Margaret Beveridge (1810 - 1852?)

by Maureen Mann


Margaret Beveridge was born in Lower Canada, now Quebec, in 1810. She was 5 feet 3 and a half inches (161.29 cm) tall. Her complexion was ruddy and freckled and she had dark brown hair and brown eyes. The surgeon on board the Competitor described her as having a good countenance. She was convicted at Kent Assizes on the 16 August 1827 for house breaking and was transported for life. She was one of 99 female prisoners and 20 children on board the Competitor, with John Stewart as Master, when it left London June 13 1828. They had been held together at Newgate Prison in London prior to their departure.

The ship’s surgeon was Thomas Hunter who kept a journal from late May 1828 until 20 October 1828. None of the prisoners on board died on the voyage and there was relatively little disease: no dysentery, scurvy or infectious fevers.

The ship arrived at Port Jackson 10 October 1828, after a voyage of 119 days. About twenty of the women were sent to the Hunter Valley region, but Margaret Beveridge does not appear to have been one of them. As a housemaid Margaret was employable, but she was one of many.

On 25 May 1829, permission to publish marriage banns at St Philips Church Sydney was sought. Margaret’s fiancé was John C Boileau or Bodean, born about 1795, who had been transported for 7 years and arrived per Canada in 1819. Margaret’s character was described as ‘of an honest and sober etc’. She had permission from her master, Mr Alexander Still, for whom she had worked since at least the time of the 1828 NSW census. The marriage took place in 1829. There are registrations for a Thomas Boileau, son of John C and Margaret in both 1830 and 1831. It is not clear if there were two children, one of whom died, or a double registration. John Boileau died in Sydney in 1834.

In May 1834, permission was sought for the marriage of Margaret and John Ryan, aged 25 and born in the colony. She was recorded as single. Rev McEnroe, Sydney, was the officiating clergyman at the marriage. John and Margaret had four children: Elizabeth (b. 1835), Mary A (b. 1837), Margaret (b. 1840) and John William (1842-1927). The girls were registered in Sydney and John W. was registered in Parramatta. The daughters’ names are too common to follow to later generations.

It is probable that the following report, from The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Tuesday 5 June 1832 p 3, refers to Margaret Beveridge after her marriage to Boileau.

Margaret Boileau, half woman, half tiger, was charged with an outrageous assault on Mister Ikin, Mistress, and all the little Ikins, the latter of whom she pitched out of the house like so many potatoes. Margaret now endeavoured to look wondrous demure, and hinted that "the green-eyed monster had instigated Mrs. Ikin to bring the present charge against her, which was all spite, for she herself (good easy soul!) would not hurt a worm."

Unfortunately, however, for the success of this harangue, their Worships happened to recognise her as an old acquaintance and, the offence having been very satisfactorily proved, Margaret Boileau was ordered two months alterative regimen to cool her blood.

In 22 August 1849, John Ryan placed an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘I caution all persons against giving credit to my wife, Margaret Ryan, as I will not be answerable for the same, she having left her home.’

Margaret Beveridge received a conditional pardon in February 1838. She may have died in 1852, but because her name is common, it is not possible to confirm that this death refers to this woman.

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