My convicts: new Aussie history blog coming soon

UPDATE

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct, Cumberland Hospital, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia

Family on the inside

So what happened to Catherine Dixon my great, great, great, great grandmother?

She was transported to New South Wales and then was ‘sent down’* to the Parramatta Female Factory in 1838 with her six-year-old daughter. I followed her footsteps at the ‘Factory’ with my camera. I looked into what life would have been like for the two of them inside the 16 foot stone walls.

See my earlier posts, A Convict in the Tree and A Convict Inside

And I promised to tell the story of what happened to Catherine and her children next…

And then…

Looking into the records I found something weird…

an odd error turned into something strange, turned into something very fishy…

Are the records the sloppy work of the superintendent and the oddities just a weird string of ‘errors’?

Or

is there a chain of children ‘swapping’ going on?

I’m sorry to keep you hanging but it requires more digging to sort out my suspicions…

And now that my history bent has taken flight on this blog, I’m going to start an Australian history / family history blog for the stories that don’t quite fit here on Daytripper Sippers.

It’ll be a week yet. I’ll keep you posted when it’s up and running.

And Catherine Dixon, my family convict (and others), will have a home of her own.  ♦

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* ‘sent down’ – sent to prison or gaol / jail,

In Catherine’s case, she was ‘sent down’ to the Female Factory in Parramatta, a penitentiary, workhouse, refuge and convict women’s hospital near Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

A convict inside (Parramatta Female Factory)

Original 1818-21 wall of the Parramatta Female Factory (2nd class yard), New South Wales, Australia

1818 convict wall, Parramatta Female Factory                        (2nd Class yard)

In 1838 Catherine Dixon found herself on the wrong side of this wall. She was my great great great great grandmother. So I retraced her footsteps, with my camera, to see what life was like for her ‘on the inside’.

Why was Catherine ‘inside’?

She was a thirty year old widow sentenced to 14 years transportation for receiving stolen goods [Lancaster Quarter Sessions 1836 trial register]. Her four young children were sent with her to New South Wales.

(To see a description of what Catherine looked like and more on her transportation to Australia go to Part 1, ‘A convict in the tree’.)

At the journey’s end Catherine had been assigned to M Sparke of Sydney. But soon afterward she and her daughter were sent to this place, the Female Factory in Parramatta.

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A convict in the tree

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct, Cumberland Hospital, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia

A majestic old tree sheltering convict and colonial buildings, Parramatta

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A little while back I found some convict bricks in my veggie patch. It got me thinking about the Australian ‘royal blood’ or convict blood in my family tree. 

Of my convict ancestors the one that strikes my heart the most is Catherine Hughes, my great great great great grandmother (4 x great). Something about her sad plight touches me. I wanted to know more about her life on Australian soil and to retrace her footsteps.

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Convicts in the garden?

Aussie icons series

Old disused veggie garden 2012

When we moved to our land three years ago we set about cleaning up ‘the garden’. It’s 2 and a bit acres, so it’s still very much a work in progress.

Twenty year old trees needed to be thinned, some dead, most crowded. The place had been vacant for a few months so the grass was knee high and the veggie garden overgrown with weeds and blackberries. We are still uncovering and discovering some delightful finds after three years.

But the MOST exciting, the most dumb-struck-speechless-blink-eyes discovery was this:

I was removing the bricks that lined the old veggie beds and stacking them in a pile when I noticed that some I picked up looked very old and worn, handmade, with lumps and bumps.     Continue reading