(Lloyds, 3, 1845)


Don Bradmore

Agnes Lander arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) as a convict on the vessel Lloyds in November 1845.[1] She was nineteen years old. Six months earlier, she had been found guilty of the theft of clothing in her native Glasgow, Scotland, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. Blighted by continuing epileptic fits during her early years in the colony, she was admitted to the New Norfolk Asylum on a number of occasions. There, she was described as ‘violent and noisy’, ‘a very-ill-disposed woman’ and ‘a moral maniac of the worst kind’. On one occasion, she attempted to take her own life by slashing her throat with a pair of scissors. Eventually, however, she overcame her illness and, when finally discharged ‘in good bodily health’ in 1853, she was never re-admitted. In 1849, during a period away from the Asylum, she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Jane, but, soon afterwards, was in trouble with the law again and confined at the Female Factory at Ross. While there, she gave birth to a second illegitimate child but when that child perished in a fire at the prison, she and six other women imprisoned at Ross were charged with infanticide. As it happens, however, neither Agnes nor any of the other women ever faced trial, perhaps because the child’s body, totally consumed by the flames, could not be examined. Not long after her release from Ross, she married former convict Charles Thomas Lewis (Lady East, 1825) and, over the next several years, had three more children - Mary Ann (born 1854), Ellen (born 1856, died 1859) and Charles Thomas (born 1859). But the tumult in Agnes’s life continued. She often broke the law and was punished for her offences by way of goal or fines. Her two older girls – Jane and Mary Ann – were unruly from a young age. As they grew up, Agnes sometimes aided and abetted them in their crimes. Destitute, neglected and sometimes physically abused by family members, Agnes passed away at Hobart, at the age of eighty-six, in January 1912.

This is her story.

Agnes was born at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1826, the daughter of William Lander (possibly Lauther/Louther/Lauder or similar variant).[2] Her convict documents make no mention of her mother. She had two brothers, William and Thomas, and two sisters, Jane and Anne.[3]

On 9 May 1845, she was convicted of stealing wearing apparel and sentenced to transportation for seven years. The court had heard that it was not her first offence. She had been gaoled for sixty days on at least three previous occasions for similar thefts.[4]

After the trial, she was held at Millbank Prison, London, for a short while before being put aboard the vessel Lloyds which, with David Lewis as master and Charles K. Nutt as surgeon-superintendent, 170 female prisoners and a few of their children, sailed from Woolwich on 26 July 1845 and reached Hobart on 7 November that year.[5]

According to the report of the surgeon-superintendent, the voyage was a relatively comfortable one. The ship was kept clean, dry and warm. Lime juice and wine were used to control scurvy. Nevertheless, forty-five of the women had had to be treated at sea for a range of illnesses, eight of whom needed hospitalization upon arrival at Hobart. Agnes had sought treatment from the surgeon twice – once on 5 Sept 1845 when she was confined to bed for five days with phlogosis – painful inflammation of external parts of the body – and again on 29 October for diarrhoea which was soon cured. There had been only one death at sea, an eleven-month-old baby of one of the prisoners.[6]

However, Agnes’s conduct at sea had caused the surgeon more trouble than her ailments. In his report, he wrote that she was ‘a very bad thief’ who had broken open a carpet bag and had been punished for disorderly conduct at sea six times.[7]

At Hobart, she was described in these terms: age, 19; single; five feet three and a half inches (about 161 cms) tall; fair complexion; brown hair; grey eyes; and sharp nose. She could neither read nor write. Her religion was entered on her record as Protestant’ and her convict trade as ‘housemaid’. It was noted that she had been ‘on the town’ – usually a euphemism for ‘a prostitute’ - for five years.[8]

After disembarkation, it is probable that Agnes, with the other women of Lloyds, was sent to the Anson, the hulk of a former British warship that had been moored in the Derwent in 1844 to serve as a probation station in an attempt to alleviate overcrowding at the Cascades Female Factory.[9] Like all other female prisoners, Agnes was required to serve a six-month period of probation before being eligible to be assigned as a servant to free settlers. However, she may not have been at the Anson for very long. Although her documents are unclear about her first year or so in the colony, it appears that it was soon discovered that she was seriously unwell.  At least by August 1846, and possibly earlier, she had been admitted to the New Norfolk Asylum.[10]

The patient records of the Asylum, in Agnes’s case at least, are vague and the dates given are uncertain, but it appears that during her first confinement there she was frequently violent. It is reported that, on 18 January 1847, she broke twenty panes of glass. Nevertheless, within weeks, she was said to be ‘much better’ and that her sickness had ‘ceased’, On 25 March 1847, she was discharged after being declared to be ‘of sound mind’.[11]

It was to be a re-occurring pattern of admittance and discharge. Just six weeks later, on 10 May 1847, she was re-admitted but for how long she was kept there is unclear. It was possibly only for a short time. Four years later, on 5 April 1851, she was re-admitted, this time ‘certified insane’ and designated ‘a moral maniac of the worst kind’. It was during this particular period of confinement that she attempted suicide by trying to cut her own throat with scissors. It was noted in the Asylum record that she had been ‘subject to epileptic fits for a long time, [the] last one bringing insanity where she becomes dangerous to herself and others’. Continuing, the report termed her ‘a ‘robust, rather good-looking girl [with] light coloured hair and blue eyes’ but added that her ‘countenance indicates temper and [the] violence of her passions.’[12]

On 4 October 1852, she was admitted for what is believed to be the final time. Reports during this time indicate that she had ‘lapsed into her previous state of insanity’, that she was ‘incoherent’, ‘very violent and noisy’ and ‘a most desperate woman’ who ‘suffers much from headaches’. Nevertheless, by 31 October 1853, she was recovering slowly. Her ‘general conduct [was] good’ and she had ‘improved much in health and appearance.’ On 15 December 1853, she was discharged ‘’in good bodily health’ and ‘sound mind’. She was never re-admitted and, throughout her long life, appears not to have suffered from such fits again.[13]

The three or four years in which Agnes was not at the Asylum – between 1847 and 1851 - were, if possible, even more awful ones for her. For a brief period in 1848, she was assigned to the service of the Freeman family in Hobart but was charged twice with being absent from her master’s residence without leave. On the first occasion she received a reprimand but, on the second, when she exacerbated her offence by using indecent language in the police office, she was sentenced to six months goal at the Cascades Female Factory. A few months after her release, she left her place of service without leave again and was sentenced to another three months at the Cascades.[14]

While at the Cascades, she discovered that she was pregnant and, on 5 November 1849, gave birth to an illegitimate daughter whom she named Jane. While the father’s name was not recorded, the fact that the child was registered as ‘Jane Burns’ might possibly provide a clue to his identity.[15]

Two or three months after the birth, the authorities decided that Agnes was an unfit person to be assigned within the Hobart district and ordered that she be sent to the district of Ross in the centre of the island. There, however, her disorderliness continued and, after being found guilty of an assault, her original sentence of seven years’ transportation was extended by eighteen months. In addition, she was ordered to spend a twelve-month period of incarceration at the Ross Female Factory.[16]   

It was while imprisoned at Ross that the event which was, perhaps, the most dreadful of all the terrible events in Agnes’s life occurred. On 5 November 1850, now about twenty-four years old, she gave birth to another child. She was attended in the birth by a small group of fellow inmates. Afterwards, the doctor responsible for the health of the prisoners at the Factory stated that he was totally unaware that she had given birth. Ten days later, however, the child was burnt to death in a fire within the prison walls. None of the inmates were injured in any way. Immediately, suspicion of infanticide fell upon Agnes and the women who had helped deliver the child – Fanny Wilson (Earl Grey, 1849), Alice Watson (Lloyds, 1845); Mary Ann Miller (Kinnear, 1848); Hepzibah Bastow (Cadet, 1848) and Mary Ann Murray (Sea Queen, 1846). All were committed to His Majesty’s Gaol at Oatlands to be tried at a later date for the murder of the child.[17]

On 16 November, The Courier (Hobart) reported the tragic circumstances in this way:

The authorities have been some days engaged at Ross investigating a case of infanticide. Last week a female at the factory gave birth to a child, and was attended by her companions; the medical man on the establishment being entirely ignorant of what had occurred. The child, it is supposed, was destroyed by fire, and not a particle left unconsumed. Circumstances aroused the suspicion of the medical man, and upon examination he found the woman had been delivered of a child. Her companions had taken every precaution to avoid detection. There are no less than six females concerned; some have been already examined, and all the facts of the case will probably be brought to light. The government officers are using every means possible to bring the perpetrators to justice.[18]

Within a short time, however, the plan to bring the women to trial was abandoned, possibly because the fact that ‘not a particle [of the child was] left unconsumed’ by the fire made it impossible to determine the exact cause of death. Rather, all six women were taken from the gaol at Oatlands to the Cascades Female Factory at Hobart to serve further terms of probation designed to befit them to be assigned into service.

Alice Watson, who had been ordered to undergo a further twelve months of probation, during the first six of which she was to be kept in separate confinement, did not live out the term. She died at the Cascades within six months of her arrival there. The cause of her death was ‘syphilis’. She was twenty-seven years old. Fanny Wilson, who was ordered to serve a further twelve months’ probation, the first six in separate confinement, also died at the Cascades within a year. The cause of her death, on 5 October 1851, was ‘phthisis’ (tuberculosis). She was twenty-five years old. Mary Ann Miller (a further eighteen months’ probation, the first twelve in separate confinement) was dead within seven years. On 27 January 1857, she passed away, at the age of thirty-seven, at the General Hospital, Hobart. Her death had been due to an ulcer. Hepzibah Bastow, who was sometimes known as ‘Elizabeth Bastow’ and ‘Elizabeth Baston’ (a further probation of twelve months, the first six in separate confinement) had been the youngest of the women accused of infanticide. In 1854, two or three years after her release from the Cascades, she married a man by the name of John Collins at Hobart. She had had two children already when she married but gave birth to eight more by Collins. What became of her in later years is unknown. Mary Ann Murray (a further twelve months’ probation, the first six in separate confinement) married Anthony Coulthard (or Coutthard) at Hobart in 1853. No children of the marriage have been identified. She seems to have lived quietly until her death in 1917. She was ninety-five.[19]

Agnes, who had been ordered to undergo a further eighteen months’ probation (the first six in separate treatment), was another who did not complete the term. On 5 April 1851, just four months after the death of the child, she was re-admitted to the New Norfolk Asylum. It was to be her most difficult stay in that institution – but it was not to be her last. As noted above, she would be re-admitted in 1852 and 1853. It was to be 16 December 1853 before she was declared to be ‘in good bodily health again’ and able to put her Asylum days behind her.[20]

Perhaps her final days in the Asylum had been made brighter by the news that, on 5 November 1853, she had been deemed to be ‘free by servitude’. That is, she had served her time as a convict and was now able to get on with the rest of her life as a free citizen of the colony. On 16 March 1854, she collected her Certificate of Freedom in person.[21]

Agnes, now about twenty-eight and a free woman once more, wasted no time in trying to forget her Asylum years. On 17 March 1854, only four months after her final discharge, she married former convict Charles Thomas Lewis (Lady East, 1825.) The ceremony was conducted by the Reverend John Allen Manton at the Wesleyan Chapel, Melville Street, Hobart. The marriage register shows Charles as a ‘widower’, and his occupation as ‘dealer’. Agnes was described simply as a ’servant’. Her surname was shown as ‘Louther’.[22]

Charles Lewis had been in the colony for twenty-seven years. In 1822, at the age of fourteen, he had been convicted at the Old Bailey, London, of ‘stealing from the person’ and sentenced to transportation for seven years.[23] Before being embarked on Lady East for the voyage to VDL, he had spent a short time at Newgate prison before being transferred to the hulk Bellerophon, moored at Sheerness, London, where he spent two years.[24] He had been seventeen years old upon arrival in at Hobart. As a prisoner in VDL, his conduct, apart from a couple of minor offences which involved drunkenness, had been good.[25] By 1829, he had received his certificate of freedom.[26] In 1845, then thirty-nine, and described as a ‘bachelor’ and ‘shop-keeper’, he had married Sarah Jones, a forty-five-year-old Hobart dressmaker. However, in 1849, Sarah, who had a history of mental disturbances, had thrown herself into the Derwent and drowned.[27]

Despite the twenty-year difference in their ages, the marriage of ‘spinster’ Agnes and ‘widower’ Charles appears to have been a good one. For the next twelve years, Agnes was able to live quietly and avoid trouble with the law.[28] It is likely that she was kept very busy during those years. In the first five years of the marriage, she gave birth to three children – daughters Mary Ann Lewis and Ellen Lewis, in 1854 and 1856 respectively, and a son, Charles Thomas, named after his father, in 1859. Sadly, however, little Ellen had died at the age of two, only a few months before the birth of baby Charles. And, of course, Agnes still had Jane Burns Lander (now known as Jane Burns Lewis) with her, the illegitimate daughter who had been born in 1849.[29]

Regrettably, the relatively trouble-free life that Agnes had been able to live since her marriage in 1854 came to an end when Charles, her husband, passed away on 10 November 1866.[30] Charles’s death certificate shows the cause as ‘convulsions’. His age is shown as seventy-one but that seems to be incorrect. He was probably only sixty-one. Agnes was then about forty-one.

Charles’s death marked the beginning of forty years of widowhood for Agnes, a long period in which she returned to her old ways of stealing and disorderliness. Had she been left without sufficient means of support? Was this the underlying cause of her problems with the law? That seems likely. These were not easy times for any woman in Tasmania (as it had now become), let alone an aging widow with three children to care for.[31]

In some of her misdemeanours at this time, Agnes was accompanied by her daughters, Jane and Mary Ann, both of whom had grown up to be unruly teenagers. Later, both daughters appear to have neglected their elderly mother and to have treated her badly.[32]  

In February 1867, less than two months after Charles’s death, Agnes was charged with ‘keeping a disorderly house’ and punished by being ordered to spend thirty-days in prison.[33] In the following year, she was charged twice. In February 1868, accompanied by her daughter Jane, then eighteen, she had been charged with disturbing the peace. She pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined five shillings.[34] In December of the same year, this time accompanied by her daughter Mary Ann, then fourteen, she had been charged with stealing one shilling and sevenpence from a drunken man. On this occasion the charge was dismissed because the man had failed to appear in court to give evidence.[35] In early March 1869, she was charged again with disturbing the peace and, once more, fined five shillings.[36] In August 1872, she was charged with breaking twenty-four panes of glass at the home of a woman who had scolded one of her children for throwing stones. She was ordered to pay a fine of twenty shillings, in default one months’ imprisonment, and to compensate the complainant for the damage to the windows.[37] In May 1873, she was charged with stealing a washing tub but the charge was dismissed when, again, the prosecutor declined to appear at court.[38] In August of that same year, she was charged with noisy behaviour in the streets and fined ten shillings and sixpence.[39] There may well have been other offences in that period, too.

However, it appears that it was not until late April 1878 that Agnes was charged again. On 1 May of that year, the Mercury (Hobart) reported that, having been ejected from the precincts of the court on the previous day, she ‘made use of obscene language in the street outside’. She pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined twenty shillings and sixpence, in default a months’ imprisonment.[40]

Agnes was now fifty-two, and was obviously in dire straits financially. On 21 April 1879, she was admitted as a pauper to St. John’s Park Hospital, a charitable institution, at New Town, Hobart, but remained there for only two weeks. When she was discharged on 3 May, the hospital authorities considered that she was fit and well enough to work for her own living.[41] What she did next is unclear but her situation must have been a precarious one and, as had been the case in her time at the New Norfolk Asylum in her younger days, it was to be a recurring pattern of admittance and discharge to the Pauper Establishment.

On 6 April 1886, she was re-admitted. This time, she was there for three months. The records show that when she was discharged, on 6 July 1886, it was at her own request. Perhaps she had had thoughts of being able to work again but she was now sixty years old. In any event, her plans to work again did not materialise because, on 25 March 1887 she was admitted for the third time. Again, her stay was a short one. She was discharged on 4 May that year. No reason was shown this time.  Then, six weeks later, on 24 June 1887, she was re-admitted. The duration of her stay was five weeks. When discharged on 29 July, it was to the care of one of her daughters. On 12 April 1889, she was admitted again but obviously did not want to be there. She ‘absconded’ two days later. On 14 April 1891, she was back at the institution once more but, by order of the administration of the place was discharged after only four days. On 20 April 1892, she was admitted to the hospital again. She was there for nine weeks before being discharged to friends. And, on 7 April 1896, she was back there again. It was to be her final admittance and she was there for only a week. She was now seventy years old.[42]

Despite her advancing years, Agnes was still capable of causing mayhem. On 31 October 1891, at a time when she was not at the charitable institution at New Town, she had been charged with disturbing the peace in a lane off Argyle Street, Hobart, and fined five shillings, in default seven days’ gaol.[43] Had she been drinking before her frequent charges for disturbing the peace? Although there is little evidence of her being drunk while committing her many offences in the colony, it seems likely that she had a fondness for alcohol.

It is possible that Agnes was cared for, at least for some time, by her daughters and their families between the periods in which she was institutionalised at St John’s Hospital - and after her final discharge. She was certainly still in close contact with them. A report in the Tasmanian News of 9 June 1893 revealed that, on 28 May that year, she had been assaulted by a man by the name of Edward Jackson who was described as ‘his wife’s grandmother’.[44] Jackson was charged with the offence and fined forty shillings, in default two months’ imprisonment.[45]

That was not the last of the shameful treatment that Agnes received from her family in her old age. On 25 March 1908, The Mercury (Hobart) carried this report:

An old woman named Agnes Lewis, aged about 80 years, was admitted to the General Hospital yesterday morning, suffering from several cuts and bruises on her head and arms, the result, she alleged of an attack made upon her. The injured woman stated that at her house in Plough and Harrow Lane, off Murray Street, early yesterday morning, she was pulled out of bed, kicked, and struck on the head with a poker. Upon inquiry at the hospital last evening, it was stated that the old woman was suffering severely. It is understood that the police are inquiring into the matter.[46]

The Tasmanian News of the previous day had named Mary Ann Jackson (aka Lewis), who had slept in Agnes’s house that night, as the person who had attacked her, stating that this Mary Ann was Agnes’s ‘granddaughter’. As it happens, this was the daughter of Agnes’s own daughter Mary Ann,  and the wife of Edward Jackson who had assaulted Agnes in June 1893,[47]

Four years later, on 7 January 1912, Agnes passed away at Glebe, Hobart.[48] She was eighty-six. On 9 January, she was buried at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart.[49]

Note: The complicated and often troubled lives of Agnes’s children and grandchildren are beyond the scope of this story. Those who are interested will find very extensive details in the ‘Research Notes’ section of ‘Agnes Lander’, ID: 7571, in the database of the Female Convicts Research Centre at


[1] CON41-1-7, image 92; Description List: CON19-1-5, p.70; Indent CON15-1-3, image 205; Police No: 350; FCRC ID: 7571.

[2] See d/base:

[3] Indent CON15-1-3, image 205.

[4] CON41-1-7, image 92.



[7] See d/base:

[8] Indent CON15-1-3, image 205.


[10] Regrettably, the dates given for admission to, and discharge from, the Asylum are uncertain. Further research is warranted. For further information, see ‘Patient Records (Case Books – All Patients), Vol. 13. HSD246-1-9, Folio 99’ as per ‘Agnes Lander’ in Female Convict Research Centre d/base at

[11] As for Note 10, above.

[12] As for Note 10, above.

[13] As for Note 10, above.

[14] CON41-1-7, image 92.

[15] CON41-1-7, image 92; birth: Jane Burns: RGD33/1/33/1275/1849, Hobart.

[16] CON41-1-7, image 92; details of the assault have not been located.

[17] Colonial Times (Hobart), 29 November 1850, p.2.

[18] The Courier (Hobart), 16 November 1850, p.3; The Colonial Times 0f 29 November reported that seven women had been committed to stand trial but only lander and five others have been identified at this stage.

[19] Alice Watson: FCRC ID 7635, CON41-1-7, image 159; death: see inquest SC195/1/29, no. 2567; Fanny Wilson: FCRC ID 3848, CON41-1-26, image 231; death: RGD35/1/3, no. 1011, Hobart; Mary Ann Miller: FCRC ID 7340, CON41-1-19, image 108; death: HM General Hospital, Hobart, RGD35/1/5, no.108, Hobart; Hepzibah Bastow: FCRC ID 3070, CON41-1-21, image 12; marriage to Collins RGD37/1/13, no. 504, Hobart, 1857; Mary Ann Murray: FCRC ID 10985, CON41-1-10, image 102; marriage to Coulthard RGD37/727/1853, Hobart; death: Tas. Federation Index: 1917/1672.

[20] See Note 10 above - and paragraphs describing Agnes’s time at the NN Asylum.

[21] CON41-1-7, image 92.

[22] Marriage, Agnes Lander/Louther – Charles Lewis: RGD37-1-12, image 314.


[24] UK Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books: Hulk Bellerophon, moored at Sheerness, London, England, 1815

-1824 per ‘Research Notes’ for Agnes Lander at

[25] CON31-1-27, image 168.

[26] Launceston Advertiser, 6 June 1829, p.2.

[27] Marriage, Lewis-Jones: RGD37-1-13, image 314; death, Sarah (Jones) Lewis: 35/1/9, No.24, Hobart; Inquest, Sarah: SC195/1/25, No. 2122.

[28] According to the Tasmanian Police Gazette of 1864, Agnes had been suspected of the theft of a shawl from a public house that year. It is believed that she escaped a charge.

[29] Registration of births of Agnes’s children by Lewis: births, Mary Ann: RGD33/1/1155/1858; Ellen: RGD33/1/35/1557/1857, New Norfolk; Charles Thomas: RGD33/1/37/1669/1859, New Norfolk; death, Ellen: RGD35/1/28/600, New Norfolk.  

[30] Death, Charles Thomas Lewis: RGD35/380/1866, New Norfolk (per TPI Digger).

[31] In 1856, the name of Van Diemen's Land was changed officially to ‘Tasmania’ after a grant of responsible self-government.

[32] The scope of this story does not extend to a summary of the lives of Agnes’s daughters, their partners and children. For further details, see the very complete ‘Research Notes’ in ‘Agnes Lander’, FCRC ID 7571, at

[33] Reports of Crime, Tasmania Police Gazette, 1867 - via FCRC Research Notes at

[34] The Mercury (Hobart), 26 February 1868, p.2.

[35] The Tasmanian Times (Hobart), 31 December 1868, p.2.

[36] The Mercury (Hobart), 5 March 1869, p.2.

[37] The Mercury (Hobart), 12 August 1872, p.2. 1869, p.2.

[38] The Tasmanian Tribune (Hobart), 14 May 1873, p.2.

[39] The Tasmanian Tribune (Hobart), 7 August 1873, p.3

[40] The Mercury (Hobart), 1 May 1878, p.2.

[41] Police records: POL 709/1; see also Tasmania Police Gazette, AUS103 – 1979 via ‘Ancestry’.

[42] Police records: POL 709/1; see also Tasmania Police Gazette, AUS103 – 1979 via ‘Ancestry’.

[43] Tasmanian News (Hobart), 31 October 1891, p.2.

[44] Edward Jackson was the husband of Mary Ann (Lewis) Jackson, the daughter of Agnes’s own daughter, also named Mary Ann (born 1854).

[45] Tasmanian News (Hobart), 9 June 1893, p.3; see also the final ‘Note’ at the bottom of this article..

[46] The Mercury (Hobart), 25 March 1908, p.4; Daily Telegraph (Launceston), 25 March 1908, p.8.

[47] Tasmanian News (Hobart), 24 March 1908, p.4.

[48] Death: Tasmanian Federation Index, 21/1912.

[49] AF35/1/2, BU17519.



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