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Tocal's convicts 1822-1840

Where were the women?

During the convict era Tocal was almost an all-male estate, and only one European woman definitely lived there before 1840. She was Ann Clarke, wife of Ralph Mills Clarke who was superintendent for Tocal's absentee owners, Caleb and Felix Wilson, who purchased the estate in 1834.

Below right: Ann Clarke/Clements, the first European woman to have an enduring association with Tocal.

Ann Clarke

Ann Clarke was living at Tocal in 1837 when Patrick Costigan was killed in a violent fight. Her husband said in his evidence 'my wife was very much frightened and is unwell in consequence'. Ann Clarke was the first European woman to have an enduring association with Tocal. After her husband's death in 1841 she married Tocal ex-convict James Clements. They lived at Tocal until about 1855, and their first three children were born there.

No doubt Catherine and Esther, the respective wives of Caleb and Felix Wilson, visited Tocal at various times. After Tocal Homestead was built in 1841, Felix and Esther still lived in Sydney but used Tocal as a country retreat until they leased it out in January 1844.

Another Mrs Clarke may have lived at Tocal back in 1823. A convict named Richard Clarke received a Conditional Pardon in Tasmania in 1820 but was later found guilty of receiving a stolen sheep carcase and was re-transported to Newcastle for three years. In 1821 his wife Catherine and daughter Mary sailed with him to Newcastle. By September 1823 Richard Clarke was assigned to James Webber at Tocal, where he served about six months. If Catherine and Mary lived at Tocal with him they were probably the first European females to do so, but we don't know for certain.