On a cold winter night in July 1874 Martha McLaren’s red woollen shawl went missing. Martha believed Sarah Ladds stole it. The story was reported on 10 July 1874 in The Mercury. At the time Martha was a resident of Kangaroo Point (now named Bellerive), and had come into town on the previous Saturday ‘to receive some money due to her’. During the afternoon she had a drink at the New Market Hotel on Macquarie Street, Hobart. After going outside she met Sarah and went home to Sarah’s house in Watchorn Street, Hobart. It was here Martha discovered her shawl was missing and asked Sarah for its whereabouts, whereupon Sarah proceeded to hit Martha on the head with an unknown object and pushed her out onto the street. Sarah told the court she had taken the shawl to wash Martha’s head with it, but Martha denied this was true. Who then was telling the truth? Could Martha or Sarah be believed? After all Martha’s background would have been said by some as being rather dubious. Sarah’s story until, and after the shawl incident, is unknown.


Read more: Martha McLaren, Martha's Shawl

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