'Utterly irreclaimable': Scottish convict women and Australia 1787-1852

Donnachie, Ian (1992). 'Utterly irreclaimable': Scottish convict women and Australia 1787-1852. In: Swan, Philip and Foster, David eds. Essays in Regional and Local History: in Honour of Eric M. Sigsworth. Beverley: Hutton Press, pp. 99–116.


This draws on archival studies in Scotland and Australia to review the history and fate of convict women transported for a variety of offences, including many economic crimes, reflecting the poverty of their backgrounds, rural and urban. A sample of 200 indicates that the prospects at home were gloomy and that transportation to New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) and other places at least gave the opportunity for a fresh start. The surviving evidence, drawn from indents and convict records in the State Archives of NSW, Tasmania and of the State Library in Victoria, suggests some did so. The study explains much about the convict system as it affected working class women and the context of crime in the first half of the 19th century.

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