Martha Dunn

“On Saturday 7 December 1833, Martha Dunn and Thomas Weakley and Richard Creamer were committed to Exeter Prison for taking from the stall of Mr. George Coplestone, butcher, in West Street, a piece of beef. A girl who was within, saw the act, and took such notice of them, as enabled her to give information to Gingham, who succeeded in taking them into custody.”

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At the Epiphany sessions on Monday 30th December in the Guildhall in Exeter, Weakley was found guilty of stealing the meat and Dunn of receiving it. Both were sentenced to transportation, Weakley for 14 years and Martha Dunn for seven years.

23 year old Martha was then moved to Exeter Prison. There she gave birth to a son, Thomas Weekly Dunn, who was baptised in St David’s church on 2nd March 1834. He died and was buried in the same Church 24 days later.

On 14 April she was taken to Woolwich to be put on board the Edward which sailed to Australia on 23rd April, arriving in Tasmania on 4th September. Weakley was sent to New South Wales.

Martha Dunn’s convict records give her native place as Exeter, however she was probably born in Zeal Monachorum. A Martha Dunn, “a Bastard daughter of Mary Dunn”, was baptized in Zeal Monachorum on 15th December 1811.

She also stated that she was single and that “my Mother, Mary came to V.D.L. [van Diemen’s Land -Tasmania] with a Family when I was a Baby about 20 years ago. I have never heard from her since - I was living with a man named Thomas Wheekly 12 months before this offence was committed” (Her mother Mary, herself illegitimate, had been baptised in Zeal Monachorum in 1792.)

This is probably correct, as there is no trace of either Mary or Martha Dunn in or around Zeal Monachorum after they were presumed to have gone to Australia.

Martha is described as being a farm servant and cook, able to make butter & cheese. She was 4’ 11¾ “tall, had a fresh complexion, reddish brown hair and grey eyes. Her left arm was tattooed “T W”, no doubt referring to Thomas Weakley.

In Hobart, Tasmania on 13th April 1835, she married Thomas Hall. She received her Certificate of Freedom in 1841. Thereafter the trail goes cold. No records have been found about her mother being in Australia.