Welcome!

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.

 

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Search the Female Convicts in Van Diemen's Land Database

Research Seminars

Convict System Administration

Convict Institutions

Convict Ships

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Convict Lives

 

 

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Live History presents ‘Her Story’

a dramatised tour about one convict woman’s life within the Cascades Female Factory in 1833

When: Saturday 26 October 2019

Tour starts: 10.30am and lasts about 50 minutes

The tour leaves from the Visitor Centre of the Cascades Female Factory,

16 Degraves Street, South Hobart.

Please meet there 10 to 15 minutes before the start time.

Tickets: $25 Adults, $15 Children (under 12 years)

Booking and pre-payment required: https://www.trybooking.com/BFFZY

Enquiries: Sandra 6225 0499 or Dianne 0409 140 657

Please Note: Site entry tickets, to tour the rest of the historic site following the performance, may be purchased separately at the Visitor Centre.

A fundraising event for From the Shadows: https://fromtheshadows.org.au

 

From the Shadows Fundraising Cocktail Party

INVITATION:  The Honourable Sue Hickey, Speaker of the House of Assembly and Liberal Member for Clark is hosting a fundraising cocktail party for the From the Shadows Statues Project.

Date: Thursday 26 September 2019,  6.30 pm - 8.00 pm at Parliament House Hobart, Reception Room

DRESS: Business attire

COST:   $40.00

There will be a raffle and silent auction.

Music by Georgina Richmond and Satyamo Roberts

RSVP: Sandra Fagan by Monday 23 September.

Sandra.fagan@parliament.tas.gov.au

All Proceeds to From the Shadows.

Bookings essential.  Enquiries to Dianne 0409 140 657

Booking and pre-payment required by 23 September, unless sold out earlier: Book now through Trybooking:  https://www.trybooking.com/BFHSS

A fundraising event for From the Shadows: https://fromtheshadows.org.au

 

State of the Factories

Introducing a new FCRC web page - State of the Factories. Each fortnight from 1832 to the late 1840s the Hobart Town Gazette published a column recording how many women and children were in the factories and the nurseries. The status of the convicts was also recorded: for example, Available for hire, solitary confinement, lying-in, in the sick ward, in first, second and third class. There was also a category for the number of women under sentence who were employed as staff – laundresses, nurses, servants and cooks.

One of our volunteers, Geoff Riddiford, worked with us to capture these details and enter them into spreadsheets so that we can better understand the state of each factory and some of the hiring depots at specific times. (6/09/2019)

 

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.

Dict of slang

 

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.  Read more....

 

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.

Further information and bookings available here.


New Norfolk Asylum 1868


Save The Dates:

     
2019

20th October

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

 

 

Whats new?

Recent Updates

  •  Petitions - Alice McDermott per Blackfriar 1851: a successful petition for a prior conviction (courtesy Colleen Arulappu 17/09/2019).
  • Genealogy - A Recent Find: Ann Barrow per Elizabeth and Henry 1848
  • State of the Factories - Introducing a new website page.  Each fortnight from 1832 to the late 1840s the Hobart Town Gazette published a column recording how many women and children were in the factories and the nurseries. The status of the convicts was also recorded: for example, Available for hire, solitary confinement, lying-in, in the sick ward, in first, second and third class. There was also a category for the number of women under sentence who were employed as staff – laundresses, nurses, servants and cooks.

    One of our volunteers, Geoff Riddiford, worked with us to capture these details and enter them into spreadsheets so that we can better understand the state of each factory and some of the hiring depots at specific times.  (6/09/2019)

  • Petitions - Ellinor Magee per Mexborough 1841 (courtesy of Colleen Arulappu 6/09/2019).
  • Ships - Sovereign 1827 - Surgeon's Journal. (Courtesy Rhonda Arthur 26/08/2019.

    The General Remarks record the surgeon’s humane and sympathetic observations about the plight of female convicts being transported. Several cases of scarlatina were considered in detail. Rough seas caused casualties - a convict fractured her leg which was set in a splint but the bone was displaced twice and a child was severely scalded by a kettle full of boiling water. A convict of ‘harmless imbecility’ was closely monitored after she jumped off the bow port but the quick actions of the officers and crew saved her life.

  • Ships - Asia 1847 - Surgeon's Journal. This is not an extensive journal  but the surgeon, Jason Lardner,  described his own attack of malaria which caused him fevers every other day for much of the voyage. He also made a brief note of  the internal effects of disease in an infant which must have been the result of an autopsy. (Courtesy Colleen Arulappu, 22/08/2019)
  • 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)