Saturday, September 25, 2010

Margaret Catchpole (1762 - 1819)

Female Convict & Midwife

Born in Ipswich, England, Margaret grew up a country girl. Margaret showed courage and daring when she rode bareback to fetch a doctor for a sick neighbour. In her mid-20s, Margaret linked up with a smuggler and stole a horse to meet him in London. She was sentenced to death for horse-stealing. However, Margaret was reprieved and gaoled for 7 years. After 2 years in prison, Margaret's lover arranged for her escape but he was killed in the attempt and she was re-arrested. Again sentenced to death, Margaret was again reprieved - this time she was transported to Australia for life.

Margaret arrived in Sydney aged 39yo (c.1801). She was assigned as a servant to a government official. Two years later, Margaret proved so hardworking and resourceful that she was sent to Richmond Hill to act as midwife to a Mrs Rouse, farmer's wife. The farmer was so impressed by her that he made Margaret farm overseer.

Margaret later opened a general store and acted as local midwife. She died, probably from pneumonia, after making a midwifery call in bad weather.

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