Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Parramatta_Female_Factorypainted by Augustus Earle, c. 1826

Who was the Innocent Convict...on reading the article of that title, (see below) the name given is Mary Green. Was she living in the female factory?

 There was a Mary Green at the Female Factory...was she the right Mary Green?


A 'Mary Green' appears on the list on Convicts to Australia at  http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/confem44.html
arriving on the Wanstead...
Wanstead - Arrived 9 January 1814.
Sailed 24/8/1813 from Spithead in 138 days.
Embarked 120 females.

Green          Mary                Nottingham         13     03    1813   ENGLAND

However the Mary Green the article labels as the 'innocent convict' appears to have come out in the First Fleet according to the time mentioned in the story.

On a list of convicts, published by Gutenberg Australia, only one Mary Green is mentioned.   http://gutenberg.net.au/convicts.txt

"The Innocent Convict..."

Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893), Thursday 9 March 1865, page 4 

Please click on image to enlarge..


(From Diaries of a Lady of Quality: by A. Hayward, Q.C.)
November 18th, 1803.—"We left Buxton in
the midst of a deep snow, and after a very cold
and wretched journey arrived at Elton [Elton
Hall, Oundle : the seat of the Earl of Carysfort]
the next day. During the time we were there,
I heard the following story, which appeared to
me very interesting:—Some years ago some
passengers in a vessel bound for Botany Bay
were very much struck by the appearance of a
female convict who was on board. She was a
very beautiful woman, and appeared to be only
eighteen or nineteen : her elegant manners were
as striking as the beauty of her person. To
these charms she added one still more powerful
—great modesty and strict propriety of de-
portment. It was this quality, so extra-
ordinary in this most abject situation, which
first called forth the attention of her su-
periors. The captain of the vessel was re-
quested to examine the register which was sent
with every convict detailing their offence and
their sentence, and inform the passengers what
had been the crime of a creature who appeared
so lovely. He found that her name was Mary
Green, and that she had been convicted on the
clearest evidence of stealing a card of lace from
a shop in Oxford-street. During a long passage,
her continued good conduct gained her so much
respect that, a maid-servant belonging to one of
the officers having fallen sick on board, his wife
took Mary Green to supply her place; she
found very soon that she had gained by the
change: the more she saw of Mary the better
she liked her. At last she tried to persuade
herself that her favorite was innocent of the
crime laid to her charge. She questioned her
as to her former situation, and as to the reasons
which could have induced her to the commission
of a crime which seemed so foreign to her
nature. Mary replied, as she had to all her
former inquiries, that no power on earth could
make her reveal any part of her story. She
added that she was perfectly resigned to her
fate, and determined to pass the rest of her
days in New Holland, as she could never re-visit
her native land. Still, in spite of the mystery
which hung about her, she rose every day in
the good opinion of her mistress, who, after
some time, placed her about her children ; then
only she discovered that, in addition to all her
amiable qualities, Mary possessed, in a superior
degree, all the talents and accomplishments
which belong to an exalted situation. She
spoke several modern languages, and understood
both painting and music—in short, she soon
became the favorite companion of her mistress,
who could no longer treat this superior being as
a servant. Still, however, Mary resisted her
urgent entreaties to discover her former situa-
tion ; she owned that it had been superior to
that rank in which she now found herself ; con-
fessed that her present name was assumed;
added that she had been very unfortunate ; but
would never add to her other misfortunes that
of thinking her relations and friends were
blushing for her. About three years after
this time, the chaplain of the settlement was
called upon to attend the deathbed of an old
female convict who was lately arrived. Though
an old offender who had grown up in the paths
of vice, this woman felt in her last moments
great contrition, and made a full confession of
all her crimes. She said that what laid the
most heavy on her conscience was the recollec-
tion of her having laid one of her offences to the
charge of an innocent young woman. She said
that, having gone in one day to a shop ¡n
Oxford-street at the same time with a very young
girl who appeared to be fresh from the country,
she had spoken to her ; and, after having stolen
a card of lace, she followed the young woman
out of the shop. Soon after, hearing the cry of
" stop thief," she made a pretence of her clog
boing untied to ask the assistance of the young
woman, who was still close by her, and while
she was stooping had contrived to slip the lace
into her muff, and to escape herself be-
fore their pursuers reached them. She
said she had afterwards heard that the
poor girl had been convicted of an offence of
which she knew her to be perfectly inno-
cent. This account immediately brought to the
chaplain's mind the Mary Green who had ex-
cited so muoh curiosity, he went immediately
to her, asked for her story, and received from
her the usual answer, refusing all intelligence
on this subject. He, however, pressed her, told
her that it might be of the utmost importance
to her to confide in him, as some circumstances
had lately come to light which he hoped might
lead to her exculpation if she would give him
all the particulars of her case. She burst into
tears, told him that she was the only daughter
of a respectable merchant of Birmingham, but
still refused to tell her name : she said that at
eighteen years of age she had gone to London
for the first time, to an uncle who lived in New-
man-street ; that a day or to after her arrival
she had, in the dusk of the evening, gone to a
haberdasher's shop, to which she had been di-
rected as being only a few steps from her
uncle's house. On coming out of the shop she
had heard a cry of 'stop thief,' and had hastened
home to escape the mob, by whom she had been
very much hustled. On the steps of her uncle's
house she was arrested, the piece of lace was
found upon her, and she was immediately car-
ried into confinement. She said she thought it
was hardly possible that any testimony of her
character could avail against the positive evi-
dence brought against her, more particularly as
her only defence was that she knew not how,
the lace came into her muff. She therefore de-
termined to conceal her name and never apply
to her family. This happened just before the
time of sessions. Mary's trial and condemna-
tion ensued so soon after, that her relations had
not had time to make all the enquiries which
they afterwards sent in vain all over
the kingdom. These circumstances tallied so
exactly with the old woman's confession that the
chaplain ventured to tell Mary that he had no
doubt of her acquittal. He informed the
governor of the whole transaction, who promised
to transmit this information by the first ship to
the English Government, and said that her
innocence appeared to him so clear that, without
instructions, he would venture to say that she
should no longer be considered as a convict, but
as a planter. In England the strictest inquiry
was made, and every circumstance exactly tallied
with Mary's deposition. The next ship brought
her complete acquittal and conveyed her back
to her disconsolate parents, who had not ceased
to lament the unaccountable disappearance of
their beloved child. Soon after her return she
married extremely well to a young clergyman,

who had a very good living.

The question remains unanswered...


  1. Since the stories seemed to match on both sides of the globe I'm unsure of what question is unanswered. What am I missing? Her identity would have been revealed for her to be returned to her family. Maybe the cleric was paid off by her family? But the stories would still have to match. Good story.

  2. Look at the date in the article, and then see that the story is told as a 'few years ago'.. the date of Mary Green who came on the Wanstead can't be the same person. I don't believe I have found the actual dates of arrival for the Mary Green in the article.. There has to be at least two Mary Greens..maybe three... Not an uncommon name I would think.
    The stories match, the dates of arrival don't.

  3. Hmm, this story has all the hallmarks of an urban myth. The teller of the tale heard it from someone else, and didn't know the person involved. "An urban legend is usually a story. It has an unknown origin, it could take form of a cautionary tale, it is said to be true but hasn't been proven, spreads through mouth or writing, and it is heard from a second hand source." https://prezi.com/l54zysavmx_c/what-are-the-characteristics-of-an-urban-legend/ But a good yarn!

  4. Lenore, the cynic in me felt the same... the optimist makes me think it's a great story regardless..


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