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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 ladies convicts have been exiled to Van Diemen's Land with their children. it is a wealthy and evocative account of the lives of ladies 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 all alone all struggled to feed and dress themselves. For a few, petty robbery turned part of lifestyles. Any girl deemed "habite & reputation a thief" may well locate herself sooner 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 children 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 inebriated. A stint within the woman manufacturing facility turned their punishment. many girls survived the convict process and formed their very own lives when they have been loose. They married, had childrens and located a spot locally. Others, notwithstanding, persisted to be suffering from error and mess ups until eventually demise.

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In fact, as the True Colonist told its readers on Friday 16 March, this was an inquest ‘some of the neighbours, much to their credit, had demanded to be held on the body of the little victim’, a ‘poor little helpless, innocent child’ named Thomas Vowles who had entered the Female Factory with his mother as a healthy infant, had sickened there, and was retrieved by his father in time to die at home. 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.

Pregnant convicts were returned to the Factory to give birth, and then went into the nursery to breastfeed until their babies were weaned at the age of nine months. At that moment mother and child were separated. The mother went back into the crime class to serve her punishment for becoming pregnant, and then out she went to work again. The babies stayed in the nursery until aged two before leaving the Female Factory (for the first time in their lives) to be admitted into the Male and Female Orphan Schools.

After all the washing was over, they ate breakfast at 8 am, and then went to school or did needlework, using their gifts from the Ladies. Although few of the Scottish prisoners could read or write, it’s difficult to imagine them turning up diligently for school each morning (maybe they sent the children). Needlework looks like the better option. At least while you were playing around with patchwork pieces, you could chat, tell stories, speculate on the future. A little before noon, the prisoners were mustered and given a drink made from wine, lime juice, sugar, and water.

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