Colonial Places

The Department of Economic & Social History, University of Leicester hosted an international, interdisciplinary conference - Colonial Places, Convict Spaces: penal transportation in global context, c. 1600-1940 from December 9 - 10, 1999. Scholars from every continent attended, and gave papers (see abstracts below) on various aspects and contexts relating to the conference theme, convict transportation.

Papers ranged from an examination of the use of transportation as a means of colonization in early-modern European empires, to power relations in the penal colonies, the impact of convict settlements on indigenous societies and the meaning of those written sources convicts left behind: 'convict narratives'. Geographically, the range covered included the Americas, Africa, India, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and Australia. Abstracts are listed alphabetically below.

This was the first of what ICCS hopes will be a series of conferences on international convict transportation. Future gatherings are planned for Bermuda, Tasmania and Edinburgh. Please watch this space for further details.

Listed in alphabetical order on four separate pages to facilitate downloading.

Page I (A-G) (see below)

Clare Anderson, Fashioning Identity: the development of penal dress in the Indian convict settlements

Susan Ballyn, Hispanic and Lusophone Convicts in Australia:Research in Progress

James Bradley
, An Engine of Unlimited Power: Phrenology and the Individuation of Convicts in the 19th Century

Andrea Button, Commodities of the State: the trade in convict labour to the West Indies during the Interregnum

Timothy Coates, Exile as a Tool in Building and Maintaining the Early-Modern Portuguese Empire

Ian Duffield, Slave, Apprentice and 'Khoisan' Spaces in Colonial Places: Criminal Transportation from the Cape Colony to Australia as a Site of Contested Power Relations

Samantha Fabry, Convicts and Tobacco Consumption in Hyde Park Barracks

Lucy Frost, Constraining Foreign Tongues

Farley Grubb, The Trans-Atlantic Market for British Convict Labour (1767-1775)

Page II (H-Ma)

Bruce Hindmarsh, 'I'll be damned if I don't have some'; Convict Trangressive Consumption in Van Diemen's Land 1820-40

Erin Ihde, Edward Smith Hall: Colonial Paradox

Toni Johnson-Woods, 'The Hermit Convict'

Sara Joynes, The Australian Joint Copying Project and sources for Convict Studies

Patricia Kennedy, Exporting felons from British North America

Jan Kociumbas, Convict and Aboriginal Relations in Early Australia

Toomas Kotkas, The 19th Century Deportations of Finnish Convicts to Siberia

Ian McLean, Convict art and cultural capital: the case of Thomas Watling

Matthew P. Mauger, Criminal History Transported: The Literary Origins of the Convict Narratives

Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Between the Lines: Murder and Convict Society at Macquarie Harbour Penal Station

Page III (Me-Re)

David Meredith, Tasmanian Convict Workers: Modelling the Convict Labour Market in Van Diemen's Land, 1848-60

Tim Millet, Leaden Hearts: convict love tokens

Gwenda Morgan & Peter Rushton, Criminal Connections: Criminal Transportation and the Place of the North in the Atlantic World of the Eighteenth Century

Mark M. Newell & Chriss Addams, The Dromedary Hulk, Bermuda

Tamsin O'Connor, Charting New Waters With Old Patterns: The Black Marketeers, Pirates and Those Who Just Dreamed of the Way Home. The Penal Station and Port of Newcastle, 1804-1824

Diana Paton, An "Injurious" Population: Race and Slavery in the Transportation of West Indian Convicts to Australia

Tina Picton-Phillipps, Frozen Identities: An Exploration, 1810-1830

Anoma Pieris, Productive illegalities in the Colonial Straits Settlements

Geraldo Pieroni, The Portuguese Inquisition and Banishment to Brazil

Cassandra Pybus, "By any available means": The case of the Canadian Political Prisoners

Kirsty Reid, Gender and convict culture in Van Diemen's Land

Page IV (Ro-Z)

Sue Rosen, 'That Den of Infamy': The No. 2 Stockade, Cox's River.

Peter Rushton & Gwenda Morgan, Criminal Connections: Criminal Transportation and the Place of the North in the Atlantic World of the Eighteenth Century

Abby M. Schrader, Lawless Vagabonds and Civilizing Wives: The Official Cult of Domesticity and the Exile Problem in Early Nineteenth-Century Siberia

Heather Shore, From courthouse to convict-ship to colony: the Euraylus boys in the 1830s

Max Staples, Australian colonial art: is there a convict aesthetic?

Norma Townsend, An Alternative View of Female Convicts

Jim Walvin, Atlantic Slavery and convict slavery: an area for comparison

Kerry Ward, 'Bandieten and Bannelingen': penal and political transportation in the Dutch East India Company's
Indian Ocean empire, c.1655-1795

Emily Warner, Subjectivity and the Penal Colony: Convict Narratives and Foucault

Stephen G. Wheatcroft, The Tsarist Prison System in the Perspective of the Stalinist and Other Prison Systems

Anand A. Yang, Con(vict) Tales from Bengkulen: Convict/Laborer/Slave in Early Nineteenth Century South and Southeast Asia

Chriss Addams, Advocational Marine Archaeologist, Bermuda, & Mark M. Newell, Georgia Archaeological Project ( /
The Dromedary Hulk, Bermuda

This paper presents preliminary data concerning the discovery, recovery, and preliminary analysis of the first major deposits of the material culture of the British shipboard penal system of the Western Hemisphere. The find reveals a distinct pattern of deposition which enables clear delineation of functional areas of the Prison Hulk Dromedary, moored in the Naval Dockyard of Bermuda's Ireland Island in the mid-nineteenth century. Analysis of the artifact assemblage provides insights into the lifeways of the hulk crew and inmates, into their subsistence patterns and into their economic activities. The potential for futureresearch is discussed, revealing the likelihood that Bermuda offers a unique resource for futureresearch into the use of shipboard prison systems dating from the Revolutionary War.
Clare Anderson, Dept of Economic & Social History, University of Leicester (
Fashioning Identity: the development of penal dress in the Indian convict settlements

As Margaret Maynard argues in a fine study of dress in colonial Australia, clothing is not simply utilitarian, but 'functions on many levels and serves a number of purposes.' These functions include the establishment and negotiation of power relationships. This paper examines the development of penal dress in the Indian convict settlements at Mauritius, Southeast Asia and the Andaman Islands. It argues that their socio-penal changes and complexities were represented in the clothes that transportees wore. Integrally related to the abolition of godna penal tattooing in the mid-nineteenth century, clothing was a way in which convicts could be easily defined and recognised as part of a total population of forced penal labourers. It also showed convicts' movements up or down the penal ladder. Clothing was also a mechanism through which convicts were integrated into a racialized hierarchy of punishment. Yet, particularly though not exclusively during the early years of the settlements, clothing was a space within which convicts could retain elements of individuality. Sometimes, this was sanctioned by the colonial authorities. In other instances, it shows convicts' capacity for redefining, or at least attempting to redefine, their (criminalized) identity. Issues surrounding the fashioning of identity are thus illustrative of the nature of power relations more generally in the Indian penal settlements.
Susan Ballyn, Facultad de Filogia, Universidad de Barcelona (
Hispanic and Lusophone Convicts in Australia:Research in Progress

In 1879, the Rev. James Cameron published the "biography" of Adelaide de la Thoreza, a young Spanish woman convicted of larceny in London and sentenced to 7 years' transportation to Botany Bay, from where she never returned. Already familiar with Ian Duffield's ground breaking work on the transportation of black convicts to the Colony, we began to wonder whether Adelaide was just a freak occurrence and the only Spaniard to be transported. She most certainly was not. She was one of a surprising number of Spanish and Portuguese men and women to be transported from Britain and other colonies to Australia. This paper, an introduction to a second paper by Prof. Lucy Frost, is based onresearch in progress, and will discuss some of the theoretical and methodological problems we are encountering in handling records which "speak" to us from a long ignored but fundamentally important space in the "Anglo-Celtic" convict history of Australia.
James Bradley, Wellcome Institute, Glasgow
An Engine of Unlimited Power: Phrenology and the Individuation of Convicts in the 19th Century

In 1836 Sir George Stuart MacKenzie petitioned the government in attempt to persuade them that phrenology could be used as tool to select convicts for transportation to Australia. He argued that phrenology was 'an engine of unlimited power' that would enable the transportation of reformable convicts, thus promoting the beneficial development of the Australian colonies. MacKenzie's proposals were barely considered - indeed no 'scientific' tools were ever used to this end. This paper will examine MacKenzie's failure in the light of measures taken subsequent to transportation's demise, with particular reference to the legislation of the late 1860s and 1870, to individuate habitual offenders.
Andrea Button, University of the West of England (
Commodities of the State: the trade in convict labour to the West Indies during the Interregnum

During the Interregnum, Royalist political prisoners, together with felons, rogues, vagabonds and Irish Tories were transported to the British colonies in the New World in their thousands. These malefactors became to be collectively described by the Commonwealth of England as commodities, belonging to the state, to be sold into penal servitude in the plantations. It was estimated by Thomas Povey, the secretary to the Council of State and a leading London merchant with Barbadian interests, that up to 12,000 political prisoners, in addition to felons and vagabonds, had been received into Barbados by 1655. However, the legal basis of the transportation and sale of all categories of malefactors by the state was only loosely defined in seventeenth-century common and statute law. The Commonwealth relied heavily upon the 39 Elizabeth statute and a commission inaugurated by James I in 1615: the 4Geo I Transportation Act not being enacted until 1718.
My paper examines the trade in white convict labour to the West Indies in the mid-seventeenth century in its legal context: the disposal of malefactors to the colonies coinciding with the Barbadian Sugar Revolution. The trade will subsequently be analysed as a vital component of the Commonwealth's expanding colonial policy that bridged the escalating demand for labour until the transition to black chattel slavery in the 1660s.
Timothy Coates, History Dept, College of Charleston, South Carolina (
Exile as a Tool in Building and Maintaining the Early-Modern Portuguese Empire

Exile, as sentenced by the Portuguese courts (and after the 1550s the Tribunals of the Inquisition), was a powerful tool which the Portuguese state moulded to fit its changing needs. Criminal exiles were the solution to several problems, which ranged from manpower shortages in the army and on the galleys to a lack of colonizers in any given locale at home or overseas. Over the course of two hundred years (c.1550-1750), the judicial and inquisitorial authorities around the Portuguese World redirected approximately 50,000 exiles to new homes. This is a significant number when compared to the modest demography of these regions. This paper will very briefly outline some of the ways in which the Portuguese authorities used exiles for empire building and will conclude with some thoughts as to why exile was a durable and yet flexible sentence.
Ian Duffield, Dept of History, University of Edinburgh (
Slave, Apprentice and 'Khoisan' Spaces in Colonial Places: Criminal Transportation from the Cape Colony to Australia as a Site of Contested Power Relations

The slim existing literature on convict transportation from the Cape Colony to Australia has concentrated either on changes in the Cape judiciary and judicial system (L.C. Duly, '"Hottentots to Hobart and Sydney"; the Cape Supreme Court's Use of Transportation 1828-38', in Australian Journal of Politics and History, XXV, 1 [1979]); or on late Khoi identity and resistance (V.C. Malherbe, 'Khoikhoi and the Question of Convict Transportation from the Cape Colony', in South African Historical Journal, 17 [1985] & 'David Stuurman, the Last Chief of the Hottentots', in African Studies Quarterly [Johannesburg, 1980]). These publications remain important to any further venture into this field. The considerable volume, however, of innovatoryresearch published since then on Cape Colony late slavery, emancipation and the reduction of most Khoi to nominally free landless labourers, calls for a new approach to the 'question of convict transportation' from the Cape. The same holds for the strongly emergent literature on crime, society, social conflict and social control in the early nineteenth-century Cape Colony.
The proposed study, therefore, will locate profiles of transported offenders and their offences firmly in the political economy and developing web of power relations and power struggles in the early nineteenth-century Cape Colony. It will demonstrate how the transportation of slaves, ex-slave apprentices and indigenes exemplified the relations of dominance desired by the colonial state, under the lofty reformist and idealist rhetoric of 'the rule of law'. It will also indicate how the transported challenged colonial property rights and colonial labour relations through, for instance, banditry, robbery and theft. At the same time it will contribute to the emergent fields of connecting the colonial histories of South Africa. It will also contribute to the emergent literature on the long overlooked presence of many diverse ethnicities and nationalities among the convicts transported to Australia: currently a major priority of the University of Tasmania/University of Barcelona/University of Edinburgh/University of Leicester 'International Centre for Convict Studies'research consortium. The paper will make comparative use of the literature on the transportation of convicts from the unfree populations of the British Caribbean colonies and Mauritius in the same period and of other literatures on the use of the criminal law to coerce and discipline labour undergoing a transition from unfreedom to nominal status as actors in a free labour market. Finally, it will illuminate how the Cape contingent of transported convicts were received and perceived in Australia, both by the state managers of transported labour and by some other elements in the colonial population, especially the anti-transportation Colonial Tasmanian historian, Rev John West. Thus, although the number transported from the Cape Colony to Australia was quite small (though would have been larger had more shipping been available to carry them), the related issues are large indeed.
Samantha Fabry, Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Sydney (
Convicts and Tobacco Consumption in Hyde Park Barracks

In 1980, a massive excavation project was undertaken at the Hyde Park Barracks (the first convict barrack (1819-48) in the colony of New South Wales) by the Sydney Public Works Department. Over 2,000 clay pipes were discovered on the site, 1,255 of these clay fragments were recovered from beneath the floorboards on the 2nd and 3rd level of the Barracks. This paper will explore tobacco use by the convicts who resided at the Hyde Park Barracks. It will also discuss that although tobacco was not recognised as part of the daily rations for these convicts, it was still purchased with the assistance of the Barracks' staff.
On the 22 January 1787, King George III announced to British Parliament that a plan had been devised to 'remove the inconvenience which arose from the crowed state of the gaols in different parts of the kingdom' and to transport convicts to Australia. On Sunday, 13 May 1787, the First Fleet under the Command of Captain Arthur Phillip set sail. The number of convicts on board the First Fleet totaled 759, comprising 568 male and 191 female convicts with 13 of their children. The fleet consisted of two naval vessels, six transports and three store ships and although tobacco did not form part of the provision of the First Fleet to Australia, it was included in the stores held by the ships' Captains. Shortly after the First Fleet's arrival at Port Jackson in 1788, Governor Phillip's Lieutenant-Governor, Major Ross, purchased a quantity of tobacco from the Master (Captain) of one of the returning ships for the marines who were, he said 'so much distress'd for tobacco'.
Prior to 1819, Sydney based convicts who were assigned to Government projects were required to find their own lodgings. These convicts were fed and clothed by the Government and were required to work a 48 hour week; however they were free after 3pm during the week and all day Saturday. This 'free time' enabled many to acquire paid work. Currency earned paid rental costs as well as any additional items or 'indulgences' such as tobacco. Skilled convict artisans who were assigned on Government projects were either given tobacco as an incentive or had it taken away as a form of punishment. Additional labour which required less skill was forced by the threat of pain and suffering. 'Work which was difficult to measure tended to be tasked, and relied on a system of rewards including extra rations and clothing, indulgences (such as tea, tobacco and rum), preferred work, apprenticeship training and time to work on one's own account. A structure of rewards and tasks rather than the whip was the standard device for extracting work from convicts in government service'. (Stephen Nicholas, 'Unshackling the Past', in Stephen Nicholas and Peter Shergold (eds), Convict Workers: reinterpreting Australia's Past, (CUP, 1988), p. 11.)
Hyde Park Barracks was developed by Governor Macquarie as secure night lodgings for Government assigned male convicts. Designed by the convict architect Francis Greenway, the Barracks was created with a three-storey dormitory block, set on a site which was surrounded by a 12 foot wall. Constructed by skilled and unskilled convict labour, the Barracks was built between 1818 and 1819 to accommodate up to 600 prisoners; however, this number often exceeded to 1,400. After 1819, single male convicts, who worked on Government projects, were required to lodge at Hyde Park Barracks and were obligated to work a 56 hour week. Convicts were no longer permitted to go out in the evenings and only the most well behaved were allowed to go out on the weekends. These additional working hours and loss of free time took away many convicts' financial independence and freedom. This attempt by the Government to control prisoners only forced convicts to find alternative methods in which to obtain tobacco. However, many convicts assigned to Hyde Park Barracks preferred being allocated to government projects because a majority of their overseers, ward-men, watch-house keepers, barrack clerks and boatswains were convicts or ex-convicts and were inclined to accept tips from prisoners in exchange for favors. For a sum, a messenger went out every morning to the shops to fetch desired items; also convicts assigned to work gangs often tipped their overseer to be allowed to call at the shops for tobacco on the way to their allocated work destination. Alternatively, skilled prisoners produced objects which could be sold within town or through families and friends. Some made straw hats, others produced shoes, others were tailors and were taken to town to be sold while the unskilled convicts robbed houses or innocent by-standers.
It has been estimated that between 1819-48, approximately 30,000 male convicts resided at Hyde Park Barracks, many of whom smoked tobacco. Through the work of archaeologists and historically based researchers, the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales has been able to piece together and gradually reconstruct the daily routine and recreational activities followed by the Government assigned convicts who lodged at the Hyde Park Barracks and, more specifically for this paper, their tobacco consumption.
Lucy Frost, Dept of English & European Languages & Literatures, University of Tasmania (
Constraining Foreign Tongues

When Spanish and Lusophone convicts were transported to Van Diemen's Land, their bodies were given over to the bureaucratic technology of British surveillance and control. Written into the English of comprehensive records generated within a system specially fashioned by Lt. Governor George Arthur to meet local needs, these foreigners were subjected to a second process of colonisation as their British keepers recorded European recalcitrance. Using records kept by the controllers, the paper will construct micro-narratives of convicts who spoke in different tongues.
Farley Grubb, Economics Dept, University of Delaware (
The Trans-Atlantic Market for British Convict Labour (1767-1775)

Approximately 50,000 British convicts were sentenced to servitude and forcibly transported to America between 1718-75. They represented roughly a quarter of all British arrivals and half of all English arrivals in this period. The economic determinants of this trade are not well understood, partly because the trade has not been modeled, and partly because the relevant evidence has been difficult to assemble. These two deficiencies are addressed here.
First, a market model of the convict trade based on how the government modified and used the private indentured servant shipping market to accommodate convict transportees is developed. This model yields testable implications regarding the difference between the convict and servant trades in the distributional moments of colonial auction prices, the profits earned by shippers, and the process of labor selection. In particular, in the American auction the distribution of convict prices should exhibit a higher mean and standard deviation, but a lower kurtosis, than that exhibited by indentured servant prices. The convict price distribution should also suffer shortfall to the left of the average indentured servant price. Unlike in the indentured servant trade, excess profits for shipping convicts had to exist in the market and had to be arbitraged outside the market process, such as through jail fees and political patronage. Finally, the model predicts that selection should take place in the shipping of convicts. Thus, compared with indentured servants and with the general prison population in England, transportees should be more productive in terms of conventional measures of human capital. For example, convicts should be relatively taller, older, and more male.
Second, quantitative data are assembled to test these implications. Auction prices are taken from 427 convicts landed in Baltimore by the Bristol firm of Cheston, Stevenson, and Randolph between 1767 and 1775 (each convict being matched to English court conviction records), and from 2,067 British indentured servants landed in Baltimore and Philadelphia between 1745 and 1773. Statistical analysis of this evidence confirms the predict of the model regarding differences in the distributional moments of convict versus servant auction prices. This evidence is also used to estimate profits in the convict trade and to show how, for non-subsidized shippers, profits were arbitraged by jailers' fees. In addition, this evidence is used to estimate the price discount due to criminality per se. Convicts sold for at least a 35% discount per year of labor compared with similar indentured servants.
Third, evidence from shipping records and from 7,262 runaway servants advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette, Maryland Gazette, and Maryland Journal & Baltimore Advertiser confirms the model's predictions regarding convict selection, i.e. convicts were relatively more productive in terms of measurable conventional human capital attributes, i.e. were taller, older, with more males, etc.
Finally, these results are used to explain how economic forces shaped British penal policy regarding convict transportation, in particular to explain why convict contract lengths (sentences) were fixed at seven years and why the government subsidized convict shipments by one select shipper only--allowing other unsubsidized shippers to work the trade at will.

Continue with abstracts:

Page I (A-G)

Each page lists all abstract authors alphabetically.

Page II (H-Ma)


Page III (Me-Re)

Page IV (Ro-Z)





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