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:

Le Brun, Jane

Jane le Brun (1800?–65)

by Alison Alexander


Jane le Brun was born in from Jersey. By 1836, when she was aged 36, she was married, and she and her husband had three children. She had committed one prior offence a robbery, for which she served six months in prison.

In 1837 she was tried for a second burglary. Found guilty, she was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation. Her husband Perrin was also transported, and they had to leave their children behind. It does not seem that Jane had any contact with her husband after this; he was not transported to Van Diemen’s Land so probably went to New South Wales, and since she was illiterate it would have been difficult to maintain a relationship.

   Jane’s gaol report stated that she was bad, and her English was poor. She was transported to Van Diemen’s Land on the ship Platina, departing on 3 May 1837 and arriving in Hobart on 22 October. On the voyage she behaved well enough, and in Van Diemen’s Land she committed on average one offence a year between 1838 and 1844: being drunk, insolent, absent without leave, and having a man in her bed. Perhaps he was Joseph Maple, whom she married in 1844. By this time it seems she was an alcoholic, for between 1848 and 1849 she was fined twelve times for being drunk, disturbing the peace or using indecent language. She served four months’ hard labour for keeping a disorderly house in the absence of her husband, who presumably usually ran it. In 1850 Jane was free by servitude, and she died in 1865, in the Hobart Hospital. She was described as a servant, who died, aged 64, of senility.

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Further reading:

Alison Alexander, 'French Female Convicts in Van Diemen's Land', in From the Edges of Empire, eds L. Frost and C. McAlpine, Convict Women’s Press, Hobart, 2015, pp. 158-171. 



© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.