Tuesday, 27 February 2018



Letters to the editor were common, it seems so many wanted a say about the right or wrong aspect of convict marriages. There seemed to be more opposition to women convicts being married other than to fellow convicts. 

A notice in the following NSW Government Gazette set out the rules as decided at that time...1939

New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW / 1832 - 1900), Wednesday 8 May 1839 (No.414)

The following year the discussions continued...

Convict marriages - opinion of Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW / 1838 - 1841), Friday 14 February 1840, page 2

By the new regulations, masters, or mistresses who allow their assigned servants to marry, may still retain them in their service, as the marriage does not authorise either the husband to claim the wife, or the wife to claim the husband; nor do these regulations warrant the masters of convict servants in transferring the one party to the other, without the Governor’s permission; which in future is only to be granted to those who can prove to His Excellency, that they are worthy off the indulgence. We consider these new regulations extremely salutary, as regards convict discipline. Marriage is not forbidden, but can no longer be used as a cloak for bad purposes.

These convict women hardly seem to warrant any negativity...

Convict Esther Abrahams

Image/ convict 'first lady' Esther Abrahams (courtesy State Library of NSW).jpg


Convict Mary Reiby



Letter written by Reibey to her aunt Penelope Hope. Written from on board the ship the day after arriving in Botany Bay, Sydney on 8 October 1792
In Public Domain

The 'discussion' went on...  
Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser (NSW / 1848 - 1859), Saturday 24 March 1855, page 4

and on...

Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News  ..

click to enlarge..

5 Jun 1857 nla.news-article2930037.2
Letter to the Editor re female convicts

Convict: Sarah Leadbeater (c.1800) was tried in 1799 and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She later married explorer William Lawson.

However, no matter what the public opinion was, or what the various editors and 'would be guardians of the community' had to say, marriages between convicts and other members of the community continued. They mostly went on to lead normal lives in the community, becoming valued and respectable citizens.

For that I am truly grateful, as I am one of hundreds of descendants
of convict couple, Robert Hobbs and Bridget Heslin.

You can read some of their story here...



Bridget Eslin Ship's List.."Sugar Cane" 1793

Tuesday, 20 February 2018



Convict marriages were often a point of discussion among not only the FREE settlers, but also in the various newspapers of the day, as well as the convicts themselves. 

They were seen by many as an ideal way to populate the colony, while having a settling effect on many of the restless convicts. With often long sentences, there didn't seem any likelihood for most to be able to return to their homeland... even if somehow they did manage to save the fare. It wasn't unknown for some who were married, to declare themselves single and then take a new partner. For those who had left a troubled marriage behind, it was a chance to start again. Some families did follow their loved ones, but that was mostly in the later years of transportation. 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia  Drawing of convicts in New Holland, 1793

This is just one editorial, this time in the Monitor... no name attached to the comments. It seems as if the well known Female Factory, Parramatta, was thought to be a good place to find a wife. No doubt, many of the women were only too pleased to be free of the place and were hopeful that they would be among those who had a far better life.

Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828), Friday 22 December 1826, page 7
Click to enlarge...

 In the previous year, in the Australian, there was a list of marriages of Prisoners.

Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), Thursday 21 April 1825, page 3
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37071356 

Marriages marked with red line...

Other items found in TROVE were as follows..from the  Pictures, photos,objects 

From Tasmania.. Date of issue was 24/08/1847..you can read more here

Then from TROVE Books...

If you are fortunate enough to be near the Newcastle Regional Library, you can look at the microfilm of the Convict records returns of births, deaths and marriages.. 

The Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1856, NSW are available to all on Ancestry.com . just sign in with a guest account or your subscribed account and you will find various sections including 'Convict Permission to Marry'...

 This is just one example... Ann Gordon seeking permission to marry Edward Wilkinson, convict per "Archduke Charles"  page 33... can be enlarged...

Reproduction permitted. 

I hope this helps you to find out even more about your Australian Royalty... we are fortunate to have so much at our fingertips, all for FREE.