Matilda Watson (1821?-1877)

by Colin Tuckerman


Matilda Watson was born in North America but stated she had been brought up in Edinburgh. Her maiden name was Rose but had been a widow for six years. Matilda Watson was tried for the crime of theft, habit and repute at Giles Street, Leith and sentenced to 10 years’ transportation. She had previously been charged on sixteen occasions for drunkenness.

She was transported on the Sea Queen, which sailed from Woolwich with 170 women convicts and she arrived at Hobart on the 29 August 1846. Matilda was described as a good-looking girl who could read and write.

Matilda spent some time in the New Norfolk Asylum shortly after her arrival being admitted due to being insane and a danger to herself and others. Her symptoms started before she arrived. She had suffered headaches since she was ten which she attributed to a fall on a nail. Mention was made in her medical records of her bad temper, threats to cause violence and that she believed she saw ghosts. She was discharged in December 1852.

She became free by servitude on 28 June 1853. Her condition may have continued to cause her problems for the rest of her life. In 1871, she was arrested for vagrancy but was suffering from paralysis. She late died of paralysis on the 27 June 1877 at the New Town Pauper Establishment. There is no record of her having any children.

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