Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary

of Convict Women from beyond the British Isles

 

Edited by Lucy Frost and Colette McAlpine

 

Who would have thought that a slave in British Hondurus would end up as a female convict in Van Diemen’s Land? Or that two cousins, the oldest aged 12, would be transported from their native Mauritius all the way to New South Wales? And why was a French-born woman with the extravagant name Emme Felicite Gabrielle Chardonez Mallohomme sentenced at London’s Old Bailey to transportation for life?

 

Edges of Empire is a Biographical Dictionary offering accounts of many of these convicts among nearly 200 others who were tried or born outside the British Isles. All were transported to the Australian colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land between 1788 and 1853. Their life stories have been tracked from numerous sources around the world, sometimes in detail and sometimes with the merest trace of their existence. The contributors to the Biographical Dictionary are members of the Female Convicts Research Centre, based in Hobart, Tasmania, but with a membership worldwide. For more information go to: http://www.femaleconvicts.org.au.

 

In addition to the Biographical Dictionary, which includes all the women for whom information has become available,  the more in-depth and comprehensive study, From the Edges of Empire: Convict Women from beyond the British Isles, is available in paperback from Convict Women’s Press Inc.

 

 

Feature Story:

Simpson, Ann

Ann Simpson (1815?-?)

By Steve Rhodes

 

Ann Simpson was born in Portugal in about 1815 around the time of the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Nothing more is known of her life until 18 October 1832 when she found herself in the dock of the Old Bailey, charged with the larceny of various items of clothing and personal belongs of Jane Hambilton. It transpired that Jane had befriended Ann and allowed her to stay at her house whilst her husband, Charles Hambilton, was at sea. This arrangement lasted about one month when Jane awoke to find all of her possessions and Ann gone.

 Before she was able to raise the alarm with the police, Jane had to send for her sister to bring her some clothes that she could wear. When apprehended by Constable John Harwicks, Ann was found still in possession of the stolen items other than a shawl, which had been pawned on 3 October in the name of Sarah Miller.

In the evidence presented by the two women, they agreed that they had first met in a house of correction when Jane had failed to pay a fine after getting into difficulties with her landlord. They, however, disagreed about whether Jane had offered to get Ann into the Refuge or the Magdalen Asylum, and whether they went out together in the evening. Ann was found guilty and at 17 years of age was sentenced to transportation for 7 years.

Having received a good report by the ship’s surgeon, Ann arrived in Hobart Town on the convict transport Jane on 30 June 1833. Her indent describes her as 4 feet 11 inches (149.86 cm) tall, with brown hair and grey eyes, of fair complexion, a round head, narrow visage, retreating forehead, large mouth and long sharp nose. She could read, was single, a Protestant, was skilled as a house and kitchen maid, and had been ‘on the town’ for four months.

During her sentence Ann received the punishments of solitary confinement and time at the wash tub for being absent and insolent. She was also prosecuted for threatening to beat Maria Harman for which she was fined 5/- and costs.

It is believed that Ann gave birth to a daughter, Eliza Ann, in 1834, but the father is unknown. In 1839 she received her certificate of freedom, having served her full sentence, and then no further trace has been found of her.

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