The Rajah Quilt

The Rajah Quilt

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tasmanian Archives - a wonderful resource.

Researching your family history in Tasmania can be easier if you have a convict, than without.  The Archives Office of Tasmania has an excellent record search online.  You do have to keep an open mind about spelling, the way a name was recorded on any day was basically up to the person who wrote it down.  You can see from Grace's convict arrival records:

Grace STEPHENS - from the Rajah arrivals document which is now available to view online.  The record shows that she gave her native place as Pensantz (sic), Cornwall.  Her occupation was 'Ho & Nurse Girl' - Ho meaning House.  Age on Arrival - 17.  5' tall, florid complexion, oval head, red hair. Oval visage, flat forehead, eyebrows lt. red and eyes lt blue.  Nose long, mouth medium, chin round.  Scar on thumb on left hand. 

From the Conduct Records:  STEVENS Grace -   Rajah, 24 July 1841. Transported for Stealing a Gown Print.  Gaol report convicted before a prostitute. Single. Stated this offence stealing a gown piece once for same 3 months. 2 months on the town. Single. Surgeons report Quiet.
Feby 17th 1843 Archer/misconduct in being with Isaac KITT for improper intercourse 6 mths hard labour in the factory, Launceston.  The next bit is very hard to read, and at the end says TL 4/11/45 (Ticket of Leave, 1845)

You could be accused of being a 'prostitute' at that time, if you were, say, in town without a chaperone.  As a servant girl from a poor mining family, Grace was possibly often placed in a position where she had no choice.

Improper intercourse was probably just 'talking to' - but was against the rules for house servants.

I believe the scar on the thumb is an indicator of a criminal record.


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