Abandoned Women. Scottish Convicts Exiled Beyond the Seas by Lucy Frost

By Lucy Frost

From the crowded tenements of Edinburgh to the feminine manufacturing facility nestling within the shadow of Mt Wellington, dozens of Scottish girls convicts have been exiled to Van Diemen's Land with their children. this can be a wealthy and evocative account of the lives of girls on the backside of society 2 hundred years in the past. within the early 19th century, crofters and villagers streamed into the burgeoning towns of Scotland, and households splintered. Orphan ladies, unmarried moms and girls on their lonesome all struggled to feed and dress themselves. For a few, petty robbery turned part of existence. Any girl deemed "habite & reputation a thief" may perhaps locate herself sooner than the excessive court docket of Justiciary, attempted for yet one more minor robbery and sentenced to transportation "beyond Seas." Lucy Frost memorably paints the portrait of a boatload of ladies and their childrens who arrived in Hobart in 1838. rather than serving time in felony, the ladies have been despatched to paintings as unpaid servants within the homes of settlers. Feisty Scottish convicts, unaccustomed to bowing and scraping, usually aggravated their middle-class employers, who charged them with insolence, or refusing to paintings, or getting inebriated. A stint within the girl manufacturing unit turned their punishment. many girls survived the convict procedure and formed their very own lives after they have been loose. They married, had young ones and located a spot in the neighborhood. Others, notwithstanding, endured to be stricken by blunders and mess ups till demise.

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Sample text

Apparently she wanted a life completely different from the Edinburgh streets where she had been two years ‘on the town’, which generally meant working as a prostitute. Catherine McBrayne said she was a ‘dressmaker and flouncer’, although at the time she was arrested in Glasgow she said she occasionally ‘gets employment’ from a warehouse. Mary Harper, petty thief and wandering hawker of trim and lace, was translated into ‘plain cook and house servant, wash and iron’. None of the Scottish convicts who had worked in the mills were described as having industrial experience.

There is no way of knowing what the Coroner thought of the crusading journalists. Whether he was intimidated or simply hoped to drag them into the morass, he made a strategic decision to involve them directly the next time he held an inquest inside the Cascades Female Factory. All three editors were with him when he entered the gates on 26 March to determine why 31-year-old Barbara Henning died two months after she disembarked from the Atwick. The editor of the Colonial Times was there unofficially ‘by the kind permission of the Coroner’, but the other two editors were actual members of the jury, and the editor of Murray’s Review was elected foreman.

Instructed to state her offence, she said, ‘Stealing articles, prosecuted by my father’. Catherine McBrayne, transported for theft, was described in her gaol report as a woman ‘of dissipated habits, in prison before, connexions very bad. Married’. ‘Stealing money from the person’, she said, ‘tried with my Husband’, and she went on to talk about her family: ‘Married, 5 children, Husband John transported to VDL [Van Diemen’s Land], 2 Children on Board, James 13 years, George 5 years’. She may have said more, may have named the three children left behind, but the clerk recorded only what might be relevant while she served her sentence.

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