Stories of Convict Women and Orphans

In recognition of almost 13,000 convict women and more than 2,000 free children who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land from 1803 to 1853, the first of four statues has recently been unveiled in Degraves Street, South Hobart adjacent to the Cascades Female Factory.

Modelled on a direct descendent of Martha Gregory, who was transported from England for seven years for ‘stealing printed cotton in a dwelling house,’ the statue represents not only the plight of convict women, but especially convict mothers.

From the Shadows spokesperson, Dr Dianne Snowden, said the women who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land were sent to the Cascades Female Factory or a similar institution, while their children were sent to the bleak and miserable Orphan Schools at New Town.

“In all, nearly 6,000 children, mostly the children of convicts, were admitted to the Orphan Schools from 1828 to 1879,” Dr Snowden said.

“These women and children were real people, with real stories to tell.

“It is heartening that now their stories are slowly being told, with the unveiling of the first of four statues, created by internationally-renowned Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie.”

Dr Snowden said the statue adjacent to the Female Factory in Degraves Street, South Hobart, will see a second one inside the facility, while a further two will be at the State heritage-listed Orphan School Buildings at New Town.

“The new statues complement previous works created by Rowan Gillespie, including his famous Famine statues in Dublin, his Toronto migration statues, and Footsteps towards Freedom statues in Hobart,” Dr Snowden said.

“As an arts project, From the Shadows promotes reflection and connection to the historic landscape for locals and visitors alike. The statues will contribute to Hobart’s existing international artistic reputation.”

Some $220,000 has been raised as part of the project with funds from the Federal Government of $100,000, State Government support of $10,000, $45,000 from the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority and support from the Federal Group and other community members.

More details can be found at

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