By Lucy Frost
From the crowded tenements of Edinburgh to the feminine manufacturing unit nestling within the shadow of Mt Wellington, dozens of Scottish ladies convicts have been exiled to Van Diemen's Land with their young ones. it is a wealthy and evocative account of the lives of girls on the backside of society 200 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 ladies on their lonesome all struggled to feed and dress themselves. For a few, petty robbery grew to become part of lifestyles. Any girl deemed "habite & reputation a thief" may perhaps locate herself earlier than the excessive courtroom of Justiciary, attempted for another minor robbery and sentenced to transportation "beyond Seas." Lucy Frost memorably paints the portrait of a boatload of girls and their young ones who arrived in Hobart in 1838. rather than serving time in legal, the ladies have been despatched to paintings as unpaid servants within the homes of settlers. Feisty Scottish convicts, unaccustomed to bowing and scraping, usually annoyed their middle-class employers, who charged them with insolence, or refusing to paintings, or getting under the influence of alcohol. A stint within the woman manufacturing facility grew to become their punishment. many ladies survived the convict approach and formed their very own lives after they have been loose. They married, had young children and located a spot locally. Others, notwithstanding, persisted to be laid low with blunders and failures until eventually loss of life.
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Additional info for Abandoned Women. Scottish Convicts Exiled Beyond the Seas
Nothing on Elizabeth’s convict record suggested she would behave any better than Ann or Jane. ‘Very bad character’, read her report from the Edinburgh gaol. And unlike most of the Atwick women, Elizabeth Williamson was tried for a crime involving violence. The story emerging from her precognition is that of a tough Highland woman who bashed a man in the face with a candlestick when he tried to leave her house on the edge of Edinburgh’s New Town without paying for the use of a room where he had sex.
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. Mary Harper ‘transported for theft, Bad Character, in Gaol Before’, said she had been transported for ‘Stealing clothes, prosecutor at Stonehaven’, convicted twice before of the same offence. And then she spoke of a fractured family, mentioned a child and a husband, ‘Patrick Short at Glasgow’, saying her ‘real name’ was Short. The clerk recorded as aliases other names she went under: Short, Stewart, McMullen.
Away went Margaret, and did not come back. The children, who fortunately knew where they were in the maze of old town streets, made their way home. The girl told her mother what had happened. Keep a look-out for that thieving woman, said the mother, and the little girl did. A few times the five-year-old caught sight of Margaret scurrying along the street, but the thief had disappeared before the child could fetch her mother. At last they were lucky. One day the mother was along when the girl cried out—there she is, she stole my silk handkerchief!