Mary Josephine Mercelin (1795–1834)

MARY JOSEPHINE MERCELIN and her husband, “hairdresser and bird stuffer” (taxidermist) LOUIS MERCELIN (1793–1865), were two of three Mauritian convicts transported per brig Dart (1833) and MARY JOSEPHINE was one of only seven female Mauritians who came to the colony overall.

The MERCELINS had been tried and convicted on 18 September 1833 in Port Louis, Isle de France (Mauritius) for “night theft & receiving stolen goods,” and “giving asylum to slaves, Charles and Hypolite” and were sentenced to seven years transportation. The third prisoner on board Dart (1833) was cook and house servant PAUL NANINE, also a native of Mauritius, who was found guilty of burglary on 26 September 1833.

MARY JOSEPHINE was recorded as having two sons and three daughters at home in Mauritius and was also recorded as “pregnant” on arrival in the colony of New South Wales, which would explain why she was forwarded to the Parramatta Female Factory. She lasted only a few months, dying at the Parramatta Female Factory on 5 June 1834. She was buried in an unmarked grave in the parish of St. John’s, Parramatta on 6 June 1834.

MARY’s husband LOUIS was described as a man of 5 feet and 4 ¼ inches with a dark copper-coloured, pockpitted complexion, black hair and dark hazel eyes. His two middle upper front teeth were apart, he had a small mole on his left cheek, ears pierced for rings, two hearts inside lower right arm. He had a scar betwixt the knuckles of fourth and little fingers of his right hand. The middle finger of his right hand was contracted. In 1838, he married another Mauritian convict woman who went by the name of ELIZA FIGARO (b. 1823, Port Louis). They had a large number of children (Note: their marriage record has not been found). LOUIS successfully applied for permission to marry a third woman, a seventeen-year-old free woman named MARY LEES on 3 October 1839, but this was later refused when it was discovered he was already a married man and not a widow, as he had evidently claimed.


Names

  • Alternate: JOSEPHINE MERCELIN
  • Alternate: JOSEPHINE MARCELLINE (c.f. convict death register)
  • Alternate: JOSEPHINE MARY
  • Alternate: MARY JOSEPHINE MARCELIN
  • Possible alias: CAROLINE CURET (c.f. Gaol Entrance Record, ship, year of arrival, birth year, and physical description including height are all exactly the same).

Timeline

  • Tried and convicted for “night theft and receiving stolen goods” and “giving asylum to slaves, Charles and Hypolite”: 18 September, Port Louis, Islde de France (Mauritius)
  • Sailed to the colony of New South Wales per Dart: 8 October 1833, Isle de France (Mauritius)
  • Arrived in the colony of New South Wales per Dart: 31 December 1833, Port Jackson
  • Admitted to Sydney Gaol:
  • Died: 5 June 1834, Parramatta Female Factory
  • Buried: 6 June 1834, St. John’s Parish, Parramatta

Burial Location

  • Unmarked grave, exact location in the parish of St. John’s, Parramatta unknown.

Relationships

  • Wife of LOUIS MERCELIN, married in Port Louis, Isle de France (Mauritius) < 1833.
  • Mother of unidentified male MERCELIN, Port Louis, Isle de France, Mauritius
  • Mother of unidentified male MERCELIN, Port Louis, Isle de France, Mauritius
  • Mother of unidentified female MERCELIN, Port Louis, Isle de France, Mauritius
  • Mother of unidentified female MERCELIN, Port Louis, Isle de France, Mauritius
  • Mother of unidentified female MERCELIN, Port Louis, Isle de France, Mauritius

Occupation

  • Washerwoman
  • Needlewoman

Religion

  • Catholic

Description

  • Recorded age on arrival: 38 years
  • Height: 5 feet and 1¼ inches
  • Make: Stout
  • Complexion: Copper colour “woman of colour”
  • Hair: Black
  • Eyes: Dark Brown / Hazel
  • Former convictions: none
  • Education: none (could neither read nor write)
  • General Remarks: Large scar left cheekbone, small scar left side of lower lip, scar knuckle of left thumb. Pregnant. Husband MARCELIN by same ship.

Multimedia

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The small building to the left of the big blue doors was the “dead house” at the Parramatta Female Factory. Photo: Michaela Ann Cameron (2014)

Sources

Primary Sources
  • Home Office, Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania, HO 10, Piece: 52, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).
  • New South Wales Government, Annotated printed indents (i.e., office copies), NRS 12189, Item:[X635], Reel 707, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Butts of Certificates of Freedom, NRS 1165, 1166, 1167, 12208, 12210, Reels 601, 602, 604, 982-1027, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales).
  • New South Wales Government, Convict Death Register, Series 12213, Reel 690, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Description books [Sydney Gaol], Series: 2517, Reel: 855, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Indents First Fleet, Second Fleet and Ships, NRS 1150, Reels 620–624, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Registers of convicts’ applications to marry, Series 12212, Item: 4/4513, Page: 119, (Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia: State Records Authority of New South Wales).
  • Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
  • SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. ARRIVALS,” Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 – 1842), Thursday 2 January 1834, p. 2.
Secondary Sources
  • Clare Anderson, “Unfree Labour and Its Discontents: Transportation from Mauritius to Australia, 1825–1845,” Australian Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, (Summer, 1999): 116–133.
  • James Bradley and Cassandra Pybus, “From Slavery to Servitude: The Australian Exile of Elizabeth and Constance,” Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol. 9, (2007): 29–50.
  • Edward Duyker, Of the Star and the Key: Mauritius, Mauritians and Australia, (Sylvania, NSW: Australian Mauritian Research Group, 1988).

Lists

# Convict

# Mauritian

# Slave

# Punishment: Seven Years Transportation

# Ship: Dart (1833)

# Parramatta Female Factory

# Death Place: Parramatta Female Factory

# Burial year: 1834

# Grave: unmarked