Mary Revlett (1783?-1847?)
By Amanda Johnson
On 12 June 1820, Mary Revlett was indicted for stealing one watch and £4 from John Herbert, a servant. Mary was tried at the Middlesex Gaol Delivery [Old Bailey] before J. Vaillant, Esq on 28 June 1820 charged with theft.
John Herbert gave the following testimony:
I am servant to Dr. Berkbeck, of Coleman-street. On the 12th of June, I was sent with Mr. Edwards's coach to Willis's rooms. I went to a public-house close by, called for some gin and water, and took out four £1 notes from my fob to pay. I afterwards put them into my fob again, on the top of my watch. I did not change either of them. I then ran home as fast as I could - when I got as far as Bedfordbury, the prisoner caught hold of me, and wished me to go home with her. I refused, she instantly put her hand into my waistcoat pocket, and took halfpence out; she would not return it, but said she would spend it - we went to a public-house, and had two glasses of gin with it - when we came out, it struck me, that as she took my halfpence, she might take my watch - and I put my chain down into my fob, on the notes - she walked on, and insisted on my going further with her. I said I would not, she instantly put her hand into my fob, and got the watch and notes out. I caught the watch in her hand as she pulled it out - I took it from her, and put it in again. I then felt and missed the notes, she ran down a passage, and was taken about two hours after - as the publican knew her, and gave information. She went by the name of Modest Mary. I was with them when she was taken, about twenty yards from where I was robbed. I positively swear she was the woman.
Ralph Fellows, a grocer, acted as a witness for John Herbert. In her defence, Mary stated:
He spoke to another woman, then he wanted to go home with me - but said he had no money, and would leave his watch. I went home.
Mary was found guilty and sentenced to transportation for life. Her court transcript states she was aged 38 years. She departed England aboard the Providence on 13 June 1821, arriving in Van Diemen’s Land on 18 December 1821.
Mary’s records show that she was 5 feet 2½ inches (159 centimetres) tall, had dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. She was stated to be a widow and Jamaican.
Mary’s gaol report records that she “… behaved very well”. However, this behaviour did not last, with her Conduct Record showing 17 colonial offences from 1824 through to 1840, which resulted in 14 terms of confinement in the Cascades Female Factory (FF).
Her colonial offence records show a pattern of behaviour that indicates a continuation of the lifestyle that she had led in England. She committed one offence with involved violence, but it appears this was not malicious in nature. Disobedience, absconding, drunkenness and lewd behaviour were Mary’s most frequent crimes:
28 February 1824 - disorderly conduct and cohabitating with a man named William Thomas, contrary to good morals. FF, Crime Class.
26 July 1825 – repeated insolence to her mistress. FF, Assignable Class.
16 February 1826 – repeatedly leaving her masters premises without permission and remaining absent till a late hour at night and entering premises through the window on one occasion at 2am. FF, Crime Class, Cells, bread and water.
6 December 1826 – leaving her masters house without leave from Sunday to Tuesday. FF, Crime Class, bread and water for seven days.
27 December 1826 – leaving her masters house without leave. FF, Crime Class, cells, bread and water.
12 March 1827 – found on premises of Mr Gellibrand at 10pm, undressed and in bed. FF, Crime Class, hair cut off, iron collar.
8 October 1827 - absent from her master’s premises without leave. FF, Assignable for country service.
25 March 1829 – absent. FF, Assignable for country service.
13 February 1830 – drunkenness, insolence and disobedience of orders. FF, Crime Class, two months.
18 January 1831 – insolence to her master. FF, cell on bread and water for 14 days and return to service.
10 September 1832 – insolence. FF, second class one month, assigned to interior.
25 June 1836 – being in a disorderly house after hours. Admonished.
5 February 1838 – charged with throwing a bottle at Mr Kelly which struck his wife in the face. FF, imprisoned for two months. The Police report for this incident records:
Mary Revlett, holding a ticket of leave, was charged with assaulting Eliza Kelly, at the Blue Bells in Murray Street. The prisoner being a tenant, asked for half a pint of wine in a bottle, and being refused by Mrs Kelly, became highly indignant and rude to the landlady, who called for her husband, and he attempted to turn her out of the house. Defendant, although she was refused liquor, was determined to crack a bottle, and threw one at Mr Kelly’s head, which it missed, but fastened on Mrs Kelly’s, and cracked that into the bargain, giving her two tremendous black eyes. Defendant declared she intended to have cracked a bottle with Mr Kelly, and expressed her regret that Mrs Kelly had got so disfigured. She was ordered to hard labour two months in the Factory.
10 May 1838 – drunk and out after hours. Reprimanded.
11 April 1839 – disorderly conduct in living in a state of adultery. FF, hard labour for two months then reside in the country.
20 November 1839 – drunk. FF, solitary confinement on bread and water.
24 March 1840 – stealing a promissory note valued at £1 and other monies the property of Francis Yarnold. Fully committed for trial. No further information available.
The periods of assignment spent in the country included posts at Bothwell, New Norfolk and Richmond. Mary was granted a ticket of leave in 1834 and again in 1844, but this was revoked in 1853.
Former convict Siniri Fearnley made application to marry Mary Revlett on 9 June 1836. Siniri was a contemporary of Mary, having been transported in June 1821 aboard the Malabar. By 1836, Siniri was a free man and permission was granted. Whether Siniri and Mary went through with the marriage is unclear as no records are available.
Mary died in 1847 and was buried on 23 April in the grounds of the Prisoners Barracks in the county of Hobart. Her name was recorded as Mary Rivulett.
Convict conduct record, CON 40/1/7 AOT TAHO.
Deaths, RGD 34-1-2 AOT TAHO.
Marriage permissions, CON 52-1-1 AOT TAHO.
‘Police Report’, Colonial Times, 13 February 1838, p 7.
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/