Saturday, 2 July 2016

Jane Castings - Childbirth and Children in the Cascade Female Factory (NON FICTION)

With Jane delivering one daughter Maria in the Cascade Female Factory and having another unnamed baby girl (I have not been able to find further data about) - I would like to provide some information and background on the situation for birthing and Mothers and Children in the Factory.

Convict Records show that Jane Castings'  baby daughter Maria was born in the Factory but no record has been found of where she was nursed, housed or schooled.  When little Maria was about 3 1/2 years old Jane's second daughter was born and with no further information it is possible she may have died like so many of the newborns.

In ‘Women Transported. Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories’ – Female Factories of Van Diemen’s Land, Dr Trudy Cowley of the Female Factory Resource Group tells us that from 1842-1850 the Nursery was half a mile away from the Factory on the other side of the Rivulet. The babies were there until two to three years of age being ‘cared for’ by warders and nurses selected from first class convicts. 

The mothers only saw their young ones once per month. Orphan schools provided for the older children. (NB: There is no listing for Maria in the Infant School Admission 1851-1853, SWD6/1/1, TAHO)

In 1852 convicts with children were moved to New Town Farm. Sadly the infant
mortality rate was extremely high mainly due to poor nourishment, overcrowding,
poor ventilation, damp and minimal care with babies dying mostly from diarrhoea.

Here is a detailed description in the Launceston Examiner by GP (Backward
Glances Number 3, Saturday, 19th November 1892, p.2. TROVE)
          "The children were taken from their mothers if old enough to be weaned, and consigned to the nursery. A surgeon was appointed by the Governor, who exercised an almost despotic control in the management of the hospital, and who also paid his weekly visits to the establishment. . The Colonial Surgeon, …made periodical visits for the purpose of reporting on the sanitary condition of the whole place and its inmates …

The unfortunate creature nursed her child for nine or twelve months, after which it
was taken from her arms, and consigned to the tender mercies of strangers in the
nursery. The mother was then sentenced to an imprisonment of eighteen months
before she became eligible for assigned service.

Many of the poor mites seemed discontented with the new world into which they
had been ushered, and left it altogether; while those of stronger constitutions, but
less fortunate, pined within the stone-wall enclosure, with only occasional peeps
for a short time at nature's verdure outside, fighting for life against the neglect and
peculation of their convict nurses for two or three years, when they were removed
to the less confined and more healthy atmosphere of the Orphan School at New

The scenes witnessed at the separation of mother and child were sometimes very harrowing. One woman, for half an hour after her babe was literally torn from her arms exhibited all the forms of raving madness, till a copious flood of tears relieved her overwrought brain. Another—Mary Sullivan— deliberately murdered her infant and was hanged for the crime in Hobart Town (1830), the first woman who suffered the extreme penalty of the law in the colony.

Before the church was built at New Town in connection with the Orphan School, the children were brought into town to the Sunday morning services at St. David's —a distance of three miles! There was an interval of rest during the service, and then they were marched home again—six miles in all. 
Many now living will remember the long procession wending up Elizabeth street and out on to the New Town Road—the wee toddlers of four or five years trotting wearily along, trying to keep up with the older boys and girls, who were very considerately (?) placed in advance of them! Here and there a mother might be seen skirting the procession, carrying her worn-out child for some distance, and, on leaving, loading it with cakes and sweet meats."

No comments:

Post a Comment