One parish where they do survive is Scone, in Perthshire. Included at the end of the Parochial Board letter book are a series of Notes on visits to the poor. There are 93 entries, so we thought we'd index them.
Isabella Whitelaw’s children, Lethendy Moar
24 July Admitted 4 May 1846 – on imprisonment of mother
24 December – seem tolerably attended to by grandfather
13 July – Removed from Roll 3rd August on release of mother
[NRS Reference CH2/803/3 p. 235]
Janet Gall or Cochrane, and Isabella Whitelaw, charged with several separate acts of theft some of which were committed beyond the bounds of Police, were handed over to the Sheriff.
Tuesday July 14
Janet Gall or Cochrane, wife of John Cochrane, porter, Perth, and Isabella Whitelaw, Muir of Lethendy; Cochrane and Whitelaw charged with theft of clothes from the person of a girl of weak intellect, and Whitelaw of several acts of falsehood, fraud and wilful imposition; both have been previously convicted of both charges, and Cochrane has been eight months in the general prison; sentenced to twelve months each in general prison.
[Northern Warder and General Advertiser for the Counties of Fife, Perth and Forfar 16 July 1846]
Isabella Whitelaw’s two children
17 July. Have been sometime with Aunt, now with Margt Jackson. Well.
3 January. Are well kept with Margt and regularly at school
17 July – both well, mother in Jail
11 January – Both well, and at School. Mother sentenced to 7 year’s banishment
7 August. Ditto
29 December – Nothing particular.
21 July – Oldest girl from school with a slightly burned hand
27 Decr – Both well, and at school
9 July – Much as usual
4 January – Both well, and apparently comfortable.
21 July – Both well and at school
3 Jany – Both well and at school
[NRS Reference CH2/803/3 p. 208]
Isabella Whitelaw, Perth, accused of theft – aggravated by previous convictions, was sentenced to seven years’ transportation.
We next hear of Isabella as she is transported to Tasmania on board the Aurora, on 22 April 1851. Her arrival in Tasmania is recorded in the Register of Convicts, on 10 August 1851. She is described as a Country Servant, 5 feet 4 inches, age 31, with a ruddy complexion, dark brown hair, brown eyebrows, hazel eyes, and medium facial features. She was a wart on her left arm at the bleeding place.
Her conduct record suggests she wasn’t entirely a reformed character. She was charged for being drunk on October 25 1852. On November 2nd, she was sentenced to 6 months hard labour for being absent without leave. On December 3rd 1852 she was “delivered of an illegitimate child (Mary) at the Cascade Factory”. On 2 October 1854 she was sentenced to 12 months hard labour for absconding. 11 August 1855 saw her being sentenced to 3 months hard labour for being drunk on her master’s premises. A few months later, on 5 November, she was sentenced to another 12 months hard labour for absconding when on a pass. Once more, on 29 June 1857, she was sentenced to one month’s hard labour for being out after hours and absconding.
Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Isabella was granted permission to marry Michael McDermott on 14 December 1852. We have not however been able to find a record of them actually marrying. Things however do appear to have eventually improved for Isabella, as she was again granted permission to marry on 2 December 1856, to William Way, a freeman. They were married at the All Saints Schoolroom on 23 December 1856. William was a cabinetmaker. We have not found any more records of Isabella Whitelaw, and do not know if she ever returned to Scotland or saw her children again.
Isabella Whitelaw's story is an interesting illustration of how one record can lead to another, and can end up telling a fascinating story.