Margaret Catchpole

The British Adventuress.....

About Margaret Catchpole

Margaret Catchpole was a British adventuress, chronicler and criminal and worked as a servant before being convicted for stealing a horse but later escaping. Following her capture, she was transported to Australia.


Margaret was born in Nacton, Suffolk on March 14th 1762, and was the daughter of Elizabeth Catchpole. Margaret had a small education and worked as a servant for many families, until being employed by Mrs John Cobbold, member of the prosperous Cobbold family, as a nurse and cook in 1793. Here she was considered part of the family. There she also learned to read and write.



She was sentenced to death in 1797 for stealing a horse but her sentence was commuted to 7 years transportation. In March, 1800 she made an escape but she was quickly recaptured. Again, she was sentenced to death but this was changed to transportation for life.


She reached Sydney in December 1801and worked as a cook for John Palmer who had arrived with the first fleet and was now a successful man.Later, she was employed as the overseer of a farm, and while in the country became a midwife, and also kept a small farm of her own.She had little education and her spelling was always her own. She was pardoned on 31 January 1814, but did not return to England.


She was one of the few true convicts with an excellent memory and a gift for recording events.Margaret kept in contact with her former employers, the Cobbolds while in Australia, Margaret's letters revealed her as a warm, loving intelligent woman of great integrity. She died at the age of 55 when she was diagnosed with influenza, that she caught by a shepherd she was working with.She was buried in the graveyard of st Peter's church in Richmond NSW, Australia.




Fun Fact

Influenza is a fancy word for the common cold.


paintings and drawings of Margaret