Ballarat’s Betsy Buckley: “victim of circumstance” or “habitual criminal”?

Ballarat 1870

Ballarat in 1870


The transportation of convicts to Australia between 1788 and the mid-1800s arouses mixed responses from those who seek the origins of Australian society and culture. The worst aspects of Australian character have readily been blamed upon convict ancestors, while the best aspects of that character might be seen as evidence of triumph over adversity, freedom from class oppression, and the mateship that was necessary in a land both isolated and unfamiliar. However, despite the influence of such broad factors, every person is an individual whose character is more often formed by closer connections and circumstances—such as family and friends. This article investigates the circumstances and connections that might have made Betsy McHugh, or Buckley, the person she became.

Published in the Victorian Historical Journal, Issue 288, Volume 88, November 2017, pp.146-169 (Click to download from Academia)

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