Prison and the colonial family

Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Kris Inwood, Jim Stankovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Between 1865 and 1924, descriptions of 39,000 discharged prisoners were circulated via the pages of the Tasmanian Police Gazette. This article examines ways in which these detailed records can be used to shed light on childhood experience in this former British penal colony. The authors compare height measurements for Tasmanian-born prisoners with those for British and Irish migrants in order to explore the social and environmental circumstances that helped to shape metropolitan and colonial nineteenth-century family life. The article also examines the extent to which convict transportation advantaged or disadvantaged the growth trajectories of colonially born children. In order to examine this in greater depth, the authors link discharged prison records to birth certificates, enabling them to assess the extent to which the occupation of fathers and the district of birth within the colony impacted on height. The authors also examine the extent to which children with one or more convict parent were disadvantaged compared to those for whom no evidence of convict ancestry could be found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-248
Number of pages18
JournalThe History of the Family
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • anthropometric history
  • convict transportation
  • juvenile growth
  • nineteenth century
  • penal colony

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