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 youngsters. it is 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 women, unmarried moms and girls on their lonesome all struggled to feed and dress themselves. For a few, petty robbery grew to become part of existence. Any girl deemed "habite & reputation a thief" may locate herself prior to the excessive court docket of Justiciary, attempted for one more minor robbery and sentenced to transportation "beyond Seas." Lucy Frost memorably paints the portrait of a boatload of ladies and their young ones 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, frequently aggravated their middle-class employers, who charged them with insolence, or refusing to paintings, or getting under the influence of alcohol. A stint within the girl manufacturing unit turned their punishment. many girls survived the convict procedure and formed their very own lives when they have been unfastened. They married, had youngsters and located a spot locally. Others, even though, persisted to be stricken by mistakes and mess ups until eventually loss of life.

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The Principal Superintendent of Convicts granted this request, and Mary carried ‘the child in my arms when I went in’. Once inside the gates, ‘I was undressed, as is customary, and clothed in the prison dress’.  . I told Mr Hutchinson that I was suckling the baby, when he said, if I made any noise, and did not go into the yard, he would put me in a [solitary] cell’. In spite of her loud and fervent protestations, Mary was sent to the crime class to serve her term of hard labour, while Thomas was sent to the nursery to be abruptly weaned.

Or stand to be measured. Another examination, another list, a printed form with details to be filled in: name, trade, height, age, complexion, head, hair, visage, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, remarks. ‘Native place’, unasked-for by the form, was entered on the right-hand side of the page. V. Jackson, ‘to see deep into the life they are leaving behind. 3 centimetres— just over 5 foot 1 inch in the measurement scale used on the records. indd 27 12/12/11 1:02:24 PM 28 Abandoned Women: Scottish Convicts Exiled Beyond the Seas All this measuring and listing was slow and laborious, and the Atwick had been in the harbour for six days when Principal Superintendent Spode finally told the Colonial Secretary that he expected to ‘have finished the exams’ by early afternoon and would be ‘ready to land the women in the morning’, so if the colonial chaplain, Reverend William Bedford, wished to conduct a religious service, 3 pm would be a good time.

On the following Tuesday the Colonial Times gave readers a blow-byblow account of the inquest in a lengthy article of small print covering four and a half columns. The star witness, reported the newspaper, was the child’s mother, Mary Vowles. She told the Coroner ‘and a highly intelligent jury of fifteen’ that she had come free on the Princess Royal. Her criminal conviction was local. When Mary was ‘ordered into the Factory’, her husband ‘applied to Mr Spode for special leave to suckle my baby’.

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