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:

Durrant, Ann

Ann Durrant (1793?-?)

by Colleen Arulappu


Ann Durrant, alias Brown, alias Mrs Smart, was born about 1793 in the East Indies and brought up in Aberdeen, Scotland. Ann was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation on 17 April 1827 in the Aberdeen Court of Justiciary for housebreaking and theft of money and jewellery. Robert Simpson, alias Robert Smart, alias John Duncan, was charged with her. The pair had faced three similar charges previously. The judgement stated they had wickedly and feloniously broken into and entered a dwelling house by violently forcing a window. They were reputed to be common thieves who stole and received stolen goods. Ann Durrant was apprehended in Dundee with some of the stolen articles.

 Ann was transported to Sydney on the Louisa which arrived in December in 1827; Robert Simpson sailed on the Prince Regent which arrived in September 1827. Ann was 5 feet 3 inches (160.02 cm) tall with a sallow, pock marked complexion and brown hair streaked with grey. The letters A x D I H D were tattooed on her lower left arm, perhaps a poignant reminder of Ann’s love for family members. She stated that she was married and had three children, whereas Robert Simpson stated he was married with no children.

 In April 1839, Robert Simpson applied for permission to marry Ann Durrant. In the Superintendent of Convicts’ report regarding the application, he explained that although Ann had named Robert Simpson as her husband he did not believe her as she had said at muster that she had three children. The Superintendant believed that these were children of her husband and that Ann and Robert Simpson had unlawfully cohabited together.

 Ann Durrant did not marry under that name. She may have stayed with Robert Simpson, as she named him as her husband on her certificate of freedom in 1841. The names Ann and Robert Simpson have became lost among the large group of people with that surname.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.