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Home » Books » History » Oceania » Australia & New Zealand

A Cargo of Women

Susannah Watson and the Convicts of the Princess Royal

By Babette Smith

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Format: Paperback, 336 pages, 2nd edition Edition
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: Australia, 01 October 2008
Intrigued to discover a convict ancestor in her family tree, Babette Smith decided to investigate her life and the lives of the 99 women who were transported with her on the ship Princess Royal in 1829. Piece by piece she reveals the story of her ancestor, the indomitable Susannah Watson who, trapped in the crowded filthy slums of Nottingham, stole because she could not bear to see her children starving. Separated forever from her husband and four children, she was transported to Australia for 14 years. She endured the convict system at its worst, yet emerged triumphant to die in her bed aged 83 singing 'Rock of Ages'. Babette Smith reconstructs the lives of the women from the Princess Royal from fragments of information in shipping lists, official records, newspapers and court transcripts. Her research overturns stereotypes of women convicts as drunken whores and criminals. Caught in an England convulsed by change, they become the unwitting and unwilling pioneers of a new land. First published two decades ago, A Cargo of Women became a bestseller and remains one of the most valuable accounts of convict life in Australia.

Table of Contents

Introduction1 Into the Maelstrom2 Pity Our Distress3 The Full Penalty of the Law4 Transported Beyond the Seas5 A Very Pleasant Town6 On Assignment7 The Female Factory They Must Be Kept Under'8 With His Excellency's Consent9 Female Married'10 Beating the System11 A Dubious Refuge12 Different Journeys13 Some Evidence of Affection14 Caught in the System15 Survivors and Victims16 An Affectionate Mother17 A Second ChanceAppendix: The Convicts of the Princess RoyalNotesBibliographyIndex

About the Author

Babette Smith is an independent historian and author of the groundbreaking Australia's Birthstain: The startling legacy of the convict era.

EAN: 9781741755510
ISBN: 1741755514
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Academic
Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 2.6 centimetres (0.43 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Tracey on
This is quite an interesting book, detailing the lives of the 100 women who were transported to Australia on the Princess Royal in 1829. It can be hard to keep track of which women did what, which means that Smith frequently has to provide a refresher on each convict as she switches between them in the thematically arranged chapters. While it does provide some illumination about the difficulties faced by women arriving in Australia, and their struggle to marry to improve their situation, overall I was left with the feeling that it was a 'nice' book.

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