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Smith B. A Cargo of Women: Susannah Watson and the Convicts of the Princess Royal. 2008.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/8348
A Cargo of Women: Susannah Watson and the Convicts of the Princess Royal
Drunks, whores, pickpockets, burglars, paupers, misfits. Genetic criminals? Moral degenerates? Survivors or victims? The opinion of Australia's women convicts has veered from criminal whore to helpless victim. They have been used to make a case in black and white - Damn the women and uphold the Establishment; Damn the Establishment and uphold the women. They have been vilified, lionised, statisticised and generalised, but no one has yet asked: What were they like as human beings? Were they strong or weak, helpless or manipulative? Were they proud and scornful or meek and downtrodden? What were their morals - promiscuous or monogamous - and were these by fate or choice? Did they have a sense of family and love their men, their children, their parents? Did they hope for the future, or long for the past? Was transportation for them 'the fatal shore' or a chance for a better life in a new land? Some answers can be found when one group of female prisoners is considered in the detail of its individual lives. As the social stability of the eighteenth century rolled inexorably into the convulsions of the nineteenth, 100 female children were born at scattered locations of the British Isles. This is the story of those women, whom fate linked by their transportation to New South Wales in 1829. Gathered in from the length and breadth of England, they huddled together for six months on the small tossing ship the Princess Royal, to be unloaded and dispersed again across the wide, open spaces of a strange land. Among their number was a dark-haired, hazel-eyed woman from Nottingham. Her name was Susannah Watson.