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:

Skulding, Sarah

Sarah Skulding (1800 - ?)

by Maureen Mann


Sarah Skulding was born about 1800 in Upper Canada, now known as Southern Ontario, in what was then the centre for colonial government of the territory of Canada.

She was one of 180 women (three died on the voyage) on board the Mary III, which sailed from London, under the command of William Ascough, on a voyage of 143 days, arriving in Sydney on 6 September 1835. John Inches was the surgeon. Sarah had been convicted at Kent Quarter Sessions 14 October 1834 for man robbery (stealing money) and her sentence was for 7 years. She had no previous convictions. Her prisoner’s number in New South Wales was 35/82. The indent describes her as a 34-year-old widow, who could read and write, Protestant, and a plain cook and housemaid. She was 5 feet 2½ inches (158.75 cm) tall, with a brown and freckled complexion, brown hair and grey eyes. The nail of the little finger of her left hand was disfigured.

Her ticket of leave was dated 8 October 1841 and stated that she was allowed to remain in the district of Windsor. Her certificate of freedom was issued 26 April 1842, numbered 42/629. Her certificate recorded PM Windsor, implying that that was where she was in 1842.

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