What Does "Transported" Mean In This Usage?

I was reading an old article in a Chicago Tribune article from 1852 (yes it’s correct EIGHTEEN-Fifty Two)

Anyway it’s about a Mrs Tonney who took orphans from a workhouse and were literally working them to near death.

Mrs Tonney was sick of an orphan girl crying so she hit the child over the head with some sort of iron. When this didn’t shut the girl up, she was said to have told her employees to silence the child by dunking her.

So she had her employees Miss Saunders and Miss Bryant dunk the orphan.

The girl died

Long story short all three of them were charged with the death of the child.

The story concluded by saying,

It seems to me the use of the word “transported” in this case means that the punishment of being hanged (or is it hung) will fall to the two employees Miss Saunders and Miss Bryant.

Is this correct?

Remember this is 1852 so I know words change meaning over time.

My first guess would be “transported” meaning “shipped off to Australia”, although the “Chicago” part doesn’t really fit that. Was the story about events that took place in Chicago itself, or was it a news story about something that happened in Britain?

Yes, transportation meant exile to a foreign penal colony. In England this was either pre-independance America or Australia, in France it meant Devil’s Island, in the US… I have no idea. Guantanamo ? :slight_smile:


I found this summary of the Haymarket bombing from the Chicago Historical Society, covering events in the 1880’s, which includes the sentence:

That’s a standard use of the word, though. It just means they were taken to the prison. MEBuckner asks a good question - I don’t know if the U.S. used transportation as a punishment very often (maybe to a territory?). If these women were British and were transported they would have been among the last people to be sent to Australia as a punishment.

But that’s the only way it’s used. “Transporting”, to Australia or wherever, wasn’t the punishment in and of itself. The punishment was your exille, or imprisonment, once you get there. I can’t find any evidence of a completely different definition of the term. I infer that the article from the OP actually means “transported to a place of punishment” with the latter words unwritten because they were understood and unnecessary.

Thanks for the response I assumed it was Chicago, because it was a Chicago Tribune article. I went back and relooked in the archives and it was indeed from England.

A bit odd that an English crime makes a paper in Chicago, but Chicago was pretty small back then

Even a bit odder that hitting someone gives them a death penatly (hanging) but drowning them would get them sent off to Australia :confused:

This is slicing it exceptionally thin. But “transportation” appears to have been the formal term.

All I can say is that this would be a very strange way of constructing a sentence. If someone is sentenced to jail it’s assumed they are going to be taken to jail in the future and there’s no reason to state it.

Here is a court records page showing dozens of people were sentenced to transportation to Australia.

It may have also been a sensational case at the time.

I’m guessing Ms. Tonney was considered more responsible because she was in a position of authority.

This is my WAG, as well. The other two would probably be considered accomplices rather than principals, thus the lesser punishment of exile to a penal colony.

When I visited Port Arthur in Tasmania Australia, I was surprised to learn that the US did in fact transport prisoners to Australia.

I will look for some actual cites now…

My searching powers are failing me. I can’t find any information online about US prisoners transported to Australian penal colonies, so let’s relegate my “information” to unsubstantiated anecdote.

Another possible clue that the crime took place in England was the use of the word “workhouse”. Did such places exist in the USA?

My guess would be that Mrs Tonney, who struck the child directly with a weapon, was liable to charges of (what, in some parts of the U.S., would be called) first degree murder while Miss Saunders and Miss Bryant, following their boss’s orders and not deliberately trying to drown the child, would have been liable to charges of second degree murder, not punishable by the death penalty.

Yes we had workhouses here to, they were more often called “poorhouses” at least from what I’ve seen in the papers, but they did use the term here too.

Outside US cities, “poor farms” were common. That was pretty much how welfare worked.

A quick question about the British system: Were convicts in Australia given transportation back to Britain when their sentences were up, or did they have to pay for it? Few could have been able to afford that.

My hazy memories of school history lessons suggest that they had to pay for their return passages themselves. Well-behaved convicts could obtain a ticket-of-leave (a kind of parole), that allowed them to undertake paid work within a certain district. So they would have had an income and, theoretically at least, could have saved money for a fare back to the UK. But I think the majority remained. Perhaps for some it was because they couldn’t afford to return to the UK. For others it was because their new life provided better opportunities than they had in the UK.

In addition to Marley23’s examples, the Merriam-Webster Unabridged still gives definition 3 of “transport” as

It’s a well-established usage in that particular form; the only odd part was seeing it used in a Chicago paper (since as far as I know, the U.S. has never used exile to penal colonies as a punishment). As it turns out, it was an international news story, so it all hangs together.*

*Although the defendants presumably didn’t; either Mrs. Tonney hanged alone, or Miss Saunders and Miss Bryant were transported together.

SO? How did it all work out? Did Mrs. Tonney swing? Or did the Misses Saunders and Bryant go for their tutelage in the uses of iocaine powder?

Looking at my family tree there are a few male convicts who married free setters who themselves had followed convict relatives across so it appears the better life in Australia was quite appealing compared the slums of England.

Your probably familiar with the stereotype of women convicts being assigned to men to become their husbands, in my family it seemed to go the other way the men were assigned to women master who they latter married. The big problem for a convict in this type of relationship was if sent to Tasmania or Norfolk for punishment you generally weren’t allowed to return the person you left.