In the management of female convicts the governors of NSW faced many problems and the female factory was seen as a solution to the 'problem' of protecting women and harnessing their economic power. The factory was also a means of regulating and controlling the use and disbursement of female convicts and punishing the criminal. It was destined to become a workhouse and labour bureau, marriage bureau and regulator of morality, gaol and hospital.
Unfortunately not many records have survived of the running of the Female Factory or its inmates:
- Joan Reese has compiled an Index to the Female Factory Parramatta, 1826-48, Fiche 5290-5291 which is available in both reading rooms.
- Some of the women may be mentioned in the Colonial Secretary's Papers 1788-1825, which can be searched under the 'Parramatta, Female Factory' or by individual names.
Also of interest:
- NRS 12228, Principle Superintendent of Convicts: Record of females discharged, Oct 1846-Apr 1848 [6/5347 part], Reel 2802
- NRS 12229, Female Factory, Parramatta: Medical case book, 1846-Mar 1848 [6/5350 part]
It may also be possible to locate records relating to the children of the women in the Female Factory. Most of the factory women lost contact with their children over four years of age when they were sent to the orphan school. The Female Orphan School was established 1801 and marked the first initiative by the colonial government to care for destitute, abandoned or orphaned girls. In 1818 the Orphan School moved from its first premises in George Street to Parramatta. The first Male Orphan School was opened in 1819 on the site of the first Female Orphan School in George Street, Sydney. The Male Orphan School was moved to Cabramatta in 1823. With the increase of female immigrants the orphan school became too crowded so all the children over one year had to attend the Infant school within the Factory.
This content was first published in Now&Then Issue 19 April 2006.