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Mary DEVEREUX (The Younger)

(Mary, 1831)

by Helen Ménard


When Mary Devereux (the younger) was sentenced to death with her mother Mary Devereux (the elder) - both later commuted to transportation for life - she was only 18 years old and had no recorded criminal history. One might have thought that having escaped the gallows at such a young age she might have opted for a quieter life. Not so! Mary took on the penal system in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) with all its rules and regulations with gusto. Over a twenty year period, after which she was finally granted a conditional pardon, she was charged with no less than forty three conduct offences resulting in almost eight years of incarceration.[1] Most offences involved serious abuse of alcohol, absenteeism and misconduct while in detention. She even featured in the official ‘Inquiry into Female Convict Prison Discipline’ for dancing naked and other obscene behaviour![2] Marriage failed to temper the darkness in her soul - in the first five years of her marriage to John Wagg she spent almost a year in and out of the Cascades Female Factory.[3] Nor did Mary ever manage to tame the ‘demon drink’. Eventually, she ended up in a de facto relationship with Edward King with whom she ‘frequently quarrelled’[4] and who was ultimately convicted of taking her life – she was only 45.

Read more on Mary Devereux (the younger) here (.pdf)

[1] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/3 p67 DI 73; CON32/1/4 p299 DI 149; CON32/1/2 p131 DI 67

[2] The Transcript of Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Female Convict Prison Discipline (1841-1843) is of the contents of file CSO/22/1/50 held at the Archives (TAHO) in the State Library of Tasmania, labelled Colonial Secretary, Franklin period. Report No. 5 March 24th, 1842 pages 274-76

[3] LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/3 p67 DI 73; CON32/1/4 p299 DI 149; CON32/1/2 p131 DI 67

[4] TROVE: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860-1954) Thu 31 Mar 1864, p2, ADJOURNED INQUEST ON THE BODY OF MARY DEVEREUX



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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

Whats new?

Latest Convict Stories

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Latest Blogs

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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)


GTDHS 13th Conference   

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