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

By Lucy Frost

From the crowded tenements of Edinburgh to the feminine manufacturing unit nestling within the shadow of Mt Wellington, dozens of Scottish girls convicts have been exiled to Van Diemen's Land with their youngsters. this can be a wealthy and evocative account of the lives of ladies 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 women, unmarried moms and ladies 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 perhaps locate herself ahead of 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 girls and their youngsters who arrived in Hobart in 1838. rather than serving time in criminal, 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 lady manufacturing unit grew to become their punishment. many girls survived the convict procedure and formed their very own lives after they have been loose. They married, had little ones and located a spot locally. Others, although, persevered to be stricken by error and mess ups till demise.

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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. indd 37 12/12/11 1:02:30 PM 38 Abandoned Women: Scottish Convicts Exiled Beyond the Seas Bonar and Grace Logan. Both were breastfeeding daughters more than a year old, and they were probably ordered to start weaning them immediately.

At the back of Yard 2, and separated by yet another wall, ‘solitary working cells’ rose in two-storey blocks. Unlike the ‘dark cells’ in the corner of Yard 1, which so appalled the gentlemen visitors, these working cells had an opening over the doors to let in light, and the incarcerated inmates, though hungry from their paltry rations of bread and water, at least had something to keep themselves occupied as they sat untwisting and picking old rope so that the fibres could be re-used in caulking ships.

Some women were apparently difficult to place, in spite of the ‘numerous’ applications for female servants, and the twelve who remained unassigned a month after the Atwick dropped anchor must have been worrying about what dregs of jobs they would eventually face. indd 32 12/12/11 1:02:27 PM 3 Deaths in the Female Factory T he Scottish children must have been stunned when the door closed behind them and they found themselves locked into the nursery yard. They stood in a small courtyard paved with flagstones, without a tree or a bush or even a blade of grass in sight.

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