Quilt left behind by female convicts

Detail from the Rajah Quilt, used to illustrate Bill's book. Photo: SG140114-112NG
Detail from the Rajah Quilt, used to illustrate Bill's book. Photo: SG140114-112NG
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One of the convict ships that women were transported in was the Rajah.

Women aboard the ship on one journey produced a quilt made out of scraps of material presented to them by Quaker women, who provided them with things they thought would be useful on the long sea journey.

The quilt made its way to Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer who was also a Quaker. It then disappeared for nearly 200 years before surfacing again in Scotland, when it was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia.

Bill Painter, who has written about some of Lincolnshire’s female convicts, says: “It has been kept as one item the ladies left, because they didn’t leave a lot.”

Bill says transportation was seen as a compassionate act, or “a middle way between a sentence of death and a whipping in the market place, burning or branding of the hand, or a short spell of detention and hard labour in the local house of correction.”

• Bill Painter’s book, The Transportation of 135 Female Convicts from Lincolnshire to Australia, 1787-1851, is priced at £8.95 and is available from Bookmark in Spalding.