Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary

of Convict Women from beyond the British Isles


Edited by Lucy Frost and Colette McAlpine


Who would have thought that a slave in British Hondurus would end up as a female convict in Van Diemen’s Land? Or that two cousins, the oldest aged 12, would be transported from their native Mauritius all the way to New South Wales? And why was a French-born woman with the extravagant name Emme Felicite Gabrielle Chardonez Mallohomme sentenced at London’s Old Bailey to transportation for life?


Edges of Empire is a Biographical Dictionary offering accounts of many of these convicts among nearly 200 others who were tried or born outside the British Isles. All were transported to the Australian colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land between 1788 and 1853. Their life stories have been tracked from numerous sources around the world, sometimes in detail and sometimes with the merest trace of their existence. The contributors to the Biographical Dictionary are members of the Female Convicts Research Centre, based in Hobart, Tasmania, but with a membership worldwide. For more information go to: http://www.femaleconvicts.org.au.


In addition to the Biographical Dictionary, which includes all the women for whom information has become available,  the more in-depth and comprehensive study, From the Edges of Empire: Convict Women from beyond the British Isles, is available in paperback from Convict Women’s Press Inc.



Feature Story:

Ward, Clara

Clara Ward (1796?-?)

by Douglas Wilkie


Clara Ward was originally tried at Fort William in Bengal, India, on 21 December 1810, and sentenced to 7 years’ transportation to Botany Bay. It is not clear on what charge she was being tried, but she was imprisoned in the ‘Jail at Calcutta’ until arrangements could be made for her transportation.

The Governor of India subsequently informed the Governor of New South Wales that three convicts, Clara Ward, John Thompson and Abraham Taylor, were to be sent to New South Wales on board the Campbell Macquarie. They arrived in Sydney on 17 January 1812, and were transferred to the custody of the local police superintendant. Less than four weeks later, on 15 February 1812, Clara Ward was granted a ticket of leave.

It is unknown what she did with her limited freedom; however, late in October 1818 she announced she would be leaving the colony on board the brig Dragon bound for Calcutta. The Dragon left Sydney on 11 November 1818, but at the beginning of June 1819 Clara was living at 21 Phillip Street, Sydney, when she was employed by the government to interpret in a case involving a complaint by William Browne’s Indian servants. The Colonial Secretary advised the Judge Advocate Mr Wilde that if Browne was found guilty of cruelty he would be obliged to release the Indians from their contract and pay for their passage back home. It seems that the complaint was justified and in April 1820 the servants, named Subball, Hanniff, Rimdiall, and Pearbux, announced that they intended to leave the Colony on the ship Mary.

In 1822 Clara is listed as a ‘householder’ living in Sydney and the census of 1828 lists her as being aged 34 and working as a housekeeper at the home of Robert Parsons in Sydney. No more is heard of Clara Ward.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.