Louisa Lowe (1801?-?)

by Jan Richardson


In May 1830 Louisa Lowe was tried at the Old Bailey for stealing a sovereign and some shillings from Archibald Jefferson, who had gone with her to a lodging near the White Lion at Shadwell. Her defence was, ‘I treated him with liquor at the public-house—I met him; he asked me to go home, and gave me 3s. for the bed.’ She denied stealing the money but was found guilty and transported for 7 years.  Louisa arrived in New South Wales on the Lord Liverpool in April 1831 with 87 other female convicts. She was 30 years old and said she was born in Jamaica. She also stated she was married and had no children. Louisa had brown hair, hazel eyes, and a ‘ruddy fair freckled’ complexion. On the line underneath her name was written the alias ‘Everson Gambier’. The printed annotated indent also contained a note not present in the original handwritten version: ‘Two brothers named Lowe, coming out’.

On 27 April 1831, the Principal Superintendent of Convicts’ Office wrote to the Colonial Secretary advising that Louisa was assigned to Captain Dunford of the 39th Regiment ‘from the Hospital she being now convalescent’.  On 13 June 1831 she was admitted to gaol for being ‘Absent without leave & Drunk’ and sent to the Factory for six weeks.  Louisa was admitted again in November and sent to the Factory for two months.  In March 1835, ‘Louise [sic] Lowe or Everson Gambier’ applied to marry John Lennon, a ticket-of-leave man transported on the Earl St Vincent in 1818.  Although Louisa was ‘Stated married’, the marriage was allowed and the ceremony was performed at the Roman Catholic Church at Wilberforce in April 1835.

John Lennon was convicted in Carlow, Ireland, in July 1817 of ‘Burglary & Felony’, as was Edward Lennon who was most likely his younger brother. They were transported to New South Wales on the Earl St Vincent along with Thomas Lennon Snr and Thomas Lennon Jnr, who were convicted at Carlow of ‘House Robbery’ in March 1818. During the first week of January 1838, ‘Louisa Lowe or Lennon’, John Lennon and Edward Lennon, were all admitted to the Windsor Gaol. Louisa gave her year of birth as 1798 and was described as 5 feet 7 inches (170.18 cm) tall, with a ‘Fresh’ complexion, dark brown hair and ‘Dark’ eyes.  On 15 February, John, Edward and Louisa Lennon were again admitted to the Windsor Gaol, this time from the ‘Quarter Sessions’. Louisa described herself as a servant born in Jamaica. The ‘Free or Bond’ column was entered as ‘Supposed Free’, rather than describing her as ‘Bond’ on arrival. In March 1838, John and Edward Lennon’s tickets of leave were cancelled and John was sentenced to work in irons for three years.  After only six months in the iron gang, John died at the General Hospital at Parramatta aged 45. There are no records of any children born to John and Louisa Lennon.

In 1839 ‘Louisa Lowe alias Emerson [sic] Gambier or Lennon’, who was by now aged 38, sought permission to marry ticket-of-leave man Thomas Watson, aged 56. The application was denied by the Colonial Secretary ‘until satisfactory proof is produced of the death of the woman’s former husband’. The local Anglican minister, Henry Stiles, replied to the Colonial Secretary on behalf of Louisa and Thomas:

I have the honor to inform you, that by an extract from the Registry of Burials in the parish of St John’s Parramatta, certified as correct by the Revd. H. H. Bobart, it appears that John Lennon was buried there on the 6th of October 1838.

Thomas and Louisa’s marriage was subsequently allowed and was registered in 1839. Louisa’s certificate of freedom, issued on 26 December 1839, was notated ‘Windsor’ in the left margin, but after this there is no further trace of either Louisa or her husband. There are no records of any children born to Thomas and Louisa in New South Wales and it has not been possible to positively identify Thomas or Louisa Watson’s death records. Louisa’s alias of ‘Everson Gambier’ has also turned about to be a dead end and, thus far, it has not been possible to identify Louisa’s brothers.

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Further reading:
Jan Richardson, 'Caribbean stories: born in the West Indies, tried in the British Isles, transported to New South Wales', in From the Edges of Empire, eds L. Frost and C. McAlpine, Convict Women’s Press, Hobart, 2015, pp. 114-130.



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