Tuesday, 21 May 2019



When we think of convicts, it's easy to think of them as beyond redemption, perhaps the lowest of society, thieves, murderers, the flotsam of humanity...but as with any strata of society, they were a mixed lot. Sure some were to follow their former ways for the rest of their lives, but many were transported to Australia for what we would consider petty crimes, or at least understandable, such as those who stole food to feed their families, or those who were transported for railing against unjust laws.

There were many examples of those who became upstanding citizens, successful in life in many ways... in other words, 'convicts who made good'.

Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 - 1954), Saturday 3 May 1924, page 3
National Library of Australia   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article80951715
Please click to enlarge

Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), Wednesday 12 January 1938, page 4
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166671462

Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW : 1914 - 1949), Saturday 25 January 1947, page 7
National Library of Australia  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article195087844

Of course, this wasn't simply the premise of men. A number of the female convicts also made a very successful life for themselves.

Brisbane Telegraph (Qld. : 1948 - 1954), Saturday 20 November 1954, page 14
National Library of Australia  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article217148236

Land grants were given to a number of former convicts who had proven their worth in becoming respected people in society.

Courtesy of TROVE

Macquarie Field House, Macquarie Fields, January 1954 / Barry Wollaston
1 photoprint : b&w ; 20 x 25 cm.
Photographer's note, dated January 1954, accompanies original 35mm negatives: "Taken over by the Department of Agriculture's veterinary research station, rack & ruin etc. The house is in such a poor state of repair that the cost of restoration would be terrific. There is not a door or window left. The stone verandah floor has fallen through the rotted timbers in places, and the timber columns are falling off the front."

Macquarie Field House is believed to have been built in the 1840s by wealthy convict emancipist, Samuel Terry for his daughter Martha following her marriage to Sydney mrechant John Hosking in 1843. In 1858 the property was leased for use as a boarding school under the direction of the Rev George Fairfowl Macarthur. After the death of Martha Hosking in 1877 the property changed hands several times until, in 1944, it was acquired by the Department of Agriculture for research in animal husbandry. The house, left vacant, rapidly deteriorated. 
It was rescued and restored in the 1960s. The portico, believed to have been added after the house was built, was removed at that time.
; Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection
All the above sourced from TROVE

Another great site to discover more about convicts and in particular, those reformed convicts who went on to live respectable and successful lives is the Dictionary of Sydney. The following are just a few links to those who achieved this...

Mary Reibey

Sarah Lawson

William Bland

George Hill

and a man I have written about previously
here and here
Solomon Wiseman

There are so many stories about those convicts who 'made good', here is just one more to add to this story...

Esther Abrahams - convict 'first lady' - Earshot - ABC Radio National

You can listen to her story here .. takes a moment to get to her story


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