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.
Elizabeth Allen (1816?–1869)
by Leonie Mickleborough
Elizabeth Allen, alias Eliza Brown, Elizabeth Brown and Elizabeth Carter, was born about 1816 in Gibralter [sic], Spain, at a time when Gibraltar was one of the strategic bases outside England where British regiments were serving, as Spain was a British dependency at the time.
At the age of nineteen, Elizabeth, married to Charles, a London baker, was convicted at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) on 21 September 1835 of uttering counterfeit coin. She had attempted to use a counterfeit shilling, knowing it was a ‘bad one’, to pay Thomas Drake, at the Fortune of War public-house at West Smithfield, for half a pint of ale, and was sentenced to transportation for seven years. This was not her first conviction. As well as five or six dismissed charges, at the Middlesex October Sessions in 1834, using the alias Elizabeth Brown, she was found guilty of uttering two counterfeit half-crowns, and imprisoned for one month. On 22 August 1835, as Eliza Brown, and using a ‘bad’ shilling, she had attempted to purchase a quarter of a pound of sugar and a small quantity of tea worth no more than three pence, from the green grocer, William Hutchinson.
Elizabeth Allen, a house servant with a dark ‘pockpitted’ complexion, dark brown eyebrows, dark reddish brown hair and hazel eyes and 4 feet 7½ inches (140 cm) tall, was one of 132 convicts who departed London aboard the Arab. On 9 March 1836, a little over six weeks before arrival in Van Diemen’s Land, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, James Carter. They were both among the 131 who arrived at the River Derwent on 25 April 1836, 117 days after leaving London. On arrival baby James and Elizabeth, whose age was recorded as 21, were transferred to the Cascades Female Factory. In April 1837 James died, and was buried on 14 April at St David’s Burial Ground. Elizabeth’s convict record after arrival is free of offences, and she was granted her ticket of leave on 7 December 1838 and her conditional pardon on 20 February 1841.
It is likely Elizabeth was assigned in the Hobart Town area, because on 12 November 1838 Henry Oliver applied for permission to marry Elizabeth. This was approved by the clergyman, and they married on 12 March 1839 at St John’s Church of England at New Town, Elizabeth using the alias Elizabeth Brown.
Henry, a groom from Bristol, had arrived at the River Derwent aboard the Atlas on 24 August 1833. At the Somerset Assizes on 29 March 1832 he was found guilty of stealing wearing apparel and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. After arrival he was employed in the public works, and in 1835, as a reward for his ‘meritorious exertions’ in the discovery and apprehension of Frederick Shearing, who had absconded from Grass Tree Hill, Henry was promised a conditional pardon sooner than usual provided he remained well-behaved. His conditional pardon was granted on 4 August 1835, but ten days later, he was charged with house breaking. No details of any punishment were recorded, and in December Henry Oliver was still employed in the public works. He was granted his ticket of leave in July 1838.
Elizabeth and Henry’s only known child, Mary Ann Oliver, was baptised at Holy Trinity Church of England Church, Hobart Town on 9 January 1839. At the time of the 1848 census the family was living in Elizabeth Street, and apart from Elizabeth’s death from apoplexy, at the age of 53, on 24 December 1869 at her residence in New Town Road, no other details have been found of Elizabeth, who was survived by her husband Henry, a licensed victualler. Henry Oliver possibly died in Hobart on 23 March 1889 at the age of eighty, and it was most likely their daughter Mary Ann aged 31, who married forty-year-old George Hearll [sic] in Hobart on 29 October 1870.
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