Hannah Hitchins ( Hitchens,Hutchens etc) was a native of Islington, London. She was just over 4ft 10in tall. Her hair was brown, her eyes grey and they described her skin as being sallow and pock marked. (Brothers Indents) . Having been sentenced to death at the Old Bailey, Hannah was instead transported to The Colony. On December 6th, 1823, a complement of women prisoners and several passengers were aboard the transport, BROTHERS, and ready to depart. A light sail was set and BROTHERS pulled out from the pier at the Downs. She set her sails and glided out of the harbour. ( letter to Sir Thomas Brisbane from James Hall, Surgeon Superintendent of THE BROTHERS 4/1774 reel 2662 pp 41-50 and 4/4009A AONSW)
According to Hall, soon after leaving England, six of the women conspired to murder him and actually formed a mutiny in the prison in which he was knocked down, beaten and kicked.
It was afterwards discovered that the First Mate was involved. According to Hall,the Mate had conspired with the women and had actually hit him and rescued one of the mutineers, whom the master, Charles Motley, Hall and the Second Mate had seized. He also stated that Mate James Thompson Meach had offered the mutineers a bottle of rum if they would ” jump his bl—- guts out” Said he would blow Hall’s brains out;throw him overboard in a gale or bribe some men in Sydney to throw him over The Rocks.
It transpired that James Meath had made a duplicate key to the prison and had taken one of the prisoners , twenty one year old Mary Smith to bed with him. He has also directed the Third Mate to let a prisoner out of the gaol for the purposes of prostitution.
Hall stated that most of the prisoners had been very well behaved except for a few whose bad conduct he believed could be wholly attributed to the influence of James Meath and his associates. These never exceeded more than six or seven of the women, in spite of Meath’s efforts to seduce all of the women and crew to engage in mutual and unrestrained intercourse, although a number of the crew had also entered the prison secretly to enjoy the women.
One of the prisoners, nineteen old Ann Bullen, had risked her life to warn hall of the conspiracy against him. The ship arrived at Hobart Town on 15 April 1824 and after spending ten days there, sailed for Sydney on the 25th. On arrival in Sydney, the Cook, William Lovell, had also broken into the prison for the purposes of prostitution. James Meath was tried in Sydney at the Police Office where he admitted to using the women for prostitution.
Charles Motley, Master of THE BROTHERS, requested that Sir Thomas Brisbane allow him to discharge three other members of his crew as well as James Meath. They were William Meath ( Brother of James), who had taken no part in the events Aboard whatsoever, William Lovell, the Cook, and John Phillips who wished to remain in the Colony.
TWO BABIES were born during this voyage but both died. Three other children, two male passengers and one of the convicts Mary Partridge also died.
Hall wrote a report on the state of the prisoners . He noted that the majority of the forty women were aged between nineteen and twenty seven and except for one who died of consumption,all were in good health. Most were apparently well behaved but six were entered as being LOOSE WOMEN. Among the latter was HANNAH HITCHINS.
more to come : 20 May 2008
RESEARCHED AND RECORDED BY PHILIP READY. MANY THANKS.