Report on Female Factory

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
17 June 1841


Present—The Governor, the Lord Bishop, the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General, the Collector of Customs, the Auditor-General, Mr CAMPBELL, Mr BERRY, Mr JONES, Mr BLAXLAND, Sir JOHN JAMISON, and Mr JAMES MACARTHUR.

Before the Orders of the Day were called on, his Excellency said he had to present to the Council two short Bills, to which he had already alluded on the first day of their meeting.


His Excellency said, that the next Bill he had to present was a very short one, but still it was of some importance. The Council would remember, that in 1839, when Moreton Bay was thrown open, they passed an Act to provide for the punishment of female convicts, who, having arrived in this colony under sentences of transportation, were again convicted, and who up to that period had been sentenced to transportation to a penal settlement; it became necessary at that time to look for some other mode of punishment for these female offenders, and the Council had assented to his (the Governor’s) proposition, that power should be given to justices of the peace and to the various courts to order such offenders to be confined in the Female Factory for periods according to their offences. This, however, he had not deeded sufficient, for it was the condition of all females transported; and some additional punishment was looked for; power was given by this Act to the magistrates and the various courts to order, in addition to confinement in the factory, that the female prisoners so convicted in the colony, should be confined in solitary dark cells for a period not exceeding twenty-one days. The Bill had gone home, had been referred by the Secretary of State to the Inspectors of Prisons, and they had objected to the word “dark,” and in consequence the Secretary of State had desired him to introduce a Bill which should have the effect of annulling this word dark; in every other respect the Bill was approved of. After some further observations as to the effect of the confinement in the dark cells at Parramatta, which was not regarded by those who had experienced it, as a great aggravation of the imprisonment, his Excellency laid upon the Table various papers, consisting of correspondence upon the subject between the Secretary of State and the Inspectors of Prisons at home, which were read to the Council. At the conclusion of these, his Excellency commented upon the inaccuracy of the remarks of the Prison Inspectors as regarded the size of the cells at Parramatta, and referred to the inconvenience of constructing them according to the plans of these Inspectors, as evinced in the new gaol at Darlinghurst, where six prisoners have ample room and convenience in a cell which was designed for one only.

The Bill to amend the Act formerly passed, by taking away the word dark, was read a first time and ordered to be read again on Tuesday next.

See Original: “LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL—PUNISHMENT OF FEMALE CONVICTS,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Thursday 17 June 1841, p.2