Is she a convict?

For this very long post I am going to you walk you through how I researched one of my convict women. I will look at certain documents and if she is a convict will write further posts about her convict records.

I am going to try finding out information about Martha VIRCOE who married John BOYD in 1842. I have already proven this in my family history research. They are my great great great grandparents.

Why do I think Martha is a convict? She has signed her marriage certificate with an x – her mark meaning she was not a very literate person and could not sign her own name.

UPDATE – Having spoken to Dianne Snowden while at the female factory Open Day last Sunday, she mentioned that many people in VDL would have been illiterate and used a mark so it is not necessarily a sign of a convict. Finding a marriage permission record definitely is though.

Source: TAHO RGD37/1/2 no 1739/1842 District of Avoca, marriage Boyd, Vircoe

boyd vico marr 1842

My next step is to use the Tasmanian names index to find out more records about Martha.

So I put in the surname only of Vircoe and up come the following possibilities



I can see the first three relate to my Martha – Virgoe for the next three – could this be a different spelling? – maybe a brother also out as a convict? Don’t check it out now but put it on the to do list for later on.

I can see she was a convict from the second result on the image. I know if a person married while still serving a sentence as a convict, they needed permission to do this. So where is the marriage permission page? Maybe it is a spelling variation – maybe look up Boyd instead and see if I can find it there.

As you can see from the image I started by using just Boyd within all the results of the Tasmanian name index, then I used the filters on the left to find just marriage permissions then I filtered again to the years 1840-1843. There she is with the surname Vico.


By clicking on the image to the left of her name, the following appears. I have used the snipping tool to make the two separate images. One is the header of the page, the other is the actual marriage permission for Martha.



So reading the information on these two snips, the marriage permission for Martha Virco (new spelling), police number 18 on the ship Hindostan was sent to the Muster Master on June 15 1842, then sent on to the Secretary on 15 August 1842. The decision made was approved provided the clergyman is satisfied with evidence added??

Her husband-to-be John Boyd was a free man with no police number. Maybe he was also a convict but had served his sentence and now considered free. But that will be something to follow up on later.

Source: TAHO, CON52/1/2 p16 marriage permission Martha Virco

So question 1 of my research plan is now answered – Yes Martha VIRCOE (VIRCO) (VICO) was a convict.

Next step to look at her convict records to fill out more information about her life as a convict.

How will I record all this information?

I have created a convict profile from looking at Susan Hood’s book about transcribing Tasmanian convict records. I will be able to use this profile for each separate convict in my tree.


2 thoughts on “Is she a convict?

  1. Thanks Sue. i’ts great to have this as a template. I look forward to trying it with a possible connection to our family. Will have to work backwards to ascertain that she could belong to our tree.
    It’s certainly a great website which I have used for my convict. As some of my convicts attained their freedom in Norfolk is there a similar website for them?

  2. Hi Sue very interesting post, allowing us to follow your thought processes and findings. I have previously used your Tassie Index to find a son of our convict John Tindale who went to Tassie after a marriage break-up, found living with his housekeeper (?wife). Poor fellow was battling severe mental ill health and committed suicide. Full description of the inquest details was most distressing and tragic. Looking in to his personal life experiences it was obvious how the poor fellow had come to such a sorrowful position, at a time when understanding of mental health issues and support was almost non existent. Looking forward to the next post.

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