Jones, Elizabeth, b.1828

The Life of Elizabeth Jones

Elizabeth Jones was transported at a young age for petty crime, but she lived well into old age in Australia, after marrying and having children of her own.

Link to the Digital Panopticon life archive.

Early Life

Originally from St. Pancras, London, Elizabeth was 15 years old when she was convicted. She was also a member of the Church of England, working as a "nurse girl", could read, and was described as having a pock-pitted face. Her father, John, was living in Edgeware Road, London and she had two siblings before she was transported. Unfortunately, they would not see her grow up.

Crime and Trial

Elizabeth was convicted in 1842 for stealing from her master; one shawl worth 2 shillings and 2 pence, one bonnet worth sixpence, and 3 pence in change. In her Old Bailey Proceeding, to the prosecutor, she stated;

“You gave me the bonnet to wear, and lent me the shawl you took me into your service at 1s. a week and my victuals you never gave me a farthing of money, and scarcely any victuals.”

Clearly Elizabeth blamed her current plight on her employer. Nevertheless, she was sentenced to seven years’ transportation and the sentence was carried out. There was another indictment against her at the trial for stealing one gown and other articles, to the value of 15s. - also the property of the master who was prosecuting.

The Garland Grove set sail in October 1842, arriving in Hobart three months later. Elizabeth only committed three offences which were all non-serious, regulatory offences while under assignment, including being absent without leave, misconduct, and disobeying orders. These were common offences for juvenile convicts while under sentence. For these she generally received solitary confinement but the last offence resulted in six months’ hard labour at the wash tub. Both hard labour and confinement to the cells were the most common punishments for female convicts.

Elizabeth received her ticket of leave in November 1847 and received a conditional pardon in July 1848. By May 1849 she was awarded her certificate of freedom.

Later Years

Like many other female juveniles transported to Van Diemen's Land, after freedom Elizabeth did not offend again. Four years after becoming free, Elizabeth married Henry Rowbottom who was also a former convict who arrived on the Ostler and Carter. Henry was a tradesman who had been transported from London for seven years in 1844.

Elizabeth and Henry had four children between 1851 and 1858, including three males and one female. The first was born before they married. Elizabeth died in an invalid depot in Launceston aged 74 and was buried in February 1905 at Charles Street General Cemetery. Her husband Charles also died at the invalid depot, aged 77.

Dying in an institution was all too common for former convicts in Tasmania. These invalid depots, for the aged and infirm paupers, were funded by the colonial government. As the convict population aged, these invalid depots filled. Since Elizabeth formed a family of her own, it is unclear why her and her husband ended up in this predicament. More commonly, ex-convict males who had not formed new families in the colonies and who had left their former families in their home country, died in these institutions.

Wider Context

Not only were relatively few female convicts sentenced to transportation compared with males, also this was especially the case with juvenile females. Of those who were sentenced to transportation, they were also more likely than their male counterparts to have that sentence commuted to imprisonment. Many such females spent approximately two years in Millbank prison as an alternative.

Of those who were transported, most single females went on to marry far quicker than transported males. In fact, many females married while under sentence. This was largely due to the disproportion of the sexes, but also due to convict management decisions. While female convicts, after 1829, had to have a year of good behaviour before being able to apply for permission to marry, males had the added obstacle of having to prove they could support their proposed wife.

Further Information


Larceny, Transportation, Hard Labour, Pardon, Ticket of Leave, Juvenile, Female, Death in Institution, Old Age

Author Credits

This page was written by Emma Watkins with additional contributions by other members of the Digital Panopticon project team.