A significant painting with important connections to Tasmania’s convict past has been unveiled at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania. In front of a large gathering of Museum members and supporters, our Patron, Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania unveiled “The Lady East on the River Mersey” attributed to artist Joseph Heard.
“Paintings of named convict transport vessels are very rare and this work is of national significance,” said Rona Hollingsworth, our Curator. “Having this artwork at the Museum greatly enhances our collection and will also provide opportunities for further research and interpretation of the convict experience.”
Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (UTAS) gave an address at the unveiling which identified convict ships as rather remarkable institutions: part prison, part school, part hospital and part industrial training scheme.
The Lady East was built in Calcutta in 1818 and undertook one voyage as a convict transport bringing 208 male convicts to Van Diemen’s Land in 1825. It also carried 200 tons of government stores and included an organ destined for St David Church. Remarkably, the organ still exists in working order in St Matthew’s Church, Rokeby. The Lady East returned once more to Hobart in 1833, carrying assisted migrants.
The Museum is keen to hear from any descendants of the ship's voyages to Hobart. The names of all convicts on the Lady East are known through records held by the State Archives, of Tasmania. If you think you may be related to a Lady East descendant, convict, free or military, the museum would love to hear from you T. 03 6234 1427 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This acquisition was made possible through the newly established Maritime Museum of Tasmania Endowment Fund.
Over four hundred vessels carried convicts to Australia and images of named vessels are of great interest particularly to family historians. It would be interesting to hear from other museums or individuals who have depictions of convict vessels in their collections.
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