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:

Malone, Ellen

Ellen Malone (1821?-1894)

by Steve Rhodes


Ellen Malone was born about 1821 in the West Indies to parents James and Eliza Riley, but was raised in Dublin, Ireland. There, she married John Malone and had two children by him before he died about 1841. Ireland was about to endure the Great Famine and with two children and no husband Ellen would have found it difficult to make ends meet. She was convicted several times, including once for theft for which she received a two-month sentence, before appearing before a magistrate on 1 March, 1844 at Dublin City, charged with stealing a cloak and shawl. She was convicted and sentenced to transportation for 7 years.

The convict ship Phoebe departed Kingston, Ireland, with 128 female convicts and 28 children on board in September 1844, including Ellen Malone and her son James. Presumably her other child had died prior to this. When the Phoebe arrived in Hobart on 2 January 1845, Ellen was described as being a 24-year-old Roman Catholic house and kitchen maid, with black hair, grey eyes, a scar on her nose and right wrist, and was illiterate.

Two-year-old James was placed in the care of the Queen’s Orphan School on 5 August 1845, where he remained until 3 March, 1847, by which time Ellen had married William Coulson. William was a 30-year-old bachelor sawyer and Ellen was described as a 23-year-old spinster convict when the marriage took place at Browns River United Church of England and Ireland on 27 February 1847. William and Ellen had two children together, William Edward born 27 March 1849, and John born 4 July 1854.

During her time of sentence, Ellen only had three minor blemishes on her record, all occurring during 1846. Two were for being absent, for which she received the punishment of three months’ imprisonment and hard labour, and one month hard labour. The third infringement was for drunkenness and she received one month hard labour for that offence as well.

On 18 August, 1894, Ellen died at New Wharf (Salamanca), Hobart, from chronic bronchitis and anasarca. Her husband William had predeceased her, as had their son William, the son having drowned in a boating accident in 1883.

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