Catherine Evans (1794?–?)

by Maureen Mann


Catherine Evans was born in Newfoundland. By the time of her conviction in 1843, she was living in Leeds, Yorkshire.

Catherine was transported for 10 years for stealing a watch from the person. Her trial was at Yorkshire Leeds Borough Quarter Sessions 5 July 1843. She had prior convictions for theft and for being disorderly. She had three children and was either married or a widow. One of the sources states that her husband had been dead for five years. She could neither read nor write, was a Catholic and a house servant. The surgeon reported that she was good, a cook. Catherine had two brothers: William and Thomas and a sister, Mary, in Manchester.

She was a small woman, only 4 feet 11 inches (149.86 cm) tall. She had a fresh complexion, a round head, blue eyes and brown hair, a low forehead and a round chin.

She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on 25 December 1843 on the Woodbridge, captained by William B. Dobson and with James Lardner as surgeon, on a voyage which took 113 days.

Her conduct offences were mainly for drunkenness, and there were six in all. The first was fifteen months after arrival when she was reprimanded. These offences followed at irregular intervals, incurring very differing punishments ranging from six days in solitary confinement to four months’ hard labour, half of this time to be spent in the separate apartments. She was absent without leave which resulted in one months’ hard labour. After one drunken episode she was ordered to the interior, but it is not clear whether this order was enforced.

On 10 July 1849 Richard Heaton, who arrived on the Duncan in 1841 applied for permission to marry her. Their marriage took place on 30 July 1849 in Hobart. No children have been found from this marriage.

Catherine’s ticket of leave was issued on 28 August 1849 and her certificate of freedom was dated 5 July 1853.

There are no firm sightings anywhere in Australia for either Catherine or Richard Heaton after they were granted their freedom. It is possible that Richard returned to England because there is a listing in the 1871 census in Wigan of a Richard Heaton, widower, living with his daughter and two grandchildren and Richard Heaton came from Wigan and left behind a wife and five children when he was transported.

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