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Journeys : Feb March 2012
AMAZING STORIES, EPIC HISTORY Discover more for yourself ! – www.portarthur.org.au Port Arthur, Tasmania Tel: 1800 659 101 MARGARET DALZIEL WA S A FIERY YOUNG CONVICT SERVANT. A FORMER SCOTTISH HIGHWAYWOMAN, SHE TESTED THE SYSTEM TO ITS LIMITS BUT, GIVEN TRUST AND RESPECT, SHE TURNED HER LIFE AROUND. ‘Surgeon’s report; bad. Behaviour; idle and disorderly.’ – MARGARET DALZIEL’S CONDUCT RECORD T ransported for ten years for highway robbery involving a tin case and registered papers, Margaret Dalziel arrived in 1851, described as a Protestant housemaid from Glasgow who could read. She was only 5’ tall, with a ruddy complexion, brown hair, blue eyes and several tattoos. Margaret had two prior convictions, one for stealing a watch, the other for housebreaking. Her first assignment was to James Hurst, a former overseer of the Coal Mines. She did not commit any offences in his household, perhaps because he was used to managing convicts, but she absconded from her next master and was sent to the Female Factory for eight months’ hard labour. She was then assig ned to James Calder, a surveyor, writer, artist, historian and ethnographer – but he could not manage Margaret. Within three days she had been charged with being drunk and out after hours. For the next nine months she was in and out of the Factory and her record was marked ‘not to be assigned south of Bridgewater’ – it seems the flesh pots of Hobart were an ir resistible temptation! She continued to abscond from her next few places, even when assigned to Superintendent James Boyd at Port Arthur – s omehow, she remained at large for three weeks in this isolated and inhospitable place. Where did she hide? How did she eat and stay warm? Did she have help? So it was back to the Factory for Margaret. After fourteen months (and further misconduct) she appeared in December 1857 at the Impression Bay Probation Station, where the typhus-str icken Scottish immigrants from the Persian emigrant ship were quarantined. A Gaelic speaker, Margaret took on the potentially fatal job of nursing the sick. Margaret received her Ticket of Leave as a reward for her courageous ser vice. A fter that, Margaret mostly stayed out of trouble. In 1858 she married former convict Robert Carter and they had one son, James. There is a poignant postscript to her stor y. On her record is an 1865 enquiry from a Rose Dalziel. Given that on her original record Margaret claimed to be single with no children, Rose may have been her mother or her sister. In another hand it is tersely noted that Margaret was to be informed of this enquiry – five years later! Meet Margaret Dalziel In Tasmania today 48 February / March 2012
Apr May 2012