Monday, 15 April 2013

Susannah Emmerson, Convict - Old Bailey Online 10th Anniversary

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 is a fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.

It has been 10 years since the Old Bailey Online launched, and they have invited bloggers to join in for a celebratory blogging event! 

I found the trial proceedings of my fifth great grandmother, convict Susannah Emmerson (maiden name unknown), so I thought this was a great opportunity to do a bit of a write up about Susannah.

Susannah was tried for larceny on 6 September 1832, and she was convicted and sentenced to fourteen years transportation.


Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 15 April 2013), September 1832, trial of SUSANNAH EMMERSON (t18320906-307).

Susannah's trial was also reported in the Morning Post on 14 September and 17 September 1832.


Morning Post, London, 14 September 1832 (page 4) and 17 September 1832 (page 4). Retrieved from findmypast.com on 15 April 2013.

Susannah arrived in New South Wales aboard the Diana on 25 May 1833, along with 98 other convict women. The Diana sailed from Woolwich with 100 convict women on 4 December 1832, only to be delayed at Falmouth until 3 January 1833. The ship's surgeon, James Ellis, kept a medical journal for the journey which is available on Ancestry. Susannah, and her daughter, are both listed as suffering from "obstipation" - or severe constipation. Because of the severe constipation and signs of scurvy amongst some of the women, they put into the Cape of Good Hope to get fresh supplies. Despite this detour, and the health issues, only one convict died on the voyage, Maria Jones, on 3 February 1833, from "synocha" or fever.


At the time of her arrival, Susannah was sent to the Female Factory, marked as "not assignable". Other documents may shed some light as to why, stating that Susannah was nearly blind and completely illiterate. Susannah was a widow with two children, a boy and a girl (one of them, aged 3, accompanied her), her calling was that of Nursery Maid. Susannah had lost two of her front upper teeth, she was only 4'10", and had dark brown hair.

Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 1-4, 6-18, 28-30); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.

At the time of the 1837 General Muster, Susannah Emmerson is allocated to James Lee at Parramatta.

On 22 April 1841, Susannah Emmerson, now aged 38 and almost 9 years into her sentance, was granted persmission to marry free settler James Dixon at Picton. They married on 6 June 1841 at Stonequarry, after banns, with the consent of the Governor in the Church of England by Frederick Wilkinson.

Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. Original data: Registers of convicts' applications to marry. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia: State Records Authority of New South Wales.

James and Susannah Dixon had at least one child, Lucy Louise Dixon. Susannah remarried again on 11 September 1854 to William North, in Collector.

Susannah's daughter Lucy married John James Weatherstone, also the son of a convict (John Weatherstone) on 5 April 1858 in Cooma.