Anxiety and grief might paralyse any woman compelled to leave behind forever her children, family, and the world she knew.

Her life may have been tossed about for years before she stood in the dock to hear a judge pronounce the sentence of transportation beyond the seas. Rural poverty drove many women from the landscapes of their childhood into towns and cities looking for work. They crowded into rooms without heat on streets without sunlight. Few had skills and even those who did, like the needlewomen, were badly paid. Factories hired, but they laid off as well. Some women haunted the pubs, looking for men who did not keep a close eye on their watches or money when distracted by sex.

Adjusting to radical change got harder and harder as the woman grew older and less physically resilient. What was an older woman going to do in Van Diemen’s Land once her sentence was finished? With no money, paying for a passage home was out of the question. What settler household would hire her for money when they could get a young woman from the female factory for free? The future looked very bleak, not just the time under sentence.