Mary Maw (1787-?)

by Maureen Mann


Mary Maw, born in 1787 in Newfoundland, Canada, was transported for 7 years after her trial in York Quarter Sessions on 30 April 1827 for petty larceny—stealing 21 yards of print. She had several previous charges laid against her, but it is not clear if any of them resulted in imprisonment and at least for one she was acquitted. She stated that her husband was at Bradford and it is probable that her four children remained there with him. Mary travelled on the Sovereign which left London 14 July 1827, captained by William McKellar and with Robert Malcolm as ship’s surgeon, arriving in Hobart 20 November 1827, a journey of 129 days.

She was described as being 5 feet 1 inch (154.94 cm) tall. Her complexion was sallow with dark brown hair, eyes and eyebrows. Her head was round; her face oval shaped and pockpitted; her nose straight; her mouth medium and her chin round and small. She had scars on her right wrist and thumb. No religion was listed. She gave her trade as cook in the 53rd regiment, as servant of all work, laundress and as having had five-years’ experience as a nurse.

Her conduct record, where she is numbered 69 in the Sovereign listing, contains fourteen entries. Over the course of her sentence, she had several charges of absconding. She was charged on 9 May 1828, when assigned to H. J. Emmette Esq, as she was absent several times over several days. This resulted in her spending fourteen days in the cells on bread and water and spending three months in Crime Class. She was also charged on the same day with using threatening and insolent language in the hearing of the superintendent of the factory. For this there was an extra fourteen days in the cells and an extra six months in Crime Class. Her second and third abscondings were on 18 and 25 July 1829, both from the service of H Jellicoe: six months in the factory and then returned to the Crown, followed by being detained as a witness for the Crown. On 26 June 1830, in the service of Gardiner, she was charged with assaulting and cutting William Campbell and was committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions. In December 1830 in Campbell Town Q.S., she received one week’s imprisonment. On 2 October 1832, after using disrespectful language to her mistress, Mrs Bostock, and being absent without leave, she spent one month in the George Town Factory and was returned to the Crown. On 26 November 1832, she refused to return to her service with Mr P Dalrymple and spent three weeks in the George Town Factory. On 2 January 1833, she was out after hours without leave from her mistress, Mrs Kelly, and was returned to the Crown. It was recommended that Mrs Kelly receive no more assigned servants. Assigned to Weston in August 1833, she was insubordinate, discharged from her service and she spent two months at the Female House of Correction, George Town. In 1834 she was admonished for drunkenness and being absent without leave. She was committed for trial on 11 August 1835 for ‘ feloniously receiving a pair of drill Trousers the property of William MacKay knowing the same to have been feloniously stolen’ but was acquitted on 15 October 1835.

Her certificate of freedom is listed in her conduct record after this last entry for theft though it should have been due 30 April 1834.

On 23 June 1840, Mary was tried and convicted in the Launceston Quarter Sessions. She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour in the Female House of Correction; she was not to be assigned. There was another conviction on 5 January 1846 at Hobart Quarter Sessions for stealing a table cover, the property of Loughlin Reynolds. This conviction again resulted in two years’ imprisonment with hard labour, this time at Cascades Female Factory.

There are no requests for permission to marry or any records of a colonial marriage. No death has been found for Mary Maw and no record of departure from Van Diemen’s Land. It is possible that for any of these events her name was recorded with an alternate spelling. In the Tasmanian Archives listing of VDL convicts, she is listed as Mary Man.

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