Free Passage: Convict Family Reunion in Australia 1788-1852

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 204 pages
Author: P. McIntyre
Year: 2018
ISBN: 9780648061625
Other: 2nd ed., colour photos, appendixes, bibliog, index
Publisher: Anchor Books Australia

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 that needs to be told.

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, convict history, and Australian connections.

1. 'Caught in the savage trap': The early years in New South Wales
2. To 'regain a respectable place in society': Convict family reunion 1810-1840
3. 'Your wife has never forgotten you': Convict family reunion post-1840
4. 'Children of Misfortune': Convict Families
5. 'The hand of God led you to that place': Petitions from the colony
6. 'Left to struggle against the most abject poverty': Irish convict families
7. 'I have completely unhinged myself from this part of the world': The journey to New South Wales
8. 'In order to share the exile of her husband': Proactive family reunion
9. The 'bosum of his disconsolate family': Colonial reception
10. 'Pangs and wretchedness far beyond the intention of the law': Permanent separation
11. 'All happy families are alike': Colonial life
Appendix 1. Regulations for Free Passages for Wives and Families of Married Convicts
Appendix 2. Example of a Petition, 1833

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Free Passage: Convict Family Reunion in Australia 1788-1852

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