Two Hearts and Two Doves
Not wanting to worry Arabella, Ludlow straightened up in her irons, composed herself, and willed serenity into her limpid hazel eyes. The two stood quietly on the wooden pier, waiting for Fate to tip its hand. Abruptly, a scarlet-jacketed guard from Newgate brushed the prisoners and children away from the black carriage toward a waiting launch tied to the wharf.
The Hindostan began boarding prisoners in April 1839. For the last several weeks, the same scene replayed every day. Husbands and lovers, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, formed a stark line of silhouettes against the grey sky. Some fought back tears, struggling for stoic control as the nightmare of a loved one awaiting transport materialized before them in the early morning mist. Others wept openly, unable to suppress their grief over what they knew in their hearts was a last good-bye. In these final few minutes together, loved ones drank in every tiny detail so they might remember in the future: dimples around a sister’s lips, a chipped front tooth in a mother’s half smile, the scent of a lover, the press of a warm body, the last fearful glimpse into the depths of a departing wife’s tear-filled eyes.
Because Ludlow was literate, she may have sent letters from Newgate to her older children, Eliza, Ludlow, and John Tedder, and to her own six surviving brothers and sisters—Fanny, William, Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, and Henry. Mrs. Fry and her volunteers, devoted to comforting prisoners, helped deliver parting messages to those families soon to be torn apart.
In the well-ordered confusion of the transports’ departure, small dramas unfolded on the dock. Each individual created a farewell ritual, unique and intensely personal. Some uttered not a word as they stared helplessly into eyes they would never see again. Many pressed a lock of hair into the palms of their relatives, a small loving token of remembrance that preserved the final moments they shared. Ludlow may have exchanged strands of her hair for those of the two daughters she would leave behind. For all social classes, hair from a loved one was treasured like gold and often tucked inside a locket or small tin.
Prisoners left love tokens in many forms. Some used old nails to carve inscriptions into pennies while they awaited transport in Newgate cells. Hundreds of patient taps into the metal imprinted family initials, outlines of a heart, or a message of hope—“until I gain my liberty,” “may we live to meet again,” “from a friend whose love for you will never end.”1 Defacing a penny and filing off its original design also represented a small act of rebellion against the Crown, encouraging transports to steel themselves for whatever lay ahead.
A woman known only by the initials E. A. left for her father a copper penny, etched with a drawing of her home and her dog. Underneath she chiseled the words “This was once my cottage of peace.” The penny’s other side decreed her unwelcome fate in exile: “Going out of her cottage for life.”2 Her pocket-sized piece of original art left a tangible memento, as it recorded a piece of her history that would lie undiscovered for many decades.
Transported from London to Van Diemen’s Land in 1832, twenty-two-year-old Mary Ann Whitlock gave her aunt a coin before she boarded the transport ship Hydery. It was inscribed with the simple words “Adieu, Dear Aunt, Adieu” on one side and her name on the other. Sentenced to fourteen years’ exile for stealing a purse, Mary Ann instinctively knew she would never again see her only relative. She wanted nothing more than to be remembered, and her inscription ensured she would. This small token marked her passage more permanently than a tombstone that would later crumble.
Fourteen years before, on the docks where Ludlow stood today, Ann Maloney left behind a large English penny engraved with two doves above two crossed hearts and the initials of her loved one, W. F. The raven-haired beauty with light grey eyes also inscribed the coin with her full name and the message “Tho lost to sight the Memory dear 1825.” At age seventeen, she was convicted of shoplifting in London and received a life sentence to Van Diemen’s Land. Ludlow would later meet athirty-one-year-old Ann by the washtubs at the Female Factory.
The Woolwich docks departure platform framed a family portrait that would both haunt and comfort Ludlow in the years to come. The public farewells were soon brought to an end. It was time. Ludlow and Arabella climbed into the small boat waiting below. The coxswain motioned his female cargo onto their seats. Clutching Arabella’s hand a little tighter, Ludlow lifted her irons and shuffled toward the back of the skiff. Arabella tried to steady herself on the creaking boards as the boat tilted under the weight of her mother’s chains. The worried nine-year-old wondered where her mum was taking her, but Ludlow herself knew very little about their distant destination. Although she had read Barrister Skinner’s discarded newspapers, she’d never paid much attention to details about Van Diemen’s Land.
Under the guise of the Transportation Act, it was time to dispose of another mother and child. For today, they were together, and that was all that mattered. The launch glided steadily toward the waiting Hindostan; the river fell hauntingly silent save for the screaming of the gulls and the sound of oars splashing the water. Arabella clung closely to her mother’s sleeve. Ludlow lifted her arm and slipped her precious cargo underneath the chains and next to her breast. Like a mother bear, she grew more protective the instant the skiff bumped up against the gangplank they’d soon scale to board the Hindostan. She watched a group of sailors hanging over the rail of the tall-masted ship. Many of them didn’t look much older than Arabella. Midshipmen, known as “the young gentlemen,” were sent to sea at age twelve or thirteen. Away from home for years at a time, some turned to matrons like Ludlow when they needed comfort from a surrogate mother. Like Agnes McMillan, many of the child sailors were abandoned by their parents and left to fend for themselves.
The Hindostan looked serenely elegant as she slumbered, safe and calm in the river, quietly masking her identity as a transport vessel. Once on board, Arabella in tow, Ludlow was ushered by a Navy officer to the smith. As the rivets were removed from her irons, the wily widow wasted no time in assessing the ship’s true personality. Tangled ropes, pungent pine tar, open hatches, and confusing passages harkened chaos and unpredictable danger. She would not let her daughter out of sight, not even for a minute. Arabella, on the other hand, studied with fascination the new surroundings, which were causing her mother’s brow to crinkle.
This day, a motley crew had blown in from Newgate. On the upper deck, the newest arrivals for transport formed a line in front of Surgeon Superintendent Thomas McDonald. Ann Price, #177 from Limerick, was first, and she didn’t look well at all. Her jet-black eyebrows accentuated her sallow complexion and made her appear angry and gaunt.3 By her knees, her four-year-old daughter, Jane, clung to her mother’s shift as a detached McDonald recorded that the twenty-five-year-old had left behind a husband and two older children.4 Mary Grady, #221, checked in behind her friend and co-conspirator, with whom she’d stolen two sets of stays. She was the smallest of this Newgate contingent at four feet, ten inches tall.5
Mary Sullivan, #374, was measured next—four feet, eleven inches tall and forty-six years old, about the same age as Ludlow.6 She looked much older, however, with her greying hair and protruding front teeth. Thirty-four-year-old #339, Hannah Herbert, appeared aged beyond her years, having lost her front teeth.7 Decayed or missing teeth were common throughout the general population, but even more so for the poor. Careful not to smear the ink, Surgeon Superintendent McDonald recorded one more perfunctory notation in his oversized black ledger. Yet when forty-eight-year-old Amy Wilson stepped forward, the normally unflappable officer must have caught himself staring. Amy was missing her left eye and had a pink fleshy mole on her left cheek. Poverty had taken its toll on the mother of two, who was being transported for stealing a plate after her husband deserted the family.8
With impeccable posture, no disfiguring marks, and a calm demeanor, Ludlow Tedder stood out from her ragged cell mates. Arabella’s mother was no fool, already attentive to who made decisions about food, water, and protection aboard the Hindostan. Being able to read and write surely accorded her special notice, so Ludlow seized the limelight when it was her turn to be processed by Surgeon Superintendent McDonald. During his examination, he scrutinized the tidy-appearing #151 as she signed her name in a refined cursive hand, unlike the crude X most of the other women entered in the register. He needed a literate and stable matron for his nurse, someone who wouldn’t make a deadly mistake when she administered medicine. After all, a surgeon’s reputation depended on how many women he delivered alive.
Captain Lamb paced the deck as the women and their children boarded and queued up for the surgeon’s examination. Lips pursed in disapproval, he stayed aft, hands clasped behind the small of his back, keeping a sharp lookout for potential troublemakers. Even one woman was considered bad luck on a voyage, and here he was stuck with a full boatload of them, along with their crying children.
Once they passed inspection, Ludlow and Arabella were escorted by an officer across the deck and into an open hatch. Mother and daughter climbed gingerly down the wooden ladder leading to the orlop deck just above the bilge. Once they entered the lowest level, dimly lit by gently swinging candle lamps, they were assigned an open berth. Arabella instinctively hunkered down, tucked her chin close, and pulled her shoulders forward, making it easier to squeeze into the narrow passageway at the bottom of the ship. Ludlow recognized many of the faces on the orlop because most had spent months at Newgate before transfer to the Hindostan.
After a meal of salt pork and biscuits topped off with a dose of lime juice, the new prisoners were divided into messes of twelve. Already comfortable with the sensation of movement beneath her boots when the ship swayed, Arabella found joy with her new playmates. Sarah Smith was just a year younger, and the two became fast friends within hours. By suppertime, the nine-year-old knew the names of all the other girls and boys. She’d already spent nearly five months inside Newgate playing with Ann Price’s four-year-old daughter, Jane, and now assumed the role of big sister.
When the bells rang for bed call, Arabella was again the little girl ready for comfort from her mother. Ludlow rubbed her back and enfolded her in the woolen cloak she’d brought from London. Arabella was dressed in the hand-sewn flannel clothing and warm hat that Mrs. Fry and her volunteers had delivered for the children on board.
At first, the nine-year-old child couldn’t figure out how to position herself comfortably on the narrow bunk, but she managed to squeeze herself into the space between her mother and the scratchy shipboards. Caught between bouts of restless sleep and anxious waking, Ludlow observed hazy figures in the fetal position, each staking claim to her only private space. Along with captain, surgeon, and crew, the ship now carried 178 women and 18 children.
Some fell ill immediately, right in port, even before the Hindostan cast off. Confinement in the ship’s bowels, unable to focus on the horizon, proved the worst place for nausea and dizziness. With sheep and chickens on the upper deck and crew one level below, prisoners were housed in an area normally reserved for nonliving cargo. They bunked in near darkness except for slim ribbons of light that filtered through the hatches when they weren’t locked tight for bed call.
The urgency in a clanging of bells rousted Ludlow to her feet in a flash. Unaccustomed to the routine Hindostan clamor, she instinctively readied to run for safety with Arabella. Blankets in hand for airing on deck, she first helped Arabella into a reeking water closet. With nearly two hundred passengers sharing the two privies, a septic stench soon saturated the air belowdecks. The mother-daughter pair couldn’t scurry fast enough to the top deck for morning muster.
Shortly after a breakfast of oatmeal and a dash of sugar, an officer summoned Ludlow to the Hindostan infirmary. Surgeon Superintendent McDonald desired an interview with the widow about serving as his nurse. This was the opportunity Ludlow was waiting for, and she embraced it without a breath of hesitation. She and Arabella would benefit from additional rations, extra medicine, and safety from the crew. Without a word, she curtsied deferentially, being careful not to overdo it as the surgeon evaluated her every move.
If the London widow were to pass this test, she needed to convey respect, composure, and, above all, dutiful behavior. Before making Ludlow his assistant, the surgeon would examine the depth of her intelligence, perhaps asking, “What would you bring me for a case of dysentery?” One can only imagine what Ludlow was thinking at this pivotal juncture. Certainly, she was wise enough not to utter the first response that flew into her head: “For you, me Lord? Why, arsenic, of course.”
Widow Tedder knew well enough to recognize the potential for elevated status in the ship’s hierarchy. A chief nurse commanded a position of power and protection. She would be the one everyone else bribed for medicine and an extra blanket. Payoffs would provide money to purchase provisions and dried meat from the cooks. She and Arabella would have easy access to fresh air on the main deck for the entire journey. Most important, she’d have the comfort of knowing where to find medicine should Arabella fall ill during the long voyage. The picture of obedient politeness, Ludlow opened the cabinet quickly and efficiently, careful not to upset its contents. She examined the glass bottles and dispensers, each with a label penned in black ink.
Employing humor to pull through the worst of times, Ludlow must have lovingly fingered the arsenic bottle, weaving wicked fantasies about the authorities on board. Holding at bay the fomenting anger she felt toward her situation and her captors, she pulled a bright blue bottle from the cabinet and presented it to Mr. McDonald: “Bromide, it says, sir, swallowed with a sip of water, cures the dysentery.” Common sense and restraint sealed the deal for Nurse Tedder. Ludlow’s literacy was the fortunate break ensuring her safety and, most important, Arabella’s. With their homeland casting them adrift, the surgeon superintendent unknowingly offered mother and child a lifeline that ensured survival for this voyage and their future.
Ludlow was savvy enough to know that if she fell from the crew’s grace, Arabella was certain to suffer. Every ship left port with barrels of rum stored for the mariners’ daily ration, and drunkenness ran rampant among the crew. Like any protective mother, Ludlow grew disgustedly uneasy with the sly glances sailors cast at her young daughter. She knew what was at stake.
Small victories like this, many dependent on sheer luck, often determined who lived and who died. The fabric of her future woven by chance, Ludlow held tight to a very satisfying win in being chosen as the Hindostan’s nurse. The benefits offered both mother and daughter a bright ray of hope on the uncertain landscape stretching before them.
It was May 9, 1839, a day Widow Tedder would never forget. As light broke over the horizon, sailors turned the windlass, and in a few heaves, the anchor broke ground. The Hindostan and her cargo sailed steadily east toward the North Sea. Slowly making their way down the Thames, the transports watched passing towns disappear one by one. The sun fell behind them and the moon began to rise before they reached the river’s mouth and headed into choppy open waters. Answering the sea’s mighty force, the coastal lights disappeared behind the rising waves, and the tenuous cord that connected Ludlow to England finally snapped. Nostalgia gave way to her stern resolve: Survive at any cost.
The Hindostan approached good weather as she traveled through the North Atlantic. By the time they reached the Portuguese coast, Nurse Tedder and Arabella fell into a comfortable routine, gaining their sea legs and eating regular meals in the hospital quarters. Because of Ludlow’s position, Arabella enjoyed the freedom of playing on deck when the weather permitted. Perhaps a few homesick fathers among the crew found some comfort in her wide-eyed innocence because they would not be seeing their own daughters for another eight or nine months at least.
With her arms resting on the rails, Ludlow watched the endless blue horizon, inhaled a deep breath of fresh sea air, and, for a moment, felt at peace. They were only two weeks into the journey and heading steadily southwest. On board, mother and daughter were better fed than in Newgate. As a result, Arabella gained a little weight. On some voyages, the prisoners’ health actually improved if they were given full rations from a relatively honest crew. For transports from the poorest neighborhoods, being fed twice a day more than doubled their previous calorie intake. Surgeon Superintendent John Love, responsible for a large group of children aboard the convict ship Mellish, observed: “The general improvement in flesh and appearance was very evident in the whole of them, especially the children amounting to 61 in number, many of whom were puny, delicate and mostly affected with worms.”9
As Ludlow cast a glance back at her playful, sun-kissed Arabella, a little chuckle escaped from her lips. This was the best job she’d ever had. As a housekeeper, she had barely a moment to herself. Aboard the Hindostan , there was hardly anything to do except take care of a few seasick patients and tend to a bit of syphilis. Her shipmates were put to work scouring the decks clean and helping in the galley. When the weather turned stormy and the hatches closed over the orlop deck, the women opened the burlap bags Mrs. Fry left with them and began piecing together hundreds of colored scraps of all shapes and sizes, stitching quilts by candlelight as the waves crashed against the beams.
By the fourth week, the Hindostan crossed the Tropic of Cancer into the seas off the west coast of Africa. Nurse Tedder no longer found her job so easy. As the filth belowdecks percolated in the rising heat and humidity, dysentery and a host of tropical diseases ran rampant. As Ludlow was pressed into round-the-clock nursing duty, not a single bed lay empty in the floating infirmary. Earlier in the voyage, prisoners sometimes hid their illness and distress, fearing painful nineteenth-century treatments more than anything else. Symptoms had now grown acute, and Ludlow treated ulcerated tongues, high fevers, dislocated limbs, delirium, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Though primitive, the medical care was more than the transports ever received on the streets of London, Glasgow, and Dublin. Some of the children boarded the ship suffering oozing eye sores from untreated infections. Surgeon Superintendent McDonald and Nurse Tedder gave them the first medical attention of their lives.
Through trial and error, Ludlow soon learned how medicine of her era was an inexact science. The remedies were often worse than the afflictions, causing pain, blisters, and bleeding. Calomel (six parts mercury to one part chloride), laudanum (tincture of opium), and unguent mercuriale (mercury used as a salve for treatment of syphilis and other venereal diseases) killed as many patients as they cured.
Ludlow, opportunely, knew how to temper her nerves as she administered medical treatments that seemed cruelly absurd. Surgeon Superintendent McDonald taught her to apply acid to a patient’s skin, burning it to provoke a blister. It was common belief that draining the blister forced out disease, like an unwelcome lodger to be evicted as quickly as possible. Bleeding, purging, and blistering were thought to relieve the body of “morbid” elements. Head shaving was one of the treatments used to reduce fever.10
On both land and sea, bloodletting was a widely practiced “cure.” Ludlow learned to use lancets to bleed women suffering from fever, indigestion, convulsions, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or insanity. Because nineteenth-century medicine dictated that a patient’s blood be removed to affect a cure, some prisoners and crew were weakened toward death in the floating infirmaries. Despite these rather frightening treatments, only one woman died under Mr. McDonald’s care.
Forty days into the voyage, on July 28, Ludlow turned forty-six. She still looked much younger than one would expect of a woman who had already lived well beyond the life expectancy for most of Britain’s poor. In spite of everything, she’d survived, although she certainly hadn’t expected to be off the coast of Africa on her birthday.
By the time the Hindostan crossed the equator, Ludlow had witnessed most every form of physical and mental malady. At the onset of the voyage, women battling alcohol withdrawal suffered tremors and delirium. In desperation, some offered their bodies to the crew in exchange for liquor and a return to hazy comfort. Others defaulted into abstinence, slowly and painfully unmasking both sobriety and the frightening reality of transport.
Captain Lamb would tolerate no troublemakers at sea. Two tiny cells, squeezed under the ship’s bow, were reserved for solitary confinement and contained those deemed unruly, regardless of the cause. As their destination drew closer, incidents of panic and hysteria escalated throughout the women’s claustrophobic quarters. Sometimes the penetrating pressure of the unknown was too much and drove women over the edge and into madness. Victorian medicine ignored the possibility of treating mental illness, deeming it fake or incurable. Physical restraint by ropes or straitjacket was generally the only remedy prescribed.
Cabin fever, depression, rape by sailors, and outbursts from the mentally ill were conditions for which Surgeon Superintendent McDonald had not been trained. Even if Nurse Tedder wanted to intervene, she had first to consider Arabella and her safety. Heading through the Indian Ocean, the criminally insane were sometimes seen banging their heads against the ship’s rail, mimicking the rhythmic pattern of crashing waves.
During the final push eastward through the Indian Ocean, Ludlow witnessed another type of high seas drama when an emigrant ship named the Cornwall raised a flag of distress. It had departed from Graves-end, England, on May 12, three days after the Hindostan, and had followed the same route around the Cape of Good Hope on its approach to Sydney. Responding to the Cornwall’s signal, Captain Lamb dispatched a whaleboat with several officers, including Surgeon Superintendent McDonald and perhaps Ludlow, because she was now his competent and trusted nurse.
The Cornwall’s Captain John Cow asked Mr. McDonald to examine Surgeon Superintendent King, who had fallen ill amid a very rough trip. Under his watch, eighteen passengers had died, most from scarlet fever and rubella. Returning to the Hindostan, McDonald “declared Dr. King to be in no serious condition. . . . [He] was very apprehensive however and refused to take the powerful sedative prescribed. He nervously walked the deck all night in the company of the captain and mate. By the next day his ‘nervousness’ had abated.”11
Surgeon McDonald also examined the Cornwall’s emigrants, “whom he pronounced to be in much better state of health than the convicts on board the Hindostan.”12 Although he and Nurse Tedder had lost only one patient, many were barely standing. Both women and children were weakened by an array of ailments made worse by poor nutrition and miserably overcrowded conditions, not to mention the “cures.”
On Wednesday, September 11, 1839, the Hindostan glided into Sullivans Cove and set anchor at the far southeast coast along Van Diemen’s Land. With the seasons occurring in reverse from the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox signaled the beginning of spring, and the air smelled of new blossoms and fresh leaves. This was the same day Agnes McMillan turned nineteen, stuck in Oatlands, more than fifty miles away from Hobart Town at the island’s interior. A full year would pass before Agnes would meet Ludlow inside Cascades.
None the worse for wear, Ludlow and Arabella finally landed in Van Diemen’s Land 126 days after their journey began. In the eyes of colonists and male convicts, another boatload of “strumpets” had arrived, arousing Hobart Town to a state of pitched anticipation. Bear grease, talc, and witch hazel were brought out from dusty cases and smeared over the men’s unwashed bodies. Surely the overeager onlookers were shocked by the appearance of the women, many of whom were pockmarked, missing teeth, and very skinny.
When she first boarded the Hindostan in May, Ludlow’s gaol report had made note of her “poor connexions,” referring to the questionable friends she had made during nearly five months inside Newgate. Back then, the surgeon superintendent had looked unfavorably on the company she kept in prison, because guilt by association followed the women wherever they went. Amy Wilson he labeled “quarrelsome,” and both Mary Grady and Ann Price “extremely insolent.”13 But before disembarking, Ludlow’s exemplary conduct and her skills as a nurse were recorded by Mr. McDonald.
Anxious to step foot on solid land, Ludlow and her companions felt both relief and trepidation in leaving behind the stench of the ship and the pitch of the sea. Captain Lamb prepared for their departure and delivery. Principal Superintendent of Convicts Josiah Spode and Muster Master William Thomas Champ were on their way to the Hindostan to inspect the cargo and exchange records. In spite of illness and injury, there had been only one death, an excellent record for the journey of twelve thousand nautical miles. Captain Lamb stood proudly on the freshly scrubbed deck alongside Surgeon Superintendent McDonald. Courtly and formal in dress uniforms with polished buttons ablaze in the sun, the two officers exchanged polite congratulations and prepared to greet the small boat being rowed out from the docks. As the proper Englishmen prepared to greet one another, #151 and her daughter, Arabella, lined up for inspection with the rest of the prisoners. The two Tedders had arrived in good health, and the surgeon’s kind words ensured Ludlow the best possible assignment at the Female Factory. She had received a stellar recommendation, “the most attentive and best behaved on board doing duty as nurse.”14
As one mess at a time was ushered onto the main deck, it took two days to complete their inspection. The officers lugged their big black books ashore to complete stacks of paperwork that transferred jurisdiction for the exiled women and children. On Friday afternoon, Surgeon Superintendent McDonald returned with signed documents for London and supplies from Hobart Town. He rewarded his nurse’s diligence with a clean bucket of water and fresh milk for Arabella. Ludlow splashed her freckled face and helped her nine-year-old daughter scrub off the heavy grime baked into her skin and hair. Reveling in a generous soaping and a clean towel from the infirmary, she washed and dried her daughter’s hair. For the moment, with Arabella by her side, Ludlow held fear at bay and prayed for the best.
Hindostan passengers still healthy enough to walk were brought ashore and delivered to a waiting contingent of scarlet-coated soldiers for the march along Macquarie Street. Ludlow kept Arabella close at hand as they made their way through the strange sights, sounds, and smells following them uphill to the base of Mt. Wellington.
A soldier ordered the weary transports to silence as they entered the stone enclave deep in the valley of shadows. Once inside, the women and children stood for hours in a long line wrapping around Yard One. While they awaited inspection and processing, an unofficial, albeit persistent, welcoming committee beckoned, bartering for clothing or jewelry in exchange for tobacco, soap, and other forbidden prison luxuries. They appeared one by one from a mysterious passage to whatever lay behind Cascades’ inner walls.
The women working in Yard One seemed a strange combination of the defiant and the defeated. Some bore the appearance of caged animals, seemingly tamed yet ready to turn on the captors incapable of extinguishing their raging spirit. Others ambled about at random, evidently terribly out of sorts. The ashen figures moved in slow, deliberate, and strangely silent motion. Ludlow’s instincts told her that something was disturbingly amiss. She looked at Arabella and drew her closer still. Mother and daughter eventually inched toward the front of the line and were summoned into a small, dimly lit room.
Matron Hutchinson handed Ludlow a clean Female Factory uniform but offered no clothing for Arabella. Mr. Hutchinson had already perused the thick black volume recording Mrs. Tedder’s literacy and good conduct aboard the Hindostan. Nurse, cook, housekeeper, and mother, she exceeded the expectations for a petty thief. Towering over the slight widow, the stodgy superintendent informed her that she was assigned to the new prison nursery on Liverpool Street back in the town’s center. Nothing was said about Arabella, and Ludlow dared not inquire. As for herself, she had just received the most favorable work assignment a prisoner could expect.
It was nearly half past six by the time all the Hindostan transports were processed. Before clanging the supper bell, Deputy Matron Cato assigned Ludlow to a mess of twelve. Arabella was content to follow her mum’s lead and dunked her allotment of brown bread into the watery soup. At seven o’clock, Mrs. Hutchinson rang the prison bell for evening chapel, held an hour earlier than during the summer schedule. Mother Tedder took her little girl’s hand as they walked toward the modest sanctuary and took a seat before the overstuffed Reverend Bedford. Her first night in the valley, Ludlow prayed for many miracles. As the Southern Cross fell behind Mt. Wellington’s black shadow, she draped an arm around Arabella’s waist. Before she knew it, mother and child lay snuggled asleep in a hammock that barely cleared the floor under their weight.
Morning muster was at six o’clock in the spring. Ludlow lined up for daily inspection in Yard One while Arabella peeked around from behind her. All shades of green burst across Mt. Wellington, and daffodils danced around its base. Soft pink apple blossoms and cherry trees in shades of dusty rose dotted the hilly farmland Ludlow could smell beyond the prison walls. Most of the women knew little about geography other than that they had been sent “beyond the seas.” The reversed seasons were no doubt a source of confusion as they witnessed their first September spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
This time of year, Cascades convict veterans worked an extended morning session from six thirty until eight A.M. The bells rang for a half-hour breakfast break, and then it was off to chapel for morning prayers before the workday began again in earnest. Reverend Bedford and supporters among the colony’s elite believed that forced labor redeemed the body’s worth, if not the soul’s. His captive congregation had little patience for his rather theatrical hissing and spitting from the pulpit. Twice daily, the aptly labeled Holy Willie chastised them for their evil ways and exhorted the virtues of industry for opening a window on redemption.
Widow Tedder’s atonement commenced officially after morning chapel. Tapping her foot on the chapel steps, Mrs. Cato impatiently jingled the bell that seemed permanently attached to her palm and summoned #151 to her side. Deputy Matron Cato was charged with escorting prisoners assigned to the Liverpool Street nursery. It was already half past eight; there was not a moment to waste in putting each woman to work. Performing her duty as prison midwife, Mrs. Cato had helped deliver many of the tiny babies now lodged in the new nursery.
Liverpool Street had opened only a year before in response to a newspaper exposé about the atrocious conditions at the Cascades nursery, named the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” by the Colonial Times.15 Inside the Female Factory walls, at least twenty infants died during the first three months of 1838.16 Authorities had failed to acknowledge that malnutrition and illness had raised the infant mortality rate to four times that of the colony’s free settlers. Instead, they blamed the convict mothers, accusing them of deliberately keeping their children near death in order to be with them in the nursery rather than returning to hard labor in Yard Two.
Matron Hutchinson herself understood the devastation of losing a child. She had given birth to twelve children, and six had died in infancy, at least four at the Female Factory.17 During her nineteen years at Cascades, a severely limited and largely untrained staff helped her manage the perpetually damp, overcrowded prison, where medical care was meager. Not surprisingly, the thinly stretched Mrs. Hutchinson received mixed reviews. Though the prisoners appeared to tolerate her more readily than they did her bureaucratic husband, the press cast her as a villain when it exposed a scandal at the prison.
Public outrage reached a boiling point with the case of Mary Vowles. The Irish lass had freely immigrated to Van Diemen’s Land in August 1832, two months later marrying an emancipist. In 1835, working as a servant, she was caught stealing a silver plate in Hobart Town and sentenced to seven years at Cascades. In 1838, the twenty-nine-year-old was charged with using bad language toward another woman and sentenced to six weeks’ hard labor at the Female Factory. Appearing before Mr. Hutchinson with her son, Thomas, in her arms, she pleaded to keep the twelve-month-old with her because he was still nursing. Superintendent of Convicts Josiah Spode had already approved the request to keep Thomas with her, but it made no difference. Deputy Matron Cato also implored Mr. Hutchinson not to separate mother from suckling child. Again, he refused.
Five days after her admission to the Female Factory, Mary was allowed to visit her son in the prison nursery. “She did not know her own child, ‘it was so sickly looking, and altered so much for the worse!’”18 A few days later, the nurse sent Mary a message asking for money to buy Thomas sago, a starch derived from palm trees that was mixed with wine to treat ill infants. Upon receiving news of her son’s worsening condition, Mary asked Mr. Hutchinson for permission to visit the dying child. When he said no, the frantic mother ran toward the nursery but was detained and sentenced to solitary confinement. Somehow, she managed a message to her husband, who came to Cascades and left with their child. He purchased medicine from a pharmacist, but by now little Thomas was at death’s door and soon succumbed.
Little Thomas Vowles was just one of hundreds who suffered the same fate at the nursery. Word began to spread throughout Hobart Town that “the corpses of children had been conveyed secretly out of the Factory, without the slightest regard to ceremony.”19 The True Colonist harshly criticized Superintendent Hutchinson’s role in Thomas’s demise, assailing him for an improper use of authority. Such heartlessness prompted Hobart Town’s local newspaper to launch a crusade for change. On May 29, 1838, the Colonial Times reported yet another death inside Cascades and called for the resignation of the superintendent’s wife.
“Where, again, was the matron, Mrs. Hutchinson, that she did not perceive the gradual decay and drooping of this innocent victim? Is it . . . because Mrs. Hutchinson is so habituated to misery and wretchedness, within the walls of that gloomy prison, that she does not recognize its continual existence? At all events, her removal is certainly requisite, immediately and promptly.”20
The article went on to beg Governor John Franklin “to ORDER the immediate removal of the children, and not to stand upon any shillyshally remonstrance as to expense or inconvenience.”21 Despite public outcry about “the perilous and fatal Nursery,” the governor’s wife, Lady Jane, largely ignored the dying babies.22 Constructing a botanical garden, a state college, and a museum of natural history modeled after a Greek temple were the tasks she readily performed from an elite distance. Writing her sister during the time of the scandal, the governor’s wife revealed her true feelings: “As for doing anything with the women here, in the factory, it seems next to impossible huddled as they all are together, and such impudent creatures, almost all of them. . . . I think the whole system of female transportation . . . so faulty and vicious, that to attempt to deal with the women who are the subjects of it, seems a waste of time and labor.23
In this instance, public sentiment held more influence over the governor than did his apathetic wife. After nine years of scandals involving infant deaths, he finally approved the closing of Cascades Nursery in October 1838, motivated by economics rather than altruism. The nursery was relocated to the small Liverpool Street house in Hobart Town. Mindful of both finances and public relations, the Hobart Town coroner had “recommended that a new hospital and nursery be built close to, but outside, the Factory, in order to avoid the necessity of holding an inquest on every death therein. This would minimize administrative expense and avoid ‘excit[ing] . . . the Public Mind’ through inquests being held on ‘ordinary and unavoidable cases.’”24 According to an act of Parliament, inquests were required only for those who died inside a prison.
Nurse Tedder was about to enter the poorly ventilated little dwelling on Liverpool Street that now held Cascades’ tiniest prisoners. It was no place for the faint of heart. Walking down the valley toward the center of town, Arabella held tight to her mother’s new prison dress and followed Mrs. Cato’s directions to behave herself. This was where proper people lived, and children should be seen and not heard. Strolling by the replicas of English gardens, the ladies of Hobart Town wore black lace dresses embellished with pearl buttons, and white cambric collars and cuffs. Following fashion and imitating the coiffures of Parisians, they swept their hair off the face and styled it into soft curls.25
The town was built primarily on a straight grid, its long streets adorned by simple Georgian architecture. Behind the neatly trimmed Hawthorne hedges, private homes and government offices conveyed a gaol-like austerity, with squared bricks and severe edges. Lurking around the corner in the less tasteful side alleys, sly-grog shops enjoyed a booming business. Emancipists, as the freed convicts were known, congregated with sailors, bushrangers, madams, and corrupt government officers. For the most part, the town still tolerated an “anything goes” in a penal colony attitude. Unlicensed pubs abounded, serving homemade liquor, sometimes dangerously laced with laudanum—the same drug used to quiet infants in Britain’s slums.
Set amid bawdy houses, taverns, shops, and mansions, the Liverpool Nursery sat at the lower end of the street. Prisoners whose babies were not yet six months old were permitted to nurse their little ones. Some would later be assigned to colonists as wet nurses. Though not nearly as damp as Cascades, the new location was equally crowded, chaotic, and malodorous. A doctor passed through occasionally, but the prisoners themselves were assigned responsibility for fragile babies and scrawny toddlers ranging in age from six months to two years.
Ludlow’s hands-on medical training aboard the Hindostan, alongside an excellent recommendation from the surgeon superintendent, immediately moved her into the nursery’s top spot. Once again, a basic education and literacy led Ludlow to the best assignment among undesirable alternatives. Yet nothing, absolutely nothing, could insulate Ludlow from the harsh and unanticipated reality she was about to face. Back at Cascades for supper, Mrs. Hutchinson asked Widow Tedder to step into her reception room for a private conversation. The matron told Ludlow that there was no place at the Female Factory for Arabella. Her ten-year-old daughter would be transferred to the Queen’s Orphanage in Hobart Town within a week.
Typically, mothers were given no warning about their children’s removal. 26 But in this case, Mrs. Hutchinson needed a well-trained nurse on her side, and she could ill afford to alienate her. If Ludlow maintained her exemplary behavior, she’d be allowed to make the four-mile walk and visit Arabella once a month, on Sunday. Ludlow listened silently while her heart sank at the prospect of losing another child. Behind her hazel eyes, nearly covered by her mob cap, her mind raced madly ahead, plotting schemes for an escape.
The next six days were a nightmare. The distraught mother decided to shield her darling little girl from the news of their imminent separation until the moment was upon them. Inside the Liverpool Nursery, there was hardly time to think. An overwhelming workload pulled Ludlow through the fear and dread that rose higher every hour. The Hindostan had arrived during another outbreak of influenza in the colony. The illness, in particular, targeted the fragile children crammed into the Liverpool Nursery, housing more than fifty women and nearly one hundred children. Within a week, the new nurse witnessed her first death in Van Diemen’s Land: Two-year-old Frederick Withely passed away September 17, 1839.
Awakening with a melancholy heart on the following morning, Ludlow lovingly stroked her daughter’s grimy cheek, gravely aware of what was about to happen. Heavy footsteps echoed from the far gate toward the women’s ward.
It was time to kiss Arabella good-bye. After reassuring her brave child that she would visit whenever the rules permitted, Ludlow watched Mrs. Hutchinson lead her bewildered ten-year-old away. Only seven days after arriving in Van Diemen’s Land, her youngest child was admitted to the Queen’s Orphanage. Ludlow vowed to get her back, whatever the cost.
Children were separated from their mothers at Cascades for two reasons. First, it was surmised that if a prisoner spent time on parenting, it reduced her hours of productivity and therefore her economic value. Second, separating girls like Arabella from their mothers fell under Britain’s master plan for a pure moral pedigree in the expanding colony. Under the guise of protecting children from “the convict stain,” the government removed them from their mothers, hoping to prevent corruption of young souls in order to gain strong, healthy, and docile workers.
Children like Arabella were pressed into servitude as soon as they learned to sew a jacket or grew sturdy enough to carry bricks, usually by age thirteen or fourteen. From this day forward, Arabella would belong to the state until her mother received a Ticket of Leave, her passport to freedom. Unlike Agnes McMillan, who had long passed the age of innocence, Arabella was considered young enough to meet Victorian standards for a pure moral canvas.
Young Miss Tedder boarded the orphans’ transport cart along with her good chum from the Hindostan, eight-year-old Sarah Smith.27 The two pulled up another young friend, four-year-old Jane Price, and held her between them. Jane’s mother, Ann, was confined to a cell on bread and water for insolence to her master, so the two didn’t even get to say good-bye. Straining their necks for a last look at their mothers’ prison, the three frightened playmates huddled together as the wheels of the cart began creaking away from the factory.
The light cargo jostled down the valley into Hobart Town and then north toward New Town. The tiny cart made steady progress along well-traveled Elizabeth Street, one of the main thoroughfares into the busy little port. Many wagons headed in the opposite direction were loaded with wood, wool, and other products bound for the warehouses by the docks. Several miles outside Hobart Town, the traffic thinned and the prison orphans passed the few homes that constituted New Town’s center. Soon a church revealed itself, centered in what appeared to be a large estate surrounded by fences stretching across the rolling hills. As the cart rattled toward the sternly squared stone spire marking the end of the road, it seemed as if the girls would roll right into what looked like a castle.
This was the gate of the Queen’s Orphan School, housing youngsters whose parents were deceased or had abandoned them, along with a large contingent of children who had been transported with their mothers. Behind stone walls akin to the Cascades compound, more than four hundred children were fed and warehoused. The nearly even numbers of girls and boys were separated by St. John’s parish church in the center of the complex.
The bricks for constructing the orphanage came from the hands of male convicts who labored at Port Arthur and harvested timber from Mt. Wellington. A staff of nine cared for the youngsters, aged two to fourteen.28 Arabella, Jane Price, and Sarah Smith would follow a routine that mirrored their mothers’ at the Female Factory: up by five or six A.M., depending on sunrise; gruel and bread for breakfast; soup and brown bread for supper; in their hammocks by eight P.M.
Mrs. Gazzard, matron for the girls’ ward, handed Arabella a uniform, reflecting the fact that the orphanage was run by the Convict Department. Like mother, like daughter. The telltale blue-and-white-patterned dress, sewn in coarse fabric, marked her as the offspring of a convict. A clean white pinafore proclaimed her moral innocence and protected her dress from the chores and work training expected from all but the youngest inmates.
Matron Gazzard examined the young Tedder’s hair for lice, then cut short the back of her locks and left the front intact. This odd haircut further branded Arabella the progeny of a sinner, thief, or prostitute. Here, the rules at Cascades were mirrored. If Arabella turned sassy or disobeyed the matron, her tresses would be shorn off, just like those of an adult. Although Arabella and Sarah were old enough for the girls’ ward, Jane Price was not. Separated from her temporary guardians, she was brought to the infant branch that housed the little ones, from two to six years old.
Clambering up the stairs to the second-floor dormitory, Mrs. Gazzard assigned Arabella a hammock and handed her two blankets. The young prisoners of the Crown, considered contaminated children, slept in a large room lit by a single lantern hung from the rafters in the roof. Bedding from the orphanage was delivered to the Female Factory for washing in Yard Two, where the disobedient were punished. Once Ann Price was released from her cell, she probably scrubbed the sheets that carried the scent of her own child.
Arabella and the others her age would soon learn how to do laundry for themselves and master the art of knitting, needlework, and other domestic chores. Local settlers hired some of the fully trained girls as servants, kitchen maids, or nurse’s assistants. In the plan to lift the convict stain, religious instruction was nearly as important as work apprenticeship. Protestant girls like Arabella attended mandatory morning prayers in the church before breakfast each day. In addition, on Wednesday and Friday mornings, the children divided into Protestant and Roman Catholic classes and were taught separately. For the rest of the day, they sat for religious instruction and examination, rounded off by an evening church service for the Protestants, who represented the majority.29
Arabella’s surroundings reflected her mother’s life in the Female Factory, where everyone followed a rigid schedule. Each minute of her childhood was accounted for and monitored. The only exception was Sunday, after church, when the girls were allowed free time on the open playground. Still, even the strictest rules couldn’t stop Arabella, Sarah, and her new mates from managing a bit of girlish fun and stirring up some occasional mischief without being caught.
Like their mothers, the girls at the Queen’s Orphanage were deemed less reputable and harder to manage than the boys, demonstrating few of the qualities expected from a restrained and obedient Victorian young miss. In Mrs. Gazzard’s judgment, most of her charges had “fallen into improper courses of life.”30
For the newly streetwise Arabella, witness to her mother’s mistakes, being caught at breaking rules was not an option. Wardens who ran the orphanages were attired in grey military-inspired uniforms and carried canes dangling from their fingers. Caning, solitary confinement, or cutting off of hair served as punishment in this prison for children. Fortunately, just a few years before Arabella’s arrival, a scandal at the orphanage had cleaned out many staff who were “dismissed for misbehavior, cruelty and stealing provisions to sell for their own gains.”31
The living conditions themselves inflicted physical punishment on the youngsters. The year Arabella entered the orphanage, the Colonial Times recorded the harsh existence characterizing her young life: “The washing places, or lavatories (to use a word more euphonious for the polite and learned ears of our court contemporary) are highly objectionable: they consist of cell-like rooms, paved with flags, with a stone trough in the center, open at both ends, and consequently, extremely cold and comfortless. Indeed, the prevalence of stone pavement, throughout the lower apartments of the building, is, in our humble opinion, highly detrimental to the health of the inmates; in one room, we saw five little fellows, blue and shivering with cold. . . .”32
The emotional distance created by the prim and proper language of the Times reporter accurately reflected the sentiments of the day toward boys and girls of convict lineage. Because so few staff supervised so many children, the sick were often ignored or treated with callous disregard. With only one fireplace to stave off the cold in the oversized institutional wards, the children often suffered from chilblains, a condition marked by inflamed fingers and toes and caused by the shivering dampness. A school inspector recorded what he saw: “On one occasion in my presence the master gave an order ‘Sore hands and feet stand out.’ This dismembered several classes, particularly of the younger children. There were 36 with deep red hands or limping feet, formed a double line, and were marched out for the purpose of some remedial treatment.”33
Managed perhaps more kindly by Mrs. Gazzard since 1833, the orphanage began to hire women who were experienced as teachers. They instructed the children in reading primarily to support the government-mandated religious instruction. The mistresses, as they were called, also taught penmanship and basic arithmetic. Many decades later, the notes Arabella sent to her grandchildren on their birthdays bore the mark of well-practiced and well-learned cursive writing along with perfect spelling and grammar.
No birthdays were celebrated at the orphanage except Queen Victoria’s, each year on May 24. On this one observed holiday of the year, coming as winter approached the Southern Hemisphere, “if the weather permits, the teachers take the children out on a day’s ramble in the neighbouring country.”34 Unheated classrooms, a playground without equipment and supervision, and the absence of parental attention and care made for an austere childhood, save for the friendships that flourished. Yet a bit of education and the regular, spartan meals were more than what these children’s peers and relatives consumed back in the British slums.
Two months after Arabella settled into her routine at the orphanage, another ten-year-old, Catherine Mullins, arrived at its stone entrance. Before long, they were true-blue mates. Together, over the next four and a half years, the girls would mature into optimistic young women, inspired by friendship and monthly visits from their mothers. Every evening, Arabella and Catherine sat down to a meal of soup made with meat and vegetables, “a large piece of coarse, but sweet wheaten bread” and a cup of milk.35 Before a spoon was lifted, the roomful of children said grace out loud in near unison.
At about the same hour, Ludlow stared into her bowl of broth. Separated from Arabella, a listless #151 resisted swallowing the food she tried to eat. Although she had temporarily lost her youngest child, the Widow Tedder found some solace in devoting loving attention to the tiny babies under her care.
Despite her best efforts, calling upon both maternal instincts and nursing skills, seven more children died before the Christmas holiday. By January, the warm weather that arrived at summer’s peak seemed to slow the spread of illness inside the house Ludlow shared with her young charges and their mothers. The Liverpool Street nursery seemed ever more distant from the Keppel Street quarters she had left just one year ago.
Arrivals and Departures
For a year and a half, Ludlow toiled in the nursery alongside head midwife and deputy matron Elizabeth Cato. By now, Ludlow’s Hindostan friend Ann Price had completed her punishment in the wash yard and was also assigned to Liverpool Street. At least once a month, and when they were granted extra visits for model behavior, together the two mothers walked the hilly four miles from Cascades to New Town for Sunday visits with their daughters.
The women’s routine changed abruptly on a foggy autumn morning in April 1841, when Mrs. Cato failed to appear at morning muster. Typically she met Ludlow and Ann immediately after breakfast and issued daily orders for nursery duty. The night before, however, Police Magistrate John Price arrested both of the Catos and charged them with trafficking. During the initial phase of his investigation, Mr. Price confronted the overseer and his wife with the news that he’d seen a letter written by a prisoner, Ellen Watkins, “in which she requests certain articles be sent under cover to Mrs. Cato for her, here accompanied by a fowl for the use of Mrs. Cato.”36 When he requested the Catos turn over both the letter and the chicken, Mrs. Cato responded that “the contents of the letter was too horrible and indecent and that she had thought fit to burn it.”37 Having read the letter himself, Magistrate Price countered her assertion, later noting in his report to Superintendent Josiah Spode: “I must here remark that not an indecent allusion was introduced into that letter.”38 But the excuses were quick and well prepared when Price inquired about the messenger bird. Yes, they were given the fowl for reasons unknown, and “it was a pity it should stink and so I had it plucked.”39
The two senior officials had contrived a scheme wherein convicts were allowed messages from outside the prison if delivered to Mrs. Cato along with a chicken. It was just the tip of a pervasive and thriving underground economy at Cascades. This relatively small extortion delivered notes between the female prisoners and their paramours in Hobart Town, providing many chickens for the Catos. The overseers and the deputy matron either ate the fowl or traded them for other items available via the illicit marketplace.
For years, the local government ignored the corruption inside Cascades as well as the abuse of prisoners who were mismanaged and mistreated. Word of inhumane conditions reached England and prompted Elizabeth Fry to beg for intervention. Four long years passed before Lady Jane responded to Mrs. Fry’s impassioned plea for an investigation into conditions at the Female Factory. In July 1841, shortly after the Catos’ indictment, Elizabeth’s emissary Miss Kezia Hayter arrived on the Rajah and presented Lady Jane with a quilt made by the convict women aboard ship. An embroidered inscription on the fabric rendered it impossible to ignore Fry’s mission:
TO THE LADIES
Convict ship Committee
This quilt worked by the Convicts
of the ship Rajah during their voyage
to Van Diemans [sic] Land is presented as a
testimony of the gratitude with which
they remember their exertions for their
welfare while in England and during
their passage and also as a proof that
they have not neglected the Ladies
kind admonitions of being industrious
On August 3, 1841, Lady Jane penned a note to Fry, offering an excuse for failing to write sooner: “I had little to tell you respecting the conditions of the female prisoners population here, which . . . would give you any satisfaction to hear, and I shrank from the painful task of being the reporter of evil, and of confessing how little I had personally done. . . .”41
The word “evil” was applied liberally to descriptions of the girls and women exiled “beyond the seas.” The Courier announced the arrival of the Rajah in the paper’s local news section with this warning:
The female prisoners brought out in this ship appear to be of much better character than usual; their behavior during the voyage was very good, doubtless in a great degree the result of the indefatigable care which appears to have been exercised both with reference to their morality and physical comfort. The Lieutenant-Governor most judiciously afforded every facility to the inhabitants who had applied for servants, to obtain them direct from the ship; this is a most desirable arrangement, for even an hour’s contamination in that receptacle of wickedness, the Factory may prove of lasting evil to the unfortunate creatures who once enter it.42
Although the Catos were dismissed from Cascades for their transgressions, there was nowhere to send the increasingly rowdy members of the Flash Mob. The more they were punished, the more unruly and outrageous their rebellion. Five months before Ludlow’s arrival, the infamous Ellen Scott was charged with “violently assaulting Mr. Hutchinson with intent to kill or do him some bodily harm.”43 The women at the factory realized they had nothing left to lose as their treatment worsened, and the Mob escalated from simple defiance into all-out war.
Among those involved in the May 6, 1839, riot was Ann Maloney, the Londoner who had left behind a penny for her loved one W. F., engraved with two hearts and two doves. Fourteen years into her life sentence for larceny in a boardinghouse, Ann turned bitter and ornery, her optimism long departed from the days she inscribed the love token inside Newgate Prison. A year after being admitted to Cascades, she attempted escape with a friend named Martha Griffith. While scaling the prison wall, Ann broke her leg, and the constable sentenced both girls to bread and water in solitary confinement. In 1829, Ann had married and was remanded to her husband’s oversight for the remainder of her sentence, an escape clause for female convicts. But when the couple was caught running a brothel in Hobart Town, she was returned to Cascades and the company of her Flash Mob mates.
Malnourished, neglected, and increasingly angry women were packed tight behind the stone walls. Seething frustration toward hypocrites like the Reverend Bedford, controller and abuser of many, fueled the Mob’s fury. Five others participated in the insurrection directed toward the often-tired, paper-pushing superintendent. Each was charged with insubordination for “forcibly, violently and in a turbulent manner resisting Mr. Hutchinson and refusing to obey his lawful commands.”44 He immediately sentenced Ann Maloney to twelve months at the washtubs and sent Ellen Scott to Launceston for two years’ hard labor.
The Hobart Town newspapers printed in-depth stories about the Mob’s escapades and included more details in the police report section. In an article about Ellen Scott and her conspirators, the Colonial Times wrote:
We have appended to the title of this article, the term “Flash Mob;” that this term is technical, is sufficiently obvious; but few of our readers,—few, indeed, of any who possess the ordinary attributes of human nature, can even conjecture the frightful abominations, which are practised by the women, who compose this mob. Of course, we cannot pollute our columns with the disgusting details, which have been conveyed to us; but we may, with propriety, call the notice of the proper Functionaries to a system of vice, immorality, and iniquity, which has tended, mainly, to render the majority of female assigned servants, the annoying and untractable animals, that they are.45
Despite these declarations of condemnation, the Colonial Times filled many columns with tasty tidbits about the women so often deemed unworthy of its time and attention. Ellen Scott was not alone in providing fodder for gossipmongers. Whisperers were all about town in the shops, gardens, and pubs.
After the departure of the Female Factory’s dark heroine, a new cast of colorful characters emerged more vibrant than ever from this theater of unimaginable horrors. Each player took an unspoken oath to torment her captors and stand by her sisters. Like Ellen Scott, Catherine Henrys reached legendary status inside Cascades and across Van Die-men’s Land. Twenty-nine, with deep pockmarks across her face, she was transported from Ireland in 1836, the same year as Agnes. She quickly became a master of ingenious escapes, like tunneling her way out of solitary confinement with a sharpened spoon, and using tied blanket strips to scale the stone walls. Tall for her time at five feet, six inches, Catherine sported two tattoos on her right arm and was nicknamed “Jemmy the Rover.” During one escapade in 1841, she put on men’s trousers, tucked her hair under a boy’s cap, and headed into the bush to work as a timber cutter. Before her return to the Female Factory she lived free for a year, chopping down trees with Samuel Dobbs, a freed convict whom she would later marry.46
The Flash Mob tended to attract the conspicuously rowdy, but someone literate like Ludlow Tedder would be highly prized for her skills. Her ability to write and deliver messages during her regular pilgrimage from Liverpool Street to Cascades undoubtedly assisted love affairs and contraband smuggling. Such a proper matron was ideal to convey colored scarves and gaudy jewelry for the rebels with a sense of humor and a cause at Cascades.
Ludlow quickly figured out the survival maze inside the prison and how things really worked for those on both sides of the walls. Her regular trek up and down the valley afforded plenty of time to hatch a plan for Arabella’s return. For today, it was August 1841 and all of Ludlow’s attention was focused on a lovely Scottish redhead and a new baby boy who had been born at the Female Factory. The mother was called Janet Houston, and she had named her son William.47