Margaret Taylor (nee Jones) - Dairymaid

The Dairymaid's Occupation
Print made by John Faber, 1695–1756, Netherlandish, active in Britain after Philippe Mercier, 1689 or 1691–1760, Franco-German, active in Britain (from 1716)
This work of art is believed to be in the public domain or has no known copyright restrictions.
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund

This blog post is a combination of research conducted as part of a course undertaken earlier this year with the University of Tasmania into my convict ancestry and a bit of musing on my part since then. Margaret Taylor (nee Jones) was my 3x great-grandmother on my maternal side of the family. 
An article in The Liverpool Mercury dated 24 October 1828 [1] reported that Margaret Jones, Ann Tierney and William Wakefield were sentenced to be transported for seven years for an extensive robbery of the property of Christopher Buckle at the Quarter Sessions on Monday.  

 Lancaster Castle by srietzke on Flickr(link is externalSome rights reserved.  Creative Commons Licence(link is external).
The prison where Margaret Taylor (nee Jones) and Ann Tierney are most likely to have been housed before their departure on
 The Sovereign.

Margaret and her associate Ann aka Mary Ann Tierney were both sentenced to seven years transportation for larceny. [2] William Wakefield was also sentenced to seven years transportation but no record can be found of him on convict indents or similar sources.
Margaret Taylor (née Jones) c1808-1875 originally hailed from Wales. The convict indent from The Sovereign shows her origin as Caernarvonshire. [3] However, recent research in the area where Margaret and her husband Samuel lived near Lake George New South Wales has produced possible links to another Jones family who were from Carmarthenshire. [4]  Is it possible that the indent recorder misheard Carmarthenshire and recorded Caernarvonshire by accident?  
This is a transcription of the information recorded on the Indent:
Name: Jones, Margaret 
Age: 20 
Education: rw 
Religion: Protestant
Single or Married: Single
Family: Nil
Native Place: Carnarvonshire 
Trade or Calling: Dairy & Housemaid 
Offense: Pick Pocket 
Where Tried: Liverpool 20 October 1828 
Sentence: 7 years 
Former Conviction: none
Height:5 feet 2 1/2 inches
Complexion: ruddy
Hair Colour: brown
Eye Colour: Hazel
Other distinguishing features: horizontal scar over left eye. MJ (the J is written back to front by the recorder) on upper part of R arm. Ring mark on right middle fingers.
How disposed of and remarks: Mrs Cox of Richmond.

Margaret and Ann had to wait six months before The Sovereign left the Downs on 23 April 1829.  There were 119 convict women on board as well as 22 children.  Most of the passengers arrived safely in Sydney on 3rd August 1829 - a journey of 102 days.  It was captained by William McKellar and the surgeon was Dr George Fairfowl.  The Sovereign was built at Hull in 1814 and weighed 398 tons. [5]
The journey from Liverpool to the convict ship at The Downs was not without drama as outlined by Dr Fairfowl in his medical journal. [6] Mary Williams aged 33 was brought on board with a gash in her leg and the incident which led to the injury was described as follows:
It appears that she and seven others were brought up from Liverpool chained together on the top of a stagecoach which was overturned in the night and the whole precipitated into the road.  
Margaret's skills as a Dairymaid would have been highly valued in the new colony.  
As Mary Casey observes:
"Dairying was essential for the food requirements of the colony, for the production of milk, cream, butter and cheese."  
Casey also notes that "a surplus... provided a source of income through its sale or barter". [7]
As a domestic servant/dairymaid, Margaret's hours would have been long and the work hard.  
The Reports of Special Assistant Poor Law Commissioners on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture published in 1843 (which you can read/download here on Google) records on Page 125 a memorandum from a farmer in Worcestershire who says:
"From April to November there is most to do in a dairy-farm; May and June the busiest time. As far as the woman superintending the diary is concerned, the first thing done in the morning is to skim the milk, empty the skimmed milk into the cheese-tub, and prepare the milk vessels for the new milk, which is brought into the dairy by five or six o'clock; after which, with the assistance of her servant, she prepares a portion of the skimmed milk for the calves, and makes the remainder into cheese.  Two days a-week she has butter to make, two days she goes to market, and the other two she is occupied in the cheese-room.  These different matters occupy the middle of the day.  In the evening the milk is to be skimmed, and the new milk put into its proper vessels, and the calves to be again attended to.....The dairy-maid's age is from 20 to 30.  She is employed from 12 to 14 hours a-day; her work is even more laborious than the superintendent's, but without any bad effect on the health.  The wages of the dairy-maid is from 8l. to 10l. a year, with board and maintenance.
Anee Cobbett's The English Housekeeper: Or, Manual of Domestic Management published in 1851 allocates an entire chapter to The Dairy and the work of the Dairymaid.  Here is an extract:
"Those persons who have excelled in dairy work, have generally learnt their business when quite young, as a knowledge of it is not to be hastily acquired. Good dairy maids are always fond of their occupation, for it is not, except in large dairies, a very laborious one, and is not attended with the disagreeables and the vexations which so frequently occur in the occupation of a cook maid.  The great art of butter and cheese making, consists in extreme care and scrupulous cleanliness...."
There would have been little opportunity for relief from supervision working in the private sector. It is imagined that the Mrs Cox of Richmond was in fact the wife of William Cox, the famous explorer and grazier.  Cox's biography states that:
His large estate at Clarendon near Windsor had all the appearance of a self-contained village. Over fifty convict servants acted as smiths, tanners, harness makers, wool sorters, weavers, butchers, tailors and herdsmen. [8]
 Overgrown ruins of Clarendon House, a single storey timber and brick homestead, built by William Cox, c. 1804-1806. From negative in Mitchell Library Frank Walker Collection ON 150, Item 846. Copyright expired. Permission to reproduce image from RAHS.

Margaret would have witnessed the flooding of the Hawkesbury in April 1830.  It swept away "families, dwellings, everything in its course...." [9] including bridges, further increasing Margaret's isolation in a strange new country.
The next occasion on which Margaret is found in official records is when she is sentenced to the 3rd class factory for one month due to drunkenness on 27th August 1831. [10]  
It is imagined from accounts outlined in J.C. Byrne's Twelve Years' Wanderings in the British Colonies, from 1835 to 1847 or James Mudie's The Felonry of New South Wales that Samuel Taylor, recently freed from servitude, [11] made his way to the Female Factory looking for a wife. [12] [13] Margaret must have thought it a good match for the two applied to be married. [14] The application was swiftly approved and they were married on 3rd April 1832 at the Heber Chapel, Cobbity near Narellan. [15]

Trove, Female penitentiary or factory, Parramata [i.e. Parramatta], N.S. Wales [picture] / [Augustus Earle],
c. 1826

Over the next 18 years Margaret gave birth to eight children that we know of.  [16] 
Samuel is described variously as a stockman and then a grazier on the children's birth certificates.  [17] [18]
Articles in the local paper occasionally draw attention to the size or quality of their livestock or produce on their farm.  [19] [20]
It is difficult to know whether Margaret was able to continue her occupation as a dairymaid with such a large family.  The country in which she and Samuel were living near Yass was more sheep country than dairy country.  Newspaper articles supplied to me recently from the Yass HIstorical Society indicate that Samuel also seems to have had a fondness for mustering and trading in horses.  I also can't imagine how Margaret would have been able to maintain the hygenic conditions required for dairying when they lived in presumably quite primitive conditions.  
Sally McMurry's article Women's Work in Agriculture: Divergent Trends in England and America, 1800 to 1930 in Comparative Studies in Society and History / Volume 34 / Issue 02 / April 1992, pp 248-270 gives the following insight:
"For many dairywomen, cheesemaking frequently imposed conflict with family obligations.  This is reflected in the recollections of someone who grew up in a Somerset cheesemaking household: When we were all young, Mother couldn' leave the cheese tubs tuh see us.  When the cheese were fast she had tuh be there...We used tuh go in an' say, "Mam, We'm hungry. We Wan' summit tuh eat." An' if the curd was forward enough she'd hit a piece off an' say, "ere, push this in thee mouth and geedon out.  I ab'n got time to play withee now." (quoted in Chris Howell, Memories of Cheddar (Chilcompton, Chris Howell, 1984). 89.

In a newspaper article from 1858, Margaret is censured for falling of her horse in a state of intoxication, despite her advanced years.  She broke three ribs and dislocated her shoulder which would have made life rather difficult without the comforts of today's automated household appliances and probably at least four children still at home. [21]
Margaret and Samuel were not alone in their vice.  Errol Lea-Scarlett's account of the district is as follows:
The Queanbeyan court, at all events, abated one widespread social evil at Gundaroo, and that was drunkenness, a fault created largely by the isolation and loneliness of convicts assigned to remote properties, coupled with the total absence of social contacts for the poorer classes. [22]
Both Margaret and her companion Ann Tierney were marginalised by society as women of the lowest class, tarred with the stain of their convict heritage and above all isolated through lack of social connections or hope of a better future.  Laudanum or alcohol gave them temporary or permanent release from their grim circumstances. 
Samuel and Margaret Taylor gravestone Yass Cemetery. Private collection.
[1] Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Friday, October 24, 1828; Issue 909. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900.
[2] England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Projectcontributors. Original Data:Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales; Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, Series HO 26 and HO 27; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.Class: HO 27; Piece: 35; Page: 430
[3] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Projectcontributors. Original data:New South Wales Government. Bound manuscript indents, 1788–1842. NRS 12188, microfiche 614–619,626–657, 660–695. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.
[4] Trove. "Family Notices" The Sydney Morning Herald, December 7, 1903, p.6 accessed June 14, 2016, - Death of Ann JONES relict of the late Rees Jones in her 94th year at Taemas, Yass.  [Note from author: Taemas was the property that Samuel Taylor claimed in 1838.  Rees Jonesm, auctioneer and former Mayor of Yass in 1875, was brother to David Jones of David Jones Pty Ltd fame.  David was, according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, one of nine children and came from Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire in Wales and the son of Thomas and Nancy Jones.  Baptismal records for children called Rees and Margaret of Thomas and Nancy Jones in Llandeilo have been located through Find My Past.  Margaret of Thomas and Nancy Jones was born in 1806.  Margaret Taylor (nee Jones) was born c. 1808.]
[5] Bateson, Charles, The Convict Ships 1787-1868, NSW: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1974, pp.348-349
[6] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals; Reference Number: ADM 101/69/1
[7] Casey, Mary 'Local Pottery and Dairying at the DMR Site, Brickfields, Sydney, New South Wales',Australasian Historical Archaeology, 17 (1999), pp. 3-26
[8] Hickson, Edna, 'William Cox', The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 1 (MUP), 1966
[9] Trove. "Floods" The Australian, April 16, 1830, p. 3, accessed June 14, 2016,
[10] New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 , Provo, UT, USA Operations Inc. 2012 . Original Data: State Archives NSW; Roll: 851
[11] "Convicts & Characters Of The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct". 2016. Parragirls.Org.Au. Extract from Twelve Years' Wanderings in the British Colonies, from 1835-1847, J.C. Byrne accessed June 14, 2016
[12] Conner, James, The Life of Samuel Taylor and Margaret Jones, Unpublished document, March 1991 - Ticket of Leave made available at NSW Archives -  Prisoner Number 109-5497 dated 27 July 1826 
[13] Mudie, James, The Felonry of New South Wales: Being a Faithful Picture of the Real Romance, London, 1837, p.205 accessed June 14, 2016.
[14] New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.Original data: Registers of convicts' applications to marry. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia: State Records Authority of New South Wales. Series 12212 State Archives NSW; Series: 12212; Item: 4/4512; Page: 43
[15] NSW Marriage certificate Parish of Narellan 1832/No. 1110 Vol 16 Samuel Taylor and Margaret Jones 
[16] Births in NSW BDM index 
2052/1849 V18492052 155 Rowland
2051/1845 V18452051 155 John T, 
2084/1844 V18442084 28 Susannah
1392/1843 V18431392 27A William, 
64/1837 V183764 22 Margaret
2053/1851 V18512053 155 George R 
Australia Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981," database, FamilySearch( : 11 December 2014), Henry Taylor, 21 Apr 1843; citing ; FHL microfilm 993,954.Australia Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981," database, 
FamilySearch( : 11 December 2014), Samuel Taylor, 08 Nov 1833; citing ; FHL microfilm 993,951
[17] NSW Baptism certificate Parish of Goulburn No. 779/Vol. 17 1833 Samuel Taylor.  Father shown as Stockman of Yass Plains.
[18] NSW Baptism certificate Parish of Yass No. 2051/Vol. 155 1845 John Thomas Taylor. Father shown as Grazier
[19] Trove. "Prolific Yield of Maize" The Argus, June 2, 1868, p. 6 accessed June 14, 2016
[20] Trove. "Monster Pig" Goulburn Herald, July 1, 1863, p. 2 accessed June 14, 2016
[21] Trove. "Dangerous Accident" Empire, March 23, 1858, p. 3 accessed June 14, 2016
[22] Lea-Scarlett, Errol, Gundaroo, Roebuck, Canberra (ACT), 1972, p. 15


Crissouli said…
A great story, Alex.. What hard times they lived in. No wonder they often turned to drink or something else to give them an escape, even if only for a short time.. I often ponder as to what our ancestors would think about us being so interested in their lives.
Jofeath said…
Wonderful research as always Alex. You've done Margaret proud - I imagine nothing was written about her very hard life and humble circumstances before.
Alex Daw said…
Thank you Chris and Jo for your kind comments. Weirdly, Jo, I wrote to the Yass & District Historical Society last month and guess what??? An article was published in their journal in February about Samuel and Margaret Taylor's life - how spooky is that?? They hold the Yass Courier on microfilm so had access to some great stories. The Courier has not been digitised and is only available there and at the NLA, State Library, CSU, University of Melbourne and ACT Libraries so my chances of getting my hands on it are a bit slim. I joined the Society and they very kindly did some research for me for a reasonable fee. There is still so much more to know.
Crissouli said…
I have included your blog in Interesting Blogs on Friday Fossicking at…

Thank you, Chris
Alex Daw said…
Dear Chris - That's very kind of you to include my blog in your Friday Fossicking post. Thank you.
Kerryn Taylor said…
Such a hard life back then. How easy we have it now. Great research and story Alex.
Alex Daw said…
Dear Kerryn - thank you for your kind remarks. Yes indeed life was so ridiculously challenging I can't even begin to imagine what it was like. I have found a new respect for the production of things like butter and cheese.

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