Margaret Bradley arrived in Van Diemens Land (VDL) aboard Sea Queen in August 1846, one of 13,500 (approx.) female convicts who were transported to the colony between 1812 and 1853.[1] While some of these women served out their time without great discomfort and eventually became good and useful citizens, others found their term of servitude humiliating and difficult in the extreme. Margaret was in the latter group, some of whom tried to escape from their island prison. Few were successful. In 1852, after having served only six years of her ten-year sentence, Margaret absconded from her assigned service and was missing for three months. She managed to get to Melbourne but soon after arriving there was apprehended and returned to VDL, where she served out the remainder of her time. But what happened to her after that is a mystery! She seems to have simply vanished from all records. Did she leave the colony? If so, where could she have gone? Still only twenty-six years of age, and probably alone, would she have tried again to make a new life for herself in Victoria? Or one of the other Australian colonies? Or New Zealand, perhaps? Would she have dared to return to her native England where the penalty for doing so was death?[2] Her story is a most interesting one but, frustratingly, it has no satisfying ending.

This is her story:


[1] CON41/1/10, image 13; Description List: CON19/1/5, image 172; Indent: CON15, image 312; Police No: 803; FCRC 1D: 10904.

[2]  See ‘Tickets of Leave, Certificates of Freedom, Pardons’ at                                      


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For academic referencing (suggestion only) Database: [http address], FCRC Female Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land database, entry for xxxx ID no xxx, accessed online [date].

For academic referencing (suggestion only) Website:  Female Convicts Research Centre Inc., accessed online [date] from [http address].




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