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:

Costello, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Costello (1807–?)

by Maureen Mann


Elizabeth Costello was born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1807. She was tried at the Central Criminal Court, London on 14 September 1826 for feloniously receiving ‘part of the same goods, well knowing them to have been stolen’. Her co-accused, Joseph Dickinson, was indicted for stealing on 24 August, nine napkins, value 4/-; five towels, value 2/-; two jackets, value 6/-; and four aprons, value 4/-, the goods of William Colley. During the trial, Elizabeth was described through questioning as ‘a woman, in the family way, named Carrotty Bet’.

Elizabeth arrived in Sydney on the Princess Charlotte under the command of Captain Dan Stephenson, along with 89 other women (91 had left Woolwich) on 6 August 1827 after a voyage of 128 days. Charles Cameron was the surgeon, but his journal does not appear to have survived, so little is known of the journey.

The indent description confirms that her supposed nickname, ‘Carrotty Bet’, was an appropriate moniker. There, Elizabeth is described as having a fair freckled complexion, sandy to auburn hair, dark brown eyes and with a scar at the corner of her right lower lip. She was 5 feet 4 ½ (163.83 cm) tall. She is listed as a house servant, with no previous convictions. She was single and a Catholic. There is no mention of the child whose birth had been implied at the trial. Her first assignment in New South Wales was to J. Tingle, Castlereagh.

There was an application for marriage between Richard L. Williams and Elizabeth Costello, dated 26 January 1830. Williams came free to the colony and was free at the time of the application. Elizabeth was bonded. It states that they were married at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Sydney, but no registration has been found

It appears that they did live together as husband and wife, however, as in 1833 she was granted her certificate of freedom at Moreton Bay and as Elizabeth Williams, wife of Richard Williams, one colonial conviction was recorded on her certificate of freedom.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.