Jane Boulter (1805?-?)

by Douglas Wilkie


At the Worcester Sessions Monday on 19 April 1830, Richard Boulter, Jane Boulter his wife, and Thomas Taylor, were sentenced for stealing 16/- from a person at Kidderminster. Richard Boulter and Thomas Taylor were both sentenced to transportation for 14 years and were sent to New South Wales on board the convict ship Burrell. Jane Boulter, with a previous conviction, was also transported for 14 years, but sent to Van Diemen’s Land on board the America.

The surgeon on board the America, Richard Lewis, reported that Jane Boalter [sic] was taken ill on 25 February complaining of an acute headache, nausea and vomiting. She had a high pulse and fever. The surgeon initially took 16 ounces of blood and gave her four grains of calomel, or mercury, and a saline purgative. The next day she felt better but became hot and vomiting again during the night. Further remedies were tried but the pain and discomfort continued to worsen until 3 March after which the symptoms gradually disappeared. The Surgeon put it down to Bilious Cholera. There were four women who contracted cholera, one of whom died, but of greater concern was a child who came on board with small pox. The doctor administered a vaccination which fortunately checked the progress of the disease.

Having recovered from her debility, Jane Boulter arrived at Hobart on 9 May 1831. She told the officials that she was aged 25, had worked as a house servant, and was originally from Cawnpore in the East Indies. They noted that she was 5 feet 1 inch (154.94 cm) tall, had a fresh complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. She had a freckled face, and small nose.

Jane was assigned to work for T. Parker, but on 23 November she absconded. An advertisement was immediately placed in the Hobart press.

Jane Boulter, 5 feet 1, brown hair, blue eyes, aged 26, a house servant, tried at Worcester in April 1830, sentence 14 years, per America, native of Cawnpore, East Indies, absconded from Mr. Parker. Norfolk Plains, Nov. 23, 1831.

After five weeks of freedom, on 29 December Jane was apprehended and sent to solitary confinement at the House of Correction with a diet of bread and water.

At the end of January 1832 Jane was sent back to the Parkers but almost immediately absented herself ‘for improper purposes’ and was found ‘drunk and disorderly’. She was ordered to be imprisoned in the Female House of Correction at George Town for three months. By early 1833 she was assigned to work for Lieutenant Thomas Dyball at Norfolk Plains, but even then was soon found guilty of absconding and spent eight days in solitary confinement on bread and water. Within a day of returning to Dyball’s she was guilty of disobeying orders and of improper conduct — another seven days in solitary confinement on bread and water. By December 1833 Jane was working for Mr McLeod when she was charged with assault and reprimanded by the Police Magistrate. Two weeks later she again left her master’s premises for ‘improper purposes’ and was sent to the George Town House of Correction for three months.

Jane returned to McLeod’s but in August 1834 she was found guilty of taking a Policeman, Thomas Clews, ‘to her Bed room for Improper Purposes’. Clews was dismissed from the constabulary, although he was reappointed six months later, and Jane was sent for trial on a charge of stealing from James Houghton’s house at Norfolk Plains, property to the value of 4/. She was sent to the Launceston Female Factory to await reassignment and her sentence was extended for three years.

On 4 February 1835, an application was lodged for John Banks and Jane to marry. John Banks was a convict transported for life on the Earl St Vincent in 1826, but he was on a ticket of leave. The marriage was not approved and Banks soon was back in custody at Port Arthur where he died in 1841.

By December 1835 Jane was assigned to Adam Beveridge in Launceston, where she got drunk and spent ten days in solitary confinement on the usual diet. In January 1836 she was assigned to a Mr Turner, possibly Dominique Albert Turner the clerk at the Launceston Police Office, but went absent without leave and spent another six days in confinement. Then she went to work for Mr Rankin, and again went absent without leave —another five days. No sooner had she returned than she was again absent — this time it was 21 days.

Jane Boulter’s convict record suddenly ceases in 1836, even though her 14-year sentence, with a 3-year extension, was not due to expire until 19 April 1847. Her certificate of freedom was advertised in the press on 10 April 1847, but there is no record of her having ever collected the certificate. It would appear that in 1836, after years of absconding and being caught, she finally absconded and disappeared.

Her husband, Richard Boulter, originally assigned to a Mr Ogilvie at the Hunter River, in 1831, obtained a ticket of leave on 7 April 1843 while working for a Mr Metcalf in the Merton district of New South Wales. Like Jane, no more is heard of him.

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Further reading: 

Ralph Crane, ‘Out of India: Convict Women in the Web of Empire’, in From the Edges of Empire, eds L. Frost and C. McAlpine, Convict Women’s Press, Hobart 2015, pp.14-34.



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