Ann Lantaff

Ann Lantaff
Ann was born at St Ives in 1791 to Thomas and Elizabeth. She was the eldest of five children, with two brothers and two sisters.

In 1814 Ann, aged 23yrs, her sister Elizabeth aged 17yrs, and friend Mary Halworth 22yrs, were caught shoplifting. On 12 March 1814 they were found guilty of larceny at Huntingdon Assizes. All three were given the death sentence. This was commuted to transportation to Australia for life.

After a period in gaol at Huntingdon Ann was transferred to either Newgate Prison or the prison hulk Dunkirk moored at Portsmouth. She spent many months in appalling conditions before boarding the Northampton at Portsmouth. There were 110 female convicts on board.

The Northampton set sail on 1 January 1815, the voyage taking 169 days. Joseph Arnold, Northampton's surgeon, wrote a transcript of the voyage.

Off Madeira on 18 February 1815 they were captured by an American ship, 'but afterwards liberated, the enemy not liking the cargo, and suffered her to proceed on her voyage.'

There were ten deaths, four of whom were convicts. Fatalities were low compared to previous transportations since this was first to have a naval surgeon appointed to care for the convicts. The passenger list included thirty free women and about forty children, most intending to join their husbands who had previously arrived as convicts.

The Northampton arrived in New South Wales on 18 June 1815. After completing the process of disembarkation, Ann worked as a servant.

Convict ship arriving at Sydney Cove
Convict ship arriving at Sydney Cove
In late 1816 Ann sought approval to marry Ambrose Bryant, a convict and stonemason. They were married on 3 December 1816. It was not unusual for female convicts to marry soon after arriving in Australia. With nine men to every woman they were in demand and also needed protection.

Ambrose was a good choice of husband. His trade meant he was strong and able to defend his family. Stonemason skills were much in demand in a country where the population more than doubled every ten years. The marriage was successful, producing two sons and three daughters. Her first daughter, named Elizabeth, died when aged just 2yrs.

In 1824, still formally a convict and aged 35yrs, Ann was described as just under 5ft 8ins tall, stout, with a fresh complexion, brown hair and grey eyes. By 1828 the family moved to the tiny settlement of Sutton Forest, about 85 miles south west of Sydney, possibly to take up a grant of land. A visitor to the settlement in 1832 described it as 'a most luxurious spot, there is much of the English village in miniature about this township...'

Ann at some point returned Sydney, living at 32 Burton Street. She died in 1849, aged 58yrs, at Goulbourn Street, Sydney.

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