Ellen Pollard (1811?-?)

by Douglas Wilkie


Ellen Pollard was born in Calcutta sometime around 1811, but returned to England and on Friday 19 July 1831, aged eighteen, entered the service of Mary and Abraham Regier in Pauls Head Court, London. By the following Monday Mary Regier noticed a watch missing and enquired about it with some lodgers. Overhearing the conversation, Ellen Pollard left her dinner and walked out. Mrs Regier later went to Guildhall to lay a charge against Ellen of stealing the watch and a handkerchief.

Ellen admitted she had taken the watch to a pawnbroker on Mutton Hill and promised that her sister would go to redeem it. The watch was eventually found at a pawnbroker on Snow Hill.  James Browning, the manager of Baxter’s pawnbroking shop, later gave evidence that Ellen Pollard had pawned the watch for twenty-six shillings using the name Jane Clark.

Ellen was tried at the Old Bailey on 8 September 1831 on a charge of stealing one watch, valued at £2; 1 ribbon, valued at 1d.; 2 seals, valued at 10s.; 1 key, valued at 3d., and 1 handkerchief, value 2 shillings, from her master Abraham Regier. She had no previous convictions, but was found guilty and transported for 7 years. The convict ship Burrell left England on 31 December 1831 and during the voyage Ellen became ill with impetigo, a condition that kept her in bed from 7 May 1832 until 21 May.

Ellen said she was aged twenty when she arrived at Sydney. She was four feet eleven and three-quarter inches (151.77cm) tall—another measurement gave her as five feet one and a half inches (156.21 cm); she was ‘stout’ and had a fair complexion although her face was pock-pitted. She had dark brown hair and dark chestnut coloured eyes; although another description said her hair was black and her eyes ‘dark’. Most distinguishing were her tattoos: ASR PIL and a Heart and two darts, on her upper right arm, and NP MP on her upper left arm as well as a blue ring tattooed on the fourth finger of her right hand. A different description ignored the tattoos on her arms and simply mentioned a blue tattoo on her left hand. Yet another placed the blue ring on the third finger of her right hand, and mentioned that her eyebrows were ‘practically meeting’. She could read, but not write; she was protestant; and she could do a range of domestic work whether a kitchen maid or plain cooking

Although other convicts named Ellen Pollard had arrived before her, there was a letter awaiting collection at the General Post Office in Sydney at the end of May 1832. On 15 February 1833   Ellen was admitted to the Female Factory at Parramatta for fourteen days, and again on 26 May 1833. The reasons are unknown.

The Sydney Monitor, 23 January 1837 reported that on Thursday 19 January,

Ellen Pollard, assigned to Mrs. Howell of Castlereagh-street, Laundress, was charged with absenting herself from the service of her mistress without leave. Police Serjeant Aitken met the prisoner in Castlereagh-street at ten o'clock on Wednesday night last; she said she was going to the watchhouse to give herself up. Mrs. Howell stated that her son and the prisoner had had some words in consequence of his reproving her for remissness, when she called him some ill names, and he put her out of the parlor. To be confined in the 3rd class Factory for six months, and be returned to service. She said she would not return, when she was remanded to a cell, to be brought up again for trial on a charge of contempt of Court.

Ellen was granted her certificate of freedom on 3 March 1840 and nothing more is heard until July 1864 when a woman named Ellen Pollard was brought before the Parramatta police court on a charge of using indecent language against Margaret Madigan. The charge was dismissed. This may have been a different person.

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