I am researching my family tree and have found my 4th great grandmother was Alice Robson from Heddon-on-the-Wall. I notice there is a grave stone of the Robson family but these were later members.
Alice was born in 1797 and was convicted of larceny (she stole some cloth) and was transported to Australia in 1814 (she was 17).
There are lots of stories about her that I've found on Ancestry and I wonder if you would be interested. I believe William Robson and Jane Lister were her parents. Do you have any information please on the family.
Indictment of Alice Robson
Alice Robson, late of the parish of Heddon on the Wall, in the county of Northumberland on the 28 day of April in the 53rd year of the reign of the Sovereign Lord George the third, King of Great Britain, and so forth, with force of arms, at the parish of Stanfordham, in the said county, <steal>.six yards of printed cotton, two pieces of Fustian, five yards of linen cloth, two yards of white cotton, one yard of tow cloth, one quantity of a yard of flowered muslin, three cotton handkerchiefs, two yards of brown cotton, six yards of blue and white cotton, one Waistcoat piece, one buff coloured handkerchief, two yards of cotton check, one slip of black yarn, one slip of black worsted pair of worsted stockings, one blue cotton apron, one Leno cuff border and one shawl, the good and chattels of Leonard Dobson <of Stanfordham> of the value of 10 pence being then and there found did feloniously steal, take and carry away”, etc.
...... is ordered that she be transportated for the term of seven years 'to such part of His Majesty’s dominions beyond seas, as His Majesty’s council shall direct' after pleading guilty and was placed on board the ship 'Broxbornebury' in 1814, as a convict, on it’s way to NSW.
Under the command of Thomas Pitcher Jr, she sailed from London on 22 February 1814, with 120 female convicts, free passengers and cargo. She arrived at Port Jackson in New South Wales, Australia on 27 July 1814, a voyage of 5 months. Two female convicts died on the voyage.
Female convicts were usually assigned to domestic service. Troublesome female prisoners were sent to the Female Factory, where they made rope and spun and carded wool. The accommodation was very basic and barrack like. In time, the work done in the female factories became less difficult with needlework and laundry becoming the main duties.
Alice Robson ended up in Tasmania and died at Don on 29th November 1889 aged 92. There is more of her story below.
"Alice Robson, severely beaten while pregnant by her husband and asserting his ill-use of her, sought refuge from him in a relationship with the Principal Superintendant at George Town.
The Commandant at Port Dalrymple ordered this ‘profligate adulteress’, who was at the time nursing a 2-month old child, to walk thirty-five miles with a 61/4 pound iron collar around her neck."
Tasmanian Cemetries record
The Examiner, 3rd December 1889 records:
LEITH – On 29th November, at the residence of Mrs. Allen, Don, Alice Leith, aged 92.
Born Alice Robson in the English county of Northumberland, about 1797, she first came to public attention as a feisty sixteen year old servant girl, not afraid to use ‘force and arms’ to obtain her objective – a large quantity of fabric, some stockings, handkerchiefs, an apron, and a shawl. Tried at Newcastle in April 1813, and sentenced to seven years transportation, she finally arrived in NSW on the Broxbornebury in July 1814, after a five month voyage.
She married fellow convict Richard Blackstone at Port Jackson on 3 December 1815, and their son Charles was born the following year. The family arrived in Van Diemen's Land on the Brig Elizabeth Henrietta in April 1818, Richard being one of fourteen male convicts transported from Sydney as additional labour for the Public Works at George Town.
In February 1820 she was at the center of a magisterial enquiry into the Commandant’s handling of her petition concerning Richard’s alleged violence towards her. The enquiry vindicated the Commandant’s actions, and brought Leith strong condemnation from Governor Macquarie for accusing the commandant of failing to do his duty, and for exaggerating the cruelties suffered by Alice.
Alice’s fearless behaviour continued at Westbury, where she was known by both surnames. In 1825 she risked her life to defend W.E. Leith from the bushrangers Brady and McCabe, grabbing at Brady’s double barrelled gun as it was pointed from close range at Leith. Brady exclaimed ‘damn you I never met with such a Woman in my life time’, and later threatened to break her neck.
When her future son-in-law Moore Simmons’ permission to marry daughter Elizabeth was revoked in January 1849 Alice responded promptly with a petition to the Lieutenant-Governor. (It appears to have been unsuccessful, since they did not marry until the following year, after he’d been granted a Conditional Pardon.)
In May 1852, several weeks after W.E. Leith’s death (30 March 1852), Alice appeared in court as Alice Blackstone, charged with unlawfully beating and assaulting Mary Godfrey at Westbury. Provoked by an argument over a cask (of wine), and Mary’s insulting behaviour, Alice took action, urged on by her daughters. She was found guilty and fined a farthing, with costs of 16/6.
Her strong hand was again evident in an 1861 insolvency case involving her son-in-law William Morton’s failure to disclose certain items of jewellery which had been given to his wife by her mother before her marriage. Alice obviously did not support a law which made a wife's possessions the property of her husband, and threatened to take the jewellery back if it was admitted.
Morton was sentenced to three months gaol in Launceston, with the Commissioner stating ‘Yours is a bad case, but I suppose your mother-in-law has been the main cause of the concealment.’
By 1868, 71 year old Alice was co-licensee of the Glenore Hotel with her widowed daughter Alice Morton.
She eventually outlived several of her children, including her daughter Jane, who as a tiny baby accompanied her mother on the long walks to and from George Town. Jane (Mrs John Sturzaker, snr.) died at Westbury in July 1888, and Alice Morton, the youngest of the Leiths, died at Launceston in June 1889.
Alice was living at Don with her daughter Annie Allen when she died. Her death certificate, and the simple death notice in the Launceston Examiner suggest that she was best known by the Leith surname. She was buried in the same grave as her son-in-law John Atmore Winkfield, and her great grandson John Edward Pryme (Jack) Hays.