Catherine McMahon

A Remarkable Convict Woman

By Damian King, Liz Schroeder

This is the meticulously researched, 19th-century story of Catherine McMahon, a convict who served time on Van Dimen's Land (Tasmania) during the mid-1800s. Catherine's life includes being married to two husbands - John Copely and Thomas May. Catherine's first husband, John Copley, was a Yorkshire man who was convicted of stealing sheep and served time on Norfolk Island before meeting and marrying Catherine. Catherine and John struggled for permission to marry, established a business, were later declared insolvent, and then moved illegally to the state of Victoria in Australia. They lived and raised a family on the Victorian goldfields before selecting land at Jallukar, near Stawell. Their lives, pre- and post-convict, give a detailed picture of the times, up until John died in 1876. Catherine sold the land in 1888 and three years later married Thomas May, who was also a convict. When Thomas died 12 years later, he left Catherine one shilling in his will. This treatment towards the surviving Catherine ended up influencing the outcome of a local election. It had so outraged the people that - as a political consequence - the local vote was swayed to elect the suffragist Vida Goldstein, who was running for Australia's Parliament. Catherine moved to Menzies in the Western Australian goldfields in 1904 and died there in December 1906.

320 pages

Publication Date: 7/1/2012
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781921719509