This is the poignant and complex story of the reunion of Irish families in Australia from 1788-1852. A hidden history full of human drama, the story has never been told before.
Over one third of convicts transported to the Australian colonies between 1788 and 1868 were Irish. The ensuing disruption to family life was evident, and the perception is that these transported men and women disappeared to the antipodes and that familial connections were severed forever. But a controversial government policy encouraged reformed married men to apply from the colonies for the free passage for their wives and children.
These women and children travelled on female convict ships, and, until now, they have remained hidden in the records. Author Perry McIntyre examines the British and colonial policy which facilitated this reunion, and the book is given great humanity by some of the individual stories of reunion. The research was conducted in England, Ireland, and Australia, revealing a benevolent attitude, particularly towards Irish families who had very little institutional support once their breadwinner was banished.
'Free Passage' is a must-have book for historians and general readers interested in genealogy and Australian connections.
List of Tables, Figures, Illustrations and Documents
List of Abbreviations
Part 1. British an=d Colonial Policy on Family Reunion, 1788-1852
1. 'Caught in the savage trap': The Early Years of New South Wales
2. To 'regain a respectable place in society': Convict Reunion, 1810-1840
3. 'Your wife has never forgotten you': Convict Reunion after 1840
Part 2. The Convicts and their Free Families in New South Wales
4. The Historical Documents
5. 'These Children of Misfortune': Convict Families in New South Wales
6. 'The hand of God led you to that place': Desire for Reunion
Part 3. The Families Left at Home
7. 'Left to struggle against the most abject poverty': Abandoned Irish Families
8. 'I have completely unhinged myself from this part of the world': The Journey to New South Wales
9. 'In order to share the exile of her husband': Proactive Families
Part 4. Colonial Life
10. The 'bosum of her afflicted family': Colonial Reception
11. Pangs and wretchedness far beyond the intention of the law': Banishment
12. 'All families are alike': Colonial Life
Appendix 1. Despatches and Official Correspondence Relating to Wives and Families of Convicts in New South Wales
Appendix 2. Summary of Regulations Regarding Free Passages for Wives and Families of Married Convicts