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:

Lomas, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Lomas (1818?–1891)

by Maureen Mann

 

Elizabeth Lomas was born in Newfoundland, Canada in about 1818. By 13 July 1836, she was in London and tried at the Old Bailey for stealing a shawl, ring, gown and other items, the property of Elizabeth Morran and was transported for 7 years. At her trial her age was given as 18.

She travelled on the Westmoreland which arrived in Hobart 3 December 1836 after a voyage of 113 days. It sailed from Woolwich and was captained by John Brigstock with James Ellis as ship’s surgeon. The latter described Elizabeth as quiet, but very indolent.

During the voyage Elizabeth was treated four times by the surgeon. The first was for a two-day attack of costiveness (constipation) at the beginning of September. She was afflicted with this problem again seven weeks later, in the third week of October. In between these attacks, at the end of September, she had a five-day headache. For the two weeks preceding their arrival in Hobart, she suffered from catarrh.

On arrival she was described as a house servant. She was 5 feet 2½ inches (158.75 cm) tall, with a dark complexion, very dark brown hair and dark brown eyebrows and dark grey eyes. Her head and face were oval-shaped. Her mouth, nose and chin were medium sized, but her lips were rather wide. She had no distinguishing marks.

Over the course of her sentence, she committed fourteen conduct offences. Eleven of them were for being ‘absent without leave’; some of these had no specific time given while others were indicated. The longest absence was for two days and nights; she was discovered one time in Mrs Giblin’s house, another she was ‘secreted’ in Mrs Griffiths’ house and a third time she was found with with one of Mr Kramer’s assigned servant. Her last ‘absent without leave’ offence, in September 1842 when she was found ‘undressed in a house under a bed in Liverpool Street’. Another of her offences was being found in a disorderly house. Of the remaining two offences, one was for misconduct and the other for absconding. This last-mentioned offence resulted in a six-month extension of her transportation and a recommendation that she was assigned on the other side of the island because she had ‘formed bad connexions’. The punishments for all these offences ranged from a reprimand through six, seven, eight or ten days in the cells on bread and water, and she was given several punishments of hard labour (three and two six-month terms) at the wash tub at Cascades Female Factory. Some of these offences suggest that Elizabeth had occasionally returned to her pre-conviction occupation of ‘on the town’. She received her certificate of freedom in 1843.

There were two applications to marry Elizabeth. The first, in January 1838, was from William Dove per Manlius, but there is no approval written beside the entry and no record of the ceremony taking place. The second was on 9 February 1842 from George Crombie. This was approved, but the memorial was retained as they were both still under sentence and there is no record of their marriage taking place.

In Hobart, on the 19 October 1844, Elizabeth Lomes and George Price, a carpenter of New Town Road, had a son, later named George James Price. George junior was baptised at Holy Trinity Church of England in Warwick Street, Hobart. No marriage record has been found for George senior and Elizabeth.

The family soon moved to the Huon area of Tasmania. George Price died on 1 January 1851 whilst working as a pit man in a saw pit. An inquest was held at Hospital Bay, in the Huon, before Stanley Tomlins, Esquire and recorded that George died of ossification of the heart. George was buried at Woodbridge, Tasmania.

George James Price, their son, married Rachel Elizabeth Collier Smith on 21 March 1866 at the Public School room in Woodbridge. They had a large family of six daughters and seven sons. All but the last child reached adulthood. George and Elizabeth’s diamond wedding celebrations were advertised in the Mercury in 1926. Rachel died in 1928 and George in 1932.

Elizabeth died 9 May 1891 from general debility. She was 72 and the widow of George Price, carpenter. The informant for her death, registered at Gordon, was Phillip Newall, sub-inspector of Police. She is buried with her grandson, son and daughter-in-law at the Woodbridge cemetery. 

 

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