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 researchers of the Female Convicts Research Centre, based in Hobart, Tasmania. 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:

Hall, Mary

Mary Hall (1809?-1839)

by Don Bradmore and Judith Carter


Mary Hall, lady’s maid and needlewoman, was charged with ‘stealing a jacket’. At the Quarter Sessions, Maidstone, Kent, England, on 29 June 1837, she was found guilty of ‘larceny from the person’ and sentenced to transportation for 7 years. After nearly ten months in the county gaol, she was put aboard John Renwick which sailed from Woolwich on 25 April 1838 and reached Port Jackson on 31 August. 

Her convict documents state that she was born in America, but no confirmation of that has been found. There is also some doubt about her age. Trial records indicate that she was only nineteen when convicted but, according to the ship’s indent, she was 29 when she arrived in Sydney.  Married with one child (a daughter), she had the name ‘John Hall’, possibly that of her husband, on the inside of her lower right arm.  On the inside of her lower left arm was ‘VR 1805’. She was 5 feet 4 inches (162.56 cms) tall, with dark brown hair, chestnut eyes and a dark-sallow complexion. She had lost two front teeth from her upper jaw and two from the right side of her lower jaw. She was a Baptist. She could read but not write. She had had no previous convictions.

During the passage from England, she was treated twice by the Surgeon-Superintendent for phlogosis, now defined simply as ‘inflammation of external parts of the body’ but which at that time could have covered a range of skin conditions, some more serious than others. Although the surgeon’s journal seems to suggest that her condition had been remedied, there is no record of her being assigned for service in New South Wales and it is possible that she was not well enough for that.

On 9 August 1839, less than a year after her arrival, she died at Parramatta General Hospital. Her age was recorded as 28.  After a brief ceremony at St John’s Church, Parramatta, the next day, she was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.