Parental loss in young convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), 1841–53

Rebecca Kippen, Janet McCalman

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This paper examines the significance of parental loss for a sample of young convicts (aged under 25 years) transported from English and Irish ports to Tasmania in the mid-nineteenth century. These convicts experienced much higher levels of orphanhood than the general populations from which they were drawn, and women convicts were more likely than their male counterparts to have been orphaned, or to have lost at least one parent. The conclusion is that loss of family and household made orphans, and particularly girls, more vulnerable to crime as a survival strategy. We also find that the likelihood of parental loss varied by place of birth (male and female convicts), type of crime, occupation, and migration status (men only). Parental loss now emerges as a significant and differentiating characteristic for young convicts to be considered alongside neighbourhood and cultural effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-678
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of the Family
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2018


  • Australia
  • crime
  • criminals
  • juvenile offending
  • nineteenth century
  • orphans
  • parental loss

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