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We're delighted to bring Human Cargo to Mellor Brook Community Centre near Blackburn on 12th May. Soon we'll announce our Parallel Lives partner for the concert.

The Preston General Sessions of 30 August 1844 tried a young Blackburn house servant, MARY ANN ABBOTT, 24 years old, for stealing a dress. It was her first conviction and the jail reported on her good behaviour. Yet such a small crime earned her a large punishment. She was transported for seven years. She arrived in Tasmania the next summer. Two years later she was married to a shoemaker called JOHN BLACK. The new colony desperately needed young, single women. This must have influenced the sentencing. Mary Ann fitted the bill, she was trained as a servant, could read, was ‘orderly and obedient’, 4’7” tall with brown hair and blue eyes. In effect, she was a comfort bride trafficked by the British authorities. 

GEORGE YATES was a 21 year old labourer from Blackburn. In 1847 he was tried in Preston for stealing a leg of mutton. For this, he was transported to Tasmania for seven years. He was 5’8” tall with brown hair and fair complexion, he could read, the end of the fingers on his right hand were crippled.

21 year old WILLIAM STIRZAKER from Blackburn was transported in 1850 for seven years. His crime? Stealing a coat. He ended up in the horrors of Tasmania and, even worse, Norfolk Island, some 1,000 miles from Sydney.  Within four years he was freed, married the daughter of a miller and participated in the Australian Gold Rush.