The Anson and the Probation System

held on Sunday 5th May, 2019

at the Hobart Town Hall, Macquarie Street

From 1844 until the end of transportation in 1853, female convicts were required to serve six months’ probation upon arrival In Van Diemen’s Land. This probation period was designed to teach convicts desirable skills, including reading, writing, ciphering (numeracy), needlework and domestic service. It was also designed to separate newly arrived convicts from the more hardened criminals in the female factories. When the probation period was completed, a convict became a probation pass-holder.

The HMS Anson arrived in Hobart as a male convict transport in 1844 and was subsequently refitted as a probation station for female convicts. It was then towed to New Town Bay and shortly after to Prince of Wales Bay, Risdon, near Hobart, where it was moored. Between 1844 and 1850, this hulk housed female convicts serving their six month probation period. Dr and Mrs Bowden were appointed to manage the Anson Probation Station. Women from the Woodbridge and the Angelina were among the first to be housed on the Anson. The Anson held from 250 to 520 women at any one time The Anson was dismantled in 1850 and the women were transferred to the Cascade Female Factory.

Session 1:

The Anson and its cargo of convicts – Maree Ring

Were the blokes better off? A comparison of the conditions at the female vs. male convict probation stations in Van Diemen's Land – Robyn Everist  (In Powerpoint Presentation format, available on request as a PDF).

Philippa Bowden, Matron of The Anson – Alison Alexander

Session 2:

Anne, Mary and Sarah, starting life in Tasmania on the Anson – Helen Howarth

Catherine Wallace and the Fair Maids of Perth – Gordon Cleary

'It was in the family': the story of Rebecca Jackson – Sue Wyatt

Session 3:

Mrs Meredith preferred ‘Anson girls’ – Alice Hodgson

Fr Cotham, Catholic priest to the Anson convicts – Joanna Vials, read by Dianne Snowden



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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].