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:

Leslie, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Leslie (1786–?)

by Maureen Mann


Elizabeth Leslie, transported for 7 years on the Sovereign in 1829 for stealing stuffs (24 yards of moreen) or shop lifting, was born in either 1784 or 1786. Her trial was at the Old Bailey on 23 October 1828. There is some confusion about her place of birth. According to her convict indent and her certificate of freedom, she was born in Edinburgh. Her ticket of leave, however, gives her place of birth as Quebec, America (sic). It is possible, therefore, that she was born in Quebec and raised in Scotland.

Elizabeth could read and write, was married with three children and was a Protestant. She had two previous convictions. Physically she was 5 feet 2½ inches (158.75 cm) tall, with a ruddy complexion, brown to grey hair and grey eyes. Scars on her face were on the bridge of her nose, under her chin and on the left side under her lip.

The Sovereign sailed under the captaincy of William McKellar with George Fairfowl the ship’s surgeon. On arrival in Sydney on 3 August 1829 after a voyage of 102 days, Elizabeth was assigned to Mrs Meyers, Castlereagh Street, Sydney. She had given her trade as lady’s maid, housekeeper, cook and laundress.

Her ticket of leave was issued in the district of Bathurst, but later cancelled for drunkenness. Her certificate of freedom was dated 16 April 1836.

On 21 February 1838, Giles Sedden, who had arrived per Canada in 1819, applied for permission to marry Elizabeth. James Blackman employed both; Giles as a sawyer, Elizabeth’s trade was not recorded. Henry Fulton, chaplain of Castlereagh Church, stated that he had met the man’s employer on the road and the latter gave consent, but because Elizabeth had stated on arrival that she was married with three children permission was refused.

There are several deaths for women named Elizabeth Leslie, but none is the right age. No death registration has been located for an Elizabeth Seddon.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.