University of Tasmania
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Convict labour and colonial society in the Campbell Town Police District : 1820-1839

posted on 2023-05-26, 05:55 authored by Dillon, MC
This thesis examines the lives of the convict workers who constituted the primary work force in the Campbell Town district in Van Diemen's Land during the assignment period but focuses particularly on the 1830s. Over 1000 assigned men and women, ganged government convicts, convict police and ticket holders became the district's unfree working class. Although studies have been completed on each of the groups separately, especially female convicts and ganged convicts, no holistic studies have investigated how convicts were integrated into a district as its multi-layered working class and the ways this affected their working and leisure lives and their interactions with their employers. Research has paid particular attention to the Lower Court records for 1835 to extract both quantitative data about the management of different groups of convicts, and also to provide more specific narratives about aspects of their work and leisure. Local administrative records from the Convict Department, the Colonial Secretary's Office and the Engineers Department as well as the diaries and letters of colonists, accounts of travelers, almanacs and newspapers have also been used. Some key results proposed in the thesis include the following: Local magistrates had more varied and liberal middle class backgrounds than their contemporaries in New South Wales. They willingly became the governor's agents of control over the convict work force, accepting his political authority, and remained primarily interested in increasing their wealth. The duties undertaken by convict police were more complex than the literature acknowledges and the claims of corruption and inefficiency made against police by the contemporary press are challenged. Ganged men maintained interactions with the general community outside their gangs, including complex trading and commercial transactions.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2008 the Author

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  • Open

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