Labour History

Penelope Bourke Revisited

Labour History (1999), 77, (1), 207–218.


Marian Quartly published an article in 1978 on an episode involving a female convict, Penelope Bourke, who had declared in 1832 that ‘she only married to be free’. Quartly identifies a number of aspects relating to colonial marriage, the main one for this discussion being that consensual marriage was the most common form of cohabitation in the colony. It is a conclusion which she, herself, subsequently modified. The view of convict marriage expressed in Quartly’s article has become a touchstone. The article itself and the subsequent authority it has attained, raise important historical and historiographical questions, some of which are addressed here.

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Author details

Townsend, Norma

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
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