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Bridget Keeven

Bridget Keeven was born 1801, at St Lukes London, England, the daughter of Edmund Keevan and Catherine Welsh.

Bridget Keeven married Jonathon Dart on 23 May 1820 at St Leonards, Shoreditch, London England. Jonathon, along with 21 others (10 women & 11 men) was indicted on Friday 8 June 1821 for having forged bank notes in their possession, knowing them to be forged. Jonathon was pronounced GUILTY and sentenced to Transportation for 14 years to Hobart Town, Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania). This left Bridget alone to ponder her fate.

In 1822 Bridget Dart came before the Old Bailey. Bridget and two other women, were indicted for stealing six yards of lace, value twelve shillings. Bridget was found NOT GUILTY.

Determined to be transported, Bridget came back before the courts again in 1826. She was indicted for stealing on 23 February 1826.

On Monday 10 April 1826 at Justice Hall, No. 639 Bridget Dart was indicted for stealing, on 23 February 1826, one cloak, value seven shillings, the goods of Robert Upsall.

FRANCIS WITTY: (witness). "I am a servant to Robert Upsall, a pawnbroker of Barbican. On 23 February, between three and four o'clock, three women came into the shop together - one of them redeemed a ring; after that they appeared to be looking at a cloak, which was hung up - they left the shop, and I missed it directly; I went after them - two of them went towards Redcross Street, and the prisoner towards Aldersgate Street. I took her about three houses off, with the cloak on her back - she said a woman had put it on her back, wearing it I am certain it was Master's. It was torn down, and the strings left on the nail; she said she did not know whose it was - it hung inside the shop".

WILLIAM TAYLOR; (witness) I am an officer, and took her in charge - she said she was intoxicated, or she should not have done it - she had been drinking".

GUILTY - Transported for Seven Years.

Bridget remained at Newgate prison from 23 February 1826 until her trial on 10 April 1826 - then taken back to Newgate. She was removed on 15 August 1826 to the convict ship "Sir Charles Forbes" which left London on the 16 September 1826 arriving at Hobart Town on 3 January 1827.

During the voyage she was treated by the Surgeon Superintendant for Rheumatism and a polyp in her nose. Later comments by the surgeon were :
"A full plethoric girl. Has assisted in the sick-bay greatly to my satisfaction. Her case is peculiar. She evidently committed a crime in order to get to her husband, who is here, and after sentence, an order was issued for her coming out as a free woman".

The "Stated Offence" on her arrival is as follows: Stealing a cloak from a shop door. Once for shoplifting, tried and acquitted. Married - husband Jonathon Dart came here in the Lord Hungerford (arrived Hobart Town 26 Dec 1821). "I tried to come out free, but could not get leave. I committed this offence in order to come out to my husband".

How fortunate for Bridget , she was transported to the same place in the Colony. The sad irony of it all, was that she was to come out a free woman. The order coming too late. She did not need to commit crimes. Bridget brought with her the following. 8 Chemises, 7 Petticoats, 4 Gowns, 3 Pair Shoes, 10 Pair Stockings, 3 Pair Stays, 9 Caps, 2 bonnets, 2 Boxes, 2 Bags, 7 Aprons, 18 handkerchiefs, 3 Bed Gowns and Sundry Needles.

In 1827 she was assigned to her husband, John Dart. Together again at last! Their first son, John was born 3 January 1829 at Bagdad, Van Dieman's Land. More children were born over the years, Bridget, Thomas, Susan Catherine and Henry.

In 1832 Bridget was assigned to Mr D Ballantyne and on the 6 April 1833, she was Free by Servitude. She had completed her sentence. In February on 1832, Jonathon had been granted a "Conditional Pardon". Both were now free persons!

The January Census of 1842, shows that Bridget, Jonathon and family were living in a wooden house at Bagdad belonging to Michael Lackey. Apart from Jonathon, Bridget and children, there were 3 single males, between the age of 21 - 45 and one elderly man over the age of 60.

The January Census of 1843 shows a similar group of people living in the same house, but the elderly man is no longer there, and the house, constructed of wattle and plaster belongs to John Dart and Stephen Jennings. Six members of the household had been born in the colony, three had arrived as convicts, two held Tickets of Leave, while 5 were assigned. It seems Michael Lackey, prior to his death had passed the cottage over to Dart and Jennings.

No record had been found to date on Bridget's death or final resting place.

Jonathon died on 19 October 1888 and his final resting place is St Marks, Pontville, Tasmania.

Submitted by : Valerie Williams, Member WFHG, 20 February 2010

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