Skip navigation

I Am What You Say I Am

Bess Ward (1827–1895)

Already at 15, nursemaid Bess Ward was a marked lady. Her left arm cryptically read ‘CS P A C G W B C J M JM C H W T JC and dots’. On her right, ‘P G TC B W W heart W J W’. Fearless and spirited, Elizabeth (Bess) Ward was transported for ‘stealing blankets from her place of employ and selling them for money’.
Her record details further offences: disorderly, flagrant misconduct, living in state of adultery, disturbing the peace, obscene language. She had several periods of hard labour, and time at the Cascades Female Factory.
In 1847, five years after arriving in Van Diemen’s Land she married free settler (and ex-convict) John Wagstaff. In 1850 she was granted her ‘free’ certificate. By the time they moved to Victoria in 1853 the Wagstaffs had four children. Six more followed on the goldfields, around Campbell’s Creek.

A photo postcard by H.H. Baily of the Pontville Bridge near Brighton in southern Tasmania, where Bess Ward and John Flagstaff were married.
A photo postcard by H.H. Baily of the Pontville Bridge near Brighton in southern Tasmania, where Bess Ward and John Flagstaff were married.

Copyright © Roar Film 2012 This material may be reproduced, communicated, published and adapted free of charge for non-commercial educational purposes.

Site Credits Opens in a new window