As well as the more intriguing characters that appeared at City Hall’s courtrooms over the years, there were also sad stories such as that of Hannah Jory.
Hannah Jory first appeared before City Hall’s courts in February 1838 at the age of 27. The case concerned the suspicious death of a child who lived two doors away from Hannah and her children, with the mother, who was Hannah’s friend, being accused of causing her daughter’s death. However, it was only a year later in March 1839 that Hannah returned to the courts as a suspect herself. It was thus reported in the West Britton that Jory, who by this time had turned to prostitution after becoming a widow, had picked the pockets of a carpenter.
By November of the same year, Hannah had again appeared before the courts with another charge of pickpocketing, although this was eventually dropped due to insufficient evidence. Nevertheless, by January 1940 Hannah, who was now described as being ‘very familiar with the inside of a gaol’ had been sentenced to three months hard labour due to ‘being drunk and behaving in a riotous and disruptive manner.’ Only 8 months later was she again charged which the same crime, which resulted in her being committed to the house of correction for three months hard labour; a charge and punishment which she was to again repeat only a year later.
A photo of female convicts from the United Kingdom in New South Wales, Australia at a similar time to Hannah’s forced emigration. Photo via The Big Smoke
However, on the 1st of July 1842, Hannah’s world was turned upside down. Describing her as ‘a notorious character in Truro’, the West Britton reported that Hannah was charged with stealing ten shillings from Robert Liddicoat on the streets of Truro on the 11th of May. After already acquiring a bounty of similar charges, the judge at Bodmin Quarter Sessions decided that the only punishment left for Hannah was that of ten years transportation. Hannah was reported as having ‘burst into tears’ at the decision, before begging ‘for mercy’s sake, that she might be allowed to have her dear child with her’, although this was to no avail.
The Great Tasmania, a convict ship carrying female prisoners to Tasmania in the 1840s and 1850s.
On the 2nd October 1842, Hannah left her two young children for Tasmania on a ship carrying 191 female convicts, of which only 182 survived. After a voyage of 110 days, Hannah finally arrived and began her sentence at the Launceston Female Factory where women were put to work as seamstresses and laundresses. The facility was overcrowded and an overall poor standard of living was observed there, which led to frequent rioting amongst the women. After only serving a year of her sentence, Hannah Jory sadly passed away on the 21st of March 1844 at the age of 33. Her children were never to see their mother again.