A Larrikin in the Blood
Publisher: Ginninderra Press
John Avery was aged twenty-four with a wife and young child when he was arrested for stealing a grey mare, his death sentence commuted to life transportation. After twenty years in Van Diemen's Land he was charged with sheep stealing and sentenced to fourteen years on Sarah Island. From a small Hampshire village in 1750s England to 1870s boom-town Melbourne, here are the stories of six women whose lives were impacted by the choices made by John Avery, my four times great grandfather. This is a family history told in poetic long-form, the bald facts on official registers fleshed out through imagining how I would respond in their place given what choices were open to them. There is Sarah, John's mother, then his two wives, Jane and Mary Ann, an Irish rebel; his son William's two wives, Matilda, a Soho child prostitute, and Emily, a runaway. The final story is of William and Matilda's daughter, Tilly. Through their eyes we see the impact of crime and punishment in England and Ireland and the young colony in Van Diemen's Land, how some will prosper while others fail. The six women find their own ways to get by.