BACKGROUND TO THE VOYAGE and this project:

The CANADA on its fourth voyage (hence CANADA 4) left Cobh/Cove at the entrance of Cork Harbour, south Ireland on 21 March 1817. After 138 days at sea it reached Sydney on 6 August 1817.  89 passengers embarked and 89 disembarked who appear to have been 84 women convicted mostly of petty crime and 5 children. The Master was John Grigg and the Surgeon was James Allen. Most of the women were quickly shipped onwards from Sydney to Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on the ELIZABETH HENRIETTA.

See: 1817 Aug 11 List of prisoners embarked on for Hobart (Reel 6005; 4/3496 pp.295-8):

This site (currently in its very early stages) offers a place to post any information about these 89 women and children and what became of them. Information posted by the public will be provided with the woman or child’s name, in the alphabetical page “Who were the women?” listing everyone. I would also be pleased to add information about the Captain, surgeon and any of the crew.

It will be very interesting to piece together how and if these women kept in touch through their lives, given some were imprisoned together in Ireland, then spent five months at sea before reaching NSW, and in most cases went onward to VDL (Van Diemen’s Land – renamed Tasmania in 1856).

My ancestor Catherine Tobin was on board, convicted in Cork in 1817 for stealing muslin. I have traced her life up to 1852 when she was granted her ‘Free Certificate’ for the second time. I am trying to find where she then went, likely in northern Tasmania, probably aged 65. It is likely she passed away, but her death is unrecorded under the name Tobin, or her deceased husband, Simmon[d]s, surname.

Catherine (nee Tobin) and John Simmonds went to the aid of a woman being attacked in Launceston by soldiers in 1820. The woman’s name was Mary Nesbitt, from Dublin. Research revealed Nesbitt arrived into NSW (New South Wales) with Tobin on the CANADA 4 and then travelled with her on the ELIZABETH HENRIETTA to Van Diemen’s Land three years earlier. In the struggle Catherine lost her unborn son, and her husband had several ribs broken.

“Information of J.Simmards” [sic.], Launceston [Tasmania] 5 May 1820,  HRA [Historical Records of Australia] 3, Vol 3, pp. 850-851, Archer to Bigge.

Extract from: Information of J Simmards, Launceston, 5 May 1820:
“I looked out of my House and saw a parcel of Soldiers going down towards the
Canal. About an hour afterwards, the Dogs barked again, and I saw the same
Men coming back again towards Mrs Reibey’s paling, and I heard a Woman’s
Voice crying out, Murder; upon which I opened the Door and took with me
Thomas Cumberlidge, David Mulkey, John Sneelas and —– Mitchell and went
to the spot…..”
Please  also CLICK ON:  “Who were the women”  at the top of this page. It is the link to the second page of this site that lists all the known passengers [incomplete] of this ship. It is also a page to where you can send comments/information/queries about specific women that will be posted below the listing. [Many thanks]

Julie Gough   Hobart Tasmania


Many thanks to Susan Geason for providing this fascinating information below, also her entries (see pages) about MARY IVERS and  CATHERINE GREEN :

“More than a third of all women who arrived in VDL between 1817 and 1823 were married within two years, and almost all of Mary’s (Mary Ivers) shipmates were married within three. The government’s policy towards marriage changed after 1823, meaning that women had to serve for a year of their sentence without a blot on their record before they could marry, and then only at the governor’s discretion. (Tardif, pp. 23-4.) Eleven of the Canada women married convicts, and as the fate of Mary Foley demonstrates—her husband John Goundry was given 50 lashes for violently assaulting and beating her on the highway in 1823—this was a risk. Seventeen Canada women, including Mary Ivers and Catherine Green, married free men.”