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:

Jones, Sarah

Sarah Jones (1810 – ?)

by Maureen Mann


Sarah Jones was born in 1810 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and was transported on the Sovereign in 1829 which was under the captaincy of William McKellar. The ship’s surgeon was George Fairfowl. The ship was carrying 119 convict women and had left Downs on 23 April 1829, arriving in Sydney on 3 August 1829, a relatively fast journey of 102 days.

At her 9 January 1829 Lancaster Quarter Session trial, Sarah was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation for stealing a hat. On arrival she was given the prisoner number of 29/289 and was first assigned to James Mordaunt in Sydney. Her ticket of leave of 29 January 1836, allowing her to remain in Sydney, states that she was a servant and now assigned to McKellar. It also gives a physical description: 4 feet 11 inches (149.86 cm) tall, with a ruddy complexion, black hair and hazel eyes. She had a scar under her chin and on her nose, her nose was thick and she had HHEH tattooed on her upper left arm. This certificate appears to have been lost as it over-written with a re-issue in February 1837 which is referenced on her certificate of freedom.

Still assigned to McKellar, Sarah’s certificate of freedom is dated 19 January 1843. There are several corrections on this certificate: her eyes are now said to be brown. More details are given about her appearance. Her nose is inclining to the right (and still thick), her eyebrows are meeting, there is a scar on the left side of her upper lip and there is a scar on the back of her right hand. She is now classed as a barmaid and no longer a servant.

With a name as common as Sarah Jones it is impossible to make firm linkages to marriages, deaths or events outside the convict system in NSW.

Back to List



© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.