Talk:Convicts in Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Australia / History / Demographics (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon Convicts in Australia is within the scope of WikiProject Australia, which aims to improve Wikipedia's coverage of Australia and Australia-related topics. If you would like to participate, visit the project page.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Australian history.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Demographics of Australia (marked as High-importance).
Note icon
Need help improving this article? Ask a LibrarianWhat's this? at the National Library of Australia.
Note icon
The Wikimedia Australia chapter can be contacted via email to for other than editorial assistance.
WikiProject Correction and Detention Facilities (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Correction and Detention Facilities, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of prisons on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.


I found a bunch of cool images and listed them at commons:Talk:Convicts, so if anyone wants to upload them to commons, go right ahead! As this article grows longer we can add more to this one.

Seeing as Category:Convictism in Australia has quite a few pages on ships, we should probably include some ships here too. pfctdayelise 02:25, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

I've created Wikisource:Category:Convictism in Australia but at the moment it contains only subcategory Wikisource:Category:Convictism in Western Australia. If anyone has any primary sources on convictism, you know what to do. Drew (Snottygobble) | Talk 03:08, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Mention coud be made here of the "Convict Stain" attitude of Most australians in the late 19th early 20th century, with familys hiding a convict past and a wish to rid Australia of the physical evidence of convictim. For instance the decline of Port Arthur.Ghostieguide 03:15, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

How about numbers of convicts?[edit]

I think I remember reading in "The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hugh that only about 160,000 people were transported to Australia during the 80(?) years of transportation. This might be related to contrast popular belief that most Australians are descendents of hard-core criminals, which is as far from the truth as is possible. I lost my copy of The Fatal Shore so it's a bit complicated for me to verify this number.

  • In those days many people had large families. There are three or four million people in Australia today who have at least one "convict" ancestor. Of course everybody ( unless their families are inbred ), have 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents, so having one or two of those 64 ancestors being a convict does not necessarily imply a criminal disposition. Eregli bob (talk) 09:14, 9 March 2008 (UTC)


I have given the article a substantial overhaul, but some areas could still be expanded such as the legacy section. Bobby1011 22:00, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Very nice work, an interesting and well written article, Can you please cite more sources and refs for fact checking. Ghostieguide 23:30, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Aaron burr is listed as a famous convict, however is incorrectly linked to the 3rd president of the united states —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:38, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Bush Ranger Link[edit]

Links to page on GW Bush III financial supporters. Though a correct explanation the wrong context in this case.

Inappropriate title[edit]

Where did this word "convictism" come from? No-one, I emphasise N0-ONE, in Australia uses this word. Surely an article written about the transport of convicts to Australia should be called "Convict Transportation to Australia"?

I don't know how to go about changing a title, so could some one who does please correct this glaring anomaly.

--Mikeh 12:47, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Why not simply "Convicts in Australia"? Kransky (talk) 10:48, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

Convictism is not a word[edit]

Who made up this word ? Eregli bob (talk) 09:14, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

  • I had wondered on that also but it is in the dictionary.

Con´vict`ism : n. 1. The policy or practice of transporting convicts to penal settlements. Boylo (talk) 23:38, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

    • I have never heard of that word or that dictionary . Is it a legitimate English language dictionary or a joke. When writing about the "system" of transporting convicts from Europe to Australia, the terminology always used is "transportation" or "convict transportation". Eregli bob (talk) 08:52, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Inappropriate title[edit]

I doubt that there is such as word as "convictism". Even if someone has formed such a word, it is never been used in relation to convict transportation to Australia in the 1800's. An appropriate title for this article would be "Penal transportation to Australia". I note that this would be an appropriate link from the article "Penal transportation".Eregli bob (talk) 08:13, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

I couldn't find the word in any of the paper dictionaries that I have here (It's amazing how much you collect in 48 years) or the 2008 Encarta dictionary but I did find a definition at that was sourced from Websters.[1] A google search resulted in 9,940 hits[2], which is a lot more than I thought it would since I've never heard of the word either. I don't think whether or not it's a real word is relevant though. Even if it is a real word, is it appropriate for the title? I don't think it is since it's such an extremely obscure word. I'd certainly agree to an article name change. "Convict transportation to Australia" or "Penal transportation to Australia" both seem more appropriate, with the obvious redirect from "Convictism in Australia" of course. --AussieLegend (talk) 10:12, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
Convictism is a real word, regularly used in Australian historical writing and textbooks. If you can't afford to buy a real dictionary like the SOED, you could at least visit a library.--Grahame (talk) 11:11, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
Our state one, formerly known as Convictism in Western Australia, was renamed to Convict era of Western Australia about a year ago. Would the equivalent title for this one be an improvement? Orderinchaos 11:13, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
As I pointed out, being a real word is irrelevant. The issue is its use as a title. As for "If you can't afford to buy a real dictionary", I threw mine away because it's too big to fit into the glovebox of my new Lamborghini and looks out of place in my library full of first editions. If you've missed my subtle suggestion let me point out that there are lots of reasons why somebody may not have heard of a word and it has nothing to do with education or affluence.
OIC's suggestion also seems appropriate. "Convict era of Australia" is readily recognisable and would be more likely searched for than convictism. --AussieLegend (talk) 11:38, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
I was only addressing the extraordinary claim that there was no such word as convictism, I'm very relaxed about whether or not it is the best word for the title. "Convict era of Australia" would be perfectly acceptable.--Grahame (talk) 12:00, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
As I pointed out at Wikipedia:Australian Wikipedians' notice board, it's not an extraordinary claim. Not everbody is familiar with every word and some legitimate words do seem made up. Browse through a Scrabble dictionary some time. --AussieLegend (talk) 12:10, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

The title has been an issue right from the start; see Wikipedia:Australian Collaboration of the Fortnight/History/Archive 2006#Convictism in Australia. Hesperian 11:39, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Matilda (formerly AYArktos) makes an interesting point in that discussion, ie ""Convict transportation to Australia" wouldn't want to limit merely to getting here. It is what happened to them here, how they were treated, the contributions thay made..." That would make OIC's suggestion preferred IMO. --AussieLegend (talk) 11:48, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
How about just Convicts in Australia? I can confirm that convictism is not in the dictionary that I use, and that is a big heavy one. This suggests that it is a specialised jargon term, that 99.9% of people would not know or use as a search term. I too would suggest that the article is renamed, the current title can be used as a redirect. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 22:21, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I'll move it now, if that's the consensus. I think I may just speedy the old title redirect, as well, if it's not a real word. I've tried 4 dictionaries so far, and none have this listed. --Mizu onna sango15/珊瑚15 22:26, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
Don't speedy the redirect; it is a word. These people aren't complete idiots. Hesperian 02:59, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
I would endorse the sentiment completely having known a few of them - google and dictionaries would be the last place to go on this issue - it is usage within those who have actually worked and researched the area - hence hesperians link in actual fact is far more authoritative - dictionaries and oggle might not pick such a usage for years yet SatuSuro 03:06, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Okay, moving it back... Wow, I am Wikibonked ;P. --Mizu onna sango15/珊瑚15 04:05, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Of course, if I weren't half-asleep, I would have been aware of the fact that you can't move a page to a title which already exsists. Dx We might have to speedy the old title in order to re-move it, or, post it at Requested Moves. Sorry, everyone. --Mizu onna sango15/珊瑚15 04:09, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Don't move it back - it is at the correct title now, just keep the redirect in place. Just because historians may use that title is not a good reason to have it as the title here. The title used should be the one that most people would pick, the term in common use, not necessarily the researchers. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 06:08, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Conventions for naming articles in the Oz project may well insist on lowest common denominators that will get caught easily on oggle - but does not necessarily provide a standard that has to be the rationale for the actual naming articles - surely redirects can sort that out SatuSuro 06:13, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Well OK, there appears to be one use of "convictism" which is in relation to Western Australia. Now in the big picture of Australian history, penal transportation to Western Australia is inconsequential compared to the effect on the history, early economy and demographics of New South Wales and Tasmania. The two noteworthy things about penal tranportation to Western Australia are that , firstly, it continued 25 years after it concluded elsewhere, and secondly, it occured at the request of the local authorities in Western Australia because their struggling colony was close to collapse. The number of convicts transported to Western Australia was small and economically and demographically rather inconsequential compared to New South Wales and Tasmania. So it doesn't surprise me that some parochial post-modernist historian in Perth chooses to use their own obscure terminology for it. If you think "convictism" is a word regularly used in historical writings I would be interested to see some citations for it. Perhaps it refers specifically to the notion that the West Australian authorities and elite actually wanted to import forced labour as a matter of policy, a concept not really applicable in the East which may be why it is not used in relation to writings about New South Wales and Tasmania. The revised title is better but IMHO not the most suitable. There are more than 50,000 convicts in Australia's gaols today but thats clearly not what the article is about. Indeed there are convicts in prisons in countries all around the world. What is distinctive, is the transportation of convicted persons out of one country and into another. Thats the distinctive issue which occured in only a few countries historically, and thats what this article is about. A better title would be "Penal Transportation to Australia" IMHO. Eregli bob (talk) 08:28, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Too many swipes in too many directions to be able to respond to adequately over comments above, no further comment from me - cheers SatuSuro 09:41, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

As the person who created convictism in Western Australia, then moved it to convict era of Western Australia, and who originally proposed the name convictism in Australia, I must say I agree with Eregli bob that convictism in Australia is not a good title, and that convicts in Australia is also not particularly good. It is too bad that EB couldn't make his point without also indulging in a rather aggressive rant. I fear he has scared SatuSuro away from this discussion.
I fear that "penal transportation to Australia" isn't very good either, as to some people it may imply a voyage, rather than the whole convict era/system/establishment. That is the one positive of "convictism": it captures the whole thing like no other word or phrase does.
Mizu: you may as well leave it at the current title, as moving it back won't solve the problem. The point I was making above was that the redirect should not be speedied.
Hesperian 12:18, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

"I doubt that there is such a word as convictism"[edit]

  • Oxford English Dictionary: convictism, the convict system; the system of penal settlements for convicted criminals; this system as embodied in its subjects; the convict class or body.
  • Macquarie Dictionary: convictism, the system of confining convicts in a penal colony, especially in a penal labour settlement, or as assigned servants to free settlers convictism has tended in no small degree to give a distinct...
  • Websters Unabridged Dictionary: convictism, the policy or practice of transporting convicts to penal settlements.
  • Chambers 20th Century Dictionary: convictism, the convict system.
  • Marcus Clarke's For the term of his natural life: "Convictism had established a tacit right to converse in whispers."
  • Manning Clark's A history of Australia: "As though to confirm these fears of what convictism was doing to humanity in New South Wales,...", "At the beginning of 1841 it looked as though squatterdom and convictism were long-term features of the human scene in New South Wales.", "The supporters of convictism seemed to be spoiling for a fight.", "Transportation was dead; convictism lived on.", "Gold provided the occasion for the abolition of transportation but not the means of production with which to allay the ghost of convictism.", "On the mainland the convicts disappeared, but convictism lived on. Churches, hospitals, roads, bridges, plantation families, the vocabulary and the pronunciation of the English language survived as...", "The Bulletin saw both the phenomenon of larrikinism and the severity of the punishments meted out to larrikins as legacies of convictism. During the convict period, they argued on 18 December 1886,...".
  • P. R. Stephenson (1936), "It has presented a larrikin view of Australian life. It has made the larrikin idea paramount, as in an earlier phase convictism was paramount. The larrikin and the convict are not representative..."
  • Stannage (1981) Convictism in Western Australia
  • Langker (1979) The vocabulary of convictism and flash in New South Wales 1788-1850
  • Decker (1964) Public reaction to convictism
  • Mykytiuk (1962) The attitude of the public towards the introduction of convictism in Western Australia.
  • Jeffrey (1893) A burglar's life, or, The stirring adventures of the great English burglar, Mark Jeffrey : a thrilling history of the dark days of convictism in Australia.
  • Connors (1990) The 'birth of the prison' and the death of convictism: the operation of the law in pre-separation Queensland 1839-1859
  • Howitt (1863) Letters on transportation, as the only means of effectual convict reform : partly reprinted from the "Times" the "Morning Advertiser", and "Morning Star"; also letters on the revolting cruelties practised under the game laws, showing these laws to be one of the most prolific sources of convictism
  • Ho (2003), Peter Carey's Jack Maggs and the trauma of convictism
  • Lane (2005) "Deliver Their Land from Error's Chain": Conversion, Convictism and Captivity in Australian Fiction"

I could go on for a while yet. Hesperian 12:58, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

I doubted that dramedy was a word too. ;) --AussieLegend (talk) 15:47, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
This certainly demonstrates that convictism is indeed a real word. The question now is which word is most appropriate to use. For my mind, convictism is the word which most naturally and accurately describes the subject matter of the article, that is, the entire system relating to convicts in Australia, and not just one or several aspects of it. There's no problem in choosing a word which some people might not be aware of so long as we are going for accuracy; we do aim to educate after all, and redirects are cheap. --bainer (talk) 09:00, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
If convictism was indeed "the word which most naturally and accurately describes the subject matter of the article" there would have been no arguments against its use. "Convict era of Australia" is far more natural and since Convict era of Western Australia already exists, after having been changed from convictism,[3] it starts a process of standardisation among articles. --AussieLegend (talk) 09:46, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
maybe it should move back given the above list of convictism usage, additionally era is a poor term given its defined time period, and the article specifies a time them says that it continued for for some time undefined after transportation stopped. Gnangarra 17:22, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that - all can be so easily solved with a few redirects :( SatuSuro 09:05, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Swedish national test[edit]

Hello, I just wanted to tell you that a part of this article was in todays national test in English, preformed at all gymnasiums in Sweden. The source was cited as with a little remark that stated that all the facts had been checked against the corresponding sources. Obviously somebody at The Swedish National Agency for Education found this article to be good reading material! Bluray (talk) 13:46, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

Gallipoli Campaign[edit]

In the article on the Gallipoli Campaign, a text which to us is unable for discussion, i find there is a strong sense of bias, and generalization.

"Increasingly, Australians treat the ANZAC legend as their own, unwittingly excluding their trans-tasman counterparts. John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia, famously shunned[34]the New Zealand ANZAC service at Gallipoli in 2005, preferring instead to spend his morning at a barbeque on the beach with Australian soldiers. In 2009, New Zealand historians noted that some Australian children were unaware that New Zealand was a part of ANZAC."

This is only a small portion of what I believe, is an incorrect and seemingly bias article. It must have been written by one of England or New Zealand, considering that parts of the text seem to shy from what could be the truth.

This is just an opinion...

Just have a look and see what you think

Jack--John B. Oliver (talk) 12:31, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Political Prisoners[edit]

I can't see anything about political prisoners other than the inclusion of John Mitchel in the famous convicst list. How about a section called 'Political prisoners' following the 'Women' section?Lucy1958 (talk) See this webpage for ideas [4].Lucy1958 (talk) 05:37, 17 November 2009 (UTC) I have added a couple of sentences about political prisoners. I realise a webpage for family historians isn't exactly a scholastic source but I've tried to improve it by adding links to other Wikipedia articles which themselves have references. I've kept it small as otherwise it would be out of proportion to the rest of the article. Feel free to improve. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lucy1958 (talkcontribs) 23:57, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Do we really need refs for famous convicts list??[edit]

All bar one convict is linked to their own article, and I have added a reference to the one who isn't. There are references within the linked articles. Lucy1958 (talk) 00:32, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Reference given contradicts article?[edit]

From the article: "For example, Michael Hammond and his sister, Ann, whose ages were given as 7 and 11, were reportedly hanged at King's Lynn on Wednesday, 28 September 1708 for theft.". However, following the link in the reference I could see no confirmation. On the contrary, elsewhere on the site ( we are told that the parish records suggest that they were 17 and 20. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:08, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Factually wrong information on this article[edit]

This article is titled convicts in Australia and talks about the transport and setting up of convicts in Australia, but the fact is that Australia did not even exist until 1901. Previous to 1901 the land that is now Australia was legally only colonies of Britain. The last convicts to be transported to these British colonies was 1868. Thats 32 years before the country of Australia even existed. As such this article is totally false, wrong, misleading and misinformation.Aussialad29 (talk) 11:26, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

I will cite the reference here from the Australian Government that clarifies that Australia did not exist before 1901 and the land was British Colonies.... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aussialad29 (talkcontribs) 11:30, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

The term "Australia" was used from the early 1800s after Matthew Flinders' circumnaviagation. Both Denison and Fitzroy were named as Governor-Generals of Australia prior to the federation of the colonies...--Jack Upland (talk) 08:42, 31 January 2015 (UTC)

Is Sydney in Botany Bay or not?[edit]

It says in the article:

After James Cook's famous voyage to the South Pacific in which he visited and claimed the east coast of Australia in the name of the British Empire, he described Botany Bay, the bay on which present-day Sydney sits, as an ideal place to establish a settlement...The fleet arrived at Botany Bay on 20 January 1788. It soon became clear that it would not be suitable for the establishment of a colony, and the group relocated to Port Jackson. There they established the first permanent European colony on the Australian continent, New South Wales, on 26 January. The area has since developed into Sydney.

This doesn't make sense. They went to Botany Bay, decided it wasn't suitable and relocated to Port Jackson, which became present-day Sydney, which sits in Botany Bay. What on Earth is that supposed to mean? That the bay itself wasn't suitable for settlement as it was full of water? Richerman (talk) 10:29, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

you are entirely correct. Sydney does not sit in Botany Bay, it sits on Port Jackson. Will change it in the article. Also, it was Banks who most notably described Botany Bay as the ideal place for a settlement, not Cook. Will find the reference and add this also. -- Euryalus (talk) 11:11, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
These days Botany is Sydney's port, not Port Jackson...--Jack Upland (talk) 08:40, 31 January 2015 (UTC)
True re the commercial seaport location, but the city of Sydney proper is on the shoreline of Port Jackson, as was the convict settlement that Arthur Phillip named Sydney in 1788. -- Euryalus (talk) 09:03, 31 January 2015 (UTC)
I've expanded the section to clarify why they relocated and how far they moved. I've also added citations, which is something this article is very short of. When sections in an article refer back to other articles they still need to have their own citations. Richerman (talk) 12:00, 31 January 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to 2 external links on Convicts in Australia. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true to let others know.

Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 13:12, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Convicts in Australia. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 20:21, 29 February 2016 (UTC)