Mary McLauchlan “First Woman Executed in Hobart Town”

Mary McLauchlan arrived in Hobart Town on 14 January 1829 and was sent to the Female Factory. She was onboard the first ship of women sent to the Female Factory in Hobart. Mary had been found guilty of theft in Glasgow and sentenced to 14 years transportation. The story goes she was trying to protect her husband Will Sutherland, who was the primary suspect.

Mary was soon appointed to Mr Charles Nairne in the Coal River Valley as a domestic servant. She became pregnant but Mary would not name the father. It was illegal to be pregnant as a convict servant. Once Nairne realised Mary was pregnant she was returned to the Female Factory where she was placed into solitary confinement. Mary was fed only bread and water in the awful conditions at the female prison.

After release from solitary she was designated as a Class C prisoner. The lowest status of prisoner.

Read about the Cascades Female Factory

Was Her Baby Stillborn or was he Murdered?

On December 3, Mary gave birth to a boy. There were no witnesses to the birth and the baby was discovered dead. Was the baby stillborn or was he murdered? 

Mary was accused of murder.

At her trial on 15 April 1830 Mary had no lawyer and did not speak. Chief Justice Pedder presumed her guilty of infanticide. She was sentenced to be hanged at Hobart Gaol. Lieutenant Governor Arthur thought this was a bad look for the fledging colony and sought for Mary’s life to be spared. Chief Justice Pedder advised him to not interfere in legal matters.

On 19 April 1830 Mary became the first woman hanged in Van Diemen’s Land.

Her body was sent to Hobart Hospital for dissection. Later, her remains were buried in St David’s cemetery in Hobart Town.

You can find previous Convicts of Van Diemen’s Land stories below:

Solomon Blay – The Hangman

Billy Hunt – The Convict in Disguise

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