I have an addiction. I am not ashamed of it, but I will probably bore you with it given the chance. I am addicted to old newspapers. No, I don’t live surrounded by cobwebby editions of last years Herald-Sun I mean OLD newspapers.
I love history, especially Australian convict and colonial history and finding the National Library of Australia website was like finding a small slice of heaven. This site has digitized copies of many Australian newspapers dating back to March 1803. This might sound boring but you have to remember that back then newspapers were the internet of their day. These days newspapers are all about exposing badly behaving footballers and trying to come up with the most scandalous expose. Back then there were no phones and radio so the only way to transfer information was to put it in the papers.
My Great Great Great Grandparents were transported as convicts and arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1827 and 1831. To read the papers that were published at the very time at the very place that they were living is an amazing thing. It is documented that my Great Great great-grandmother Margaret Shaw was a bit of a ratbag even after her arrival as a convict but so far I have not been able to find an article relating to her. I continue to read all I can though in the hopes that her name has been badly scanned and translated incorrectly.
My personal favourites are the Police Reports, especially the Hobart Town Police Reports. Partly because there is always the chance of finding Margaret Shaw being sentenced to solitary confinement with bread and water yet again and partly because of the amusement I get from reading what people got up to and the judgements passed. These days everyone looks out for someone to blame. Back then the judge sometimes pretty much told them to get over themselves and go away. I also love the language used at times.
This is an article I pulled up at random and reading it just reinforced to me why I love this stuff.
Mrs James Gardiner is worried about being pelted with oyster shells by Kitty Edwards and Lizzie Ware and is begging protection from the bench. Their Worships considered her quite a match for Kitty and Lizzie and dismissed the case.
Elizabeth Gordon who is described as a flaunting nymph of the pave is accused of insulting the delicacy of Mary Watts with highly improper language. When asked for the details Mary was obviously a little too used to using similar language and the case was also dismissed.
These papers didn’t just document the facts, at times they told quite a story. From now on I am going to bore you at times with articles that have amused me, apologies in advance…
Double click on the article if it is too small.