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Girl Who Stole Stockings, The

SKU: B0199
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    On 8 April 1811 the ship Friends sailed from England carrying 101 female convicts bound for the penal colony of New South Wales. Their crimes ranged from pickpocketing to murder, but most of them had been convicted for theft.

    Susannah Noon, not yet in her teens, had tried to steal four pairs of cotton stockings, worth ten shillings, from a shop in Colchester. It earned her a sentence of transportation for seven years 'beyond the seas'. It was a sentence that reverberated throughout her lifetime; she never returned to England.

    Instead Susannah and her shipmates found themselves living in a new land as members of a new and unique society. Their only shackles were the vast ocean and their fear of the unknown.

    In 1811 there were only 100 women living in New South Wales who had not arrived as convicted felons. Susannah and the other convict women were expected to work and to marry. Most seized the chance for respectability, some fell victim to further disaster, and some continued to lead lives defined by gaol, alcohol and despair. All of them lived through a turbulent time, when New South Wales was transforming itself from a penal outpost to a thriving colony.

    Until now, Susannah and the other women of Friends have remained largely silent and invisible to history. In uncovering their stories, author Elsbeth Hardie provides a little-known account of the convict system that prevailed in the early years of transportation and how these women fared within it.

    Susannah was the only one of them to move on to another new life in New Zealand, living in a whaling station some years before the arrival of the country's first organised colonists. There, she was a first-hand witness to the events that led to the fight at the Wairau between the land-grabbing New Zealand Company, and Te Rauparaha and his followers. It remains the only armed conflict between Maori and Pakeha in the South Island since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

    This is the true story of Susannah Noon and the women of the convict ship Friends.

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