Topic: "A more hopeless class of subjects?"

Convict Women at the New Norfolk Asylum


Held on Sunday 20th October, 2019 at the Hobart Town Hall.

In 1859, the Commissioners of the Hospital for the Insane at New Norfolk wrote, ‘It must be borne in mind that a large majority of the patients … confined in the asylum have been of the convict class, the offspring of diseased parents, inheriting in very many cases a defective intellect, brought up from the earliest childhood in misery and vice, and leading in after years a life of sensual debauchery and crime, resulting in enfeeblement alike of body and mind – a more hopeless class of subjects it would be impossible to collect together in one institution’ (cit Gowlland, Troubled Asylum, p.54)

This seminar explored the lives of convict women admitted to the New Norfolk Asylum. Presentations included:

Session 1

The New Norfolk Asylum: an overview – Dianne Snowden

Women convicted at Liverpool and admitted to NNA – Stephanie McComb  

Mary Ann Lowe – a convict – Margaret Schmidt

Session 2

Balancing silent treatment and silent histories – Catherine Rees

The Last Ladies – Chris Woods

Apprehended in Liverpool Street: Female delinquency and madness in the Van Diemen’s Land colony – Honey Dower

Session 3

Deaths at the New Norfolk Hospital for the Insane – Leonie Mickleborough

Solitary confinement exposure and psychiatric admission rates – Hamish Maxwell-Stewart




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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].