The Artful Dodger and Convict Transportation to Australia


School of Humanities History Seminar Series

Start Date

3rd Mar 2017 4:00pm

End Date

3rd Mar 2017 5:30pm


Room 477A Humanities Building, Sandy Bay campus

The Artful Dodger and Convict Transportation to Australia

Presented by Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, University of Tasmania

About the Seminar
Even before Jack Dawkins, better known as the ‘Artful Dodger’ was first conjured into life in 1838 in the pages of Oliver Twist youthful London pickpockets were a subject of conversation in Britain’s Australian colonies. The ‘refuse of the capital’ were said to form the ‘very worse description of criminals’ and the slang of London thieves was thought to corrupt colonial society as effectively as their ‘hatred to law, and contempt for virtue’.  Between 1788 and 1868 some 160,000 convicts were transported to New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land and Western Australia following conviction in British, Irish or Imperial courts. An estimated 29,600 of these passed through the Old Bailey.  This paper uses nineteenth-century records to examine whether London’s outpouring of convicts did indeed have worse conviction histories than those sentenced in Ireland and other British jurisdictions. It will do so by comparing life course conviction data for convicts sentenced to transportation in London and landed in Van Diemen’s Land in the period 1812-1853 with that for other male and female convicts.

About the Presenter
Hamish Maxwell-Stewart is a Professor of social history in the School of Humanities. His research, currently funded by three ARC grants, uses Tasmania's colonial archives to explore intergenerational health issues. He is best known for his knowledge of convict transportation. He was awarded the Margaret Scott Award for the best book by a Tasmanian author in 2010, for his book 'Closing Hells Gates'. He is currently collaborating with Researchers at the universities of Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford and Sussex on the 'Digital Panopticon' project, which is looking at the global impact of London Punishments between 1780 and 1925.

ALL WELCOME: For enquiries about the History seminar series please contact Assoc.Prof. Penny Edmonds  or Dr. Kristyn Harman on