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:

Wilson, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wilson (1807-?)

by Alison Ellett


Elizabeth Wilson was born in 1807 in Lisbon, Portugal. When she was convicted at the Hereford Assizes on 23 March 1840, for stealing one sovereign from the person she said she was married with one child. She had a previous conviction for assault and for her second offence, she was sentenced to transportation.

On 9 December 1840, Elizabeth set sail with her son Thomas on the Navarino for the 107-day voyage to Hobart. Sailing with her were 181 other convicted women and some free settlers. Her conduct report records her description as being much pock marked with light hazel eyes, light brown hair. She was 5ft and ½ inches (153.67 cm) tall. She was a ‘professed cook’ and she could read, but not write.

Elizabeth Wilson’s conduct report reveals her rebellious spirit. On November 27 1841, as an assigned servant, she was reprimanded for being drunk. On 5 February 1842, she was punished for being drunk and absent for which she received seven days’ solitary confinement. Between gaining her certificate of freedom on 14 May 1849 and her arrival in Van Diemen’s Land, she was punished with a total of seventeen days in solitary confinement, as well as with fines and hard labor. Eight of her offences were for drunkenness. Between 1842 and 1847, she absconded three times; each time her sentence to transportaion was extended extended as punishment.

 On 9 July 1843 at the Launceston House of Correction, she gave birth to a daughter who died within hours. Her son, Thomas, died at the Orphan School in April 1842. After receiving her certificate of freedom, she disappeared from the records.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.