Four single women arrived in New South Wales on the barque, Theresa on 25 August 1842 as bounty immigrants. They had travelled under the protection of my 2x great-grandfather, Christopher Cooper, his wife Magdaline and their children. Two of the four were related to Christopher and Magdaline. My family group came from the northern Irish counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone, two counties which were strongly represented among the passengers on board Theresa with her Irish, English and Scottish immigrants.
The conditions under which these single women immigrated to New South Wales were outlined in Regulations published by the Colonial Secretary’s Office in Sydney on 3 March 1840. As well as proscribing the level of bounty allowed, the conditions covered occupation, age and protection arrangements. All thirty-three women who arrived on Theresa were accepted as legitimate bounty immigrants.
The single women on board Theresa were aged from 16 to 29 years, with the majority between 18 and 24. Few records are available for another two young women who had died during the voyage. All but two of the arrivals were Irish, 60% of whom were born in Fermanagh or Tyrone. The majority were Protestant and only five reported that they could neither read nor write. Two-thirds arrived as house maids or nurserymaids: the remainder as farm servants or dairymaids. Almost all of the women who did not remain in the care of their own family members were engaged in domestic service, most often in Sydney.
Twelve of the 41 eligible families on the Theresa took on the responsibility of protection for the single women, with from one to five per family. Half of the families originated in Fermanagh and Tyrone; the other half from Kildare, Dublin and Queens Counties. So my ancestral family members were typical participants of the bounty scheme as it operated on the Theresa. Details available for the four women travelling under the protection of the Coopers help to provide a picture of the scheme.
Margaret Blakeley/Bleakley, niece of Magdaline Cooper, born in Evanstown, Fermanagh (as on the passenger list) was 20 years old on arrival. Listed as a housemaid, she was one of five women engaged by William Hamilton Hart, a cabin passenger on the Theresa who was arriving with his family to become the superintendent of the Bank of Australasia. Margaret received a salary of £14 per annum plus her board and lodgings and perhaps retained that position until the Hart family returned to England in 1849. She may have worked as a domestic servant for many years as she died in the Newington Asylum of senile decay as a single woman of 81 years.
The Blakeley family was well represented on the Theresa as three of Margaret’s brothers embarked with her. Alexander Blakeley, 23 years, disembarked in Sydney but Christopher, 18 years, died of typhus during the voyage and was buried at Pernambuco, Brazil, where the vessel was in quarantine following the outbreak. The youngest of the three, Francis at 10 years old was too young to travel as a single man with a required occupation. He travelled as Francis Cooper, the eldest son of Christopher Cooper. Francis’ life in Australia was a short one, dying at 21 years. He is buried in St Peter’s Burial Ground in Maitland.
Sarah Maxwell, at 21 years and younger sister of Magdaline Cooper, was eligible for a bounty as a housemaid. On disembarkation, she remained in the care of other family members. A year later, she was married in Sydney to William McCool, a fellow bounty passenger on the Theresa. William also left the ship in the care of relatives.
Less is known about the other two women who arrived under the protection of the Cooper family. Fermanagh-born 24 year old Catherine Murray who arrived as a housemaid was engaged at a Steam Flour Mill in Sydney. She was the only woman off the Theresa engaged at a place rather than by an individual person. Catherine was the only Roman Catholic in the group of four. Eliza Gardiner, also from Fermanagh, was just 18 when she arrived. She was engaged for 12 months as a housemaid by a Mr Lawson at Bathurst. Eliza earned £14 per annum plus her board and lodgings. Mr Lawson engaged a second single woman off the Theresa, so Eliza would not have travelled alone on her way to her new home.
Details about the four women arriving with the Cooper family, together with those of the other single women on the Theresa, provide a small case study in the migration story of single women in the 1830s-early1840s. The operation of this bounty system was being questioned at the time, in part because some single women were declared not eligible for a bounty on arrival. This system ended in 1842. Case studies from other bounty ships would add to the picture of the migration experience at the time.
 New South Wales Government Gazette, 4 March 1840, pp. 200-01, accessed at National Library of Australia, http://nla.gov.au.news-article230136839
 The details about Margaret Blakeley and Ann Dunbar, who were employed by William Hart at Lyons Terrace, Sydney, are those provided on a passenger list. They were retained on board 10 days before disembarkation. Entitlement certificates of persons on bounty ships, State Records Authority of New South Wales, Series 5314, Reel 1348.