Today we are excited to launch our Australian Female Convict Database – A Genealogical Community Project! Be part of this exciting new concept to immortalise the founding women of our country. WIN PRIZES! Learn to write your ancestors’ story. Help to create a completely FREE research archive for Australian Female Convicts! http://kkgenealogy.com/afcd/
I had been looking forward to this conference for some time now and hoped to be able to attend it with my trusty offsider, Kristy, but unfortunately the poor old thing could not come. Kristy is recuperating from a car accident she had last week in which some moron P plater drove straight through a roundabout and totalled both cars. Thankfully neither were seriously injured but Kristy has whiplash and so sitting at a conference all day was not on the agenda for her.
Not to be deterred I sallied forth down the highway to Parramatta, carefully avoiding looking anywhere near St John’s Cemetery in case the resident ghosts we encountered late last year spotted me and came out for another round. I tell you, I’m never going there again.
But, true to form, I arrived at the venue without my tickets. They were sitting by themselves enjoying a lovely day on my kitchen bench next to my camera battery charger. I don’t take stress very easily, hence the blood pressure medication, and I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to get in. Of course, no need to worry and as my name got marked off the list I did a silent “Yessss” as I entered the conference room.
Quite a few people there and the first I spotted was Thomas Macentee sitting by himself at a little table. I’m not particularly shy since I hit the Over 50′s so over I strode to introduce myself and say hello. Thomas is a lovely bloke and was instrumental in getting me the guest blogger position on Saving Memories Forever so we spoke for a while and he told me that the company had recently won an innovation award. Nice to hear.
Thomas did two talks that I saw. One on cloud computing for genealogists and another on preparing a genealogical toolbox which were quite interesting to have names put to things that most of us would do automatically. There was one lady from outback Queensland who mentioned that the internet access out there is so minimal that cloud computing is only a dream and I could see that what is taken as being the norm in most parts of the world, really doesn’t always sit well with us Aussies. I’m saying this as I am up at sparrows this morning so I can use my superduperextrafasttopoftheline connection which fails miserably every evening up here less than 100 kms from the heart of Sydney. Oh well…
Next on my Meet and Greet menu was Alona Tester from Gould Genealogy, Helen Smith from Unlock the Past and Rosemary Koppitke and her amazing Flip Pal Mobile Scanner. It’s great to put faces to names and I enjoyed chatting like long lost friends with these ladies. Alona had a huge range of books in front of her and seemed a little embarrassed that so many had sold and others had to be ordered. It’s ok Alona, we still love you. :)
Whilst talking with Alona, Chris Paton was standing beside me trying to wriggle his way out of a delicate situation :) so I offered to witness his pain in exchange for his cheque in my mail and thought I’d made my first million dollars of the day :) Chris later spoke on chasing Irish records online and it was a truly brilliant speech. I had spent $24 on his book “Irish Family History Resources Online” just prior to the speech so whatever I missed from laughing at his jokes and trying to decipher his accent I knew I would catch up on later this weekend over a few good cups of tea. Tracing Irish in our house is like finding where the cat has hidden just before bedtime. I turn over everything and still have to get up at 2am to put them in bed. grrrr.
A Geneabloggers photo was taken and I’m going to pinch it from Unlock the Past’s Twitter account to post right here.. I figure that’s ok if I’m in it. That was great to have done but I wish I could have met and had time to speak to more of the ladies in the photo. If you were there, please say so in the comments below.
Over lunch I sat with two lovely ladies who didn’t seem to have any idea of this little cyber blogging world we create and we chatted about all sorts of things before I had a tap on the shoulder from Janelle Collins of Janelle’s Family Tree Addiction (one of the nicest ladies you will meet and a library whiz to boot) to see if I would pop down to meet some more people she had found.
Sharon Muffet of the Gathering Dust blog and Jill Ball of Geniausfame were so lovely. Miss Muffett has the driest wit (which I adore) and Jill is just the Genealogy Queen of Australia and I was humbled in her presence :) It was a shame we didn’t get to spend more time chatting Jill but I’m sure there will be another chance sooner rather than later.
Now, the only downside to the whole day was that neither Janelle, Sharon nor I won a damn thing in the lucky door prizes. Not a cracker. We positioned ourselves next to the aisle and had cocked our chairs sideways so we could run like Price is Right contestants if our numbers were called and it was all for nothing. Next time we have to rig that draw somehow…. excuse me while I just put a post-it note on my fridge about that…
Overall it was a great day and what I found most wonderful about it all was that if you were alone at any point, all you had to do was whisper the word “convict” and someone would spin around and smile and introduce themselves. Nice to be amongst like minded geeks.
I was thinking about it all on the drive home along the M4 in peak hour traffic (oh what joy) and decided to start going to more of these events. I don’t know why the thought has never occurred to me before.
Sydney Gazette 24th February 1810
By His Excellency Lachlan Macquarie, Esquire, Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, &c. &c. &c.
WHEREAS HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR has seen with great Regret, the Immorality and Vice so prevalent among the Lower Classes of this Colony; and whereas he feels HIMSELF called upon in particular to reprobate and check, as far as lies in his Power, the scandalous and pernicious Custom so generally and shamelessly adopted throughout this Territory, of Persons of different Sexes COHABITING and living toge- ther, unsanctioned by the legal Ties of MATRI- MONY; and Whereas the Consequences of this immoral and illicit Intercourse have been found (as might have been expected) not only highly injurious to the Interests of the Society at large, but oftentimes attended also with grievous Cala- mity to the Parties themselves, and the innocent Offspring of their Misconducts—And whereas such Practices are a Scandal to RELIGION, to Decency, and to all Good GOVERNMENT; And whereas also, frequent Applications have been made on the part of divers Women, to the Court of Civil Jurisdiction, for the Grant of lettters of Administration of the Goods and Effects of Persons dying intestate, on the sole Ground of having lived for a Number of Years with the Deceased in a State of illegal and criminal Intercourse; His Excellency the Governor, anxious to promote the Interests of Virtue (upon which those of Society must ever rest), by the Encourage- ment of lawful Marriage to preserve Morality and Decorum, and to protect the innocent Sufferers from the Consequences of such Practices; and hoping that the frequency of such Connexions may be in a great Measure owing to an Ignorance of the Calamity which will probably result from them; and that a more extended Knowledge of this Circumstance may be the Means of checking the Formation of such engagements in future, feels it his Duty hereby publicly to make known to the INHABITANTS of this Colony that the mere Circumstance of illegal Cohabitation (for whatever Length of Time) with any Man, confers no valid Title upon the Woman to the Goods and Effects of such Person, in Case he should die intestate; and that Letters of Admi- nistration of the Goods and Effects of Persons dying intestate cannot be legally granted to any Applicants upon such Grounds, and under such Circumstances as aforesaid ; and that the distress- ful Consequences which must be felt in particular Instances from the Refusal of such Applications, can alone be avoided by the Formation of honour- able and legal Engagements.
His Excellency the Governor, aware of the Frequency of such illicit Connexions, and seeing the shameless and open Manner in which they are avoided, to the utter Subversion of all Decency and Decorum, is compelled to express, in this public Manner, his high Disapprobation of such Immorality, and his firm Resolution to repress, by every Means in his Power, all such disgraceful Connections; and publicly declares, that neither Favour nor Patronage will ever be extended to those who contract or encourage them.
On the other Hand, His Excellency the Governor is anxious to hold forth every Inducement to the Formation of lasting and virtuous Connexions, and to encourage Lawful Marriage by every possible Means; as he is convinced,that from such Connexions alone can be expected to arise either Habits of Industry, or Decency of Conduct:—Those, therefore, who form such Connexions, and whose Lives and Conduct are sober, decent, and industrious, may ever look up to His Excellency for all reasonable Encouragement.
As a further Means of effecting that Improvement which he so earnestly wishes, His Excellency cannot forbear to make known his indignation towards those Persons who, in Defiance of all Law and Decency, scandalously keep open, during the Night, the most licentious and disorderly Houses, for the Reception of the Abandoned of both Sexes, and to the great Encouragement of dissolute and disorderly Habits; and he publicly avows his Resolution to give strict Orders to the Officers of the Police to report to him the Proprietors of all such Houses, and to punish such Offenders to the utmost Extent allowed by Law.
His Excellency the Governor sanguinely hopes, that the Measures he is now adopting will not be ineffectual in producing that Decorum and Morality, the Want of which is at once so disgraceful, and so detrimental to Society; And he trusts, that when the Inhabitants of this Colony shall see that Favor and Encouragement are to be obtained only by a strict Observance of the Rules of Mo rality and Decorum, they will become sensible of the Error and Folly of a longer Indulgence of Habits of Profligacy and Irregularity.
Given under my Hand, at Government House, Sydney, this 24h Day of Fe- bruary, 1810.
GOD SAVE THE KING !
This article from the Sydney Gazette on the 10th of September 1827 is a fine example of just how women were treated under Marsden’s watch and “guidance”. For anyone who is researching a female convict ancestor and wondering why she married when she did, this is the article for you.
” 1.-” It is the opinion of the Rev. Mr. Marsden, that marriage, even in New South Wales., operates as a corrective of vicious propensities ; and in that point of view is to be encouraged, by giving as early per- mission as possible to the wives of convicts to follow their husbands to the Colony, to prevent the latter from forming new connexions there. Great difficulty is found in distinguishing between the real and pretended motives for applications of convicts to be married in the Colony ; and no doubt is entertained, that the marriage obligation is contracted for the purpose of making an alteration in the civil condition of the parties. This alteration is certainly more abrupt than is consistent with a just notion of punishment; but, as long as the punishment of the female convicts consisted of detention and labour in the factory at Parramatta, it was better policy to give them a chance of correcting their morals by early marriage, than to continue that detention with the certainty of more deeply depraving them in their single state.
2.-” Instances very frequently occur of the marriage of convicts with emancipated convict women, and with young women who are born in the Colony, to which the latter are as much prompted by their early dispositions to marriage, as by the associations into which they are led, from the admission of the convict labourers to the houses and tables of the lower classes of emancipated convict settlers, to whom they are assigned. The marriage of the native-born youths with female convicts are very rare ; a circumstance that is attributable to the general disinclination to early marriage that is observable amongst them and partly to the abandoned and dissolute habits of the female convicts, but chiefly to a sense of pride in the native-born youths, approaching to contempt for the vices and depravity of the convicts, even when manifested in the persons of their own parents.
3.-” The applications of male and female convicts to be allowed to marry are addressed to the chaplains of the districts, who make inquiries where they can, and sometimes make a reference to the principal superintendent of convicts, for information of their condition. A list of these applications is submitted to the Governor, with such remarks upon the condition or circumstances of the party applying, as may have occurred to the chaplains, or come to their knowledge, on the first Monday of each month. This regulation took place in the month of October, 1816, to remedy some inconvenience of the former practice, that consisted only of transmitting to the Governor certificates signed by the chaplains, that the banns had been published. It was alleged that sufficient time was not given by that means for inquiry into the condition of the parties; and it was certainly desirable, that if reference or appeal was made to the authority and discretion of the Governor, that it should be made before, rather than after the publication of the banns three times in the church. By the new regulation, more time is required from the first period of application for marriage, to the solemnization of it than is always consistent with the views of the parties; and where they live at a distance from the chaplains, it may operate as a discouragement to marriage. By the correspondence that took place between the Governor and Mr Marsden upon the subject, the former was of opinion, that it was better to incur that risk than afford an inducement to hasty and injudicious connexions, by limiting the period of objection to the ordinary one of three weeks; and in this opinion I concur.
4.-” As no information is transmitted in the hulk lists, of the single or married state of the convicts, and when there are so many motives in New South Wales for concealing it, it is very difficult, almost impossible, to ascertain it.
5.-” Two affecting consequences of a second marriage, contracted in New South Wales during the life-time of a first and absent husband, are mentioned by Mr. Marsden in his evidence ; and he states such marriages to have been of frequent occurrence. These consequences may be greatly obviated, by requiring the gaolers of the different prisons in England to communicate the information that they may receive respecting the single or married condition of the convicts sent to the hulks ; and by adding these particulars, corrected by subsequent inquiry there, to the communications transmitted in the hulk lists. A much better chance will then exist of obtaining a true statement, when the advantages attending the marriage state in New South Wales are unknown or unperceived, than when they form, as they certainly do in that Colony, a very strong temptation to imposture.
6.-” This disposition is further prompted by an idea that was represented to me to have prevailed amongst the convicts, that capital conviction followed by sentence of death, afterwards commuted to transportation for life, operated as a dissolution of the marriage contract ; and it may therefore be an additional reason for disappointing, by early inquiry, any undue expectations to which such an idea must give arise.”
Just imagine the punishments if this “crime” had been committed by a convict.
Sydney Gazette 21st July 1805
“Every avoidable expense in a family must be deemed extravagance, and every article of extravagance, an article of luxury. If proper attention were bestowed upon this natural inference, less would in all probability be paid to the propagation of the canine species. A little useless member of the tribe too delicately reared to put up with an ordinary fare was a day or two ago arrainged upon the capital charge of devouring sixteen fine young goslings, on suspicion of which an innocent cat had been accused and executed.
But the example of such made no impression upon the little barbarous epicure, who having killed 15 without detection, was surprised in the very act of tearing the last to pieces. This is certainly a dainty little dog. but a great favorite; from the last of which considerations he is still careful; and his extreme fondness for the young poultry may certainly be admitted as a verv recommendatory qualification.”