From the crowded tenements of Edinburgh to the Female Factory nestling in the shadow of Mt Wellington, dozens of Scottish women convicts were exiled to Van Diemen's Land with their young children. This is a rich and evocative account of the lives of women at the bottom of society two hundred years ago.
'Her superb research and sympathetic reconstructions of nineteenth-century Scotland and Australia bring to life a long-forgotten but fascinating group of women.' - Siân Rees, author of The Floating Brothel
In the early nineteenth century, crofters and villagers streamed into the burgeoning cities of Scotland, and families splintered. Orphan girls, single mothers and women on their own all struggled to feed and clothe themselves. For some, petty theft became a part of life. Any woman deemed 'habite & repute a thief' might find herself before the High Court of Justiciary, tried for yet another minor theft and sentenced to transportation 'beyond Seas'.
Lucy Frost memorably paints the portrait of a boatload of women and their children who arrived in Hobart in 1838. Instead of serving time in prison, the women were sent to work as unpaid servants in the houses of settlers. Feisty Scottish convicts, unaccustomed to bowing and scraping, often irritated their middle-class employers, who charged them with insolence, or refusing to work, or getting drunk. A stint in the female factory became their punishment.
Many women survived the convict system and shaped their own lives once they were free. They married, had children and found a place in the community. Others, though, continued to be plagued by errors and disasters until death.
LUCY FROST has spent a career researching and writing about nineteenth-century women. She is the author of No Place for a Nervous Lady and other books on women's experience.
Short-listed, Manning Clark House Cultural Awards, 2013
Commended, Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards - FAW Excellence in Non-fiction Award, 2012
Commended, Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards - Sid Harta Award, 2012
Table Of Contents:
1 'Fully ripe for transportation'
2 'Transported beyond seas'
3 Deaths in the Female Factory
4 Finding a bearable place
5 'These rebellious hussies'
6 Taking the children away
7 Orphans of the Atwick
8 Motherhood under sentence
9 The vagaries of freedom
10 The last survivors
List of the Scottish convicts on the Atwick
A note on sources
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin
Paperback - C format