Eleanor Clarke (1808?-?)

by Don Bradmore and Judith Carter


Eleanor Clarke, a married woman with two children (one male, one female), was convicted at the Old Bailey, London, on 26 February 1838. Court records show her surname as Clark.

A prostitute, she had been found guilty of stealing ‘one sovereign, one half-sovereign, and one bank note for payment of, and value of, £5’ from a man she had taken back to her room in Little Collingwood Street, Bethnal Green. Sentenced to 10 years’ transportation, she was put aboard John Renwick which sailed from Woolwich on 25 April 1838 and reached Port Jackson on 31 August.

According to the ship’s indent, she was born in the United States of America. Nothing is known about her life before her transportation. Upon arrival, she was described as being 30 years of age, 4 feet 11¼ inches (150.13 cm) tall with dark brown hair, hazel/grey eyes, and a sallow, freckled complexion. She could read but not write. She gave her religion as ‘Protestant’ and her occupation as ‘plain cook and housemaid’. She had had no previous convictions.

In August 1841, while assigned as a servant at Wollambi, New South Wales, she was charged with ‘gross neglect of duty and violent conduct’. Sentenced to fourteen days in Newcastle Gaol, she was afterwards returned to the Parramatta Female Factory. A notation beside her name in the gaol’s entrance book reads ‘Not to be again assigned’. Nevertheless, in 1843 she was assigned again - to a Mrs Esther Cassidy of Windsor, a schoolteacher. There was no repetition of her unsatisfactory behavior.

In November 1843 she was granted a ticket of leave confining her to the Windsor district. In January 1845, the ticket of leave was altered, giving approval to her to relocate to the Paterson district. What happened to her after that, however, is a mystery. No record of her having obtained a certificate of freedom has been found. Attempts to locate a record of a remarriage (if there was one) and of her death have been unsuccessful.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.