Processed in Plymouth: Convict transportation from the West Country 1778–1868

VR created image of interior of convict ship © Rob Giles

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This online exhibition introduces a local place-based West Country dimension to being transported overseas as a felon. 
The exhibition will take you from the County Courts to Plymouth, where a convicted felon would await being loaded onto one of the convict ships transporting them to a destination like Botany Bay or Tasmania. Much has been written about the convict voyage experience, and about what happened to convicts, notably in Australia. But, what was the journey from arrest to being shipped off really like?
This exhibition endeavours to unmask the cold truth with some thought-provoking questions:
  • How was it decided who should be transported, instead of being hanged, or pardoned?
  • What happened when you got to Plymouth – particularly as felons were held in rotting decommissioned Royal Navy wooden ships (hulks) no longer fit to sail, acting as temporary prisons off Hamoaze in Plymouth Sound
  • What was it like to actually spend weeks on these hulks waiting for that unknown destination beyond the seas?
  • Just how did Plymouth cope with a steady influx of felons awaiting transportation?
  • How were they fed, clothed, treated and how involved was the local community?
The illustrated podcast accompanying the exhibition (see below) answers these questions and explores the local dimensions to transportation overseas, including the case study of former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Cornish ancestor, exploring William Roberts' arrest, conviction at the Assizes in Bodmin, and then his conveyance to Plymouth, and place on ‘The First Fleet’. 
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The event is suitable for all and will be of particular interest to local schools and history groups, foregrounding the importance of using legal history to develop a better understanding of fair and proportionate justice delivery and its need for a local dimension. 
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EXHIBITION PODCAST

This half hour podcast has been produced to accompany the online exhibition by CHEX and the School of Society and Culture. 
The podcast features Professor Judith Rowbotham and Research Fellow Christopher Wilkes. Please click on the image to view.
We hope you enjoyed the presentation, and would be grateful if you could fill out the feedback and evaluation forms below.

 

About Culture and Heritage Exchange

Formerly known as CHITCHAT, the Culture and Heritage Exchange (CHEx) is a knowledge exchange initiative which engages academic researchers, industry professionals, heritage stakeholders, and the general public in transdisciplinary conversations through transmedia methods, sources, and platforms.
The study of culture and heritage offers an important forum for the discussion of key influences and temporal trajectories that have helped shape the present. The initiative is proactive in disseminating its members’ research through its events such as public exhibitions, film showings and public seminars. 

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