Sarah Ann Weldon (1790?-1838)

by Steve Rhodes


After being convicted of stealing a piece of curtain and silk handkerchiefs, the property of John Rupert, lodging-house keeper in the Long Brackland, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, 46-year-old Sarah Ann Weldon (alias Sarah Ann Watson) was transported for 7 years to New South Wales on board the Elizabeth arriving at Port Jackson on 12 October, 1836.

Sarah had been born in Bombay, India about 1790, was at some point married, and had two male and one female child. She was of the Roman Catholic faith, could read, was 4 feet 11¾ inches (151.77 cm) tall, and was a laundress. Her convict indent colourfully describes her having a missing canine tooth and several tattoos, including that of a mermaid, a man, and a man’s bust on her lower left arm. She was of a ruddy and freckled complexion with brown hair and dark hazel eyes, and ‘spoke a little through her nose’.

Sarah was apprehended in the company of John Thomas (alias Weldon), to whom she claimed to be married. John was 72 years old and almost blind, and the pair had spent 3 nights in the lodging-house at Long Brackland. Soon after they left, the landlord noticed the missing items and set out in pursuit of the offenders. He caught up with them five miles down the road and found the piece of curtain hidden in Sarah’s petticoat and the handkerchiefs under John’s hat. John claimed to be innocent of the crime due to his blindness and therefore his inability to know what Sarah might put in his hat, and was acquitted. Sarah, upon receiving her sentence, replied to the magistrate, ‘Thank ye, my Lord; that’s better nor nuffin.’

By 1837, Sarah had been assigned to Mr Charles Smith of George Street, Sydney as a servant. In April that year, as she had fallen pregnant, her master decided he should return her to the Female Factory the following Monday. When the day came, Smith became suspicious due to the apparent rapid increase in size of his servant, and found a large quantity of his wife’s clothing, valued at £3, secreted beneath her own dress. Sarah was found guilty and sentenced to be worked for twelve months in the third class section of the Female Factory.

Before this sentence had expired, Sarah died on 13 March 1838, at the Parramatta Hospital.

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