Mary Ann Manley

(Cadet, 2, 1848)


Don Bradmore

In February 1847, Mary Ann Manley, a married woman of twenty-two, was convicted of ‘knowingly receiving a stolen watch’ and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years.[1] She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) aboard Cadet (2) in January 1848, bringing with her a two-year-old daughter, Catherine. Despite the sadness of the death of her daughter a year after her arrival, she soon adapted to her changed circumstances and was of minimal trouble to the authorities. She married twice in VDL, gave birth to three more children, and lived quietly until her death at the age of seventy-four in 1899. Of particular interest in her story is the seemingly callous disregard of her by her first husband, William Manley, who married bigamously in England within months of her transportation.

This is Mary Ann’s story:   


Mary Ann Manley (nee Vicary/Vickery/Vickary/Vickory) was born at Exeter, Devon, England, in 1826 and baptized at the nearby village of Rose Ash that same year. She was the second of eight children of William Vicary and his wife Martha (nee Sanders). Her siblings were Henry William (born 1824), John (1830), Harriet (1832), Edwin (1836), Eliza (1837), Georgina (1842) and Charles (1848).[2] The 1841 England census shows Mary Ann, then fifteen, living with her family in the civil parish of St Thomas the Apostle, County Devon, England. Her father’s occupation is shown as ‘thatcher’.[3]

On 17 April 1844, then eighteen, Mary Ann married a twenty-year-old local man by the name of William Manley, a labourer.[4] Two years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Catherine.[5] It seems likely that Mary Ann, William and the baby were living with William’s parents at Payhembury, near Exeter, at this time.[6]

At the Exeter General Sessions on 23 February 1847, Mary Ann, now twenty-two and described as a ‘dressmaker’, was charged with ‘receiving a watch, knowing it to have been stolen’. Alongside her in the dock were three of her husband’s younger siblings - Mary, Henry and Charlotte Manley, aged fourteen, eleven and ten respectively - whom, it was alleged, she had encouraged to break into a house to steal the watch and other items which were later found in her possession. All were found guilty as charged. Although it was her first offence, Mary Ann was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. Her husband’s siblings were each sentenced to transportation for seven years.[7]

Soon after the trial, all were transferred from the county gaol in Devon to London to await embarkation on a ship to take them away.[8] Ultimately, it was decided by the authorities that, of the children, only the eldest, fourteen-year-old Mary, would be transported; the others would serve their time in English gaols.

While Mary Ann was in prison in London, a petition seeking remission of all or part of her sentence was presented to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sir George Grey, by a Mrs. Mary Loddy of Exeter. Inexplicably, Mrs. Loddy referred to herself in the petition as ‘the prisoner’s mother’ but it is thought that she was her husband’s aunt, the sister of his mother. (Perhaps Mary Ann’s birth mother, Martha Sanders, had died early and Mary Ann had been raised by Mrs. Loddy?)[9] The petition for clemency was based on the grounds that twenty-two-year-old Mary Ann was a person of good character who had never been in trouble with the law previously; that she had been convicted solely on the evidence of three young children, each of whom had been convicted of complicity in the crime themselves; that she strenuously protested her innocence of the charge; and that she was the nursing mother of an infant who would be deprived of parental care during the period of its life in which it was most needed.[10] 

To her petition, Mrs. Loddy had attached testimonials – two from clergymen of her acquaintance and the other from an eminent layman of the community. The Rev. J. Fisher Thurman, Rector of the Parish of St Mary, informed the Secretary of State that he had made enquiries about Mary Ann from those in his parish who knew her and had been assured by them that she was ‘an honest and inoffensive girl’. The Rev. John M. Collyn, Rector of the Parish of St John and St George, claimed that he had known both Mrs. Loddy and Mary Ann for many years and that they had always borne ‘the characters of industrious persons’. The layman, a Mr. James A Havill, wrote that he had known Mary Ann personally ‘for many, many years’ and thus was able to confirm the substance of Mrs. Loddy’s petition.[11]  

Unfortunately, the petition was unsuccessful and, in early September 1847, Mary Ann, her daughter Catherine and her young sister-in-law Mary were put aboard Cadet which, with William Forsyth as Master, Charles Kinnear as Surgeon-Superintendent, one hundred and sixty-four female prisoners and twenty-nine of their children, sailed from Woolwich on 9 September. By 2 January 1848 they were at Hobart.[12]    

Upon arrival, Mary Ann was described as being married, twenty-three years old, four feet eight and three-quarter inches (about 144 cms) tall, with a fresh complexion, dark brown hair and brown eyes. It was noted that she had a squint. She professed to being a Protestant. She said that she could both read and write ‘a little’. She was allocated the convict trade of ‘housemaid’.[13]  

After disembarkation, all of the women were taken to the Anson, the hulk of a former naval vessel that had been moored in the Derwent River near Risdon in 1844 to be used to house female convicts in order to alleviate the overcrowding at the Cascades Female Factory. They were to be kept there for a probationary period of six months before becoming eligible to be hired into service by settlers.[14]  (It is interesting to speculate about how well Mary Ann and her young sister-in-law Mary communicated at this time. At their trial in England, each had blamed the other for initiating the theft that had led to their transportation. While there is no indication of any disharmony between them at the Anson or elsewhere, there is no record of their meeting again after completion of their probation.)

The first five years of Mary Ann’s penal servitude were to bring both sorrow and joy. On 17 January 1849, just over a year after her arrival in the colony, her daughter Catherine passed away in the convict nursey at the Brickfields Hiring Depot.[15] She was three years old. The death certificate shows ‘marasmus’, a severe form of malnutrition, as the cause. Although undoubtedly heartbroken, Mary Ann had little time to grieve. By March 1849, she had been assigned as a convict servant to a Mr. Philip Levy of Liverpool Street, Hobart.

On 1 November of that same year, Mary Ann gave birth at the Cascades to an illegitimate son whom she called Thomas.[16] The father’s name was not recorded but it seems likely that he was a convict by the name of Christopher Barnett.[17] He had been in VDL since his arrival per Asia (6) in August 1841. On 2 July 1840, he had been convicted at the Lincolnshire Quarter Sessions of stealing a ‘smock frock’ and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. At that time, he was about thirty-two years old. It was noted on his Conduct Record at Hobart that he was a married man with two children. In the colony he had been of little trouble to the authorities and, in November 1847 he had been granted a ticket of leave.[18]

On 24 July 1849, he applied for permission to marry Mary Ann but approval had not been granted, the clergyman refusing to proceed with the marriage until Barnett, who now claimed to be a widower, could satisfy him that his wife in England had died. Obviously, he was soon able to produce some proof that she had indeed passed away because, when he made a second application on 30 October that year, it was approved.[19] Two weeks later, Christopher and Mary Ann were married at St John’s Church, Newtown.[20] His age is shown in the parish register as thirty-eight and his occupation (or rank) as ‘cook’. Her age is shown as twenty-five. The column for her occupation or rank had been left blank. Both signed the register with their mark.

At the time of the marriage, Mary Ann appears to have been employed by a Mr. Yates at Hobart and may have remained there until late March 1850 when Christopher – whose conditional pardon was approved that month - was permitted to employ her. While working for Yates, she was charged with her one and only offence in VDL. One 21 February 1850, she was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment at the Cascades for disobedience of orders.[21]

Unfortunately, Mary Ann’s life with Christopher was to be luckless and short-lived. On 14 August 1852, only two-and-a-half years after their marriage, Christopher passed away.[22] His death certificate shows the cause as ‘dropsy’, a condition known generally today as edema, in which fluid retention often leads to heart failure. He was about forty-four years old. Moreover, in the brief time that she and Christopher were together, Mary Ann had given birth to two more children but, sadly, neither seems to have survived infancy. The first of these, an unnamed son born on 28 July 1851, may have died at birth; no death certificate has been located. The second, a son named Reuben, was born on 29 June 1852 but died ten months later.[23]

Not altogether surprisingly, Mary Ann soon married again. In a society in which lone women were vulnerable, marriage provided some protection and security. Moreover, it was a society in which males outnumbered females by a factor of ten to four and there was no shortage of young, single men eager for the comfort of wives.[24]

Her new husband was Charles Stevens (or Stephens), a former convict, who was not only deaf and dumb but almost completely blind in one eye.[25] At the Devon Special Assizes in December 1843, he had been found guilty of highway robbery. He had had previous convictions for pickpocketing and theft, and had been sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. He had arrived at Hobart per Mount Stewart Elphinstone (1) in June 1845. At that time, he was twenty-seven years old and single. By December 1846, although he had been punished several times in VDL for a variety of relatively-minor offences including neglect of duty, disturbing the peace, assaulting a constable and obtaining goods by false pretences, he had been granted a ticket of leave. By June 1853, he had earned a conditional pardon.

On 11 July 1853, Charles and Mary Ann were married at St George’s Church of England, Hobart. The parish register shows the spelling of his name as ‘Stephens’, his age as thirty-five and his occupation as ‘bootmaker’. Mary Ann, whose surname appears as ‘Manley’ rather than ‘Barnett’, is described as a twenty-nine-year-old widow.[26] On 21 February 1854, six months after the wedding, Mary Ann was granted a ticket of leave. On 14 September of the following year, her conditional pardon was approved. On 4 April 1862, she was issued with her certificate of freedom.[27] She was a free woman again.

In the years following their marriage, Mary Ann and Charles lived together, undoubtedly in humble circumstances but in apparent peace and harmony at Hobart. Both lived long lives. Mary Ann was never in trouble with the law again. Charles, on the other hand, appeared before a magistrate on at least three occasions in the early years of the marriage when he was involved in scuffles with men with whom he had been drinking in public houses but none of these offences seems to have been particularly serious.[28] There were no children of the marriage.

Charles passed away at the age of seventy-five on 26 January 1899. The death certificate shows the cause of his death as ‘senility’ (old age).[29] Left without his support, Mary Ann spent the last years of her life at the New Town Charitable Institution. She died at the age of seventy-four on 19 April 1899. Her death certificate, showing her surname as ‘Manley or Stevens’, describes her as a ‘pauper’. As with Charles, the cause of her death is shown as ‘senility’.[30] 

In most ways, Mary Ann’s story is unexceptional. Like the majority of the women who were transported to VDL between 1812 and 1853, she struggled in her early years as a convict to adapt to the circumstances in which she found herself but eventually managed to settle down, to find a measure of happiness, and to become a useful part of a society which was slowly evolving into a free and orderly state.

Of considerable interest in Mary Ann’s story, however, is the apparently cold-hearted action of William Manley, the husband from whom she had been parted in England when convicted and sentenced to transportation. As it happens, on 23 June 1848 – only six months after Mary Ann’s arrival in VDL – William, then twenty-four, married again at Bow, a village close to Payhembury.[31] It was a bigamous marriage, of course. He was described on the marriage entry as a ‘bachelor’. His bride was twenty-five-year-old Catherine (sometimes known as ‘Caroline’ or ‘Kitty’) King. At the time of their marriage, both were living in Bow, and they were shown as still living there, on the main street, in the 1851 census. However, in August 1856, William deserted Catherine and their children and she became a burden on the Exeter Parish of St Mary Major, where she was then living. On 26 January 1857, an order was made for her to be removed to Payhembury Parish, her husband’s birth place. The Church Wardens and Overseers of the Parish of Payhembury contested this decision, and in April 1857 the appeal was heard in the Exeter Quarter Sessions.[32] The grounds for the appeal were that their marriage was invalid, in that William Manley was already married. Evidence was produced showing he had indeed married Mary Ann in Exeter Register Office on 17 April 1844. Mrs. Mary Loddy, Mary Ann’s ‘mother’ confirmed that this was correct, and that told the court that her ‘daughter’ had been transported to Tasmania in 1847 where she believed she was still alive. Furthermore, Mrs. Loddy said that, two to three days before the marriage of William and Catherine, she had been shown a letter which her cousin, Martha Loddy, had received in 1847. The letter, which was believed to have come from VDL, had been written presumably by Mary Ann to her husband, William, and thus supported the view that Mary Ann was still alive when William married Caroline. Although counsel for the defendants objected to the letter being used as evidence because it was not in Mary Ann’s own handwriting – and William denied its accuracy - the court eventually decided in the favour of the appellants.[33] It is assumed that Catherine remained in the parish of St Mary Major. Later, she is believed to have passed away in a mental institution.[34] What ultimately became of William Manley is uncertain.

Of considerable interest in the story of Mary Ann, also, is the fate of her young sister-in-law, Mary – William Manley’s sister - who was still only fourteen years old when she arrived as a convict with Mary Ann on Cadet (2) in 1848, and who, according to her Conduct Record, had been ‘led into crime by her elder relatives’.[35] On 25 November 1850, at the age of seventeen, she married a young convict by the name of Daniel Flood (Pestongee Bomangee, 1849).[36] Coincidentally, Flood, a coach painter from Waterford, Ireland, had also been convicted of stealing a watch and sentenced to transportation for seven years. The marriage appears to have been a happy one. According to family sources there were five children.[37] Daniel died at Hobart at the age of seventy-seven in 1902; Mary passed away at eighty-four at Hobart in 1916.[38] The Convict Records of both are without blemish; neither had ever been in trouble with the law again.


[1] Mary Ann Manley: conduct record: CON41-1-15, image 104; description list: CON19-1-6, image 67; indent: CON15-1-4, images 210 and 211; police no: 319; FCRC ID: 3296.

[2] Public trees via; note, also 1841 England census (see Note 3, below2); however, Mary Ann’s indent shows mother’s name as ‘Mary’ and only three brothers: William, John and Joseph.

[3] 1841 England census, Piece 265, Book 14, Folio 11, page 17 via

[4] Marriage to Manley: ‘England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915’ via

[5] Birth, Catherine: see ‘Petition’ in ‘Research’ notes for Mary Ann Manley (ID 3296) in d/base at

[6] 1841 England census, Piece 226, Book 6, Folio 5, Page 5 via shows William, his parents and his siblings at Payhembury; see also ‘Petition’ in ‘Research’ notes for Mary Ann Manley (ID 3296) in d/base at

[7] Exeter Flying Post, 4 March 1847 via

[8] Morning Post (London), 25 March 1847 via; see also ‘England & Wales Criminal Register 1791-1892 for Devon, England’ at

[9] See Mary Loddy in ‘Research’ notes for Mary Ann Manley (ID 3296) in d/base at

[10] See ‘Petition’ in ‘Research’ notes for Mary Ann Manley (ID 3296) in d/base at

[11] As for Note 11, above.


[13] CON15-1-4, images 210 and 211.

[14] CON41-1-15, image 104;

[15] Death, Catherine Manley, aged three: RGD35/1/2, no 2266.

[16] Thomas Manley: birth, 1 November 1849; RGD33/1/3, no 1960 (See ‘Cascades Return for 1949’.)

[17] Christopher Barnett: CON33-1-9, image 31.

[18] CON33-1-9, image 31.

[19] Application for permission to marry: CON52/1/3, page 21.

[20] Barnett/Manley marriage: 15 November 1849; RGD37/1/8, no 326.

[21] Mary Ann employed by Yates, charged with disobedience of orders: CON41-1-15, image 104; Barnett, conditional pardon: CON33-1-9, image 31.

[22] Barnett, death: RGD35/1/3, no 1616.

[23] Unnamed Barnett child born 28 July 1851: RGD33/1/4, no 627; baby Reuben Barnett, born 29 June 1852: RGD32/1/3, no 4068.

[24] Gender ratio, VDL 1850:

[25] Stevens: CON33-1-66, image 211; the words ‘deaf and dumb’ are recorded on Stevens’s conduct record; his partial blindness: see The Tasmanian Daily News (Hobart), 8 July 1857, p.2.

[26] Marriage Mary Ann: RGD37/1/2, no 426.

[27] ToL: CON41-1-15, image 104; CP: Hobart Town Gazette, 10 October 1854; CF: CON41-1-15, image 104.

[28] See Stevens in The Tasmanian Daily News (Hobart), 8 July 1857, p.2; The Hobart Town Daily Mercury, 27 March 1860, p.2; The Advertiser (Hobart), 28 August 1863, p.3.

[29] Stevens, death: RGD35/1/2, no 366; ‘Senility’ here simply means ‘old age’.

[30] Mary Ann, death: RGD35/1/68, no. 859.

[31] See ‘Bigamy in Bow Church’ at

[32] As for Note 31.

[33] As for Note 31; see also Western Times, (Devon, England), 11 April 1857, p.2 at (accessed 21 January 2023).

[34] Death, Catherine (nee King) Manley: England and Wales, Civil Registration Index, 1837-1915 via UK Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England: Class MH94, Piece 15 via (see Research Notes at

[35] Mary Manley: CON41-1-5, image 103; FCRC ID: 3295.

[36] Daniel Flood: CON31-1-92, image 116; permission to marry: CON52/1/3, p.149; marriage: RGD37/542/1850, Hobart.

[37] Public trees per

[38] Death, Daniel: 28 February 1902; Tas. Reg: 509/1902; Tasmanian News (Hobart), 1 March 1902, p.1; The Mercury (Hobart), 1 March 1902, p.1; death: Mary Manley (Mary Ann’s sister-in-law): The Mercury (Hobart), 15 September 1016, p.1.


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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].

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