Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Margaret Dawson

I'm going to guess Margaret Dawson was a convict. The last two people I researched were convicts; and I'm assuming I added a bunch of them at once. Although there is a chance I added two and then moved onto something else.

Well, let's go see......


She was a convict.

Lord Wiki says she's known as being one of Australia's founding mothers. She has lots of descendants around Australia.

Her life began in Liverpool, around 1770. That's the year that James Cook found Australia. At least I think it is. I always forget. Let me go check.

Okay. This website confirms that. Thank you.

When Dawson was about sixteen, she worked in London. One February day, her employers were out of the house. Dawson grabbed clothes, jewelry, and money...lots of it. Why? I guess she didn't expect to come back and work.

I'm just thinking it would have been better to steal a small thing here and there, hoping that no one notices. Why make such a big scene? Did she hope to get caught?

And that she did.

They sought her out, and found Dawson on a coach. She had all the stolen items in possession, except for a coin. She had used that to pay for the coach.

Lord Wiki says no one knows her motives in stealing that stuff. He makes some suggestions. Maybe she was treated cruelly by her employers and wanted some revenge. She might have been in desperate need of some quick money. She might have simply been unable to resist temptation.

Who knows....

I'd like to know.

During the trial, Dawson said, I have nothing to say. I have no witnesses.

To me, it almost sounds like she WANTED to get in trouble. Maybe she was somewhat suicidal?

She was sentenced to death, but we all know how the story goes. Her sentence was eventually changed to transportation. Before that, she endured ten months in prison.

Dawson traveled to New South Wales on the Lady Penrhyn. This website has some information about the ship. It says there were 108 convicts on the ship; 101 of those were female. The site lists the names of the convicts, and their crimes. Most of the crimes were minor...stealing a few things. It's crazy that their punishment was so severe. Like Dawson, some of the women, were at first sentenced to death. Sarah Davies was sentenced to die for stealing four silk handkerchiefs.

The ship left on 13 May 1787. It arrived on 22 January...just four days before Australia Day. But back then, that day wasn't yet called Australia Day.

Lord Wiki says the convicts didn't get to go onto shore right away. I don't think I knew that. They didn't get off until 6 February. Well, maybe it was just the female convicts who stayed on the ship that long. Yeah. From what Lord Wiki says, it seems the men worked, and the women waited.

Not much is said about the next several months. Lord Wiki says then that in August 1789, someone got in trouble for using certain behavior towards Dawson. I'm not sure what he did. Maybe he raped her?

Around that time, Dawson got herself involved with the surgeon William Balmain. Should I assume Balmain is named after this guy? I remember writing about a surgeon when studying various Sydney neighborhoods. Actually, no. I think I'm thinking of the doctor that Redfern is named after. Still though, I'm pretty sure Balmain would probably be named after this doctor.

I guess Balmain and Dawson had a love thing going on. In 1791, they went to Norfolk Island together. By 1793, Dawson was a free woman. That's only five years of her sentence carried out. She was supposed to have seven. I guess she was gifted with some early freedom.

By May 1794, Dawson was a mommy. Her first child was a daughter. I'm going to assume that Dr. Balmain was the daddy.

In 1795, the little family returned to Sydney. There they had two more kids. Sadly, the oldest daughter died in 1797. She would have been three-years-old.

Oh! The family actually left Australia. I didn't expect that to happen. They were back in London by 1802. How old would have Dawson been by then? I gotta do my math. She would be about thirty-two.

In London, Dawson had a fourth child. Soon after that, her husband died. Well, actually I don't know if they were husband and wife. In his will, Balmain refers to Dawson as being his good friend. Plus, she didn't become Margaret Balmain. I'm guessing women didn't often keep their own last names, after marriage, in those days.

Okay. Here we go. Lord Wiki says Dawson was unable to marry Balmain because of her convict status. I thought she had stopped being a convict. Anyway, would that be a law, or just a social custom?

I was wondering why Dawson would have descendants in Australia if the family had returned to London. But the son eventually went back to New South Wales. Lord Wiki says the kids were given Dawson's mother's maiden name as their last name. That's Henderson. So, any Henderson in Australia might be related to Margaret Dawson

This is going to be a short entry. I'm not finding many other websites. I googled. But I'm mostly getting sites very similar to Lord Wiki. If I look at those sites, Lord Wiki might get jealous.

I did find information about ANOTHER Margaret Dawson in Australia. She was a grandmother who died of Asbestos poisoning. What happened was she washed her father's and husband's asbestos filled clothing. She did that for twenty years, got sick, and then died. Before she died, she went to court to seek compensation. She ended up winning $500,000. That didn't cure her. It didn't bring her back to life. But the money will perhaps make life easier for her grandchildren.

I wonder what Brendan Nelson would say about that...or anyone else who's against compensation for the Stolen Generation. In his speech he said, There is no compensation fund, nor should there be. How can any sum of money replace a life deprived of knowing your family? Okay. So should we also deprive a sick grandmother compensation from those who caused her illness? Would Nelson be against that as well? I'm just wondering.....