Housemaid, Convict or Lady?

Elizabeth Bidwell (Emma Eugenia 1846)

By Geoff Jarvis


Elizabeth Bidwell was born in 1825, the first daughter and second child of Nicodemus Bidwell and Melley Chamberlain. She was christened on 23 October 1825 at Nether Exe, Devon, England. Nether Exe is a small parish beside the river Exe, 5 miles from Exeter. In 1831 it had a population of 97.[i]

Nicodemus was a 25 year old farm labourer at the time of Elizabeth’s birth. His ancestral roots however were far different. He was a descendent of the Bidwell families of Newton St Cyres. Members of the family had once been landholders. Bidwell Barton at Newton St Cyres still carries their name. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries some land near Newton St Cyres was given to Thomas Bidwell, presumably for services rendered. The custom was that land passed from the eldest son to the eldest son, but Thomas Bidwell only had daughters. Richard Quicke married Thomas' daughter Elizabeth and the land passed to the Quicke family. The Quicke family still own the land and are well known for their cheesemaking today.[ii]

Nicodemus’ grandfather Hugh had married Ruth Flood at Thorverton in 1749 [iii] and moved from Newton St Cyres. The Bidwell family were to live in the Thorverton area for the next century.

In 1841, at the age of 15, Elizabeth was working as a house servant at Bidwill House, a large estate in Thorverton. [iv] Nicodemus and Melley had nine children by now.

Bidwill House was another piece of land that did not belong to the Bidwells. It was owned by James Thomas, a Yeoman. In his obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine in January 1844 James Thomas was described as ‘a very eminent agriculturist’. [v] It may have been James’ death that prompted Elizabeth to move to a position in Exeter.

The next five years were to have a huge impact on the family. On 19th September 1842 two of the three youngest children, Harriett[vi] and Jane[vii], died followed closely by the youngest child David[viii] on 9th October. They were all between two and six years old. Jane’s death certificate says that the cause of death was Scarlet Fever.

Ian Stoyle of the Thorverton District History Society has looked at the burial register for Thorverton in the 1840s.[ix] In 1841 8 adults and 5 children died. In 1843 18 adults and 8 children died. In 1842 14 adults and 20 children died. This was the only year in the decade when more children died than adults. So, it seems very likely that there was an epidemic that particularly affected the young.

There were a series of Scarlet Fever epidemics in England between 1820 and 1880 with waves about every 5 to 6 years. They mainly affected children between the ages of 3 and 10. Babies still had some immunity from their mothers and children over 10 had developed immunity through casual exposure to the bacteria that caused Scarlet Fever.[x]

By 1845 Elizabeth had moved to Exeter and was working for William Wheaton, a bookseller of Fore Street, Exeter. She was accused of stealing 5 shillings from her Master and brought before the Exeter City Sessions charged with larceny as a servant. [xi] On 30th June 1845 she was convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation. [xii]

A warrant was issued on 17th July 1845 and Elizabeth was arrested. She was taken to Millbank Prison on 24th July 1845. [xiii] For a 19 year old girl who had probably never travelled further than Exeter travelling to London would have been a challenging journey.

The Millbank Prison Act 1843 had converted the Millbank penitentiary into a prison, intended to serve the purpose of a depot for receiving newly convicted felons before dispatching them to other convict prisons, hulks or transport ships to serve their sentences. [xiv] Every person sentenced to transportation was sent to Millbank first, where they were held for three months before their final destination was decided. By 1850, around 4,000 people were sentenced each year to transportation. Prisoners awaiting transportation were kept in solitary confinement and restricted to silence for the first half of their sentence. [xv]

The Reverend J D Coleridge and a number of other inhabitants of Thorverton, petitioned for Elizabeth to be given clemency and provided a reference in support of this request. [xvi] One of the petitioners was John Turner, a yeoman of Bidwill House who stated that Elizabeth had worked for him for three years and that he considered her to be an honest and industrious girl. The petitioners believed that Elizabeth had been led astray by the bad company that she met while in William Wheaton’s service and that as she had not previously lived in the city, she would not have been aware of the type of characters she would meet. The goal reports showed that this was her first offence, she had no serious habits, and she was not dissolute.

Ian Stoyle looked at the list of petitioners and commented that: [xvii]

These were the Top Brass of the parish: the Vicar, nephew of Coleridge the poet; his Curate, son of a General who was eventually to become Vicar himself; Henry Gervis, the attorney; Dr Crosse (who may well have signed Jane’s death certificate); Thomas Reynolds, John Turner, George Radmore and Thomas Potter, the yeomen proprietors of the largest estates; in fact everybody in the left hand column.  And those on the right were the leading tradesmen: innkeepers, wheelwright, builder, et al, and the Vestry Clerk. All these men of substance were pleading on behalf of a simple labourer’s daughter. 

The petition was refused on 22 November 1845. [xviii]

It was decided that Elizabeth was to be sent to Van Diemen’s Land and she was transported on the fourth voyage of the Emma Eugenia. The Emma Eugenia was a 383 ton Barque built at Whitby, Yorkshire in 1833. Transportation of women to New South Wales had ended in 1840 and all women transportees were therefore sent to Van Diemen’s Land.

Loading of the Emma Eugenia commenced on the 12 December 1845, and it left Millbank on 24 January 1846. It had 170 convicts on board, all female. [xix] The ship stopped at Portsmouth and left on 10 February 1846, arriving in Tasmania on 5 June 1846.

Surgeon John Wilson, on his second voyage aboard the Emma Eugenia, wrote about the several women who had been placed on board who were not in a fit state of health to be transported. He wondered who would send them so far to be buried. He noted the troubles some women had with uterine diseases and the difficulty these caused not only to the patient but other around them. ... His General Remarks told of the fright and uproar when one woman mistakenly thought the ship was on fire. [xx]

The false fire alarm was caused by lightning reflecting on metal utensils early on 27th February, just 17 days after leaving Portsmouth.

On the night of the 27th ult. about an hour before daylight, an indescribable scene of horrid uproar and confusion was created by the whole of the Prisoners, yelling fire, fire in consequence of a rapid succession of vivid flashes of lightening reflected from a variety of bright tin and pewter utensils hanging in Hospital on pegs. The first to give the alarm, is one of the steadiest and best behaved women on board, who starting suddenly from sleep actually fancied the vessel was on fire, as did everybody on board, on first hearing the screams, made more terrible & appalling by the darkness of the night. Owing to the fright, in this way occasioned, many of the women became ill and, for, some time, unable to be out of bed. [xxi]

The Emma Eugenia arrived in Hobart on 5th June 1846, almost a year since Elizabeth was convicted.

The ship would not have docked in Hobart but would have continued to a wide part of the river called Prince of Wales Bay at Risdon. Here the prisoners were transferred to the Anson. The HMS Anson was an 1,870 ton warship which arrived in Hobart in 1844 landing 499 male convicts. After disembarking her cargo, she was refitted as a prison ship and towed to Prince of Wales Bay near Hobart, where she was moored. The Anson hulk was used to house female convicts from 1844 in an attempt to alleviate the overcrowding at the Cascades Female Factory as more female convict ships arrived. Dr and Mrs. Bowden were appointed to manage the Anson Probation Station. Once the convicts had served their six months’ probation, they were hired into service as probation pass-holders. Those prisoners who were not hired were transferred to the Women’s Factory.

There was some controversy over the management of the Anson, but the following article appeared in the Hobart Town Crier during the time of Elizabeth’s stay: [xxii]

We had the pleasure a few days since to pay a visit, too long deferred, to the female penitentiary on board the Anson, under the superintendence of Dr. and Mrs. Bowden. As we ascended the ship ladder we were agreeably saluted by the singing of the prisoners, who are assembled on Wednesdays for afternoon service. The singing, as well as the general service, is conducted by the Rev. Mr. Giles, and with very great effect, his congregation appearing to unite with him throughout. Through the politeness of Mrs. Bowden, who appears desirous to afford strangers an opportunity of acquainting themselves with the system pursued by her, we were conducted through every particular of our inquiries. We found that besides the necessary duties of the establishment in washing and cooking, the women were employed in various descriptions of needlework, in the manufacture of shoes, straw-hats, door mats, &c., as far as the very limited means at Mrs. Bowden's command will allow. Every part of the ship exhibited remarkable cleanliness, and we could not have expected to witness such general health, and to find the ventilation so good, where so large a number are collected together in a limited space. But these physical appearances constitute the least recommendation of those who superintend the arrangements on board the Anson. We remarked with great satisfaction the subdued, respectful, and throughout proper deportment of the women, exhibiting a very striking contrast with what we have been too long accustomed to in similar establishments in this country. No one who is acquainted with the trying circumstances in which the best disposed are placed in service in this colony, will expect too much from the subjects of Mrs. Bowden's management when they are again turned into society; but this reflects nothing upon that lady's management, from which, in more favourable circumstances, the best results could not fail to arise. We only lament that one so well fitted for her sphere of duty, and actuated by principles so high, and distinguished by energy so great, should not find everything favourable to her permanent success. As a mistake - arising from the letter of the Colonial Secretary to the Bench of Magistrates - generally exists, that the depot at the Brickfields is peopled from the Anson, we may as well state that this is not the case at present, whatever may be contemplated by the Government.

Once on the Anson details of the prisoners were recorded. The record for Elizabeth[xxiii] describes her as:

Height 4ft 10 1/2, Age 21, Complexion Fair, Head Round large, hair Light Brown, Visage Round, Forehead High, Eyebrows Sandy, Eyes hard Grey, Nose Small cocked, Mouth wide, Chin Broad Low.

Her trade is described as Housemaid and her period of Gang Probation as 6 months.

One can only imagine what it was like on the Anson in winter, with snow on Mount Wellington and the winds blowing straight from the Antarctic.

Elizabeth’s convict record has no more entries until her sentence expired, but we can find clues to her life in Tasmania through other records.

At the end of their probation on the Anson the women became eligible to become probation passholders and could be employed privately, usually as domestic servants. The probation pass was linked to conduct and could be revoked for serious breaches. Offenders were sent to the Female Factory for a period of punishment, employment and reformation. [xxiv]

There is no record of Elizabeth being sent to the Cascades Female Factory. It appears that she was assigned to Mr D Galor in 1847 directly from the Anson. [xxv]

There is a baptism of a David Galer on 19 Nov 1819 at Stoltfield, Bedfordshire, England - father David Galer, mother Sarah. He appears to have been the second child baptised as David as another David was baptized on 12 Jul 1811. He was employed as a School Master at Royston Union Workhouse, Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire, age 20 in the 1841 census. [xxvi] He married Emily Susannah Firman (born 1820). A marriage licence was issued on 2nd March 1844. The Marriage date is registered as 19 Mar 1844. [xxvii]

David and Emily Galer arrived at Hobart on the Barque Sarah Scott. [xxviii] They departed London on the 18 January 1845 and arrived on the 24 May 1845. They were cabin passengers along with the Reverend J Jarker, Mrs Jarker and the Reverend H Lankard. David Galor died at Longford, Tasmania on the 4 Sep 1887 and Emily Susannah died on the 13 Nov 1893 also at Longford. Part of David’s obituary says that he acted as a religious instructor at the Female House of Correction in Hobart:

“ … there is an official record of his ordination as Deacon by the Bishop of Tasmania (Dr. F.R. Nixon), on 21st September, 1848, and Priest on 11th June, 1850. Previously to his admission to the ministry he acted as religious instructor in connection with the convict department in the Female House of Correction in Hobart, and he remained at that post after his ordination, and was appointed chaplain to the department on 23rd May, 1850. This work Mr. Gaylor continued to perform until he was appointed to the charge of the parish of Richmond, where he succeeded the Rev. J. Tice Gellibrand about the year 1855”.[xxix]

It would be reasonable to assume that he would have visited the Anson for the Wednesday service in his role as religious instructor and would have been acquainted with Dr and Mrs Bowden. Elizabeth would have known of him when she was assigned. There is no record of Elizabeth being re-assigned to another master so she would have served her sentence as Mr and Mrs Galor’s servant until the end of her sentence. Her sentence ended in 1852, which was before his posting to Richmond. She would have been a member of the household when he was ordained in 1848 and again in 1850 when he became a chaplain.

The staff at the Cascades Female Factory lived in cottages near to the Female Factory. [xxx]

Elizabeth was granted her Freedom Certificate on 1 July 1852. [xxxi]

A ticket-of-leave was granted at the satisfactory completion of the probation passholder stage. This was followed by the final stage, the granting of a pardon, either conditional or absolute. For many of the convict women economic and social opportunities were limited. Demand for female labour shrivelled in the 1840s Depression. The exodus from Tasmania to the goldfields in the 1850s left many married women destitute.[xxxii]

It was during her time in Hobart that she must have met John Mellor. We know from her marriage record that John Mellor was a butcher and about 10 years older than Elizabeth. That means that he was born about 1815 - 1817, though Elizabeth’s age on the marriage record is 2 years out. Looking at the convict records, one John Mellor stands out.

John Mellor was tried at Staffordshire Assizes on 5 July 1841 and sentenced to 10 years for stealing 11 rams and 13 sheep. He sold them to two men who resold them at Wolverhampton market. He had already sold them to another person. His occupation was shown as butcher and his age in 1842 was shown as 25. This matches the marriage record. He had been convicted twice before and had very bad habits and character but a good disposition. [xxxiii] He arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on 13 July 1842.

His record shows him as:

Height 5ft 4 3/4, Age 25, Complexion Fair, Head Large, Hair Brown, Visage Long, Medium Height, Eyebrows Brown, Eyes Blue, Nose Long, Mouth Medium, Chin Medium, Scar on back of right hand, 2 small scars on back of left hand.

He served his 15 months’ probation at Rocky Hills Probation Station. The convicts sent there were employed building a road along Tasmania’s East Coast. This task included constructing the Spikey Bridge across a steep gulley. [xxxiv] His record shows that he was allocated to more than one Master in his time as a convict. He was granted his Ticket of Leave on 2 February 1847 and his Freedom Certificate on 14 January 1851.

The scarcity of women opened up opportunities for convict women as servants and wives. Many successfully merged into colonial society, creating new families, and through good conduct and hard work they forged new lives. [xxxv]

Elizabeth had been granted her freedom in July 1852. She did not merge into colonial society. She next appears in Chorley Lancashire with John Mellor. They must have returned to England and travelled to Chorley. They were married on 28 June 1853 at the Church of St George, Chorley. [xxxvi] Their address was given as Lyons Lane, Chorley, Lancashire. They must have visited Devon when they got back to England because Elizabeth’s brother Thomas Burridge Bidwell christened his child John Mellor Bidwell.[xxxvii]

I have not found a record of death for John Mellor (there are several possibilities) but on 30 October 1859 Elizabeth was married to Jesse Brampton Beard in Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales. [xxxviii] Jesse Beard was a Cooper. He was born on 26 September 1823 in Painswick, Gloucestershire[xxxix] and in 1851 was living in Aston, Birmingham. [xl] Elizabeth is shown as a widow on the marriage certificate.

Elizabeth’s mother, Melley, had died on 16 May 1858[xli] and was buried at Thorverton on 23 May 1858. [xlii]

Her brother Richard (born 1834) must have joined her in 1861 as he is shown in the 1861 census[xliii] as living in Broadhembury, Devon but married Rebecca Roberts in Swansea in Q2 1861. [xliv] In the 1871 census he is shown with Rebecca as a Dock Labourer in Swansea. [xlv] He died in Swansea in 1901. [xlvi] Rebecca lived in Swansea for all her life.

In 1871 Elizabeth and Jesse emigrated to Barrie, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada[xlvii] where Jesse continued his occupation as a Cooper. Simcoe is on the Great Lakes.

BARRIE is the County Town of Simcoe is beautifully situated near the south-east corner of the Township of Vespra, at the head of Kempenfeldt Bay, with a southern front facing the water, the ground gradually rising to the north part of the town, where it attains a considerable elevation above the level of the lake. It has a fine appearance from the opposite side of the bay, the rising ground bringing every part of the town distinctly into view. There are several beautiful locations in Barrie suitable for private residences. The bay is about ten miles long, and from one to two miles wide, thickly wooded on the opposite shore, and affording a most picturesque view. In the year 1854, the Northern Railway was completed from Toronto to Collingwood - the nearest station to Barrie being Allendale, one mile distant. In 1865 a branch track was laid to Barrie, and, in 1871, a further extension was completed to Orillia, and thence to the Muskoka territory. The town has, within the last few years, made unusual progress; the surrounding country is of an excellent quality, and the mercantile, mechanical, Agricultural and general prosperity of Barrie will compare favourably with that of any other town in the Province. Barrie is a comparatively new town.

The following are the chief manufacturing establishments:-
Barrie Foundry - Henry Sewrey, proprietor: established 1867. Steam, 25-horse power; employs 30 hands; machinery, mill work, Agricultural implements, etc.
Barrie Tannery - Andrew Graham, proprietor: established 1850. Steam, 10-horse power; 6 hands; capacity, 4,000 hides and 1,000 skins annually. Mr. Graham also employs about 20 hands in the manufacture of boots and shoes.
Graham & Lount - Woollen, Carding and Fulling Mills. Steam, 15-horse power; 15 hands.
Dougal's Furniture Factory And Planning Mill. - David Dougal, proprietor. Steam, 15-horse power; 6 hands.
Durham's Saw, Planing And Lathe Mills. Steam 16-horse power; average, 20 hands; capacity about 16,000 feet lumber every twenty-four hours.
Barrie Steam Flouring Mills - James Wilkinson, proprietor: established 1867. 80-horse power; 5 run; capacity 4,000 barrels per month.
Simpson's Brewery. Steam, 18 horse-power; 10 hands. This old establishment has been greatly increased within a year. Its reputation is first-class.
Fairview Brewery - Anderton Bros., proprietors: established 1861. Steam, 16 horse-power; 10 hands. The large patronage of this firm is the best guarantee of the quality of their manufacture.
J. Pullen, Gunsmith, Steam Fitter, etc., uses steam power in his business, and several others in a minor
extent. [xlviii]

The extent and nature of the businesses in the town provided an opportunity for Jesse to set up his own business. There was a big demand for barrels, especially for the shipping of commodities such as hides. In 1886 he is listed in the Simcoe County Directory as a Cooper in Collier Street.[xlix]

Elizabeth had a nephew, Richard. [l] His parents were George Chamberlaine Bidwell, Elizabeth’s younger brother (born 1827), and Elizabeth Tucker. Between 1853 and 1854 George and Elizabeth had moved to London and Richard was born there. By 1859 they were back in Exeter. Both George[li] and Elizabeth[lii] died between April and June 1865. Richard was living in the Exeter Workhouse in 1871. [liii] By 1880 Richard had joined Jesse and Elizabeth in Simcoe, Ontario. He married Mary Sophia Coles on 22 April 1880[liv] and is shown in the 1881 Canada Census as a Cooper. [lv]

Elizabeth’s cousin Thomas also joined them between 1871 and 1881. He married Elizabeth Sergeant in Simcoe on 15 October 1884.[lvi] His occupation in later censuses is shown as a Teamster and on his death certificate as a Farmer.

Thomas’ sister, Emma, joined the Bidwell family in Canada in 1922. [lvii]

Jesse Beard died on 19 June 1896. [lviii]

Elizabeth Bidwell / Beard died on 27 April 1917 in Simcoe, Ontario of Old Age. She was 91 years old. [lix] Her death was registered by her nephew, Richard. She was described on her death record as a ‘Lady’.


Family of Nicodemus Bidwell

1 Nicodemus Bidwell b: Abt. 1800 in Thorverton, Devon, England, d: 19 Dec 1876 in Thorverton, Devon, England

+ Frances Harris (nee Densham) b: Abt. 1804 in Morchard Bishop, Devon, m: Bet. Apr–Jun 1860, Recorded Tiverton Registration District, d: 02 Nov 1897, Recorded Tiverton R.D.

+ Melley Chamberlain b: Abt. 1798 in Rewe, Devon, m: 13 Jul 1823 in St Sidwell, Exeter, Devon, d: 16 May 1858 in Thorverton, Devon

2 Thomas Burridge Bidwell b: Abt. 1824 in Thorverton, Devon, d: 24 Jul 1906, Recorded Tiverton R.D.

+ Mary Warren b: Abt. 1828 in Thorverton, Devon, England, m: 27 Oct 1850, Recorded Tiverton R.D., d: 12 May 1902, Recorded Tiverton R.D.

3 Elizabeth Bidwell b: Abt. 1852 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Bet Apr – Jun 1885, Recorded Tiverton R.D.

3 John Mellor Bidwell b: 1853 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1864, Recorded Tiverton R.D.

3 Thomas Bidwell b: 02 Jul 1856 in Thorverton, Devon,, d: 23 Nov 1937, Barrie, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

+ Elizabeth Sargeant b: 19 Sep 1855, m: 15 Oct 1884 in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, d: 27 Jan 1947 in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.

3 Mary Jane Bidwell b: 1858 in Thorverton, Devon, d:. Unknown

3 George Chamberlain Bidwell b: Abt. Dec 1860 in Thorverton, Devo, d: Abt. Apr 1864 in Thorverton, Devon

3 Melley Bidwell b: Abt. 1863 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Bet. Jul–Sep 1863 in Thorverton, Devon

3 Harriett Bidwell b: Bet. Apr–Jun 1863 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Bet Jan – Mar 1952 in Bath, Somerset

+ James Lane b: Abt. 1861 in Culmstock, Devon, m: Bet. Jan–Mar 1893 in Bath, Somerset, d: 27 Apr 1936 in Bath, Somerset

3 Melley Bidwell b: Bet. Jan–Mar 1865 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Unknown

3 Eliza Bidwell b: Bet. Jan–Mar 1868 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Unknown

+ James Gale b: Bet. Jul–Sep 1866 in Sandford, Devon, m: Bet. Oct–Dec 1892, Recorded Tiverton, R.D., d: Unknown

3 Emma Bidwell b: Abt. May 1870 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Unknown

2 Elizabeth Bidwell b: Abt. 1825 in Nether Exe, Devon, d: 27 Apr 1917 in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

+ John Mellor b: Abt. 1817 in Chorley, Lancashire, m: 28 Jun 1853 in Church of St George, Chorley, Lancashire, d: Bet. 1853–1859

+ Jesse Brampton Beard b: 26 Sep 1823 in Painswick, Gloucestershire, m: 30 Oct 1859 in Swansea, Glamorgan, d: 19 Jun 1896 in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada;

2 George Chamberlain Bidwell b: Abt. 1827 in Nether Exe, Devon, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1865, Recorded Exeter R.D.

+ Elizabeth Tucker b: 17 May 1823 in Cullompton, Devon, m: 18 May 1851 in Cullompton, Devon, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1865, Recorded Newton Abbot R.D.

3 John Tucker Bidwell b: 05 May 1853, Recorded Tiverton R.D., d: Bet. Jul–Sep 1854, Recorded at St George, Southwark, London

3 Richard Bidwell b: 02 Aug 1855 in London, Middlesex, d: 20 Apr 1946 in Barrie, Ontario, Canada

+ Mary Sophia Coles b: 13 Mar 1859 in Stratford, m: 22 Apr 1880 in Barrie, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, d: 08 Dec 1939 in Barrie, Ontario, Canada

3 Amelia Ann Bidwell b: Bet. Jan–Mar 1859, Recorded at Exeter R.D., d: Unknown

3 Eliza Ellen Bidwell b: 06 May 1861 in Exeter, Devon, d: Unknown

3 Sarah Ellen Bidwell b: Bet. Oct–Dec 1863 in ExeterR.D., d: Unknown

2 Mary Bidwell b: Abt. 1829 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Unknown

+ William Henry Mitchell b: Abt. 1828 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, m: 04 Mar 1855 in St Mathias, Bristol, Gloucestershire, d: Aft. 1901 in Bristol, Gloucestershire

3 Henry Mitchell b: Bet. Apr–Jun 1862 in St Michael, Bristol, Gloucestershire, d: Unknown

3 Alfred Mitchell b: Abt. 1864 in Clifton, Bristol, d: Bet. Oct–Dec 1940, Recorded Bristol R.D.

+ Mary <Mitchell> b: Abt. 1868 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, m: Abt. 1889, d: Unknown

3 William Frank Mitchell b: Abt. Jan 1871 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1871, Recorded at Bristol R.D.

3 Louisa Mitchell b: Abt. 1873 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, d: Unknown

2 John Bidwell b: Abt. 1831 in Nether Exe, Devon, d: Bet. Jan–Mar 1916, Recorded at Honiton R.D.

+ Jane Warren b: Abt. 1833 in Thorverton, Devon, m: 25 Dec 1855 in Thorverton Parish Church, Thorverton, Devon, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1915, Recorded at Honiton R.D.

3 George Bidwell b: Bet. Oct–Dec 1856 in Thorverton, Devon, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1917, Recorded at Honiton R.D.

3 John Bidwell b: Abt. 1858 in Broadhembury, Devon, d: Unknown

3 Eliza Bidwell b: Abt. Jan 1861 in Broadhembury, Devon, d: Unknown

+ Charles Woodgates b: Bet. Jul–Sep 1853 in Kentisbeare, Devon, m: Bet. Jan–Mar 1881, Recorded at Tiverton R.D., d: Bet. 1881–1901

3 Richard Bidwell b: Bet. Jan–Mar 1863 in Broadhembury R.D., d: Unknown

+ Thomasine Cox b: Abt. 1863 in Branscombe, Devon, m: 03 Jul 1884 in Plymtree, Devon, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1887, Recorded Honiton R.D.

+ Rose Mary Burnell b: Bet. Jan–Mar 1882 in Cannington, Somerset, m: Bet. Oct– Dec 1902, Recorded at Axbridge R.D. d: Bet. Jul–Sep 1946, Recorded Weston-super-Mare R.D.

3 Charles Bidwell b: Abt. 1868 in Broadhembury, Devon, d: Bet. Oct–Dec 1924, Recorded at Exeter R.D.

3 Harry Bidwell b: 13 Sep 1870 in Broadhembury, Devon, d: Bet. Oct–Dec 1877 in Broadhembury, Devon

3 Bessie Bidwell b: Bet. Jul–Sep 1872 in Broadhembury, Devon, d: Bet. Oct–Dec 1917, Recorded St Thomas, Exeter, Devon,

3 Alice Bidwell b: Bet. Apr–Jun 1874 in Broadhembury, Devon, d: Unknown

+ John Bastone Clarke b: Abt. 1877 in Broadhembury, Devon, m: Bet. Apr–Jun 1899, Recorded at Honiton R.D.

3 Henry Bidwell b: 11 Nov 1877 in Broadhembury, Devon, d: Unknown

+ Agnes Monica Burnell b: 30 Nov 1888 in Cannington, Somerset, m: 19 Jul 1906 in St Judes, Milton, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, d: Bet. Jul–Sep 1972, Recorded at Weston-super-Mare R.D.

2 Richard Bidwell b: Abt. 1834 in Nether Exe, Devon, d: Bet. Jan–Mar 1901, Recorded at Swansea R.D.

+ Rebecca Roberts b: Bet. Jul–Sep 1838 in Swansea, Glamorgan, m: Bet. Jul–Sep 1861, Recorded at Swansea, Glamorgan R.D., d: Bet. Jul–Sep 1899, Recorded at Swansea R.D.

3 Alice R Bidwell b: Abt. 1863 in Swansea, Glamorgan, d: Unknown

+ Robert Hughes b: Abt. 1852 in Swansea, Glamorgan, m: Abt. 1882

3 Mary Elizabeth Bidwell b: Bet. Jul–Sep 1868 in Swansea, Glamorgan, d: Unknown

+ James Clancy m: Bet. Jan–Mar 1896, Recorded at Swansea R.D.

3 Jesse Richard Bidwell b: Abt. 1872 in Swansea, Glamorgan, d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1955, Recorded Swansea R.D.

3 Ann Bidwell b: Bet. Jul–Sep 1874, Recorded Swansea R.D., d: Bet. Apr–Jun 1953, Recorded at Swansea R.D.

+ Mary Greenway b: Abt. 1833 in Stoke, near Exeter, Devon, m: Bet. Apr–Jun 1860, Recorded at St Thomas, Exeter R.D., d: Unknown

3 Jessie Bidwell b: Abt. 1857 in Stoke, near Exeter, Devon, d: Unknown

3 Joseph Bidwell b: Abt. Sep 1860 in Stoke, near Exeter, Devon, d: Unknown

2 Harriet Bidwell b: Abt. 1836 in Devon, d: 25 Sep 1842, Recorded at Tiverton R.D.

2 Jane Bidwell b: Abt. 1838 in Devon, d: 25 Sep 1842, Recorded at Tiverton R.D.

2 David Bidwell b: 25 Jun 1840, Recorded at Tiverton, Devon, d: 09 Oct 1842, Recorded at Tiverton R.D.



List of References:

[i] White's Devonshire Directory (1850) available at Visited 5 March 2017

[ii] Quickes Est 1540, available at, visited 21 February 2017

[iii], England Select Marriages 1538 – 1973, FHL Film No 917539

[iv] 1841 census. HO107; Piece: 226; Book: 14; Civil Parish: Thorverton; County: Devon; Enumeration District: 7; Folio: 12; Page: 19

[v] The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 176, 1844, Page 329, viewed on 12 February 2022

[vi] FreeBMD Death Tiverton Jul - Sep 1842 Vol 10 Page 181

[vii] FreeBMD, Death Tiverton Jul - Sep 1842 Vol 10 Page 181

[viii] FreeBMD, Death Tiverton Oct - Dec 1842 Vol 10 Page 189

[ix] Email from Ian Stoyle, Thorverton and District History Society, 21 February 2022

[x] C. J. Duncan, S. R. Duncan, and S. Scott, The dynamics of scarlet fever epidemics in England and Wales in the 19th century. Available at, visited 26 February 2022.

[xi] Western Times, 5th July 1845. Available at, visited 19 February 2022

[xii] Archives Office of Tasmania Record:  Tasmania Convict No 4888

[xiii] Devon Family History Society, Devon Social & Institutional Records, Millbank, Devon, England, Millbank Warrants 1819 - 1863

[xiv] Millbank prison, available at, visited 11 February 2022

[xv] Wikipedia, available at, visited 11 February 2022

[xvi] The National Archives, TNA-CCC-HO18-165-00407, accessed 4 August 2016.

[xvii] Email from Ian Stoyle, Thorverton District History Society, 4th March 2022

[xviii] The National Archives, TNA-CCC-HO13-087-00163, accessed 4 August 2016.

[xix] British Parliamentary Papers (BPP) LXV (573) at,  viewed on 15th January 2010

[xx] National Archives Record Summary of Surgeon's Journal, transcribed by Colleen Arulappu, The Female Convicts Research Centre, Tasmania, available at, visited 26 February 2022.

[xxi] Female Convicts Research Centre Inc., Tasmania, Surgeons Journal of Emma Eugenia, available at, accessed 26 February 2022

[xxii] Management of the Anson,  The Hobart Town Courier of 29 October 1844 (p.2 c.7), available at, visited 11 February 2022.

[xxiii] Tasmania Archives, Conduct Record CON41/1/9 - Police Number 785

[xxiv] Dianne Snowden, Female Convicts, available at, visited 26 February 2022

[xxv] Convict Muster HO10/41, Folio number 150. Record number 785. "Hired by D Galor, Hobart”

[xxvi] 1841 England Census, HO107/63/6 Folio 2 Page 2

[xxvii] FreeBMD, Marriage recorded at Halstead, Essex Jan – Mar 1844 Vol 12 Page 154.

[xxviii] The spellings Galer /Galor are interchangeable. The spelling used is the spelling on that particular record.

[xxix] Launceston Examiner, Monday 3 October 1887

[xxx] Discussion with Cascades Female Factory staff, 2016.

[xxxi] Launceston Examiner (Tas.: 1842-1899) Saturday 10 July 1852 Edition: Afternoon p 8 (Source Tasmania Female Convict website, researcher Collette McAlpine)

[xxxii] Dianne Snowden, Female Convicts, available at, visited 26 February 2022

[xxxiii] Tasmania Convict records 1800-1893, John Mellor 3733 page 3

[xxxiv] Tasmania’s Convict Sites, available at , visited 24 February 2022.

[xxxv] Dianne Snowden, Female Convicts, available at, visited 26 February 2022

[xxxvi] England & Wales Marriages 1538 – 1940, Marriage, Chorley, Apr - June 1853, Vol 8e, Page 416 and Marriage Certificate

[xxxvii] Email from Ian Stoyle, Thorverton District History Society, 4th March 2022

[xxxviii] FreeBMD, Marriage Bet Oct - Dec 1859, Swansea, Vol 11a, Page 786 and Marriage Certificate, Parish Church, Swansea.

[xxxix], England Select Births and Christenings 1538 – 1975, FHL Film No 855630

[xl] 1851 England Census, HO107/2060 Folio 144 Page 9

[xli] Gravestone of Nicodemus and Melley Bidwell. Photo Geoff Jarvis 2008.

[xlii] South West Heritage Trust and Parochial Church Council, Thorverton Burials, 1858, P156 No 1248

[xliii] 1861 England Census, RG 9; Piece: 1377; Folio: 66; Page: 5; GSU roll: 542803

[xliv] FreeBMD, Marriage, Swansea Jul - Sep 1861 Vol 11a Page 632

[xlv] 1871 Wales Census, RG10; Piece:  5454; Folio:  14; Page:  21; GSU roll:  848050.

[xlvi] FreeBMD, Death, Swansea Jan - Mar 1901 Vol 11a Page 658

[xlvii] US and Canada Passenger and Immigration List Index 1500s-1900s, Ontario Canada 1871, Source Publication Code 1823.29 Page 16

[xlviii] 1872 Gazetteer of Simcoe County

[xlix] Canada City and Area Directories 1819 – 1906, Simcoe County Directory and Gazetteer 1884-1886, Simcoe, Ontario

[l], England Select Births and Christenings 1538 – 1975, FHL Film No 917202

[li] FreeBMD, Death, Exeter Apr - Jun 1865 Vol 5b Page 60

[lii] FreeBMD, Death, Newton Abbott Apr - Jun 1865 Vol 5b Page 83

[liii] 1871 England Census, RG10; Piece: 2064; Folio: 121; Page: 11; GSU roll: 831774

[liv] Archives of Ontario, Ontario Marriages 1869 – 1927, Marriage Canada Ontario 1880 No 6400-8555

[lv] FindMyPast, 1881 Canada Census, Simcoe, Ontario, Film No. C-13251

[lvi] Archives of Ontario, Ontario Marriages 1869 – 1927, Marriages 1884, Page 213

[lvii] FindMyPast, Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960, Ship Minnedosa, Liverpool to St Johns Newfoundland, 17 February 1922, Ticket No 47858

[lviii] Name: Jesse Brampton Beard, Cooper, Age 78, Death Date: 19 Jun 1896, Death Location: Simcoe, of Apoplexy - 2 years, Gender: Male, Estimated birth year: abt 1823, Birth Location: England

[lix] Name: Elizabeth Beard, Lady, Widowed, Father: Nichodemus (sic) Bidwell, Mother: Not Known, Died of Old Age, Informant: R Bidwell, Death Date: 27 Apr 1917, Death Location: Simcoe, Gender: Female, Estimated birth year: abt 1826, Aged 91Y 19D, Birth Location: England


Female Convicts Research Centre Inc., Tasmania, available at, accessed February 2022. These records were used to verify some of the research in this article.

Ian Stoyle, Thorverton District History Society, for checking some of the local facts and providing detail about others.

My wife Frances who is a descendent of John Bidwell, Nicodemus’ father, and without whose support this research would not have been possible.

© Geoff Jarvis, Queensland, Australia, 2022. All rights reserved. Printed with permission from Geoff Jarvis.



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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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