Anne Henry (1817-1848)

by Jan Richardson


Anne Henry was tried in Dublin City on 19 April 1837 and arrived in Sydney on the Sir Charles Forbes in 1837, convicted of the felony crime of stealing a watch and money. Anne gave her place of birth as Dublin and said she was a ‘Thorough servant and plain cook’. She was 20 years old, single and had no children. In the handwritten manuscript indent for the Sir Charles Forbes, she was described as having black hair, black eyes and a ‘Creole’ complexion; however, the annotated printed copy stated she had a ‘Copper color’ complexion, ‘Black and woolly’ hair, black eyes, and also remarked that she was ‘Half cast’.

Anne’s ticket of leave, issued on 8 September 1842, allowed her to remain in the district of Parramatta, ‘Per the Government Minute on a recommendation by the Matron of the F.F. [Female Factory] Parramatta’. Eleven months later, this ticket was ‘Cancelled for disorderly conduct’ by order of a second Government Minute dated 5 August 1843. By August 1845 Anne’s behaviour had apparently improved, as she was granted a certificate of freedom which again described her as a ‘Half cast’ with a ‘Copper color’ complexion, ‘Black & curley [sic]’ hair, black eyes and a ‘broad’ nose. Her year of birth was given as 1817 and her physical description included scars on her nose, right eye, left eyebrow, left cheek bone, right arm, right hand and left wrist.

There are no further mentions of Anne in any convict records or newspaper reports and she does not appear to have married or served any time in gaol. It seems, instead, that Anne’s life took a turn for the worse because she was admitted to the New South Wales Benevolent Asylum, dying there in early 1848. Her burial certificate, in the name of ‘Ann’ Henry, gives her age as 25. However if Anne was born in 1817, as stated on her certificate of freedom, then she was actually about 31 years old when she died. While she was buried on 8 February 1848, the date she died was ‘Not Stated’. The burial certificate also records that ‘Ann’ arrived in the colony on the Sir Charles Forbes, confirming that she is, in fact, ‘Anne’ Henry. It does not, however, contain any other clues as to the circumstances of her death and there is no mention of her passing in the newspapers. As with so many other female convicts, there is no nice neat ending to Anne Henry’s story; just frustrating loose ends and unanswered questions.

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