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.
Rosanette Almond (1793?-1854)
by Don Bradmore and Judith Carter
Rosanette Almond, a 44-year-old wife and mother, was convicted at the Kesteven Quarter Sessions, Lincolnshire, England, on 19 October 1837 of stealing ‘a pair of cord trousers and various other articles of wearing apparel’ and sentenced to transportation for 7 years. After imprisonment for some months in Lincoln Castle, she was put aboard John Renwick which sailed from Woolwich on 25 April 1838 and reached Port Jackson on 31 August.
Nothing is known of her former life except that, according to her convict documents, she was born at St Germain, near Paris, France, that her husband was John Almond, a labourer, and that she had one son. At her trial, a number of witnesses mentioned that she spoke with a foreign accent.
The ship’s indent describes her as being 5 feet 1 inch (154.94 cm) tall, with brown eyes, dark brown hair tinged with grey, and a ruddy, freckled complexion. She had a diagonal scar on the left side of her forehead, another above her right eyebrow and a third on her upper lip. On her lower right arm was a tattoo which read ‘G. Pillip’. She was a Roman Catholic. She could read but not write. She was a cook. She had had no previous convictions. Well-behaved as a convict, she was granted a ticket of leave in February 1843 which confined her to the Windsor district. Later that year, the ticket of leave was altered, allowing her to relocate to the Parramatta district.
However, after receiving her certificate of freedom in May 1845, she appears to have drifted to the Sydney CBD where, by the early 1850s, she had become well known to police as a derelict alcoholic and a nuisance. The entrance books of Darlinghurst Gaol show that she was locked up frequently during 1851, 1852 and 1853 for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. In 1853, a police officer who had often arrested her told the court that she earned her living by telling fortunes.
Referring to her variously as ‘Rose’, ‘Rosanna’, ‘Rosannah’ and ‘Rossanna’ Almond, newspapers of the day described her as ‘a person of very intemperate habits’, ‘an old woman of drunken and dissolute habits’, ‘an old hag’, ‘a very old carbuncled-faced woman’ and ‘a drunken old creature [who] ought to be sent to a mad house’.
On the evening of 24 January 1854, as she walking in a drunken manner in the Parramatta Road, she was knocked to the ground by a horse being ridden furiously towards the city. Dazed, she was carried to a nearby hotel where, after a short time, she seemed to recover and was able to walk away. Arrested for drunkenness some hours later, she was taken to a police station and locked up for the night. The next morning she was found to be very ill in her cell. She was semi-conscious and unable to speak. She was removed immediately to the Benevolent Asylum Hospital for treatment where, shortly afterwards, a doctor pronounced her dead. A subsequent autopsy revealed that she had died of a blood clot on the brain believed to have been produced by external violence. A record of her burial place has not been located.
Following an inquest, the rider of the horse was charged with manslaughter but the case might never have been brought to court. A report of the trial has not been found.
© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.