Adelaide Le Grange (1806?-1833)

by Douglas Wilkie


On Sunday 6 November 1831, twenty-five-year-old Frenchwoman, Adelaide Le Grange went into the York Hotel in Albemarle Street, London, and told the hotelkeeper, Charles Crawley that she had just arrived from France and was looking for a room for the night. Crawley recognised the woman as having been a lady’s maid for the family of a Mr. Cadogan, and provided her with a room. She had no luggage and stayed until Thursday 10 November when Crawley asked her to leave due to ‘some circumstances’ with which he was not satisfied.

When Adelaide left the hotel she carried with her a bundle and Crawley was told by another person that she had been looking ‘very intently on some silver spoons’. His suspicions aroused, Crawley followed Adelaide along High Street, and reported her to police officer Charles William Hodges, who took her to the police station where police inspector John Creswell arranged for a woman to search her—’four spoons were found in her bundle, one in her hair, and this pair of sugar-tongs was in her bosom’. ‘They are mine,’ Crawley proclaimed.

At the Old Bailey on 1 December 1831, Adelaide Le Grange was tried for stealing the goods, valued at five shillings; however, ‘being a native of France, the evidence was interpreted to her’. In her defence, Adelaide simply said, ‘It is my own property.’ It was not good enough, and she was sentenced to transportation for 7 years.

The convict transport Burrell left Woolwich on 12 January 1832 with 101 female prisoners and twenty free women and their 43 children. Surgeon George Williams reported that all the women were ‘in a good state of health with the exception of one’ when they left and that ‘the women continued free from complaints until we were within a few hundred miles of New South Wales.’ At that point they ‘encountered some heavy weather with frequent showers of rain’. Catarrh and rheumatism led some to become ‘much debilitated’ and they were given ‘an allowance of preserved meat and an extra allowance of wine.’ During the voyage Adelaide Le Grange ‘became despondent and suffered from amnesia’.

The Burrell arrived in Port Jackson on 20 May 1832, although the women did not leave the ship until 13 June when the Australian reported they were ‘in tolerable condition and good order’. Ninety-eight of the women were assigned from the ship including ‘several stout strapping wenches’, although ‘many of them were not’.

Adelaide Le Grange was not assigned. Her record is annotated ‘Insane on board’ across all categories except those that describe her physical appearance. She was 5 feet (152.40 cm) tall; had a ‘fare, insane’ complexion; dark brown hair; and grey eyes. Nothing is recorded about her age, religion, family, trade, native place, or offence. She was clearly in no state to answer any questions upon her arrival. The employment assigned to her upon her arrival in Sydney is simply ’Hospital, Sydney’.

Adelaide Legraith [sic], aged 31, is recorded as dying at the Liverpool Convicts’ Hospital and Lunatic Asylum in 1833. It was a place that was the subject of regular complaint, such as this in February:

Lunatic Asylum at Liverpool. The Superintendent, it is said, resides in the town, at a distance from the premises; the establishment is left to the care of servants, who are accused of using the wretched inmates badly; and the building is altogether insecure, two of the lunatics having escaped this week. Currency Lad.

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