Ann White (1814?-1852)

by Kay Buttfield


In March 1838, 24-year-old Ann White was sentenced at the Somerset Assizes to 10 years’ transportation to Van Diemen’s Land for stealing a watch from the person of Thomas Venn.

Ann was born at the Cape of Good Hope, Africa, but had been raised in Biddeford, Devon, England. She was 4 feet 10 inches (147.32 cm) tall with black hair, a fresh complexion, and hazel eyes. Her occupation was house servant: one who could wash, milk, and make butter—however, her gaol report noted at the time of her arrest she had been 12 months ‘on the town’.

The Majestic, with 123 convicts under shipmaster G. Williamson and ship’s surgeon Peter Fisher, sailed from London on 3 October 1838 and arrived in Hobart on 22 January 1839. The surgeon noted that on 20 September 1838, while held in gaol before the voyage at Woolwich, Ann was taken ill. She was suffering from dolor laterus (a pain in the right side). The surgeon also noted that in November, while at sea, Ann suffered with Cephalagia (pain in the head).

In Van Diemen’s Land Ann’s record shows that she was assigned to various masters and was often reported for offences. In March 1840, she was absent and drunk—for which she was reprimanded, before being returned to service. She was absent again in May and July 1840—misdemeanours which earned her confinement to cells on bread and water for 21 days, followed by hard labour for six months.

Ann’s behaviour seemed to improve for a while, but in February 1842 she was drunk and out after hours, for which she was sentenced to ten days’ solitary confinement. Ann was not reported again until June 1843 when she was reprimanded for being absent after hours. In July 1843, Anne was granted her ticket of leave, but it was soon suspended; this pattern would repeat for the next few years until Ann’s conditional pardon was approved in October 1846.

Two men sought permission to marry Ann. The first was James Lennard, who had arrived in 1836 on the convict ship Elphinstone—he applied in 1844, but was refused. However, in 1845, free settler William Taylor’s application was successful. William and Ann married 31 March 1845 at St. George’s Church of England at Battery Point, Hobart. On the certificate she is described as a 28-year-old spinster and William as a 33-year-old publican.

Ann does not appear in the records again until 1852 when her death is registered. The certificate simply states that on 4 January 1852, Ann Taylor, the wife of publican William Taylor of Launceston, died of erysipelas (an inflammatory disease of the upper layers of the skin).

It is unknown what became of William, and there is no record of Ann leaving any children; all we can do is wonder about her life—born in Cape Town, Africa, raised in England, and transported to Van Diemen’s Land where she died. 

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© 2016 Convict Women's Press Inc.