City Libraries, City of Gold Coast

A cargo of women, Susannah Watson and the convicts of the Princess Royal, Babette Smith

A cargo of women, Susannah Watson and the convicts of the Princess Royal, Babette Smith
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages [310]-315) and index
contains biographical information
index present
Literary Form
non fiction
Main title
A cargo of women
Nature of contents
Responsibility statement
Babette Smith
Sub title
Susannah Watson and the convicts of the Princess Royal
Who were Australia's women convicts? Were they drunks and whores, 'genetic' criminals and moral degenerates as many observers believed? Or victims of circumstances almost unimaginable in the twenty-first century, as others claim? A Cargo of Women traces the chequered story of one hundred women transported together in 1829 on the ship Princess Royal. Caught in an England convulsed by change, they become the unwitting and unwilling pioneers of a new land. Through imaginative use if detailed research, Babette Smith presents a presenting us with a patchwork image of individual lives that are both rich and varied, and often poignantly tragic. We encounter their despair at being parted from their families and particular concern for the children left behind, their experiences of assigned service in the colony, the marriages that could provide salvation or the final degradation, the opportunities that existed for a new life in a society more socially mobile. Framing them all is the story of 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 for 14 years, but served 16. She endured the convict system at its worst, yet emerged triumphant to die in her bed aged 83 singing 'Rock of Ages'