Sarah Moore (1795?-1838)

by Steve Rhodes


Born in Gibraltar about 1795, Sarah Moore found herself in London in 1836, destitute and desperate for food and shelter. On the morning of 28 September she had been arrested for vagrancy and told the sitting Magistrate she was forced to do so as she had no money to pay for lodgings. She explained how she had applied for relief under the Poor Law Act in her parish but was refused. She was set free after being admonished by the Magistrate but later the same day was again arrested, this time for deliberately stealing a watch with the intention of being imprisoned, so desperate was her situation.

In broad daylight and without making any effort to conceal her crime, Sarah had broken the window of Mr Westwood’s shop, then a glass display case, and then removed an expensive gold watch. She was immediately taken into custody by a passer-by who witnessed the act. Sarah had no hesitation in pleading guilty, stating she ‘was better in than out of prison.’ Rather than a prison term, Sarah was sentenced to transportation for life.

The convict ship Sarah and Elizabeth departed 16 December 1836 with 98 female convicts on board, two of whom died during the voyage, and arrived in Port Jackson, NSW on 23 April 1837. Sarah was described as being a laundress (indifferent), 4 feet 10½ inches (148.59 cm) tall with brown hair, hazel eyes, a ruddy and freckled complexion, and a thick nose.

After only a relatively short period in the colony, and perhaps due to a life of living rough, Sarah died at Parramatta, NSW on 22 January 1838.

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