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  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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FCRC Seminar 2020:  Sunday, 5th April, Call for Papers.

Topic:  THE EARLY YEARS 1803-1828

Two hundred years ago, the Morley sailed from London to Hobart Town. This was the first time that convict women were sent to Van Diemen’s Land directly from England. The convict women on the Morley arrived at a time before the Hobart Town Female Factory was established, raising the question of how they were managed. The Morley disembarked 50 of its cargo of 121 women; the reminder sailed to Sydney. This pattern of shared voyages continued for some time and it was not until the Providence in 1826 that a female convict ship disembarked its entire shipment of convict women in Hobart.
Our Seminar for 2020 will explore the experience of those convict women who came directly to Hobart Town and compare it with those who came via Sydney. Why was the system changed? What impact did it have on the lives of the convict women?  

Would you like to give a 15-minute paper on any aspect of the experience of convict women in the early years? If you are interested, please contact Victoria Hadley at submissions@femaleconvicts.org.au by 30th November 2019.

Registrations for the seminar will open early January.  The venue will be the Hobart Town Hall.


Women in the Gaol project

In August this year the Carrickfergus and District Historical Society began a research project under the ‘women in the archives’ programme researching women and children who were incarcerated in Carrickfergus gaol from c1779 to the closure of the gaol in 1850 or who were sentenced to death or transported to Tasmania during the period in question.

‘Women in the Archives’ is a strand within the new cross border cultural programme ‘making the Future’ which will empower people to use museum collections and archives to explore the past and create a powerful vision for future change.  ‘Women in the Archives’ is a Peace IV initiative between the Public Records Office Northern Ireland, the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, the Nerve Centre and National Museum Northern Ireland designed to bring people together and provide unique access tro archived documents, objects ad records and develop research skills in community groups.


Carrickfergus is a town on the north shore of Belfast Lough about 10 miles from the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland.  It is much older than Belfast and up until the 19th century was the principle town in Co Antrim and as such the Assizes and county gaol was located there.  Belfast Lough was previously known as Carrickfergus Bay.  The town of Carrickfergus grew around a Norman Castle built around 1180 which is one of the best preserved Norman castle in Ireland.  The historical walled town originally occupied an area of around 97,000 square metres and segments of the town wall are still visible in various parts of the town and in various states of preservation.

Carrickfergus and District Historical Society

The aim of the Society aim is to promote knowledge and understanding of the past by means of education, recording and dissemination, especially of the history of the Carrickfergus area.  It seeks to develop an interest in their past and generates a curiosity of their history.  It holds regular monthly meetings / talks on topics of local historical interest.  Meetings programme is delivered in partnership with the Carrickfergus Museum which is part of the Mid and East. Carrickfergus & District Historical Society has a Facebook page - Heritage Carrickfergus


VDL Convict Women featured in Publications

Ros Escott has recently updated our list of Van Diemen's Land convict women who have been featured in a selection of books including all Convict Women's Press books.  There are about 730 individual convicts covered, briefly or in a chapter, in 15 books, on the FCRC Convict Stories website page, and Convict Women's Press Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary website. The list is available as a pdf resource and will be updated periodically.


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)



Save The Dates:

2020 5th April The Early Years.



Whats new?

Recent Updates

  • Convict Womens Image Gallery - Isabella McCall per Martin Luther 1852, (Source: PROV); Catherine Adams per Sir Robert Seppings 1852 (Source: NLA), 12.11.2019.
  • Convict Stories -  Sarah Leggatt per Providence II 1824, and Elizabeth Wicks, Brothers, 1824 by Don Bradmore (28/10/2019)
  • Ships - Letter from the Secretary’s Office dated 16th May 1820 - with list of prisoners on Janus 1820 - who were transferred on Princess Charlotte 1820 to VDL, also mentioning the names &c of two male convicts, viz Thos Crougham and John Popjoy  who were also on the Princess Charlotte.  (Transcribed by Rhonda Arthur)   
  • Petitions - Mary Meaghar (or Maher) per Tasmania 1845 (Courtesy of Colleen Arulappu 16/10/2019)
  • Featured in Publications - An updated list of Female Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land, who are mentioned in a selection of publications, by Ros Escott (10/10/2019).
  • Ships - Baretto Junior 1850. (courtesy Colleen Arulappu 9/10/2019). The surgeon described ten cases  which showed his treatment and gave a glimpse of the difficulties of keeping up clean linen when his patients were very seriously ill. Included is a newspaper report of the terrible gale the ship went through on the voyage and the surgeon’s remarks about how frightened the women were and how many of them helped bale water despite being thrown about and bruised.
  • Convict Stories -   2 new additions written by Don Bradmore (6/10/2019): Sarah Bennett per America 1831 and Elizabeth Jones per Siren 1835.