Ann Unwin (born ca. 1787), a convict, was transported to New South Wales on the Midas (1825) with two of her children, James aged 15 and Kitty aged 11. Having been convicted of a colonial crime in 1834, she was sent to Moreton Bay where she remained until the penal settlement closed in 1839. After returning to Sydney, Ann served several terms of imprisonment in Sydney gaols.

Ann Osborn was born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands in about 1787. However, she was convicted at the Portsmouth Quarter Sessions at Southampton on 7 April 1825 as Ann Unwin, so had made the move to England and married Thomas Unwin prior to this date. Hampshire newspapers carry multiple reports regarding petty offences committed over a long period by Ann Unwin, her husband Thomas Unwin, and Ann’s mother Catherine Osborn.

Indeed, the Hampshire Telegraph reported in 1804, when Ann was about seven years old, that she and her mother, Catherine Osborn, had been convicted of separate thefts, but that Ann was pardoned while her mother was sentenced to seven years’ transportation. Catherine Osborn arrived in New South Wales on the ship William Pitt (1806). In an 1810 petition, seeking to be reunited with her ‘large family in England’, Catherine stated that she had been born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

Twenty-one years later, Ann Unwin was transported to Sydney on the Midas (1825) accompanied by her children, 15-year-old James and 11-year-old Kitty. After committing several minor offences, Ann was convicted in the Sydney Supreme Court of stealing £13 from her employer, Mrs Jane Barker of Hunter Street, on 8 November 1834. She received a life sentence and was transported to Moreton Bay, arriving on the vessel Isabella on 1 January 1835. In May 1839, when the penal settlement closed and the remaining female convicts were returned to Sydney, Ann was one of five women chosen to remain behind as assigned servants to the officials overseeing Moreton Bay’s transition to free settlement.

Ann Unwin finally departed Moreton Bay in November 1839 (six months after the other women), sailing to Sydney on board the Curlew. She appears to have remained in Sydney for the rest of her life as she was sent to gaol several times for the theft of small items, including in 1852 when she would have been about 65 years old. In that instance, Ann was indicted for stealing a pair of slippers from James Bale of George Street, Sydney and, having been found guilty by a jury, was sentenced to four months’ hard labour.


Jan Richardson, ‘Ann Unwin (ca. 1787 –     )’, Harry Gentle Resource Centre, Griffith University, 2022,

Archival Resources

NSWSA, Indent, NRS 12188, Item 4/4009A, Microfiche 657, p. 261* [sic].

Ann Unwin per Midas (1825).

NSWSA, Ticket of Leave, NRS 12202, Item 4/4135, Reel 935.

Ann Unwin per Midas (1825), Ticket No. 40/53.

NSWSA, Certificate of Freedom, NRS 12210, Item 4/4325, Reel 993.

Ann Unwin per Midas (1825), Ticket No. 34/1445, 20 Oct 1834.

QSA, Chronological Register of Convicts at Moreton Bay, Item ID ITM869689.

Ann Unwin per Midas (1825), Prisoner No. 88, p. 90.

NSWSA, Colonial Secretarys Papers, Petitions to the Governor from convicts for mitigation of sentences, NRS 900.

Petition of Catherine Osborn per William Pitt (1806), Sydney, 15 Feb 1810, p. 172.


Jennifer Harrison, Shackled: Female Convicts at Moreton Bay 1826-1839.

Melbourne: Anchor Books, 2016.


Invisible stories: The presence of female convicts in Queensland following the closure of the Moreton Bay penal settlement in 1842. Jan Richardson, History in the Making, vol 2, no. 2, 2013, pp. 86-108.


"Hampshire Telegraph", 16 Apr 1804, p. 3 (via British Library Newspapers).

"Hampshire Telegraph", 10 Sep 1804, p. 3 (via British Library Newspapers).

"Hampshire Telegraph", 14 Apr 1817, p. 4 (via British Library Newspapers).

"Hampshire Advertiser", 11 Apr 1825, p. 3 (via British Library Newspapers).

"Hampshire Chronicle", 11 Apr 1825, p. 3 (via British Library Newspapers).

Domestic intelligence continued, Monitor (Sydney), 29 Oct 1827, p. 8.

Principal Superintendent of Convicts Office, Sydney Gazette, 3 Feb 1831, p. 4.

Police incidents, Sydney Gazette, 4 Sep 1834, p. 2.

Supreme Criminal Court, Sydney Gazette, 4 Nov 1834, p. 2.

Police lists, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Jan 1843, p. 2.

Domestic intelligence, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Mar 1843, p. 2.

Police Court business - Friday, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Mar 1846, p. 2.

Stealing a parasol, Sydney Chronicle, 25 Mar 1848, p. 3.

Sydney Quarter Sessions, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 May 1852, p. 2.

Online Resources

Convict Records website, entry for Ann Unwin per Midas (1825).

QSA, Chronological Register of Convicts at Moreton Bay, Item ID ITM869689.

Griffith University, Prosecution Project, Trial ID 569129.