When Mary Crampton petitioned from Ireland to be allowed join her husband, Richard, who she claimed was sent out of the country ‘owing to some unforeseen misfortune’ she was left as ‘a lonely traveller on this deluding world’. Although the sea divided her from him, ‘she never lost that tender affection’ for ‘the partner of her heart’.
Free Passage tells the story of convict men and their wives who petitioned the government to enable women like Mary Crampton and their families to immigrate to Australia. These convict men and their families worked the system set up by government to encourage family life in the developing settlements. This book traces the complex and changing regulations governing convict family reunion, showing how personal negotiation influenced the outcome. It also examines the individual experiences of convict men and the families left behind when their menfolk were transported. Petitions from wives in England and Ireland are examined and for the first time these women become key players in the story of immigration, which is linked to transportation and convict reformation.