Jane New

Convict woman, transported per Henry (1825) who was the subject of a high profile legal case after being detained at the Parramatta Female Factory. “The matter,” wrote a reporter in The Australian at the time, “involves a most important point, that is to say, whether or no [the New South Wales Act of Parliament] vests in the Governor an unlimited control over the persons of prisoners, whether assigned servants, holding tickets of leave, or in the service of the Crown.”


  • Alternate: Maria Wilkinson
  • Alternate: Jane Henrie
  • Alternate: Frances Dixon
  • Alternate: Mrs. Jones


  • Daughter of Elizabeth Wilkinson (convict per Grenada (1825))
  • Spouse of James New

An Irresistible Temptation: The True Story of Jane New and a Colonial Scandal (2008)

By Carol Baxter

Abstract: Seduction, dramatic escapes, embezzlement and political intrigue aplenty in this story of the convict, Jane New, and the scandal that rocked Australia’s early colony to its core. In 1829 at the Supreme Court in Sydney, the bewitching Jane New was sentenced to death. Her crime: shoplifting a bolt of printed French silk. But was she guilty? Many had their doubts. Although a legal technicality soon quashed Jane’s sentence, the autocratic Governor Ralph Darling refused to set her free. Like bees to the honey pot, the gentlemen of Sydney swarmed to Jane’s defence including barrister and political agitator William Charles Wentworth and Supreme Court Registrar John Stephen Jr, who were both vigorous and manipulative in their appeals to set her free.

An Irresistible Temptation is set against the backdrop of a particularly divisive period in colonial New South Wales. Not only did the scandal titillate Sydney and its legal and political ramifications push the colony to the brink of a constitutional crisis, but it contributed to the savagery of Governor Darling’s public vilification and bestowed upon Jane New a place in the annals of Australian colonial history. Compelling and fast-paced, An Irresistible Temptation is a meticulously researched history that takes us from the court docks of industrialising England, to Tasmania’s raw penal settlement, the rough-house world of Sydney’s Rocks, the Parramatta Female Factory, and eventually back to the rarefied atmosphere of Britain’s House of Commons.

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Convicts, Thieves, Domestics, and Wives in Colonial Australia: The Rebellious Lives of Ellen Murphy and Jane New (2012)

By Caroline Anne Forell

Abstract: This article examines the lives of two female convicts who rebelled against the law and the Australian penal system in the early nineteenth century. It follows Ellen Murphy and Jane New from their first arrests through their experiences with and exits from the penal system. As thieves, convicts, domestics, and wives, Ellen and Jane interacted repeatedly with the law. Both the notorious Jane (who was the subject of a habeas corpus action), and the more representative Ellen, began thieving as young teenagers in the teeming cities of England. The law arrested, tried, and convicted them. Next it transported them to Van Diemen’s Land (now, Tasmania). It then unsuccessfully attempted to manage their lives.

The law influenced convict women’s choices in more overt ways than it did free women although, as this article discusses, many similarities existed between the legal disabilities imposed on both groups and, on occasion, as with Jane New, the law doubly disabled convict women because they were assigned to their husbands. Nevertheless, Ellen and Jane’s interactions with the law illustrate how convict women were able to make meaningful choices even in the heavily regulated penal systems of Governors Arthur of Van Diemen’s Land and Darling of New South Wales. Full Text Available Here>>