The Female Convicts Research Centre promotes interest in the female convicts of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), by encouraging and facilitating research.
From 1803 to 1853, 12,500 female convicts were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), as punishment for crimes, mainly theft. After serving their sentences they were released into the community. Their transportation left a lasting legacy.
The Female Convicts Research Centre encourages research into these female convicts, mainly through its database, website and twice-yearly seminars.
When you register with the FCRC, you gain access to our database where you will find information entered by our volunteers as we attempt to reconstruct the life course of each female convict.
We update this website and our database regularly and sometimes daily, as our volunteer transcribers continue to provide new information. Please bookmark this page and return soon.
James Hardy Vaux’s 1819 Dictionary of Criminal Slang
and Other Impolite Terms as Used by the Convicts of the British Colonies of Australia.
by Simon Barnard
Complied by thrice-transported convict James Hardy Vaux, the book provides an insight into the language and lives of colonial Australia’s criminal underclasses. Recognised as Australia's first dictionary, this year marks its 200th anniversary.
It’s a lavish hardback packed with illustrations, etymological information and remarkable tales of convicts’ lives and crimes. Numerous historic sites feature in the text, including Adelaide Gaol, Cascades Female Factory, Cockatoo Island, Hyde Park Barracks, Melbourne Gaol, Norfolk Island, Parramatta Female Factory, Penitentiary Chapel, Port Arthur, and Richmond Gaol.
You can can preview the book here.
Published by Text Publishing.
FCRC AGM 2019 Update
At our August AGM, we gave a snapshot of what is happening on our website and in our database, highlighting the work of our exceptional volunteer team which has grown our website to become an internationally recognized resource.
At this stage, we have over 6890 deaths entered in the database. We are constantly reviewing this information as we research each convict in more depth and as we access new record sets which help us clarify information.
We have 1417 baptisms entered, most provided by our researchers in the UK.
We have been able to correct many locations to enable us to pinpoint where many of these women were really from. Much of this forensic work is done by members of the Liverpool team who know their counties and parishes well. So many locations were mis-recorded here when the convicts arrived resulting in us recording counties and even countries incorrectly. It is brilliant to get things right!
We have evidence of 2174 women leaving this colony. We also know that some returned.
We have some pre-transportation information on 7634 women, thanks to the exceptional work of our volunteers, both here and overseas.
Our volunteer team remains consistent and committed. There are members in several mainland states, as well as in England and Scotland. All submit exceptional work.
We have over 8,000 subscribers to our website. Over the last 30 days we have averaged 102 users per day. There were 37,517 page views at an average of 8.56 pages per visit.
Over the last 30 days, 5,394 people accessed our front page, 3,474 accessed About the VDL database, 1,746 accessed the Ships Lists and 1, 242 accessed the database.
Over the lifespan of our website we have had 1,536,888 article view hits.
We have reason to be proud of what we have achieved as a volunteer organisation.
Spring Seminar, 20th October 2019: Bookings are now open
Topic: "A more hopeless class of subjects?": Convict Women at the New Norfolk Asylum
In 1859, the Commissioners of the Hospital for the Insane at New Norfolk wrote, ‘It must be borne in mind that a large majority of the patients … confined in the asylum have been of the convict class, the offspring of diseased parents, inheriting in very many cases a defective intellect, brought up from the earliest childhood in misery and vice, and leading in after years a life of sensual debauchery and crime, resulting in enfeeblement alike of body and mind – a more hopeless class of subjects it would be impossible to collect together in one institution’ (cit Gowlland, Troubled Asylum, p.54)
Our next seminar will explore the lives of convict women admitted to the New Norfolk Asylum. Presentations will include:
• An historic overview of the New Norfolk Asylum
• Stories of convict women admitted to the Asylum.
• The psychiatric impact of solitary confinement.
• Female delinquency and madness in VDL.
Save The Dates:
|Spring Seminar: "A more hopeless class of subjects?": Convict Women at the New Norfolk Asylum
|2019||9th November||From the Shadows Colonial Dance, Venue: New Town High School hall.|
|2020||5th April||Autumn Seminar: topic to be announced|
- Petitions - Sarah Kelly per John Calvin 1849; Margaret Hickey per Maria 1849; Mary Sullivan per Tasmania 1845. (Courtesy of Colleen Arulappu 15/08/2019)
- Genealogy - The Tracking of Frances Butcher (by Colette McAlpine 11/08/2019)
- Employee Profiles - By Ken Slee. A revised version of the story of Harriett Slee, Superintendent of the Nursery at the Female Factory in Hobart Town, (9/08/2019)
- Ships - Anna Maria 1852 - Medical Entries (contributed by Colleen Arulappu 6/08/2019)
- The Ships' Surgeons - James Hall - voyages of Mary Ann 1822, Brothers 1824. (Contributed by Colleen Arulappu 9/07/2019). James Hall was promoted to surgeon in the Royal Navy in September 1817 and he served on four convict transport ships. There were only three deaths among the 562 convicts he was in charge of which was remarkable given the cramped and damp conditions aboard the ships.
- Ships - Woodbridge 1843 - Surgeon's Journal by Mr Jason LARDNER, between the 14th July 1843 and 6th of January 1844 (contributed by Colleen Arulappu 1/07/2019).
- Ships - Lady of the Lake 1829 Surgeon's Journal (contributed by Rhonda Arthur 28/06/2019).
William Evans RN surgeon superintendent was on his seventh voyage on a convict ship. 81 female convicts, 10 free women and 36 children embarked: at the time, it was the largest number ever conveyed in the smallest ship. The General Remarks record the women who were appointed duties on board. On landing, all the convicts were assigned to the service of settlers, with the exception of three. Three infants died – one was the daughter of ‘a convict of the saw chains’ lacking in affection and care while in gaol – an issue of concern to Mrs Pryor, the Quaker. Two female convicts died – one from dysentery and the other fell overboard attempting to save her cap blown off by the wind.