Scottish criminals and transportation to Australia 1786-1852

Donnachie, Ian (1984). Scottish criminals and transportation to Australia 1786-1852. Scottish Economic and Social History, 4 pp. 21–38.



Using legal and convict records in Scotland and Australia this paper reviews the convict and transportation systems operated in Scotland during this period. Transportation was never such a significant weapon in the fight against crime as elsewhere in Britain, though it became commoner as criminal prosecutions rose after 1815. Around 8,000 men and women were transported to New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) and other parts of Australia. The average age was 25, two thirds single, mainly from the labouring classes. Many had previous offences, mainly theft, while violent crimes accounted for a relatively small proportion. Some rioters and political prisoners were also transported. The records reveal many details about the lives of ordinary people in both urban and rural societies and the problems generated by rapid economic and social changes.

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