON 18/1/33 image 151, James Cavanagh

    TAHO, CON 14/1/2 image 81/82 position4, James Cavanagh

    TAHO Death infant Mary Cavanagh, RGD 35/1/1 No. 1910, (1843)

    TAHO Death infant Thomas Cavanagh, RGD 35/1/1 No. 1914, (1843)

    Birth of illegitimate child to Mary Cavanagh, Female factory, RGD 33/1/23 No 1618/ 1846

    Permission to marry (Mary Cavanagh & William Smith) CON 52/1/3 page 408

    Marriage, (Mary Cavanagh & William Smith) RGD 37/8 1849/787 Hobart

    Permission to marry (Mary Harrowhill & William Woods) CON 52/1/2 page 391 (30 September 1845)

    Marriage (Mary Harrowhill & William Woods) RGD 37/1/4 1808/1849 Hobart

    TAHO, Birth of Charlotte Woods RGD 33/1/2 Hobart 1846/1524

    TAHO, Marriage of Charlotte Woods & Thomas Richard Worsley

    TAHO Death of William Woods

    TAHO Marriage of Mary Ann Hill (Harrowhill) to Richard Bloomfield

    TAHO Death of Richard Bloomfield

    TAHO Death of Mary Bloomfield

    Kingborough Police  Magistrate Letterbooks. 1855-1875 and 1873-1888, (Mary Bloomfield). Transcript by Joyce Purtscher.



  • Chapter 9: The Protestant Women Open or Close


    The Protestant Women


    On board the East London were 107 Catholic women and 26 Protestant women. The Irish Prison Records indicated the religion of the women either as Catholic or Protestant.  The indent records showed that the majority of the Protestant women said their religion was Church of England and one said Presbyterian.  The women who died or were in hospital on arrival were listed as Protestant.

    The number of Catholics and Protestants on board the East London roughly followed the distribution of the religions in Ireland at that time. The Act of Union 1800, United the Kingdoms of England and Ireland.   Ireland, considered to be stagnant or even backwards, was administered from Dublin Castle by the Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland, usually a British nobleman.  The judiciary and magistrates were drawn largely from the Anglo Protestant population. The economy was agricultural and many of the people were poor, uneducated and Catholic.

    The Church of England dioceses were apportioned moneys collected from tithes levied upon both Anglican and Catholics.  The Catholics resented the payment of the tithes which they regarded as benefitting the Church of England rather than the Catholic Church.  They also resented the judiciary whom they saw as English and considered they were harsh towards the poorer Catholic population. Many of the landlords of the large estates, where the tenant farmers lived, were English.  The Protestant population, for the most part, was more affluent and better educated than the Catholic population.  Religion played an important part in the lives of the people. Did the religious followings have any influence on the choice of mess groups of the women on board the East London?

    The mess groups suggested that there was some segregation; two groups had majority of Protestant women and five groups were all Catholics.  However, the mainly Protestant mess groups were made up of women from County Antrim, which had a large proportion of Protestants inhabitants.  Most of the mess groups showed that friendships formed prior to conviction or while in prison were more binding than religious affiliation.  The crimes and poverty of the Protestant women also showed that they, like the Catholics, had an underclass. The women knew they had to rely on each other to endure the voyage and the choice of a messmate could be of advantage or bring disadvantage.  There were three deaths from among the Protestant women and sixteen among the Catholic women.

    A letter of petition for Eleanor Duffey, a Protestant, forwarded to the Lord Lieutenant, described her situation as, ‘married unfortunately to a Roman Catholic which caused her Father to forsake her till his death’.  Eleanor (Ellen) Duffey joined a mess group composed mainly of Protestant women.

     Martha Reilly, a member of the Church of England, was in County Cavan Prison at the same time as Mary Deane, a Catholic.  They were about the same age, from a similar background and both joined other members of Mary’s family in a mess group.  Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, a Protestant, from County Down, remained with the Catholic women who travelled with her to Grangegorman Penitentiary.  The women from Queen’s County, Catholic and Protestant, stayed together as did others from Longford and Carlow.  Most of the women from Dublin messed together; many of them had been in jail for months and one woman for two years before embarkation.  The women from Antrim also grouped together.  They were mainly Protestant but included Catholic women among their number.

    Ellen Keogan, a Protestant, travelled with Catholics, Alice Fitzsimons and Catherine Cahill, from Cavan to Grangegorman eight months before embarkation but did not mess with any the women from her county.   She was a prostitute and messed with the Dublin women, one of whom was also a prostitute. Ann Rea, a Protestant, and Rose Quinn, a Catholic, did not mess with the main group from County Antrim.  Ann Rae had a damaged hand and disfigured face and Rose Quinn had secondary syphilis, was ill and, died during the voyage.  Their troubles may have disadvantaged them as suitable mess mates and perhaps they had to be placed in vacant spots by the surgeon.

    The mess list was prepared and managed by the surgeon but his journal noted that he made changes during the voyage.  He moved troublesome women and perhaps seriously ill women.  Eleanor Cooney was moved because she was so disorderly and had careless filthy habits.  He moved her three times seeking the ‘advantage of a better class of mess women’.  The mess group she was in included six children; two were her children.  Eleanor did not survive the voyage and must have been a burden to the women around her.  Her illness rather than her religion caused the problems.

    Anne Lynch, a Catholic and (mother of five adult children), messed with some of the most disadvantaged women, and there were three deaths in her mess group.  Anne was the last prisoner admitted into Grangegorman the day before embarkation and may not have time to find any connections with the other women and perhaps had to go where there was a place.   Her mess group was Catholic except for Mary Dyer, a Protestant, who travelled from County Mayo with mess-mate, Mary Healy.

    Sarah Greene, a Protestant, from one of the two mainly Protestant mess groups, was the only Protestant involved in the riot at New Town Probation Station.


    The Mess Group from Antrim

    Protestants                                          Catholic

    Eleanor Duffey                                   Anne Curran    

    Anne Graham                                   Rose Murphy

    Eliza Irvine

    Frances McBurney

    Mary Rowe



    Anne Curran and Anne Graham

     b c1817         b. c1823

    Catholic & Protestant

    tried 4 January 1843 Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

    Catholic, Anne Curran, and Protestant, Anne Graham, were tried on counts of ‘larceny from the person’ in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Anne Graham said that she was tried with Anne Curran and their records showed that they were tried on the same day. A newspaper report said they picked pockets in a house of ill-fame.  Anne Curran, twenty-six years old, declared that she was a farm servant and could milk and make butter.  She admitted to being ‘on the town’ for twelve months.  Twenty-year-old Anne Graham was a laundress and had two brothers and a sister in Fermanagh.  She stated that she had ‘lived with a gentleman for twelve months’.  Her crime was stealing money from a young man. Although Anne Graham did not call herself a prostitute she was mistress to a ‘gentleman’, robbed a young man and associated herself with Anne Curran.  The two women knew each other from the days of their trials and probably before that time.  They travelled together as part of the group from Antrim to Grange Gorman and were admitted at 1pm on the 24 March, 1843.

    Their mess group was made up of five Protestant women, two Catholic women and two children, a girl of eight years and a five-month-old baby.  There were no deaths.  Two women were sent to hospital at the end of the voyage, but recovered; the infant child died.

    During the years under sentence in the Hobart area, Anne Curran had ten charges against her and spent time in solitary confinement on three occasions and had five visits to the Female Factory for short terms.  Her misdeeds were occasionally caused by drunkenness but the majority was for refusing to work, absconding, being absent all night, refusing to stay in her master’s service and not proceeding to the hiring depot.  Her sentence of transportation was extended for six months for absconding.  Just after she received her ticket of leave she served a sentence of two months hard labour for being in bed with a male pass holder.

    An application for marriage between John Huckle (Lord Lyndoch 1841) and Anne Curran was approved in 1848 and according to the permission register they were married by Mr Richardson on 12 December 1848.   There were two men named John Huckle aboard the Lord Lyndoch but only one was still a prisoner in 1848 when the permission was sought.  John Huckle, from Cambridgeshire, married Anne.   John Huckle had many charges for idleness and refusing to work and received the lash for one offence.  The couple moved to Victoria.  John was tried and sentenced in Ballarat 25 July 1855 for receiving stolen goods and imprisoned for five years.  The prison record gave his correct name as Henry Helburne and described him as ‘John Huckle tried at Cambridge and transported on the Lord Lyndoch’.  His prison record gave his wife’s address as Geelong and later Buninyong.   John Henry Helbourne married again in 1871.  There was no record of what had happened to Anne or what name she used.         

    When Anne Graham named her three brothers for the indent record, among the names were Archdale and Noble, which showed connections to a well-known family in Fermanagh.  Castle Archdale was a mansion on a country estate.  It was the home of the Archdale family who arrived in 1614 as part of the Ulster Plantation.  Perhaps Anne Graham’s family belonged to that wave of people who came with the Archdales and lived on or near the estate. Two of her brothers were in the army.

    The course of Anne Graham’s life throughout her sentence was similar to that of Anne Curran.  Anne Graham faced eleven charges.  The main reason for her offences was being absent from her service and twice absconding.  There were two misconduct charges and one of being drunk.  She was put into solitary confinement on three occasions for ten to fourteen days and was in the Female Factory for between two to six months periods of hard labour for being absent from her work; on one occasion in a separate cell for half the sentence.  She also had her sentence of transportation extended for six months for absconding.

    Anne Graham married William Berry while under sentence. On the application to marry, William Berry was noted as free but was perhaps free by servitude.  At the time of marriage in November 1847 William was 31 and Anne was 24.  They married in the minister’s house of the Church of Scotland in Bothwell and settled in the district.  Over the years William worked as a shepherd and a labourer and the couple had six children.  In 1860, their twelve-year-old son, William, died from burns after a candle set his bedclothes on fire. His parents were not home and he had left a candle burning on a board near the head of his bed.  A daughter, Charlotte, aged almost four years, died four days later of a throat infection.

    Anne and her eldest daughter, sixteen- year-old Mary Ann, were in court in Bothwell in 1865.  Mary Ann was accused of stealing a cheque and Anne of receiving it.  The account of the events surrounding the theft was reported in The Mercury.  The cheque belonged to a visitor to their house and when the police were sent for, Anne and Mary Ann were said to have ‘made all sorts of subterfuges about it’.  The newspaper reported of Mary Ann, ‘The girl, who unfortunately has had no good example set before her, in any shape, by her parents’.  Anne served twelve months in prison for her part in the crime.  Her youngest child, Thomas, was with her in prison at the Cascades.  He died there aged eight months.

    In November 1870 ten-year-old Robert Berry was admitted into the Orphan School because Anne’s husband’s health was failing, as a result of ‘long dissipated habits’.  Her two surviving daughters, Mary Ann and Eliza, were old enough to be employed.  Anne was widowed the following year.

    In July 1873 Anne was charged with being drunk and disorderly in the Brighton Court and was jailed for a month.  Once out of jail, she married Thomas Mullins at the residence of Rev Simmons of the Congregational Church, Hobart, November 1873.  Thomas Mullins, a farmer, had been widowed five months earlier.  His first wife died from asphyxia due to intoxication and in the report to the coroner Thomas Mullins was also said to have intemperate habits. Anne’s marriage was noted on Robert Berry’s Orphan School record and as there was no discharge information he probably returned to live with his mother and her husband.

    Anne was imprisoned again in November 1878.  Her conduct record noted Mary Ann Mullins or Berry was charged at Kingston for larceny and sentenced to three months in the House of Correction.  In 1884, Ann was charged with neglecting to pay the maintenance for her husband’s hospital care.  He died in the General Hospital the year before.  Anne did not appear in any further records under known surnames.


    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 East London Indent Records

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    Irish Transportation Records   Eleanor Duffey CRF 1842 D21

    TAHO CON 40/1/2 image 254, position 3, Anne Curran

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 184/5, Anne Curran

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 page 203, permission to marry Anne Curran & John Huckle

    TAHO CON 40/1/2 image 254, position 3, Anne Graham

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 192/3, position 8, Anne Graham

    TAHO RGD 37/1/6 1847/584 Bothwell, marriage of Anne Graham & William Berry

    TAHO deaths records William & Charlotte Berry RGD 35/1/29, 1860/369, 370

    TAHO RGD 35/1/7 Hobart 1865/5930, death infant Thomas Berry.

    TAHO RGD 37/1/6 1873/313 Hobart, marriage of Ann Graham (Mary Ann Berry) & Thomas Mullins

    Orphan School records SWD27, 53 HAP 1871/63 Robert Berry

    Enniskillen Chronicle, Curren & Graham, 5 January 1843

    Frances McBurney

    b c 1823

    tried 3 January 1843 Enniskillen County Fermanagh

    from Enniskillen Gaol, Co. Fermanagh, to Grange Gorman Depot with Ann Curran & Anne Graham


    Twenty-year-old Frances (Fanny) McBurney and her husband, George McBirney, both Protestants, were arrested in Enniskillen in October 1842 for shoplifting.  George McBirney purchased one silk handkerchief but while he pretended to examine it he pulled a parcel of nine silk handkerchiefs towards himself and hid it between his legs. He then passed the parcel of goods to Frances who hid it under her cloak.  Before the couple were able to leave the shop, they were challenged by the shopman.  They denied having the handkerchiefs but when the shopman insisted on them being searched Frances threw the parcel from under her cloak onto the counter.  The owner of the shop corroborated the evidence against the pair.

    A petition was sent to the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin Castle asking for clemency.  Frances and George said they had borne good and straightforward characters and had never before been in trouble with the law. They claimed that gentlemen of every religious denomination would certify to that statement.  One page attached to the petition had a list of signatures. The note with it stated that as far as to the knowledge of how the petitioners had conducted themselves before committing the crime, ‘they had conducted themselves honestly decently and soberly’.  However, a final addition said that the petition was signed on behalf of George McBurney but not his wife, Frances McBurney, whom they regarded as being, ‘dangerous to set at large’.

    In response to an inquiry from Dublin Castle the facts were explained.  Frances and George McBurney were not inhabitants of Enniskillen, but were strangers passing through with no connections. They were said to be travelling from place to place shoplifting.  They were accused of being the worst characters and did not warrant any remission of sentence.  

    George McBurney was put aboard the Constant which left Dublin the day before the East London but sailed direct to Hobart and arrived in August, three weeks before the East London.  George was reported to be well conducted in jail and the surgeon said he was a very well behaved quiet man.  His indent record noted that his wife Fanny was in Newry which is on the border of County Down and County Armagh. Perhaps it was his home town; he gave his birthplace as Armagh and Frances gave her birthplace as Belfast.  George McBirney died in hospital at Westbury, in July 1844.  He had no charges on his conduct record.

    Frances McBurney was a needle woman and could knit.  Although she received a ‘very good’ report from the jail in Ireland she had eleven charges against her while she served her time in Hobart.  Her first offence was for disorderly conduct at the Brickfields Probation Station in November 1843 and she was put into solitary confinement for ten days.  She had two further charges of misconduct, four for being absent without leave or away all night without leave and four charges for drunkenness. She had two more stints in solitary confinement and was jailed in the Female Factory for  terms of between three to six months for her other charges. 

    Frances gave birth to a little girl, Catherine McBirney, in May 1848. On the baptism record Joseph Lawson was named as the father.  In January 1849 marriage permission was sought by Joseph Slawson.   They married as Joseph Lawson and Frances McBuran at St George’s Church, Hobart, in February 1850.  Joseph, a tailor, had been transported aboard the Waterloo which sank during a storm at the Cape.  Many lives were lost but Joseph was among the survivors and reached Hobart on the Cape Packet in November 1842.

    Frances’ little girl, Catherine McBirnie, died of fever in 1852 when she was four years old.  At that time Frances was named as Frances Watson.  Frances registered the death of her only child and the surname may have been mispronunciation by a grief-stricken mother or perhaps Frances had found a new love.   Joseph Slawson reoffended and was in prison by 1853.  He died at the Hobart General Hospital in 1866.

    After the death of her daughter Frances disappeared from records.


    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 East London Indent Records

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    NAI Irish Transportation Records George & Frances McBurney CRF 1843 Mc 4

    TAHO CON 40/1/2 image 135, position 2, Frances McBurney

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 180/1, position 7, Frances McBurney

    TAHO RGD 33/1/3 1848/754 Hobart, birth of Catherine McBurnier

    TAHO Hobart RGD 35/1/3 1852 / 1458, death of Catherine McBirnie

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 image 402 PM 16637, Permission to marry, Frances McBurney and Joseph Slawson

    TAHO RGD 37/1/9 1850/165 Hobart, marriage of Frances McBuran & Joseph Lawson

    TAHO CON 33/1/30 image 184.Joseph Slawson

    TAHO RGD 35/1/7 1866/6048 Hobart, death of Joseph Lawson


    Ellen Duffey, Eliza Irvine and Mary Rowe

    b c1803          b. c1817          b. c1811

    arrived at Grange Gorman Gaol together at 3pm 23 August 1842.

    Eleanor Duffey, known as Ellen Duffy, a Protestant, was 39 years old and mother of six children; four boys and two girls.  She was a dressmaker, could read and write and at 5 feet 8 inches was much taller than most of the other women.  She lived at Cootehill, County Cavan, and was arrested and tried for theft of clothes in June 1842. The letters of petition sent to the Lord Lieutenant by Ellen, her husband and, her daughter, told the story of her crime and explained how it had come about.  Ellen was a Protestant woman who so ‘unfortunately’ married the Catholic, Frank Duffy, and was cut off by her father.  The estrangement was never repaired.  Her daughter, Mary Ann Duffy, said Ellen’s father had considerable property and was a well-connected man in County Fermanagh.  His forsaking of his daughter caused much misfortune.

    Ellen claimed to be from a highly respectable family. Her problems were blamed on poverty since her marriage and intoxication.  She stole clothes from a hedge at a neighbour’s house and the neighbour prosecuted her.  Her daughter, Mary Ann, claimed that the honourable barrister, ‘pathetically passed’ sentence on Ellen and said he could not avoid it because of the hard evidence sworn against her.  Mary Ann left her service and used the little money she had to travel fifty-two miles to deliver the letter of petition to Dublin Castle.  However, Ellen had three prior convictions and had spent long periods in jail.  The Governor of Cavan Gaol suspected that the signatures on the petition were forgeries.  It failed to gain any remission of sentence for Ellen.

    Twelve women from Cavan, Meath and Fermanagh were admitted into Grangegorman Prison on the afternoon of 23 August 1842. They were brought down from their neighbouring counties together and all stayed in Grangegorman for eight months awaiting transportation.  There were four Protestant women in the group and three of them messed together aboard the East London; they were mainly women with children.  The fourth, Ellen Keoghan, was a prostitute and messed with other young women from Dublin.

    Ellen’s mess group had five Protestant women and two Catholic women and two children; an eight-year-old and a baby.  All survived the journey but Ellen was ill and sent to hospital when the ship arrived in Hobart.  As well as the difficulties of a long voyage and perhaps health compromised by use of alcohol, Ellen had the heartbreak of leaving her family forever. 

    The jail report from Ireland said she was very good.  Her conduct record in Hobart had no charges recorded against her.  She gained her ticket of leave in June 1847.  There was no application for marriage while under sentence but an Ellen Duffy married James Stewart, a carpenter, at St John’s Manse, Church of Scotland, in July 1849.  Ellen Stewart died of consumption in April 1851. The age at death was correct for Ellen Duffy. (Her story is in The County Cavan Women)

    Eliza Irvine, twenty-six years old and a Protestant, was from County Fermanagh. She was tried in June 1842 for receiving stolen goods. Margaret Irvine, (proper name, Arnold), was tried in the same court, same day and, for the same charge.  Eliza was single and Margaret was married, which may have been the reason for her two surnames. The names and events suggest they were related, sisters or sisters-in-law.  Margaret Irvine said she stole a watch and cloth and was prosecuted by John McIlroy.  On the same day Margaret Duffy was also in court for receiving stolen goods.  She took three yards of cloth and named her prosecutor as James McIlroy.  Each of the three women was sentenced to seven years transportation. 

    Two weeks later sixteen-year-old Mary Irvine was charged with larceny of cloth from a shop.  She was sister to Margaret Irvine.  The family information on the indent record matched both women.  Eliza Irvine was in hospital at the time the indent records were taken and her family information was not recorded.  However, the same charges and dates connected all the Irvine women.  They were members of one family and Margaret Duffy was an associate or even related.

     Although charged and sentenced on the same day, Eliza and Margaret Irvine were not sent on the same ship.  Margaret Irvine went with Mary Irvine on the Waverley in September 1842 and, Eliza Irvine sailed aboard the East London eight months later.  Irish Prison records listed Eliza Irvine as single but she had a five- month-old child, Thomas Cudden, with her when she entered Grangegorman.

    Eliza journeyed to Grangegorman Prison in August 1842 with Ellen Duffy and Mary Rowe.  Margaret Duffy was with them also but she messed with a different group aboard ship; she had been ‘on the town’ and like Ellen Keogan settled with the Dublin girls.  Perhaps the notoriety of being prostitutes did not make them favoured as messmates.  Although there were no deaths among the mess group, Eliza Irvine and Ellen Duffy were sent to hospital at the end of the voyage.  Both women recovered but Eliza’s son, Thomas Cudden (aka Robert Irvine), died the week after arrival in Hobart.

    Eliza had no charges during the years under sentence.  She received her ticket of leave in March 1847.  In February 1848 she married John Harrison (Candahar 1842) at the Bethesda Church, Hobart.  John was a joiner.  They had a son, William Harrison, born December 1849.  By 1865 John Harrison owned three tenement houses in Macquarie St.  There was a report in The Mercury in 1865 of a fire in the roof of one house which spread to the neighbouring houses.   The article said Eliza Harrison was bedridden and had to be carried out to safety by people living nearby.  Eliza died from phthisis on 6 August 1865. She was forty-eight years old.


    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 East London Indent Records

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    National Archives of Ireland; Irish Transportation Database, (1791-1853) Eliza Irvine, Margaret Duffy, Margaret Irvine, Mary Irvine.

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 107, position 2, Eliza Irvine

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 196/197, position 2, Eliza Irvine

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 image 385 PM 16637, Permission to marry, Eliza Irvine & John Harrison

    TAHO RGD 37/1/7 1848/1626 Hobart, marriage of Eliza Irvine & John Harrison

    TAHO CON 14/1/14 image 137/138, John Harrison

    TAHO RGD 33 1850/2025 Hobart, birth William Harrison

    TAHO RGD 35/1/7 1865/5477 Hobart, death Elizabeth Harrison

    TAHO RGD 35/1/7 1868/7173 Hobart, death of William Harrison

    The Mercury Hobart 20 July 1866

    Mary Rowe.

    The Protestant Mary Rowe, married and, thirty-two years old, was tried in County Meath on the same day as John Murray, husband of Catherine Murray (2).   Mary was sentenced to ten years transportation for her crime.  Mary said she was ‘tried with John who was transported twelve months ago’.  Mary was a cap maker and needle woman and John Murray was a tailor.  Their association may have been through the workplace rather than family connections as John and Catherine Murray were Catholics.  A letter of petition for Thomas Fields described the crimes of John and Catherine Murray and ‘some people’.  They were all part of a gang which broke into homes and robbed the residents taking goods and clothing even while the home owners were present. The men in the gang faced court on two occasions.  Mary was charged with ‘house robbery’ and must have been one of the ‘some people’ who broke into homes at night.

    Mary said her husband, William, was at Oldcastle in County Meath but she had her nine year old daughter, Margaret Rowe, with her on board the East London. There was no record of other children.  Mary and Margaret Rowe survived the journey well enough to be sent to the Probation Station and Queens Orphan School after the ship arrived in Hobart.  Margaret Rowe was at the Orphan School for two and a half years before she was apprenticed as a domestic servant to J.B.H. Smith in Campbell Town in March 1846.

    Mary Rowe had two charges while serving her sentence. She absconded in 1846 and served six months in the Female Factory in Hobart and, on another occasion she spent seven days in solitary confinement for insolence. The charge of absconding was three days after her daughter was discharged from the Orphan School.  Mary Rowe married Mark Wain (Strathfieldsaye 1831) in December 1847 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Launceston.  Mary, thirty-four, was a cap maker and Mark, forty, a labourer.  Under sentence, Mark Wain was lashed on two occasions and in chains for some time.  Mary received her ticket of leave in January 1849.  Her daughter, Margaret, married in June 1848.  She used the surname Murphy when she married John Hudson at the Baptist Chapel in Launceston.

    Mary’s husband, Mark Wain, left for Portland, Victoria, in March 1850 aboard the City of Sydney.  Mary Rowe and Margaret Hudson, who stated they arrived in Hobart aboard the East London, left for Melbourne on the Clarence in January 1853.  Perhaps they joined Mark Wain although Mary Rowe did not use his surname to travel.  Mark Wain died in Victoria in 1860.

    Mary Wain, widow, married Donald Paterson in 1867.  Mary died in 1876 and was buried in the St Kilda Cemetery.  Her death certificate said she was the daughter of John McMullin, a blacksmith, and his wife, Margaret.


    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 East London Indent Records

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    National Archives of Ireland; Irish Transportation Database,(1791-1853) Mary Rowe, Catherine Murray, John Murray, Thomas Fields

    Nation Archives of Ireland, CRF 1842 F17 Petition of Thomas Fields (Catherine & John Murray))

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 234, position 2, Mary Rowe

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 204/205, position 3, Mary Rowe

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 page 400 PM 16637, Permission to marry, Mary Rowe & Mark Wain

    TAHO RGD 37/1/6 1847/1282 Hobart, marriage of Mary Rowe & Mark Wain

    TAHO CON 33/1/34 image 124, Mark Wain

    TAHO CON 14/1/16 image 219/210, Mark Wain

    TAHO RGD 35/1/7 1865/5477 Hobart, death Elizabeth Harrison

    TAHO RGD 35/1/7 1868/7173 Hobart, death of William Harrison

    The Mercury Hobart 20 July 1866

    VIC Marriage record, 1867/4119, Mary Wain & Donald Paterson

    VIC Death Certificate, 111876/12911, Mary Paterson


    Rose Murphy

    1. c 1815

    tried 4 July 1842 County Carlow

     Catholic orphan


    Rose Murphy, a Catholic woman, shared the mess with the mainly Protestant women from Fermanagh.  Rose, also known as Mary Cleary, was sentenced for stealing clothes and admitted a prior charge of stealing a cow for which she served ten months in prison.  She was a freckled faced country servant and the jail report from Ireland said her behaviour was middling and she was a hard worker.  Rose was twenty-eight years old and her only relative was an uncle, Michael Murphy, a shepherd at Burton Hall in Carlow.  Although Rose was tried in Carlow she gave her birth place as Kildare.  Burton Hall, where her uncle worked, is near the border of those two counties so Rose came from around that area.

    There were only three other women from County Carlow but Rose was transferred from the county much earlier than the others.  Rose was in Grangegorman around the same time as Ellen Duffy, Eliza Irvine and Mary Rowe and formed some sort of bond with them despite the different religious affiliations.  Rose joined their mess group.  She survived the journey without serious health problems.

    During the years under sentence there were no charges against her. There were no applications for marriage and no records of anyone matching Rose in the marriage registers.  She received her ticket-of-leave in March 1847 and her certificate of freedom in July 1849.  She applied for a duplicate certificate of freedom in 1856, perhaps to enable her to leave the colony.


    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 East London Indent Records

    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 82, position 1, Rose Murphy

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 198/199, position 7, Rose Murphy

    Another Mess Group from Antrim


    Protestants                                           Catholic

    Jane McDonald                                  Sarah Cassidy

    Mary Murphy                                     Sarah Green

    Catherine Patterson                           Sarah McGeough

    Eliza Scott



                 Banner of Ulster, 28 April 1843

    State of County Jail – The total number of prisoners at present in confinement is 143, of whom forty are under the sentence of transportation. On Monday last, upwards of twenty female convicts left the jail, escorted by a party of constabulary, under the command of Mr Giveen, District Inspector for Belfast, on their way to Kingstown, where they will be transferred to a hulk, prior to embarkation for a penal settlement.

    Another mess group was made up of women from County Antrim gaols.  The women travelled to Grangegorman together and were admitted in the afternoon of the 25 April 1843, two weeks before embarkation.  Five of the women were Protestant and three were Catholic. Some of these women were sentenced at the same time.  Sarah Cassidy, Jane McDonald, and Catherine Patterson, Catholic and Protestant women, faced court on the same day in Belfast in October 1842.  Sarah McMullan, a Protestant woman, was tried ten days earlier so the four women were held in the county gaol together for nearly six months.  Sarah Cassidy and Catherine Patterson were prostitutes.

    Sarah Green, Sarah McGeough, Mary Murphy and Eliza Scott were all in court on 1 January 1843; they were both Catholic and Protestant women.  Sarah McGeough and Mary Murphy were prostitutes; Sarah Green’s charges were similar but she did not admit to being a prostitute.  Eliza Scott was a thief and perhaps part of a gang.


    Sarah Cassidy, Jane McDonald, Catherine Patterson

    1. c1821         b. c 1824                  b. c1823

    tried 24 October 1842 Belfast

    Eighteen year old Sarah Cassidy said she was ‘on the town’ for three or four years.  The common experience of her profession and her time in jail brought her into the mess group of the women from Antrim.

    Sarah Cassidy’s story is, Born Off Ireland’s Shores.

    Jane McDonald, single and twenty-one years old, was from Belfast.   She was convicted of the theft of twelve shawls and served short periods in prison previously for stealing a book, a child’s frock (property of Ann Connors, Gordon St.- charged with another woman) and on a separate occasion, a looking glass.  Her mother, her bricklayer father, her brother and her sister, were in Belfast.  Jane said she was a house maid and belonged to the Church of England.  She had the initials J.D.H.D. tattooed on her arm; a remembrance she carried with her.   Jane’s crime led to court on the same day as Sarah Cassidy and Catherine Patterson and the three received the same sentence and had time in jail to prepare for their fate. On board ship they were together in the mess with others from their county.  There were no children with their group and no deaths.  All the women were able to give information for the indent records.

    During the years as she completed her sentence Jane had two charges of drunkenness, one for disorderly conduct and, one for absconding in April 1846.  Jane was in the Female Factory for three months after absconding and in July was delivered of a still born child. Baptism records from the Cascades have a child, William Ross, son of Jane McDonald; born in January and baptised in October 1846. No further record of that child.

    In November 1848 Jane married Charles Gay (Equestrian 1844) at St John’s United Church of Ireland and England, Launceston.  Charles was a baker and he and Jane had their tickets of leave at the time of the marriage.  Jane received her certificate of freedom 2 November 1849.  She left for Victoria in 1852 on the same ship as Margaret Shaughnessy and Daniel Hand.  Charles sailed in 1854, although that was probably a second trip.  In Victoria the couple had three children; Annie born at Fryers Creek in 1858, Elizabeth circa 1862 and Thomas Andrew Gay born in Bendigo in 1866.  The children were born as Jane grew older.

    Charles and Jane settled in Castlemaine where Charles worked as a baker. Charles died in 1884.  Jane lived until she was eighty and died from injuries received when a storm wrecked her house.  She was survived by two of her children.

    Another victim of Thursday’s storm has succumbed. Mrs Jane Gay, a widow aged 80, was in her house when it collapsed. Upon being rescued she was taken to the hospital where it was found her chest was badly crushed and her thigh broken.  She lingered on, and died this evening in the institution.

    Geelong Advertiser Wednesday 20 November 1901

    Mrs Jane Gay who lived opposite the Wesleyan Church at Wesley Hill

    Bendigo Advertiser 19 November 1901

    Jane and Charles are buried in Castlemaine Cemetery.


    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image 71, position 2, Jane McDonald

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 186/187, position 8, Jane McDonald

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 page 165 PM 16914, Permission to marry, Jane McDonald & Charles Gay

    TAHO RGD 37/1/7 1848/1997Launceston, marriage of Jane McDonald & Charles Gay

    TAHO CON 33/1/54 image 110, Charles Gay

    TAHO CON 14/1/25 image 315/316, position 2, Charles Gay

    TAHO RGD 37/1/7 1848/1997 Launceston, Marriage of Jane McDonald & Charles Gay

    TAHO POL 220/1/1 p 619 Jane Gay, departure Launceston to Melbourne

    TAHO POL 220/1/3 p 442 Charles Gay, departure Launceston to Melbourne

    Victorian Birth Record; 1858 Number 13689, Fryers Creek; birth Elizabeth Gay

    Victorian Birth Record; 1866 Number 7072, Bendigo; birth Thomas Andrew Gay

    Victorian Death Record; 1901 number 13101 Castlemaine. Jane Gay

    Victorian Death Record; 1884 number 8252 Castlemaine. Charles Gay


    Catherine Patterson, a prostitute, was member of the Church of England.  She was one of the three young women sentenced on the same day in Belfast.  She was twenty years old and had a brother and three sisters in Belfast but said she was born in County Tyrone.  She added that her sister, Sydney, kept a school although Catherine herself could only read.  Catherine was ‘on the town’ for three years.  She was charged with stealing money and a watch from Jeremiah Golden of Sligo while in a house of ill fame in Belfast.  Jonathan Francis, keeper of the house, was found guilty of pawning the watch and transported for seven years.  Catherine had two prior charges for disorderly conduct and served short terms in gaol.  She travelled with the other women from Antrim gaols to Dublin, arriving in the afternoon of 25 April 1843.  They boarded the East London on 5 May, five days before sailing.

    On board ship Catherine stayed with Sarah Cassidy, also ‘on the town’.  They were almost the same age and had been thrown together by their court appearances and the terms of their sentences rather than their Catholic and Protestant backgrounds.  They endured the voyage healthy enough to be able to go straight to the probation stations.

    During her sentence Catherine had two charges of insolence, one of neglect of duty, one of being absent without leave and two misconduct offences.  She was in solitary confinement twice and fourteen days imprisonment for the neglect of duty charge.

    In July 1847, a few months before she received her ticket of leave, Catherine married Thomas Burgoyne, a shoemaker, at Christ Church, Longford.  Thomas was 43 and Catherine, 23 years old.  Thomas Burgoyne had been transported for life on the Lord Hungerford 1821when he was sixteen. His years under sentence were troubled and he was lashed twice, sent to Macquarie Harbour and Port Arthur.  He made a trip to Victoria in 1853 but must have returned to Tasmania. There was no record of children to Catherine Patterson and Thomas Burgoyne

    In 1866, Thomas Burgoyne, a shoemaker, married Catherine Power, in Emu Bay.  It is probable that it was the same Thomas Burgoyne who married Catherine Patterson nearly twenty years earlier. Thomas Burgoyne died in the Invalid Depot in Launceston on 3 April 1888.  His age at death matched that of Thomas Burgoyne who married Catherine Patterson in 1847. What happened to Catherine Patterson is unknown. There was a Catherine Patterson mentioned in Victorian newspapers in 1863 in dispute with her common law partner.


     National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 169, position 2, Catherine Patterson

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 202/203, position 2, Catherine Patterson

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 page 328, Permission to marry, Catherine Patterson & Thomas Burgoyne

    TAHO RGD 37/1/6 1847/1330Launceston, marriage of Catherine Patterson & Thomas Burgoyne

    TAHO CON 33/1/1 image 215, position 3, Thomas Burgoyne

    TAHO CON 23/1/1 image 454, Thomas Burgoyne

    TAHO RGD 35, 1888. Launceston, Death of Thomas Burgoyne

    Sarah McMullen, a Presbyterian, was tried in County Antrim eleven days before Sarah Cassidy, Jane McDonald and Catherine Patterson.  Sarah was fifty years old, a widow with two children and could read and write. She was a native of County Antrim where her father, two sisters and a brother lived and she had three brothers in America.  She stole clothes from a hedge which earned her a sentence of seven years transportation.  There was a prior charge for the theft of a sheet for which she served four months in jail.  In 1836 a newspaper reported an assault by Sarah McMullan on a Mrs Ingram at Belfast. Sarah was bailed to keep the peace.

    Sarah was in gaol with the others from Antrim for eight months before they were transferred to Grangegorman. Prison.  They stayed together in the mess group. Despite being the eldest of the group Sarah survived the journey and went to the probation station after arrival.   There were four charges against her in the first few years in Hobart; she was drunk on two occasions and absent without leave on two occasions. She served two and three month’s hard labour in the Female Factory in Hobart for her offences.  Her ticket of leave was granted in February 1848.

    Sarah died in the Colonial Hospital Hobart on 17 December 1848 and was buried in the

    Trinity Anglican Cemetery.


    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 84, position 1, Sarah McMullen

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 200/201, position 4, Sarah McMullen

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image 167, position 4, Sarah McMullen

    TAHO RGD 34/1/2 1848/1706, Hobart, death Sarah McMullen

    British Newspaper Archive: Belfast Commercial Chronicle 13 January 1836


    Sarah Green, Sarah McGeough, Mary Murphy, Eliza Scott

    1. c 1817       b. c 1821                 b. c1812          b. c1815

    tried in Belfast on 7th January 1843

    It was a busy day in Belfast courts on 7 January 1843 when twelve people were sentenced to transportation; four women and eight men. All were sentenced for larceny.  Seven of the men were teenagers and many of them were convicted of stealing food; the most serious crime was the theft of a silver snuff box by two of the boys.  The eldest of the men was Hill Scott, the husband of Eliza Scott.  Hill and Eliza committed their crime together when they stole eighteen shillings from a man.  Francis Scott, one of the teenagers tried on the same day for receiving stolen handkerchiefs was almost certainly related to Hill and Eliza.  The four convicted women sailed on the East London and the eight men were on the Orator which arrived in Hobart in November 1843.   

    Sarah Greene’s story is in the chapter called In and Out of the Lunatic Asylum New Norfolk.

    Sarah McGeough, a Catholic woman from Belfast, was in court on the same day as Sarah Greene, Mary Murphy and Eliza Scott.  She was twenty-one years old and was ‘on the town’ for three or four years.  She had three sisters in Belfast.   Sarah’s arms were tattooed with letters, EDCXN on her right arm and JCSMJN and some hearts and dots on her left arm. The dots represented kisses.  She had prior charges before her sentence of transportation and she served three months in jail for stealing shoes and three months for stealing eggs. The Vindicator newspaper 1840 reported Sarah McGeogh prosecuted William Miller, a notorious character, for stealing money from her.

    On board the East London Sarah shared her mess with the other Antrim women, Protestant and Catholic.  There were no children and all survived the voyage.  During the years in Hobart as Sarah completed her sentence she had two charges, one for insolence and the other for misconduct.  She had two terms in solitary confinement for her trouble; fourteen days for the insolence and ten days for the misconduct charge. Sarah received her ticket of leave in June 1847.

    In July 1848 Sarah married Richard Johnson, a carpenter, at the Bethesda Church, Hobart. The witnesses were Mary Quinn (East London), and her husband, Richard Stanley.  Sarah’s husband, Richard Johnson, died in May the following year.  A few months later, on 17 August 1849, Sarah married John Morton (Cressy 1843) at St George’s Church of England.  John Morton was also a carpenter and had served his time with no charges.  Sarah had her conditional pardon approved in January 1849 and a free certificate issued in 1851.

    A daughter, Sarah Ann Morton, was born in Victoria in 1853 to John Morton and Sarah McMough.  There was no further trace of the family in Victoria after that date. But a Mrs Morton sailed to Hobart aboard the Tasmania1 in March 1854 and a few months later in June, Wm Morton made the same journey on the Tasmania 11.

     By coincidence in Hobart there was a Sarah, with a husband, William Morton, and a daughter Sarah Ann – all their ages matched those of John, Sarah and Sarah Anne Morton. William Morton was a licensed victualler but previously had been a carpenter. When he applied for his license the magistrate said ‘You leave a good trade for a doubtful one’. Did John Morton change his Christian name in order to obtain his license?  Certainly, Sarah was in Hobart as in 1865 when she was noted in the newspaper as ‘Mrs Morton of Hobart’, and stated that she was a shipmate of Mrs Jarvey (Catherine Shaw).  That ship was the East London.

    Sarah Morton was widowed in 1873.  In May 1883 she married James Weir, a well known boatman on the Derwent.  The wedding announcement in The Mercury said Sarah was a native of Belfast – her age and birth place matched that of Sarah McGeough.  Sarah Weir died at the residence of her son-in-law, Henry Shirley, on 12 July 1889.  She was 66 years old. Sarah McGeough would have been the same age.

    Sarah McGeough, although a Catholic, married in the Bethesda Church and St George’s Church of England. The security of marriage was more important than strict adherence to the faith of her birth.  The marriage of the older Sarah Morton in Hobart was in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  Sarah died 11 July 1889, Macquarie St, Hobart, aged sixty-six years although the family notice put the age at sixty-eight.  She left a will which set up a trust for her daughter and grandchildren- signed with her mark.


    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image 218, position 1, Sarah McGeough

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 192/193, position 7, Sarah McGeough

    TAHO CON 19/1/2 image Sarah McGeough

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 page 248 PM 17089, Permission to marry, Sarah McGeough & Richard Johnson

    TAHO RGD 37/1/7 1848/1718, Hobart, marriage Sarah McGeough & Richard Johnson

    TAHO Hobart RGD 35/1/2 1849/2402, death Richard Johnson

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 page 301, Permission to marry, Sarah Johnson & John Morton

    TAHO RGD 37/1/8 1849/246, Hobart, marriage Sarah Johnson & John Morton

    Victorian Birth Record, 1853 Reg No. 7141, Sarah Ann Morton

    PROV outward passengers

    TROVE; Hobarton Mercury, 8 August 1855, Wm Morton licence

    TROVE; Launceston Examiner 28 December 1865 – Mrs Morton of Hobart

    TAHO RGD 35/1/8 1873/1553, death William Morton

    TAHO RGD 37/1/42 1883/419 Hobart, marriage Sarah Morton & James Weir

    TROVE; The Mercury, 22 May 1883, notice of marriage Sarah Morton & James Weir

    TAHO RGD 35/1/10 1886/3025 Hobart, death James Weir

    TAHO RGD 35/1/12 1889/652 Hobart, death Sarah Weir

    TAHO AD 960/1/19 Will No. 3736, Sarah Weir or Morton

    British Newspaper Archive: Vindicator 15 April 1840

    Mary Murphy

    1. c 1815 Bath County Somerset, England

    tried 1 January 1843 Belfast, County Antrim

    Mary Murphy was born in Bath, Somerset.  Her birth was about the time the Napoleonic Wars ended and the location hinted at an army background. Mary had an Irish surname, a British birthplace and was a resident of Belfast. The 13th Regiment (1st Somerset) was bolstered by volunteers in Ireland in 1807, fought in the American wars and returned to England in 1815, the year Mary was born.  Mary was twenty-eight years old, a widow and, a member of the Church of England.  She stole four half crowns which earned her the sentence of transportation. There were two prior charges, one for the theft of twenty-five shillings which put her in prison for six months and one arrest for the theft of a file.

    Like the other women from Antrim in her mess group, Mary survived the journey without serious illness.  She served her time with only four charges; three for drunkenness and one for misconduct.  She was in solitary confinement on two of those occasions and in prison for fourteen days and a month with hard labour.  She married Robert Maxwell (British Sovereign 1840) in the Uniting Church of England and Ireland, Hobart, on 17 March 1845.  Robert, a twenty-six year old carpenter, was a few years younger than Mary, who said she was thirty-one when she married.  Mary did not list any children on her convict indent and no children were born to the couple in Hobart. She received her ticket of leave in May 1847, a conditional pardon in January 1850 and, a certificate of freedom in January 1850.

    Although Robert had a trade and Mary could have worked as a servant they both returned to former habits of larceny.  Mary Ann Maxwell and another woman were charged in August 1853 with the theft of watches and rings from a watchmaker in Hobart.  Mary was sentenced to seven years transportation.  Within six months Robert Maxwell was back before the courts and sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing a watch.

    Mary’s conduct record showed that she had her ticket of leave revoked in 1859 and noted that she died in the General Hospital, 29 December 1869. The name on her death certificate was Mary Murphy, born Belfast; the surname Maxwell had been abandoned.  She was under sentence when she died of cancer of the liver.


    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/8 image 84, position 2, Mary Murphy

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 200/201, position 5, Mary Murphy

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 page 125 PM 19425, Permission to marry, Mary Murphy & Robert Maxwell

    TAHO RGD 37/1/4 1845/1875, Hobart, marriage Mary Murphy & Robert Maxwell

    TAHO RGD 35/1/7 1875/9075 death Mary Murphy

    Eliza Scott

    Eliza Scott, twenty-eight, and her husband, Hill Scott, were tried and sentenced together on 7 January 1843 – the same day the large group from County Antrim were sentenced to transportation.  Eliza said her birth place was Westmeath and Hill said he was from County Down; they belonged to the Church of England.  Eliza was a servant and Hill was a boatman. They had no children.

    Belfast Quarter Sessions 17 January 1843

    Eliza Scott and Hill Scott, for stealing, on the 28th December a snuff-box, four half crowns. 3/6 and a handkerchief – property of James O’Brien. The prisoners were brother and sister   - she a prostitute, and he an accomplice in the prosecution of her guilt. The Barrister, after adverting to the enormity of their crimes, sentenced them to seven years transportation.

    They were husband and wife, not brother and sister.  Eliza had six prior charges; stealing a watch, taking clothes, twice for the theft of money and also the theft of fifteen sovereigns.  Some charges were dismissed but she served two terms of six months and nine months in jail for her crimes. Hill Scott had one prior charge for stealing a coat but it was discharged.  Francis Scott, who was in court on the same day, was also sentenced to transportation.  He was nineteen years old.  It is probable that he was related to Eliza and Hill.  In a response to a petition for his sentence to be commuted the reply from County Antrim indicated that although, he was sentenced for receiving, he was present with a number of others at the burglary.

    Francis Scott

    At the last January Sessions Belfast, the prisoner was indicted with some others for very serious and extensive Burglary, the witness giving in some measure to negations the fact of saith being actually present when the offence was committed he was acquitted.  He was then put upon his trial and convicted of receiving & having in his possession some of the property knowing it to be stolen.

    Francis Scott was ‘indicted with some others’, perhaps with Eliza and her husband, as well as some of the other young men who were in court that day.  Francis and Hill Scott gave the information on their conduct and indent records one after the other. Francis Scott died in June 1847 while still under sentence.

    Eliza Scott was in the mess with the other Antrim women and reached Hobart well enough to be sent to the probation station.   In April 1844 six months after she arrived she was charged with misconduct and sent to prison for fourteen days. She died two months later on 9 June 1844.  An inquest was held and reported in newspapers.

    Inquest— An inquest was held on Monday last, Mr. Price, coroner, at the Bird-in-Hand Hotel, Argyle-street, upon the body of Eliza Scott servant lo Mr. M'Laughlin, Cabinet-maker, who expired  suddenly on the previous evening, while conversing with her fellow servants and others around the kitchen fireplace. The verdict was '-Died by the visitation of God, caused by aneurism of the heart’.

    Eliza was buried at Trinity Anglican cemetery, Hobart.  Her husband, Hill Scott, completed his sentence and left Launceston as George Scott aboard the Stirlingshire in January 1851 bound for London.  He was a boatman by trade and had signed on as a crew member.


    National Archives of Ireland, Prisons 1/9/4 Richmond (Grange Gorman) female penitentiary register of female convicts 11th July 1840-22 December 1853

    TAHO CON 40/1/10 image 98, position 3, Eliza Scott

    TAHO CON 15/1/2 images 206/207, position 3, Eliza Scott

    TAHO RGD 35/1/2 1844/208 death Eliza Scott

    TAHO SC 195/1/14 Inquest number 1111 Eliza Scott

    TAHO CON 33/1/47 image 152 Hill Scott

    TAHO CON 14/1/27 image 182/183 position 1 Hill Scott

    TAHO CON 33/1/47 image 153 Francis Scott

    TAHO CON 14/1/27 image 182/183 position 2 Francis Scott

    Irish Transportation Records CRF 1843 S19 Francis Scott

    Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston 15 June 1844 page 2, Eliza Scott



    The Protestant Women

    Religion in pre-famine Ireland

    The first statistics for religion in Ireland are contained in the 1831 Census, and these give us some idea of the proportionate strengths of the major denominations before the Famine. The great majority of the population, around 80.3%, were Catholic; 10.7% belonged to the Church of Ireland; and 8.1% were Presbyterian. Denominational membership was not, however, evenly distributed around the island. The north-east was distinctive. The counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh and Londonderry had Catholic minorities, while Fermanagh and Tyrone had almost equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants. Every other Irish county had a substantial Catholic majority. Moreover, because of earlier migrations from Scotland and England, 96% of all Irish Presbyterians were located in Ulster. The majority of Anglicans (56%) were also in the north-east, and the remainder were more generally dispersed throughout the island. The population of Ireland was, of course, dramatically affected by the Famine, and Catholics suffered greater losses than Protestants. The 1861 Census reflected the change: it recorded the population as 77.7% Catholic, 12% Anglican and 9% Presbyterian. Class and geography were important. Catholics were largely concentrated in the west and south of the country, and they made up the majority of the lower classes in society.

    There were other small religious groupings: such as Baptists, Congregationalists, Plymouth Brethren, Quakers and Methodists. Their numbers rose and fell over the course of the century. However, even taken together, these made up only a small percentage of the population. The Methodists were probably the most significant in terms of numbers and influence. None of the denominations operated in isolation. Apart from their interaction with each other, they were also affected by wider social and political events in Ireland itself, and were influenced, too, by international theological trends.


    Frances McBurney

    GEORGE & FRANCES MC BURNEY- Irish Transportation Record CRF 1843 Mc4

    His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland

    Dublin Castle

    The Petition of George Mc Burney and his wife Frances

    Prisoners in Her Majesty’s Gaols at Enniskillen

    Humbly sheweth

    That your Petitioners were committed on the 23rd day of October 1842 and tried at the last Quarter Sessions held in Enniskillen in and for the County of Fermanagh for larceny and were found guilty and sentenced to seven years Transportation.

    That your Petitioners would humbly solicit your humane Excellency for a mitigation of their Sentence as they have (borne) a good and straight forwards character never before being  in the powers of the Law, which will be certified by Gentlemen of every religious denomination.  And that your Petitioners would in the spirit of heartfelt humility approach your Excellency praying that of your unexampled clemency your charitable Excellency would be graciously pleased to grant them whatever Commiseration you pray think meet.  

    And Petr shall ever Pray

    Enniskillen Gaol                              George Mc Burney

    January 14th 1843                           Frances Mc Burney



                                                                                       July 31st 1843


    In reply to the letter you did me the honor to address to me yesterday enclosing the Memorial of George Mc Burney and Frances His wife to His Excellency, The Lord Lieutenant. I beg to state that these persons were indicted for stealing from the shop of George Kitson in the Town of Enniskillen seven Black Silk handkerchiefs.

    They went into the prosecutors shop to purchase goods & the man did actually purchase a Handkerchief of a different character.  He appeared to be employed in examining it, but took the opportunity to draw a piece of Goods consisting of nine Silk Handkerchiefs towards him, obscures it between his legs.  Immediately after he handed it to the Female Prisoner who hid it under her cloak.  The Shopman who was observing all this when they were about to depart, walked round from the shop and the counter & prevented their escape. He insisted on their being searched, and demanded the Goods they had taken which they denied having.  On his Insisting, & proceeding to search them, the Female Prisoner threw the parcel from under her cloak on the counter.

    The owner of the shop who came in during the Transaction, in his evidence corroborated the Statement of his Shop Man.

    The Memorialists are not inhabitants of Ennsikillen, nor are they known there.  They were strangers passing through, and unconnected with the place.

    Their trade has been going from place to place Shop lifting.  There is no reason for saying they are married and from their conduct before the Magistrate, I apprehend they are persons of the worst character

    I can say nothing favourable to them before His Excellency, nor any thing to warrant Remission of the sentence.

                                                 I have the Honor to be


                                                 Your Most Obedient Servant

                                                 Jas Bessounet

    To Edward Lucas Esqr


    We the undersigned certify that your Excellency’s Petitioners as far as our knowledge can reach have before this time conducted themselves honestly  decently & soberly and would  from, what we know  [......]  recommend them to your Excellency’s consideration for a mitigation of their sentence.

                                                 Signed on behalf of George McBurney

                                                 But not for his wife Frances whom

                                                 it would be dangerous to set at large

                                                 George Kitson Prosecutor




    Sarah Greene

    SARAH GREEN - Irish Transportation Records CRF 1843 G3

                                                          Co Gaol 28th January 1843


    I am honoured with the receipt of the accompanying petition .  And in compliance with the order thereon. Beg leave to make this Report as to Sarah Green. A convict in my custody. which is alluded to in the petition.

    I find said Greene stands in my books thus -

    1st Commitment.  She was charged with stealing money from the person of one Horam Griffith tried at Belfast. July Sessions 1839 – and sentenced 3 months House of Correction

    2  do    Charged with stealing money from one James Johnston.  Belfast Sessions June 1841. No Bill found

    3 do     Charged with a similar offence as the forgoing one – Belfast Sessions October 1841 – No Prosecution in this case

    4th Commitment Charged with stealing from the person of one James Orr 3 pounds 12 shillings – Belfast April Sessions 1842                     - No bill found in this case.

    5th Time is the offence for which she is transported.

    As to her conduct in Gaol she is very peaceable. But I give my Matrons more the credit of carrying out the discipline of the Gaol than any merit on the part of the convict.

                                               I have the honor to be  Sir

                                               Your most obedient

                                               Humble Servant

                                               James Erskine Governor

                                               Of the County Antrim Gaol

    E Lucas Esq




     His Excellency Earl De Grey Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland

    The humble petition of Charles Mc Sparren of Belfast

    May it please His Excellency

           That petitioner’s Cousin named Sarah Green was tried before the Assistant Barrister Gibson at the General Quarter Sessions of the peace held at Belfast on Saturday this 14th January Instant, for taken from the person of John O’Harra the sum of Nine pounds, and was therefore sentenced to seven years transportation.  The unfortunate young woman herein alluded to never was tried before The Barrister before except once that she got three months and she most bitterly regrets having ever offended against the Law.  Petitioner most earnestly Solicits His Excellency The Lord Lieutenant in His Most Bountiful Mercy and Clemency to please to mitigate the above mentioned sentence from that of seven years transportation to what soever period of imprisonment that His Excellency may seem meet.

           The ill fated victim has left one male child about seven years old unprovided for having no relatives in circumstances to grant it any permanent support.

           Petitioner most respectfully entreats that His Excellency The Lord Lieutenant will concede to his request.

           And that His Excellency may be helped with Spiritual grace long life and uninterrupted happiness is the earnest prayer of your humble petitioner Charles Mc Sparren

    Signature indecipherable 1843

    Address:  The Humble Petition of  Charles Mc Sparren

    To the Gvnr of Gaol

    What had been the Prisoner’s previous character - ?

    What has been her conduct in gaol?

                                                 Dublin Castle

                                                 16 January 1843

    Sarah Green

    Larceny from person 7 yrs transportation

    The law must take its course



    Mc Sparren do

    Gaoler inford ditto date ?



    Eleanor Duffy

    Irish Transportation Records CFR D21 Eleanor Duffy

    Stamped Chief Secretary’s Office Dublin 42 APR 20

    1. Connor written along the side


    Cavan April 19th 1842


             Herewith I return you the Petition of Eleanor Duffy and beg leave to mention that the Prisoner as three times convicted before and was repeatedly imprisoned for long periods and I am quite certain the signatures are forgeries which are attached to the Petition.

                                                                   I have the Honour to

                                                                   remain Sir your very

                                                                   obt Servt

                                                                   Geo: Gallogly Governor

                                                                      of Cavan gaol

    To Ed Lucas Esq

             Castle    Dublin

    His Excellency Earl Degrey Lord Lieut of Ireland etc etc etc

             This Humble Petition of Frank Duffy of Cootehill most humbly Sheweth that his unfortunate Wife Eleanor Duffy is now in Cavan Jail under sentence of Transportation for seven years –

             That your Unfortunate Petr is a poor Honest Endeavouring man struggling to support Himself and Six Small Children and now in the decline of Life Petitioner most humbly Intreats that your Excellency may mitigate his Wifes Sentence and allow her allow her to be Confined in Ireland for such period as may be pleasing to your Excellency. That my poor Children not be deprived of the Consolation of hearing of or seeing their Mother during her Confinement which request may God and you Grant is the most humble petition of a most destroyed Husband and father

                      Your Petitioner will Ever Pray

                               Frank Duffy

    12th April 1842                                                                            

    James Birerne

    John M. Greddin Curate of Gaison

    Thos Horan

    Pat  Horan

    Thos Fay

    Henry Young

    Govr of gaol-

    Was this the Prisoners first offence?

    Are the Signatures genuine?

    D Castle 18 April 1842



    ELLEN DUFFY  - Irish Transportation Records CRF 1842 D21

    To His Excellency Earl De Grey Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of the Kingdom of Ireland

    Your Excellency

    Whereas I Mary Anne Duffy being a daughter to Ellen Duffy, who at the last Sessions held in Cootehill being in March last my mother the said Ellen Duffy being through poverty and the intoxication of liquor was taken in the middle of Day light taking some cloths off a hedge the property of one of her own door neighbours who got her taken and put to gaol and had to remain until the sd sessions of Cootehill she being brought to trial and sworn against notwithstanding the advocacy of the magistrates and respectable Gentlemen who solicited her freedom through hard swearing she was found Guilty and Convicted to transportation for seven years by Barrister Murphy who when hearing the way she was in committing the sd felony he was very sorry he had to pass sentence on her but could not avoid it by reason of the hard swearing which was sworn against her he the Honorable Barrister most pathetically passed her sentence which her advocates numerous as the were Could not get repealed.

    Your Excellency I went then and petitioned the sd Honble Barrister Murphy for pardon for my mother who made me to understand that the sentence could not repealed unless a reprief was got from under your Lordships hand

    I have with drawn myself from my service and came to your Lord Excellency 52 miles upon very little pocket money to know if your Clemency my Lord would be a good as grant your reprief to the sd Barrister Murphy   who would receive it with kindness  from and my Lord your Charity will be offrid by me to the most high at all times that his spirit shall move me to worship him and also all our distressed family in duty bound to do the same unto their lives end

                                                          Mary Anne Duffy

                                                          James Browne DD

                                                          Thos Foote

    1. B Douglas

    Envelope addressed to   “His Excellency Earl De Grey

     Lord Lieutenant General

                                Governor of the Kingdom of Ireland

                       Dublin Castle”



    Thomas Philip Lord De Grey

    Lord Lieutenant. Governor and General Governor of Ireland 

    The Humble Petition of Ellen Duffy

    Petitioner humbly begs to state that she is at present confined in the Penitentiary Dublin under sentence of transportation, for seven years she was tried at the Cavan Quarter Sessions for Cavan in April1842 for larceny for which crime she was convicted,  Petitioner begs to state, tho telling against[.....] that she is of a highly Respectable Family and being a Protestant married unfortunately a Roman Catholic which caused her father to forsake her till his Death, which has caused her much  misfortune.

    Petitioner has four male children, the youngest at present but three years old which is completely deranging your unfortunate Petitioner thinking of leaving her small helpless Family never to see them any more.

    Petitioner begs your Excellency will take her distress into your merciful consideration, and for the sake of that GOD from whom we all hope for Mercy permit her to remain at home with her helpless family by mercifully commuting her sentence and Petitioner will in duty be ever bound to pray.

                                                          Ellen Duffy

                                                          20th April 1843

    We certify that petitioner is of a very respectable family and that her late father possessed considerable property in the County Fermanagh and was a well connected man.

    Newton Butler                        Signature indecipherable                                           ?  Bailey JP

    25th April 1843

    John M  (?)                            Francis Billing

    Curate of  (Galloon)               John  (?) JP



  • Chapter 10: Born off Ireland’s shores & army connections Open or Close


    Born off Ireland’s shores

     & army connections


    Mary Quinn born in Martinique c 1810

    Sarah Cassidy born in the East Indies c 1825

    Mary Ann Jones born at sea c 1822

    Sarah Greene born Isle of Mann c 1818, brought up in Scotland

    Mary Murphy born in Bath, Somerset c1815

    Catherine Murray (1) born Madras, India


                  The indent records for five convict women said their birthplaces were not on the Irish mainland.  One explained that she was born in the East Indies but brought up in Ireland.  A sixth woman had India as her birthplace noted on her death certificate.  Their names and descriptions were Irish or Scottish.  How was it that they were born in such far-flung places?  There was no mention of their fathers’ occupations but it is possible that they were the issue of Irish soldiers.  Their birthplaces matched the countries and territories where the British Army regiments were dispatched.  In 1830 just over 42% of the men in the regiments were born in Ireland.

    On arrival in Hobart the sick women were immediately taken off the ship and admitted to hospital.  The indent records for the remaining women on board showed that eighteen had family members in British Army regiments.   For the most part Irish men enlisted because of the lack of employment opportunities and, the enticement of earning a regular wage, being issued with clothing and fed three meals a day, was preferable to living in poverty. They were often rural labourers who were found to be suited to army life and some saw it as an adventure.  These men usually served for long periods abroad and many died from wounds inflicted or from tropical diseases.  A few wives, chosen by ballot, were allowed to accompany their husbands and there were locations where British Army regiments were stationed, namely the East Indies and Martinique, which were the birthplaces for three of the convict women.

    The indent records revealed that nearly 60% of the women had male relatives serving abroad in the armed forces or had family members who left Ireland for England, America and Australia.  There were also some who had family members sentenced to transportation to NSW or Van Diemen’s Land.  The men who made up the rank and file of the British Army and the convict women on the East London were for the most part from the poorest levels of society.


    Mary Quinn (1)

    born in Martinique, circa 1810.

    tried Belfast, County Antrim 13 April 1843


    Mary Quinn (1) was born c1810 in Martinique.  Martinique was invaded by the British in 1809 in response to disruption of trade routes and one of the regiments was the 74 Battle Axe Company of the Royal Artillery, formed in Ireland.  Was Mary’s father, a soldier?  Probably.

    Mary was 33 years old when convicted of receiving stolen goods in Belfast on 13 April 1843.  On the same day Rose Quinn was charged with the same crime. Neither woman had prior convictions.  A report in the Belfast News Letter told of their crime.



    Stealing Clothes form the Union Workhouse

    On Thursday last, Mary and Rose Quinn were committed to Carrickfergus Jail, to take their trial at the Assizes, for stealing cloths and bedding from the Belfast Union Workhouse. Part of the property and a great number of pawntickets, were found to be in possession of the prisoners. Some of the inmates are suspected of being in collusion with the prisoners.

    Mary, who was married, admitted she stole a chemise and two petticoats which belonged to the poorhouse.  Rose Quinn, single, died aboard the convict ship so there was no confirmation of relationship. They were sisters or perhaps sisters-in-law. They were convicted together and were in the same mess group on the ship. Mary gave her occupation as a linen weaver.

    Mary was 5’ 3’’ tall with a fair complexion, brown hair and freckles. She was from a large family of five girls and three boys and had a husband, John, a glassmaker in Armagh, Ireland.  Mary and John had four children and one of them, two-year-old Rosannah Quinn, was with Mary aboard the East London.  Quinn, as a surname for Rosannah, indicated the married name and the alias, Mary Read, the maiden name.  Mary shared the mess group with Rose Quinn and other women from Antrim and Kildare. There were two children, Mary’s daughter, Rosannah, and an infant son of another messmate.  Rose Quinn and one other woman from the group died on the voyage and another was taken to hospital as soon as the ship docked.  Roseannah Quinn was sent to the Orphan School and the infant child with the group died in hospital after arrival.

    The years in Hobart, as Mary served her sentence, had few transgressions on her conduct record but in March 1844 there was a note which said ‘This woman is to serve further probation from 20 March 1844 previous to being classified’.  The reason for the note was not explained but perhaps she was present at the riot at New Town Farm probation station.  The only other offence for Mary was in March 1847 when she was absent without leave and accused of insolence.  She had to serve three months hard labour in the Female Factory.  The day Mary received her ticket of leave in June 1847 she fetched her daughter from the Orphan School.

    On 7 August 1848, Mary married Richard Stanley, a free man, at the Bethesda Church Hobart.  Richard, aged forty, was a wool classer and Mary, aged 38, was a widow.  Among the witnesses to the marriage was Sarah Johnson, previously McGeough, another of the women from the East London.  A few months earlier, Mary Quinn and Richard Stanley were witnesses at Sarah McGeough’s marriage. 

    Rosannah Quinn stayed with her mother and Richard Stanley.  When Richard died in October 1857 at 93 Argyle St, Hobart, the death was registered by his ‘daughter’, Rosannah Stanley. There were no children born from the marriage of Mary Quinn and Richard Stanley.  Rosannah married in 1861 and the young couple stayed with Mary.

    Over the next two decades Mary faced several fines for obscene language, bad language within hearing of a public street and, pawning goods which had been given to her but were proved to be stolen; that charge was withdrawn.  On two occasions she was assaulted by another woman and received head wounds from stones being thrown at her.  Once or twice her daughter, Rosannah, was charged with her over the same incidents.  The most serious charge Mary faced was manslaughter in September, 1878, when she gave an infant girl, Minnie Leedham, a dose of paregoric which was too strong and the child died.  The chemist and druggist who sold the narcotic did not put any warning of poison on the bottle and Mary, who was helping settle a teething child, gave it too strong a dose.  Mary told the police that the mother had ‘lain on the child’.  She went to court and the jury found that under the circumstances she should face trial but, after reviewing the evidence, the Solicitor- General declined to proceed any further.

    There were other brief brushes with the law as Mary aged.  Once in 1879 she was charged with indecent conduct in a public street but the constable was unable to prove the charge. Another time she was arrested in connection with a stabbing at Cloudy Bay, off Bathurst St, but was released because of lack of evidence.  In 1881 and 1884 she was fined for disturbing the peace. The last years of her life were spent at the New Town Pauper Establishment.  She died there on the 30 September 1889, although the age given as 65 was not accurate.  She was named as Mary Stanley, born Ireland.



    Find My Past Ireland, -Irish Prison Registers, 1790-1924, Mary Quinn 1843

    TAHO Mary Quinn CON 40/1/8 image 177 position 1

    TAHO Mary Quinn, CON 15/1/2 image 202-203 position 6

    TAHO Mary Quinn, CON 19/1/2 image 170 position 2

    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Orphan School Records- Rosanna Quin, SWD7, 28

    Tasmanian Marriage Record- Mary Quinn & Richard Stanley, RGD 37/1/7 Hobart/1848/1730

    Tasmanian Marriage Record- Rosanna Quinn &William Rourke, RGD 37/1/20 Hobart 186/ 51

    Tasmanian Death Records- Mary Stanley, , RGD 35/1/12 Hobart 1889/ 809

    British Newspaper Archives: Belfast News-Letter 31 January 1843


    The Mercury (Mary Stanley),

     24/6/1862; 23/9//1864; 31/10/1867; 20/10/1871; 19/9/1872; 26/5/1873; 11/10/1877; 18/9/1878; 26/9/1878; 1/10/1878; 16/9/1879; 10/9/1880; 3/6/1881; 23/4/1884.


    Sarah Cassidy

    born East Indies 1825, brought up in Derry

    tried Antrim 24 October 1842


    Sarah Cassidy was born in the East Indies c1825 and brought up in Derry. At the time of her birth there were two British Regiments transferred from serving in Ireland to India and some married soldiers were able to take their wives.  Sarah was probably born there of Irish parents.  A baptism in Madras 1823 for Thomas Cassidy, son of Henry and Sarah Cassidy, could have been Sarah’s brother.  She had two brothers, one was Thomas, and her mother was Sarah.  She had two sisters and one of them, Joanna, was transported on the Waverley the year before Sarah.    When Sarah left Ireland her mother and other siblings were alive in Belfast.

    Sarah was a short girl with a freckled face and had seven sets of initials interspersed with hearts, a cross and dots (for kisses) tattooed on her arms. She was seventeen when convicted of stealing money from a woman in Belfast and was ‘on the town’ for three or four years. She had prior charges for stealing clothes for which she was acquitted, but she served short sentences for the theft of a web of tartan, for stealing money and for taking provisions.  Two other young women were sentenced in court on the same day; one of them, Catherine Patterson, seventeen, was also a prostitute.  Sarah’s sister, Joanna, sixteen when convicted, admitted, ‘for the last three years have been living by thieving’.  The youth of the girls and their way of life in Ireland fitted into the section of population in which poverty was endemic.  They were from a Catholic family, their father was probably dead, and they had left Derry for Belfast.  They were on the wrong side of the sectarian divide, away from their home county and with convictions against them would have found it difficult to get employment.

    Sarah was in one of the few mess groups in which there were no deaths and after arrival in Hobart, was assigned, perhaps as a nurse girl, which she had listed on her indent papers. She served her sentence with little trouble, just two charges of being absent without leave. She gained her ticket of leave on the 9 November 1847 and her certificate of freedom on the 30 June 1853.

     In 1845 Sarah had permission to marry John Towers, who was free, but the marriage did not take place.  A female convict named Sarah Cassidy was delivered of a still born child in December 1845 which could be the explanation for no wedding.   In 1847 she married John Devaney, a convict carpenter, who arrived in Hobart in 1845 aboard the Lady Franklin from Norfolk Island.  He was from Galway and was transported to New South Wales on the St Vincent in 1837.  After the rape of a woman at Port Stephens he was sent to Norfolk Island and then transferred to Hobart.  Sarah and John married at St Joseph’s Church in Hobart, February 1847.  They had three children, Catherine, born in October 1847, William in 1851 and, James in 1852.  John Devaney died from influenza in Hobart in 1852 and Sarah was left with the care of three young children. William Skinner, perhaps the carpenter of that name, may have been the person she turned to for support after her husband’s death.

    The Colonial Times newspaper reported an account of a mysterious robbery in December 1854.  Sarah Cassidy, a young woman with three small children, was accused of stealing a purse with money, a gold guard, a locket and various other articles from the bedroom of a shop proprietor.  When the report of the trial was published she was named as Sarah Skinner.  However, during the trial a witness said the prosecutor’s mother was also in the house and was known to take his belongings.  The prosecutor himself expressed a wish not to charge Sarah because of her three small children. The witness added that Sarah had no toes and could not run. Sarah was found not guilty. A newspaper article reported that her husband, William Skinner, was in Port Philip and expected back at Christmas.  William Skinner returned to Hobart in December but he may not have returned to Sarah.

    During her trial, Sarah’s three children, Catherine aged seven, William aged three years six months and James two years old, were admitted into the Orphan School and stayed there even after she was acquitted.  James died from whooping cough in 1855 and in 1856 Catherine and William were discharged to Sarah.

    Sarah was still quite a young woman and probably found another man to care for her and her children but without the official recognition of a marriage certificate.


    Find My Past Ireland, -Irish Prison Registers, 1790-1924, Sarah Cassidy1843

    TAHO Sarah Cassidy CON 40/1/2 image 253 position 1

    TAHO Sarah Cassidy, CON 15/1/2 image 182-183 position 6

    TAHO Sarah Cassidy, CON 19/1/2 image 144

    TAHO Catherine Patterson, CON 15/1/2 Image 202-203 position 2

    TAHO John Devaney CON 33/1/71 image 77

    TAHO John Devaney CON 17/1/2 image 114 position 5

    TAHO Death record John Devaney RGD 35/1/3 Hobart 1852/1897

    Medical Journal of the East London AJCP ADM 101/22 Reel 3139

    Tasmanian Marriage Record- Sarah Cassidy &John Devaney, RGD 37/1/6 1847/1022 Hobart

    Orphan School Records- Catherine, William & James Devaney, SWD7, 28, SWD6, CSO24/260/10829

    TROVE-Colonial Times - (Sarah Cassidy/Skinner),16/12/1854; 6/1/1855.



    Catherine Murray (1)

    born c1822 Madras, India

                Catherine’s place of birth was provided by her husband for her death certificate.  It indicated an army background.  Catherine’s story is in the New Norfolk Chapter.


    Mary Ann Jones

    born at sea c1822


                Mary Ann Jones, born at sea, was from an army family.  Her father, John, was a drummer in the 82nd Regiment at Stirly Bridge, (Stirling Bridge Scotland?) at the time of her conviction.  She had two brothers who were soldiers and another brother in America.  The 82nd Regiment of Foot was in Ireland in 1816 and left for Mauritius in 1819. Perhaps Mary Ann’s birth occurred during a voyage to or from that destination.

    Mary Ann was twenty-one in August 1842 when convicted of stealing a white muslin gown which had been put out on a hedge to dry. The police found Mary Ann in a plantation adjoining the field near the hedge. Before her discovery she sold the dress for one and sixpence to a shopkeeper in Jamestown telling him it belonged to her dead mother.  There were three days between the theft and the selling of the dress yet Mary Ann did not leave the area and was hiding in the nearby plantation.  Was she a well-known local thief who hid from the police or was she homeless?

    Mrs Faris of Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, prosecuted Mary Ann for the theft of the dress. Letters of petition were sent to the Lord Lieutenant seeking commutation of Mary Ann’s sentence.  She claimed she took the dress while drunk and had not stolen anything before and would never be guilty of such a crime again.  In a reply to the Lord Lieutenant’s inquiry about Mary Ann’s character and conduct in gaol it was stated that she was in court previously for theft of clothes and for breaking windows. 

    Among the letters in the file on her petition was one from the Governor of Carrick on Shannon Gaol who said Mary Ann conducted herself remarkably well since committed to the gaol.  Because of her mild disposition she was chosen to be an assistant to the matron in managing the female lunatics.  However, he said her previous character was not very good as she was frequently drunk. The petition was not successful and her file was closed with the words ‘the law must take its course’.

    On board the East London Mary Ann shared her mess group with other women who arrived at Grange Gorman with her ten days before embarkation.  She was the only one in the mess group from Leitrim.  There were two deaths from the group, Mary Ann Holland and Rose Carroll who were both ill with secondary syphilis.  The women in the group who survived were young and single, except for Dolly Douragan, who was a little older and had a two-year child with her.  They were all country women and remained in good health.  Perhaps sharing the mess with such ill women as Holland and Carroll was not their choice.

    Mary Ann Jones served her sentence with little trouble.  She did have one misconduct charge against her for admitting a man into the kitchen and served three months hard labour in jail for that crime. There was no record of her being granted a ticket of leave or a certificate of freedom. Muster records list her as being employed by Mr Kirby at Evandale in 1846 and in 1849 as free.  Her name did not appear in marriage permission records.   Twenty-two women convicts were named Mary Ann Jones so the path of her life after sentence was not able to be correctly identified.


    Find My Past Ireland, -Irish Prison Registers, 1790-1924, Mary Ann Jones 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 151 position 2, Mary Ann Jones

    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 image 196-197 position 3, Mary Ann Jones


    The Army Connections


    “If you fine fellow will enlist

    It’s ten guineas in gold I will slip in your fist”

    Anti- British Army Recruiting Song 1840


    Women with family living overseas


    Sarah Campion – sister Port Phillip

    Mary Carr - father. England

    Honora Daly - 2 children USA

    1 brother Wales

    1brother USA

    Catherine Sheridan- husband USA

    Nancy Egan - husband USA

    Bridget Fitzsimons-brother. USA

    Mary Ann Jones- brother USA

    Lucy Magaughran - sister USA

    Mary McMahon - sister USA

    Sarah McMullen - sister USA

    Eliza Moran - 3brother 1 sister Port Phillip

    Susan Mullan - sister. USA

    Ann Quinn - sister Montreal, Canada

    Mary Quinn (2) - 1 brother USA

    Catherine Riordan - 1 daughter USA.



    Women with army connections

    Margaret Beale – husband, John Bales, in the 96th Regiment

    Mary Calnan, brother, Cornelius, in the 13th Regiment

    Susan Cassidy - brothers, Michael in the 9th & Peter in the13th Regiment

    Honora Daley & Ellen Carthy- brother in the 15th Regiment

    Mary Dooley, brother, Michael, in the 57th Regiment

    Catherine Fitzgibbon – brother, John, in the 9th Regiment

    Judith Fraynor – brother-in-law in the 65th Regiment

    Anne Graham – brothers, William & Archdale, in the army

    Bridget Hayes – brothers, Patrick in the 27th & Richard in the 18th Regiment

    Mary Headon – brother, Michael in the 77th Regiment

    Mary Ann Jones – father in the 82nd, 2 brothers, Thomas &James, soldiers

    Mary Lyons – husband, Dennis, in the 31st Regiment

    Mary Quinn (2) brother, John, in the 35th Regiment

    Mary Regan brother, Owen, in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment

    Mary Wickham – two sons in the army; Patrick in the 11th Regiment.

    Catherine Cahill – brother, Patrick Brady, in the 63rd Regiment


    Seventeen women who gave information for the indent records had army connections. The Irish population contributed well to the soldiers of the British Army.  It was an occupation which gave certainty to the young men who needed employment, adventure and a good set of clothes. Most of the men served in regiments overseas. Margaret Beale’s husband accompanied convicts to New South Wales, served in Norfolk Island and in the New Zealand Maori Wars. He was discharged in Hobart.  Catherine Cahill’s brother served in Van Diemen’s Land with the 63rd Regiment but returned to England where he was discharged to hospital in poor health.  Judith Fraynor’s brother-in-law was in Ceylon and Mary Lyons husband was away from home with the army when she was convicted. There were thirty-three women who had no family information recorded because they died at sea or were sent to hospital after arrival in Hobart. Their army connections are unknown.


    Sarah Greene

    1. c1818 Isle of Mann, brought up in Scotland.

    tried 7 January 1843 Belfast, County Antrim


                Sarah Green’s petition for clemency was sent by her cousin, Charles McSparren. The family names indicated a Scottish background and her birth place and life in Scotland perhaps put her into a family which moved for work or better opportunity.  The British army had regiments on the Isle of Mann at times, in case of trouble in Ireland.  In 1816 British troops were sent there and in 1819 the 71st Highland Light Infantry.  Sarah too, possibly had an army background or perhaps her father was employed in the region.

    Sarah’s story is in the New Norfolk chapter.


    Mary Murphy

    1. c1815 Bath, County Somerset, England

          tried 7 January 1843 Belfast, County Antrim


    Mary Murphy, a Protestant girl, was born in Bath, Somerset.  Her birth was about the time the Napoleonic Wars ended and the location perhaps indicted an army background. Mary had an Irish name, a British birthplace and was a resident of Belfast. The 13th Regiment (1st Somerset) was bolstered by volunteers in Ireland in 1807, fought in the American wars and returned to England in 1815, the year Mary was born. 

    Her story is in the chapter on the Protestant women.



    Catherine Fitzgibbon

    born c1817

    tried 10 September 1842

    brother in the 9th Regiment

                Catherine Fitzgibbon was tried at Mallow in County Cork in October 1842 for stealing clothes. She had a prior charge for a similar offence but was discharged.  She was single, a Catholic and illiterate.  She named her relatives as her father, Robert, and her brother, John in the 9th Regiment.

    A newspaper story told an interesting tale of Catherine

    Cork Examiner 8 August 1842


    Margaret Leary and Catherine Fitzgibbon were presented by the Grand Jury as idle and disorderly persons, having no fixed place of residence.

                  The Court said that it was his wish to intimate to the Jury that it was a most mistaken idea for the Grand Jury to suppose, that persons of the description of the prisoners at the bar came under the jurisdiction of the vagrancy act. That act was made for other purposes, and was not at all applicable to street walkers, such as the prisoners appeared to be, otherwise they could have the city cleared of persons of that description. He wished to state as much to them, because any person having a residence did not come within the provisions of the act.

                  Sub-constable Rice examined by Mr O’Brien – Knows the prisoner Fitzgibbon for the last four years; she is a native of Doneraile, and has been constantly in Bridewell for disorderly conduct and drunkenness.

     Court – Has she a place of residence?
                  Witness – She has one lodging in Blarney-lane and another in Hanover-street (laughter).

                  Court – And why was she brought here?

                  Witness – Because she has been found to be very troublesome in the Police office, and Captain White directed that she should be prosecuted as a vagrant.

                  Court – And because she is troublesome in the Police office to Captain White, is he to send her here for me to transport her summarily.

    Witness – I had no wish to bring them here but I was directed to do so by Captain White.

    Sub- constable Galvan examined by Mr O’Brien – Has been acquainted with the prisoners for some time, but does not know where they reside.

    Court- And why have they been sent here?

    Witness- They were sent by Captain White because they were troublesome in the Police office, and often evade the ends of justice.

    Court- What do you mean by evading the ends of justice, is it running away from policemen?

    Witness- No my lord but they have often been tried, but they always by their ingenuity avoided being convicted.

    Court- And because Captain White was not able to convict them at the Police-office, they are to be sent here to me to transport summarily under this very penal statute. – Really this is too ridiculous an idea.

    Mr O’Brien – The policemen wish me to state that it was not at their desire, that the prisoners were prosecuted under that statute.

    Court – I am satisfied of that. But gentlemen of the jury, I must repeat to you that it was quite a mistaken idea of the Grand Jury to present such persons as those. They have places of residence, and as I observed before, the statute was not framed for street-walkers of this description, and therefore you cannot find them guilty on this indictment.

    The Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty, upon which his Lordship thanked them for their attendance and discharged them, the City Crown business having been finished.

                A few months later Captain White finally caught Catherine on a charge he could prosecute.  He gained a quieter police office and she had to prepare to go to Van Diemen’s Land for seven years.  Catherine stayed in the county prison until transferred to Grange Gorman Depot nine days before she embarked on the East London on the 5 May.  She travelled with eight women from Cork, County and City, and messed with the five who were from Cork City.  The only other mess woman was from Limerick and she had a child.

    The six Cork women in the mess survived the journey. Two were prostitutes, one wanted to be transported, two had army connections and one had a small child with her. The mess group was made up of the seven women and two children.  Joanna Wilmot (Limerick), ill from the beginning of the voyage with severe sea sickness and loss of energy, was unable to care for her infant.  The surgeon wrote that her habits were so disgustingly filthy and irregular that she was a nuisance to those in the same and contiguous berths.  Catherine and the mess women had to cope with the ill and feeble woman and her very ill infant.  The discomfort of the filth caused by such debilitating illness in a crowded mess and berth was how they endured the first two months of the voyage.  Joanne Wilmot was not admitted into the hospital until 15 July where she died two weeks later.  The infant died two weeks before Joanna.  The only other child from the mess group was ill and died after arrival.

     In Hobart Catherine was at Brickfields Depot and in trouble within the first month.  She was charged with misconduct and sentenced to six days solitary confinement and a month later, on the same charge, was fourteen days in solitary confinement.  Like many of the women from the East London, settling into convict life in Hobart caused resistance. Two of her messmates were involved in the New Town Station riots. Their group was very troubled.  Catherine absconded in June 1844 and her sentence was extended by three months.  In June 1846 Catherine was delivered of an illegitimate child at the factory in Launceston. The little boy, John Cooper, was baptised at St Joseph of the Apostles in Launceston two weeks later.

    Catherine married John Cooper, a free man, at St Joseph’s Church, Launceston, on 29 May 1848.  She was twenty-eight and John twenty-nine.  They had another son, Joseph, in August 1855.  On the birth register John Cooper put his occupation as carpenter and his residence as Cullenswood in the Fingal district.  It was at Cullenswood that Catherine had a brush with the law but the charge of receiving a pair of stolen boots was dismissed with a warning.  A later charge of theft of a petticoat, which was government property, put her in prison for six months.

    Catherine died at Cullenswood on the 28 August 1879 when she was sixty-two years old.  The death record said she was the wife of a carpenter. Catherine, the troublesome woman who had got under the skin of Captain White of the Mallow police, led a quieter life in Tasmania.  A few years after her death her son, Joseph, named his daughter after her. 



    Find My Past Ireland, -Irish Prison Registers, 1790-1924, Catherine Fitzgibbon 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image 153 position 3, Catherine Fitzgibbon

    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 image 190-191 position 4, Catherine Fitzgibbon

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 p. 307 PM08760 Permission to marry Catherine Fitzgibbon & John Cooper

    TAHO RGD 37/1/7 1848/2063 Launceston Marriage of Catherine Fitzgibbon & John Cooper

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image 153 position 3, birth of child (John Cooper)

    FCRC, Baptism, Ref: 1052-19-1846 (John Cooper)

    TAHO RGD 33/1/33 1855/294 Fingal, Birth of Joseph Cooper

    TAHO RGD 35/1/48 1879/163 Fingal, death Catherine Cooper


    Mary Headon

    b.c1820 Carlow

    tried 18 October 1842 Carlow

    brother in the 77th Regiment

                Mary Headon was tried in Carlow for the theft of a goose and sentenced to seven years transportation.  She had prior charges for the theft of fowls and the theft of clothes and served eight months in prison for each.  Her trial was in October 1842 and she was held in the county jail for six months before she transferred to Grange Gorman Penitentiary nine days before embarkation. There were three women from Carlow and they travelled together from the county jail and stayed together aboard ship.

    Mary and her companions from Carlow shared the mess with two women from Galway who arrived in Dublin two days before them.  The only other messmate was Alice Fitzsimons who had been in Grange Gorman Penitentiary for eight months. It was a small group of only six women but Alice had four children and Eliza Higgins a Carlow woman had a three-year-old as well. There was one death among the women, Alice Fitzsimons, who was in hospital twice during the voyage.  Her children were without their mother’s care and must have been a burden for the mess women.  The youngest child, aged about ten months died and another was very ill and died very soon after arrival.   Mary and the other Carlow and Galway women were well enough at the end of the voyage to record the information on their indent records.  Mary Headon was twenty- three when she reached Hobart.

    Mary was delivered of a stillborn child whilst serving her sentence.  She received her ticket of leave in February 1848 and the only charge she faced under sentence occurred four months later when she was absent from her place of residence for two days.  That caused her to spend three months hard labour at the Female Factory in Hobart. She was pregnant at the time and her daughter Harriet Louise Jinnett was born at the end of November 1848.  Permission to marry carpenter, George Jennett (Moffatt 3), was sought but it was refused.  However, the couple lived as common law partners and another daughter (Eliza) was born in January 1851 when they lived in Harrington St.

    Mary died in childbirth 4 October 1852.  George Jennett, who worked for an undertaker, registered the death and described her as a single woman.  George took another woman as a common law wife. They had a son and brought up Mary Headon’s daughters. Newspaper reports in 1864 said Louisa Jennet was blind and could not read or write. The girls were said to have been taught to steal by their father who relied on them to support him.  Elizabeth Jennett married but died when she was twenty-three.

    He has two young children who are trained to steal to support the parents. I have seen them steal. The eldest is a blind girl, and she is nearly of age. She is always about the streets, and picks up anything she can get. There is a younger girl who is just as bad. I have reason to believe that the whole of the plunder of those girls goes to Jennett.... The two are the reputed parents of a blind girl and her sister.

    The Mercury 8 April 1864


    Find My Past Ireland, -Irish Prison Registers, 1790-1924, Mary Headon 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/6 image 86 position 3, Mary Headon

    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 image 194-195 position 6, Mary Headon

    TAHO CON 52/1/3 p. 236 Permission to marry Mary Headon & George Moffatt

    TAHO RGD  33/1/3 Reg No. 1185/ 1848 Hobart, birth of Harriet Louisa Jennett

    TAHO RGD 33/1/4 Reg No. 106/ 1851 Hobart, birth of female Jennett

    TAHO RGD 35/1/3 / 1720/1852 Death of Mary Hayden.



    Judith Fraynor

    born Athlone c 1813

    Tried 28/12/1842

                Judith Fraynor, a Catholic, was tried at Mullingar in County Westmeath in December 1842.  She stole money, £1/17/6, from a man and was sentenced to seven years transportation. She had one previous occasion in prison for fighting. She was thirty years old and said she was not married although she admitted that she told authorities she was married so that John Hill, whom she had lived with for three years, could visit her in prison. She had a sister married to a soldier in the 68th Regiment in Ceylon.   A note on her conduct record said her proper name was Traynor.

    Judith travelled to Grange Gorman in Dublin with five other women who were tried at Mullingar in Westmeath.  Judith and four others boarded the East London on 2 May while the other woman from the Mullingar court, did not board until 5 May and did not mess with the main Westmeath group.  Judith and her Mullingar companions shared their mess with a woman from Mayo and one from Galway.

    The mess group was the most mature on the ship with three women over the age of forty and  one teenage convict who was on board with her mother.  The women were Catholic and all survived the journey and were able to provide information for their indent records when they reached Hobart.  Three women in Judith’s group were mothers with adult children and perhaps their experience and the fact that there were no children in the mess helped them all keep well.

    Once on shore Judith served her sentence without any charges.  Two applications for permission to marry were made for Judith.  The first in January 1847 was from James Swarby (free) and then again in February 1847 from James Lindsey (free).  The second applicant may have been the man Judith married on 15 April 1847 at St Matthew’s Church of England, Clarence Plains.  The names were spelt as Judith Trainor and James Landey.  Judith gave her age as thirty-two and James was thirty-four; she was a prisoner of the crown and he was a labourer and both were illiterate.

    The couple remained in the Clarence Plains district where Judith died 24 September 1855. An inquest was held because of her sudden death and because local rumours supposed that James had poisoned her.   A post mortem was held and the examining doctor found that Judith had a liver disease and had died from natural causes.  There were no records of children. The surname on the death record was spelt Landy and James was listed as a convict labourer. There were convicts named James Lindsey and James Landy.   James Lindsey who was transported on the Lord Lyndoch 1836 matched better in age.


    Find My Past Ireland, -Irish Prison Registers, 1790-1924, Judith Fraynor 1843.

    TAHO CON 40/1/4 image 153 position23 Judith Fraynor

    TAHO, CON 15/1/2 image 190-191 position 3, Judith Fraynor

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 p. 438 Permission to marry Judith Fraynor & James Swarby

    TAHO CON 52/1/2 p. 257 Permission to marry Judith Fraynor & James Lindsey

    TAHO RGD 37/1/64 Reg No. 635/ 1847 Clarence Plains, Marriage Judith Trainor & James Landey

    TAHO RGD 35/1/24 / 1855/116 Clarence, Death of Judith Landy.

    TROVE, Tasmanian Daily News Saturday, 29 September 1855





    Born Off Ireland’s Shores and Army Connections


    Mary Ann Jones

    NAI Irish Transportation Records 1843 J5


                                                                            Ballinamore Quarter Sessions

                                                                            October 1842

    The Queen                                                      Indicted for stealing a gown property of  Alex

    V                                                                  Faris                                       

    Mary Ann Jones

    To this indictment the Prisoner pleaded guilty and it appearing that she had been convicted at the previous Sessions of stealing several articles of dress and that she had been frequently in gaol for breaking windows, she was sentenced to transportation for the term of seven years.

                                                                            All which I certify

                                                                            D M Kane


                                                                                          Carrick – on – Shannon

                                                                                          Gaol  11th April1843

    Stamped Secretary’s Office Dublin,

    43 April 12

    I have the honour to state Mary Anne Jones has conducted herself remarkably well since her commitment to gaol so much so that the Matron in consequence of her mild disposition chose her to be an Assistant in the Managing of the Female Lunatics and where her attention has given satisfaction.

    As to her previous character I regret to state it was not very good as she was very frequently drunk.

                                                                            I have the honor to be


                                                                            Your most obedient

                                                                            Humble Servant

                                                                            Edward Indecipherable signature


    To Edw Lucas Esq

    Your exalted station  --


    To the Lord Lieutenant

    The Memorial of Mary Anne Jones a Prisoner in the gaol of Carrick on Shannon


    That she was committed to gaol in the month of August 1842 for stealing a muslin dress value 6d the property of Mrs Faris of Carrick on Shannon and sentenced to be transported for seven years.  Memorialist was unfortunately drunk when she took the article but most solemnly declares if your Excellency is graciously pleased to pardon her she never will be guilty of any offence again.  She never did before steal any thing and therefore beg for the Honor and Mercy of God that you will order her sentence to be changed to Confinement and with the assistance  of the Divine Spirit which alone can keep her from evil  she never will fall into any crime for the future.

    And she will ever pray that your Excellency may long live to show a lustre on your exalted station.


    Mary Anne Jones

    Larceny = 7 years

    The law must take its course

    April 26 1843 initials

    Gaoler informed 27th

    Asst Barr ansd 28th 1843

    Addressed to His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant



    What was Prisoners previous character?

    What her conduct in gaol?

    D Castle 10 April 1843



    Stamped Secretary’s Office, Dublin, 43 April 25

                                                                                                                       [..] Up Fitz.. St

                                                                                                                       April 25. 1843

    I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter &t he Memorial of Mary Ann Jones under sentence of transportation & send my report of the case for the information of the Lord Lieutenant.  I beg also to send a copy of the information sworn against the Prisoner and to state that she was represented to me as a person of loose character.

                                                                        I have the honour to be


                                                                        Your obedient Servant

                                                                        D W (Kane?)

    1. Lucas     Esqr                



    Information of Muse Mc Dowell

    Sworn before John Little Esqr

    On the 2nd day of August 1842


    That on Thursday the 28th of July last between the hours of two and three o’clock in the afternoon of said day left spread on the grass and afterwards on the hedge near the rear of her Master’s Garden along with other articles of clothes for the purpose of drying same a white Muslin Gown belonging to her mistress Mrs Faris of Shannon Lodge.  Inft saith that in the evening of said day when she went out to gather in whatever of the said articles that had remained out and of which said gown was one Inft missed same saith the Gown now produced by the Police Constable is the same Gown she had so left out to dry at the time and place above mentioned.

    Information of Thomas Devine

    Sworn before John Little Esqr

    On the 2nd day of August 1842


    That on Thursday the28th day of July last about 9o’clock in the evening of said day being informed by Muse Mc Dowell the Housemaid at Shannon Lodge the residence of Informant’s Master Alexander Faris Esqre that a Muslin Gown belonging to Mrs Faris which had been that day spread on a Hedge near the rear of his said Master’s House was taken away.  Inft went in search of same and having procured the assistance of some Police Constable he proceeded to search a plantation ajoin the field where the Gown had been so spread  and therein found the Prisoner lying concealed she was taken into custody by the Police.

    Information of Margaret Dillon

    Sworn before John Little Esqr

    On the 2nd day of August 1842


    That on the morning of Sunday the 31st day of July that Inft was in the House of her Master Edward Golden of Jamestown and between the hours of 7 and 8 o’clock of the morning of said day a young woman who Inft now sees in custody and who says her name is Mary Anne Jones came into her Master’s shop and asked Inft would she buy a dress and there upon she produced a white muslin dress and at same time told Inft it was her Mothers who she alleged was dead.  Inft saith she purchased this said dress from the said Mary Anne Jones for the sum of one shilling and six pence sterling and Informt swears the dress now produced by the Police is the same dress she so purchased as aforesaid.