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Rubicon 1833 & Marian Watson 1838

By Helen Ménard



Emma came from a large, apparently respectable family almost all of whom were born and bred around Holborn, London, England. Apart from the fact that she sailed to Australia as a 32 year old, unmarried, free settler and stated her trade as a needlewoman, we know little else about her life in England. Did she go to boarding school in the countryside like her elder sisters? Was she ultimately estranged from her family? There was a litany of tragic family events that must have impacted on her life - the accidental death and injury at home of her two older sisters; the death of several siblings in infancy; the death of her father when she was only 14 years old; the violent suicide of her grandfather. Was she also caught up in the social difficulties of the industrial revolution in England? While many of the socially disadvantaged in Britain sought transportation to the colonies for a better life, maybe Emma was also seeking brighter horizons.


Emma’s grandfather – Edmund Cotterill

Emma’s paternal grandfather Edmund Cotterill was born sometime between 1741-1744[1] and records suggest he had at least two, possibly three, wives – Elizabeth Hulme, Mary (unknown) and Ann Messenger.[2] There is no record of his marriage to Mary or her death[3] but they had at least three children: Sophia (1772-1836); Edmund Holmes (1773-1815); and Charles George (1774-1847).[4] Edmund and his last wife Ann also had at least three children: William Henry (1790-); Mary Ann (1793-1883); and Caroline (1796-).[5] Yet, records further suggest that Edmund and Ann did not marry until 29 March 1808 – some twelve years after the birth of their last child.[6]

At some stage Edmund Snr, Edmund Jnr and Charles George Cotterill formed the partnership of Edmund Cotterill and Sons which was dissolved in August 1805 and continued on as Edmund and Edmund Cotterill.[7] Was there some disagreement between Charles and his father and brother?

When Edmund Snr died in August 1827 his life and sudden death were reported as follows:

Between 3 & 4 o’clock this morning Edmund Cottrell Esq. of Baynes’ row, Cold Bath square one of the oldest magistrates for the county of Middlesex and in the 87th year of his age put a period to his existence in the most dreadful and determined manner, having first discharged the contents of a blunderbuss into his body and afterwards cut his throat in a most shocking manner.

Soon after three o’clock, the family were alarmed by the loud report of firearms, and after some search the body of the unfortunate gentleman was found on the floor in the kitchen, weltering in his blood; and a gardener’s pruning knife was found sticking in his throat. Two medical gentlemen residing on the spot were immediately sent for; but notwithstanding their utmost exertions he died about two hours after the committal of the rash act.

It appeared that Mr Cottrell left his bed chamber about two o’clock; but it being a very common occurrence for him to get up in the night, the circumstance was not particularly noticed by his wife; nor had there been any reason, from his behaviour the preceding day, to suppose for a moment that such a deed of horror was in contemplation. The blunderbuss has been for some months past kept loaded in the kitchen in consequence of an attempt having been made to break into the premises in the course of last winter, and at this time contained two balls, both of which entered the lower part of the body of the unfortunate gentleman.

In the early part of his life, Mr Cottrell was an eminent provision merchant, and built the whole of that part of Gray’s inn lane known as Hog Island and many surrounding streets. For upwards of the last 30 years he has held a commission in the peace [Justice of the Peace] for the county of Middlesex.[8]

Surely such a brutal and destructive act in the family home must have devastated those who were present.

In his will, executed on 6 July 1827, and only a few weeks before his death, Edmund Snr appointed his wife Ann, his son William Henry and son in law John du Croz (Mary Ann’s husband) as executors and bequeathed them each £20 for fulfilling this function.[9] In essence, his estate was divided on the following terms: £100 per annum to his daughter Sophia (Mongay) for life; £30 to his niece Harriet; £20 to his daughter in law Elizabeth (son Charles’ wife); all income from his estates, furniture, plate, linen etc. to his wife Ann for life; and the residue of the estate to be divided equally between his son William Henry and daughters Mary Ann Du Cross [sic] and Caroline Wheeler.[10]

Emma’s father – Edmund Holmes Cotterill

Emma’s father was the eldest born son of Edmund Snr and Mary Cotterill and, as a minor, he married Sarah Ann Pain (also a minor) at Clerkenwell, Middlesex on 27 November 1792 with the consent of both parents.[11] Over the next twenty years they had seventeen children only eleven of whom had survived by the time Edmund made his will in 1811: William (1793-); Edmund Mingay (1794-1860); Sophia Wynt (1795-1860); Mary (1797-1849); Sarah Ann (1798-1804); Ellen (1799-); Emma (1801-1863); Henry Wynt (1802-); Thomas (1803-1878); Harriet (1806-1864); Georgiana (1807-?1811); Cecilia (1808-1839); Caroline (1810-); Henrietta Holmes (1811-1814); Matilda (1812-); Rosa (1813-); and Cordelia (1815-1815).[12]

Apparently, Edmund Jnr was a ham shop keeper or bacon merchant and by 1807 had turned his hand to spectacle making as he was ‘admitted into the freedom of this city [London] by redemption in the company of spectacle makers’ for a fee of ‘forty six shillings and eight pence.’[13] The Freedom of the City of London started around 1237 as the status of a 'free man' or 'citizen', protected by the charter of the City of London and not under the jurisdiction of a feudal lord. In the Middle Ages, this developed into a freedom or right to trade, becoming closely linked to the medieval guilds, the livery companies.[14] In 1835 eligibility for the freedom of the City was extended to anyone who lived in, worked in or had a strong connection to the City. The freedom that citizens enjoyed had long associations with privileges in the governance of the City.

The original three routes to the freedom, via the livery companies, still exist. An individual can become a freeman of a livery company by servitude (apprenticeship), patrimony (either parent being a member of that livery company), or redemption (general admission, the criteria varying by livery company). Once a freeman of a livery company, an application can be made to the Chamberlain's Court for admission as a freeman of the City, which requires approval from Common Council. It is necessary to become a freeman of the City to advance to the livery company status of 'liveryman', or to hold an office in a livery company. Liverymen have electoral rights in the City of London in voting for certain offices.

There is a long-standing tradition of the City admitting women to the freedom. Although they are now usually called freemen as well, historically the term was free sisters. Freemen are admitted by the Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court during a ceremony at Guildhall.[15]

Two years later in 1809, Edmund Jnr took on his son Edmund Mingay under a seven year apprentice ship as a spectacle maker.[16] He was declared bankrupt as a bacon merchant in 1810.[17] Yet, Edmund Mingay Cotterill and his uncle, Charles George Cotterill, were listed as bacon merchants in 1819. [18]

Edmund Jnr’s will, executed in February 1811, appointed his brother-in-law David Pain and Mathew Aston Jnr as executors and trustees and his wife Sarah Ann as co-executor.[19] At this time he had eight living daughters (including Emma) and three sons. He bequeathed £500 to each of his daughters and £300 to each of his sons to be held on trust until they reached 21. He also provided for a £1500 annuity to be purchased and paid to his wife Sarah Ann quarterly throughout her life and ‘free from any control or intermeddling of any husband she may hereafter take’![20] Unfortunately, the will only included those children ‘now living’ at the time of its execution so it would appear that Rosa – the only one of the three children born after 1811 who survived infancy – missed out completely!

Interestingly, when Edmund Jnr died in 1815 his father (Edmund Snr) applied for letters of administration to administer the estate (with the will annexed) meaning that the appointed executors and trustees were obliged to renounce their roles under the will.[21] Did they do this willingly or were they coerced by Edmund Snr and his connections with the law?

Emma’s siblings

With so many siblings there is undoubtedly an abundance of information available in relation to Emma’s family but there is no space here to detail each of their lives.[22] Suffice it to say that the only sibling who appears to have made his way to Australia was her younger brother Thomas who commanded a whaling ship the Governor Bourke out of Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) in the 1830’s along with his brothers in law Richard and George Banks.[23] Thomas married Sophia Banks at Sydney in February 1836 and over the next ten years they had four sons.[24] Sophia arrived in Sydney in January 1831 aboard the Mary Jean owned by her brother Richard.[25] It appears that Thomas may have been captaining the Derwent steamer in 1855 in VDL[26] but returned to NSW where he died in 1878 at Bibbenluke, only a few weeks after his wife.[27]

Sadly, Emma’s older sister Sarah Ann died in 1804 from severe injuries received when her dress caught fire. She was only 6 years old. The tragedy was reported as follows:

The eldest of the two daughters of Mr Cotterill of North place, Grays inn lane, a fine girl about six years of age, who had just come from a boarding school in the country for the holidays and who with her youngest sister [presumably Ellen] was so terribly burnt by their muslin dress catching fire on Sunday evening, died on Monday evening at six o clock.[28]

The fact that two 5 and 6 year old sisters were attending boarding school in the country tends to indicate that the family was reasonably secure financially.


Records show that Emma arrived in NSW in 1833 aboard the Rubicon,[29] most probably as a free settler given the Rubicon was not a convict ship.[30] For a woman who came from a reputable family, who had been left a considerable inheritance by her father and presumably paid for her passage to NSW as a free woman, what went awry in her life?

On 7 October 1837 Emma appeared before the Sydney Court of Quarter Sessions charged with stealing a bundle of wearing apparel.[31] She was convicted and sentenced to 7 years’ transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) arriving aboard the Marian Watson in 1838.[32] Single and 37 years old, she received a ticket of leave in January 1842. She had an almost perfect conduct record while under sentence except in March 1842 when she was charged with misconduct and sentenced to 14 days’ hard labour and the suspension of her ticket of leave.[33] There is no record of when she received her certificate of freedom but her sentence would have expired in 1844. Given her family background this whole experience must have been devastating for her. Or was this Emma’s way of protesting against the constraints of conservatism and respectability?

Emma and George and Mary Ann

Evidence given by 14 year old Mary Ann Milne at the inquest into Emma’s death (Emma Fuller alias Cotton) in 1863 stated that ‘she [Mary Ann] resided with George Fuller and deceased since she was three years old’.[34] This would suggest that Emma and George had been cohabiting since at least 1852 – possibly earlier. The Hobart census completed by George Fuller in January 1848 listed ‘one married male aged 21-45, Church of England and other free person’ and ‘one married female aged 45-60 also Church of England and other free person’ living at the premises.[35] ‘Other free persons’ excluded those who arrived free or were born in the colony – namely convicts who had served their sentence and received a certificate of freedom. This could well have been Emma as she would have been 47 at the time and, while there is no record of her marriage to George, there were later references to ‘her husband’[36] and her being ‘a wife’.[37]

It is most likely that George Fuller was the farmer from Bedfordshire who was tried before the Bedford Quarter sessions on 28 June 1836 for stealing fowls and oats. With a previous conviction for poaching for which he served 3 months’ imprisonment, he was convicted and sentenced to 7 years’ transportation.[38] Married and 26, he arrived in VDL aboard the Elphingstone in October 1837 and had a completely clean conduct record while under sentence.[39] He received a ticket of leave in 1841 and a certificate of freedom in 1852.[40] It appears George made several trips across the Tasman to Victoria – in February 1852 on the Union returning on the Flying Fish in October 1852; returning to Melbourne as  gold seeker the same month in October 1852; and again from Launceston to Melbourne in January 1853 on the Yarra Yarra.[41]

In May 1859 Emma (Fuller) along with several other accused were fined 5 shillings for disturbing the peace. The case was reported as follows:

A HARD CASE. Emma Fuller, an elderly female, respectably attired, surrendered in discharge of her bail to answer the charge of constable Friend, for disturbing the peace on Saturday night in Liverpool street. She pleaded not guilty, but Friend swore that she was shouting, kicking up a row, and causing a great crowd. She was not using profane or obscene language. She said her husband was very tipsy, and fancied to get some meat from the butcher's [sic], and when in, he showed no disposition to come out. One of the men gave her a push, and she fell.

A crowd collected, but she (defendant) did not cause it—it was the man who pushed her down, it was in consequence of that she cried, and cried bitterly—and for that the constable apprehended her.

The Mayor, after consulting with Alderman Butler, said "We must fine you five shillings".[42]

George had a somewhat closer relationship with the law and, it would seem, spiritous liquor! He was fined 5 shillings in February 1857 for disturbing the peace;[43] 10 shillings in October 1858 for being drunk;[44] 5 shillings in April 1861 for disturbing the peace – ‘hallooing out and cursing and swearing’;[45] 10 shillings in August 1862 for being drunk;[46] and a further 10 shillings in November 1862 for disturbing the peace, assaulting a constable and damaging his uniform coat for which he was also ordered to pay 5 shillings for damage to the coat.[47]  After Emma’s death in 1863 things seem to quieten down. Was this when he moved to Glenorchy? Many years later in September 1885 as a labourer and ‘an old offender’ he was once more charged with disturbing the peace in the township of Glenorchy and fined 10 shillings with costs of 8 shillings and 6 pence costs or in default 7 day’s imprisonment. He paid the money on 16 October 1885.[48]

George survived Emma by thirty years. A farm labourer born in England, George Fuller died at Glenorchy (10km from Hobart) on 4 April 1892 aged 86 from marasmus (malnutrition).[49]

Regrettably, there is no trace anywhere of Mary Ann Milne.[50] It seems reasonable to assume that she was taken in by Emma and George as a 3 year old orphan and they cared for her at least until Emma’s death.

The death of a fortune teller

Emma Fuller (alias Cotton) ‘better known as old Emma the fortune teller’[51] died suddenly at her home in Princes Street, Hobart Town on 5 February 1863.[52] Aged 60 and the wife of a labourer,[53] despite having a history of opium drinking this was not found to be the cause of her death.[54] The evidence before Coroner A.B. Jones and his findings were as follows:

Mary Ann Milne, aged 14 years, deposed that she resided with George Fuller and deceased since she was three years old; they resided in Princes-street; deceased was very well the day before she died, and on the next morning (Thursday) she got up and witness made some breakfast for deceased about 11 o'clock; she got up to take it, and after having it went back towards the bedroom door where she fell down;

witness left her lying on the floor and went next door for Mrs Riley to come in and she did come at once, and afterwards called for her husband at the door; they helped her on to a chair, and she asked to be removed to the bedroom and laid on her bed, whence she was removed; witness went for  a glass of port wine; she returned with the wine and saw deceased drop off her bed on to the floor;

Mr and Mrs Riley were there at holding her but they had not power to hold her up; and got her back on the bed when the last breath left her body … deceased had been ill for three weeks with the “windy dropsy”; she never had any medical attendance; she only took opium for her complaint, which she had taken as long as witness could remember; she used to take nine pills, each of about the size of a pea, at one time; she had taken more than usual the night before, viz. ten …

Fuller was away at work when she died; deceased seemed to be better than usual the night before; the man Fuller gave deceased half a pint of wine the night before …

Dr. Smart deposed that he had made a post mortem examination; the body was moderately healthy; from the general appearances he should judge, after a careful examination, that emphysema of the lungs was the immediate cause of death, and deceased would die from slow suffocation; in asthmatic subjects, which, from the evidence given, deceased was, she would be liable to emphysema; sometimes it arises from disease of the lungs, and sometimes from injuries received, in this instance, it arose from the former cause; opium would not accelerate it…

death ‘by the visitation of God in a natural way to wit of emphysema of the lungs and not by any violent means whatever’.[55]

Fortunes favoured and lost

As 21 year old in 1822, Emma was entitled to a substantial inheritance of £500 from her father’s estate. Did she receive it? Was this the reason she decided to travel to Australia - possibly to join her brother Thomas in NSW? Did she ever have any contact with Thomas or his family? Nonetheless, within a few short years, something went amiss and she found herself a convicted felon and headed for the southern colony of VDL. In the twenty five years that followed she kept a fairly low profile but had the companionship of George and Mary Ann for many years. Did she take young Mary Ann in to make up for the children she didn’t have? Seemingly, Emma made her living by telling the fortunes of others. She had her share of health problems and her one appearance before the court described her as ‘respectably attired’ with the court exhibiting some reluctance to sentence her.[56] Did Emma contemplate returning to England to her family? If Emma ever gazed into her own crystal ball, we wonder what she must have seen.


NOTE: Many thanks to all FCRC researchers who helped put Emma’s story together especially Eileen Ball and her friend Doreen Derbyshire, without whose time and tenacity this story could not have been told.


[1] While his age was given as 86 when he died in 1827 (born c. 1741) his parents Stephen Cotterill and Phillipa Cooke were married on 23 Dec 1742 and he was baptised on 22 Feb 1744. Familysearch.org

[2] There is some suggestion that as a widower Edmund married Elizabeth Hulme (widow) on 2 April 1767 at Holborn, Parish of St Andrew. (ancestry.co.uk.) This suggests that as Edmund was a widower it must have been after the death of Mary but if the date of marriage to Elizabeth is correct (1767) it was before Mary’s children were born (the first being in 1772). Some records indicate Elizabeth was born around 1745 and died in 1772. (Familysearch.org.) Again, if this is correct it makes more sense that the status of ‘widower’ in relation to Edmund is incorrect and that, in fact, his first marriage was to Elizabeth who died around 1772 and he then quickly remarried Mary before their first child (Sophia) was born the same year.

[3] Familysearch.org; findmypast.co.uk; ancestry.co.uk

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid; Mary Ann married John Du Croz in 1813 and Caroline married John Wheeler, a merchant, in 1814. Some family trees suggest there was also an elder son William who may have died in 1795 but there are no confirming records.

[6] Ibid; at Holborn, Middlesex

[7] Ancestry.co.uk

[8] The Standard 29 August 1827; ancestry.co.uk; see also Public Ledger & Daily Advertiser, 04 December 1817, MIDDLESEX

[9] Last will and testament of Edmund Cotterill; ancestry.co.uk

[10] Ibid; Interestingly the only children who did not benefit under Edmund Snr’s will were his sons Charles George and Edmund Jnr (or his family). While Edmund Jnr predeceased him Charles did not. Maybe he and Charles were estranged after the dissolution of their business partnership some years before. The children from Edmunds Snr’s later wife Ann benefited to a much greater extent than those from his previous wife Mary.

[11] Ancestry.co.uk; familysearch.org

[12] Ancestry.co.uk; familysearch.org

[13] Freedom of the City, 27 October 1897, Edmund Cotterill, Son of Edmund of Cold Bath Square, Gentleman; ancestry.co.uk

[14] The term livery originated in the specific form of dress worn by retainers of a nobleman and then by extension to special dress to denote status of belonging to a trade. Livery companies evolved from London's medieval guilds, becoming corporations under Royal Charter responsible for training in their respective trades, as well as for the regulation of aspects such as wage control, labour conditions and industry standards.  These livery companies play a significant part in the life of the City of London (i.e. the financial district and historic heart of the capital), not least by providing charitable-giving and networking opportunities. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livery_company

[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_the_City_of_London

[16] Indenture for apprenticeship between Edmund Mingay Cotterill and Edmund Cotterill his father, signed 19 January 1809; ancestry.co.uk

[17] Oxford Journal 30 June 1810; ancestry.co.uk 

[18] Buckingham Chronicle 18 November 1819, Dividends; ancestry.co.uk

[19] The will of Edmund Cotterill - https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/77729187/person/292369590096/gallery?galleryPage=1

[20] Ibid

[21] Ibid

[22] For further information see family trees at ancestry.co.uk; familysearch.org

[23] TROVE: The Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser (NSW.: 1803-1842) Tue 13 Dec 1836 p2, Shipping Intelligence; “THREE SYDNEY WHALING CAPTAINS OF THE 1830’s”; https://www.jstor.org/stable/44955795

[24]NSW/BDM Marriage 2819/1836 V18362819; https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/3276172/person/-1754241160/facts.  For further details see the family tree at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cotterill-98

[25] https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/3276172/person/-1754241160/facts 

[26] TROVE: Empire (Sydney, NSW.: 1850-1875) Thu 21 June 1855 p3 VDL

[27] NSW/BDM Death; TROVE: The Manaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser (NSW), Wednesday 8 May 1878; Sophia Cotterill died aged 69 in 1878 at Bombala; NSW/BDM Death 4669/1878

[28] Kentish Gazette 28 December 1804

[29] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/2 p168 DI 166; CON16/1/1 p66 DI 70

[30] Convictrecords.com.au

[31] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/2 p168 DI 166; CON16/1/1 p66 DI 70; There are no available court records for NSW that would detail the circumstances of her offence, who brought the charges and whether or not she pleaded guilty. Austlii.edu.au; familysearch.org; TROVE

[32] https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/primo-explore/search?query=any,contains,emma%20cotton&tab=default_tab&search_scope=Everything&vid=61SRA; LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/2 p168 DI 166; CON16/1/1 p66 DI 70

[33] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/2 p168 DI 166

[34] TROVE: The Advertiser (Hobart, Tas. : 1861 - 1865) Sat 7 Feb 1863, Page 2, Inquest

[35] LIB TAS: Names Index: CEN1/1/91 DI 1-2

[36] TROVE: The Hobart Town Advertiser (Tas.: 1839 - 1861) Tue 31 May 1859, Page 3, POLICE COURT

[37] LIB TAS: Names Index: RDG35/1/6 N3798 DI 265

[38] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON31/1/14 p159 DI 163; CON18/1/7 p323

[39] Ibid

[40] Ibid

[41] LIB TAS: Names Index: CUS36/1/527; MB239/1/15 p235; CUS36/1/217; POL220/1/3 p21

[42] TROVE: The Hobart Town Advertiser (Tas.: 1839 - 1861) Tue 31 May 1859, Page 3, POLICE COURT; She didn’t call any witnesses in her defence and was also fined 1 shilling costs. See familysearch.org; Tasmania, miscellaneous records 1829-2001, court records, Hobart Lower Courts 1858-1859 LC247/1/29 DI 918

[43] TROVE: The Hobart Town Mercury (Tas.: 1857) Wed 18 Feb 1857, Page 3, Police Intelligence

[44]TROVE: The Hobart Town Advertiser (Tas.: 1839 - 1861) Tue 26 Oct 1858, Page 2, Police Court Monday

[45]TROVE: The Hobart Town Advertiser (Tas.: 1859 - 1865) Sat 27 Apr 1861, Page 2, Police Court Saturday

[46] TROVE:  Advertiser (Hobart, Tas.: 1861 - 1865) Tue 5 Aug 1862, Page 3, Police Office

[47] TROVE: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 - 1954) Tue 18 Nov 1862, Page 4, Law Police Court

[48] TROVE: Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas.: 1883-1911) Fri 25 Sep 1885, p2, Glenorchy Police Court; see also familysearch.org; Tasmania, miscellaneous records 1829-2001, court records, Glenorchy Lower Courts 1864-1900 LC176/1/1 DI 448

[49] LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD35/1/13 N1133 DI 142

[50] LIB TAS; Queen’s Orphan School

[51] TROVE: The Advertiser (Hobart, Tas.: 1861 - 1865) Sat 7 Feb 1863, Page 2, Inquest

[52] TROVE: The Advertiser (Hobart, Tas.: 1861 - 1865) Sat 21 Feb 1863, Page 3, General News

[53] LIB TAS: Names Index: RDG35/1/6 N3798 DI 265

[54] TROVE: The Advertiser (Hobart, Tas.: 1861 - 1865) Sat 7 Feb 1863, Page 2, Inquest

[55] LIB TAS: Names Index: SC195/1/47 (Inquest 5471)

[56] TROVE: The Hobart Town Advertiser (Tas.: 1839 - 1861) Tue 31 May 1859, Page 3, POLICE COURT

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FCRC Seminar: Sunday 5 May 2024:  Call for papers

Topic: Freedom: Time served, moving on

This seminar will focus on the pathways to freedom for convict women and will explore the lives they led once emancipated.

Possible topics may include:

  • Pathways to freedom.
  • Emancipation – prosperity or poverty? How the emancipated women lived out the rest of their lives. Individual stories.
  • Exploring subsets – return to their home country, moving to another colony or country; marriage; non-marriage; business women; relying on the State to survive.

If you would like to present a 20-minute paper at the seminar, please forward an abstract for consideration to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 20 October 2023. The abstract should outline your intended topic, the points you will highlight and the sources you will be using to inform your paper.


Call for submissions for the next Convict Women's Press book: Convict Motherhood

Cut-off date for submissions extended to 14 October.

You are invited to submit a chapter for the next CWP book, provisionally titled Convict Motherhood. It will cover all aspects of this fascinating topic:

  • women with children in Britain prior to conviction
  • those who brought children with them
  • childbirth on board ship
  • the loss of children and mothers
  • children born under sentence at convict institutions
  • children born elsewhere
  • children born once women free again

How did women cope with the stresses of the convict system? How did they experience childbirth and child rearing? How many did/could not have children? How did these experiences affect children?

We are looking for papers under 2000 words, about individual convict women, groups of women or more abstract discussions of the topic.

If you are interested, please submit a 100-word abstract by 14 October to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



The 13th BIENNIAL CONFERENCE of the George Town & District Historical Society Inc.


This conference will be held in the Performing Arts Centre at the Port Dalrymple School with registrations from 8.45 am ready for a 9.15 am start and finishing around 4 pm. Registration required.

Website: www.gtdhs.com


The Marita Bardenhagen Memorial Award

The Marita Bardenhagen Memorial Award for Local History is a biennial prize acknowledging outstanding original research in the field of local history with significant Tasmanian content.  Applications are now open for the 2023 Award and will close on 30 September.

To obtain an entry form, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 0409 140 657.

Recent Updates

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Latest Convict Stories

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Other Updates:

Voyages: The Voyage of the Tasmania 1844, including a map of the voyage, by Dee Hoole (14/09/2023)

Convict Ships  Martin Luther 1852, Surgeon's Journal, transcription courtesy of Colleen Arulappu (10/07/2023)

Books, Theses & Reports - Convict Orphans by Lucy Frost. (14/06/2023)

Books, Theses & Reports - Convict Lives:  Young girls transported to Van Diemen's Land edited by Alison Alexander (4/05/2023)

Freedoms - The Path to Freedom. Page updated and edited by Helen Menard 1/05/2023, to include  'Freedom v emancipation'.

Featured in Publications - A list of VDL convict women featured in publications (compiled and updated by Ros Escott April 2023).

Pre-Transportation: The British Justice System in the 18th & 19th Centuries -  A new page for the website, contributed by Helen Menard 18/03/2023.

Terms of Access - Additional Policy for accessing and using our website (6/02/2023)


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