Ann Harris

In July 1846 Ann Harris, an Exeter servant, was convicted of two charges of stealing. She had taken clothing from Elizabeth Plaice, another servant, with whom she shared lodgings at Mrs Wills’s house in “The Friars” - the area between the start of Topsham Road and the River Exe. When arrested she was found in possession of other items of clothing belonging to her former mistresses, Harriett and Charlotte Dobbs of Cathedral Yard. At her trial she was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for the first offence and seven years’ transportation for stealing from the Dobbs sisters.


Ann Harris was the eldest of the eleven children of William and Elizabeth (née Fey, from Colebrooke). She was born in Crediton in 1826; her father was a farm labourer. While she was awaiting transportation, a petition on her behalf was sent to the Home Office, pleading for mitigation of her sentence. William Pope of Spence Coombe, Copplestone, whose live-in servant she had been between 1838 and 1841, wrote that “she bore a good character for honesty and general good conduct”. Other letters testified that her parents and grandparents were honest and industrious. The petition had no effect and in March 1847 she was put on board the ship “Asia” at Woolwich and taken to serve her sentence in Tasmania. She was described as a plain cook and housemaid.

In August 1848 she was sentenced to six months’ hard labour for stealing a quart of wine. She was delivered of an illegitimate baby daughter in December 1849. The following year she married a fellow convict Frederick Thomas Paddon, born in Exeter in 1820. He was the eldest son of Cornelius Paddon, a cabinet maker living on Stepcote Hill. Frederick was also a cabinet maker and continued this trade in Tasmania. He had been convicted in Kent in 1841 and transported for 15 years for housebreaking and stealing “two pairs of trowsers (sic), one waistcoat, one jacket, two frocks, and a handkerchief, value £1” He arrived in Tasmania in 1843.


In Hobart, Tasmania Frederick and Ann had another eight children. They moved to Brisbane, Queensland in about 1875 where they ran an Oyster Saloon.

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Frederick died in Hospital in 1892 – on the first anniversary of his death this was published in a local Brisbane newspaper:

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Charlotte Elizabeth Dobbs (1820-1890), whose clothes Ann Harris stole, was a Honiton Lace maker in Cathedral Close.

In 1848 she was appointed Lace Maker to the Queen (Victoria). In 1850 at Lympstone she married John Treadwin, a watch and clockmaker.

Samples of her lace are preserved in the RAMM (Exeter Museum).