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Convict Maids: The Forced Migration of Women to Australia (Studies in Australian History)

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521446778
ISBN-10: 0521446775
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Editorial Reviews


"The strength of Convict Maids is the sytematic quantification of the indents in chapters 2 through 6. Valuable information is provided on subgroups: English versus, Irish...valuable comparisons are made with the overall populations of England and Ireland." Ralph Shlomowitz, Journal of Economic History

"...this is an excellent chapter in that long book toward unbiased recognition of the women of Australia." JPC

Book Description

Looking at female convicts transported from Britain and Ireland to New South Wales between 1826 and 1840, this text refutes the notion that these women were unskilled prostitutes and criminals, arguing that in fact, they were skilled, literate, young and healthy.

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Australian History
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521446775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521446778
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,687,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a work of quantitative depth that redresses a series of alleged misconceptions about female convicts sent to Australia. Deborah Oxley argues that to understand Australia's socio-economic development one must first understand the nature of a large portion of its first settlers that has gone overlooked. She makes a convincing case. Her research engages a historiography that previously saw all convicts as part of a `criminal class', and it argues that female convicts were in fact heterogeneous and diverse in origins, and only marginally criminal, for the most part. This, she feels, helps to account for the fact that within a few decades after mass transportation began
convicts were successful in establishing a socio-economic
system which quickly replicated aspects of the Anglo-Celtic
culture that spawned the settlement. Moving rapidly to the
status of a "free society" in which female convicts laboured
as workers, wives, lovers and mothers. (12)
Her first item of business is to describe accurately what type of female convicts arrived to advance Australia fair. Generally speaking, these were not career criminals, but people guilty of petty crimes - usually theft - and convicted of crimes that in less merciful days would have carried a sentence of hanging or, in the case of the lucky and clergied, flogging. In any event, they were not members of a well established and at times romanticised `criminal class' of mythical fame. Accurate statistical data bear this out. And, unlike the formerly obedient American colonies where such criminals were sold as indentured servants, Australian transportees had to be integrated into a society in which they were expected to play more than an auxiliary role. It was a role for which they were surprisingly well suited.
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