Julia Wallace (1824?-?)

by Kay Buttfield


Julia Wallace was 24 when she was transported for stealing wearing apparel in Dover. She was tried at the Kent Quarter Sessions, England on 23 June 1848, and sentenced to 7 years for her crime. Previously she had been incarcerated for 2 months for a similar offence.

Julia’s record states that she was a cook and housemaid, that her parents John and Anne lived in Canterbury, and that she had two brothers and five sisters . Her indent notes her proper name as Elyth Ann Wickendon; however, on her conduct record her ‘proper’ name is listed as Elizabeth Wickman.

Julia called herself Wallace at her trial, reporting she had lived with Lord John Wallace for nine months prior to the conviction. Julia, who could read and write, gave her place of birth as the Cape of Good Hope, and her religion as Protestant. On 16 May 1849, eleven months after sentencing, Julia departed from Woolwich on the convict transport Stately, under Captain Thomas Ginder and the ship’s surgeon John Elliott. The ship docked in Hobart on 2 September 1849, and although many of the 170 convicts on board were unwell during the voyage, Julia received a good report from the surgeon.

Her gaol report from the time she was arrested until she sailed is brief, and simply said ‘single’. However, from soon after her arrival her conduct report in the colony is peppered with incidents that delivered harsh punishments. In February 1850 she was absent and received 10 days in the cells, then later in the same month she received four months’ hard labour for failing to proceed to the depot. She was sent to work in the countryside at Swansea, and in the hope she would not be influenced by undesirables, her file marked that she was not allowed to enter service in Hobarton.

In December 1850 she received a severe admonishment after Mr. Mc Rae, her Master, reported she was absent from her authorised place of residence. Next, in March 1851, she was assigned to Mr. Skene in Oatlands, but by October she absconded and for this received three months hard labour in the Launceston Female Factory. When released in June 1851, Julia was assigned to Mr. Hudson, but she was soon ‘absent without leave and resisting a Constable in the execution of his duty’. Another three months’ hard labour at the Ross Female Factory followed, and then in January 1852 she was assigned to S. Tulloch in Launceston.

However, by February she was drunk and absent without leave—for which she received another month of hard labour in the Launceston Female factory. Next, she was assigned to M. Hind in Launceston, but by April she absconded and received another three months in the Launceston Female Factory for her trouble. At the end of June 1852 Julia was assigned to John Brown at Morven (later Evandale), but by July she was back at the factory for 4 months hard labour for having a forged pass in her possession.

Then, in October 1852, she was assigned to J.Welch in Launceston—but this only lasted a month before she was back in the House of Correction. In November 1842 she was assigned to J. Twining in Launceston, where she stayed until April 1843, when she again absconded—when found, she received another four months hard labour. This slight, sandy haired young woman who stood 5 feet and a ½ inches (153.67 cm) tall with a fair complexion and grey eyes was acquiring quite a list of repeat offences.

In July 1853 she was assigned to yet another master, Harrison in Antill Ponds, but later the same month she was apprehended drunk, with articles belonging to her master for which ‘she cannot satisfactorily explain’. She was sentenced to nine months’ hard labour at Ross, and then another three months added to the existing sentence. By August 1853 she was in the Launceston Female Factory, but she again absconded—which earned another nine months’ hard labour.

By April 1854 she was found to have improperly written a letter, for which she spent fourteen days in the cells at Ross. Later, in August, her sentence was extended as she was again found drunk. She was confined in the House of Correction at Launceston where she disobeyed orders and then, in April 1855, she was back in Hobart discharged to ‘service of the crown’ under A. Meikle, but she was soon back at the Cascades Female Factory for disobeying orders.

In May 1855 she was assigned to J. Lord, but after another conviction she was assigned to B. Swift in Pontville. Finally, by 23 June 1855 she was free by servitude and her certificate of freedom was issued on the 30 June 1855. In 4 November 1856 William Fordham applied successfully for permission to marry Julia, and they married in Launceston at the York Street Chapel on the 28th of that month. William, a seaman, had arrived on 4 April 1844 on the convict ship the Marion from London. Convicted of housebreaking, he received a conditional pardon in September 1856. Julia may have met her equal in William, as his conduct record had many misdemeanors and he was cited as a ‘bad character’, spending time incarcerated on both Maria Island and Port Arthur. The records lose track of Julia and William after their marriage.

There are many things we will never know about Julia’s life. When did she leave the Cape or was her real name Wickendon or Wickman? We do not know if she and William had a family, and if she truly did settle down after all those years of struggling against the system.

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.