The hidden story of Australia’s convict women.

Transported to a distant land for crimes of poverty, Australia’s female convicts were charged with the task to have children with convict men.
AFTER A HARROWING six month voyage across the sea to the newly established British colony dubbed New Holland, convict women were either sold off for as little as the price of a bottle of rum or, if sent to Tasmania, they were marched to the Cascades Female Factory — a damp distillery-cum-prison.
Yet, despite their harsh treatment and dark experiences, the story of Australia’s convict women is ultimately one of triumph. It’s estimated that 164,000 convicts were shipped to Australia between 1788 and 1868 under the British government’s new Transportation Act — a humane alternative to the death penalty.
“Half the women landed in mainland Australia and half in Tasmania. Less than 2 per cent were violent felons.
For crimes of poverty, they were typically sentenced to six months inside Newgate Prison, a six-month sea journey, seven to 10 years hard labour and exile for life.
Clearly, the scope of their punishments far exceeded the scope of their crimes,” Deborah Swiss, the author of The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women, tells Australian Geographic.
Deborah became fascinated with the stories of Australian convict women following a trip to Tasmania in 2004. “Their stories immediately captured my heart when I learned that if you were a working-class girl in London or Dublin in the 1800s you had two choices: enter prostitution, which was not a crime or steal food or clothing to be able to live another day,” Deborah says. “And so I began my six-year journey of researching and getting to know these remarkable female convicts.”
Read on via Source: The ‘founding mothers’: the little-known story of Australia’s convict women – Australian Geographic

The ‘Hokey Pokey Men’ of Glasgow.

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Carlo Gatti is credited for introducing ice cream to the British as a street food.
Throughout the 1850s, he peddled his sweet treats from his brightly painted cart.
He and a few other ice cream vendors found such a ready market that they began bringing other Italians over to join them in the venture.
As the economy in Italy took a nosedive, the trickle of Italian emigrants rapidly became a flood. Some went to America, though a large number made their home in Scotland.
The established community of Italians began to bring friends and relatives in to work in the family industry. Padrones, or “benefactors”, would send agents back to Italy to recruit cheap labour for their enterprises – primarily the ice cream business.
Carlo Giuliani was one of the most successful and well-known of the padrones, and he is credited with laying the foundation for the ice cream industry in Scotland.
Many Italian immigrants arrived with little to nothing, and initially made a living by begging or as itinerant musicians playing the hurdy-gurdies on street corners.
The hurdy-gurdy men and the beggars realized that they could make more money selling ice cream, and the padrones were all too eager to give them a barrow and take a cut of the profits.
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Every morning throughout the warm summer months, the Italians would work their hand-cranks to freeze the ice cream mix they had prepared the night before, and then they would set off on their rounds.
Throughout London, Manchester, Glasgow and other big cities, the ice cream vendors could be heard calling,
“Gelati, ecco un poco!” This cry quickly earned them the nickname “hokey pokey men”.
While they were making more money, the immigrants were still grossly underpaid and lodged in poor conditions. During the winter months, many had to go back to working as hurdy-gurdy men to earn enough to survive.
The Italians spoke little English at first, and many were subjected to mischief and abuse at the hands of local youth.
Necessity forced the immigrants to persevere, however, and many soon became very successful. In a short 50 years between 1870 and 1920, the ice cream vendors had graduated from rickety hand carts and shabby slum shops to rather luxurious establishments.
Ice cream cafes along Sauchiehall Street and in Glasgow’s city centre boasted leather-covered seats, glossy wooden booths and mirror-lined walls.
Carlo Giuliani himself was running three hugely successful cafes in Glasgow by 1890, and customers were pouring in by the thousands.
He often had five or more assistants working behind the bar serving out ice cream and drinks like ginger ale.
via Exodus.

The Charter of the Forest, 1225.

In 1217, King Henry III (r. 1216–72) issued a new version of Magna Carta, together with a new charter dealing with the royal forest. It was in a proclamation of February 1218 that the name ‘Magna Carta’ itself first appears, in order to distinguish the Great Charter from its shorter forest brother.
On 11 February 1225, at the same time as issuing the final and definitive version of Magna Carta, Henry likewise issued a new version of the Charter of the Forest. Thereafter ‘the Charters’, as they were called, were always linked together.
This example of the 1225 Forest Charter is one of three surviving originals. In substance, it is similar to the Forest Charter of 1217, but includes the statement about the granting of a tax in return for the charter, and the same long witness list, as in the 1225 Magna Carta.
Like Magna Carta, the 1225 Forest Charter was also sealed with the King’s Great Seal. This copy retains its original linen seal bag.
In John’s reign, roughly a third of the country was royal forest, and the penalties imposed for forest offences were a major source of revenue for the king.
One aim of the Forest Charter was to reduce the area of the royal forest by removing everything which King Henry II (chiefly blamed for the forest’s vast extent) had placed within it.
The Charter also banned capital punishments for forest offences (such as poaching and hunting the protected deer), and exempted those having woods within the forest from fines for erecting buildings and creating new arable land.
via The Forest Charter of 1225 – The British Library

The History of Christmas Pudding.

Christmas pudding Matt Riggott

A flaming Christmas pudding. © Matt Riggott at Wikipedia

Over the course of the 18th century, pottage and porridge became unfashionable as sophisticated cuisine increasingly took its cues from France.
In 1758 Martha Bradley, the author of The British Housewife: or, The Cooke, Housekeeper’s and Gardiner’s Companion said of plum porridge that “the French laugh outrageously at this old English Dish”.
Her own recipe for ‘plum porridge’ sounds very rich; it contains a leg and a shin of beef, white bread, currants, raisins, prunes, mace, cloves, nutmegs, sherry, salt and sugar.
As plum pottage died out, the plum pudding rose to take its place. Thanks to cheap sugar from the expanding West Indian slave plantations, plum puddings became sweeter and the savoury element of the dish (meat) became less important.
By the Victorian period the only meat product in a Christmas pudding was suet (raw beef or mutton fat).
At this point it had really become Christmas pudding as we know it, with the cannonball-shaped pudding of flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices topped with a sprig of holly, doused in brandy and set alight.
How exactly plum pudding got to be associated with Christmas is the next mystery. The earlier plum pottage was apparently enjoyed at times of celebration, although it was primarily associated with harvest festivities rather than Christmas.
There is an unsubstantiated story that in 1714, King George I (sometimes known as the Pudding King) requested that plum pudding be served as part of his first Christmas feast in England.
Whether this actually happened or not, was can see that recipe books from the 18th century onwards did start associating plum pudding with Christmas.
In 1740, a publication titled Christmas Entertainments included a recipe for plum pudding, which suggests that it was increasingly eaten in a Christmas context.
The first known reference to a ‘Christmas pudding’ is, however, not to be found until 1845, in Eliza Acton’s bestselling Modern Cookery for Private Families.
Read more via Dance’s Historical Miscellany: Christmas pudding: a history.

Timeline of International Workers Day (May Day) in Australia.

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Photo: May Day March held in Adelaide, early 1970s.
1791: Australia had its first strike when Sydney convicts demand daily rations instead of weekly rations.
1829: Printing Compositors and Carpenters win the right to be paid with real money, instead of rum.
1854: The Eureka Stockade in Ballarat is stormed by police and troops (30 miners and five troopers are killed). The miners are found not guilty of rebellion.
1855:  August 18. Sydney stonemasons win 8-hour day, (6-day week).
1856: Australian workers in Australia decide to organise a day of complete stoppage together with meetings and entertainment in support of the Eight Hour Day. The day had such strong support that it is decided to repeat the Celebration every year.
1859: The first Trades Hall is opened in Melbourne.
1881: New South Wales recognises Trade Union Rights.
1881: Tailoresses in Melbourne form Australia’s first female trade union to fight cuts to their piecework rates.
1882: The Adelaide Typographical Society sets up a workers’ political party with other trade unions.
1886: The Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, USA, is seen as the catalyst for International Workers Day. Outrage as four unionists are executed triggering worldwide action
1891: In Barcaldine, Queensland, shearers go on strike. On 1st May, a parade of over 1300 unionists celebrate May Day. Their strike leads to the formation of the Australian Labor Party.
1891: Adelaide has its first May Day March, after a long period of unrest on the Port Adelaide Docks.
1892: Broken Hill miners strike over wage cuts and use of scab labour.
1904: The Conciliation and Arbitration Act is passed and the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is established.
1907: Justice Higgins hands down the ‘Harvester Judgment’ which establishes the principle of the ‘basic wage’.
1916: The WW1 Conscription Referendum is narrowly defeated after the use of the Unlawful Associations Act fails to stop protests. A Second Referendum in 1917 is soundly defeated.
1928: Savage cuts to the wages and conditions of wharfies, coal miners and timber workers bring on a period of long strikes.
1929: Wall Street stock market crashes heralding start of The Great Depression.
1934: Peace activist and anti-Nazi Egon Kisch beats deportation laws and addresses anti-war rally in Sydney.
1936: Spanish Civil War erupts. Seventy Australians enlist in the Free International Brigades.
1938: Wharfies refuse Attorney-General Menzies’ order to load pig-iron for Japan.
1939: Menzies becomes Prime Minister, declares war on Germany.
1941: Nazi Germany invades Russia. Menzies resigns: Curtin becomes Prime Minister
1943: ‘Sheepskins for Russia’ Appeal gets huge support from workers.
1951: Australian voters reject the Commonwealth Referendum to outlaw the Communist Party.
1969: Half a million workers strike in support of Tramways Union Secretary Clarrie O’Shea’s release from Gaol.
1998: Patrick Stevedores and the Howard Government use masked scab labor, trained in Dubai, to launch an attack on the wages and conditions of Maritime Union workers.
2007: Australian voters get behind a massive ‘Your Rights at Work’ Campaign, that rejects Howard’s Workchoices legislation and elects a Labor government.
2008: Ark Tribe refuses to attend a conference of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) held to determine the legality of CFMEU members attending a safety meeting at the Flinders University Construction site.
2010: Julia Gillard becomes Australia’s first woman Prime Minister.
2010: Ark Tribe cleared of all charges in November.
2013:  Federal election on 7 September results in an Abbott-led government, Hockey’s first budget sees Abbott’s popularity tumble.
2014: Release of the imprisoned Cuban Five after 17 years of struggle paves the way for improved US-Cuba relations.
2015: Government cuts see the spectre of rising unemployment.
via History of May Day in Australia: Timeline – May Day SA.

The Eight Hour Day Struggle in Australia.

Melbourne_eight_hour_day_march-c1900Eight-hour day march circa 1900, outside Parliament House in Spring Street, Melbourne.
The Australian gold rushes attracted many skilled tradesmen to Australia. Some of them had been active in the chartist movement, and subsequently became prominent in the campaign for better working conditions in the Australian colonies.
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Eight-hour day banner, Melbourne, 1856
The Stonemasons’ Society in Sydney issued an ultimatum to employers on 18 August 1855 saying that after six months masons would work only an eight-hour day.
Due to the rapid increase in population caused by the gold rushes, many buildings were being constructed, so skilled labour was scarce.
Stonemasons working on the Holy Trinity Church and the Mariners’ Church (an evangelical mission to seafarers), decided not to wait and pre-emptively went on strike, thus winning the eight-hour day.
They celebrated with a victory dinner on 1 October 1855 which to this day is celebrated as a Labour Day holiday in the state of New South Wales. When the six-month ultimatum expired in February 1856, stonemasons generally agitated for a reduction of hours.
Although opposed by employers, a two-week strike on the construction of Tooth’s Brewery on Parramatta Road proved effective, and stonemasons won an eight-hour day by early March 1856, but with a reduction in wages to match.
Agitation was also occurring in Melbourne where the craft unions were more militant. Stonemasons working on Melbourne University organized to down tools on 21 April 1856 and march to Parliament House with other members of the building trade.
The movement in Melbourne was led by veteran chartists and mason James Stephens, T.W. Vine and James Galloway. The government agreed that workers employed on public works should enjoy an eight-hour day with no loss of pay and Stonemasons celebrated with a holiday and procession on Monday 12 May 1856, when about 700 people marched with 19 trades involved.
By 1858 the eight-hour day was firmly established in the building industry.
From 1879 the eight-hour day was a public holiday in Victoria. The initial success in Melbourne led to the decision to organize a movement, to actively spread the eight-hour idea, and secure the condition generally.
In 1903 veteran socialist Tom Mann spoke to a crowd of a thousand people at the unveiling of the Eight Hour Day monument, funded by public subscription, on the south side of Parliament House.
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Eight-hour day procession by miners in Wyalong, New South Wales – late 1890s
It took further campaigning and struggles by trade unions to extend the reduction in hours to all workers in Australia.
In 1916 the Victoria Eight Hours Act was passed granting the eight-hour day to all workers in the state. The eight-hour day was not achieved nationally until the 1920s.
The Commonwealth Arbitration Court gave approval of the 40-hour five-day working week nationally beginning on 1 January 1948.
The achievement of the eight-hour day has been described by historian Rowan Cahill as “one of the great successes of the Australian working class during the nineteenth century, demonstrating to Australian workers that it was possible to successfully organize, mobilize, agitate, and exercise significant control over working conditions and quality of life.
The Australian trade union movement grew out of eight-hour campaigning and the movement that developed to promote the principle.”
The intertwined numbers 888 soon adorned the fronts of many union buildings around Australia.
The Eight Hour March, which began on April 21, 1856, continued each year until 1951 in Melbourne, when the conservative Victorian Trades Hall Council decided to forgo the tradition for the Moomba festival on the Labour Day weekend.
In capital cities and towns across Australia, Eight Hour day marches became a regular social event each year, with early marches often restricted to those workers who had won an eight-hour day.
via Eight-hour day – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.