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We're delighted to bring Human Cargo to Theatr Mwldan in Cardigan on 13th May. Soon we'll announce our Parallel Lives partner for the concert.

ELINOR JAMES was famous for two reasons. First, she was the only woman transported from Cardigan. In 1822 Elinor was caught stealing clothes from a house in Tremain. It was not seemingly her first crime; her jail report describes her as a thief from infancy. At the Cardigan Great Sessions in September that year she was sentenced to be transported to Tasmania for seven years. But it was 18 months later when she embarked upon the transport ship Brothers, along with 88 other women prisoners. Meantime she stayed in London’s Newgate prison, where she also found fame, as she was seen and described by the great prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. Fry talked of a woman from Cardigan arriving at Newgate with an iron hoop around her ankle. When this was removed, she fainted from the pain. It was replaced with something even worse – an iron hoop around her waist, connected by a chain to two further hoops, one around her thigh, one around her ankle. At night her hands were fastened to the hoop around her waist. Fry detailed this excessive cruelty, along with the terrible practice of parading women convicts through London on open carts, where they would be showered in filth by onlookers. Thanks to the example of Elinor James, and others, Fry helped improve conditions for women prisoners and, in time, helped the abolition of transportation.

RICHARD EVANS was a 23 year old sergeant in the Cardiganshire Militia. In October 1833 he had a fight with an excise officer called William Jenkins in a pub in Aberystwyth, in which he cut and maimed the other man. He appeared before the Cardigan Lent Assizes in March 1834 and 98 local people testified to his good name. This made no difference. He was sentenced to death, commuted to transportation for life. That June he boarded the transport ship  Henry Tanner in chains, arriving in New South Wales four months later. 15 years later he did receive his freedom.